Click here to read a transcript of this week’s live chat with PHR’s Gavin Lee.
The Buffalo Sabres have had an overload of NHL-caliber defensemen for the entire season, and now one of their veterans wants out. Darren Dreger of TSN is reporting that Zach Bogosian—who is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight—has requested a trade.
Bogosian, 29, is in the final season of the seven-year, $36MM deal he signed with the Winnipeg Jets in 2013 and carries a cap hit of more than $5.14MM. That number makes him a very difficult asset to move, given how his career has gone the last several years.
Originally selected third overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008, Bogosian seemed to be the whole package. A 6’3″ right-handed defenseman that could skate, move the puck and was willing to engage physically, he entered the league as a teenager and immediately made an impact. When the Thrashers closed their doors and went to Winnipeg, he already had 199 NHL games under his belt and was logging nearly 23 minutes a night.
After that however, health issues seemed to crop up every year. Bogosian hasn’t played more than 65 games in a single season since arriving in Winnipeg in 2011, only even breaking 60 on four occasions. This year he has suited up just ten times for the Sabres and even when he does get into the lineup, he’s averaged the fewest minutes since his rookie season.
For a player like Bogosian, requesting a trade is the only chance he has at securing a market for himself next summer. If the Sabres aren’t going to play him on a regular basis, he might as well try to go to another team that will. Buffalo isn’t going to get any real assets for him at this point though, and may even have to eat salary to accomplish it.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
As December rolls along and we get closer to the NHL Christmas break, teams are starting to realize just what they are. Some are accepting their fate as a team outside of the playoff picture, making names pop up in trade speculation all over the league. Others know that they have a squad good enough to compete, but might want a little addition for the stretch run.
With that in mind, it’s time to run another edition of our mailbag. You can submit a question by using #PHRMailbag on Twitter or by leaving a comment down below. Make sure you get your questions in early and we’ll try to get through as many as possible when the mailbag runs on the weekend.
If you missed our last edition it was split into two parts which you can read here and here. In the first, Brian tackled questions about the San Jose Sharks’ slow start, the Toronto Maple Leafs backup goaltending situation, and the Boston Bruins’ secondary scoring depth. The second part looked at the future for Kyle Turris, Ilya Kovalchuk and Henrik Lundqvist.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings have completed a minor trade, swapping Kyle Wood and Oliwer Kaski. Kaski will head to the Hurricanes after just a few months in the Red Wings organization, while Wood has now been traded four times in his short career.
Wood, a third-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2014, has already played for four different AHL teams since turning pro and is a quality puck-moving option in the minor leagues with the size—6’5″ 235-lbs—that coaches dream of. The 23-year old may one day get a chance in the NHL, but seems entirely more suited to the minor leagues at the moment.
Kaski meanwhile only came back to North America this season after three years in Finland playing at the highest level. The former Western Michigan Bronco was named Liiga’s best defenseman last season and was a huge part of Finland’s World Championship gold medal. The 24-year old has five points in 19 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL but hadn’t yet gotten a chance at the NHL level despite the struggles and injuries Detroit has seen this season.
This move basically equates to a fresh start for both players, but Kaski does now join an organization known for getting the best out of their Finnish players. The Hurricanes have a huge number of players from the country, led of course by Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.
The Montreal Canadiens have lost a depth forward for more than a month, announcing that Matthew Peca will be out six weeks with a knee injury. Peca was injured when he got tied up with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin earlier this week.
Peca, 26, has played in just four games with the Canadiens this season, instead spending the majority of his season in the minor leagues. The 5’9″ forward was signed to a two-year, $2.6MM deal in July of 2018 but played just 39 games for Montreal last season.
- Adam Fox is still having an impact on the Carolina Hurricanes, despite not signing with them. CapFriendly points out that after Fox played in his 30th game of the season on Tuesday night, the third round pick that New York sent Carolina in the trade has been upgraded to a second round pick. It always seemed likely that the pick would be upgraded given his talent, but Fox has made it more than worthwhile for the Rangers by proving he can be an effective puck-moving option in the NHL.
- Though Micheal Ferland isn’t in the concussion protocol, he is seeing specialists for some symptoms that have popped up, according to head coach Travis Green who spoke with reporters including Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet. Ferland didn’t even make it through two games after returning from more than a month off, leaving Tuesday’s match against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Team Canada received a huge boost when it was recently announced that Joe Veleno would be loaned from the Grand Rapids Griffins for the World Junior tournament, and now they’re getting an even more experienced name. Barrett Hayton of the Arizona Coyotes will be allowed to attend the event as well. Hayton has played in 14 games for the Coyotes this season, scoring four points.
Not only has Hayton already played a number of games in the NHL, but he was also part of the Canadian contingent at the U20 World Juniors last year and scored four points in five games. There’s a good chance that he opens this year as the team’s top center, though Veleno, Dylan Cozens and Ty Dellandrea are also great choices down the middle.
Selected fifth overall in 2018 despite scoring just 60 points in 63 games during his draft year, Hayton has developed into one of the top prospects in the league and a huge part of the Coyotes future. His opportunity with the NHL club this season has been limited, but he’ll get a chance to dominate his age group once again when the tournament kicks off later this month.
The Vancouver Canucks have recalled Michael DiPietro from the minor leagues once again, and this time might be for a bit longer of a stay. The team announced today that Thatcher Demko suffered a concussion in practice yesterday.
Demko, 24, is part of a tandem this season in Vancouver alongside Jacob Markstrom and has gone 7-4-1 through his 12 starts. Though his .906 save percentage isn’t incredible, the fact that he’s been able to hang in the NHL is a good sign after Demko patiently waited for his opportunity.
A high draft pick (36th overall in 2014) and star in the minor leagues, Demko has been seen as the goaltender of the future for the Canucks for years. While Markstrom is a stabilizing presence in the crease, he’s also an unrestricted free agent after this season and could be expendable if Demko and DiPietro each prove they are a legitimate option moving forward. The concussion certainly doesn’t help the evaluation of Demko, but it might give the team a better look at DiPietro on a short-term basis.
After a recent demotion to the minor leagues in Russia, it appears as though Vitali Kravtsov will instead make his return to North America. Several reports out of Russia along with Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post have the top prospect returning to the New York Rangers organization after being loaned overseas earlier this season. Kravtsov made headlines when he decided to go to the KHL instead of continue in the AHL, but just a few days ago Rangers GM Jeff Gorton told Cyrgalis that he had reached out to the young forward’s agent in hopes of getting him back to the Hartford Wolf Pack.
The 19-year old Kravtsov was the ninth overall selection in 2018 and had a strong season in 2018-19 with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL. After signing his entry-level contract with the Rangers he came close to cracking the opening night roster this year, but instead was sent to Hartford to continue his development. After just five AHL games the team and Kravtsov worked out an agreement to have him return to the KHL, where he scored three points in 11 games for Traktor before the demotion.
An important part of the Rangers future, Kravtsov’s playing time and development is obviously something the team wants to control. When he was in the KHL that wasn’t the case, but returning to North America also doesn’t guarantee him huge minutes in the minor leagues. There is still a long way to go for the 6’3″ winger if he wants to be a full-time, impact player at the NHL level.
The Chicago Blackhawks have lost another defenseman to injury, placing Calvin de Haan on injured reserve today. The designation is retroactive to December 10th, when de Haan left a game against the Vegas Golden Knights with a shoulder injury. The team has not provided a timeline yet for his recovery.
Already without Duncan Keith, the Blackhawks had been relying heavily on de Haan to anchor a defense that can’t seem to keep the puck out of their net this season. In fact, he’d averaged more than 25 minutes of ice time over the three games prior to facing the Golden Knights, which now stand as the three highest-usage games of his season.
The 28-year old had surgery on the same shoulder in May of this year while he was still part of the Carolina Hurricanes organization. That kept him out of training camp and the preseason, though he made his debut just a few games into the regular season and has been a staple in the lineup ever since.
Losing de Haan for any length of time hurts, but the Blackhawks were already facing quite the uphill battle in their quest for the postseason. After rebuilding the defense corps and bringing in some new faces up front (and in net), there were high hopes for Chicago under head coach Jeremy Colliton. A combination of injuries and poor play have dashed those hopes so far, as the Blackhawks currently sit in last place in the Central Division with a 12-13-6 record and -14 goal differential.
Thursday: Meskanen has cleared waivers and will see his contract terminated.
Wednesday: The New York Rangers have placed Ville Meskanen on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a contract termination, according to CapFriendly. Meskanen is in the second year of the entry-level contract he signed with New York in 2018 after going undrafted. He would become an unrestricted free agent should the termination go through.
Meskanen, 24, earned himself the NHL deal with an impressive 44-point season in Finland during the 2017-18 campaign, one that was highlighted by a third-place finish in the goal scoring race. That kind of success in Liiga obviously isn’t a guarantee of it in North America, but Meskanen seemed like he was on a strong development path when he put up 34 points with the Hartford Wolf Pack last season.
Unfortunately, through 20 games this year the young forward has yet to score a goal and has just four assists. Hartford is a deep, talented team that has other top prospects to develop, meaning Meskanen may not have felt like he had the best opportunity. If the termination is completed, it seems likely that he will return to Europe.