April 29 — Last Day of the 2021-22 Regular Season!

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU: Yesterday, two-time Stanley Cup champion Dustin Brown announced he is retiring after the Los Angeles Kings’ playoff run. Brown, the leader in games played for the Kings, is the latest member of the 2003 Draft to hang up the skates this season. 

TRULY EXCEPTIONAL: The Saginaw Spirit confirmed that they will select 15-year-old Michael Misa with the first overall pick in today’s OHL Draft. Misa will become the fifth underage player taken with the top pick after being granted exceptional status, joining John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, and Shane Wright.

LANDESKOG LOOMING: Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog skated yesterday for the first time since having knee surgery on March 14. The plan is for Landeskog, who has 59 points (30 goals, 29 assists) in 51 games this season for the Avalanche, to return for Game 1 of the playoffs.

PANTHERS PROCURE PRESIDENTS’: Thanks to a 4-0 shutout over the Ottawa Senators and the Avalanche losing to the Nashville Predators 5-4 in a shootout, the Florida Panthers will finish the 2021-22 season as the top team in the NHL. Spencer Knight made 27 saves to earn his second career clean sheet, leading the Panthers to their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy. 

Friday Favorites

Let’s look back at our favorite moments of the week.

🎵Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye🎵

It was a game circled on everyone’s calendar, and it did not disappoint when the Vegas Golden Knights traveled to Texas to face the Dallas Stars in a must-win game. Jake Oettinger squared off against Logan Thompson in the crease, as both goalies put on a show for the fans at American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Golden Knights in a shootout, destroying their opponent’s chance for a postseason appearance. Hockey Twitter celebrated as Vegas’ playoff hopes slipped away on Wednesday night. 

The NHL Has a 60-Goal Scorer

Auston Matthews hit an impressive milestone Tuesday night, becoming the first player to score 60 goals since Steven Stamkos did it in the 2011-12 campaign. The Arizona native completed the feat in 73 games and has 106 points while enjoying the best season of his career. Matthews is currently on a four-game point streak with one regular-season game left before the fun begins on Monday. 

NHL Players’ Association Poll Released

It is always interesting to see the NHL Players’ Association poll come out at the end of the year as it breaks down on-ice, off-ice, and player personality. Players selected Sidney Crosby as the “most complete” player, and to no one’s surprise, Vegas was picked as the best NHL road city to spend an off day. Our favorite selection was Buffalo’s own Cody Eakin having the best hockey hair, and it’s hard to disagree. Check out all the selections here

Hart Trophy Preview

We took a look at the contenders for the Calder Trophy on Wednesday and previewed the Norris race on Thursday. Today, we’ll turn our attention to the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s most valuable player. Like the Calder Trophy race, there is one frontrunner as the betting favorite, and similar to the Norris race, two players stand out among the field. Here is a look at the contenders for the Hart.

Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Matthews, who became the third active player in the NHL and the first American-born player to score 60 goals in a season, is the favorite to win the Hart Trophy. Multiple sportsbooks have his odds at -350. If he does take home the award, it would add to a collection that includes the Calder Trophy in 2016-17 and the Rocket Richard Trophy (given to the league’s top goal scorer) last year. This season, the 24-year-old center has 106 points (60 goals, 46 assists) in 73 games for the 53-21-7 Maple Leafs. He leads the league in goals and ranks fifth in points.

Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s no wonder that the top two betting favorites for the Hart Trophy are arguably the league’s two best young forwards. McDavid looks to win his third Hart Trophy and second in as many seasons. After securing last year’s award with 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 56 games, the 25-year-old center has 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists) through 80 games for the 48-27-6 Oilers. He ranks seventh in the NHL in goals, second in assists, and first in points.

Igor Shesterkin – New York Rangers

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Shesterkin, who played his 100th NHL game on Tuesday night, is a lock to win the Vezina Trophy (as the league’s top goalie), and he might win the Hart too. After impressing in 12 games in 2019-20 and posting a 2.62 goals-against average (GAA) and a .916 save percentage (SV%) in 35 games last season, the 26-year-old is 36-13-4 after posting a 2.07 GAA and a .935 SV% in 53 games this year. He has been a vital catalyst behind the Rangers’ 51-24-6 record. He leads all goaltenders in GAA and SV%.

Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The impressive Calgary Flames, 50-20-11 on the season, are led by the likely Jack Adams Award winner (as the NHL’s best coach) in Darryl Sutter. They also have a Hart Trophy contender in 28-year-old left winger Johnny Gaudreau. Johnny Hockey fired past his previous best season (2018-19, when he had 99 points in 82 games), by scoring 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) in 81 games. He is tied for second in points and third in assists.

Jonathan Huberdeau – Florida Panthers

Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Florida Panthers are 58-17-6 and secured the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s best regular-season team, and the centerpiece of the club is Huberdeau. Florida’s 28-year-old playmaking winger has 115 points (30 goals, 85 assists), leading the league in assists and tied for second in points.

Have a Good Summer!

With the Dallas Stars earning the one point needed to clinch the final Western Conference wild card spot in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the 2022 playoff field is officially set. As 16 teams shift their focus to exciting, high-stakes postseason play, it’s worth remembering that now, in a 32-team league, just as many squads are packing their bags after this week.

Of course, that’s the whole idea of the “Have a Good Summer!” series, where we spare a thought for those waylaid along the way to what is now a compelling playoff picture. Therefore, let’s get to our final cast-offs—at least until first-round series results shrink the playoff field even further.

New York Islanders

If the Islanders look to run it back next season and treat this year (especially the first half) as an anomaly, wouldn’t that be one of the most interesting 2022-23 plot lines? While the 2021 Eastern Conference finalists will need to address a blue line with just three players under contract for next season, they have no significant free agents owed new contracts and roughly $12 million to play with in cap space. UBS Arena may not be far from housing a winner!

Winnipeg Jets

It might be time for a shakeup in the Peg, where a core that includes Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and Connor Hellebuyck has delivered just one playoff series win since the club reached the 2018 Western Conference Final. A new contract for RFA Pierre-Luc Dubois will be a priority, but with some calling for the firing of longtime GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and murmurs about a possible Scheifele trade, a change could be on the horizon.

Vancouver Canucks

So, which are the real Canucks? Are they the team that found new life under Bruce Boudreau and even made the playoff race tighter than expected with a six-game win streak in early April? Or the club that floundered under Jim Benning and Travis Green early, then only mustered a 2-4-3 record at the most critical juncture of the season? New Vancouver GM Patrik Allvin will have to ponder that question as he determines Boudreau’s future and works on a new contract with Brock Boeser.

Vegas Golden Knights

While perhaps not everyone is heartbroken by the Golden Knights missing the playoffs for the first time, the club must now figure out what comes next. With Vegas loaded with an excess of long-term contracts and a lack of draft picks, a teardown is out of the question this offseason. There also isn’t much wiggle room for roster tweaking. It’s hard to see an alternate path to running it back and hoping their cursed run of injuries doesn’t carry over into next season.

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule