November 22 — Metro Musings & Trade Sight Is 20/20

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MAYBE NEXT WEEK?: Looking to gain some more healthy players, the Toronto Maple Leafs may have to wait a little longer for the return of a couple of key absentees. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov (knee) will travel with the team on their upcoming four-game road trip, but head coach Sheldon Keefe said he is unlikely to play. Meanwhile, defenseman T.J. Brodie (oblique) has not progressed as hoped and will not accompany the team. 

ALL HAIL CALE:  On Nov. 21, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar reached yet another milestone, this time against the Dallas Stars. His goal during the first period entered him into the 200-point club, making him the fastest defenseman in NHL history to reach the mark (195 games). He beat out Sergei Zubov, who hit the milestone in his 207th game. 

DEVILS HIT BAKER’S DOZEN: Captain Nico Hischier led the way with three assists, with Jesper Bratt and Dawson Mercer contributing a goal and an assist in the New Jersey Devils’ 13th straight victory on Monday. It matches the longest winning streak in Devils history as they look to break the team record on Wednesday against the Maple Leafs. 

1,000 POINTS FOR BERGERON: Boston captain Patrice Bergeron recorded the secondary assist on the eventual game-winning goal by Brad Marchand in the second period of the Bruins’ 5-3 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning, giving Bergeron 1,000 career points. Appearing in 1,235 games—all with Boston—Bergeron has 409 goals and 591 assists, becoming the fourth Bruins player to reach the mark. 

Geno’s World

Evgeni Malkin celebrated a milestone on Nov. 19 when he played in his 1,0000 NHL game when the Pittsburgh Penguins faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a 5-3 victory. Malkin is one of the greatest Penguins and NHL players of all time, but how much do you know about the man lovingly referred to as “Geno?” Here are some fast facts about Malkin to celebrate his impressive milestone. 

The Restaurant Owner

You may be surprised that Malkin was a restaurant owner in his native Russia. Called VIP-Zone and described as an “offbeat restaurant/deli,” the report states that Malkin decorated this unique eatery like a Russian prison. It had barred windows and ceilings, and waitstaff donned striped prison wear. Malkin stated he wanted to open a restaurant with a concept never done before. We can say mission accomplished with that one!

The Bully

Besides the Geno nickname, Malkin has also garnered another nickname: “The Bully.” Former teammate Brooks Orpik shared a funny story that Malkin got that nickname because he had no problem messing with other teammates, “but as soon as you mess with him, it’s offside.” Just don’t bring up that nickname to him because he is not too fond of it! 

The Point Producer

When Malkin reached his 1,000th game, The Athletic released a fun stat about him, stating that Malkin has a point in 710 of his 1,000 games. With 1,166 points (452 goals, 714 assists) in those games with the Penguins, Malkin produces 1.6 points per game scored. Yep, he is pretty good!

The End Goal

Malkin has accomplished so much in his future Hall of Fame career. He has three Stanley Cups and is a seven-time All-Star, but he wants more. The 36-year-old mentioned his goal is to get a fourth Stanley Cup because if he reaches that mark, he will be the first Russian player to win that many. Not a terrible objective and the Penguins are in a good position to make another playoff run. 

Tracking Trades – With Some Hindsight

On Saturday, the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers faced off for the first time since engineering the Matthew Tkachuk blockbuster trade late in the offseason. Although the Flames won 5-4 in a thrilling shootout, the game mainly served as an excuse to offer more armchair analysis on a complex, fascinating megadeal.

As we approach Thanksgiving, we’ve reached a point in the NHL schedule where things no longer seem so early, and small sample sizes have given way to meaningful trends. That applies to trades, too. And so, in the vein of Tkachuk heading to Florida for Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, and futures, let’s look at player swaps from this past summer that have and haven’t paid off to this point.

Paying Off: Kevin Fiala to Los Angeles

Kevin Fiala, then with the Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Using their treasure trove of top prospects and future assets, the Los Angeles Kings were able to trade from a position of strength and add a 26-year-old winger coming off a 33-goal season for no one on their current roster. The Kings were a playoff team without Kevin Fiala, so a bona fide scorer on the wing should make them more formidable. It turns out that’s what’s happening, with the Swiss scorer quickly getting acclimated while contributing six goals and 18 points in 21 games.

Still Waiting: Evgenii Dadonov to Montreal

Shouldn’t this have been an automatic win? All it cost the Montreal Canadiens to add 20-goal scorer Evgenii Dadonov was the contract of Shea Weber, who is all but certain to retire. Dadonov, however, has just one point more than the injured Weber to date, with one goal, no assists, and several healthy scratches on the season. On the other hand, Weber’s LTIR space helped the Vegas Golden Knights keep Reilly Smith around.

Paying Off: Vítek Vaněček & John Marino to New Jersey

If only it were this easy all the time. New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald set out to acquire a young goaltender and blueliner this summer, two assets you don’t necessarily find growing on trees. At the cost of just a couple of third-rounders, a pick swap, and an AHL defenseman, Fitzerald managed to land Vítek Vaněček and John Marino in separate deals. Vaněček is 9-1-0 with sparkling numbers in the Devils’ crease, while Marino fits right in alongside Dougie Hamilton on New Jersey’s top defensive pairing. Executive of the Year, perhaps?

Still Waiting: Oliver Bjorkstrand to Seattle

Oliver Bjorkstrand, formerly of the Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As the Golden Knights demonstrated in 2017, an expansion team’s greatest strength comes in having seemingly endless cap space and being able to weaponize it in multiple ways. The Seattle Kraken enjoyed that same luxury last summer, choosing to use it to land 28-goal scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand on the cheap from a financially-handcuffed Columbus Blue Jackets team that just added Johnny Gaudreau. Unfortunately for Seattle, the 27-year-old has just one goal in 18 games with the Kraken.

What Teams Are Thankful For – Metropolitan Division

It’s Thanksgiving week in the States! That time of year when families gather together and pretend to tolerate each other while they stuff their faces with turkey and mashed potatoes. Keeping with the holiday spirit, we continue to break down what each NHL team is thankful for today with the Metropolitan Division.

New Jersey Devils: Literally Everything

You name it, and the New Jersey Devils are thankful for it. Goaltending? Absolutely. A mostly healthy lineup? Obviously. Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt? Duh! New Jersey’s fanbase is even grateful for head coach Lindy Ruff. Now, the Devils have officially won 13 straight games, and if we can quote Paris Hilton, “that’s hot!”

Carolina Hurricanes: Martin Nečas

Although the Carolina Hurricanes are off to a 10-5-4 start, good for second place in the Metro, they have struggled a lot this season. With Frederik Andersen and Teuvo Teräväinen joining Max Pacioretty on injured reserve, Carolina is thankful that 23-year-old Martin Nečas has stepped up his production. Nečas, who is second on the team in goals (nine) and leads the Canes in assists (14) and points (23), is on pace for 99 points while never having scored more than 41 in a season.

New York Islanders: Their Penalty Kill

Most expected the New York Islanders to do worse after firing Barry Trotz back in May. Although the club is back in the playoff hunt, the Islanders are averaging one more penalty taken per game than they were two seasons ago. Because of this, one of their greatest assets has been the penalty kill, ranking fifth in the league. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Casey Cizikas, and Zach Parise have been an absolute force and the main reason for their team’s early success. 

New York Rangers: Igor Shesterkin

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but without Igor Shesterkin, the New York Rangers (9-6-4) would be in trouble. Starting the season 9-2-3 in 14 games played, Shersterkin is responsible for 21 of New York’s 22 points. While backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak’s numbers have been mundane—an .883 save percentage (SV%) and 3.22 goals-against average (GAA) in five starts—Shesterkin is fifth in SV% (.917) and seventh in GAA (2.34) among goalies with five or more games played.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The ‘Big Three’

Another season in Pittsburgh means another year of the “Big Three.” Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, and Kris Letang are defying age as they became the winningest trio in the history of the NHL. Malkin and Crosby lead the way on offense for the Pens, while Letang sets the offensive pace for Pittsburgh’s blueliners. 

Philadelphia Flyers: John Tortorella

The John Tortorella era is here, and it has not disappointed. He is not messing around, as fans have seen him bench veterans who weren’t playing up to par while providing some epic sound bites to the media. Philadelphia is a bit of a mess, but with a coach like Torts, anything is possible as the season continues.

Washington Capitals: Ovechkin Goals

Alex Ovechkin continues to score goals in his pursuit to catch Wayne Gretzky, leading the Washington Capitals with nine tallies. Five of those markers have come on the power play, where Ovechkin is known to do most of his damage. At 7-10-3, there isn’t much to celebrate in the nation’s capital—other than watching Ovi chase history. 

Columbus Blue Jackets: Johnny Gaudreau

To say the Columbus Blue Jackets got hit with injuries is quite an understatement. Thankfully they have their $68.25 million man in the lineup, and Johnny Gaudreau has produced 18 points in 18 games. If the 29-year-old can remain in the lineup, there will be a reason to catch the latest Jackets game. 

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