All posts by Craig Hagerman

Avalanche’s Jost, Girard unlikely to play at WJHC

Canada's world junior team is unlikely to get a helping hand from the Colorado Avalanche.

Both Tyson Jost - who suited up for Canada last year - and Samuel Girard are eligible to play in this year's tournament, and while neither have discussed being loaned to the team with general manager Joe Sakic, head coach Jared Bednar insists he would oppose the decision.

"It's not up to me, but if it were I'd say no. They're part of our team and we need them," Bednar said, according to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post.

The other big factor is that neither player has discussed playing for Canada - who named their selection camp roster Wednesday - and while it would be an honor, Jost admits he's focused on playing with the Avalanche.

"I’m just getting in my groove after being hurt so long," Jost said. "I want to be here. Hockey Canada, whenever you can represent your country, it's such an honor. I had my chance last year. Right now, honestly, I'm just focusing on playing on the Avs, focusing on earning the coach's trust and put up numbers. Obviously, I haven't been doing that and I'm trying not to get frustrated because I'm getting my chances and getting that opportunity. It will come. That's what I'm focused on right now and just getting in this rhythm."

Last year, Jost scored one goal and four points en route to a silver medal. This year, he's put up a goal and an assist in 11 games with the Avalanche, while Girard has five points in 18 combined games with the Avalanche and Nashville Predators.

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Golden Knights apologize for claiming Predators’ media cheered in press box

For the second time this season, the Vegas Golden Knights apologized for a tweet that was in poor taste.

On Friday night versus the Nashville Predators, the Golden Knights' Twitter account tweeted that when the Predators scored, media members covering the team began clapping.

The tweet was soon deleted, but not before Jim Diamond of the Professional Hockey Writers Association took exception, demanding an apology and retraction of the tweet on behalf of the Nashville media.

He sent this note to the Golden Knights's media relations department:

I'm writing this on behalf of the Professional Hockey Writers Association chapter of Nashville as well as our entire media corps. We take exception to the irresponsible tweet copied below. It's disrespectful to our credentialed media and we would like a public apology and retraction from the Golden Knights' Twitter account.

Claiming that media is cheering in the press box is a serious issue for journalists, as it can bring up questions regarding their ability to remain fair and unbiased.

The Golden Knights apologized for the tweet Saturday:

The team previously apologized for tweeting out a fake Boston Bruins roster including all girl names in a play on a joke from the movie "Ted," ahead of their game against the club Oct. 15.

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Andrei Markov: I’d have liked it if Canadiens respected me

Andrei Markov never envisioned playing for any team besides the Montreal Canadiens.

The franchise's second-most productive defenseman of all time failed to come to terms with the team on a new contract this summer after becoming a free agent, ultimately deciding to take his talents back to his native Russia.

In an interview with Jonathan Bernier of Le Journal de Montreal, Markov explained that his contract talks with the Canadiens allowed almost no negotiation, and left the former great feeling disrespected by the team.

"As an athlete and as a person who spent 16 years of their life in Montreal, I'd have liked it if they had respected me," Markov said, according to a translation from Sportsnet's Eric Engels. "That's all I was asking for from the team."

Markov was seeking a two-year deal in free agency, but he claims the Canadiens wouldn't give him more than one year.

"I'm going to be honest with you," he said. "There was practically no negotiations with Montreal. I got two or three offers from them and they said, 'Either you sign or you don't sign.'

"No one listened to me and no one wanted to listen to me. That's what happened. So I had the choice to sign on their terms or to leave and find a new team."

Markov agreed to a two-year deal with Ak-Bars Kazan of the KHL. So far, he's put up four goals and 19 points in 39 games with his new club, and while he plans to play out his contract, he hasn't shut the door on a possible return to the Canadiens to hit the 1,000-game plateau (he sits at 990 games played).

"It's a step I'd like to accomplish, but I didn't get to do it in Montreal," he said. "Maybe that will happen at some point, but not at the moment.

"No matter what, I still don't regret my decision to come back to Russia. We made the choice that was in the best interest of my family, and right now that's the most important thing in my life."

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5 pending UFAs Seattle could target in 2020 offseason

If everything continues to go according to plan, Seattle will be the next city to house an NHL franchise.

The heavy lifting is being sorted out with KeyArena in the process of getting a major facelift, and a formal bid likely to be pitched, but one thing has yet to be considered - the team's roster.

It's hard to gauge exactly how the expansion draft will work and what players will be made available. However, what can be determined is which players will become free agents during the summer ahead of the 2020-21 season - the year Seattle is projected to join the NHL.

With that, here are five players who will hit the open market and could garner Seattle's attention:

Corey Crawford

Age entering 2020-21 season: 35

Crawford has been a staple on the Chicago Blackhawks for nearly a decade. He has backstopped the club to two Stanley Cup wins and has earned the William M. Jennings Trophy twice (given to the goalie or goalies of the team who allow the fewest goals against in a season).

In the 2020 offseason, Crawford will be coming off a six-year, $36-million contract. It's unlikely he will be able to ink a deal anywhere near that term or dollar amount at his age, especially with the Blackhawks.

As for Seattle, Crawford could be a solid option and provide leadership to a group that one would project to be young, much like the way Marc-Andre Fleury has done with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Nicklas Backstrom

Age entering 2020-21 season: 32

If Crawford is to Seattle what Fleury is to Vegas, then maybe Backstrom can play James Neal in this situation.

The Washington Capitals center is among the elite setup men in the league and will head into the 2020 offseason as a free agent barring a contract extension.

He's an offensive catalyst, the perfect linemate for young, talented wingers, and could even serve as team captain. Of course, he will have to be pried away from Alex Ovechkin.

Brayden Schenn

Age entering 2020-21 season: 29

Schenn finally looks to be molding into the player many expected he could become when he was drafted fifth overall in 2009 by the Los Angeles Kings.

He's tearing it up with the St. Louis Blues and is on his way to a top-10 finish in league scoring. Unlike Backstrom, Schenn will be younger when he enters the 2020-21 season - 29 - and will likely be just exiting his prime.

The Blues could have their hands full financially as captain Alex Pietrangelo will be up for a new contract the year prior, and Schenn could be in line for a raise from his $5.125-million cap hit if his current play persists. St. Louis might have to let him go, which is good news for Seattle.

Tyson Barrie

Age entering 2020-21 season: 29

Barrie may very well top the list of available high-end defensemen.

Despite enduring some rather painful years with the Colorado Avalanche, the 26-year-old has remained one of the most consistent producers in the league from the back end with 160 points in 258 games over the last three-plus seasons.

Given that he grew up just a stone's throw away from Seattle, in Victoria, British Columbia, the opportunity to be closer to home could also be attractive.

Braden Holtby

Age entering 2020-21 season: 31

If Seattle could ever find a way to nab Holtby, it would be the steal of a lifetime.

The Capitals netminder has been arguably the best goalie in the league over the last handful of seasons, but as fate would have it, he will become an unrestricted free-agent following the 2019-20 campaign.

The Capitals could ink him to a long-term extension before he gets to free agency, but given that Holtby is sure to command top dollar, and with budding goaltending prospect Ilya Samsonov in the fold, the team could decide to save money on Holtby and use it elsewhere.

It would cost Seattle a pretty penny, but as the Golden Knights have proven in the two-plus months of their inaugural season, goaltending is key to success.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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P.K., Malcolm Subban to face each other for 1st time

For the first time since childhood, P.K. Subban and Malcolm Subban will square off Friday when the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Nashville Predators.

With P.K. being five years older than Malcolm, the two were previously never able to play with or against each other in competition, making Friday's game that much more special.

"No we weren't (able to play together), when I left the OHL that's when he came in and I know he got to play with my brother Jordan," P.K. said. "I've never had the opportunity to play against any of them so it'll be pretty special seeing him on the other side tonight."

The pair's father, Karl, will also be in attendance, and will be rocking a Golden Knights jersey as he's supporting Malcolm during the Golden Knights' first father's trip.

"For sure it's pretty special," P.K. said of having Karl in attendance. "Just like any other brothers that have ever played with each other or played against each other, it's a pretty special moment when you do it and for him (Malcolm) I think he's worked really, really hard to get to the NHL and the start of his career's been great. So just going to take in the whole moment."

As fate would have it, both the Predators and Golden Knights enter Friday riding hot streaks that sees Nashville with an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games, while Vegas is 7-3-0.

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Alfredsson, Yashin highlight Senators’ Alumni Classic roster

The Ottawa Senators announced Friday their roster of all-time greats who will take on Montreal Canadiens alumni ahead of the NHL 100 Classic.

Headlining the group - that includes 19 forwards, 11 defensemen, and four goalies - are former captains Daniel Alfredsson and Alexei Yashin.

