Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
McDavid and Sidney Crosby did not get to face off very often, but when they have Crosby and the Penguins have mostly gotten the upper hand.
That changed on Wednesday in the Oilers’ 5-2 win that was highlighted by another dominant performance from McDavid.
He finished the night with four points (one goal, three assists) and was a plus-five in the win, while also making several big plays in the defensive zone to help start the rushes that produced several of those goals. That performance moves him into second in the scoring race this season (40 points) just one point behind teammate Leon Draisaitl (he had one assist in the win on Wednesday).
The Colorado Avalanche had a bit of a defensive breakdown in front of their net, allowing Auston Matthews to be left all alone. He used that opportunity to score an absolutely beautiful goal to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 3-0 lead in the first period.
Chris Kreider‘s 16th goal of the season was the result of some terrific passing by the New York Rangers.
J.T. Miller puts the finishing touches on the Vancouver Canucks blowout win against the Ottawa Senators with this incredible individual effort to effortlessly skate through the Senators’ defense.
Flyers losing streak continues
Things are looking ugly for the Philadelphia Flyers right now. Their 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night was not only another ugly performance, it extended their current losing streak to seven consecutive games. It seems every year you can count on the Flyers to either win 10 games in a row or lose 10 games in a row, and right now they seem to be trending toward the latter. With their next four games coming against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey Devils, and Vegas Golden Knights things do not look to be getting any easier.
Maple Leafs are rolling
They are the best team in hockey right now. They have won 15 out of their past 17 games and absolutely steamrolled a great Colorado Avalanche team on Wednesday night that was getting Nathan MacKinnon back in the lineup. Auston Matthews had a hat trick on Wednesday (including that beauty of a goal seen above) to help lead the offense in the win. Everything is clicking for the Maple Leafs at the moment.
Senators not showing any progress
This far into their rebuild the Ottawa Senators should be showing some kind of progress. They are not. They not only lost for the 15th time in their past 17 games on Wednesday, they were completely dominated by a last place Vancouver Canucks team that has its own set of issues this season. The Senators had some COVID issues this season that put a dent in their lineup for a while, but even without that there is nothing to like about the way this team has played this season. They are the worst team in the league right now.
The New York Islanders are back in action against the San Jose Sharks after having their past few games postponed, and they are looking to snap an eight-game losing streak that has seen them score just seven goals. They have had a fraction of their roster during that streak with players being sidelined due to COVID protocols and injury. There is still time to turn the season around, but it is going to have to start happening sooner rather than later. The Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference is too good for them to keep losing too many games.
New York Rangers 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1
Toronto Maple Leafs 8, Colorado Avalanche 3
Vancouver Canucks 6, Ottawa Senators 2
Detroit Red Wings 4, Seattle Kraken 3 (SO)
Anaheim Ducks 6, Vegas Golden Knights 5
Edmonton Oilers 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 2
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.
DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche are making Nathan MacKinnon the highest-paid player in the NHL’s salary cap era.
MacKinnon, who just turned 27 earlier this month, signed an eight-year contract that is worth $100.8 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms of the contract.
His new $12.6 million salary cap hit that goes into effect at the start of the 2023-24 season surpasses Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million as the highest in the league. McDavid’s eight-year, $100 million deal with the Edmonton Oilers signed in 2017 was the previous record for the highest annual cap hit since the system went into place in 2005.
The only richer deals than MacKinnon’s in the cap era are: Alex Ovechkin’s 13-year, $124 million contract with Washington, Shea Weber’s 14-year, $110 million contract with Nashville, and Sidney Crosby’s 12-year, $104.4 million contract with Pittsburgh. The collective bargaining agreement has since limited contract lengths to eight years for a players re-signing with his own team and seven for free agents.
MacKinnon agreed to the deal with training camp about to start. It’s been a short offseason for MacKinnon and the Avalanche after they captured their first Stanley Cup title since 2001.
The hard-shooting, fast-skating center tied for the league-lead with 13 postseason goals. It was second-highest in a single playoff run in franchise history, trailing only Hall of Famer Joe Sakic’s 18 goals in 1996 (when Colorado won its first Cup).
MacKinnon, the top overall pick in the 2013 draft, has been a finalist for the Hart Trophy in three of the last five seasons (’17-18, ’18-19, ’20-21). He has 242 career goals and 406 assists — the most of anyone from his draft class.
“Nathan is obviously one of the premier players in the NHL so a long-term extension was something we wanted to get done before the season started,” Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said in a statement about the extension. “He has that rare combination of speed and power with a high compete level that makes him a generational player. We are thrilled he will continue to be a member of this team and this community for many years to come.”
