Monday’s Moon Shot
STUNNING TRAGEDY: The entire hockey world is mourning the loss of Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks, who was tragically killed in Michigan on Sunday night after sustaining chest trauma during an apparent fireworks accident. The 24-year-old appeared in eight career games with Columbus, and was just getting started in both life and hockey. We here at Morning Skate, along with The Hockey Writers entire organization, offer our deepest condolences to all of those who have been impacted by this unthinkable event. Rest in peace, Matiss.
NICK OF TIME: Minnesota forward Nick Bjugstad, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28, signed a one-year, $900,000 deal with the club on Monday. The 28-year-old had six goals and 11 assists in 44 games this season.
BEWARE WHAT YOU WISH FOR: Tampa Bay mayor Jane Castor thought Sunday was a good day to openly taunt the hockey gods, requesting the team lose Game 4 in order to win on home ice Wednesday. Welp, here’s your chance!
STAYIN’ ALIVE: Josh Anderson’s heroics helped the Canadiens stave off elimination and force Game 5 back in Tampa, and in the process he became the first Montreal player since 1993 to score multiple overtime goals in the same playoff season.
WORKIN’ OVERTIME: Montreal improved to 6-1 in overtime games this postseason, ranking fifth all-time in playoff overtime wins. The Habs are preceded by the 1993 Canadiens (10 overtime wins), 2003 Ducks (7), 2002 Hurricanes (7), and 2020 Lightning (7).
Do you know your NHL Awards trivia?
- How many trophies are handed out during the NHL Awards?
- Who is the only player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy three times?
- Patrick Roy
- Bernie Parent
- Mario Lemieux
- Jean-Sébastien Giguère
- Which team has the most Vezina Trophy winners?
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Montreal Canadiens
- Boston Bruins
- Buffalo Sabres
- How many times has Wayne Gretzky won the Hart Memorial Trophy?
- Which team leads the league with 14 Norris Trophy winners in franchise history?
- Montreal Canadiens
- Detroit Red Wings
- Edmonton Oilers
- Boston Bruins
Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.
Three Names, Eight Years, Two Big Extensions
Another tight offseason timeline has prompted some early front office action. The Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild didn’t even wait for the Stanley Cup Final to wrap up before extending their own key building blocks — locking up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Joel Eriksson Ek, respectively, to new eight-year deals.
Given the identical term and the mere $1 million discrepancy between the deals (for the record, Eriksson Ek got $42 million, while Nugent-Hopkins got $41 million), there’s an inherent comparability between these two contracts, which were both signed last week.
It goes without saying that Nugent-Hopkins and Eriksson Ek are two very different players. While RNH, the former No. 1 overall draft pick, carries explosive offensive potential, Eriksson Ek is better recognized for a stalwart two-way game — thus making him an ideal fit with the defensively responsible Wild. In Edmonton, the hope is that Nugent-Hopkins can continue to be a potent and productive secondary scorer behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Meanwhile, expectations for the Wild forward hinge more on clearing room for and limiting the mistakes of Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov.
It’s important to note the most critical difference between these two men — age. Eriksson Ek is just shy of four full years younger than Nugent-Hopkins. When the two deals expire in 2029, RNH will be 36 while Eriksson Ek will only be 32. Having that much more of the deal take place in Eriksson Ek’s prime years makes the deal look that much more shrewd on Minnesota’s part.
For as much as the two contracts provide a direct basis of comparison through their details, establishing a winner may not be clear or easy. Eriksson Ek may never produce at the roughly 23-goals-per-season pace that Nugent-Hopkins has across the past four seasons, a number that could go up if he’s paired with his superstar teammates at any point in time. That said, Eriksson Ek’s new contract will instantly look like a team-friendly deal if he can become a regular Selke contender.
Oilers GM Ken Holland and Wild GM Bill Guerin offered their franchises some stability this past week by offering RNH and Eriksson Ek contract extensions. However, it still remains to be seen which team will benefit more. Stats and future trophy announcements could make either contract look favorable long-term, but, of course, the true measure of value will ultimately come down to how the players help their franchises win.