Archive for the ‘NHL’ Category

The Minnesota Wild have a trade proposal on the table that’s centered on Pittsburgh Penguins sniper Phil Kessel, sources told The Athletic’s Josh Yohe.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has said publicly he’s willing to shake up his roster, while Kessel’s name has frequently been mentioned in rumors. 

Kessel helped the Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, but the team was swept out of the first round by the New York Islanders this postseason.

The 31-year-old has three years remaining on his current eight-year deal and carries an annual cap hit of $8 million.

In terms of what the Penguins can expect in exchange, it’s believed that talented winger Jason Zucker would be part of the trade, reports Yohe. The 27-year-old’s speed would fit the Penguins’ run-and-gun style and he’s hit the 20-goal mark in four of the past five seasons.

The two sides also apparently discussed Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson and Wild forward Victor Rask, both of whom are signed to long-term deals.

Kessel – a Madison, Wis., native – played one season with the University of Minnesota in 2005-06 before turning pro.

Joe Thornton wasn’t ready to say whether he plans to continue his career in the aftermath of his club’s elimination on Tuesday night.

“No. Nope,” the veteran San Jose Sharks forward told reporters, including NHL Network’s Jon Morosi, when asked if he’s thought about his future following the Sharks’ 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

Thornton is a pending unrestricted free agent who will turn 40 on July 2, one day after free agency opens.

He contributed 51 points in 73 games during the 2018-19 regular season, adding 10 points in 19 playoff contests.

Tuesday’s loss ended Thornton’s 21st NHL season. He’s spent parts of 14 campaigns with the Sharks.

The supremely skilled playmaker has signed one-year contracts to remain with San Jose before each of the last two seasons.

Thornton ranks eighth on the NHL’s all-time assists list, and 14th among the league’s all-time points leaders.

He’s also the Sharks’ all-time assists leader, sits second in franchise history in points and games played, and ranks third on San Jose’s all-time goals list.

The St. Louis Blues are marching into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in decades.

David Perron had a goal and an assist, Jordan Binnington picked up his franchise-record 12th playoff win and the Blues beat the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in Game 6 of the Western Conference final Tuesday night.

Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Tyler Bozak also scored for St. Louis, which will face the Boston Bruins for the championship. Ivan Barbashev got an empty-netter with 2:15 left, Ryan O’Reilly had three assists and Binnington stopped 25 shots.

St. Louis won three consecutive games to advance to the franchise’s first Cup Final since 1970. That series also pitted the Blues against the Bruins.

Laura Branigan’s ”Gloria” blared over the speakers at the Blues’ home arena after the latest victory on an improbable run from last in the NHL Jan. 3 to one of the last two teams standing. The turnaround came after Craig Berube replaced Mike Yeo as coach in November and Binnington took over as the starting goaltender in January.

San Jose played without injured forwards Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl and defenseman Erik Karlsson. Injury attrition played a role for the Sharks, who played seven games in each of the first two rounds.

Dylan Gambrell scored for San Jose, which lost for the first time in five elimination games this postseason. Martin Jones made 14 stops.

St. Louis grabbed control with a fast start.

Perron tipped in Sammy Blais’ shot just 92 seconds into the game. Tarasenko made it 2-0 with a well-placed wrist shot at 16:16.

Tarasenko got his eighth goal of the postseason just seven seconds after San Jose forward Barclay Goodrow was sent off for tripping. Tarasenko recorded a point in each game of the series.

Gambrell converted a breakaway along the right wing 6:40 into the second period. Joonas Donskoi set up the play with a long stretch pass.

Gambrell’s goal came just seconds after Jones stopped Pat Maroon from close range. It also stopped the Sharks’ scoring drought at 99 minutes, 32 seconds.

Schenn pushed the lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal 12:47 into the second. He pounced on the rebound of a shot by Alex Pietrangelo for his first goal in 14 games.

Bozak scored on a feed from Perron in the third period for a 4-1 lead.

Binnington improved to 12-7 with his second successive strong effort. He made 21 saves in a 5-0 win in Game 4 on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Binnington stopped Evander Kane on the doorstep midway through the third. He also denied Logan Couture on a breakaway later in the period.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said the team hopes to re-sign pending unrestricted free-agent goaltenders Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.

Mrazek and McElhinney formed an unlikely, cost-efficient duo for the Canes this past season. Mrazek signed a one-year $1.5-million contract with the club last summer, and McElhinney was claimed off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs while riding out the last campaign of his two-year, $1.6-million pact.

Together, they gave Carolina much-needed reliable play between the pipes.

Both netminders are likely in line for raises after their stellar seasons.

If both are retained, it could signal the end of fellow goalie Scott Darling‘s time in Carolina. After acquiring Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in April 2017, the Hurricanes signed him to a four-year, $16.6-million contract. However, he struggled mightily in 2017-18 and spent the bulk of this past season in the AHL.

Waddell said no decision has been made on whether the club will buy out the remainder of Darling’s contract, according to Alexander.

It could be a very busy offseason in Carolina. The Hurricanes have more than $28 million in expected cap space, according to Cap Friendly, but star forward Sebastian Aho‘s projected new deal will likely eat up a large chunk of that. Waddell said he’ll talk to Aho’s agent within the next few days, according to Alexander.

Waddell added that the club is looking to extend defenseman Justin Faulk, who will hit unrestricted free agency after next season.

Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams has yet to determine whether or not he has the desire to return for a 19th NHL season.

“I haven’t made a decision yet,” Williams said according to NHL.com’s Kurt Dusterberg. “You don’t do those things irrationally. You put thought into it. You find out inside whether you have the full capabilities emotionally and physically to do it. I put everything I had into it this year. If I have everything again, then I’ll be here.”

The 37-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but Williams made it clear that he’d like to remain in Carolina should he sign another NHL contract.

“I’ve set up shop here and I’m very comfortable here,” he said. “I’m not quite sure where anything else would go.”

Williams won one of his three Stanley Cups with the Hurricanes in 2006, and said he was proud to make the team relevant again this season.

The veteran led the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Final in their first postseason appearance since 2009. In 15 playoff contests, he contributed four goals and seven points.

Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan understands the challenges that lie ahead for his team in the salary cap era.

The 50-year-old executive signed a six-year extension with the club Tuesday and was transparent about the Maple Leafs’ cap situation as they continue their effort to end a 52-year Stanley Cup drought.

“As long as we are hopefully a Stanley Cup contender we will have cap issues, so Toronto should get used to that,” Shanahan said, according to Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Prime Time Sports.

“The better you become, the less peaceful it is, the more anxiety there is, because each decision means more and so you still have problems,” he added. “They’re just better problems.”

The Maple Leafs face a challenging summer, with young blue-chipper Mitch Marner lined up for his first big-money contract, and valuable core pieces Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson also becoming restricted free agents.

Defensemen Jake Gardiner, Ron Hainsey, Martin Marincin, and forward Tyler Ennis are all coming off the books this summer as well.

When it comes to Marner, the two sides are still early in the negotiation process, but Shanahan said he had a positive meeting with the 22-year-old’s agent Tuesday.

“I have a lot of respect for Darren Ferris,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, our admiration for Mitch and how he plays the game and how he evolved this year and how he developed, rounded out his game and added, not even just his offensive creativity and prowess but penalty killing and just his overall game has improved so much, so it was a positive meeting.”

With John Tavares’ $11-million contract and Auston Matthews $11.63-million on the books next season, the Leafs may end up rostering three players making $10-plus million. 

Shanahan understands that while staying beneath the cap and remaining competitive in the long run is difficult, it’s a privilege to be in a situation where you have a chance to lock up high-end talent.

“When we’re not dealing with cap issues, we’re probably rebuilding,” he said.

Kaapo Kakko believes the New Jersey Devils could select him first overall at the NHL draft next month.

The Finnish prospect has long been the presumptive No. 2 pick behind American forward Jack Hughes. But Kakko is excelling at the World Championship in Slovakia, and he recognizes that could sway the Devils into selecting him.

“This is a big thing for me for the draft,” Kakko said at the tournament through a translator, according to NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers. “I think I can be the first (pick).”

Kakko is among the leaders in goals at the worlds with six markers over five games. He’s outshining Hughes, who collected his first point at the tourney on Saturday.

“I’ve played well,” Kakko said. “I haven’t paid much attention to Jack Hughes and his game, but I’m confident I’ve been able to let everyone see my skills and the level of my game. It’s not going to be an easy choice for the teams.”

Hughes topped NHL Central Scouting’s final list of North American skaters, while Kakko finished atop the final rankings for international skaters.

“It’s great that people are interested in me and my game, of course,” Kakko said. “I’m glad I’ve been able to play well and execute. There are so many great NHL players in this tournament and it’s huge I’ve been able to play well against them. I’m hoping I could play in the NHL.”

No player from Finland has been chosen first overall in the NHL draft. The Winnipeg Jets took Finnish forward Patrik Laine second in 2016 after the now 21-year-old said he was worthy of the No. 1 selection. The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Auston Matthews with the top pick that year.