ICYMI: Habs and Coyotes swap Domi and Galchenyuk in Friday night one-for-one

Nothing like a classic one-for-one hockey trade on a Friday night during the summer. The swap between the Canadiens and Coyotes has Alex Galchenyuk going to Arizona while Max Domi heads north of the border to Montreal.

The timing may have been a surprise but the trade itself is no shock. Reports had indicated both players were being shopped. In the case of Domi, it had been in recent months while with Galchenyuk the rumors have been going on for a couple years.

Both teams get a good player here.

Domi, who was drafted 12th overall by the Coyotes in 2013, had a great rookie season in 2015-16, was limited to 59 games after getting hurt in his second season, and this past season started slow but finished strong, with 26 of his 45 points coming in the final 35 games of the season. The Habs need a top-2 center more than they need a top-6 winger, but the 23-year-old is a hard-nosed forward who has quite a bit of skill.

As for Galchenyuk, he had a great rookie season in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season after being drafted third overall in 2012 and scored 30 goals in 2015-16. Besides that, it’s been a whole lot of ‘meh.’ It also doesn’t help that the 24-year-old, a natural center, has been used largely on the wing. For whatever reason, Galchenyuk never seemed to gell in Montreal. He should be a better fit in Arizona, where Galchenyuk as of right now would be part of a 1-2 punch at center with Derek Stepan.

It’s the second straight year the Canadiens have shipped off a first round pick and the third straight year they’ve traded a high-profile pick or prospect. Last year the Habs sent Mikhail Sergachev, the ninth overall pick in 2016, to the Lightning in exchange for Jonathan Drouin. And of course, the summer prior they traded star defenseman P.K. Subban to the Predators for Shea Weber.

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Friday Blog Dump: Taking a look at the NHL awards

The Stanley Cup is over so that means it’s awards season in the NHL, alongside the craze leading up to the draft and free agency.

The awards will be handed out next Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Who will win the Hart Trophy as the MVP of the NHL? Or the Calder Trophy as the the league’s best rookie? Or the Vezina Trophy for the NHL’s best goalie?

Here’s a breakdown of what we could expect:

Hart Trophy

The big one, the NHL’s most valuable player. The field was wide open this year, with a solid seven or eight guys who made strong bids but unfortunately there’s only three finalists and just one can win it.

It came down to Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar, and Nathan MacKinnon.

The case for Hall: The Devils reached the playoffs for the first time since 2012 this past season with a game largely built on pace. Hall was the nucleus of all that, and carried New Jersey for much of the season. The 26-year-old led the team in goals (39), assists (54), and points (93). To demonstrate how much of the load Hall carried, here’s who ranked second on the Devils in those respective categories this year:

Goals: Kyle Palmieri (24) / Assists: Will Butcher (39) /Points: Nico Hischier (52)

The case for Kopitar: The 30-year-old’s already sky-high responsibility got a little bigger this season when No. 2 center Jeff Carter missed a majority of the regular season with an ankle injury. Kopitar logged a career-high 22:05 while posting 92 points (35-57), becoming the first Kings player to record 90 points since Wayne Gretzky in 1994, when the Great One put up 130. And while the disparity from first to second isn’t as wild as Hall’s in New Jersey, Kopitar still finished with 31 more points than the player with the second-most, which was Dustin Brown.

The case for MacKinnon: Three players cracked the 100-point mark in the NHL this season, the first time that had happened since 2009-10. If MacKinnon didn’t miss eight games in February with an upper-body injury, there would’ve been four. The 22-year-old finished with 97 points (39-58) in 74 games this season, helping Colorado reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Avs were in the playoff picture when MacKinnon went down, then fell out while he was hurt. When he came back, they quickly climbed back into it.

Player that made the best case for four finalists: Evgeni Malkin – There was a period between December and February where Malkin was taking over games on a consistent basis for the Penguins. His 77 points from December 1-on was tied with Connor McDavid for the most in the NHL.

Norris Trophy

No defenseman has won the Norris in back-to-back years since Nicklas Lidstrom won three straight from 2006-08. We’re assured of having a new winner this season, as last year’s winner, Brent Burns, missed the cut.

Finalists Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban are among the seven different winners we’ve seen over the last nine years while Victor Hedman looks to win his first.

The case for Doughty: Doughty led the NHL in time-on-ice per game, at 26:50, playing all 82 games for the fourth straight season. He set career-highs with 50 assists and 60 points, while finishing with a plus-23 rating.

The case for Subban: Subban is one of the NHL’s top powerplay producers, recording 25 points on the man-advantage while averaging 3:05 per game. Overall, he finished with 59 points while playing more than 24 minutes per game.

The case for Hedman: Hedman’s 63 points was the highest among the three finalists while his plus-32 rating was second to only Josh Manson among defensemen. The 25:51 time-on-ice for Hedman was fifth-most in the league.

Player that made the best case for four finalists: John Carlson – The Capitals ace blueliner was one of one of Washington’s most valuable pieces this season, and he proved that with his performance in the playoffs, helping the Caps win their first Stanley Cup. Carlson, a pending unrestricted free agent, led all defensemen with 68 points this season while playing 24:47 per night. The 28-year-old was on the ice for just about every big situation for Washington this season.

Vezina Trophy

A contest between three goalies that have never won the award before. Obviously the big name here is Pekka Rinne, who is one of the best active goalies to never win one, while Connor Hellebuyck and Andrei Vasilevskiy come in on the heels of breakout campaigns.

The case for Rinne: Rinne has been one of the game’s premier netminders for a decade now, and he may have turned in his best season this past year. The 35-year-old won 42 games this season while posting a 2.31 GAA and .927 save percentage. His eight shutouts were a career-high.

The case for Hellebuyck: For the first time in their franchise history, the Jets received elite-level goaltending. All they did was reach the Western Conference Final. Hellebuyck had a lot to do with that. A player who had a lot of success at every level, particularly his two-year run in the NCAA for UMass-Lowell, Hellebuyck finally put it together this season, going 44-11-9 with a .924 save percentage, 2.36 GAA, and six shutouts. Hellebuyck also played a lot of hockey this season, his 3,965:54 nearly a full game higher than Sergei Bobrovsky, who was second in the league at 3,911:34.

The case for Vasilevskiy: Like Hellebuyck, Vasilevskiy won 44 games. His averages (.919/2.62) were hurt by a late-season malaise but the 23-year-old still managed eight shutouts, which tied Rinne for tops in the league.

Player that made the best case for four finalists: Tuukka Rask – I honestly think they got it right with these three guys. Rinne, Hellebuyck, and Vasilevskiy were head and shoulders above everyone else in the league this season. But Rask was sensational after a slow start to the season. In a 37-game stretch between the beginning of December and prior to a 3-game losing streak to end the season, Rask went 30-3-3 with a .927 save percentage and 2.07 GAA. Those are foolishly good numbers.

Calder Trophy

There was no Matthews, McDavid, or Laine coming into this year but the crop of rookies didn’t relent. It’s amazing how much young talent is in the game these days. The finalists this year were Mathew Barzal, Brock Boeser, and Clayton Keller, and there’s more that could’ve been finalists.

The case for Barzal: The Islanders rookie, who just turned 21 in May, ran away with the rookie scoring title, finishing 20 points above Clayton Keller at 85 points. Barzal is just the sixth rookie to record 85 points in the past 25 seasons. The other five? Teemu Selanne, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Joe Juneau, and Evgeni Malkin. Decent company.

The case for Boeser: The 21-year-old scored 29 goals in 62 games, as his rookie campaign was cut short in early March due to a lower-back injury. Boeser’s 29 goals and 55 points in 62 games was on par with Pavel Bure’s rookie season in 1991-92, when he finished with 34 goals and 60 points in 65 games.

The case for Keller: The 19-year-old came flying out of the starting gates, with 11 goals and 17 points in his first 16 games. While he cooled down, Keller finished with 23 goals and 65 points, his 18:05 time-on-ice the most among rookie forwards.

Player that made the best case for four finalists: Kyle Connor – Connor leading all rookies with 31 goals comes with a couple caveats. First, the 21-year-old had the fortune of playing with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler much of the season. Second, Brock Boeser leads the league if he doesn’t get hurt. All fair. But don’t be mistaken, the showing by Connor this past season was a sign of what should be great NHL career to come. Connor has been an elite goal scorer at every level. You might not say ‘elite NHL goal scorer’ just yet, but this past season he proved he can put the puck in the net in The Show just like he had in the AHL, NCAA, and USHL before that.

Selke Trophy

If named the NHL’s best defensive forward for a fifth time, Patrice Bergeron will pass Bob Gainey for the most Selke Trophies ever. Meanwhile Anze Kopitar looks to win his second in three years and Sean Couturier will look to win his first.

The case for Bergeron: The Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Bergeron, and David Pastrnak is the best 200-foot line in the NHL. Bergeron is the heart and soul of not just that line, but the whole Bruins team. In 64 games, Bergeron managed to put up 30 goals and 63 points while handling the biggest responsibilities in all other ends of the ice, all other situations of the game. He’s the been the game’s premier two-way player for the better part of a decade, and shows no signs of ceding that throne.

The case for Kopitar: He led all forwards with 22:05 ice-time per game this season while cracking the 90-point mark, finishing with 92 points.

The case for Couturier: Couturier broke out this past season with 31 goals and 76 points to go along with a plus-34 rating. A number that becomes more impressive when you consider the Flyers had a plus-eight goal differential.

Player that made the best case for four finalists: Aleksander Barkov – Eventually Barkov will become a perennial finalist. But he belonged among these three this year. In 79 games, Barkov averaged 22:04 per night, one of just two forwards to average 22 minutes (the other being Kopitar). Barkov keyed the Panthers monstrous second-half run that nearly landed Florida in the playoffs, playing in all situations and taking on heavy assignments.

Toronto Marlies win Calder Cup

The Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the Maple Leafs took down the Texas Stars in a seven-game series, the first Calder Cup to go the distance since 2003. Andreas Johnsson was the playoff MVP after he led the tournaments with 24 points (10-14) in 16 games.

Other performances of note:

  • Trevor Moore – 17 points (6-11) in 20 games
  • Carl Grundstrom – 8 goals and 14 points in 20 games
  • Calle Rosen – 11 points (5-6) in 16 games

The Maple Leafs future is really, really bright, in case you haven’t heard.

Things you should read – Capitals edition

*Alex Ovechkin finally reaches hockey’s summit.

*The Capitals journey from perennial playoff disappointment to Stanley Cup champion.

*Honestly, read any and all Capitals content in the Washington Post. They’re doing an amazing job.

*More Ovechkin: This time from Alex Prewitt, who wrote a great piece for Sports Illustrated.

*Can the Capitals keep the band together?

Taking you out of the blog and into the weekend: This day in 2011, the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years

 

 

Nick Boynton shares his deep, personal battle

Well, I’ll start this one on a personal note. Nick Boynton’s time with the Bruins – the team I grew up rooting for and still root for to this day – came from 2000-06, the formative years of my childhood. He became a regular during the 2001-02 season, playing 80 games that year, when I was in elementary school. When he was traded to the Coyotes in 2006, I was a couple months shy of starting high school.

That shouldn’t have any bearing on how taken aback or shocked or whatever you are by this piece that Boynton penned in The Players’ Tribune, it just hits closer to home for me.

The details of this story are heartbreaking. Boynton is pretty honest and straightforward about what he’s gone through going all the way back to when he was still playing. But he seems to be moving towards a better place, which is a good thing.

Guys have come forward in recent years, not only in hockey but all sports, detailing their post-playing struggles. Hopefully it spurs action from active players and powers that be in sports to make sure we keep getting out in front potential problems guys can have after they stop playing. Progress seems to have been made, but there’s still a long way to go.

Nothing is fool-proof, and half the battle is making people willing to express their struggles. But guys like Boynton sharing their story will only spur others to do the same.

P.K. Subban staying in Nashville

P.K. Subban is staying in Nashville. That’s the message from Predators GM David Poile being reported by Pierre LeBrun. Poile went as far to say that he hasn’t even received any calls on Subban.

The rumors, which apparently have turned out to be simply just that, made sense. The contracts of defenseman Ryan Ellis and goalie Pekka Rinne expire after next season, while the entry-level deal of forward Kevin Fiala also expires. The contract of captain Roman Josi is up following the 2019-20 season and the Swiss blueliner will be due a substantial raise from his current cap hit of $4 million, per capfriendly. If space needs to be cleared, Subban’s $9 million cap hit is a good starting point.

This is good news for fans of the Predators. Subban is a dynamic player on the ice and a dynamic player off it. There’s nobody in the NHL that comes close to the 29-year-old in the charisma category. The work he does in the community is also unmatched. There isn’t a better ambassador for the game of hockey.

The Predators time to win is now. Nashville’s chances of capturing the Stanley Cup is higher with Subban on their roster, serving as the catalyst to the four-headed monster on the back-end that also includes Josi, Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. Moving him helps the Preds with regards to the cap – something teams obviously have to be cognizant of nowadays – but it won’t do wonders for the on-ice product.

Senators in the middle of another ugly situation with Melinda Karlsson allegations against fiancee of Mike Hoffman

This is just an absolute wild story out of Ottawa, as if the Senators needed more negative press.

To summarize: Melinda Karlsson, the wife of Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, is alleging that the longtime girlfriend (and now fiancee) of Senators forward Mike Hoffman ran a campaign of harassment against her over the course of this past NHL season up through and past the death of son of the Karlssons in March. All this being reported by the Ottawa Citizen.

Use whatever negative word you want – ugly, disgusting, disturbing, sad – it all fits. Bob McKenzie summed it up perfectly – as he usually does – with this tweet on Tuesday.

Here’s an excerpt from the article of what Melinda Karlsson alleged:

“Monika Caryk has uttered numerous statements wishing my unborn child dead,” says Melinda Karlsson’s sworn statement to the court.

“She also uttered that she wished I was dead and that someone should ‘take out’ my husband’s legs to ‘end his career.’

“Monika Caryk has posted over 1,000 negative and derogatory statements about me as a professional.”

And this is part of the comment Hoffman gave, and is in the article:

…“There is a 150 per cent chance that my fianceé Monika and I are not involved in any of the accusations that have been pursued (that are) coming our way. We totally understand there’s no place for cyberbullying.

“We’ve offered to co-operate and do anything it takes to find out who is doing this, and support (the Karlssons). Obviously this is a tough time that they’re going through, and we want to find out who is doing this, because for some reason it’s coming into our court, and it’s 150 per cent that it’s not us.

True or untrue, this is an absolute mess that Ottawa has on its hands. A mess it 100 percent does not need. The team’s assistant general manager, Randy Lee, is currently amidst a harassment scandal from the scouting combine in Buffalo a couple weeks ago. Meanwhile, the team in under immense scrutiny with regard to the direction it’s perceived to be going in by the fans, be it fair or not.

Both Hoffman and Karlsson have been subject to trade rumors over the past months and now you have to figure at least one of these guys has to be moved this summer after this situation. It’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out.

Regardless, this is just an ugly, ugly situation.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson reportedly agreeing to 8-year extension a great sign for Coyotes future

It looked like there was a chance of a ‘Big 3’ of defensemen hitting the NHL free agency market next summer with the contracts of Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Erik Karlsson expiring after next season. Something that was probably more of a pipe dream than anything.

Well, it looks like it’s down to two at best now, with Ekman-Larsson reportedly verbally committing to a 8-year contract extension worth more than $8 million per season, per TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Obviously nothing can be formally agreed upon until the extension window opens on July 1, but this is huge for the Coyotes. Not just the fact they retained what is probably their best player and one the best defensemen in the league but the fact he wants to stay in Arizona. The Coyotes are moving in a positive direction. Despite finishing last in the West, Arizona went 19-13-3 in its final 35 games. There’s a lot of really good, young talent and Antti Raanta was one of the NHL’s best goalies in the second half of the season. The Coyotes will get a chance to pick up another young stud with the fifth overall pick in next week’s draft.

So whatever Arizona is selling, Ekman-Larsson seems to be buying by signing an eight-year extension that would expire just shy of his 36th birthday. He’s had a rough past couple seasons, but has still averaged 40 points and turns 27 in July, so he’s right in the prime of his career. It should be noted that in that time period Ekman-Larsson has had to deal with the death of his mother, who died from cancer last spring.

It’s a good sign for the future of hockey in Arizona, a place I’ve always felt hockey has a lot of potential despite whatever prognostications of doom have been forecast by others over the years.

Capitals bring us into the interaction between T.J. Oshie and his dad following Stanley Cup win

Following the Capitals Stanley Cup-clinching win on Thursday, T.J. Oshie brought up his father’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, saying “he doesn’t remember a lot of stuff these days” but seeing Oshie win the Cup “will stick with him forever.”

The moment carried enough weight on its own. You could see how much it meant for Oshie to win the Stanley Cup with his father watching amidst his battle with the cruel disease that is Alzheimer’s.

The Capitals brought fans even closer with the video they released on Sunday, showing sound of Oshie and his dad on the ice following the game. Good luck holding it together.

Just an incredible moment. The parents play such a big role in the life of a young hockey player. It’s up to them to provide the support, from the financial (hockey is a very expensive sport to play) to the emotional (hockey can be a tough, unforgiving game). Without that, it’s hard to make it. That’s why these moments between players and their parents are my favorite piece of post-Stanley Cup content. Because when you play, your parents pour as much of their heart and soul into it as you do. Obviously what Oshie’s dad is going through just brings it to another level.

The video shows a moment between Ovechkin and his family, as well.

Everything about this video is great. The Capitals did a great job demonstrating how much this team, this title meant to Washington. Basically a seven-minute long oral history in video form. From the fan reaction, to Barry Trotz in the locker room, to in-game stuff, to post-game stuff. No easy task to put that all together into a few minutes and tell the complete story.