The NHL has announced their Three Stars for the latest week of the regular season, giving the Calgary Flames something to finally celebrate. Though the Flames are still giving up goals at an unfortunate pace, their offense has exploded and has them in first place in the Pacific Division. That’s in big part due to Sean Monahan’s eight-point week which has earned him first star honors. The young center now has 18 points in his first 15 games this season and is on pace to shatter his previous career-high of 64 points, set last year. With 146 goals already in his young career—Monahan turned 24 just a few weeks ago—he’s on track to be one of the best scorers to ever wear a Flames uniform. Jarome Iginla is clearly the leader with 525 regular season goals for Calgary, but Monahan already ranks 17th and could jump into the top-12 by season’s end.
Young stars was the theme of this week’s awards, as super rookie Elias Pettersson and underrated center Brayden Point took home second and third star. Pettersson is one of the most exciting players in the NHL right now, while Point continues to develop into the next great two-way center even in the shadows of other Tampa Bay stars like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. The Lightning have a huge contract negotiation coming with Point at the end of this year, when he enters restricted free agency for the first time. If his point output continues at its current pace—he’s on track for just under 100—they’ll be hard pressed to find room for him among all their other talented and well paid forwards without making a corresponding move.
- Though Los Angeles Kings fans may have felt a chill run through their body upon reading Bob McKenzie of TSN’s report that Gabe Vilardi suffered a setback in an off-ice training session, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider was told that it’s nothing to really worry about. Viladri has a tight hip flexor, but should be back on the ice in a few days. That’s great news for a player who can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to injury, and has played just 48 OHL games since being selected 11th overall in 2017. The 19-year old forward is a dominant puck possessing force when healthy, but needs to get back on the ice full-time before he can really prove he’ll be a part of the turnaround in Los Angeles.
- Speaking of getting back on the ice, Auston Matthews skated today in Toronto with a team of coaches including Haley Wickenheiser as he works his way back from his latest shoulder injury. The Maple Leafs indicated that it would be a minimum of four weeks from October 29th before Matthews would be ready for game action, meaning he’s still several weeks away from the lineup. Still, with the Maple Leafs coming off a dominating 5-0 win on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, seeing their best player on the ice shooting pucks already has to be another morale boost as they try to keep pace with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.