Here's the entire roster:

Forwards

Player Years With Team
Daniel Alfredsson 1995-2013
Magnus Arvedson 1997-2003
Radek Bonk 1994-2004
Laurie Boschman 1992-1993
Randy Cunneyworth 1994-1998
Alexandre Daigle 1992-1998
Shean Donovan 2007-2010
Mike Fisher 1999-2011
Denis Hamel 2003-2007
Martin Havlat 2000-2006
Denny Lambert 1996-1998
Rob Murphy 1992-1993
Randy Robitaille 2007-2008
Bryan Smolinski 2002-2006
Brad Smyth 2002-2003
Shaun Van Allen 1996-2000/ 2002-2004
Todd White 2000-2004
Alexei Yashin 1993-2001
Rob Zamuner 1999-2001

Defensemen

Player Years With Team
Brendan Bell 2008-2009
Filip Kuba 2008-2012
Jim Kyte 1992-1993
Janne Laukkanen 1995-2000
Curtis Leschyshyn 2000-2004
Norm Maciver 1992-1995
Chris Phillips 1997-2015
Lance Pitlick 1994-1999
Wade Redden 1996-2008
Dennis Vial 1993-1998
Jason York 1996-2001

Goalies

Player Years With Team
Patrick Lalime 1999-2004
Pascal Leclaire 2009-2011
Damian Rhodes 1995-1999
Ron Tugnutt 1996-2000

The game takes place on Friday, Dec. 15 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and is free to the public.

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Report: 2018-19 NHL salary cap projected to be $78M-$82M

NHL general managers will have some extra money to play with next season.

The league unveiled Friday to the Board of Governors that next season's salary cap is projected to come in between $78 million and $82 million, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

The cap is currently set at $75 million, meaning teams can expect a raise of $3 million to $7 million.

The increase would also bring the salary cap to it's highest point since it was introduced at $39 million ahead of the 2005-06 season.

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Wheeler rips Panthers’ ice, suggests playing in parking lot

With the topic of Seattle expansion running rampant, Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler instead made the case for a club to relocate Thursday.

After the Jets visited the Florida Panthers, Wheeler criticized the ice conditions at BB&T Center, suggesting the game should've been taken outside.

"We'd be better off going out to the parking lot and playing roller hockey," Wheeler said, according to Brian Blessing of SportsbookRadio.com.

Of course, the hot climate in Florida tends to be a catalyst for poor ice conditions.

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Report: Seattle expansion discussed at NHL Board of Governors meeting

Where there's smoke, perhaps there's fire.

The NHL Board of Governors are meeting in Florida, and on Thursday the topic of expansion to Seattle was discussed, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

This news comes after Seattle's city council approved plans Monday for a $600-million redevelopment of KeyArena for the purpose of a multipurpose sports and entertainment area.

It's believed with the arena deal, former president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, Tim Leiweke, will make a pitch to have an NHL club housed in the facility.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to speak to the media Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.

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The only good news for Sens: things can’t get any worse

It was another depressing result Wednesday for the Ottawa Senators, being shut out for the second-straight game, 3-0 versus the Anaheim Ducks.

The blanking was just the latest in an almost unbearable stretch for the Sens that's seen them go 1-8-1 in their last 10 games. That said, if the optimists out there can hang their hats on one thing, it's that things can't get much worse.

Things began to go off the rails after the Senators swept the Colorado Avalanche in Sweden, just after the blockbuster trade in which Kyle Turris was swapped for Matt Duchene.

On Nov. 11, after a 4-3 win, the Senators had an 8-3-5 record, good enough for fourth in the Eastern Conference and third in the Atlantic Division (just three points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second with three games in hand).

However, since then the club has plummeted 10 spots in the East and sit tied with the Florida Panthers with the second-worst record, ahead of only the lowly Buffalo Sabres.

So what's gone wrong? Well, in a word, everything.

During the 10-game slide, the Senators have averaged just 1.5 goals per game, while giving up 3.6. In addition, they've been out-shot by nearly three shots per game.

Their special teams have been pitiful with the power-play connecting on just 8.57 percent of opportunities, and the penalty kill giving up a goal 25 percent of the time.

Further to that:

Stat Number (NHL Rank)
SCF% 47.12 (25)
Team SV% 88.16 (29)
Team SH% 5.43 (30)
PDO .936 (31)

It's been a wide-scale failure. Since the Duchene deal, much has been made about his mere two points in 12 games, but the fact is no one's been immune from terrible play over the last 10 games.

Mark Stone leads the way offensively with six points, while Ryan Dzingel and Mike Hoffman have scored the most goals (three each). Perhaps most puzzling is that Erik Karlsson has gone pointless in 10 straight games, the longest streak of his career.

Between the pipes, both Craig Anderson and Mike Condon have struggled with consistency. Last season, Anderson's .926 save percentage was third among goalies with at least 25 games played, but he's gone winless during the current stretch and sports a .894 save percentage and a goals-against average greater than three. Condon hasn't been much better. In four games, he's gone 1-2-1 with a .900 save percentage and 3.38 goals-against average.

So where do the Senators go from here? There appears to be only one direction: up. And here's why that may happen: with the NHL's worst PDO - generally a good indicator of a team's luck - the Senators have been extremely unlucky. Furthermore, Karlsson and Duchene are too talented offensively to continue down this road, while Anderson and Condon may be dealing with a loss of confidence.

Things are looking bleak for the Senators, but it's hard to envision things getting any worse.

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