The team announced that Brayden McNabb, Michael Amadio, and Logan Thompson have each agreed to contract extensions.
McNabb is one of the players still around from Vegas’ Expansion Draft back in 2017.
The Golden signed him to a four-year deal in November of 2017, just one month into their inaugural season, worth $2.5 million annually. This contract will feature a slight raise, as the annual salary is worth $2.85 million.
McNabb, who just turned 31 years old earlier this month, would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Amadio inked a one-year deal worth $750k with the Toronto Maple Leafs over the offseason. He played in three games with the Leafs before getting claimed on waivers by the Golden Knights. In 25 games with Vegas, Amadio has seven points.
Amadio’s contract will be worth $762,500 annually for two years, a raise on his current deal.
Thompson is an undrafted free agent who inked a two-year entry-level deal with Vegas back in the summer of 2020. He’s played only two games at the NHL level but has excellent results in the AHL. This season, Thompson has a 0.928 save percentage in 21 games for the Henderson Silver Knights.
Thompson’s deal is worth $766,667 over the course of three seasons.
While being one of the best teams in the league usually means the matchups are going to be easier by default, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in another matchup against a significantly inferior opponent in the New Jersey Devils. They had slightly higher expectations after a big offseason, bringing in Dougie Hamilton, Jonathan Bernier, and Tomas Tatar, as well as the growth of two first overall picks in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier but have struggled mightily due to injuries and, well, being the Devils. They come into tonight’s game having lost seven of their last eight, a slump that has kept them behind even the Philadelphia Flyers when they were losing 13 in a row. They’ve only made it to the playoffs once since their Cup Finals run in 2011-12 ten years ago, and it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case this season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to prove either.
It should be noted that because the Leafs play the Devils in back to back nights, this will probably cover both tonight and tomorrow’s games, unless there’s a big change in the lineup for either team, or something injury related (ie. someone significant gets hurt tonight or someone significant returns tomorrow). So like, if the teams change their fourth line or third pair for tomorrow’s game, I’m not typing up 1500-2000 words again for that. There might be a brief update, but we’ll see what happens when we get there.
Note: This is based on projected lines and starters at the time of publishing. Coaches really love to surprise us right before game time, so there’s a solid chance that some of the matchups aren’t accurate for the actual game because of that.
The Devils top line has found a lot of success this season when they’ve been together, as they rank 47th in the league with a 60.9% CF%, and 58th with a 62.08%. Hughes is the big name on that line, as he’s finally putting up the offense that many thought he would when he was selected first overall with 25 points in 26 games. That said, a lot of that comes from getting a lot of ice time and the power play, but he can still drive offense regardless. He’s been struggling defensively as well, but that’s what Jesper Bratt is there for, who’s having a spectacular season for the Devils. On top of the 39 points in 40 games he has, he’s also been a force at both ends of the ice against top competition, making life easier for Hughes. Yegor Sharangovich is the final piece on that line, and while he also can’t defend too well, he can drive offense really well, and is a really strong finisher when he gets the ice time. All in all, it’s a very strong offensive line that has a player in Bratt capable of defending for the unit as well, and will make for a tough matchup.
The same can’t be said of their current second line, which haven’t had too much time together, but haven’t had much success in that time either. Hischier hasn’t quite found his offensive form in the NHL just yet, but he’s still an excellent play driving center for the Devils. He’s a little bit over his head defensively for the team based on how they play him, but he’s also probably the most qualified player for the role on this team. His linemates aren’t exactly helping him either, as Pavel Zacha has started to find a bit more of that finishing talent that made him a sixth overall pick back in 2015, but he doesn’t bring much to the table otherwise, and Nathan Bastian is a solid defensive forward, but more in a fourth line role than a top six one. It definitely has the potential to be exposed tonight, especially when the Devils are likely to play it as a shutdown role.
The third line has gotten it’s fair share of games together, and have been strong at driving possession with a 57.88% CF% at 5v5, but aren’t quite there with the scoring chances with a 44.1% xGF%. It features a familiar face in Andreas Johnsson, who will be playing the Leafs for the first time since being traded as a salary dump. He got off to a hot start with 18 points in his first 20 games, but has just six in his last 21, but has definitely developed a nice offensive ability, with good finishing and a solid help on the power play as well, much like what we saw in his rookie season in Toronto. Tatar was one of those big free agent additions for the Devils, and his usual play driving abilities are there, but he hasn’t quite put up the numbers that the team hoped they’d be getting when they signed him. They’re centered by Dawson Mercer, one of the Devils three 2020 first round picks, who’s having a solid rookie season with 22 points in 43 games, but is naturally having trouble defensively, as most rookies do. It’s a line that has that offensive fire power, but it’s not always there, and defensively isn’t quite there either aside from Tatar.
As far as the matchups go, I’d probably go line for line with the Devils if I was the Leafs. The top line is certainly the best line, but nothing that the Matthews line can’t handle, the second line is definitely the most flawed overall but used as a shutdown line so they might be best suited for the Tavares line, and I’m still uncertain about the Kämpf line without Engvall, so the third line makes for a good matchup because they might not burn that line a ton, but can still provide a bit of a challenge and need to be shutdown.
The Devils fourth line is about as average as a fourth line can be, not terrible but nothing to write home about either. It features another former Leaf in Jimmy Vesey, who as we remember was nothing special for the Leafs and hasn’t really been for the Devils either, as well as Jesper Boqvist and Janne Kuokkanen, who can neither score, drive offense, defend, or gets special teams time. They’ll be up against the Leafs fourth line, which still has some of the best numbers in the league together with a 69.02% CF% and a 66.03% xGF%, so even a line that is just okay is likely to struggle against them.
The Devils have looked to Damon Severson and Jonas Siegenthaler as one of their top pairs all season, and it’s worked surprisingly well considering Siegenthaler’s resume prior to this season, with a 52.66% CF% and a 55.52% xGF%. But, Severson has been an elite defensive defenseman for the Devils for years now, the kind that probably won’t get any attention until he goes on a deep playoff run for a shutdown pairing, so it’s no surprise that he can make Siegenthaler as good as he’s been this season. I make Siegenthaler sound incompetent otherwise, but he’s actually a really strong defensive defenseman, he’s just finally getting that shot this season in a bigger role. It makes for a really solid shutdown pair on a team that really needs one.
With Hamilton still out of the lineup for a while, the Devils have had to rely on @P.K. Subban in a top four role. There was a time where his name would strike fear in the hearts of many, but since coming to New Jersey, Subban has fallen off a cliff, and is now the kind of defenseman you shelter when possible. Ryan Graves helps ease that burden, a strong defensive defenseman that the Devils got from Colorado since they didn’t want to risk losing him for nothing in the expansion draft. That said, the two basically just meet down the middle, as they end up with a 50.78% CF% and a 48.68% xGF%, so if there’s a pairing you want to expose, it’s this one.
I’d definitely try and lean on the Rielly-Brodie pair and Matthews line against that Devils top pair, especially with Muzzin still out and Sandin and Holl still trying to figure things out as a top 4 pair. That said, the results so far have been very promising, and they’ve held down the fort very well without Muzzin.
Obviously, it’s just a third pairing, so it’s not intended to be amazing, but when Colton White and Ty Smith have been together, it has not been pretty, as the duo have the 22nd worst CF% in the league with 36.38% and the 16th worst xGF% with 30.91% at even strength when they’re together. Part of that comes from the fact that this is the first time White has played more than six games in a single season, but also Smith’s results aside from his assist totals haven’t really been pretty since joining the NHL last season. They’ll be up against Liljegren and Dermott, who haven’t quite found good results together either, but not nearly at the level that this Devils pair is, so maybe it’ll be a nice confidence boost for them.
Starting in net for the Devils tonight is Akira Schmid, who I had honestly never heard of before finding out he was the starter. It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for him so far in the NHL, with an .824 save percentage, but the Devils aren’t exactly playing amazing in front of him either.
It looks like an easy matchup for Jack Campbell if you look at how he’s done all season, but a closer look at his work lately, and it’s not as much of a one-sided affair as you think. If you only look at Jack Campbell’s numbers since December 11 (when Schmid made his NHL debut), it’s surprisingly close.
Stats since December 11
Jack Campbell (8 games)
Akira Schmid (4 games)
5v5 Save Percentage
Campbell is still the better goalie of the two, but his numbers haven’t been Vezina calibre lately, and it could be a much closer goalie battle than we think based on the names involved.
The thing with a back-to-back is that while it increases the chances of the Leafs for sure getting at least one win, it’s not a large enough sample for shenanigans to correct itself either, so it wouldn’t shock me if the Devils get a win purely from chaos. That said, the Leafs are clearly the better team, and are also much healthier. Heck, they’re even the luckier team, so it wouldn’t even shock me if the Leafs are the ones that pull out a lucky win in this back-to-back.
If I had to make a prediction, I’d say the Leafs get both wins, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Devils win a weird one in a shootout or something. It’s hard to see the Devils winning both games though, unless the Leafs just really want to get to the All-Star break without putting in much of an effort and don’t show up like they did for the first two periods of the Red Wings game, so I expect the Leafs to come out of this with at least a couple points, but considering the team, it should be four.
Projected lineups via @dalter and Daily Faceoff
Standard stats via NHL.com
Line data and advanced stats via Evolving Hockey
Individual player information via JFresh’s Player Cards
Last week on Jets Nation Radio, Darnell Duff talked about a partial rebuild for the Winnipeg Jets for them to succeed in a meaningful long-term way. You can listen to that here.
Then on Jan. 28, forward Mark Scheifele’s comments to Scott Billeck screamed that this team needs to move some top-end players who are “leaders,” allowing some other voices to lead this franchise back to a winning culture.
Mark Scheifele asked if the #NHLJets have an identity: “Probably not.”
This is going to be such a cop-out statement, but the Jets haven’t been the same since defenceman Dustin Byfuglien abruptly left the team prior to the 2019-20 season. During the towering blueliner’s time with this organization, they performed to a 292-245-72 record.
Since the blueliner left, they’ve posted just an 84-67-16 record. Having Byfuglien’s ability to act as a top-end defenceman, getting into scrums to defend his teammates and being a strong leader on a young team that had large aspirations – all of these aspects were crucial back then. Finally, you look at what Big Buff did for his teammates off the ice, taking them fishing and serving as a mentor for anyone that needed one.
Things like that were crucial to this team’s health. You can’t replace a good guy like that and the Jets have clearly suffered for it. Without a friendly outgoing person on the roster, it hurts the culture of the locker room, and last week confirmed exactly that.
Which Players Need to Go?
If you have a negative manager or a leader who doesn’t have proper communication skills, especially when there are lots of moving parts at your workplace, you know they can prevent a lot of good things from happening. As a result, they can cause the company or team of people to become disgruntled and provoke them to move on as soon as possible. I’m seeing poor leadership with the Jets this season and as of right now, I can blame two skaters.
I think one of the first players that needs to go is one of the biggest leaders in the locker room, Scheifele. If you have a letter on the front of your jersey and you’re throwing a pity party for yourself when the team is on a losing streak, you should probably be shipped out of Winnipeg on the first bus. Since Scheifele has a modified no-trade clause in his deal, the front office can’t trade him without receiving his approval first.
That being said, I’m sure there are a handful of playoff contenders that’d want a great playmaker like Scheifele. Sometimes a change of scenery can change a player for the better and can allow a breath of fresh air in the room. The Jets could trade for a top-pairing defenceman or perhaps for a couple of high-end draft picks, instead.
My next pick would be captain Blake Wheeler. Unfortunately, Wheeler has full a NMC (no-move clause) in his deal until after this season. After that, he can submit a five-team list of where he would like to be traded. With two years remaining at an $8.25 million cap hit per season, there’s likely very little that can be done with Wheeler in the short term.
Personally, I believe there’s only one thing that can be done and I know it won’t be a popular decision, but maybe it’s time to remove the “C” from Wheeler’s chest. If he isn’t leading his team on the ice and isn’t helping them build a positive culture in the locker room, then he shouldn’t have the privilege of being called captain. If you can’t inspire a team when you’re losing, then you aren’t that great of a leader, right?
Who Would Lead the Jets?
Personally, I think the Jets should remain captainless until we see someone emerge as that next leader. This season, this club doesn’t seem to be a Stanley Cup contender, while yet, much of the Canadian media thought they could be.
At season’s end, Winnipeg could sit down and discuss what they are and how to move forward into the off-season. At which point, perhaps they can locate a new voice and a new head coach to lead them in 2022-23, perhaps someone like Jay Woodcroft.
In 2023-2024, with both Scheifele and Wheeler gone, the Jets could re-emerge as a new team that’s acquired higher draft picks and is led by Pierre-Luc Dubois, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Cole Perfetti.
Is leadership the problem for the Jets? Or is it something else that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments below.
A worst case Ontario game for the Edmonton Oilers as the Flames and Canucks both escape with points after a clash between net-minders. It’s more impressive than you think when you consider Jacob Markstrom only had seen 3 shots half way through the game, only 2 of which were 5v5, and one of those was from the blueline on a rush. The Canucks did find ways to get more chances in the second half, but their attack couldn’t penetrate Calgary’s superb, structured defence.
It’s a Team Game – Now don’t get me wrong, just because the Canucks attack was lacklustre to start the game does not mean their defence mailed it in. On the contrary – even down a man the Canucks were able to limit Calgary’s quality attempts on Thatcher Demko. The Flames never gave up though and saw their consistent good habits that help the players maintain possession work well. They dominated possession and kept the puck away from the Canucks top players which helped them get the victory.
Corsi King – Trevor Lewis (83.80 CF%) leads the pack as the Flames fourth line didn’t get hemmed in too often against Vancouver. Adam Ružička (80.30%) bounces back after a rough game with a real solid fourth line effort. When Noah Hanifin (71.50%) and Rasmus Andersson (66.66%) get on a roll where they clearly are allowed to display their skill in the offensive zone it usually helps create goals. The Canucks (without Myers) put up a solid defensive effort, something they have been able to shore up quickly under Bruce Boudreau.
Corsi Clown – For the third time in 4 games we have no player under 50%. Therefore nobody gets to hang out here.
Taken By Chance – The fourth line played no event hockey to perfection. They did not generate a high danger chance, nor did they surrender one. I am slightly baffled that despite directing the most overall chances – in terms of raw CF events – towards the other team’s net, Nikita Zadorov (64.48 SCF% // 0 HDCF%) was the only player to surrender a high danger chance but not be a part of at least one for his team. On the other side of things Noah Hanifin (73.14% // 100%) and Andrew Mangiapane (47.58% // 100%) were able to get high danger chances while surrendering none against them. The ratios in this one were either really good or really bad because the total overall high danger chances were 4 to 3 for Vancouver – that’s the entirety of 5v5.
xGF% – Blake Coleman (66.63 xGF%) is a player we’ve yet to mention that came out of a 0-0 regulation game with solid underlying numbers. Calgary’s sheer overall number of shots will be the reason for plenty of players finishing north of 50%. In games where one team barely registers any chances it is wise to be cautious of this one game sample when making any really severe judgments. Many statisticians are aware of this and use it as a piece of a larger sample size instead. Still anytime you finish a full game in the NHL over 60% in any of these statistics (and you get 2 points) it was an okay night.
Game Flow –
A lot of penalties to interrupt the natural flow of things. Calgary not scoring on the 5 minute major was disappointing a bit, but they can not complain about lack of opportunities given to them. They did see a minor pushback from Vancouver in the late second but Calgary was able to overcome that in the third period.
Game Score – No shock value that the two guys at the top are Thatcher Demko (1.60 game // 0.08 average) and Jacob Markstrom (1.28 // 0.17). Goal scorer Johnny Gaudreau (1.24 // 1.76) comes in tops of any skater with Elias Lindholm (1.11 // 1.34) and his assist as the second amongst skaters. There were no Flames under -0.5 as many players had a relatively middling night from what they are ever used too.
Shot Heatmap –
A defence coach’s dream heatmap. Look how well Vancouver protected around Demko. Calgary has made a living in the other teams crease all season and the fact they could not get in close for a chance is impressive to say the least. Calgary themselves know how to execute their system at this point so being able to limit them at this level is good playing… and good coaching.
In The Crease – 1.13 expected goals against – that number was only 0.12 higher than Columbus got in their beatdown the Flames gave them. Not much from offence for Vancouver, but what little they did muster former Canuck Markstrom was up to the task. 7 Shutouts at the half mark, only 3 of legend Miikka Kiprusoff’s team record. Markstrom can certainly put himself into Flames record books for a long time should he accomplish that feat.
Today’s Specials – I’m going to continue shouting “hey, guy on the opposite flank of the power play, move into a passing lane don’t just stand there and wait for a forced pass.” Penalty Killing was fantastic again as it is most nights in Calgary. The Flames seem to have a few very cohesive units that really trust each other to be where they need to be when down a man.
Player Spotlight – Noah Hanifin – Lately it feels like Hanifin is getting into the mid-season groove. He was able to get points in bunches down the stretch of last season, here’s hoping the assists and goals start coming more naturally. Hanifin has tremendous offensive potential yet and could still see growth in his game the coming years. The coach trusts him and puts him in positions to be successful which will only help that growth in him.
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Jacob Markstrom
2) Johnny Gaudreau
3) Elias Lindholm
The Flames next game will be Tues., Feb. 1 in Dallas against the Stars. 6:30 p.m. MT.
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com)
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Vancouver Canucks forward Conor Garland’s name has been brought up in trade discussions, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.
It’s been long-reported that president Jim Rutherford’s list of untouchables is rather short, and may very well only consist of Quinn Hughes, Thatcher Demko, and maybe one or two forwards — but nothing appears truly off the table.
Here’s what Friedman had to say during the first intermission of last night’s game on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
“Jim Rutherford has put together his front office, he’s almost finished, there still could be some more hires. Now he’s getting down to business talking about potential trades with the rest of the league. There’s been a lot of rumours about JT Miller, but I think it goes deeper than that. I think the Canucks have a number of their forwards that they’re discussing with other teams around the league. I don’t think Pettersson is part of this. I don’t think Horvat is part of this, but I think some other players and notable ones are part of this, including Conor Garland. You’ve heard some of the rumours — the Rangers, Boston Calgary — but I think New Jersey is in there too potentially on some players who could have term and team control. It’ll be worth watching. We know Jim Rutherford isn’t shy, and I think he’s beginning to get going on what he’s going to do to reshape the Canucks.”
Like Miller, Garland is a cost-controlled asset that is on a good contract for the next four seasons, so it’s no surprise that teams are calling the Canucks about his availability.