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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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Let’s dive right in to the Friday Five, where we’re pointing out questions, quirks and quips from around the NHL with just 10 days to go until the trade deadline.

1. A brief history of NHL suspensions for kicking

Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian has been suspended seven games for kicking Tampa Bay defenceman Erik Cernak with his skate on Thursday night. Kassian had waived his right to an in-person hearing on Friday, hoping to speed up the process on his looming suspension.

Because Kassian was offered an in-person hearing with George Parros and the Department of Player Safety, the NHL had the option to suspend Kassian for five or more games. It’s an option, but not a guarantee.

There is a short list of non-negotiable, zero-tolerance penalties in the NHL and Kassian touched the third rail with his kick. He was not assessed a penalty on the play.

“If I kicked him hard I think he would have flew back or the ref would have called a penalty,” Kassian told reporters after the game.

The last suspension for kicking was in 2012. Jeff Skinner’s two-game ban for kicking St. Louis’ Scott Nichol also appears to be the most similar incident. 

“Regardless of whether Skinner felt that he needed to protect himself or separate himself from an opponent, any intentional or reckless use of the skate blade in this manner is extremely dangerous and unacceptable,” NHL vice-president of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan said at the time.

As precedent was an indicator, Kassian did not receive a double-digit suspension. His most recent suspension – a two-game ban doled out less than a month ago for punching an unwilling Matthew Tkachuk – did not factor into his supplemental discipline.

Only in cases where a player has stomped on an opponent – or had previous incidents of violent use of their skate blade – has a harsher penalty been delivered. Here is the list:

2012 - Carolina’s Jeff Skinner suspended two games for kicking St. Louis’ Scott Nichol.

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Courtesy: Fox Sports

2011 - Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan suspended three playoff games (six regular-season game equivalent) for stomping on the skate of Nashville’s Jonathan Blum.

2008 - Anaheim’s Chris Pronger suspended eight games for stomping on Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.

2007 - Islanders’ Chris Simon suspended 30 games for stomping on Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu.

2005 - Ottawa’s Martin Havlat suspended five games for kicking Boston’s Hal Gill

2004 - Florida’s Donald Audette suspended two games for kicking Islanders’ Sven Butenschon.

2004 - St. Louis’ Chris Pronger suspended one game for kicking Calgary’s Ville Nieminen.

2. Should Panarin’s shootout winner have counted?

Slow down Artemi Panarin’s game-deciding shootout goal in Minnesota on Thursday night and there seems to be clear evidence that it should have been disallowed.

The Ranger winger’s wizardry might have masked that he appeared to pull the puck backward, a violation of Rule 24.2, which states that “the puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line.”

Here’s the thing: The NHL’s Situation Room in Toronto upheld the “good goal” call on the ice.

Take a look at these two still-frame photos. The puck appears to nip the top of the crease on the left, and then is clearly moving in a backward direction as Panarin slides to the other side of the cage.

 

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Courtesy: MSG

So why was it confirmed a goal? Part of the thinking is that if Panarin’s goal is disallowed, then technically hundreds of others must also be, because so many dekes pull and drag the puck back. Others, in which a player skates toward the side boards on their way to the net, would also have to be disallowed.

Clips similar to the Panarin goal have been shown at GM meetings and the stewards of the game have generally believed these are acceptable goals for the entertainment value. Polls done by NHL Hockey Ops at GM meetings have indicated that the onus should be on the goalie to challenge the shooter in that case.

In this case, Wild netminder Alex Stalock was exasperated on the ice. Coach Bruce Boudreau was not happy postgame.

“It should’ve been [called back],” Boudreau said. “I just read the rule and the rule says the puck has to be going forward at all times. I may be blind, but it doesn’t look like it was going forward at the end.”

Turns out, those were among the last words of Boudreau’s tenure in Minnesota. He was fired on Friday morning.

Boudreau is the eighth head coach shown the door this season, matching the bloodiest season for in-season coach firings in league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

3. TradeCentre: Record $$$ retained?

Nearly half of the NHL (15 teams) are operating within $1 million of the $81.5 million salary cap. Of that group, 13 teams are using the long-term injury exception to be cap compliant.

In other words, money is tight. We’ll keep an eye on whether that might create a record amount of salary retained in transactions on Deadline Day. Teams can retain up to 50 per cent of a player’s contract on their own salary cap to facilitate a trade.

The record of retained salary transactions on Deadline Day is six, when $9.53 million was retained back in 2015, according to CapFriendly.com's searchable trade database.

Teams willing to retain salary might get a better return because cap space is an asset not every team has.

 

Year-By-Year Retained Salary Trades

Year Retained Salary Deals Amount Retained
2019 2 $3.26M
2018 2 $4.63M
2017 4 $7.22M
2016 1 $500,000
2015 6 $9.53M
2014 1 $950,000

4. Bergevin’s trade record gets high marks

The winner of best Deadline Day deal over the past five years is … Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin. On March 2, 2015, Montreal sent a second-round and conditional fifth-round pick to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenceman Jeff Petry. It’s a deal that’s still paying dividends for the Habs.

Petry, 32, has been worth every penny of the six-year, $33 million extension he signed with the Habs that summer. He has averaged 41 points over each of his full seasons in Montreal and is on pace for a career-best 49 this season, anchoring the Canadiens’ right side during long stretches without Shea Weber.

Petry is on the TSN Trade Bait board this season only because so many teams would covet having a player like him under control for another season at a reasonable, $5.5 million cap hit. Bergevin may be forced to listen, but he’s unlikely to act since there is no easy replacement for the 23:36 Petry plays every night.

Naturally, the Petry trade led to some further inspection of Bergevin’s trade record. Credit is due, especially after Bergevin was crushed for the Weber/P.K. Subban swap with Nashville.

Look how that’s turned out. That’s why it might even be too premature to grade Bergevin yet on what looks like another blemish: Jonathan Drouin to Tampa Bay for Mikhail Sergachev in June of 2017. At the very least, it’s easy to understand why Bergevin made that deal, given the Habs’ needs.

Dreger: What makes the most sense for the Canadiens

Would it be a mistake to trade Max Domi? What makes the most sense for Marc Bergevin and his approach to the NHL trade deadline?

There have been a few real steals. In 2018, he traded captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a second-round pick they traded to the Kings for a third (Mattias Norlinder) and a fifth (Jacob Leguerrier). Tatar has matched Pacioretty in production and Suzuki has blossomed into a heck of a player.

Earlier in 2018, he swapped Max Domi for Alex Galchenyuk – and Galchenyuk might be playing in the KHL next season. He turned rental Tomas Plekanec into a second-round pick, which became Jacob Olofsson, along with Kerby Rychel and Rinat Valiev.

An even better deal than Petry was Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann to Chicago for reliable pivot Philip Danault and a second-round pick, which they turned into dynamic Russian defenceman Alexander Romanov – who could be starring on the Montreal blueline next season.

There have been other misses, including Andrew Shaw to Chicago for two second-round picks – one of which became Alex DeBrincat. But the bottom line is Bergevin has made out better than the majority of his counterparts in trades over the last number of years.

Consider that fair warning to other GMs over the next 10 days.

5. Sabres not searching for POHO

The natives are growing restless in Buffalo with the Sabres on track to miss the playoffs again for a ninth straight spring. That has led to some speculation that owners Terry and Kim Pegula might hire a president of hockey operations to oversee GM Jason Botterill.

Sources say that the Pegulas have not considered that move. In fact, Botterill was recently told by ownership that they will not be creating a new hockey position above him. 

That is not to be misconstrued as a vote of confidence or any referendum on Botterill’s job security. The Pegulas, who have not spoken publicly on the state of the franchise, share every bit of frustration and angst as fans and the media in the market.

Meanwhile, Botterill continues to make calls ahead of the Feb. 24 deadline. The list of Sabres untouchables isn’t long after Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin.

Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli​