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NHL Nick's Net

Flurry of offense propels Boston to, 5-3, victory against New Jersey

Oskar Steen scored his first career National Hockey League goal and David Pastrnak ended a drought as the Boston Bruins defeated the New Jersey Devils, 5-3, at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

Linus Ullmark (9-5-0, 2.58 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 14 games played) made 23 saves on 26 shots against in the win for the Bruins.

Devils goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood (8-7-3, 3.32 goals-against average, .895 save percentage) stopped 29 out of 34 shots faced in the loss.

Boston improved to 17-10-2 (36 points) overall and in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division– one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, while New Jersey fell to 13-16-5 (31 points) on the season and trapped in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Bruins were without the services of Karson Kuhlman (COVID protocol), Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol) and Jakub Zboril (ACL, right knee) on Tuesday night as DeBrusk joined Kuhlman in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol hours ahead of hte game.

Curtis Lazar returned to action after missing Sunday’s, 5-1, matinée win in Detroit, while Steen was promoted to the third line right wing with Nick Foligno taking over DeBrusk’s slot at left wing.

As a result of DeBrusk’s absence and Steen’s promotion, Lazar was back in his regular role on the fourth line.

Anton Blidh was the only healthy scratch with John Moore on Boston’s taxi squad.

Tuesday night marks the first time this season that Steen is making an appearance in consecutive games since being recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL). He appeared in back-to-back games on March 16th and 18th after being recalled last season.

Though he’s only appeared in seven career NHL games, the 23-year-old native of Sweden has three assists in four games this season entering Tuesday.

Three members of the Bruins’ staff joined DeBrusk and Kuhlman in COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday, including assistant coach, Kevin Dean.

As a result, Joe Sacco was in charge of the defenders against New Jersey.

Tuesday night also marked Military Appreciation Night at TD Garden as several Boston players contributed to more than $25,000 in donations for tickets that were given to active military members and their families in accordance with the Bruins “Seats for Soldiers” campaign.

According to a release from the club, Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton, Charlie Coyle, Foligno, Derek Forbort, Trent Frederic, Matt Grzelcyk, Kuhlman, Charile McAvoy, Mike Reilly, Craig Smith and Jeremy Swayman all offered donations.

Early in the opening frame, Lazar (3) got a lucky break and strode towards the net before flinging a fluke shot through Blackwood’s five-hole as the Devils’ goaltender shifted his leg pad at just the right time.

The Bruins led, 1-0, as a result of Lazar’s individual effort at 2:53 of the first period.

Midway through the first period, Andreas Johnsson took an errant puck off of his face on an inadvertent flip pass attempt from Carlo intended for Taylor Hall.

Johnsson returned to action without issue.

Boston led, 1-0, heading into the first intermission and held a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in faceoff win percentage (62-38), while the Devils held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (5-2) and hits (11-9).

There were no penalties called in the opening frame, so both New Jersey and Boston had yet to see time on the skater advantage entering the middle period.

Nathan Bastian spent enough time in Seattle for a cup of coffee with the Kraken (12 games) before he was claimed off waivers and returned to New Jersey (the team that had left him exposed at the 2021 Expansion Draft in July).

Tuesday night, in his 16th game with the Devils this season, he was the beneficiary of a timely poke check to breakup a pass attempt from Carlo to Pastrnak– breaking free in the process while both Bruins skaters trailed helplessly.

Bastian (5) beat Ullmark under the glove to tie the game, 1-1, on a great individual effort 57 seconds into the second period.

Less than a minute later, the Bruins took the lead back with a wacky goal.

Foligno sent a shot off of Blackwood that floated up the New Jersey netminder’s shoulder before rolling on top of the net whereby Steen (1) popped it up from beneath the crossbar as he battled a Devils defender in the crease and deflected it off of Blackwood’s back and into the twine– rather, under the twine.

Though everyone may have been perplexed as to the legality of the goal when they saw it in real time, Steen’s stick never touched the puck above the bar, technically speaking.

Besides, it deflected off of Blackwood before crossing the line too, so it’s not like Steen really meant to send the puck into the net as much as he was simply trying to keep it in play.

Foligno (5) and Forbort (2) tallied the assists on Steen’s first career NHL goal and the B’s took a, 2-1, lead at 1:17 of the second period.

New Jersey answered back in a hurry with a garbage goal of their own after Jack Hughes sent a shot on goal that rebounded to some open ice in the slot where Tomáš Tatar (7) buried the loose puck on the doorstep– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Hughes (9) and Jesper Bratt (21) were credited with the assists on Tatar’s goal at 3:05 of the second period.

The two teams combined for three goals in a span of 2:08.

That soon became four goals combine in a span of 8:45 as Frederic (2) banked a backhand shot off of Blackwood on the short side to put the Bruins up, 3-2, at 9:42 of the second period.

Lazar (4) had the only assist on the goal.

A few minutes later, Dawson Mercer took a puck off the face as McAvoy tried to flip the puck into the attacking zone. Mercer returned shortly thereafter.

Midway through the middle frame, the night’s first penalty was assessed as Hall tripped up Ryan Graves, yielding the Devils their first and only power play opportunity of the night at 13:45.

New Jersey didn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 25-17, including a, 15-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The Devils held the lead in blocked shots (8-5), takeaways (8-2) and giveaways (10-5), while Boston led in hits (22-17) and faceoff win% (67-33).

As only one penalty was called up through the second intermission, only New Jersey had seen any time on the skater advantage and the Devils were 0/1. Meanwhile, the Bruins remained 0/0 as they had yet to be presented with a power play opportunity.

That power play presented itself early in the third period– at 5:28 to be exact– when Damon Severson was assessed a holding infraction.

But Boston didn’t capitalize on their only skater advantage of the night.

Instead, Severson (5) exited the box to an aerial pass through the neutral zone from Michael McLeod and promptly scored on a breakaway on Ullmark’s short side to knot the game up, 3-3, at 7:36 of the third period.

The Bruins had been caught in the vulnerable minute after special teams action.

Midway through the final frame, however, Pastrnak got to a dump-in first in the corner from Hall and cut back to the slot– wrapping the puck with him for a shot on Blackwood.

Pastrnak (7) gathered the ensuing rebound and elevated a quick reactionary shot over Blackwood’s glove to end a 10-game scoring drought and put Boston ahead once more for good, 4-3, at 14:11.

Hall (11) and Erik Haula (5) tallied the assists as the new-formed second line continued to strengthen their chemistry together.

With 1:46 remaining in the action, Devils acting head coach (as head coach, Lindy Ruff, is currently in COVID protocol), Alain Nasreddine, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was ultimately to no avail.

New Jersey iced the puck with 52.1 seconds remaining and Blackwood was forced to return to the crease as the Devils would rather not give up a cheap goal in their own zone.

Except that’s what ultimately happened.

Boston forechecked and fought along the boards well enough to kill some time until the puck was freed and sent along the blue line where Tomáš Nosek found Carlo (3) for a wrist shot that deflected off of Mercer and squibbed through Blackwood’s five-hole to extend the Bruins’ lead to two-goals.

Nosek (4) had the only assist on Carlo’s goal at 19:37 of the third period as the B’s sealed the deal on what became a, 5-3, victory Tuesday night on home ice.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 34-26, despite both teams amassing nine shots each in the third period alone.

The Devils exited TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (13-9) and giveaways (15-10), while the Bruins wrapped up Tuesday’s action leading in hits (29-25) and faceoff win% (64-46).

Both teams finished 0/1 on the power play.

For the second time this season, the B’s have won three consecutive games– with New Jersey having been one of the three teams they’ve defeated in each three-game win streak.

Boston is 2-0-0 against the Devils in their regular season series with one final meeting remaining currently scheduled for March 31st at TD Garden.

The Bruins improved to 11-4-0 (5-2-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 12-0-0 (5-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 12-1-0 (4-1-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

New Jersey dropped to 5-12-2 (3-7-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-11-2 (1-6-0 on the road) when trailing after one and 2-16-2 (1-9-1 on the road) when trailing through the second period in 2021-22.

Fresh off of their, 6-4, loss in the 2022 Winter Classic at Target Field, the Minnesota Wild pay a visit to Boston on Thursday before the Bruins hit the road for a pair of games on Saturday in Tampa and next Monday in Washington, D.C.

The B’s return home after visiting the Capitals to kickoff a seven-game homestand on Jan. 12th against the Montréal Canadiens in a game that was originally scheduled to be played in Montréal before the rise of the Omicron variant restricted indoor venue attendance across Canada.

Tickets for Boston’s game against the Habs on March 21st will be honored on Jan. 12th as the game has been moved up in the schedule.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning repeat as Stanley Cup champions in Game 5 shutout

Ross Colton’s goal was more than enough to seal the deal on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s third Stanley Cup championship in franchise history Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves in a, 1-0, shutout victory on home ice over the Montréal Canadiens as he became the first goaltender since legendary Canadiens goaltender, Ken Dryden, to play in every playoff game en route to winning back-to-back Stanley Cup rings.

It was also the 5th shutout (6th of his postseason career) for Vasilevskiy this postseason as the Lightning goaltender became the first in league history to win all four series clinching games in a shutout.

He’s also won his last five consecutive playoff series’ in shutout fashion as Tampa shutout the Dallas Stars, 2-0, in Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final before going on their 2021 run by shutting out the Florida Panthers, 4-0, in Game 6 of Tampa’s 2021 First Round matchup, eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0, in Game 5 in the 2021 Second Round and beating the New York Islanders and Canadiens, 1-0, in Game 7 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals and Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, respectively.

Colton was also the fourth rookie to score a Stanley Cup clinching goal since 1927, in Wednesday night’s effort.

The Bolts are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, having won the Cup in 2020 and 2021, as the first repeat champions since the Pittsburgh Penguins did so in 2016 and 2017.

Tampa also did so in a span of about 10 months, since the ongoing global pandemic altered the National Hockey League’s postseason calendar for 2020, and shortened the 2020-21 league calendar to 56 games in the regular season, followed by a postseason that began in May and ended in the first week of July.

Last year, the Lightning raised the Cup as the designated road team at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta at a neutral site as the NHL played through the COVID-19 pandemic in a bubble in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This year, for the first time in 17 years, the Bolts raised the Cup in front of their home fans as 2004 Stanley Cup champion with Tampa, Dave Andreychuk, watched along in attendance to cap the 2020-21 Lightning’s run.

In 2004, NHL on ESPN and NHL on ABC coverage had come to an end with the conclusion of Tampa’s Game 7 victory over the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Final.

The 2004-05 season-long lockout that ultimately canceled all NHL action for the year meant that ESPN could punt their broadcasting rights to the 2005-06 season or opt out altogether.

They chose the latter.

That’s when NBC stepped in and the NHL had games on Outdoor Life Network, then Versus, NBC Sports Network (which shortly rebranded as NBCSN), as well as on NBC.

In 2021, NHL on NBC signed off for the final time as the league shifts its focus back to ESPN/Disney and Turner Sports for the next seven seasons in the United States starting with the 2021-22 season (the 2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft and first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will be on ESPN2 this month, if you’re wondering).

Back at Amalie Arena on Wednesday night, Vasilevskiy (16-7, 1.90 goals-against average, .937 save percentage in 23 games played) made 22 saves on 22 shots against en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ Most Valuable Player.

Montréal goaltender, Carey Price (13-9, 2.28 goals-against average, .924 save percentage in 22 games) stopped 29 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.

Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, improved to 9-0 all time in a series when leading 2-0, while the Bolts became the first team to raise the Cup on home ice since Chicago did so in 2015.

Pat Maroon, meanwhile, also became the first player (and fourth overall) since Ed Litzenberger to win three consecutive Cups with two different teams as Litzenberger won with Chicago in 1961, as well as Toronto from 1962-64.

Neither Habs head coach, Dominique Ducharme, nor Cooper, made a change to their lineups for Game 5 on Wednesday.

Alex Killorn remained out of the lineup for the Lightning for fourth game in-a-row after blocking a shot in Game 1. He told reporters after the game that he suffered a broken left fibula in Game 1 and wanted to suit up again if he could play.

Corey Perry kicked things off in Game 5 with a hooking infraction as Perry impeded Mathieu Joseph’s play and presented the Lightning with the game’s first power play at 3:21 of the first period.

Tampa couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Moments later, the Canadiens got their first chance on the power play as Jan Rutta cross checked Artturi Lehkonen at 7:19.

Montréal’s time on the advantage was unchanged as Erik Cernak earned an interference minor and Perry was assessed an embellishment infraction almost a minute after Rutta cut a rut to the penalty box at 8:15.

About 30 seconds after Cernak and Perry went to the sin bin, though, Josh Anderson hooked Blake Coleman and joined his teammates in Montréal’s box at 8:43 of the opening frame.

The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for 37 seconds before Tampa had an abbreviated power play thereafter.

Just past the midpoint of the first period, the Bolts were outshooting the Habs, 11-2, with 9:53 remaining in the opening period– reminiscent of how the Lightning outshot the Canadiens, 11-1, through the first half of the first period in Game 4.

Entering the first intermission, the score was still tied, 0-0, despite Tampa outshooting Montréal, 13-4.

The Bolts also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-0), takeaways (2-1) and hits (25-16), while the Habs led in faceoff win percentage (52-48) after one period.

Both teams had three giveaways each while the Canadiens were 0/1 and the Lightning were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

David Savard sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play and received an automatic minor 21 seconds into the second period, but the Habs couldn’t score on the resulting power play.

Almost midway through the second frame, Mikhail Sergachev tripped up Nick Suzuki and presented the Canadiens with another power play that went by the wayside at 8:32.

Moments later in Tampa’s attacking zone, Ryan McDonagh made a lateral pass along the blue line to Savard, who promptly crashed the slot and slid a shot pass towards the crease for Colton (4) to redirect into the twine.

Savard (5) and McDonagh (8) had the assists on Colton’s goal as the Lightning took a, 1-0, lead at 13:27 of the second period.

Keeping in the trend with the rest of the series– the team that scored first in each game won the game.

Late in the period, Ben Chiarot yanked Brayden Point down on a breakaway, yielding a power play to the Bolts as a result as Chiarot was assessed with a holding infraction at 19:22.

Though the ensuing skater advantage spanned the end of the second period and the start of the final frame of regulation, the Bolts couldn’t find a way to solve Montréal’s penalty kill.

After 40 minutes of action at Amalie Arena on Wednesday night, the Lightning lead the Canadiens, 1-0, on the scoreboard and were outshooting the Habs, 19-14, despite Montréal holding a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Tampa held the lead in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (7-3), giveaways (10-3) and hits (44-35), while the Canadiens led in faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams were 0/3 on the power play heading into the final period.

Early in the third period, Nikita Kucherov had a great chance to score, but Price stood tall and shut him down while losing his stick and making desperation saves.

Montréal responded with a breakaway as Anderson burst into the zone with tremendous speed, was denied by Vasilevskiy and ultimately crashed back-first into the post and briefly went down the tunnel before returning for the rest of the game.

With 1:51 remaining in the third period, Ducharme pulled Price for an extra attacker, but after a stoppage resulted in neutral zone faceoff, the Habs sent Price back into the crease for a few seconds to ensure a little security between the pipes if they lost the draw.

Montréal won the ensuing faceoff as Price once again sprinted for the bench with 1:36 remaining, but Tampa’s defense was too much for the Canadiens– though the Lightning’s offense couldn’t put an exclamation point on the game with an empty net goal.

The Habs used their timeout with 1:24 remaining as assistant coach, Alex Burrows, tried to rally his players for one last push.

At the final horn, Vasilevskiy and the Bolts earned a, 1-0, shutout in Game 5 and clinched their second-straight Stanley Cup ring in as many years.

Wednesday night marked the third time that Tampa won the Cup in franchise history.

The Bolts also improved to 17-3 all time when scoring first in series-clinching games.

Tampa finished Game 5 leading in shots on goal, 30-22, including an, 11-8, advantage in the third period alone.

The Lightning dominated in just about everything else at the end of the night, leading in giveaways (11-6), hits (56-48) and faceoff win% (52-48), while both teams had nine blocked shots each.

Montréal exited the building 0/3 on the power play, but then again, Tampa also struggled on the skater advantage in the action– going 0/3 on Wednesday night as well.

Tampa finished the 2021 postseason 16-7 overall, while the Habs went 13-9.

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Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Almost 11 years later, Taylor Hall is finally a Bruin

The Boston Bruins traded forward, Anders Bjork, and a 2021 2nd round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for forwards, Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar, late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

By the time TSN fired up their “TradeCentre” coverage, the Bruins and Sabres officially announced the deal.

Boston General Manager, Don Sweeney, emphasized the need to “add some juice” to the B’s lineup across both of his moves before Monday’s deadline.

Buffalo General Manger, Kevyn Adams, noted that he’s long-liked Bjork’s game and was tied up by Hall’s no-movement clause, which limited possible trade destinations.

Both Hall and Bjork were on pace for about three goals each this season at the time of the trade. Both players are looking to recapture former glories (Hall and his 2017-18 Hart Memorial Trophy winning regular season MVP performance, Bjork and his prolific scoring prowess in his junior year at Notre Dame in 2016-17).

In the end, however, the Bruins may have finally landed their missing piece to play alongside David Krejci on their second line, while the Sabres are prime for a resurgence by actually giving their youth (and Bjork) more playing time to develop.

And then there’s Lazar, who is the icing on the cake for Boston’s re-energized fourth line and not just at risk of being a rental, though Hall has indicated an interest in signing an extension with the Bruins if he can prove himself worthy.

All three players may suit up in their first game with their new teams against one another.

That’s right, the Bruins host the Sabres on Tuesday night– pitting Hall against Bjork in a head-to-head matchup, while Lazar (lower body) is a game-time decision.

Hall, 29, had 2-17–19 totals in 37 games with Buffalo at the time of the trade and has 220-362–582 totals in 664 career NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes and Sabres.

He had career-highs in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93) in 76 games en route to winning the Hart Trophy with the Devils in 2017-18, and was originally drafted 1st overall by Edmonton in 2010.

Hall is the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 2013, to suit up for the Bruins as a 1st overall draft pick and almost became a Bruin back in that 2010 Draft, as Boston had the 2nd overall pick that year (drafting Tyler Seguin after the Oilers in the process).

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound native of Calgary, Alberta has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 14 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including 2-4–6 totals in nine games with Arizona most recently in the 2020 postseason.

Buffalo retained 50% of Hall’s salary in the transaction, which means his cap hit with the Bruins is set at $4.000 million and he is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Lazar, 26, had 5-4–9 totals and zero penalty minutes in 33 games with the Sabres at the time of the trade and has 25-45–70 totals in 317 career NHL games with the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Sabres since making his league debut in 2014-15, with Ottawa.

The 6-foot, 193-pound center was originally drafted by the Senators in the 1st round (17th overall) in 2013, and set career-highs in goals (6), assists (14) and points (20) in 76 games with the Sens in 2015-16.

Lazar brings stability to Boston’s fourth line with Sean Kuraly able to play center or wing and Chris Wagner likely fighting for a spot down the stretch with Anton Blidh, who’s been a welcome surprise in finding a consistent game since being drafted by the Bruins in the 6th round (180th overall) in 2013.

Though a lower body had him listed as “week-to-week” according to the Sabres at the time of the trade, Lazar may be ready to go with Boston on Tuesday night and make an immediate impact on a young lineup that’s faced numerous injuries of their own this season.

Lazar has no points in seven career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including one game most recently with Calgary in the 2017 postseason and is a native of Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

He’s signed through the 2021-22 season at an $800,000 cap hit.

Bjork, 24, had 2-3–5 totals in 30 games with Boston at the time of the trade and has 16-23–39 totals in 138 career games (all with the Bruins) since making his NHL debut in the 2017-18 season.

The 6-foot, 197-pound native of Mequon, Wisconsin set career-highs in goals (9), assists (10) and points (19) in 58 games with the B’s last season and can provide a much-needed spark in more playing time with the Sabres.

He was originally drafted by Boston in the 5th round (146th overall) in 2014.

His puck possession skills are unmatched among his peers, though his puck luck has been a bit of a detractor at times, especially more so this season than when shoulder injuries kept him out of the lineup in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Bjork has one assist in 10 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (all in 2020) and was a minus-three in that span.

Adams, in the meantime, can utilize the 2021 2nd round pick on a prospect or flip it for something better as he continues to make adjustments to his roster in the offseason with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft in mind.

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Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Leafs add depth and vital cap space in Nash

The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired center, Riley Nash, from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a conditional 2022 7th round pick on Friday. If Nash appears in 25% of Toronto’s 2021 postseason games, then the 2022 7th round pick is upgraded to the Maple Leafs’ own 2022 6th round pick.

Nash, in the meantime, was placed on the long-term injured reserve on Tuesday (ahead of Friday’s deal) with a lower body injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for six weeks at most.

While Columbus continues to fall out of the playoff picture, Maple Leafs General Manager, Kyle Dubas, got some much needed depth in the event of injury and relief in salary cap spending as the trade deadline approaches on Monday, April 12th at 3 p.m. ET.

Toronto won’t have to worry about working Nash into the lineup or his salary for the time being, while Dubas is free to work the phones for potential additions without subtraction as the Leafs look to win their first Stanley Cup ring since 1967.

Nash, 31, had seven points (two goals, five assists) in 37 games with Columbus this season at the time of the trade on Friday.

A Consort, Alberta native, he has 63-109–172 totals in 578 career NHL games with the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins and Blue Jackets and was originally drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft.

The 6-foot-2, 188-pound center made his league debut with the Hurricanes in 2011-12, and has 2-6–8 totals in 32 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including one goal and one assist in 10 postseason games in 2020 with Columbus.

He set career-highs in goals (15), assists (26) and points (41) in 76 games with the Bruins in 2017-18, and has made a career out of being one of the better penalty killing forwards in today’s game.

Nash carries a $2.750 million cap hit and is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

The 2022 7th round pick that the Blue Jackets acquired in the Nash trade is Toronto’s own, which likely won’t pan out to be much unless Columbus General Manager, Jarmo Kekäläinen, has other ideas in mind, such as utilizing his scouting staff to the utmost of their ability and finding a diamond in the rough or flipping the pick as part of a deal at a later date.

In the meantime, Kekäläinen has bigger fish to fry with head coach, John Tortorella’s, contract expiring at season’s end and virtually no reason to keep Tortorella in the dressing room if the Blue Jackets are indeed to miss 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs action.

Columbus could fire Tortorella now and try to save face when it comes time to re-sign valuable free agents like pending restricted free agent, Patrik Laine, or they could let Tortorella go without renewing his current deal (and thus owing nothing in severance packages or whatever) and face whatever consequences that has on their roster.

Additionally, Kekäläinen will have to assess whether it’s worth selling off further expendable parts to gear up for the 2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, as well as the 2021-22 season.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #136- We’ve Got The Future Blues

More on the Arizona Coyotes latest debacle with Seattle expansion looming, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith did something never done before, the Calgary Flames rise in the Western Conference and the St. Louis Blues dismal season. Bob Murray and the Anaheim Ducks made a few moves– signing Murray to an extension, claiming Chad Johnson off waivers and a minor trade.

Plus, Nick and Connor review the last 15 years of first round picks by the Pittsburgh Penguins and do a deep dive on their future and what it might look like.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #135- Welcome to Seattle

This week’s episode is chock full of coffee infused, Seattle inspired, artisanal Seattle expansion discussion in addition to William Nylander’s new deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Plus, waivers and trades are rampant this time of year, Tom Wilson: The Bad and the Bad Things That Happened This Week, Chuck Fletcher was hired as General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers and a 15-year first round draft pick look back of the Los Angeles Kings.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.