Roberto Luongo to decide on playing future after the season

Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo has not yet made a decision on his plans beyond this season. He plans to sit down with the team at the end of the year to discuss his future. The veteran has battled through another injury-plagued season while posting the lowest save percentage of his career, playing in just 38 games as a result.

Luongo, in the past, has indicated that he plans to play out the entirety of his contract, which runs for three more years after this one. However, the soon-to-be 40-year-old is set to earn a total of $3.618M over the remainder of his deal which is significantly lower than the $5.33M AAV of the deal.

Many expect Florida to be aggressive in free agency this summer and it has been expected for a while that they will take a run at Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. If they were to bring him in, they wouldn’t be able to afford Luongo’s cap hit as their backup, nor would they likely keep James Reimer ($3.4M per year through 2020-21) around as well. Instead, youngster Samuel Montembeault, who is expected to get the bulk of the playing time down the stretch, could wind up as a regular on the roster next season.

Further complicating the decision for Luongo and the Panthers is the potential for salary cap recapture as they, along with Vancouver, would be on the hook for some. This was put in place to penalize long-term contracts that were heavily frontloaded and tacked on cheap years at the end for the purposes of artificially lowering the AAV. James Mirtle of The Athletic (Twitter link) broke down the approximate numbers several years ago and if Luongo was to retire following this season, Florida would be on the hook for a cap hit of $1.287M for three years while the Canucks would carry a $2.84M penalty for that same time.

Because of Luongo’s growing injury history, it’s also possible that the Panthers will make a case that he should just be placed on LTIR which would allow them to exceed the Upper Limit for next season without incurring any recapture penalties. We’ve seen several players with similar contracts land on LTIR in recent seasons. However, since Luongo has been able to play in 38 games (and counting) this season, it’s not a guarantee that they will be able to make the case that he won’t be able to play anymore.

Full Article

By: Brian La Rose

2019 NHL All-Star rosters announced

The NHL has announced the four rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game today, scheduled to be held on January 26th in San Jose. Earlier today, Alex Ovechkin, who was elected captain of Metropolitan Division squad, told the league that he wouldn’t be attending and will accept the punishment of missing one game either before or after the break. Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews will represent the Pacific, Central and Atlantic respectively, as the other captains. A replacement captain for Ovechkin has yet to be named.

The full rosters are as follows:

Pacific Division

John Gibson (ANA)
Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK)

D Erik Karlsson (SJS)
Brent Burns (SJS)
Drew Doughty (LAK)

Connor McDavid (EDM)*
Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)
Joe Pavelski (SJS)
F Elias Pettersson (VAN)
F Clayton Keller (ARI)

Central Division

Pekka Rinne (NSH)
Devan Dubnyk (MIN)

D Roman Josi (NSH)
D Miro Heiskanen (DAL)

Nathan MacKinnon (COL)*
Mikko Rantanen (COL)
Blake Wheeler (WPG)
Patrick Kane (CHI)

Mark Scheifele (WPG)
F Ryan O’Reilly (STL)

Atlantic Division

Jimmy Howard (DET)
G Carey Price (MTL)

Keith Yandle (FLA)
D Thomas Chabot (OTT)

F Auston Matthews (TOR)*
F Nikita Kucherov (TBL)
F Steven Stamkos (TBL)
John Tavares (TOR)

F David Pastrnak (BOS)
F Jack Eichel (BUF)

Full List

By Zach Leach

Top 15 Dates to Watch in the 2018-19 NHL Season

We’re just a few weeks removed from the Washington Capitals clinching the Stanley Cup and we’re already looking ahead to the 2018-19 season.
The Capitals kick off their title defense on Oct. 3 at home against the Boston Bruins, a team with high hopes of their own entering the season, and that’s only the start of the fun. Washington will also have a new twist on its rivalry with the Pittsburgh Penguins as the Caps will get a rematch with their Cup Final nemeses.
With a host of rumored big-name trades, the NHL draft and free agency in the coming days of the offseason, there’ll be plenty more dates to circle on the hockey calendar, but here’s what we’ve already got our eyes on for the upcoming season:

OCTOBER 3, 2018: BRUINS @ CAPITALS
After a summer of raging partying, Alex Ovechkin and Co. will raise their championship banner to the Capital One Arena rafters. Barry Trotz won’t be behind the bench, but it will be the first step in the Caps’ Stanley Cup title defense.

OCTOBER 4, 2018: CAPITALS @ PENGUINS
Any game between these two has been a hyped-up matchup since Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby entered the league, but with Ovi having added a Cup to his resume—and the Caps having finally gone through the Penguins to get it—this matchup will have some new twists thrown in for good measure.

OCTOBER 6, 2018: OILERS VS. DEVILS
Ted Lindsay award winner Connor McDavid and the Oilers will face off against reigning Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall and the Devils in Gothenburg, Sweden.

OCTOBER 10, 2018: GOLDEN KNIGHTS @ CAPITALS
It’s a Stanley Cup Final rematch, the first time the teams meet in the season. Things may look a little different on the ice for both after free agency (John Carlson, James Neal, etc.), though the competition level shouldn’t disappoint.

NOVEMBER 1-2, 2018: PANTHERS VS. JETS
The Panthers and Jets take things abroad to Helsinki, which will be a fun homecoming for Finnish natives and burgeoning superstars Patrik Laine and Aleksander Barkov.

NOVEMBER 23, 2018: RANGERS @ FLYERS
The Metropolitan Division rivals will take the ice for the Thanksgiving Day Showdown at Wells Fargo Center in an afternoon matchup that will give fans something to watch as they emerge from turkey-induced comas.

NOVEMBER 28, 2018: DUCKS @ PANTHERS
This game marks a matchup between two teams celebrating their 25th seasons in the NHL. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that they were part of the 1993-94 expansion, but both have come a long way since their expansion draft days, especially in the uniform department.

DECEMBER 23, 2018: KINGS @ GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The first of four matchups between two burgeoning rivals and a pair of the league’s premier smack-talking twitter accounts. Based on your personal preferences, consider this your notice to prepare to log on, log off or set up your muted terms well in advance. We’re guessing Vegas won’t hesitate to mention a playoff sweep, but we’re also eager to see how Los Angeles fires back.

JANUARY 1, 2019: BRUINS @ BLACKHAWKS
It seems like the Bruins and Blackhawks have been featured in every outdoor NHL game—they’ve combined to be in five of 10 Winter Classic matchups so far—but on New Year’s Day at Notre Dame Stadium, they’ll go head-to-head in the elements for the first time.

JANUARY 11, 2019: SABRES @ HURRICANES
OK, so maybe this one is looking a little too far ahead for a couple of reasons, but if everything goes as planned, this would be the first matchup between the top two picks in the 2018 draft, Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov. It should be a fun look at two players leading the way for their rebuilding franchises.

JANUARY 18, 2019: ISLANDERS @ CAPITALS
Barry Trotz, who resigned from the Capitals earlier this week and has all but taken the coaching vacancy with the Islanders just days after, returns to D.C. with his new team.

JANUARY 25-26: NHL ALL-STAR WEEKEND
The always-fun Skills competition takes place on Friday in San Jose at the SAP Center and will provide all the GIF-able moments fans can handle and at least one big-name player will steal the show. On Saturday, buckle up for another installment of the 3-on-3 All-Star tournament and another chance for an unlikely hero to emerge.

FEBRUARY 23, 2019: PENGUINS @ FLYERS
The Keystone State rivals bring their game outdoors for the second time in three seasons as part of the NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field.

Continue Reading

By:Michael Blinn

Jagr Passes Messier, But Where Does He Rank Among The Greats?


Written by Colin Fleming at SI.com

It’s not often you can say that someone’s formidable backside possesses attributes that are Hall of Fame worthy, but what one can say about Jaromir Jagr, who passed Mark Messier as the second leading scorer in NHL history on Thursday, is not what one can say about many other players.

That Jagr rump, and his impeccable body control, has allowed him to possess the puck at a rarefied level going back to his rookie season as an eighteen-year-old on the utterly stacked 1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins. That team would win the Cup and repeated the next year, and should have made it a three-peat the year after, were it not for a pesky New York Islanders squad.

Jagr had yet to emerge as the mega-star he would become, for these were the Pens of Super Mario Lemieux, that is, a player Jagr long ago passed in the career scoring ranks.

No one is ever going to argue who the four best players in league history are. If you watch so much as three games a year, you know that the tetralogy comes down to Gretzky, Orr, Howe, Lemieux. Zero argument.

But what about slots five through ten? Could the now 44-year-old ‘Jags’ slip in there? We are talking—and this is bloody big—a guy who is about to trail only the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, in points. Granted, by like a thousand points, but you almost have to count Gretzky as a force unto himself, not governed by the normal rules of sports or even math. He’s Gretzky.

But how many careers have been more distinctive than Jagr’s? Or, really, harder to process, as to its real value?

Those first two seasons featured the only Cups Jagr has won. And that’s without him being the central guy, or even really close to it.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Florida Panthers Fire Gerard Gallant and Leave Him in North Carolina


Written by George Richards at Miami Herald.com

The Florida Panthers made another midseason coaching change as Gerard Gallant was fired following Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Gallant, 53, was in the midst of his third season with the club and comes following a front office upheaval over the offseason.

General manager Tom Rowe, who replaced Dale Tallon following Florida’s first-round playoff exit last season, will take over behind the bench. Florida also fired Gallant’s friend and assistant coach Mike Kelly.

Florida’s loss on Sunday dropped the Panthers to 11-10-1, two points out of a playoff spot.

The move was first reported by Canada’s Sportsnet and confirmed by the Miami Herald.

Gallant was not immediately available for comment and didn’t respond to text messages from the Herald. Gallant left PNC Arena in a taxi cab.

“I was let go,” Gallant told reporters who followed him outside the arena.

When someone mentioned he had done a good job in his time with the Panthers, Gallant simply said “I thought so too.”

The Panthers gave Gallant a two-year contract extension last season, one in which he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for NHL coach of the year after the Panthers set franchise records for wins (47) and points in a season (103).

On the day Gallant’s extension was announced, the Panthers also signed then-general manager Dale Tallon to a three-year deal.

Tallon was replaced by Rowe following the playoff loss to the New York Islanders with Tallon being named president of hockey operations.

When asked about being signed through 2019, Gallant smiled and said “there’s no guarantee I’ll be here, but at least I have the contract.”

A source close to Gallant said he felt his job was in jeopardy for some time.

Gallant, who coached the Atlantic Division squad at last year’s All-Star Game, spoke to the media following Sunday’s game but that apparently came before he was told of the front office decision.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Jaromir Jagr Scores His 750th Goal


Written by Julie Sanders at CrConnection.com

Jagr might have been second on the list by now but he played three seasons in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League from 2008-2011 and had three of his 23 NHL seasons shortened due to money disputes between club owners and players.

The Washington Capitals are off to a fast start.

Jagr has also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils.

The Capitals came into Florida off a solid shutout win over the Colorado Avalanche and continued their solid game play, beating their hosts 4 to 2.

116 seconds later Evgeny Kuznetsov got his first of the year by tipping a floater from Matt Niskanen past Luongo’s glove hand to extend Washington’s early lead to two.

Veteran Jaromir Jagr is still looking for goal No. 750 after coming up empty in the first three games despite recording nine shots on goal while playing on a productive top line.

“In the third we sat back a little bit or they pushed back a little bit”.

