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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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.

The Push(es) for 1,000: The Sedins get one step closer

Alex Ovechkin became the 84th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points on Wednesday night. Four other players are looking to follow him, with Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Sidney Crosby, and Shane Doan all within 44 points of four figures.

Here’s an update of how three of the four that played last night fared.

*Both Henrik and Daniel Sedin inched closer in the Canucks 5-4 shootout loss to Philadelphia. The two connected on the first goal in the way they’ve become best known – Henrik the facilitator, Daniel the finisher – when Daniel scored on a feed from Troy Stetcher at 9:21 of the first period to open the scoring. Henrik got the secondary assist on the powerplay goal, Daniel’s 366th career goal and 966th point.

Henrik picked up his 766th career as he moved within three points of 1,000.

*Sidney Crosby, sitting a 982, was held off the scoresheet in the Penguins 4-1 loss to Ottawa. It’s just the seventh time in 35 games this season he’s failed to record a point.

*Doan was idle as the Coyotes were off on Thursday. Arizona gets back in action on Friday when it hosts Winnipeg.

Thoughts Are My Own: Prayers For Craig Cunningham

Some thoughts as the short week begins:

*The hockey world was shaken to a halt on Saturday night with the news of Craig Cunningham collapsing during pregame warmups prior to the Tucson Roadrunners game against the Manitoba Moose. The game was postponed and reports on Cunningham’s condition have been mum beyond that he ‘suffered a medical emergency.’ Thoughts and prayers for Cunningham and his family. No worse time for something like this to happen (cliche, I know).

*The outpouring of tweets and well-wishes from players and people around the game speak to the type of guy Cunningham is, and the reputation he’s built for himself.

*Meanwhile..back to hockey. The Arizona Coyotes decided to send Dylan Strome back to juniors, where he’ll play for Erie. Strome, the third overall pick in 2015, had just an assist in seven games with the Coyotes while averaging 13:41 per night. He’ll play on an Otters team that features the OHL’s top two scorers in Taylor Raddysh (20-28–48) and Alex DeBrincat (20-21–41), in a league Strome has put up 250 points in 124 games over the last two seasons. It won’t hurt him. The consensus in many circles is that Strome has highest ceiling among the crop of young talent Arizona has.

*Big blow for the Rangers losing Mika Zibanejad f0r 6-8 weeks with a broken fibula. Zibanejad, traded to New York from Ottawa in the offseason, had five goals and 15 points in 19 games. His fifth goal came in Sunday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to Florida, in which Zibanejad was injured crashing into the end boards and hitting his leg at a weird angle, something seen far too often in hockey.

*Zibanejad was a valuable piece for the Rangers in the early goings. He was third among forwards behind Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello in ice-time among forwards at 16:40 per game. He centered the go-to powerplay unit with Chris Kreider and Zuccarello. At the faceoff dot, Zibanejad has been the Blueshirts best on the draw. Of the three players (Zibanejad, Stepan, Kevin Hayes) that have taken nearly 80 percent of the Rangers 1,075 faceoffs, according to puckbase.com, Zibanejad is the only one winning more draws than he loses, at a success rate of 52.4 percent. He’s taken a team-high 37 percent of offensive zone draws, winning 59.8 percent. The 23-year-old has taken 27 percent of defensive zone draws (third on Rangers), winning 51.9 percent.

*RANGERS DOWNFALL WATCH: The Rangers have four goals in their last two games while peppering 59 shots on net. That equates to a shooting percentage of 6.7 percent.

*Four straight wins for the Hurricanes. Has the trendy surprise team among preseason forecasters arrived?

*Great read in the Boston Globe on the post-hockey life of Marc Savard. He was rated ‘suicidal’ by a psychologist at Mass General, but says he never harbored suicidal thoughts. He’s back in the game, coaching the AAA Minor Bantam team his son plays for. It’s good to see he has his life back on track.

*Regina finally lost a game, falling to Victoria on Saturday in game No. 19 for the Pats. They rebounded Sunday with an 8-3 win over Vancouver. The Pats, first in the CHL rankings, set the standard in major junior for offense, with 115 goals. Defending WHL scoring champ Adam Brooks, a Toronto prospect, has eight goals and 32 points in 14 games, his 2.29-per-game output up from 1.67 last season, when he had 120 in 72. Sam Steel, who was selected 30th overall by Anaheim in this past draft, leads the Pats with a WHL-high 41 points in 18 games.

