- In the same video, Friedman notes that Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello has seen his value take a hit with the way he’s played this season. The veteran came into this season with at least 49 points in each of the last five years but he has been limited to just 18 in 32 games so far while dealing with groin issues. Zuccarello is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and with New York in rebuilding mode, it appears quite likely that he’ll be dealt although the return may not be as high as it seemed heading into the season.
For the third year in a row, the NHL has scheduled a mandated multi-day break for each team in the middle part of the season. Meant to give each team a rest, much like the bye week in the National Football League, this break also includes limits on practice, including several days in which all team activities are prohibited. A seven-day break this season, on paper an increase from the original five-day break, the “bye week” is actually less intrusive this season than it has been in the past despite the longer length. All 31 teams will take their break either right before or right after the upcoming All-Star Weekend, with those two days counting toward the seven and simply extending what has always been a short break for non-participants. Below are the lists of teams who will take leave on one side of All-Star festivities or the other:
Before All-Star Weekend (January 20 – 24)
Columbus Blue Jackets
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
Tampa Bay Lightning
After All-Star Weekend (January 27 – 31)
Detroit Red Wings
Los Angeles Kings
New York Islanders
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs
Vegas Golden Knights
How each team feels about taking an extended break in the middle of the season generally varies based on situational factors. While many players would enjoy getting to spend some time away with their families, others would rather keep the pedal to the metal mid-season. More specifically, a team that is playing well and stringing together wins would rather keep playing and not lose out on that momentum. Another team may be in a slump or struggling with injuries and desperately in need of a break. Either way, not every team will be in favor of the bye week each season.
There also remains some scheduling flaws with the mandated break, as most teams will only get the actual seven days or an eighth day off for travel, but others are set to go ten or eleven days without a contest. The “bye week” seems to be a move by the NHL that has enough support to continue in future seasons, but the league could work on sharpening the schedule so as to give teams as close to an even break as their competition as possible.
The New York Rangers may have made a trade earlier today, swapping Cole Schneider for Connor Brickley with the Nashville Predators, but their latest move – a simple call-up – will likely have far more impact on the team. The Rangers have announced that they have recalled defenseman Ryan Lindgren from the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. It is the first recall for Lindgren, who is considered New York’s most pro-ready defensive prospect and should yield immediate returns on the blue line.
Lindgren, 20, is in his first season with the Rangers organization after being acquired late last season from the Boston Bruins. Lindgren was the centerpiece of the package offered by the Bruins in exchange for Rick Nash, which also included Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, and a 2018 first-round pick. Even after using the Bruins pick in a trade to move up and draft defenseman K’Andre Miller and then using another first-rounder on defenseman Nils Lundkvist, Lindgren has still remained the rearguard prospect with the most hype for the Rangers given his mature, well-rounded game and potential impact in the short term.
Originally a second-round pick by Boston in 2016, Lindgren was a standout in the U.S. National Development program before moving on to join his hometown University of Minnesota for the past two years. During that time, Lindgren also starred on two different United States entries at the World Junior Championship. This season, Lindgren has already earned a top-four role with the Wolf Pack and is one of the top AHL rookie defenseman in many defensive categories. While Lindgren’s offensive contributions have been pedestrian at every level, the true hallmarks of his game are his physicality and defensive ability. It would be a mistake to look at the low point totals and see Lindgren as only a stay-at-home defenseman, as the first year pro sees the ice well and is a strong skater who is more than capable of moving the puck. However, where he is destined to excel as an NHLer is with his checking game, his work on the penalty kill, his ability to win battles and shut down the opposition, and the hockey IQ needed to make smart zone exit plays. The Rangers, who hold the fifth-worst goals against per game in the NHL this season, need a long-term solution on the blue line for their oft-sloppy play and a sound defender like Lindgren will be given every chance to be that guy, down the stretch this season and moving forward.
The New York Rangers have traded minor league forward Cole Schneider to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Connor Brickley. Both players will be able to report directly to their new organization’s minor league affiliates.
Amazingly, this is the fourth consecutive season that the Hartford Wolf Pack have seen their captain traded midseason. Joe Whitney, Mathew Bodie and Ryan Bourque have all previously suffered the same fate, which at this point has become a tradition of sorts. Schneider will be heading to the Admirals after another strong start to the season, as he currently has 25 points in 36 games. Hartford though has been one of the weaker teams in the AHL and find themselves sitting with an 18-17-4 record and 13th in the Eastern Conference.
Brickley meanwhile will be leaving the Predators organization after less than a year, having only signed with the team last summer. Once a second-round pick and top prospect of the Florida Panthers, Brickley has twice become a Group VI unrestricted free agent because of his lack of opportunity at the NHL level. In 67 games including 44 last season, the 26-year old has 17 points.
While the Colombus Blue Jackets intend to start backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo against Washington Saturday, Sportsnet’s John Shannon writes the team intends to start Sergei Bobrovsky Sunday against the Rangers after the veteran goaltender did not dress Thursday after a team “incident.”
Bobrovsky practiced Friday and then made a statement to the media:
“I let my emotions get to me when I shouldn’t,” Bobrovsky said regarding the incident that caused him to miss Thursday’s game against Nashville to NHL.com. “I pride myself to being a good teammate all the times… We cleaned the air and we’re ready to move on.”
Bobrovsky worked with goaltending coach Manny Legace in Washington this morning while the rest of the team did not have a morning skate, according to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti, suggesting that Bobrovsky is ready to return to the team.
“That’s what solving things and moving on is all about,” General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “Sometimes you can use these types of things to become tighter as a group and as a team. But it’s really important you always air them out face-to-face and you move past them and learn from it rather than letting it linger and doing the talking behind their back. That’s why we always bring it all out in the open.”
Of course, it seems more and more likely that Bobrovsky is heading elsewhere when the season ends unless the team truly considers moving him at the trade deadline. However, while many have suggested that Bobrovsky is heading to the New York Islanders this offseason, New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests that Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoriello may already have a different plan with the impressive play of Robin Lehner so far this year. The scribe writes that Lamoriello has an amazing knack for finding impressive goaltenders throughout his tenure, including Martin Brodeur, Cory Schneider and Frederik Andersen as well as Lehner.
- The New York Rangers took another hit today as the team may have lost defenseman Fredrik Claesson for some time after Saturday’s game against the Islanders, according to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. Claesson hit the boards hard after a hit by the Islanders’ Matt Martin. While nothing official has been announced, head coach David Quinn said it “doesn’t look good.” Quinn also added that defenseman Neal Pionk could be ready Sunday to replace Claesson in the lineup although he’s still considered day-to-day.
- While the Philadelphia Flyers sent off forward Jordan Weal Friday to Arizona, The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor (subscription requried) writes that the team made the move because the 26-year-old was no longer in the team’s plans. The team got little in return other than a sixth-rounder and defenseman Jacob Graves, a 23-year-old currently playing in the ECHL, and included because the Coyotes were already at 50 contracts and needed to send one back in the deal. Weal, a favorite of former general manager Ron Hextall, was deemed expendable by new management, but the improved play of Phil Varone also may have had quite a bit to do with the move. Varone, a similar player to Veal, has played in 14 of the team’s last 17 games, while Weal has been a healthy scratch often of late.
If the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline is deep at any one type of player, it is power forward. As the February 25th deadline grows closer and teams begin to make tough decisions about who goes and who stays, it is becoming clear that many big, physical scoring forwards are about to be up for grabs before they hit free agency. Just this past week, it was reported that the Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds was likely to be moved and inferred that the Carolina Hurricanes and Micheal Ferland were unlikely to come to terms ahead of the deadline. And that’s just the beginning.
Outside of the 6’2″ Simmonds and 220-lb. Ferland, there are plenty of other names out there that fit the power forward mold. Since this summer, the New York Rangers’ Kevin Hayes has been earmarked for a deadline trade. If they cannot agree to an extension, the Ottawa Senators may be forced to move star Mark Stone. Should the New York Islanders or Colorado Avalanche fall out of the playoff race, Brock Nelson and Colin Wilson – neither of whom look like long-term fits on their respective teams – should be on the block. To some surprise, Patrick Maroon’s time with his hometown St. Louis Blues appears to be already running out. Even role player power forwards like New Jersey’s Brian Boyle and Florida’s Troy Brouwer should draw interest.
Many of these players feature on the trade bait lists from both The Athletic and TSN, as well as some non-UFA power forwards like the Blues’ Brayden Schenn, the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the Wild’s Nino Niederreiter, and even young Jesse Puljujarvi of the Edmonton Oilers. While it may seem like too many names for too few teams – and it is a buyer’s market this year for sure – The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned a number of suitors for a power forward who could make a move for one or more of these trade candidates in the coming weeks. At the top, LeBrun sees some of the biggest contenders as likely landing spots, naming the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, and Calgary Flames as good fits for Simmonds, Ferland, and the like. He also adds the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights into that group. Of course, the Bruins and Jets also have needs down the middle and could be more ideal fits for Hayes or Nelson, while the wingers would appeal more to Tampa Bay and Nashville. While LeBrun casts doubt on the Toronto Maple Leafs being interested, if an arms race begins the team could feel pressured to add to their forward corps as well. The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, both in need of secondary scoring, could also jump in on the action, while the Patric Hornqvist injury could prompt the Pittsburgh Penguins to make another move.
With so many power forwards potentially available and prices expected to be low, it could be that the majority of playoff-bound teams decide to add a hired gun up front this season. You can never have too much size and grit in the postseason, not to mention scoring touch, and the 2019 deadline could be defined by many players possessing those exact traits heading to new teams. With plenty of talent available, one of the aforementioned players might just end up being the x-factor for the eventual Stanley Cup champions this year.
If you wanted to see some NHL hockey tonight’s the night, as 22 teams are in action across the league. Most notably perhaps is a clash between the Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets, two teams separated by just six points in the Central Division standings. These two teams could very well be on a collision course in the first round of the playoffs. As always, we’ll keep track of all the minor moves around the league as teams prepare for the busy night.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs lead off the moves once again by sending both Kasimir Kaskisuo and Trevor Moore back to the minor leagues, given they don’t play until Thursday. The Maple Leafs are hoping to save cap space with these daily moves while also giving Kaskisuo a chance to stay fresh playing for the Marlies.
- Yesterday the Florida Panthers recalled Ian McCoshen for the first time this season, after suiting up 35 times in the minor leagues. The former Boston College standout was considered “NHL-ready” when he left the NCAA in 2016, but failed to establish himself as a full-time player for the Panthers. He’ll get another chance soon, after recording nine points in those 35 AHL games this season.
- Dan Renouf has been recalled by the Carolina Hurricanes, an interesting move given their depth at defense. The team has several other options in the minors like Haydn Fleury, Jake Bean and Roland McKeown, but decided to reward Renouf for his solid play all year.
- The New York Islanders have sent Joshua Ho-Sang back to the minor leagues, making room to activate Valtteri Filppula. That move certainly won’t come with much fan support, given Ho-Sang’s obvious offensive talent and potential as a prospect. Still, the 22-year old has just two points in ten games for the Islanders this season.
- Days after clearing unconditional waivers and having his contract terminated by the New York Rangers, Vince Pedrie is on to a new team. The Milwaukee Admirals, affiliate of the Nashville Predators, have signed the 24-year-old defenseman to a contract, the AHL announced. Pedrie, a former Penn State University standout, left school early to sign with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in the spring of 2017. However, that proved to not be the opportunity that he had hoped, as Pedrie did not get his shot at the NHL during the tail end of that season or any of last season. Instead, Pedrie remained with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, where he failed to impress. Early this season, Pedrie has split his time between Hartford and the ECHL’s Maine Mariners before negotiating his release. While he is unlikely to earn an NHL contract this season, Pedrie could return to his college form with Milwaukee and try his hand at the free agent market this off-season.
- Larry Brooks of the New York Post suggests that Rangers center Kevin Hayes may be the best rental player available between now and the trade deadline. The 26-year-old has been viewed as a trade candidate ever since he signed a one-year, $5.175MM contract last summer and he has responded with a career year, posting 33 points in 39 games. However, he is dealing with a lingering injury that has held him out of the lineup for the last two games which may give teams some pause for the time being.
On the last day of 2018, 26 of the league’s 31 teams will be in action. The day starts with an epic matchup between the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals, and ends with a pair of Western Conference battles that could have a big impact on the playoffs. While teams prepare for 2019, we’ll keep track of all the minor moves they make today.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled Eric Robinson from the minor leagues, after a great start from the former Princeton University standout. Signed last spring as an undrafted college free agent, Robinson played in one game down the stretch for the Blue Jackets but was held scoreless. That hasn’t been the case very often in the minor leagues, where the 23-year old forward has recorded 19 points in 33 games and is tied for second on the team in goals with 10.
- C.J. Smith is on his way up to the Buffalo Sabres, recalled from the AHL today. Smith has followed up an outstanding first professional season with 29 points in 33 games this year, and is tied with Victor Olofsson for the Rochester Americans scoring lead. The 24-year old has two NHL games under his belt, but is still waiting to score his first goal at the highest level.
- The Washington Capitals are preparing for the return of Brooks Orpik by assigning Tyler Lewington to the AHL’s Hershey Bears, his NHL stint over for now. Lewington played two games for the Capitals and actually recorded two points, also getting into a fight to kick off his NHL career.
- Nicholas Baptiste is on his way up to the Nashville Predators, the first time he’ll be part of an NHL locker room that doesn’t belong to the Buffalo Sabres. Baptiste, 23, has 14 points with the Milwaukee Admirals this season after being acquired from the Sabres in early October.
- While they deal with a lengthy injury to Dustin Byfuglien, the Winnipeg Jets will rely on their defensive depth to keep them afloat in the Central Division. Relying on that depth means Sami Niku is headed back to the NHL, where he could see some additional playing time. Niku played in five games earlier this season for the Jets but is still looking for his first point of the year.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled Trevor Moore under emergency conditions once again, and the young forward will continue to fill in for the injured Zach Hyman and Tyler Ennis. Moore has two points in his first three NHL games and has injected some more speed into the Maple Leafs’ fourth line.
- Egor Yakovlev has played 11 games with the New Jersey Devils this season, but for now he is heading back to the minor leagues. The team sent Yakovlev down before their afternoon tilt against the Vancouver Canucks.
- The Ottawa Senators have officially placed Christian Jaros on injured reserve, according to CapFriendly. Jaros broke his finger while in a fight with Islanders’ Ross Johnston Friday and will be out for a month. The team already placed Thomas Chabot on IR further weakening the team’s defense.
- He’s already playing, but before the game today, the New York Rangers activated defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, according to CapFriendly. The 29-year-old was expected to miss two to four weeks with a separated shoulder, but has returned closer to the two-week mark. The veteran has struggled with injuries since signing with New York in the summer of 2017. Shattenkirk has appeared in 29 games this season, but has clashed at times with new head coach David Quinn, and is playing a career-low 18:23 of ATOI this season. He will attempt to boost those numbers again now that he’s healthy.
- The Minnesota Wild announced they have assigned veteran defenseman Matt Bartkowski to the Iowa Wild of the AHL after their 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh today. That could suggest that defenseman Nick Seeler will be ready to return to the team for Thursday’s game at Toronto. Bartkowski played in two games filling in, scoring a goal Saturday.
The London Knights must have felt a little thin on defense with Evan Bouchard and Adam Boqvist off playing in the World Junior Championship. The powerhouse OHL organization has added another top option to their blue line, trading for Joey Keane from the Barrie Colts. Keane himself was almost suiting up for Team USA at the tournament, but was one of the final cuts just before Christmas.
After going undrafted in his first year of eligibility, Keane was snapped up in the third round by the New York Rangers in June after putting up a solid season with Barrie. His 44 points in 62 games were impressive, but it’s Keane’s legitimate shutdown ability that intrigued most scouts. While he’s not the biggest or strongest, the Illinois native is a force in his own end with his exceptional reads, and will only strengthen what is already a dominant London blue line. The opportunity he’ll get to compete in the OHL playoffs will only help his development as he tries to jump to the professional ranks down the road.
- While the Department of Player Safety is looking more closely at a David Backes hit, they’ve already handed out punishment for a different incident last night. Dustin Byfuglien has been fined $2,500 for slashing Johnny Gaudreau in last night’s Winnipeg-Calgary game. When Gaudreau beat Byfuglien at the Calgary blue line and had a clear path for an empty-net goal to seal the win, the Jets defenseman spun and delivered a forceful slash. While he won’t serve any suspension for it, the incident will be taken into account in any future supplementary discipline. Gaudreau practiced today for Calgary.
- It seems the Boston Bruins can’t possibly have everyone healthy at the same time. After activating Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Jake Debrusk yesterday, the team has placed Charlie McAvoy on injured reserve today in order to get under the 23-man roster limit. McAvoy’s injury is only expected to keep him out a few days, but will definitely keep him out of tomorrow’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. Whether he’ll be ready for Tuesday’s Winter Classic at Notre Dame is still undetermined.