Jagr’s goal should have given the Panthers a lead – only Florida had an earlier goal waived off on an early whistle as an official lost track of the puck (it was clearly on the ice in front of a downed Holtby) and blew his whistle just before Colton Sceviour jammed it home. That third goal was sort of lucky, a bouncing puck from the blue line and changed direction. Jonathan Marchessault (two goals, two assists) has skated alongside Aleksander Barkov (two, one) and Jagr (one assist) to open the season with Huberdeau out indefinitely. The ref stood up, said he thought it was covered. “He made a mistake and it happens”.

Trailing 2-0, the Panthers closed to 2-1 on Matheson’s shot from the sideboards that snuck past Holtby on the stick side with 6:13 left in the first.

The Capitals scored two goals less than two minutes apart in the first period.

To continue reading this article, click here.

NHL Season Preview, Eastern Conference


Written by Stephen Whyno at CTVNews.ca

The gang’s almost entirely back for the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals, Steven Stamkos re-upped with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the retooled Florida Panthers look ready for their close up.

Get ready for a competitive race among those four teams in the Eastern Conference. Throw a healthy Carey Price back in net for the Montreal Canadiens and they could challenge, too, especially if defenceman Shea Weber fits well after a stunning summer trade from Nashville for P.K. Subban.

Of course, it starts and ends with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins.

“They’re the Stanley Cup champs, they’re the No. 1,” Capitals right winger Justin Williams said. “They’re the team to beat until somebody knocks them off.”

Pittsburgh was the best team in the playoffs last spring, going through the New York Rangers, Capitals, Lightning and San Jose Sharks to win the fourth Cup in franchise history. Washington was the best team in the regular season, 11 points ahead of the next-closest team, and is again the Metropolitan Division favourite.

Here are some things to watch in the East:

SUNSHINE STATE HOCKEY

Don’t look now but two of the best young defencemen in hockey are playing in Florida: Aaron Ekblad for the Panthers and Victor Hedman for the Lightning. The Panthers have Finnish standout Aleksander Barkov and a real chance to win the Atlantic Division. Florida also added defencemen Keith Yandle and Jason Demers as part of its makeover and could take the next step after a surprise playoff appearance.

“Some of the guys we signed in the off-season gave us some more speed, a little more offence,” president of hockey operations Dale Tallon said. “We’ve had two winning seasons in a row and we’ve made the playoffs and I think the fact that we got beat in the first round will be a motivating factor.”

OVECHKIN WATCH

Alex Ovechkin led the NHL with 50 goals last season and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down at age 31. He and the Capitals still haven’t won the Cup, and with several key players set to be free agents, this could be their best and last chance.

Washington isn’t just Ovechkin, as Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Braden Holtby and all-star centres Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom are all at the top of their games. More regular-season dominance should follow, but the playoffs are always the question.

PRICE IS RIGHT

After missing most of last season with a knee injury, a healthy Price is a welcome sight for the Canadiens. Price looked back to his old self winning the World Cup of Hockey with Canada, which general manager Marc Bergevin said “puts everyone’s mind at ease, even our fans.” The 2015 Hart, Vezina and Pearson winner is good enough to carry the Canadiens to the playoffs on his shoulders.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Rangers Trade Rights for Keith Yandle

Written by Joe Fortunado at BlueShirtBannermen.com

The New York Rangers traded Keith Yandle to the Florida Panthers for a 6th round pick and a conditional 4th round pick Monday afternoon.

The Rangers didn’t make a mistake moving Yandle’s rights, especially since the two sides reportedly had a discussion and Jeff Gorton didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. The meager return was to be expected, since Yandle is a UFA in July.

The problem is the Rangers’ decision making from the start of the Yandle saga. It was trading for Yandle despite extending Marc Staal, not utilizing Yandle properly when the Rangers did have him and then not moving him at the deadline.

I tweeted this last night, but it’s worth mentioning again. Gorton has made three major moves as Rangers general manager: Didn’t trade Yandle at the deadline, did trade for Eric Staal at the deadline and then traded Yandle this summer. You can make the argument Gorton was forced into all three moves, but no matter how you look at it all three were bad.

The Yandle trade will fall somewhere between “regret it a lot” and “catastrophic” depending on Anthony Duclair’s continued rise. With the opportunity to get real assets for Yandle, Gorton shied away and wanted to go all in one more year with this team. It earned him one more playoff win and Yandle ended up getting traded before Arizona could even use the first round pick they got from the Rangers. Think about that for a minute.

It’s a disaster of epic proportions no matter how you slice it. For Duclair, John Moore and a 1st round pick the Rangers got Chris Summers and a 6th round draft pick (maybe a 4th rounder, too, if Yandle and the Panthers agree to a new deal). People will say “you have to give to get” when it comes to going all in, but the Rangers never had a backup plan for the reality if they didn’t win outside of the fact it was a mistake to go all in for another year. It’s like being on a crashing plane only to realize you traded all the parachutes for an extra gallon of gas; you have to ride it out to the finish.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Jagr Re-Signs with Panthers


Written by Harvey Fialkov at Sun Sentinal.com 
Not interested in testing free agency, Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr will continue his legendary career with the Florida Panthers as the parties agreed to terms on another one-year contract Thursday afternoon.

Terms haven’t been announced, but Jagr is expected to receive a raise from last year’s base of $3.5 million with $1.9 million in incentives, to a $4 million base with $1.5 million in incentives, according to a source.

At 44, Jagr became the oldest player in NHL history to lead his team in scoring with 66 points, while scoring 27 goals, one behind team leader and linemate Aleksander Barkov. He also is the oldest player to ever surpass the 60-point plateau while playing in 79 games and averaging 17:05 ice time.

“Jaromir has had a tremendous influence on our younger players and has been a key offensive contributor on our team,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We are happy to have him back as we look to build off this year’s playoff appearance.”

Panthers blossoming center Vincent Trocheck, 22, grew up in Pittsburgh and wasn’t even born before Jagr won his first of two Stanley Cup titles with the Penguins.

“He’s the seventh wonder of the world,’’ Trocheck said on locker cleanout day. “The stuff he does on and off the ice, how dedicated he is to the game, is so much fun to watch. He’s a great role model for all of us young kids who have been around him.

“It’s crazy to think about how I grew up watching him in Pittsburgh and living around the corner from him, watch him win a Cup and watch his glory days. I had a highlight tape that was literally half Jagr, and I end up playing with him in my first full NHL year.’’

Nearly every city the Panthers visited Jagr was the center of attention and treated more like a rock star than a hockey player. He grew out his trademark mullet which he sported in his fledgling years with the Penguins, where he won five league-leading scoring trophies.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Panthers Win Game 4, Even Series


Written by Howie Kussoy at New York Post.com

There are only a handful of players as talented as John Tavares, just a few people in the world who could transform trash to art as often as he does. There are only so many others who could be assigned the savior of a downtrodden franchise and actually succeed in bringing that team back to relevance and respectability, to set the bar higher than it had been in decades.

But even he needs help to take the next step.

With a chance to place their skate on the Panthers’ throats at home in Game 4, the Islanders put on a performance evoking the uninspired play of playoff disappointments past, with Tavares scoring the lone goal in a 2-1 loss Wednesday night at a sold-out Barclays Center, sending the first-round series back to Florida tied 2-2 heading into Friday’s Game 5.

It was the second game of the series Tavares scored the team’s only goal, both times in losses.

For the second straight year, the Islanders missed an opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead on their own ice and inch closer to their first playoff series win in 23 years, extending a stretch of futility — dating back to 2002 — in which the Islanders have now failed to win back-to-back playoff games for the 12th straight time.

“You won’t win too many games when you score one goal and the same guy scores,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We didn’t create much. We got one line creating all our offense. We got to find a way [to get] secondary scoring. … If not, it’s gonna be tough.”

Despite struggling to match the Panthers’ energy, as well as the consistency and quality of the latter’s scoring chances, the Islanders rode another outstanding effort by goaltender Thomas Greiss (27 saves) to a draw midway through the third period.

To continue reading this article, click here.