*How about Miami? The young RedHawks went into Denver for a weekend doubleheader with the top-ranked Pioneers, and came away with two ties. Freshman goaltender Ryan Larkin was plenty busy, stopping 84 of 87 pucks that came his way on the weekend. He made 49 saves on Saturday night.

*That likely means Minnesota-Duluth will take back to the top spot in the poll, going into Omaha and coming out with four points.

Game to Watch Monday Night

New York at Pittsburgh: Rare Monday night of NHL action, and lots of pretty good games at that. But this is likely the best one. Put aside the rivalry, the divisional matchup, and the fact these teams played each other in the playoffs last season. It’ll be interesting to see what the Rangers look like minus Zibanejad, if they continue to show signs of falling back to earth offensively, as the Rangers have suggested in the past few games. The Penguins are 7-1-1 at home this season.

Hat Trick Pick

Artemi Panarin: Just two goals in his last eight games. He’ll be playing Connor McDavid, whom many claim would have won the Calder Trophy over Panarin last season had he not broken his collarbone early in the season (full disclosure: not an unreasonable claim).

Arizona Hockey Boom Coming to Light with Plans for Coyotes East Valley Move

If the never-ending relocation rumors surrounding the Arizona Coyotes – which have gone on so long that when it started, the franchise was known as the ‘Phoenix’ Coyotes – have caused you to lose your faith in the future of the game of hockey in Arizona, nobody blames you.

But you might need to reconsider given recent information.

All signs point to a hockey boom in the desert, if it hasn’t started already. The Coyotes, while they haven’t made the playoffs since 2012, have as bright a future as any team across the NHL with a loaded stable of young talent. Arizona State went online as a varsity program last year. The AHL sent a team to the desert last spring, when the Coyotes AHL affiliate moved to Tucson from Springfield, Mass. You may have heard by now of Auston Matthews, the pride of Scottsdale selected first overall in this past NHL Draft, and wasted no time making waves with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So you get the point. The sport has slowly grown in the state since the NHL went there in 1996 and is now proving to be an antithesis of the ‘NHL won’t work in warm weather cities’ argument.

The latest development in the process of growing the sport in Arizona came on Monday when plans were unveiled on a joint venture between the Coyotes and ASU to build a hockey complex in Tempe that would house the NHL franchise and NCAA program. The complex would feature a 16,000-seat arena abutted by a 4,000-seat rink.

The Coyotes, marred for years by poor attendance playing in hard-to-get-to Glendale, have been reported to be looking to move to the East Valley, where much of its fanbase resides. There had been many reports in recent months of the franchise exploring options in and around Scottsdale.

Should the latest reported plan come to fruition – and there’s plenty of hurdles to clear for that to happen, the biggest of which being city and state support, as outlined by the Arizona Republic, the complex would be the de facto hockey capital of Arizona.

By the time it opens – early estimates are fall of 2019 – the Coyotes should be closer to contention if not there already. Led by an exciting, young core that includes Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Dylan Strome, Anthony Duclair, Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, Clayton Keller, and Jakob Chychrun, the ‘Yotes should be one of funner teams to watch in the NHL. Arizona State will be farther into its quest to become a top-line Division 1 program.

To put the two programs – the Coyotes and Sun Devils – into one complex amidst of the pulse of Arizona can only help the growth of the game in the state, which has only been enhanced with the Coyotes run to the Western Conference finals in 2012, the addition of a NCAA Division 1 program, and the emergence of one its finest sons in Matthews.

And let us not forget the AHL franchise in Tucson, as well as the possibility of the University of Arizona following in the footsteps of ASU and going online as a varsity hockey team, as has been tossed around from time to time while nothing concrete has ever come of it.

What does appear to be concrete is the Coyotes move to the East Valley, which seems all but imminent at this point, a matter of when as opposed to if.

Meanwhile, you can go ahead and put the odds of a hockey boom in Arizona right up there with the probability of Matthews making his home state proud by reaching stardom in the NHL.

Thoughts are my own: Great night for hockey at Hall of Fame induction

Some thoughts in the aftermath of Eric Lindros officially being enshrined in the Hall of Fame:

*Great night of hockey as Eric Lindros, Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov, and Pat Quinn were enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

*For Vachon, it’s a wait that went on for too long, someone who should’ve been in the Hall of Fame long ago. Josh Cooper summed it up perfectly on PuckDaddy on Monday.

*A good read by Joe McDonald on the wait for Vachon, which is finally over.

*As for Lindros, its the recognition of a career that was as great as it was complicated. It began with forcing a Quebec trade that left a bad taste in the mouths of many in the hockey world before becoming a legend in Philadelphia. He was a big, strong, heavy, physical player who, well, lived up to the hype for the most part but not nearly enough, given he was in the Gretzky/Messier/Orr/Lafleur pantheon as a teen, be it fair or not. No matter how you cut it, he belongs in Toronto.

*With that said, the fact Mark Recchi still remains a future Hall of Famer is asinine.

*An absolutely touching speech by Kalli Quinn, the daughter of late NHL coach Pat Quinn, who was posthumously enshrined in the Hall of Fame. One of the great hockey men gone too soon.

*Great news for hockey in Arizona as plans have been laid forward for a rink in Tempe on a joint venture between the Coyotes and Arizona State. The new facility would be much more accessible for the bulk of the Coyotes fanbase than the club’s current home in Glendale, which the ‘Yotes have called home since 2003. Hockey is booming in Arizona and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Game of the night Tuesday night

Tampa Bay at Detroit: Steven Stamkos makes his first visit to Detroit since the free agent sweepstakes for the superstar scorer had the Red Wings heavily involved. Of course, those sweepstakes quickly fizzled out with Stamkos remaining in Tampa Bay.

Hat Trick Pick

Steven Stamkos: He began the season with five goals in six games but has just three goals in nine games since. He’s due, right?

Thoughts Are My Own: Hey, guys, there’s good Canadian teams this year

My thoughts as we get into the mind-numbing chatter of the possibility of a Montreal-Edmonton Stanley Cup final.

*So how about those Edmonton Oilers? Just keep chugging along, tossing aside the Capitals en route to a 6-1 start.

*A group is reportedly exploring options of building a 20,000-seat arena in Scottsdale, Arizona, a potential new home for the Arizona Coyotes. This would be huge for the future of the Coyotes franchise, which now appears to be there to stay after years upon years of relocation rumors. They’d be in the thick of things, closer to Phoenix, than they are currently in Glendale.

*Another stinker for the Bruins. Two nights, two losses by a score of 10-2. Chalk it up as a combination of bad defense and shaky goaltending. That combination is no way to go through life.

*Last time a team started four goalies in four consecutive games? That would be the 2010-11 New York Islanders, according to Elias.

*The more you watch Montreal, the more you realize just how good they are.

*Montreal in the first seven games over the last three seasons: 19-1-1 (6-1, 7-0, 6-0-1).

*Corey Perry passed Paul Kariya on Anaheim’s all-time points list.

*Brendan Leipsic had three more points on Wednesday for AHL Toronto, a 4-3 overtime win over Providence. The 22-year-old has 12 points in six games.

*The Albany Devils finally lost a game, denied the 6-0 start no AHL franchise in Albany has ever accomplished. The Devils fell to 5-1 with a 3-1 loss at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

*A pair of four-point nights for Stockton Heat forwards Daniel Pribyl (1-3–4) and Morgan Klimchuk (2-2–4), as the Heat beat San Diego, 7-5. Klimchuk is a former first round pick by the Flames.

*Nice little night for 2017 draft hopeful Nico Hischier, who had three goals and six points in Halifax’s 6-4 win over Acadie-Bathurst.

*Carolina prospect Spencer Smallman had his first career hat trick in the QMJHL on Wednesday, a 5-2 win by Saint John over Charlottetown.

*Kole Lind had a goal and three assists in Kelowna’s 6-4 win over Victoria. Both of Calvin Thurkauf’s goals were assisted by the 17-year-old.

*Still no Nolan Patrick in the Brandon lineup. He hasn’t played since Oct. 11.

Links

A profile on Maxime Comtois of QMJHL Victoriaville, who a scouting director of an NHL team said ‘reminds (him) of Rick Nash at that age.’

A look at how the OHL’s top prospects are faring after about a month of action.

The evolution of Brad Marchand into an elite hockey talent.

Kings sign Anders Lindback to a tryout contract.

Oilers sending shockwaves through the NHL as they race out to a 6-1 start.

A ‘golden era’ of Canadian NHL franchises on the horizon.