Pascal Dupuis’ Legacy In Pittsburgh

On February 26, 2008, the Pittsburgh Penguins made a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers that seemed to set up the team for its’ first Stanley Cup win in the Sidney Crosby era.

Adding a 100-point scorer will do that.

Over seven years later, Marian Hossa and the loss in the 2007-08 Stanley Cup Finals, isn’t what Penguins fans will remember from that trade. It’s the “throw-in” of Pascal Dupuis that helped shape up a Stanley Cup win the next season and success down the road.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Penguins announced Dupuis will no longer play hockey because of medical reasons due to blood clots that have held the player back for the past three years.

Dupuis finished his career with 247 of his 409 career total scored with the yellow and black.

At the time of the trade, Dupuis was a third-liner that had 15 points in 62 games with the Thrashers.

As the Pens gave up two bottom-six players of their own in Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, they got back Dupuis to help offset that loss, in what most fans saw as a throw-in to the grand prize of Hossa.

Dupuis changed that thinking almost immediately, finding chemistry with Crosby, where Hossa didn’t, and scoring 12 points in 16 games to end the regular season.

The next season, Dupuis didn’t do as hot, but managed 30 points in 71 games. He didn’t record a point in the postseason, but helped the organization to its third Stanley Cup win.

Oddly enough, Dupuis started to gain notoriety around the league two years after that at age 32.

While Crosby and Evgeni Malkin dealt with injuries all season, Dupuis put up 59 points and helped the team earn an Atlantic Division first-place finish despite the two star centers only playing about half the season.

The left-winger continued to be a crucial secondary scorer in Steel City until the 2013-14 season when blood clots caused him to miss the final 43 games of the season.

Dupuis never fully recovered from the blood clots and only managed 34 games over the next two seasons until he decided to step away from the game on Tuesday afternoon for his health.

But seven years after a monumental trade for a big-named player, the “throw-in” Pascal Dupuis will be the one remembered in Pittsburgh.

In The Rumor Mill: Salary Cap, Stamkos, Canadiens

Some good news for upcoming free agents, cap-strapped teams and fans is some of the biggest news in the rumor mill this week.

Plus little updates on Steven Stamkos and the Montreal Canadiens are still searching for a top-six forward.

Salary Cap

According to NHL commisioner Gary Bettman, the league’s salary cap could rise by $3 million next season, giving prime free agents more options and allowing some budgeted teams a little wiggle room next summer.

Last year, it increased $2.4 million and $3 million would be the largest increase in the past few years.

Things aren’t definite yet, but it sounds like NHL GMs can expect some more pocket change soon enough:

“[The increase] is not set in stone or concrete so you have to tread carefully,” New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero said. “Again, it’s good news for the League when it goes up, good news for the players.”

Steven Stamkos

The biggest possible upcoming free agent this summer, according to Lyle Richardson at, there’s been little talk between Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning regarding an extension or trade.

If Stamkos does hit the free agent market, he’ll easily be the biggest free agent since Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the summer of 2012, and the above-mentioned salary-cap rise would be helpful if Stamkos was looking for a new suitor.

Speculation will continue to grow between the center and the Lightning as the trade deadline approaches, which is why it would be smarter if GM Steve Yzerman could take care of this problem as early as possible.

However, there’s been very little sign of that happening at all. I believe Stamkos will stay in Tampa Bay, but the team doesn’t seem to be going about it the easiest way.

Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens have popped up the most in rumors this season and for good reason as they continue to look like contenders.

The latest report is that the team is scouting the Philadelphia Flyers and speculation has started that the team is interested in rugged right winger Wayne Simmonds.

Elliote Friedman reported earlier that the Habs were looking for a top-six forward and Simmonds would definitely fit that role.

The Flyers would be looking to build toward the future as their young defensive prospects develop, so the Canadiens can expect to give up some young forward pieces/draft picks if they continue to pursue Simmonds.


Shayne Gostisbehere Leading Resurgence For Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers may have lost their last game, ending a four-game winning streak, 4-1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night, but rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was able to get on the point sheet with an assist on the Flyers’ lone goal.

The assist gave Gotisbehere eight points in his 11 NHL games this season, helping Philly to a 6-3-2 record over that mark.

Before Gostisbehere was called up, the Flyers were in the midst of a 1-6-2 span that completely outdid a good start to the season in Philadelphia.

Gostisbehere, who was recalled after the Flyers’ No. 1 defenseman Mark Streit was injured, has been a force on the power-play, netting five of his eight points on the man advantage.

The 22 year old has given star center Claude Giroux another weapon on a power play that has struggled. The Flyers are 25th in the league with a 17.1 percenatge.

But Gostisisbehere has been turning that around for the Flyers lately with his three power play goals, and the Flyers want to see even more shooting from the youngster, despite the Florida native averaging almost two and a half shots per game, according to CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio:

I’m going to keep shooting as long as Jake [Voracek] and [Claude Giroux] tell me to keep shooting. [Wayne Simmonds] is in front and Brayden [Schenn], so I’m going to keep shooting.

  • Shayne Gostisbehere, Tim Panaccio, CSN Philly

But “Ghost” has helped in more areas than just the power play. He has two game-winning goals in overtime where his speed is put on display, and hasn’t been a liability in his own end, something quite uncommon for a young offensive defenseman.

He also has the heart of Philly fans already. On Monday morning, Gostisbehere was ranked 40th in the NHL All-Star fan vote, and has been rising since early last week.

The play of Gostisbehere may also bring some future hope for Flyers fans. With a cupboard full of young, promising defensive prospects including first-round choices Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov, it’s 2012 third-round pick Gostisbehere that’s leading the way right now.

The Flyers are still sixth in the Metropolitan Division and the Wild Card race, but the play of Gostisbehere has given the team hope for this season and the future.

Follow Bottom Line Hockey on Twitter at @bottomlinehocky. Also follow author Wes Herrmann at @Wes_Herrm.

Dallas Stars Need To Pick A Goalie Soon

The Dallas Stars went an unconvential, yet needed, rout over the summer when they signed goalie Antti Niemi to a three-year contract despite already having Kari Lehtonen in net.

Both were considered starters and both struggle with consistency problems. Lehtonen’s inconsistency was a big part of why the Stars missed the playoffs in 2015, and adding another capable starter was among the things the Stars’ front office wanted to do.

So far things have paid off in spades. Both goalies have 10 wins, Lehtonen only has a single loss and Niemi’s not too far behind with a 10-4-1 record.

The duo’s play has led the Stars to a Central-leading 20-5-1 record with 41 points, eight ahead of the second-place St. Louis Blues.

But if the Stars want the success to continue it’s important that they pick a clear-cut starter soon.

Two-headed monsters in net have never really worked in the NHL of late. Some success during the regular season usually doesn’t replicate in the postseason.

In the playoffs, teams need goaltenders to get in a groove, gain some confidence and get hot in the hopes of making it to the Stanley Cup. If a goalie is switched in and out each game that hardly ever happens.

However, one slight opposite of this could be the Chicago Blackhawks from last year.

Scott Darling played five games, more than usual for a backup for the ‘Hawks, and was even chosen over regular starter Corey Crawford. But things didn’t work for long and Crawford was back in net by the Stanley Cup Finals.

While playoffs are still a long ways away, it’s better to not let these things grow. Both goalies are competing and that’s a good thing, but the media and fans are going to be scrutinizing every Stars decision in net as the playoffs loom closer.

Lehtonen and Niemi are noted friends. They’re both from Finland and even roomed together during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. It’s easy to believe that they’d get along even if one was the noted starter.

The Stars have some time to make their decision, but the longer they wait, the bigger the decision looms. Maybe unfortunately for the team, neither goalie is making it easy for the team to make that decision.

Don’t Vote John Scott To Be An All-Star

It seems before every NHL All-Star game, there’s a fan movement to get a less-than-deserving player onto the All-Star roster.

It first started in 2006, the first year of internet all-star voting, in which Vancouver Canucks fans started a campaign entitled “Vote for Rory” to get defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick into the All-Star game. Fitzpatrick and his fans fell short, though some believe the NHL rigged the voting.

Last year, the Buffalo Sabres’ Zemgus Girgensions made his way onto the roster, largely through the voting from his home country, Latvia.

This year, it’s the Arizona Coyotes’ John Scott, and boy have the people that want Scott in the game made a huge effort in the first week.

On Wednesday, Scott jumped from fourth to first passing stars Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Kane and Alexander Ovechkin to take the lead from the Pacific Division. On Thursday morning, he was still in the lead.

(In case if you missed the rules this year, fans will vote four players in, one from each Division, to be the captain of that Division)

The argument for Scott, who has played in six games this year, is that it would be hilarious to watch the 6-foot-8 winger lumber his way in a 3-on-3 format.

To me, it’s plain wrong to do this to Scott, the NHL and the fans.

First of all, Scott told Sarah McLellan, of AZCentral, he isn’t interested in getting voted into the All-Star game, so I’m not blaming him in any way:

“I don’t want to have my name in the headlines for this reason,” Scott said. “Like, it’s a fun little thing and hopefully it’ll die down over time. It’s not something — I definitely don’t want to be voted into the All-Star Game. It would be cool, but I definitely don’t deserve it to this point. You never know. There’s still some time left. I could turn it on.”

Also, I’m not a big fan of Scott after some of his previous actions, such as this dirty hit on Loui Eriksson that earned him a seven-game suspension two years ago:

While I may not like Scott that much, I also don’t believe any person should be put on display like the “fans” are trying to do just to make fun of him. Yes, I see the enjoyment, but Scott has feelings like the rest of us.

To make another thing clear, I’m not a big supporter of the All-Star game either. The players don’t take it seriously, and I don’t blame them, but I’m not arguing to keep Scott out of the game for the legacy of the All-Star game.

But to vote someone into an All-Star game to put him on display in front of the whole world just to mock him is wrong, and I would hope better from NHL fans.

Follow Bottom Line Hockey on Twitter at @bottomlinehocky. Also follow author Wes Herrmann at @Wes_Herrm.

Who Is Garret Sparks?

Garret Sparks has played one NHL game, 37 games in the AHL and 46 games, or the majority of his career, in the ECHL with the Orlando Sun Bears.

Yet if you paid attention to Sportsnet, TSN, HFBoards or any other hockey community, Sparks’ name is the one you’d hear the most.

So who is the young netminder that has burst onto the scene in the past two days?

Simply put, he’s the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next hope in net.

Sparks was drafted by Toronto in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 190th overall. Other goalies selected before him include John Gibson, Christopher Gibson and Nathan Lieuwen.

Despite the low draft position, Sparks has the Toronto fan base in a frenzy due to his play in the AHL.

In 37 appearances, he commands a 22-8-3 record, including an 8-2-1 record this season along with 1.90 GAA and a .938 save percentage. Sparks won AHL Goaltender of the Month in November after posting a 6-0-1 record during that period, but he has even better stats in the NHL.

In his one game, the Elmhurst, Il native posted a 24-save shutout over the Edmonton Oilers.

After the game he was teary-eyed:

But he also showed some humor after earning his first win:

All of this comes as the Maple Leafs are rumored to be moving goalie Jonathan Bernier. Sparks may finally be done with not only the ECHL, but the AHL also if that happens, but first he’ll have to make a name for himself.

Some will argue that the Oilers didn’t have their best night against the fresh-faced rookie, but in a career that’s seen more games in the third-tier of North American hockey, Sparks and the Maple Leafs fanbase can celebrate where they’re at right now.

Follow Bottom Line Hockey on Twitter at @bottomlinehocky. Also follow author Wes Herrmann at @Wes_Herrm.

Pittsburgh Penguins Do Not Need To Make Player Changes

If you were to just take a glance at the Eastern Conference standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins ranking wouldn’t throw you off too much.

Fourth in the Metropolitan Division, but first in the Wild Card, Pittsburgh is having a good start to the season.

The team is in the middle of a 4-4-2 record in its last 10 and are two points behind the New York Islanders for third in the division (but with two games in hand). While there are three teams ahead, the Pens have created plenty of space between the rest of the division.

And yet, there’s a bunch of tension reverberating from Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby got off to a slow start, there’s seismic rumors that him and owner Mario Lemieux are in the “middle of a big falling out” and reporters are seriously suggesting deals like Evgeni Malkin for Eric Staal.

This all comes after the Penguins gave up a ton to acquire star winger Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs and rebuilt their bottom six to alleviate the pressure from the top stars — and sticking with that game plan would be the best thing for the team.

Simply put, Crosby is too great to give away. He’s starting to turn on with six points in his last five games, the face of the franchise and city and is in my mind, along with a great deal of fans, still the best player in the world.

The Pens could use help on defense and trading Malkin would and should help that, but the organization has already put all of its eggs in the offensive basket. If they want to improve their defense, a smaller trade would be smarter than a huge one.

If after this season, Malkin isn’t working out and the defense needs improvement, then it might be time for a league-shocking trade.

This season may not be the year for the Penguins. The defense is young and somewhat of a mess, the team has had issues and the coaching is sometimes suspect, but they’ll have a better chance with Crosby and Malkin on the roster than without either of them.

Carey Price Out Six Weeks

The Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens were dealt some hard news Monday when it was announced goaltender Carey Price will miss six weeks with a lower body injury.

Price won the Hart and Vezina trophy last year, while leading the Canadiens into the playoffs.

The 28 year old already missed three weeks earlier in the season with the same lower body injury, according to coach Michel Therrien.

Price was off to another hot start this season. He has a 10-2-0 record along with a .934 save percentage and 2.06 GAA, good for top 10 in both stats around the league.

For Price, he’ll probably give up both of the awards he won last season. Goalies winning the Hart is rare enough, but missing two months of the season will probably put him out of serious contention for the Vezina.

For the Habs, it will be a difficult time without their star netminder. Price gave the team tons of confidence and is a calming presence in net.

Howebver, when Price missed nine games earlier in the season, the Canadiens hardly missed a beat, compiling a 5-2-2 record with Mike Condon in net.

Condon will be relied on again, and with an 8-2-3 record this season, that doesn’t seem like such a terrible thing. But six weeks is a lot longer than three. Dustin Tokarski will also see some action during that time and the team will face close to 20 games during that period.

Right now, Condon is a new goalie in the league. Most teams don’t have great scouting on him and his weaknesses and strengths, but with more games in the league, teams will start to learn his tendencies.

That doesn’t mean Condon will definitely fail, but adjusting and getting used to that will be vital.

Price has shown the ability to carry the Habs for long periods of time, but I also think this is one of Montreal’s strongest rosters in the past few years and could handle some time without Price.

Condon will have to keep up his strong level of play and get some breaks from Tokarski. There will be hiccups along the way, but the Canadiens will still be in the Atlantic Division hunt when Price returns six weeks from now.


Follow Bottom Line Hockey on Twitter at @bottomlinehocky. Also follow author Wes Herrmann at @Wes_Herrm.

Carolina Hurricanes Need To Trade Eric Staal And Cam Ward

Things have not gone smoothly for the Carolina Hurricanes in the past several seasons.

The team hasn’t made it into the playoffs in the past seven seasons, attendance has stayed low, large contracts have not worked out and there were rumors during the offseason that the team could be relocated as owner Peter Karmanos Jr. tries to sell the team.

It looks like the playoff-less streak will hit eight this year, but the team can continue to build toward the future if they trade captain and career Cane Eric Staal and longtime starting goalie Cam Ward.

Both players’ contracts expire at the end of the season and with $14.55 million combined in salaries between them, moving the pair is the best option for the Hurricanes.

Staal and Ward have both regressed lately, but both are still good players. Neither are worth the amount of money they make, but that won’t matter too much to Stanley Cup contending teams.

The Canes could re-sign the two, most likely at lower cap hits, but if the team’s struggled with both at the forefront in past years, what’s the point in keeping that formula in tact?

With two great trade chips, it’s time to cash in on those.

As for trade availability, Staal will be heavily coveted and by most accounts, already is. He’s still a first-line center and would most likely be the best player on the trade market at this year’s deadline.

Goalies are tougher to move, especially in-season. You need to find a playoff team in the market for a goalie and that’s not usually a huge market, but goalie deals still happen at most trade deadlines.

If Ward is moved, it will be for less than Staal will garner in a deal, but still one that will help the Canes a lot.

It’s also important that the team receives young forwards in exchange.

With Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Ryan Murphy and a surprise in rookie Brett Pesce, the defense is set. Eddie Lack has struggled in net, but he still has plenty of potential to be a starter.

Up front, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask are the biggest name in youngsters. Jeff Skinner is only 23 years old, but has struggled lately. Moving him is also an option and a constant rumor, but a discussion for a different day. The Canes need to find more star-powered players to surround those three.

It’s been a rough, long period in Raleigh, but moving longtime stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward may actually start to take the pain away.

Montreal Canadiens Get It Right With Marc Bergevin

The Montreal Canadiens will have to find deals for players like Carey Price, Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec in the next three or four seasons, but for the time being they’ve made the right move to do get those things done.

On Wednesday, the Habs announced they had signed general manager Marc Bergevin to an extension through the 2021-22 season. Bergevin’s current deal was set to expire at the end of this season.

The Canadiens have made the playoffs in all of three years that Bergevin has been in charge and have advanced to the third and second round of the playoffs during that period.

The season before Bergevin was hired, Montreal had finished 15th in the Eastern Conference. The turnaround came quickly under Bergevin.

He hired Michel Therrien as coach and ridden the team of big contracts like Erik Cole and Scott Gomez as young players like Brendan Gallagher, P.K. Subban and Alex Galchenyuk started to develop with bigger roles on the team.

Since that time, Bergevin has found similar success. He’s improved the defense with Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert, found bargain players to help the team such as Dale Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann and locked up Subban until the 2022-23 season.

This year is shaping up to be a big one in Montreal. The team’s off to a quick, first-place start in the Atlantic Division and didn’t miss a beat when Price went down with an injury for two weeks.

In the weaker Eastern Conference, the Canadiens could come out as Stanley Cup contenders in June, but even if they don’t this season, they still have their star GM in place for the next five years.


Follow Bottom Line Hockey on Twitter at @bottomlinehocky. Also follow author Wes Herrmann at @Wes_Herrm.