Last Night’s News 📰
WEEGAR’S FIRE EXTENSION: Friday morning, the Calgary Flames announced they signed defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to an eight-year, $50 million deal. With Jonathan Huberdeau and now Weegar locked in, the future in Calgary looks bright, as the 28-year-old had a career-high 45 points in Florida last season.
AYE, AYE CAPTAIN: On Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres announced they named Kyle Okposo as their captain. Okposo, 34, is heading into his seventh season with the Sabres and is one of the most respected veterans in the league. He had 45 points in 72 games last season and is entering the final year of his seven-year deal.
A CLEAN SWEEP OVERSEAS: After sweeping the San Jose Sharks at the 2022 NHL Global Series, the Nashville Predators are already 2-0-0. Kiefer Sherwood scored the first goal of the season, and newly acquired Ryan McDonagh has collected two points in two games. Nashville will look to make it 3-0-0 on Thursday when it hosts the Dallas Stars.
A CHECK FOR A CHECK ON TROCHECK: NHL Player Safety levied a fine of $5,000 against newcomer Alexander Romanov of the New York Islanders for a check on Vincent Trocheck of the New York Rangers during a preseason contest between the in-state rivals. The penalty was the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement.
DOLLARS FOR DARRYL: Coming off a Pacific Division title, the Calgary Flames are extending head coach Darryl Sutter for two more seasons. Sutter is 64 years old and is in his second stint with the Flames, having won the Jack Adams Award for the best coach in the NHL last year. His contract will kick in during the 2023-24 season.
FALL IS FOR FLIPPING FORWARDS: Two trades took place over the weekend. First, the Chicago Blackhawks sent defenseman Riley Stillman to the Vancouver Canucks for center Jason Dickinson and a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. Then the St. Louis Blues traded center Klim Kostin to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Dmitri Samorukov.
FINAL CUTS: Teams across the NHL made roster cuts on Sunday to trim down to 23 names in time for the 5:00 pm ET deadline today. Some players, like Zach Aston-Reese and Jimmy Vesey, earned deals after signing professional tryout contracts (PTO) heading into camp.
Global Series Overreactions
As we mentioned on Friday, the 2022-23 regular season is upon us! Some 5,000-plus miles away, the Nashville Predators got their campaign off to a 2-0 start thanks to 4-1 and 3-2 victories over the San Jose Sharks as part of the Global Series in Prague, Czech Republic.
Realistically, it’s been two games contested between the same teams—hardly a significant sample size! Still, it’s actual, meaningful hockey that will ultimately have to sustain us until tomorrow night. So, who’s up for some over-analysis of the season’s first 120 minutes of NHL hockey??
Nino Niederreiter’s “Rocket” Richard Trophy Chase
Nino Niederreiter made his new employers feel good about their free agent signing during his Nashville debut. With three goals in two games, the 30-year-old Swiss forward is now on pace to score a record-breaking 123 goals this season. It would help, of course, if he keeps up his 100% shooting percentage to date, having scored on all three shots he attempted against the Sharks.
While on the topic of recently acquired players, Kaapo Kähkönen is entering his first entire season in San Jose after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild in a trade deadline deal for Jacob Middleton. For a guy hoping to take command of the Sharks’ crease this year, allowing three goals on 14 shots is a sub-optimal way to get that effort started. Just 26 and signed for an additional season beyond this one, the club would love Kähkönen to seize the job of incumbent James Reimer, but he needs to show more than that.
Juuse and Kevin
While they aren’t likely to contend for the Stanley Cup, the Predators’ goaltending might be the envy of most of the league’s other 31 teams. Saros has been the picture of stability since taking over from Pekka Rinne in net and has now started this year in similar form, kicking things off by stopping 22 of 23 shots in Game 1. Kevin Lankinen, meanwhile, looked strong in his Predators’ debut on Saturday with 33 saves. Things are looking good between the pipes in Smashville.
Nashville GM David Poile deserves credit for maintaining a relatively manageable cap situation. That savvy management was rewarded in July when the Preds acquired blueliner Ryan McDonagh for cents on the dollar as the Tampa Bay Lightning had little choice but to dump his salary. Poile will be alright with paying McDonagh $6.75 million per season so long as he keeps scoring at a point-per-game pace while logging nearly 22 minutes each night.
Livin’ the Good Life
Many NHL players move on from their teams in the offseason through trade or free agency. When someone goes to another team, there is no telling how they will do in their new surroundings, but the preseason gives a good idea of what people are thinking. Ottawa Senators forward Alex DeBrincat was recently on the “32 Thoughts Podcast,” talking about his experience in Ottawa since being traded from the Chicago Blackhawks, stating in part, “I’m excited to be here with the talent we have in that locker room. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play hockey, and I’m not so sure it’s going to be great in Chicago. So, I’m excited to play some meaningful games and enjoy that here.”
Since it sounds like DeBrincat is having fun in his new surroundings, we figured we would check in on other players living their best lives in their new threads.
Nino Niederreiter signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Nashville Predators during free agency after spending the last four seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. He was always a steady point producer in Carolina, and it looks like that is translating to Nashville. Niederreiter had three goals in his first two games, which has lifted the team to a 2-0 record this season. Get the catfish ready, Smashville!
Kevin Fiala could not be happier to be living in Los Angeles. He was traded to the Kings from the Minnesota Wild over the summer and ultimately agreed to a seven-year, $55.125 million deal. He mentioned how excited he is to explore the food scene, stating, “The restaurants, getting a chance to explore a new city—we are excited about that for sure. My wife and I really like Asian food, and I heard the Mexican food is great there as well. Sushi, steakhouses, Italian—there’s going to be a lot of places to get out and try. When you think about it, you realize there is so much to look forward to.” It must be working since he had two goals during the preseason!
Jonathan Huberdeau was traded from the Florida Panthers to the Calgary Flames in July and signed an eight-year, $84 million extension. His acclimation from the hot to cold climate has been seamless after contributing with a spin-o-rama assist on Tyler Toffoli’s goal against the Winnipeg Jets in the preseason and posing on Instagram riding a horse at the Calgary Stampeders football game. Yep, we would say Huby and Calgary are a perfect match!
Player Spotlight — Jordan Eberle
It is hard to believe that Jordan Eberle will be starting his 13th NHL season. At 32 years old, the Regina native finished the 2021-22 campaign with 44 points (21 goals, 23 assists), which was third-best among Seattle Kraken skaters. Eberle was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2008 and traded to the New York Islanders, where he played for four seasons. On July 21, 2021, Seattle chose Eberle from New York in the Expansion Draft. Fans know plenty about what he brings to the ice, but what about his life off it? Let’s check in.
Favorite Road City:
Preferred Way to Pass Time on Team Flights:
What Do You Like to Listen to on Your iPod?:
What Was Your Favorite Cartoon Growing Up?:
If You Could Only Eat One Thing for the Rest of Your Life, It Would Be:
Heading into the 2022-23 season, the Morning Skate will introduce The Hockey Writers team contributors as they share some quick thoughts on what has been happening with their respective clubs this summer.
New York Islanders
How Would You Rate the Team’s Offseason?
A Prospect Who Could Make His NHL Debut This Season:
An Offseason Move That Will Pay Off This Season:
Most Underrated Player on the Roster:
Which Player Departure Was the Biggest Loss?:
Will the Hiring of John Tortorella Lead to an Immediate Improvement?:
Do the Islanders More Closely Resemble the 2020-21 or 2021-22 Team?
PHI: No. However, they could benefit from having an experienced coach who will do things the right way.
NYI: The 2020-21 team
- Today’s newsletter was edited by Kyle Knopp, with contributions by Ben Fisher, Kristy Flannery, and Brooke LoFurno.
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