The DTFR Podcast is back from hiatus as Nick provides a State of the Podcast, reviews a few things from the last couple of months and delves into all of the transactions leading up to the 2020 NHL trade deadline.
Zdeno Chara surpassed 1,500 career games, Claude Julien reached 1,200 games behind the bench, the Toronto Maple Leafs are facing injuries and backup goaltender struggles, Taylor Hall reportedly won’t sign an extension with the New Jersey Devils, the 2019 NHL Global Series happened and the 2020 NHL Global Series was announced.
There were a lot of goals, a lot of penalty minutes, 11 players with at least a point and a lot of heart on Hockey Fights Cancer Night at TD Garden as the Boston Bruins defeated the San Jose Sharks, 5-1, Tuesday night.
Three-year-old Weymouth, Massachusetts native, “The Mighty Quinn” Waters, took part in a special ceremonial puck drop, whereby his fellow Weymouth neighbor, Charlie Coyle, posed for a photo alongside Quinn, his father and Sharks captain, Logan Couture, prior to the game as part of the Bruins’ honoring of those who have fought or are currently fighting various forms of cancer.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (6-0-1 record, 1.42 goals against average, .951 save percentage in seven games played), made 16 saves on 17 shots faced for a .941 SV% in the win.
Sharks netminder, Martin Jones (2-6-1, 3.57 GAA, .890 SV% in nine games played) stopped 36 out of 41 shots faced for an .878 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to their best start since 1929-30, with a 9-1-2 record (20 points) and tied the Buffalo Sabres for 1st in the Atlantic Division with the win on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, San Jose fell to 4-8-1 (9 points) overall and remained in 7th place in the Pacific Division.
The B’s also improved to 5-0-1 at home this season and extended their current winning streak to four games.
Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) are still sidelined by injuries and have yet to make their season debuts for Boston.
Meanwhile, David Krejci and Chris Wagner were back in the lineup against San Jose after missing some time due to injury (Krejci missed the last five games, Wagner missed the last game).
Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), Joakim Nordstrom (infection, elbow) and Par Lindholm (upper body) also missed Tuesday night’s action against the Sharks.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, provided an update on Nordstrom before the game and told reporters that the forward “needs to let [his elbow infection] calm down”. Maybe he should try listening to Taylor Swift.
After making his season debut on Sunday, Peter Cehlarik was returned from his emergency recall to the Providence Bruins (AHL).
As a result of all the lineup changes, Cassidy reunited Danton Heinen on the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk and Krejci, while moving Anders Bjork to the left of Coyle and keeping Brett Ritchie on Coyle’s right side– only this time on the third line.
Wagner, Sean Kuraly and David Backes made up the fourth line, with “The Perfection Line” was untouched as usual.
Steven Kampfer served as Boston’s only healthy scratch.
Joe Thornton may have played his final game in Boston over his 22-year NHL career with the Bruins and Sharks, but then again he may never retire, so see you next year, “Jumbo Joe”!
Early in the opening frame, Barclay Goodrow tripped Brad Marchand and was sent to the box at 6:15 of the first period, presenting the B’s with their first power play of the night.
It didn’t take long before DeBrusk made a great play behind the net while on the skater advantage, freeing the puck to Patrice Bergeron for a bump pass over to David Pastrnak (12) for the wide-open one-timer power play goal.
Bergeron (7) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0, at 7:49 of the first period.
Despite a coach’s challenge from San Jose’s bench boss, Peter DeBoer, the call on the ice stood and the Sharks were charged with a delay of game penalty for falsely arguing that Boston was offside leading up to Pastrnak’s league-leading 12th goal of the season.
Pastrnak, of note, is on a 10-game point streak (12-12–24 totals in that span)– two games shy of his career-high set from Nov. 22nd to Dec. 18, 2017– and is the third player in Bruins franchise history to score 12 or more goals in the month of October, joining Phil Esposito (14-10–24 totals in 10 games played in 1973) and Charlie Simmer (12-7–19 totals in 10 games played in 1985).
Lukas Radil served San Jose’s delay of game infraction.
The Bruins weren’t able to convert on their second skater advantage of the night– especially after Matt Grzelcyk was penalized for holding Couture at 9:18, resulting in 30 seconds of 4-on-4 play before the Sharks had an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.
Late in the first period, Tomas Hertl caught Charlie McAvoy with a high stick and was assessed a minor penalty at 16:25.
This time around, it took about 90 seconds for the Bruins to work the puck around the attacking zone while on the power play, first with Marchand passing it back to Torey Krug, then Krug finding Krejci (1) in Pastrnak’s usual spot in the faceoff circle for the one-timer blast past Jones– giving Boston a two-goal lead and Krejci his first goal of the season in his first game back from injury.
Krejci’s power play goal made it, 2-0, Bruins and was assisted by Krug (8) and Marchand (14) at 17:51.
After 20 minutes of domination by the B’s, Boston carried a, 2-0, lead into the first intermission and a, 16-6, advantage in shots on goal.
The Bruins also led in hits (9-7) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the Sharks led in blocked shots (6-1), takeaways (5-2) and giveaways (4-1).
San Jose was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the second period, while Boston was 2/3 on the power play.
Less than a minute into the middle period, Krejci was caught hooking Erik Karlsson and sent to the penalty box 52 seconds into the middle frame.
It didn’t take long for Brent Burns (3) to cut Boston’s lead in half with a power play goal on a wrist shot from the point over Rask’s blocker side while Evander Kane screened the Bruins goaltender.
Karlsson (8) and Hertl (8) recorded the assists on Burns’ goal at 1:31 of the second period and the Sharks were on the scoreboard, 2-1.
It wasn’t much longer, however, before San Jose cracked under Boston’s tremendous pressure.
First, Hertl tripped Pastrnak and was sent to the sin bin at 3:09.
Then– just seconds after the Sharks killed off Hertl’s minor– Coyle (2) redirected a pass from Krejci into the back of the twine to put Boston up by two goals once more, 3-1, at 5:21.
Krejci (2) and Heinen (2) tallied the assists on Coyle’s goal.
About three minutes later, Backes flipped a pass up through the neutral zone to Wagner (1) whereby the Bruins fourth liner broke into the offensive zone all alone, deked and scored with a backhand shot through Jones’ five-hole to extend Boston’s lead to three goals.
Backes (1) had the only assist on Wagner’s goal at 8:31 and the B’s led, 4-1.
About a minute later, the Bruins went back on the power play when Radil tripped Grzelcyk at 9:36. This time, however, Boston couldn’t capitalize on the skater advantage.
Brandon Carlo (2) was the last player to get on the scoreboard with a floating shot from the point that flew over heavy traffic in the slot and over Jones’ glove side shoulder into the net to make it, 5-1, Boston.
Wagner (3) and Zdeno Chara (2) collected the assists on Carlo’s second goal in three games at 16:50.
The B’s went back into the dressing room for the second intermission with a four-goal lead– dominating the Sharks, 5-1, on the scoreboared– and with a heavy advantage in shots on net (34-12) after 40 minutes of play, including a, 18-6, shot total for the second period alone.
At least San Jose led in blocked shots (9-6), takeaways (5-4), giveaways (7-4) and hits (23-12), while Boston held onto the faceoff win% advantage, 54-46, entering the third period.
The Sharks were 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins had fallen to 2/5 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of the game.
Just 68 seconds into the third period, Kane delivered a stick to McAvoy’s face, catching the attention of Chara in the process, who then tried to fight Kane.
Luckily for Kane, there was no rematch from back in February, as Brendan Dillon stepped between the two and attempted to take on Chara himself before an official stepped in and handed out a high sticking penalty to Kane and roughing minors to Chara and Dillon.
Moments later, McAvoy was again the victim of a high stick, only this time it was from Radil at 5:44 of the third period.
Boston’s power play was short-lived as DeBrusk inadvertently tripped up Sharks defender, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, at 6:02.
Both teams managed to survive their special teams chances and things started to cool off for a little bit.
It didn’t last long.
After making a good, clean, check along the boards on Kane, Ritchie found himself dropping the gloves with Goodrow at 12:39 of the third period.
The two players exchanged fisticuffs with Ritchie getting a good rally going before the two received fighting majors and ten-minute misconducts.
It was the first fight of the season for the Bruins and Goodrow’s first fight of the year for San Jose.
Less than a minute later, Couture and Marchand found themselves tangled in each other’s arms before settling for an embrace and roughing minors, plus misconducts at 13:25.
With the number of players on the bench dwindling in the game, Backes made a clean hit on Kane against the glass that Radil felt as though he had to respond in some manner.
As such, Radil earned a roughing minor, Kane was charged with a misconduct– as well as Backes– and even DeBoer was thrown out of the game because of something the Sharks head coach must have said to an official at 15:42.
With the seconds counting down, Timo Meier thought it’d be the perfect time to land one more cheap shot on Grzelcyk along the endboards– right about where the Bruins defender was knocked out of Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final with a concussion.
Grzelcyk quickly tackled his perpetrator as the rest of the skaters on the ice quickly found dancing partners in case a brawl was about to breakout.
Meier received an interference penalty and an early invitation to the dressing room showers, while Grzelcyk picked up a roughing penalty and went to Boston’s dressing room at 19:43.
At the sound of the final horn, the Bruins had won, 5-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-17– including a, 7-5, advantage over San Jose.
The Sharks finished Tuesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (12-8), giveaways (10-7) and hits (28-16), while going 1/3 on the power play.
The B’s, meanwhile, went 2/8 on the skater advantage and split faceoff win% evenly with San Jose, 50-50.
San Jose’s 17 shots on goal was the fewest allowed by Boston this season as the Bruins finished the month of October with a 9-1-2 record.
The Bruins begin the month of November with a home game against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, followed by the conclusion of their current three-game homestand next Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The B’s head up to Montreal to face the Canadiens the following night (Nov. 5th) before traveling to Detroit on Nov. 8th.
San Jose Sharks
46-27-9, 101 points, 2nd in the Pacific Division
Eliminated in the Western Conference Final by St. Louis
Additions: F Jonny Brodzinski, D Trevor Carrick (acquired from CAR), D Nicolas Meloche (acquired from COL), D Dalton Prout
Subtractions: F Joonas Donskoi (signed with COL), F Micheal Haley (signed to a PTO with NYR), F Jonathon Martin (signed with Tucson, AHL), F Gustav Nyquist (signed with CBJ), F Joe Pavelski (signed with DAL), F Francis Perron (traded to VAN), F Tom Pyatt (SHL), F Alex Schoenborn (signed with Orlando, ECHL), D Justin Braun (traded to PHI), D Michael Brodzinski (signed with Belleville, AHL), D Cody Donaghey (signed with Orlando, ECHL), D Cavan Fitzgerald (signed with Charlotte, AHL), D Joakim Ryan (signed with LAK), D Kyle Wood (re-signed, then traded to CAR), G Antoine Bibeau (traded to COL)
Still Unsigned: F Rourke Chartier, F Tim Clifton
Re-signed: F Kevin Labanc, F Maxim Letunov, F Timo Meier, F Antti Suomela, F Joe Thornton, D Nick DeSimone, D Tim Heed
Offseason Analysis: After making it back to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2016, the San Jose Sharks were looking to capitalize on their momentum from their miraculous comeback against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of their First Round matchup.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, sometimes injuries pile up and get in the way of forward progress.
Though they lost to the St. Louis Blues in six games in the Western Conference Final, the mere fact San Jose made it that far after nearly blowing it against Vegas is impressive– especially considering how close of a series their Second Round matchup with the Colorado Avalanche was, which also went seven games.
Whether they were exhausted from multiple overtimes, one long series after another, the Sharks found themselves with a longer than anticipated offseason to rest and recover.
In the meantime, General Manager, Doug Wilson, had his work cut out for him.
Wilson signed Erik Karlsson to an eight-year, $92 million extension worth $11.500 million per season, making Karlsson the highest paid defender in the league.
The Sharks GM also managed to re-sign 22-year-old star in the making, Timo Meier, to a four-year contract worth $6.000 million per season. By the end of the deal, Meier will still have one year of restricted free agency left, which really speaks to the fact that it’s a great– team friendly– extension at an affordable price with the future in mind.
Last season, Meier had 30-36–66 totals in 78 games. He had 21 goals and 15 assists (36 points) in his first full season (81 games played) in 2017-18.
But the cost of re-signing key pieces of San Jose’s core comes with a price– losing depth.
First, Joe Pavelski priced himself out of the Sharks, in part, thanks to his consistent scoring and 38 goals last season at 35-years-old, as well as San Jose’s cap crunch thanks to Karlsson’s pay raise.
Pavelski signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Stars worth $7.000 million per season, but it’s not about the money for San Jose (even though it was)– it’s about having to make up for a 38-goal deficit heading into this season.
Second, to get themselves squared away with the salary cap, Wilson had to move one of his durable top-four defenders via a trade, sending Justin Braun to the Philadelphia Flyers on June 18th for a 2019 2nd round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick.
Trading Braun left Wilson with no choice but to sign Dalton Prout as a cheap replacement and to perform this season’s Micheal Haley duties. Haley, himself, signed a PTO with the New York Rangers in hopes of filling New York’s Cody McLeod/Tanner Glass role opening.
On the plus side, the Sharks will be able to replenish their pool of prospects with the transaction. On the other hand, Braun was a versatile component when others (like Karlsson) were injured.
Even with the additional $3.800 million addition in cap space, San Jose was not able to convince Joonas Donskoi to stay in town, regardless of whether or not Wilson had any plans for the top-nine forward.
Instead, Donskoi joined the Colorado Avalanche on a four-year deal worth $3.900 million per season– providing both job security and a chance to win the Cup, since the Avs are on the rise.
Sharks fans were hoping to see a reunion of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton back on the same team, but Wilson guaranteed Marleau wouldn’t be signed as long as Thornton was back for his 22nd season in the National Hockey League.
The good news? “Jumbo Joe” isn’t going anywhere– take that Father Time!
The bad news? Marleau isn’t going anywhere in free agency (yet) either.
It’s a good move for the Sharks though, as their younger players did exactly what Wilson explained– they played better and worked their way up the lineup to where Marleau had been prior to his departure to join the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 2, 2017.
San Jose has something special in Meier, Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow and even Dylan Gambrell, meanwhile Logan Couture was named captain in wake of Pavelski’s departure– fully cementing the Logan Couture Era legacy in Sharks history.
Head coach, Peter DeBoer, will have a lot of leadership in the dressing room to rely on with Couture as captain and Karlsson, Thornton, Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns serving as alternate captains throughout the season.
Offseason Grade: C-
Considering Karlsson’s cap hit, it would’ve been a “D+” if it weren’t for the redeeming qualities of Meier’s contract. Other than that, the Sharks are destined to be a divisional berth in the Pacific Division as recent history has dictated, but they don’t seem to have what it takes on paper to be leapfrogging over the competition.
Oh, and there’s the near 3.00 goals against average of both Martin Jones and Aaron Dell to consider from last season. That’s terrible for a team with or without Karlsson and Burns on the defense.
Brayden Point re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a bunch of other RFAs signed extensions, the Boston Pride were sold, Dan Girardi retired and DTFR’s season previews continued with the Atlantic Division.
Mitch Marner finally re-signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins announced a couple key extensions, more RFA deals were signed and the NHLPA decided not to re-open the current collective bargaining agreement as DTFR’s season previews continued with the Metropolitan Division.
38-30-14, 90 points, 5th in the Central Division
Eliminated in the Second Round by San Jose
Additions: F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, F Andre Burakovsky (acquired from WSH, then re-signed), F Joonas Donskoi, F Nazem Kadri (acquired from TOR), F Jayson Megna, F Valeri Nichushkin, F T.J. Tynan, D Kevin Connauton (acquired from ARI), D Jacob MacDonald (acquired from FLA), D Dan Renouf, D Calle Rosen (acquired from TOR)
Subtractions: F Andrew Agozzino (signed with PIT), F Sven Andrighetto (KHL), F Gabriel Bourque (signed with WPG), F Derick Brassard (signed with NYI), F Alexander Kerfoot (traded to TOR), F Scott Kosmachuk (traded to WSH), F Max McCormick (signed with CAR), F Julien Nantel (signed with Colorado, AHL), F Carl Soderberg (traded to ARI), F Dominic Toninato (traded to FLA), D Tyson Barrie (traded to TOR), D Mason Geertsen (signed to a PTO with NYR), D Patrik Nemeth (signed with DET), D David Warsofsky (signed with PIT), G Joe Cannata (Sweden), G Spencer Martin (signed with TBL), G Semyon Varlamov (signed with NYI)
Still Unsigned: F Mikko Rantanen
Re-signed: F J.T. Compher, F Sheldon Dries, F A.J. Greer, F Vladislav Kamenev, F Colin Wilson, D Ryan Graves, D Anton Lindholm, D Nikita Zadorov
Offseason Analysis: Pencil in Joe Sakic for General Manager of the Year 2019-20, because the Colorado Avalanche are a legit team on paper.
Sakic still has about $15.615 million in cap space, but even that should be enough to satisfy– current restricted free agent– Mikko Rantanen’s needs and then some.
Regardless, Sakic went to work on improving a roster that was one win away from the franchise’s first Western Conference Final appearance since 2002.
First, Colorado traded Carl Soderberg to the Arizona Coyotes for Kevin Connauton and a 2020 3rd round pick on June 25th.
Then the Avs followed it up by acquiring Andre Burakovsky from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Scott Kosmachuk, a 2020 2nd round pick and the 2020 3rd round pick previously acquired in the Soderberg trade on June 28th.
Burakovsky was quickly signed to a one-year deal worth $3.250 million as a “prove it” contract. The 24-year-old winger is finally free from the shadows of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Co., but now he can’t hide anymore.
It’s a make or break year as he’s never scored more than 38 points in a season.
Sakic made a minor move with the Florida Panthers a day after the Burakovsky trade, then made a big splash on July 1st and it wasn’t of the free agent variety.
Colorado shipped Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot and a 2020 6th round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 3rd round pick.
The Avalanche retained 50% of Barrie’s salary ($2.750 million) in the transaction, leaving Toronto with the uneasy task of balancing their checkbooks now that Mitch Marner is re-signed.
Barrie is a versatile defender that will give the Maple Leafs some added flavor to their special teams, but he’s a pending unrestricted free agent at season’s end. That’s not Sakic’s problem, however.
Instead, Sakic is focused on continuing to trust in Colorado’s head coach, Jared Bednar, and Bednar’s process.
Bednar has a plethora of new faces that he’ll have to get onboard with his plan.
For starters, Kadri won’t have to face the Boston Bruins in the First Round (assuming Colorado makes the playoffs in 2020, which is a pretty safe bet), so Bednar shouldn’t have too much of a problem reigning him in.
Overall the Avs are relying on their youth, a revamped defense and a stronger top-nine presence with Joonas Donskoi having signed a four-year deal at $3.900 million per season in addition to Sakic’s trade work.
Some experts are picking the Avalanche to win the Cup in 2020, but that might be too much of a stretch too soon.
Colorado is starting to open a championship window, however, so it’d be a major disappointment if they don’t at least get to the Stanley Cup Final in the coming years.
Offseason Grade: A
If there’s a team that’s a dark horse to win the Cup this season out of all the playoff teams from last season, it’s the Avalanche, for sure. That said, Sakic’s moves in the offseason may take a full year to gel (a la Erik Karlsson’s transition from Ottawa to San Jose– East to West), so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Colorado’s knocked out before the Final.
But in terms of fixing holes and building off of what’s already on the roster, Sakic hit it out of the park. The Avs are good and should be good as long as they don’t have to rely solely on goaltending (Philipp Grubauer is one deep postseason run away from proving his legitimacy as a starting goaltender in the NHL).