The DTFR Duo discuss Photoshop, Todd Reirden’s firing, Arizona Coyotes draft violations, the Kasperi Kapanen trade back to Pittsburgh and the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Four different players scored for the Boston Bruins in their, 4-1, victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night at TD Garden.
Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (11-5-6 record, 2.42 goals against average, .921 save percentage in 22 games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots against for a .967 SV% in the win.
Penguins goaltender, Tristan Jarry (16-7-1, 2.16 GAA, .929 SV% in 24 games played) stopped 26 out of 29 shots faced for an .897 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to 28-9-12 (68 points) on the season and remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while Pittsburgh fell to 29-13-5 (63 points), but maintained their status in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division.
The B’s also improved to 16-2-9 at home this season.
Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body), Tuukka Rask (concussion) and David Krejci (upper body) on Thursday.
Rask was placed on the injured reserve and likely will not play again until after the All Star break, while Krejci was a game-time decision, but didn’t participate in pregame warmups.
Brett Ritchie was placed on waivers for the purpose of assignment to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday and cleared waivers without any issues on Thursday. He had two goals and four assists (six points) in 27 games with Boston before being sent down to Providence.
As a result, Karson Kuhlman was recalled from Providence and suited up in his first game with Boston since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.
Kuhlman missed 32 games with a fractured tibia before being assigned to Providence and amassing 2-1–3 totals in four games with the P-Bruins since returning to play. He had no points in eight games with Boston this season entering Thursday.
With Rask out for at least a week, Dan Vladar was called up from Providence to be Halak’s backup for the time being.
Vladar has a 6-5-2 record with a 1.84 GAA, a .935 SV% and two shutouts in 12 games with Providence so far this season. He has yet to make an NHL appearance in his career since being drafted by Boston in the 3rd round (75th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, had to make some adjustments to his lineup from Tuesday night’s, 3-0, loss in Columbus to Thursday night’s matchup with Pittsburgh.
Cassidy left his first and fourth lines alone, but bumped up Charlie Coyle to center the second line in Krejci’s absence, while Par Lindholm was re-inserted in the lineup as the third line center in Coyle’s spot.
Danton Heinen remained on the third line left wing, while Kuhlman made his return to the B’s lineup on the right side of Heinen and Lindholm.
On defense, Matt Grzelcyk returned to the left side of the third pairing with John Moore on his right, while Steven Kampfer went back up to the press box on level nine of TD Garden as a healthy scratch.
Kampfer was joined by David Backes and Anton Blidh as Boston’s trio of healthy scratches against the Penguins while Blidh looks to return from an injury sustained in the preseason.
Prior to the action, the Bruins held a ceremony to honor Rask for surpassing 500 career NHL games earlier in the season.
Shortly after puck drop, Sidney Crosby (7) received the puck, broke into the attacking zone and rocketed a slap shot under Halak’s glove to give the Penguins a, 1-0, lead 24 seconds into the first period.
Dominik Simon (14) and Jack Johnson (7) had the assists on Crosby’s goal. Johnson’s secondary assist was the 300th point of his NHL career.
Boston allowed the game’s first goal on home ice for just the 13th time this season in the process.
Less than a minute later, Zach Aston-Reese received a roughing minor for trying to engage Charlie McAvoy in a battle after McAvoy hit Brandon Tanev along the boards.
The Bruins went to the power play at 1:16, but did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
About seven seconds after resuming even strength play, the Penguins were shorthanded again when John Marino boarded Chris Wagner at 3:23.
Boston’s power play was powerless on their second opportunity of the game.
Moments later, Kris Letang and Wagner each received roughing infractions after Wagner delivered a huge hit on Tanev near the boards at 7:33.
In the vulnerable minute after the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Sean Kuraly (4) squeaked a shot past Jarry to tie the game, 1-1.
Kuhlman (1) and McAvoy (17) had the assists on Kuraly’s goal at 10:03 of the first period and the B’s surged in momentum.
Almost a couple minutes later, Kuhlman was once again involved in a goal when he intentionally shot the puck from the high slot in Lindholm’s direction for Lindholm (3) to redirect the rubber biscuit past Jarry at 12:16.
Kuhlman (2) had the only assist– his 2nd of the night– as Lindholm’s goal gave the Bruins their first lead of the night, 2-1.
Boston managed to score a pair of goals in a 2:13 span, then followed it up with a tripping penalty when Patrice Bergeron got his stick caught under Evgeni Malkin and brought down the Pens forward at 13:19 of the first period.
Pittsburgh was unsuccessful on the resulting power play.
After one period of action on Thursday, the Bruins led the Penguins, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 12-10, in shots on goal.
Boston also held the advantage in hits (14-6) and faceoff win percentage (57-44), while Pittsburgh led in blocked shots (7-4), takeaways (4-2) and giveaways (3-1).
The Pens were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission and the B’s were 0/2.
Early in the middle frame, Wagner tripped Marino and was sent to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 1:39 of the second period.
Pittsburgh did not score on the resulting power play.
Midway through the second period, Anders Bjork slashed Dominik Kahun and was sent to the sin bin at 9:47. Once again, the Penguins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Late in the period, Patric Hornqvist and Torey Krug exchanged words and got into a bit of a shoving match that elicited roughing penalties at 16:08.
A few seconds after each player was released from the box and both teams resumed 5-on-5 action, Hornqvist and Krug dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs in what was just the 9th fight this season for Boston.
Both players received five-minute majors for fighting at 18:11 of the second period and got an early start on the second intermission.
Less than a minute later, Marcus Pettersson was guilty of holding David Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with another power play at 18:41, but the B’s didn’t convert on the ensuing advantage– despite Bergeron’s best efforts of bringing a puck down from mid-air to the ice with his glove.
Bergeron unintentionally gloved the puck over Jarry and across the goal line, but the call on the ice was “no goal” and the call stood after review.
Meanwhile, on the ensuing power play, McAvoy fanned on a shot from the point and had to give chase to a charging shorthanded bid for the Penguins going the other way.
Halak stood tall and denied five quick shots on goal from the Pens in the dying dozen seconds or so of the middle frame.
Through 40 minutes of action in Boston, the Bruins led the Penguins, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 24-20, in shots on goal.
The B’s also led in hits (21-15) and faceoff win% (54-46), while Pittsburgh held the advantage in blocked shots (11-7), takeaways (8-4) and giveaways (10-4).
Both teams were 0/3 on the power play entering the second intermission.
Early in the final frame of regulation, Pastrnak dropped a pass to Bergeron (20) as the veteran first line center entered the attacking zone with speed and sent a wrist shot over Jarry’s glove and into the back of the net.
Pastrnak (31) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal and Boston extended their lead to two-goals at 3:19 of the third period.
Bergeron’s goal made it, 3-1, for Boston and gave him his 11th season with 20 or more goals in his 16-year NHL career.
Midway through the final frame, the Penguins had too many skaters on the ice and sent Hornqvist to serve the bench minor at 11:42.
The Bruins didn’t convert on the ensuing legal skater advantage.
With 2:28 remaining in the game, Pittsburgh’s head coach, Mike Sullivan, pulled Jarry for an extra attacker in a last ditch effort to score two quick goals to tie the game.
The Pens followed it up with a timeout after a stoppage with 1:14 left, but the B’s held off the Penguins and their late action dominance– eventually working the puck out of the zone whereby Pastrnak had a chance to end it, but selflessly sent the puck over to Marchand (21) for the empty net goal at 19:07.
Pastrnak (32) had the only assist on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins finished off the Penguins, 4-1.
At the final horn, Boston secured the win in regulation and finished tied in shots on goal, 30-30, after Pittsburgh rallied to a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.
The Penguins left TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (14-12), giveaways (15-6) and hits (30-23), while the Bruins finished the night leading in faceoff win% (53-47).
Pittsburgh went 0/3 and Boston went 0/4 on the power play on Thursday.
With the loss, the Pens fell to 19-3-2 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.
As a result of the win, the Bruins improved to 17-4-3 when leading after the first period and 15-0-6 when leading after two periods this season.
Boston travels to Pittsburgh to wrap up their home-and-home with the Penguins on Sunday before returning home for their last game prior to the All-Star break next Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Bruins resume play on Friday, Jan. 31st in Winnipeg thereafter.
A wild night at TD Garden led to ten goals combined as Brad Marchand scored the game-winner late in the third period on a wacky play before Patrice Bergeron added an empty net goal to lift the Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-4, on Monday.
Jaroslav Halak (4-1-1 record, 2.83 goals against average, .917 save percentage in six games played) made 40 saves on 44 shots faced (.909 SV%) in the win for Boston.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh starter, Matt Murray (7-3-1, 2.35 GAA, .917 SV% in 12 games played), stopped eight shots on 11 shots against for a .727 SV% before being replaced by Tristan Jarry (1-3-0, 2.25 GAA, .929 SV% in four games played), who made 12 saves on 14 shots for an .857 SV% in 34:37.
The Bruins improved to 11-1-2 (24 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the Atlantic Division, while the Penguins fell to 8-6-1 (17 points), but didn’t move from 4th place in the Metropolitan Division.
Marchand had 2-3–5 totals for his 2nd five-point night of the season and the 5th five-point night of his career.
According to the NHL’s PR department, the 2019-20 season marks the third consecutive season in which the Bruins (8-0-2 in their last 10 games) have posted at least one point streak of 10 or more games. The longest such run in franchise history spanned five seasons from 1975-76 to 1979-80.
Kevan Miller (knee) was still in a red no-contact sweater at practice and John Moore (shoulder) was still out of the lineup on Monday. Both players have yet to debut this season and have missed the first 14 games.
Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), Joakim Nordstrom (elbow) and Par Lindholm (upper body) all remained out of the lineup for Boston due to their various injuries, but Brett Ritchie returned after missing Saturday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators due to an infection.
David Backes (upper body), however, joined the long list of injuries for the Bruins and is doubtful for Monday and Tuesday’s action, but feeling better since being injured against Ottawa.
As a result of all the injuries and with the penalty kill in mind, according to head coach, Bruce Cassidy, Peter Cehlarik was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) and Cameron Hughes was recalled from Providence on Monday.
Hughes made his NHL debut against the Penguins Monday night on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly at center and Chris Wagner back on the right side.
He has two goals and four assists (six points) in 13 games with Providence this season and tallied 13-15–28 totals in 52 games with the Baby Bruins last season.
Cassidy placed Ritchie back on the third line right wing with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle and replaced Steven Kampfer with Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing as planned after Clifton served as a healthy scratch against the Senators to keep Kampfer fresh.
Kampfer was the only healthy scratch for the B’s against Pittsburgh.
The action between the Bruins and Penguins on Monday night kicked off with a tremendous pace that had no stoppages for the opening 4:44 span of non-stop action.
Less than a minute later, Jake DeBrusk (3) intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, skated around a Pittsburgh defender and fired shot over Murray’s blocker on the short side to give Boston the game’s first lead, 1-0.
DeBrusk’s individual effort was unassisted at 5:24 of the first period.
Almost five minutes later, David Krejci was guilty of tripping Pens forward, Jared McCann, at 9:04 and was sent to the penalty box, yielding the first power play of the night to Pittsburgh.
The B’s killed off Krejci’s minor with ease as Halak robbed Sidney Crosby with the glove while the Penguins were on the skater advantage.
Midway through the first period, Zdeno Chara let go of a shot that found its way to David Pastrnak for a deflection.
The loose puck bounced wildly in the low slot, whereby Marchand (9) batted it out of the air and over Murray’s glove from point blank to give Boston a two-goal lead.
Pastrnak (15) and Chara (3) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 13:05.
With the goal, Marchand extended his current point streak to 13 games– becoming just the 3rd Bruin in the last 25 years to record a point streak of at least 13 games in franchise history, joining Phil Kessel and Adam Oates.
Meanwhile, Pastrnak collected his 28th point in 14 games this season– tying his career-high 12-game point streak in the process, set from Nov. 22- Dec. 18, 2017– becoming just the first player to record 28 points in 14 games to begin a season since Peter Forsberg and Daniel Alfredsson did so with the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators, respectively, in the 2005-06 season.
Late in the period, Kris Letang slashed Marchand and was assessed a minor penalty that resulted in a Bruins power play extending into the second period, since the B’s couldn’t capitalize on their chances before the horn signaled the end of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 10-9, in shots on goal.
Pittsburgh held the advantage in every other statistical category, however, leading in blocked shots (3-2), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (6-1), hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (62-39).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.
A couple of minutes into the middle frame, Evgeni Malkin made a pass behind his back to Alex Galchenyuk to send the Penguins forward in all alone on a breakaway against Halak, but the Bruins netminder stopped Galchenyuk’s attempt with a leg pad.
Moments later, Pastrnak (14) sent a wrist shot over Murray’s blocker for a top-shelf goal and his 29th point of the season.
Marchand (16) and Brandon Carlo (4) collected the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as Boston extended their lead to three unanswered goals at 4:22 of the second period.
With the score reading, 3-0, for the Bruins, Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, replaced Murray with Jarry and effectively made his own timeout without using his timeout.
The Pens reset and began a four-unanswered goal charge right back into the game– taking the lead in the process.
First, Justin Schultz sent a shot intentionally wide of the net to force a carom over to McCann in the corner, who then tossed a pass through the low slot for Dominik Kahun (2) to send the puck past Halak with a one-timer as the Boston goaltender was forced to push side-to-side in the crease.
Pittsburgh was on the board, 3-1, while McCann (2) and Schultz (6) nabbed the assists at 5:35 of the second period.
Roughly four minutes later, a poor line change for the Bruins exposed their defense to a stretch pass from Letang up ice to Nick Bjugstad (1) for the breakaway and snap shot goal, bringing the Penguins to within one.
Letang (8) and Brian Dumoulin (4) notched the assists on Bjugstad’s first goal of the season at 9:56.
Nearly six minutes later– on almost the same play– Malkin received a stretch pass through the neutral zone, spun, and threw the puck to Bryan Rust (2) whereby Rust broke free of the B’s defense and scored on a quick shot from close range, tying the game, 3-3.
Malkin (1) and Galchenyuk (3) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, as the Penguins tied the game at 15:59 of the middle frame.
Boston had given up three unanswered goals almost as quick as they had scored three unanswered goals to begin the game.
John Marino tripped Bergeron at 17:50 and sent the Bruins on their second power play of the night.
Seven seconds into the vulnerable minute after special teams play, Marino was freed from the box and lucked out into a puck that split Boston’s defenders and was unattended in the neutral zone.
Marino (1) completed Pittsburgh’s comeback with a breakaway goal– his first career NHL goal– in front of his hometown crowd, giving the Pens their first lead of the night, 4-3, at 19:57 on an unassisted effort.
After 40 minutes of action in Boston on Monday night, the Penguins led the Bruins, 4-3, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 30-16– including a, 21-6, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.
Boston led in blocked shots (8-7), while Pittsburgh led in takeaways (4-2), hits (19-15) and faceoff win% (57-43) entering the second intermission.
Both teams had eight giveaways aside, while the Penguins were 0/1 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.
Midway through the third period, Carlo and Zach Aston-Reese received roughing minors after getting into a skirmish post-whistle at 7:02 of the final frame.
The two teams played 4-on-4 for two minutes until full strength resumed, but in the meantime, Boston went to work on tying the game while even at four skaters aside.
Marchand kept the play alive in the offensive zone at the point while protecting the puck and sent a pass to Torey Krug for a one-timer while the Bruins defender was down by the goal line in the attacking zone.
Krug (2) rocketed his shot past Jarry for the tying goal, 4-4, at 8:14 of the third period as Marchand (17) and Krejci (3) picked up the assists.
Nearly a few minutes later, Bjugstad caught DeBrusk with a high stick at 11:47 and was sent to the sin bin for his minor infraction.
The Bruins did not score on the ensuing power play and nearly gave up a short handed goal against as Rust broke into the zone, but was denied by Halak while Charlie McAvoy crashed into the net– head first– while racing back to bail out his goaltender.
McAvoy skated off on his own while bleeding profusely after Boston’s head athletic trainer, Don DelNegro, attended to the young defender.
Nearly four minutes after McAvoy went down with an injury, Krug appeared to have been cut in a melee in front of the net after Pittsburgh thought they had scored with 2:59 remaining in the game, but had actually knocked the net off of its moorings by their own volition as Rust had bumped the net off its pegs while crashing into the goal.
Less than a minute later, Marchand (10) rang the post with a shot that bounced off the iron, then off of Jarry’s back and just across the goal line before Crosby got his stick on the puck and banked it out of the net, off of his goaltender and back into the net (as if it hadn’t already gone in the first time).
Needless to say, the Bruins had made it, 5-4, at 18:03 of the third period on a wacky bounce.
With nothing left to lose, Sullivan pulled Jarry for an extra attacker with about 80 seconds left in the game, but it was to no avail as Boston cleared the zone in the dying seconds.
Marchand freed the puck to Krejci who sent Bergeron (7) through the neutral zone for the empty net goal at 19:46– securing the victory for the Bruins, 6-4.
Krejci (4) and Marchand (18) tabbed the assists on Bergeron empty netter and Boston finished the night with the win at the final horn, despite being outshot by Pittsburgh, 44-26– including a, 14-10, advantage in the third period alone for the Pens.
The Bruins finished Monday night’s action leading in blocked shots (12-9), giveaways (13-11) and hits (29-26), while the Penguins left TD Garden leading in shots and in faceoff win% (54-46).
Neither team found any success on the power play with Pittsburgh going 0/1 on the skater advantage and Boston finishing the night 0/3.
The Bruins are 7-0-1 at home this season and are on a six-game winning streak.
The B’s improved to 8-1-0 when leading after the first period and have scored first in all eight of their home games so far this season, while progressing to 9-1-1 when scoring first this season.
Boston also improved to 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods this season as the Penguins fell to 5-2-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
The Bruins finished their three-game homestand 3-0-0and head up to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Tuesday before traveling to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Friday. Boston returns home on Nov. 10th for a two-game homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers (Nov. 10th) and Florida Panthers (Nov. 12th).
44-26-12, 100 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division
Eliminated in the First Round by the N.Y. Islanders
Additions: F Andrew Agozzino, F Alex Galchenyuk (acquired from ARI), F Dominik Kahun (acquired from CHI), F Brandon Tanev, D Pierre-Olivier Joseph (acquired from ARI), D John Marino (acquired from EDM), D David Warsofsky
Subtractions: F Matt Cullen (retired), F Phil Kessel (traded to ARI), F Ben Sexton (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), F Garrett Wilson (signed with TOR), D Dane Birks (traded to ARI), D Macoy Erkamps (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), D Olli Maatta (traded to CHI), D Ethan Prow (signed with FLA), D Blake Siebenaler (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), D Chris Summers (DEL), D Jeff Taylor (signed with Hartford, AHL), D Chris Wideman (signed with ANA)
Still Unsigned: F Jimmy Hayes, G John Muse
Re-signed: F Zach Aston-Reese, F Joseph Blandisi, F Teddy Blueger, F Adam Johnson, D Marcus Pettersson
Offseason Analysis: Pittsburgh, your job is simple, keep everyone happy and don’t press the “panic” button– oh.
Penguins General Manager, Jim Rutherford, made a splash last offseason in free agency by adding Jack Johnson to the blue line. It wasn’t the right kind of splash, but rather more of an anchor falling into the depths of a body of water.
Suddenly, Pittsburgh’s defense went from fluid and ever-dynamic with Kris Letang at the helm to a liability with Johnson at the tail-end of his prime locked up to a long-term deal.
This offseason, Rutherford had one mission– don’t sign another bad contract– and you know what he did?
Rutherford rewarded Brandon Tanev’s talents in Winnipeg with a six-year contract worth $3.500 million per season and a modified no-trade clause.
This isn’t to say Tanev won’t make a fine specimen for a season or two with the Pens, but rather that it’s careless spending and term thrown around like this that gets teams in a jam.
Speaking of jams, the Penguins are currently in one with no cap space available and a strained relationship with at least one of their current players.
Evgeni Malkin apparently isn’t a fan of hot dogs and thought Phil Kessel was dragging the team down.
Therefore, the Russian forward presented Rutherford with an ultimatum– it was either Kessel or him.
As such, Rutherford relied on the cliché “Kessel is un-coachable” mantra and dealt the forward along with a prospect and a 2021 4th round pick to the Arizona Coyotes on June 29th for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
Galchenyuk was drafted by Montreal 3rd overall in 2012 and is a little familiar with the city, considering the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was held in Pittsburgh.
He also had half as many points (41) as Kessel (82) last season.
Now Kessel’s reunited with former Penguins assistant coach and current Coyotes head coach, Rick Tocchet. Meanwhile, Rutherford’s secretly hoping that trading away Kessel to please Malkin was enough.
If you’re worried about how the Penguins are going to makeup for Kessel’s offense, just remember that Pittsburgh also added Dominik Kahun (13-24–37 totals in 82 games last season) in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that sent Olli Maatta to the Windy City.
Together, Kahun and Galchenyuk’s scoring totals mean the Penguins have a net loss of four-points from losing Kessel alone.
What’s that? We have to include Maatta’s totals too? In that case, Pittsburgh lost, let’s see here… 18 points by trading Maatta and Kessel for Kahun and Galchenyuk in the grand scheme, but hey the free agent addition of Tanev puts them at plus-15.
If this sounds like gambling to you, it’s because it is, probably.
Which is also another reason why the Pens supposedly shipped Kessel– known for his love of poker– to Arizona where Tocchet *puts sunglasses on* gambles.
None of this matters if the Penguins are playing craps with the standings by April and Mike Sullivan’s going to have to play the hand he was dealt.
Offseason Grade: F
Rutherford has fallen into the trap of rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship as Malkin’s relationship with the team frays, bad long-term contracts are signed and other players are overpaid.
Penguins fans have had about a dozen solid years of status as a Cup contending organization, it’s only inevitable that the growth would stall and things would start to fall apart with or without warning (in fairness, Pittsburgh should have really seen it coming though).
35-38-9, 79 points, 7th in the Pacific Division
Have made the postseason once in the last 13 years
Additions: F Josh Archibald, F Markus Granlund, F Tomas Jurco, F James Neal (acquired from CGY), F Riley Sheahan, G Mike Smith
Subtractions: F Mitch Callahan (DEL), F Milan Lucic (traded to CGY), F Ty Rattie (KHL), F Tobias Rieder (signed to a PTO with CGY), D Kevin Gravel (signed with TOR), D John Marino (traded to PIT), D Robin Norell (SHL), D Alexander Petrovic (signed a PTO with BOS), D Ryan Stanton (signed with Ontario, AHL), G Anthony Stolarz (signed with ANA)
Still Unsigned: F Colin Larkin, F Jesse Puljujarvi (has an agreement with a Liiga team, if not traded by EDM), F Tyler Vesel, G Al Montoya
Re-signed: F Alex Chiasson, F Jujhar Khaira
Offseason Analysis: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Edmonton Oilers have a new head coach and a new General Manager.
Dave Tippett brings his expertise behind the bench in place of Ken Hitchcock’s short tenure as head coach of the Oilers (after replacing Todd McLellan about a quarter of the way into last season), while Ken Holland is large and in charge of the reigns in Edmonton’s front office.
Tippett is fresh off of a few years without an NHL head coaching job, since being relieved of his duties from the Arizona Coyotes after the 2016-17 season.
On May 7th, Holland left the Detroit Red Wings for the Oilers after being “promoted” to a senior advisor role a couple of weeks prior– coinciding with Detroit’s hiring of Steve Yzerman as GM on April 19th.
Over the course of a generation’s time, Holland is known for making small, but deliberate, moves in the offseason to build his roster.
The additions of Markus Granlund and Tomas Jurco reflect the need for flexible top-nine depth.
While scouring the market, Holland found a perfect suitor for Milan Lucic’s massive contract and subsequently dealt Lucic to the Calgary Flames along with a conditional 2020 3rd round pick in exchange for James Neal.
Neal, 32, is a year older than Lucic and signed through the 2022-23 season, which is… just as long as Lucic is under contract for, but now with Calgary.
Oh, and the Oilers retained 12.5 percent of Lucic’s salary ($750,000 per season), because of course.
To top things off, the conditional 2020 3rd round pick becomes property of the Flames if Neal scores 21 goals and Lucic scores 10 or fewer goals than Neal in 2019-20.
Neal had seven goals and 12 assists (19 points) in 63 games with the Flames last season (down from 25-19–44 totals in 71 games with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18).
Lucic had six goals and 14 assists (20 points) in 79 games with the Oilers last season (down from 10-24–34 totals in 82 games in 2017-18). The new No. 17 for Calgary had been in decline each season while in Edmonton.
Looks like it’s business as usual in Edmonton so far.
What’s more, Holland faces an increasingly difficult 2020 offseason with 14 pending free agents, including 24-year-old defender (and pending-restricted free agent at season’s end), Darnell Nurse.
Nurse is looking to have a breakout year to translate into a big payday thereafter.
Meanwhile, it’d almost be better for the Oilers to just not re-sign any of their pending free agents, but then again teams still have to be cap compliant in order to participate in the league, so…
Holland also traded defensive prospect John Marino to the Pittsburgh Penguins in hopes of landing a touchdown in a conditional 2021 6th round pick.
The “Hail Mary” pass went incomplete as Marino signed his entry-level contract with the Penguins and the Oilers missed out on the draft pick.
At least there’s some stability in the crease with 31-year-old, Mikko Koskinen (25-21-6 record in 55 games played last season, 2.93 goals against average, .906 save percentage and 4 shutouts), and 37-year-old, two-time All Star, Mike Smith (23-16-2 record in 42 games with Calgary last season, 2.73 GAA, .898 SV% and 2 SO).
The average age of Edmonton’s goaltenders? 34.
Koskinen took over the starting role, while Smith was brought in as the backup in the post-Cam Talbot Era (Talbot was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers last season and signed with the Flames this offseason).
At least the Oilers have Connor McDavid (a career-high 41-75–116 totals in 78 games played last season) and Leon Draisaitl (a career-high 50-55–102 totals in 82 games last season).
Offseason Grade: F
The whole point of trying to trade Lucic was to save money and in the end, the result was not a gain, but a loss in salary cap space. At least the only players with no-trade or no-movement clauses (for now) are Kris Russell, Koskinen and Smith.
Nothing is overnight, but for an organization to have fallen so far* while having one of the best players in the world (McDavid) on their roster is about as bad as intentionally running things into the ground while still hoping the public will pay for a new arena and threatening to move the team if your demands aren’t met in the meantime.
*Relatively speaking from that one postseason appearance in 2017.