March 18 — Hobey Baker Prospects & Deadline Weekend

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

TOUGH BREAK: Ottawa Senators defensive anchor Thomas Chabot likely is done for the season after fracturing his hand on Wednesday night in a 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Chabot has recorded six goals and 28 assists in 55 games with the Sens while averaging a league-high 26:23 of time on ice per game. 

GRILLED CHEESES FOR GIROUX: Yesterday, Claude Giroux played in his 1,000th NHL game, all with the Philadelphia Flyers. To honor his historic night, the league and team presented Giroux with multiple gifts, former teammates sent well wishes during a video tribute, and his father read off the starting lineup in the locker room. Tying the night together for the organization’s longest-tenured captain, the Flyers offered grilled cheese to fans throughout the arena, Giroux’s favorite snack. 

JARRY GETS 30: Bryan Rust scored the only goal in a shootout, as Tristan Jarry made 23 saves to pick up his 30th win for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jarry joins Matt Murray, Marc-André Fleury, and Tom Barrasso as the only Penguins goaltenders to win 30 games in a season and is the fourth goalie (Andrei Vasilevskiy, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Frederik Andersen) to reach the 30-win mark this year. 

STEALING BREAD: New York Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin submitted a candidate for save of the season on Thursday, robbing New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin of an empty-net goal. After a broken play saw the newest Rangers member, Frank Vatrano, pass the puck across the slot to a wide-open Panarin, Sorokin leaned back and stretched out, using the paddle of his stick to keep the puck from going in. 

Friday Favorites

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

Vancouver Snaps Losing Streak

Entering this week, the Vancouver Canucks’ last victory over the New Jersey Devils was Nov. 25, 2014. They lost 12 consecutive matchups but earned a win in front of their home fans on Tuesday night at Rogers Arena. Quinn Hughes finally has bragging rights over younger brother Jack as they celebrated six goals to the Devils’ three. There were chants of “Bruce, there it is,” along with plenty of opportunities to throw your fist in the air like John Bender and sing along to Simple Minds. 

Trade Deadline Mayhem

While the trade deadline is one of the most stressful times of the year for hockey families, it is one of the best for fans of the game. The Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers made a splash with each team signing a defenseman to strengthen their blue line. They are the first and second-best teams in the league, respectively, and rumors are that both are after veteran Claude Giroux. Expect more trades over the weekend, as fans will be on the edge of their seat until Monday’s 3:00 pm EDT deadline.

Ovechkin Scores 767

Alex Ovechkin reached another milestone, passing Jaromir Jágr for third all-time on the NHL goal list Tuesday night. Fans at Capital One Arena witnessed history as Ovechkin scored off an offensive zone faceoff. The Capitals’ captain got swarmed by his teammates, who left the bench to celebrate his latest accomplishment. He is now 34 goals away from tying Gordie Howe and 128 from Wayne Gretzky for first place. 

Prospects Watch: Hobey Baker Award

Yesterday, the NCAA announced the finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top men’s hockey player. That number will dwindle to three on March 31 before announcing the winner during the Frozen Four on April 8. Out of the finalists for the award, five were taken in recent drafts by NHL teams.

Hobey Baker Award (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Matty Beniers, Michigan/Seattle Kraken

Beniers was the second-overall pick by the expansion Kraken in the 2021 NHL Draft and the first-ever selection for the franchise. The 19-year-old sophomore forward, a finalist for Big Ten Player of the Year, leads Michigan with 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 33 games. That’s good for 10th in the country in points per game, 9th in goals per game, and 4th in power-play goals (11). He also played for the U.S. in the Beijing Olympics, tallying one goal and one assist in four games.

Bobby Brink, Denver/Philadelphia Flyers

A junior forward, Brink was selected 34th overall by the Flyers in 2019 and currently leads the nation in points (55) and assists (41) in 36 games for Denver this season. He is also a finalist for National Collegiate Hockey Conference Player of the Year and won a gold medal with the U.S. at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, recording two goals and six assists in four games.

Nathan Smith, Minnesota State/Winnipeg Jets

Another junior forward, Smith was drafted 81st overall by the Jets in the 2018 Draft. He is tied for second in the country with his teammate Julian Napravnik in points, tallying 48 (18 goals, 30 assists) in 34 games. Like Beniers, the 23-year-old Smith also competed in the 2022 Beijing Olympics for the U.S., notching a goal and an assist in four games.

Luke Hughes, Michigan/New Jersey Devils

Hughes is the first freshman named as a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist since 2018. A defenseman and brother of current NHLers Quinn and Jack Hughes, Luke is the highest-scoring blueliner this season with 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 37 games, breaking Michigan freshman records for goals and points. He was selected fourth overall by the Devils (Jack’s team) in the 2021 Draft.

Devon Levi, Northeastern/Buffalo Sabres

One of three goaltenders in the list of 10 finalists, the sophomore was a seventh-round pick (212th overall) by the Florida Panthers in the 2020 NHL Draft, then was traded to Buffalo (along with a 2022 first-round pick) for Sam Reinhart in July 2021. In 30 games this season, the 20-year-old ranks third in the nation in goals-against average (1.47), second in shutouts (10), and first in save percentage (.954).

Trade Deadline Primer: Pacific Division Sellers

The lower tiers of the Pacific Division have already announced they aren’t going to sit idly ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. While the Seattle Kraken initiated the predictable jettisoning of pending free agents for draft picks by sending winger Calle Järnkrok to the Calgary Flames, the San Jose Sharks took a speculated trade name off the board by signing Tomáš Hertl to an eight-year contract extension.

With a whopping 11 more pending free agents on the roster, the Kraken likely aren’t done amassing future assets. Meanwhile, it isn’t hard to imagine the Sharks and the backsliding Anaheim Ducks joining the “seller” fray over the weekend.

Seattle Kraken

Will Gio get a shot at the Cup? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After Järnkrok, who’s next amidst the purge of the expansion Kraken? There’s little sense in keeping aging veterans around, so expect captain Mark Giordano to be on the move in pursuit of a Stanley Cup. While the 38-year-old would probably be the headliner of any Seattle deals, they could also potentially net some return on veteran depth forwards like Marcus Johansson and Riley Sheahan. Ron Francis, have your phone ready!

San Jose Sharks

Don’t worry, Sharks fans, Tomáš Hertl isn’t going anywhere. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Extending Hertl amidst growing trade speculation was the Sharks’ first order of business. Even with some bad contracts on the roster (apologies, Marc-Édouard Vlasic), San Jose has cap space they can weaponize, taking on a bad contract or two for draft capital. Failing that, teams have reportedly checked in on the likes of defenseman Jacob Middleton and goaltender James Reimer. GM Doug Wilson has players to move, but the Hertl signing signals he isn’t necessarily ready for a full-blown rebuild.

Anaheim Ducks

Could Rickard Rakell be on the move? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Remember that eight-game win streak back in November? Good times. As fun and exciting as the promising Ducks have looked this season, they were probably out of likely playoff contention before a winless road trip saw them slide even further. With Josh Manson already shipped off to Colorado, Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm could soon follow him out the door.

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NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule