March 9 — Wild Cards, Central Buyers & Women’s D-I Primer

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

5 MORE YEARS: Jared McCann will be sticking around the Pacific Northwest a little longer after signing a five-year, $25 million extension with the Seattle Kraken. At 25 years old, McCann has been one of the few bright spots for the Kraken this season, notching a career-best 21 goals and 33 points in 50 games. 

1,000 TO 766: On a night that saw Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Bäckström become the ninth pair of teammates to appear in 1,000 games together, Ovechkin scored two goals to tie Jaromir Jágr for third in NHL history with 766. With the game played in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome, Ovechkin’s 766th came on the same ice where Jágr tallied his final marker. 

RAISING MONEY FOR UKRAINE: Speaking of Jágr, the 50-year-old owner/president/player of Rytíři Kladno in the Czech Extraliga raised over $160,000 for refugees who settled in the Czech Republic from Ukraine. Moving Kladno’s final home game from the 5,250-seat Rocknet Arena to their opponent HC Sparta Praha’s 18,000-seat O2 Arena yesterday, the teams hosted 14,512 fans in the season finale. In support, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league is donating $68,000 in honor of Jágr’s number. 

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Yesterday, for International Women’s Day, multiple teams, leagues, and organizations took to social media to celebrate the women who are integral to their lives. It was also Gender Equality Night for the New Jersey Devils, who wore special warmup jerseys designed by local artist Amrisa Niranjan in one of the 11 NHL games on Tuesday

Wild Card Watch

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins: Bruce Cassidy‘s team is two points ahead of the Washington Capitals, with 73 points in 57 games. They have occupied a Wild Card spot for most of the season and are now only five points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lately, Bruins fans have seen their team suffer from collapses and struggle to close games. Boston will need to fix that in a hurry if the organization wants to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016. 

Washington Capitals: The Capitals have recently struggled. There was inconsistency in their lineup, topped with a struggling power play and an inability to win on home ice. The good news for the Caps and their fans is that they are 3-0 in March and scored 14 goals in that time period. It appears the worst is behind them but they will have to keep up their current pace if they want to keep the Columbus Blue Jackets at bay.

Team to Watch: Columbus Blue Jackets

Western Conference

Nashville Predators: Nashville is only one point behind the Minnesota Wild. The Preds have spent some time this season at the top in the Central and are currently on a two-game winning streak, so expect them to get back in the hunt. Kicking off that recent win streak was an impressive victory against the San Jose Sharks on March 5, which resulted in an 8-0 thumping. Goaltender Juuse Saros only had to make 20 saves, and team captain Roman Josi had a four-point night. 

Dallas Stars: The Dallas Stars have been in the news a lot lately due to the talented play of youngster Jason Robertson. They are one point behind the Predators and 7-2-1 in their last 10. At 37 years old, Joe Pavelski is leading his team with 59 points. With seven road games this month, the Stars will need to learn how to win away from American Airlines Center if they want to punch their ticket to the postseason. 

Team to Watch: Edmonton Oilers

Trade Deadline Primer: Central Division Buyers

After sorting out the trade deadline focus of each of the Atlantic Division clubs over the past three newsletters, it’s high time to jump over to the Central Division—or the Colorado Avalanche and everybody else. The Avs currently have a commanding lead atop the Central but are still reportedly looking to beef up a roster that already has the makings of a Cup contender. After Colorado, you’ve got a tight mix of teams jockeying for one of the two remaining divisional playoff spots in what could be a close contest down the stretch.

Here are the buyers for the Central Division:

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Executive Vice President and GM Joe Sakic (Photo by RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post via Getty Images)

After years of keeping quiet around the trade deadline, the Avalanche might be making some noise about adding to an already star-studded core. The question here is which weaknesses need to be addressed first. Goaltending might once have been at the top of the list, but Darcy Kuemper has come into his own. Perhaps GM Joe Sakic will look to the blue line, where some veteran experience (Mark Giordano, perhaps?) could help support young Cale Makar. However, the health of Bowen Byram could play a crucial role here.

St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Roberson)

Disappointing seasons from blue line linchpins like Colton Parayko and Robert Bortuzzo haven’t impeded the success of the St. Louis Blues this season but did highlight a specific area of need for the 2019 Stanley Cup champions. A tight cap will make it hard for GM Doug Armstrong to do much significance, but perhaps a depth move like they pulled off at the 2020 deadline for Marco Scandella will be in the cards.

Nashville Predators

David Poile, Nashville Predators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Nashville Predators haven’t been on the radar of many hockey folks this season, so their inclusion among the trade deadline buyers might come as something of a surprise. However, in a crowded Central playoff mix, Nashville’s cap space (roughly $10 million) sets them apart. While it’s more likely that the Preds don’t spend to the cap ceiling, they do have the means to chase a big fish like Tomas Hertl or Jakob Chychrun if GM David Poile opts to go all-in.

Women’s NCAA Division I Tournament

Yesterday, we previewed the NCAA Division III (D-III) Women’s Hockey Tournament, and March Madness continues today as we look at the NCAA Division I (D-I) Tournament. Officially known as the National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey Championship, the tourney consists of 11 teams. Four teams were awarded automatic bids through conference championships, while the other seven received at-large invitations.

Since the inclusion of 11 teams creates an odd number of participants, the top five teams were seeded and earned a bye into the Quarterfinals. The remaining six teams will play in the First Round at the campus of the seeded team in their region. This year’s Frozen Four and National Championship games are at Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena in State College, PA, as Wisconsin looks to defend its crown.


#1 Ohio State Buckeyes

Location: Columbus, OH
Rank: 1st (Western Collegiate Hockey Association Champion)
Record: 29-6-0
Top Scorer: Sophie Jacques (20 Goals, 37 Assists, 57 Points)
Top Goalie: Amanda Thiele (1.23 Goals-Against Average, .944 Save Percentage)

#2 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Rank: 2nd (WCHA At-Large)
Record: 29-8-1
Top Scorer: Taylor Heise (29 G, 37 A, 66 P)
Top Goalie: Lauren Bench (1.97 GAA, .919 SV%)

#3 Northeastern Huskies

Location: Boston, MA
Rank: 3rd (Hockey East Association Champion)
Record: 30-4-2
Top Scorer: Maureen Murphy (29 G, 25 A, 54 P)
Top Goalie: Aerin Frankel (1.03 GAA, .957 SV%)

#4 Colgate Raiders

Location: Hamilton, NY
Rank: 4th (ECAC Hockey Champion)
Record: 30-7-1
Top Scorer: Kalty Kaltounkova (28 G, 25 A, 53 P)
Top Goalie: Hannah Murphy (1.47 GAA, .932 SV%)

#5 Yale Bulldogs

Location: New Haven, CT
Rank: 6th (ECAC At-Large)
Record: 25-8-1
Top Scorer: Elle Hartje (16 G, 34 A, 50 P)
Top Goalie: Gianna Meloni (1.50 GAA, .937 SV%)

Quinnipiac Bobcats

Location: Hamden, CT
Rank: 7th (ECAC At-Large)
Record: 25-9-3
Top Scorer: Olivia Mobley (17 G, 14 A, 31 P)
Top Goalie: Corinne Schroeder (1.42 GAA, .950 SV%)

Syracuse Orange

Location: Syracuse, NY
Rank: Unranked (College Hockey Association At-Large)
Record: 15-10-6
Top Scorer: Abby Moloughney (16 G, 14 A, 30 P)
Top Goalie: Arielle DeSmet (1.99 GAA, .937 SV%)

Wisconsin Badgers

Location: Madison, WI
Rank: 5th (WCHA At-Large)
Record: 25-7-4
Top Scorer: Daryl Watts (27 G, 29 A, 56 P)
Top Goalie: Kennedy Blair (1.46 GAA, .927 SV%)

Clarkson Golden Knights

Location: Potsdam, NY
Rank: 10th (ECAC At-Large)
Record: 22-11-3
Top Scorer: Caitrin Lonergan (17 G, 30 A, 47 P)
Top Goalie: Michelle Pasiechnyk (1.68 GAA, .930 SV%)

Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

Location: Duluth, MN
Rank: 8th (WCHA At-Large)
Record: 24-11-1
Top Scorer: Elizabeth Giguère (21 G, 35 A, 56 P)
Top Goalie: Emma Söderberg (2.33 GAA, .913 SV%)

Harvard Crimson

Location: Boston, MA
Rank: 9th (ECAC At-Large)
Record: 22-9-1
Top Scorer: Becca Gilmore (19 G, 26 A, 45 P)
Top Goalie: Becky Dutton (1.99 GAA, .922 SV%)


Both Frozen Four games will be broadcast on ESPN+, while the Championship game will be on ESPNU. All times are Eastern. You can view the bracket here

Thursday, March 10 (First Round)

GM 1: Quinnipiac vs. Syracuse (6:00 PM, Columbus, OH) | GM 2: Wisconsin vs. Clarkson (7:00 PM, Boston, MA) | GM 3: Minn. Duluth vs. Harvard (7:00 PM, Minneapolis, MN)

Saturday, March 12 (Quarterfinals)

GM 4: GM 2 Winner @ Northeastern (1:00 PM) | GM 5: Yale @ Colgate (3:00 PM) | GM 6: GM 3 Winner @ Minnesota (3:00 PM) | GM 7: GM 1 Winner @ Ohio St. (5:00 PM)

Friday, March 18 (Semifinals)

GM 8: GM 7 Winner vs. GM 5 Winner (3:30 PM) | GM 9: GM 4 Winner @ GM 6 Winner (7:00 PM)

Sunday, March 20 (Championship)

GM 10: GM 8 Winner @ GM 9 Winner (4:00 PM)

Players to Watch

Taylor Heise, Minnesota
Heise, a senior forward, leads the nation in points, registering eight more than the next-closest player. She has been the leading force behind the Gopher offense, which ranks first in goals (168) and second in goals per game (4.42).

Sophie Jacques, Ohio State
The senior defenseman has helped lead the Buckeyes to the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Despite playing defense, she ranks second in the country in points per game (1.63).

Aerin Frankel, Northeastern
A graduate student, Frankel is the only goaltender named as a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the best player in NCAA Division I women’s hockey. She ranks second in the nation in GAA and SV% and is first in shutouts (11).

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule