NHL adapts COVID-19 approach through 1st month of season
“I’m feeling quite well but, of course, scarred by the experience.”The first month of the NHL's pandemic-shortened season has been a bumpy one. From Jan. 13 through Saturday, 120 players from 26 of 31 teams have spent at least one day on the COVID-19 list. Minnesota and New Jersey are scheduled to return Tuesday, while the Philadelphia Flyers, who currently have seven players on the NHL COVID-19 list, are on pause until at least Thursday. AdThe NHL had 22 players on the COVID-19 list on Jan. 30, and that number ballooned to a season-high 59 on Friday. Rapid tests return results within a half hour and augment the PCR daily tests which were already taking place.
Eichel scores in shootout, Sabres beat Devils 4-3
Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel (9) carries the puck past New Jersey Devils forward Yegor Sharangovich (17) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)BUFFALO, N.Y. – Jack Eichel scored in a shootout, Linus Ullmark made 31 saves and the Buffalo Sabres beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Saturday. Victor Olofsson, Tobias Rieder and Eric Staal also scored to help the Sabres improve to 3-0-2 in their past five games. AdJanne Kuokkanen, Ty Smith and Andreas Johnsson scored for New Jersey in former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff’s first trip to Buffalo since taking over the Devils this offseason. Buffalo’s top free-agent acquisition assisted on two goals, tying Eichel for the team lead with nine points in eight games. RUFF’S RETURNRuff served as a Rangers assistant and Stars head coach since being fired by the Sabres in 2013.
NHL offseason moves influenced by coronavirus' impact on cap
Zdeno Chara is no longer in Boston after the Bruins captain signed with Washington. And the Sabres made an even bigger splash in free agency by landing 2018 NHL MVP Taylor Hall in October. Hall, for example, signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Buffalo by realizing the free-agent market was going to be tight. Oilers general manager Ken Holland chalked it up to the new economic realities facing the NHL. “It’s salary-cap related, which is related to the pandemic, which has given us a hard, flat cap for the foreseeable future,” Holland said.
Taylor Hall saw only positives in signing with Sabres
FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2020, file photo, Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall (91) is shown during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, in Glendale, Ariz. Forward Taylor Hall surprised many in turning down numerous contending NHL teams which courted him, and instead sign with the Buffalo Sabres in free agency. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)BUFFALO, N.Y. – Taylor Hall refused to buy into the negativity surrounding the Buffalo Sabres, and instead focused on the positives. And though Taylor acknowledged receiving longer-term offers from numerous teams, he settled on a one-year test-run contract with Buffalo. “Obviously, I’m betting on myself, but I’m betting that the Sabres can improve and have a good hockey season.
Sabres agree to sign Taylor Hall to 1-year, $8 million deal
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Buffalo Sabres are banking on Taylor Hall to turn what was a long and unsettled offseason into a far brighter immediate future. Buffalo became the surprise team to win the Hall free-agency sweepstakes by signing the 10th-year forward and six-time 20-goal-scorer to a one-year, $8 million contract Sunday night. The deal came together after the Sabres made landing Hall their top priority in free agency, with second-year coach Ralph Krueger playing an integral role. Krueger was an assistant in Edmonton during Hall's rookie season, and then spent the 2012-13 lockout shortened year as the Oilers coach. The Sabres entered free agency about $26 million under the NHL’s salary $81.5 million cap, and are currently projected to have about $14 million of space available following Hall’s addition.
NHL teams making moves, not waiting for top free agents
The NHL is embarking on a free agent period like never before in hockey history. A handful of the top free agents are still available, but NHL teams aren't waiting for those big fish to sign to make other moves. Koivu signed for $1.5 million for next season, and they need to re-up top center Pierre-Luc Dubois and other restricted free agents. Teams have to move money, and in order to move money, they might have to move some really good players.”Some good free agents found new homes Saturday. The Buffalo Sabres signed center Cody Eakin to a $4.5 million, two-year contract, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.
Goalies get shuffled in NHL free agency; Lightning depleted
Jacob Markstrom left Vancouver to sign a six-year, $36 million contract with the Calgary Flames. The Wild quickly addressed their goaltending needs after trading Devan Dubnyk to San Jose, by signing Cam Talbot signing a three-year, $11 million deal. — Veteran forward Wayne Simmonds was among the first free agents to sign, reaching a one-year $1.5 million deal with the Maple Leafs. With starting goalie Corey Crawford leaving for New Jersey in free agency, the Blackhawks also signed goalie Malcolm Subban to a two-year, $1.7 million contract. — The Senators and newly acquired goalie Matt Murray agreed to two-year, $25 million deal.