For years, MacKinnon was known as the most underpaid player in hockey — a title he really didn’t care for. Now, he has another one — Stanley Cup champion.
He’s part of a core Avalanche group that also includes defenseman Cale Makar, forward Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog.
“Denver’s the only place I want to be, for sure,” MacKinnon recently said in Henderson, Nevada, during a preseason player media tour.
McDavid considers being surpassed as the highest-paid player, “good for hockey, I guess, to keep raising the bar.”
“But ultimately the salary cap system’s a weird system where the more money you make, the less money someone else can make,” McDavid added. “It’s kind of a weird system that way. There’s always going to be give and take.”
Days before opening training camp, the St. Louis Blues have a hole to fill on their blue line.
Defenseman Marco Scandella is expected to miss a majority of the coming NHL season after undergoing surgery on his right hip joint. He got injured during offseason training in late August and will be re-evaluated in six months.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong announced the timeline for Scandella’s absence. The first on-ice sessions of camp are scheduled with the season opener set for Oct. 15.
The injury to Scandella is another change at a position that has undergone a near-complete overhaul since St. Louis won the Stanley Cup in 2019. Only top-pairing defenseman Colton Parayko and veteran grinder Robert Bortuzzo are left from that group, which now features Torey Krug and Justin Faulk in prominent roles.
Scandella, 32, is expected to go on long-term injured reserve, giving the Blues relief for his salary cap hit of $3.275 million. Nikko Mikkola already figured to take on a full-time role at 26, and it wasn’t immediately clear if Armstrong might bring in another veteran to compete for a roster spot.
The injury could provide an opportunity for 24-year-old prospect Scott Perunovich, who played in 26 NHL games last season. Perunovich, who won the Hobey Baker Award as the top college hockey player in the country while at Minnesota-Duluth in 2019-20, impressed teammates during his first year in the pros, especially while running the power play.
“He moves the puck at the right time,” said forward Robert Thomas, who signed an eight-year, $65 million contract this summer. “He’s smart. I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed for a guy just coming in the league, he’s so patient and calm, especially breaking the puck out. He loves to skate it out. He loves to make a quick first pass and, yeah, I think he’s got tons of potential.”
Scandella joined the Blues in a trade from the Canadiens before the deadline in 2020. He has played in 755 games with Minnesota, Buffalo, Montreal and St. Louis.
BOSTON — Zdeno Chara announced his retirement after playing 21 seasons in the NHL and captaining the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011.
The 6-foot-9 defenseman from Slovakia is calling it a career at age 45. He returned to TD Garden in Boston to make that announcement two years after splitting with the Bruins following 14 seasons.
Chara won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in 2009 and also spent time with the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals. Known more for his ability to keep the puck out of the net than putting it in, Chara still scored 237 goals and added 523 assists for 750 points in 1,880 regular-season and playoff games.
His 1,680 regular-season games played is a record for defenseman. He is a candidate for the Hockey Hall of Fame based not only on his consistency but also his stature in the game from Slovakia to North America.
Chara was the second European captain to win the Cup, following Swede Nicklas Lidstrom with Detroit. He was one of the faces of a winning era for the Bruins, which also included trips to the final in 2013 and 2019, the latter of which he finished while playing with a broken jaw.
Drafted by the Islanders in the third round in 1996, he played his first four seasons on Long Island before getting traded to the Senators. Boston signing him in 2006 remains one of the most impactful free agency signings in the 17 years of the NHL’s salary cap era.
Chara made five of his six All-Star Game appearances while with the Bruins and was one of the city’s most popular athletes during that time. He left in 2020 when the team would not guarantee him a full-time job for the entire season, so he signed a one-year deal with Washington before finishing his playing career with the Islanders.
Defenseman P.K. Subban announced his retirement from the NHL following 13 seasons playing for the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, and New Jersey Devils.
The 33-year-old former Norris Trophy winner shared the news on social media.
Subban, who is from Toronto, registered 115 goals and 467 points in 824 regular-season games. The 43rd overall pick at the 2007 NHL draft added 62 points (18 goals, 44 assists) in 96 postseason games. The flashy blue liner won the Norris Trophy in 2013 with the Canadiens.
Subban, who was an unrestricted free agent this summer, has done television in the past and hinted at new opportunities in his retirement post.
“I never looked at myself or ever felt I was ‘just a hockey player,’” he wrote. “I always looked at myself as a person who happened to play hockey.
“Having that perspective allowed me to enjoy every shift like it was my last, celebrate every goal with emotion and play every game as if someone paid to watch me who had never seen me play before.”
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers