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First of all, have to give full credit to our friends at Blueshirt Banter for the concept. The best ten trades of the team in a decade. So let’s apply it to the Penguins!

Over the last ten years, the Penguins have made a ton of trades. Between two general managers in Ray Shero and Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh has had some bold GM’s willing to move all kinds of pieces around to upgrade the team and contend for Stanley Cup championships. It worked since the team made the playoffs each and every year from 2010-19.

Here’s the qualifications, taken straight from BSB with the appropriate Pens’ related notes shoehorned in. By attempting the rankings of the best trades, I considered a few areas of evaluation. They are:
Immediate Face Value Appraisal

Sometimes, you know it’s a win, right from the time you see the Bob McKenzie tweet announcing the trade. (Think of the Kessel from Toronto deal — with salary retained!). Hindsight is always a factor when looking back on these trades, but sometimes right from Jump St. you can just tell that the Pens made a good move. If so, it’s probably appearing in this article and not the next one about the ten WORST trades of the decade.
Hindsight Analysis

But, knowing what we know now matters too. Carolina trading Pittsburgh in the eight overall pick in the 2012 draft seemed great at the time, but didn’t really mean very much now at the end of 2019. Dallas throwing in a seemingly random 2013 third round pick ended up being a very big deal right now. That’s hindsight and unknowable at the time of the trade, but ends up at this point being a big, big factor!
Impact on Team’s Success

Shedding a bad player for a serviceable player (like, say, Daley for Scuderi) means a lot more right now than trading a second round pick for a rental that didn’t add up to much. That kind of makes sense at face value, so let’s stay there.
Butterfly Effect… To a Degree

The Guentzel trade comes into play here. Who would have known at the time? No one, but that was a good move. On the other end, the Pens traded the draft pick that was Ryan Dzingel to Ottawa for Alex Kovalev. That one is probably going to show up in the other article for worst trades of the decade. In a big sense, this is part luck but any trade involving picks and prospects can end up meandering to a way different path eventually then what it looks like at the time of the trade, for better or worse.
#10: Feburary 1, 2019: Pittsburgh trades Riley Sheahan, Derick Brassard, a 2019 second round pick, and two 2019 fourth round picks to Florida in exchange for Jared McCann and Nick Bjugstad

Jim Rutherford made this trade as a part of his patented “correcting a mistake” type of deal, adding a 22-year old former first round pick in McCann in exchange for a disappointment in Brassard and a second round pick. The Pens got a third line center in Bjugstad who may pay off more later on with his size and skill, but the major prize was undoubtedly McCann.

McCann has scored 21 goals and 38 points in his first 66 games with Pittsburgh, living up to his pedigree as a talented young player. And he’s done that on a $1.25 million salary cap hit, a huge boost to a team like Pittsburgh that really needs a boost of youth, fresh legs, energy and at a bargain rate against the cap. This trade isn’t even that old, but it’s already paid off to add what the Pens thought they were going to get from Brassard but actually ended up needing to flip into McCann to make it happen.
9 – December 3, 2018: Pittsburgh trades Daniel Sprong to Anaheim for Marcus Pettersson

Sprong was a polarizing prospect but never found a way to find his way into the good graces with the Pens. Rutherford was boxed into a corner here and found a way to trade this unestablished player to get a needed defenseman. Pettersson was a 13-14 minute a night player in Anaheim just trying to find his way, when he got to the Pens he has become a 18-19 minute important defender for the Pens that has blossomed into a good NHL level player. And that wasn’t something they were going to get out of Sprong.
8- June 22, 2012: Pittsburgh trades Jordan Staal to Carolina for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the No. 8 overall pick in 2012 (used to select Derrick Pouliot)

This is a bittersweet trade, to be sure. It could have been much higher, had the Pens drafted a player like Filip Forsberg or Teuvo Teravainen who were both very much in the range of this pick. But, they didn’t.

Still, former GM Ray Shero was also boxed in a bit back in 2012. Staal rejected a long-term contract with Pittsburgh and would have been entering a “walk year” of his contract with the Pens. So they flipped him and got a replacement (if lesser) NHL center in Brandon Sutter and that high pick.

And, with hindsight, Brian Dumoulin ended up being the most important piece of this trade for the Pens. Dumoulin wasn’t at the time of the trade, and as we saw with several high defenseman draft picks of that era (Pouliot, Joe Morrow, Scott Harrington, Simon Despres), sometimes via development or injury a prospect doesn’t always pan out. Dumoulin did though, exceeding all reasonable expectations to turn into a rock-steady top pair NHL dman.
8 – February 22, 2016: Pittsburgh trades a third round pick to Edmonton for Justin Schultz

Before Justin Schultz came to Pittsburgh he was a punchline. A perceived terrible defenseman who could defend and had very little appreciable value to an NHL team. This was mostly due to a bad Edmonton team that threw Schultz into deep waters and tough assignments that didn’t fit him. And, to be fair, he performed very poorly there.

But in Pittsburgh, first as a 6/7 type of defender in the 2016 Stanley Cup run, he was insulated and put in favorable situations. Schultz’s confidence grew and by 2016-17 he was a 51 point player (12G+39A) and a key player for the 2017 Stanley Cup run.

It took a little faith, patience and projection but the Pens found a talented player in a bad situation and helped build him up into a vital piece of the puzzle that continues through the end of the decade.
6- July 28, 2015: Pittsburgh trades Brandon Sutter and a third round pick (used to select William Lockwood) to Vancouver for Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a second round pick (used to select Filip Gustavsson)

After Sutter stuttered in his role with the Pens, Rutherford used him to flip for Nick Bonino who was cheaper against the salary cap and ended up being an instrumental piece of the 2016 Stanley Cup run in the H-B-K line that gave Pittsburgh a huge advantage in the playoffs against teams like Washington, Tampa and San Jose. Bonino also was a key player in the 2017 Stanley Cup run up until an injury.

The Pens also got a boost in the draft swap that ended up netting them a premier goalie prospect who was used in a future trade. But that trade won’t show up here. This one was all about the boost that Bonino provided compared to Sutter.
5- July 26, 2019: Pittsburgh trades a conditional sixth round pick in 2021 to Edmonton for John Marino

A master stroke in scouting and situational awareness, the Pens plucked Marino out of Edmonton. Marino was not going to sign with the Oilers, so they were willing to deal him for a conditional pick. If the Pens didn’t sign Marino, they wouldn’t have to give up the pick making this a total “no risk, all reward” type of trade. But they did convince him to forego his senior year in Harvard and he’s instantly become a 19 minute-a-game player at the NHL level with excellent instincts, calmness. And he adds a right handed shot on an entry level contract that will pay off into the early years of the next decade.
4- December 14, 2015: Pittsburgh trades Rob Scuderi (retaining $1.1 million of salary) to Chicago for Trevor Daley

Another situationally smart trade, the Pens used Chicago’s salary cap crunch against them in order to steal a serviceable player in Daley for a used up Scuderi by buying the Blackhawks a little over $1 million on the cap for 1.5 seasons. It turned out great for Pittsburgh, since Daley somehow didn’t fit with the scheme/coaching of Chicago, but ended up being a viable second pair player in the 2016 Stanley Cup run, a big upgrade from the slow-footed and bad hands of Scuderi who wasn’t going to be able to fit in with the new Mike Sullivan era.
3- March 24, 2013: Pittsburgh trades Joseph Morrow and a fifth round pick in 2013 (used to select Matej Paulovic) to Dallas for Brendan Morrow and a third round pick in 2013 (used to select Jake Guentzel)

This uses hindsight, but that still counts in the long-run. Dallas dealt their captain in Morrow to the Pens for their 2013 ill-fated playoff run. Morrow gets a bad rap for his time in Pittsburgh, mostly by people who forget he dislocated his kneecap and still played through it.

But this trade ended up having long-term ramifications in the seemingly meaningless swap of draft picks. Ray Shero managed to upgrade a fifth for a third. No big deal on the surface. However that third rounder ended up being Jake Guentzel and has had a monumental impact on the Pens’ future from there on out.
2- Feb 12, 2011: Pittsburgh trades Alex Goligoski to Dallas for James Neal and Matt Niskanen

With an excess of defensemen (including the emerging Kris Letang) the Pens could afford to ship out Goligoski, who was a very good player in his own right. But Pittsburgh got incredible value in that trade by landing a future 40-goal scorer in Neal and a throw-in of Niskanen who ended up being a top-four defender for as long as Goligoski has. If this trade was one-for-one in either direction, it might have been a fair one (or a modest Pittsburgh win). But that Shero pulled two key players out of this one meant a huge win for the Pens.
1- July 1, 2015: Pittsburgh trades Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington, Kasperi Kapanen, 2016 first round pick (eventually used to select Sam Steel) and a 2016 third round pick to Toronto for Phil Kessel ($1.25m retained), Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon and a 2016 second round pick (used to select Kasper Bjorkqvist)

Simply put, this was the trade that re-started the Pens’ dynasty. After things had grown stale in the middle of the decade, Rutherford swung for the fences and hit an absolute home run by acquiring Phil Kessel. And he got Toronto to retain salary AND take a player in Spaling that was filler to help balance the salaries. AND the Pens were able to make the deal without sending then top youngsters in Derick Pouliot and Olli Maatta to Toronto.

Kapanen and the first round pick were decent pieces to surrender, but paled in comparison to the immediate impact that Kessel made as one of the top players in the league for the 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cup runs and then scored 174 points in the 2018 and 2019 seasons that followed.

The 2010’s were such a crazy time for trades for the Pens. There wasn’t a lot of time for inactivity. Trades were the most major way for the team to re-shape itself and eventually become the only team in the salary cap era to win back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Of course, with good trades also comes bad trades. But we’ll save that for not Christmas to look into

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WINNIPEG (AP) — Nikolaj Ehlers took on Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf in Winnipeg’s victory over the Ducks.

The 6-foot, 172-pound Ehlers, known for his quick feet, clashed with Getzlaf, who is 6x-foot-3 and 225 pounds. Both threw a couple punches in the brief, second-period bout.

“Out of character? This is my third fight now,” joked Ehlers, who’s in his fifth NHL season. “I’m a fighter. (Getzlaf) gave me a cross-check after I passed it and then, yeah, I think it was kind of a mutual thing. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Mark Scheifele scored twice, the second on a power play with 4:22 left for his 400th NHL point. He beat goalie John Gibson over the glove for his 13th of the season.

Jets captain Blake Wheeler called Ehlers a “sick man” for taking on Getzlaf.

“What a hell of a job by a little guy,” Wheeler said. “That dude has got some fire in his belly, for sure. That was pretty awesome.”

Jets coach Paul Maurice joked that he sent Ehlers over the boards to take on Getzlaf, then added the Danish player native better keep his gloves on to avoid injury.

“That was foolish, wasn’t it?” Maurice said. “But God bless him, don’t do it again. Ever.”

Adam Lowry also scored, Mathieu Perrault had two assists and Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves. Winnipeg is 5-1-1 in its past seven games.

Jakob Silfverberg scored his team-leading 11th goal for the Ducks. Devin Shore had his first of the season and John Gibson made 30 saves. Anaheim is 1-3-1 in its last five games.

“I thought he was great,” Shore said about Gibson. “(The Jets) kind of had some pretty serious Grade A’s It’s no secret he’s one of the best in the world.”

NOTES: Gibson missed the past two games with an illness. … Winnipeg is 12-2-2 in one-goal games. … Nick Shore, picked up on waivers from Toronto on Wednesday, made his Winnipeg debut.

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A 3-2 loss during Friday night’s game against the Washington Capitals was not the ideal outcome for the Anaheim Ducks. However, despite dropping the game, they would suffer an even bigger loss with the early exit of Nick Ritchie. After a hip check from Radko Gudas late in the first period, the night would end for the 24-year-old power forward. Unable to put any weight on his left leg, he would head to the locker room, in visible pain.

Classified as a lower-body injury, we can only assume from what we witnessed that Ritchie has sustained an injury to his knee. While Dallas Eakins didn’t give the specifics, according to Eric Stephens of The Athletic, the head coach stated that “it does not look very good.” No further details were provided, but the outcome doesn’t seem to be a positive one.

Ritchie’s absence from the team is yet another big blow to the Anaheim Ducks struggling lineup. Losing Josh Manson for an extended period of time has caused enough problems of its own. While Manson’s impending return seems to be right around the corner, what happens now that one of Anaheim’s best forwards could be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future?

Did I just say Nick Ritchie is one of the Anaheim Ducks best forwards this season? Why yes, I did! At the beginning of the season, it was questionable whether Ritchie’s style of game would fit well under the Dallas Eakins system. He certainly struggled in his first few games, but he found his groove, blossoming into one of the Ducks best play drivers and showing signs he’s maturing into a decent power forward.

While most fans lament at the sight of Ritchie due to his league-leading penalty minutes, his time on ice has been crucial for the Ducks this season. In 27 games, he has been a solid point producer for the team, keeping a solid stat line of 3 goals, 7 assists, and 10 points overall. While 10 points in 27 games aren’t going to earn him any accolades, it’s pretty decent for a power forward playing for a team who is struggling at both ends of the ice.

He is staying true to his style of hockey, with 9 blocks and 34 hits on the season, leading the way for his team with his physicality and big body. His 49 shots on goal also prove that he can generate offensive capabilities for the struggling Ducks. Despite the gruff exterior, the young forward is truly passionate about the game of hockey, and this season, more than ever, it shows.

His presence on the ice will be missed for whatever length of time he is out. While some may not believe Ritchie is a true asset to this team, time will only prove what the evidence clearly manifests. It would be no surprise for the Ducks to recall Max Jones, or even Daniel Sprong, in his absence. However, neither of them will be able to fill the void that will be felt in the absence of Nick Ritchie.

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Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa have entered the world of podcasting.

The “Kes and Juice Podcast” debuted today, promising to talk about “hockey, life, and other stuff.”

Longtime teammates with both the Vancouver Canucks (10 years) and Anaheim Ducks (3), Kesler and Bieksa have a lot more time on their hands these days. Bieksa, 38, is effectively retired, and hasn’t suited up since the Spengler Cup last year. Kesler, 35, is on long term injury reserve with the Anaheim Ducks and may have already played his last game due to a hip injury.

“It’s a chance to show off our personalities,” Kesler explained, before acknowledging the differences between how he and Bieksa are perceived.

“I think people get you (Bieksa) but a lot of people don’t get me,” Kesler added.

“People are going to like you (Kesler) when they get to hear you,” Bieksa said. “You were guarded [with the media in Vancouver]… When people get to actually listen to you talk, they’re going to understand why we’re friends.”

The pair spent a long time talking about their old team, with Bieksa explaining: “[The Canucks] still have a place in both of our hearts. We spent a lot of time there. We want the team to do well and get back to the playoffs.”

“I know it was a tough break up, but they’ll always have a place in my heart,” said Kesler, whose relationship with the fans in Vancouver soured when he forced a trade to Anaheim in 2014.

“When you touch the puck and you get booed every time, it definitely hurt,” said Kesler.

See also:
Sopel speaks out in support of former Canucks coach Marc Crawford
Kesler says he still isn’t over Canucks’ 2011 Stanley Cup loss in revealing interview
Bieksa shares hilarious old stories with former Canucks teammate Burrows

Kesler and Bieksa spoke about a number of things on their first podcast, discussing issues past and present. It may remind fans of the popular hockey podcast Spittin’ Chiclets, with ex-players talking openly about their playing days, with a bit of swearing mixed in.

On the topic of abusive coaches, Kesler shared his own experience from early in his career, without naming anyone in particular.

“I was kicked, I was verbally assaulted, to the point where I needed to start talking to a sports psychologist,” said Kesler.

Todd Bertuzzi was the duo’s first guest, with the ex-Canucks winger sharing an amazing story about the players partying every night during training camp and showing up to practice hungover.

Before signing off, Bertuzzi offered Kesler and Bieksa some lighthearted encouragement with their new venture: “Good luck with this sh*t. I hope you don’t f*ck it up.”

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The opening round of the annual Freeway Faceoff got underway at Honda Center last night with the Anaheim Ducks emerging from the Southern California rubble with a 4-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

While the game lacked the physicality we’re used to seeing between the two teams (though there was a fight in the lower bowl amongst fans), there was no shortage of skill and exciting hockey as these rebuilding clubs managed to make the game entertaining.

The Ducks opened the scoring a little more than five minutes into the first period, when Nicolas Deslauriers fired a one-timer up high that hit off a Kings defender in front. Derek Grant, battling for position in front, saw the puck first and pushed it past Jack Campbell for the 1-0 lead and an ever exciting Grit Goal™ from the fourth line.

Anaheim would make it 2-0 on a [checks notes] power play goal? Special teams were reportedly a heavy focus over the last two Ducks practices, and it paid off with vastly improved puck movement as well as a newfound penchant to one-time the puck, culminating in Jakob Silfverberg ripping one into the back of the net off a Hampus Lindholm setup. More of that will be needed if the Ducks want to increase scoring moving forward.

The second period saw the Kings cut the Ducks lead in half when Kurtis MacDermid’s point shot got past Ryan Miller who had the sun blocked out by both Michael Amadio and Erik Gudbranson battling in front of the net.

Just 56 seconds later, however, the Ducks answered right back. Hampus Lindholm dropped down low with the puck and made an incredible saucer feed through a Kings defenders legs, over a stick, and right on to the tape of Carter Rowney in the crease for the layup. Another goal for the fourth line, but after a rough game on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets, Lindholm proved that it doesn’t take long for him to shake off a bad start.

Before the period was out, the Kings made things interesting as the Freeway Faceoff continued to live up to its reputation. Nikolai Prokhorkin took a puck right up the middle of the offensive zone and somehow beat both Korbinian Holzer and Brendan Guhle who had let him skate right past without much of a real fight. Prokhorkin deked backhand-forehand and put it past Miller to make it 3-2 and leave Holzer and Guhle wondering why waiving their sticks at a player didn’t end up being a good defensive strategy.

The third period say the Kings playing mostly in the offensive zone as they furiously tried to even the game. Fortunately, Miller had rebounded from his poor performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning and kept the Ducks lead alive with some great saves and great positioning.

After icing the puck and a couple of failed clears with the Kings net empty, Ryan Getzlaf retrieved the puck and fed it to Derek Grant who chipped it into the empty net for his second multi-goal game of the season and another round of supporters preaching the gospel of the Elite 1C.

With the 4-2 win, the Ducks are just three points out of a playoff spot, though they also still sit eighth from the bottom of the league.

Up next: The Ducks host the Washington Capitals on Friday at 7:00 PM.
Best And Worst

Best: Elite 1C for All Star Game – Derek Grant is currently on a 23 goal pace and is ahead of names like Evgenii Malkin and Tyler Seguin in scoring. Let’s be real here: Grant’s overall shot metrics on the season are not anywhere close to good. But he’s putting up points and contributing more than most bottom six player in the league at the current moment. So, who wants to John Scott him into the All Star Game?

Best: Ryan Miller is back – Miller gave up six goals in his last start against a Lightning team that hasn’t been as potent as usual two weeks ago. Fortunately, he was back on his game tonight and was the number one reason why the Ducks were able to hang on for a victory. He stopped 34 of 36 shots and, for the most part, looked calm and poised in net.

Best: Top line domination – The top line of Devin Shore, Ryan Getzlaf, and Troy Terry pretty much had their way with the Kings. Looking at the shot attempt and expected goal differential charts below, Los Angeles barely got any shots off against this line, let alone quality chances. It would be great to see Dallas Eakins keep this line together for a few more games to see if this was a fluke or if there might be some real chemistry here.

Worst: On their heels – The Ducks were outshot heavily. That’s a fact. And while they did a good job getting high quality chances from the shots they did have as evidenced by the heat map below, there’s only so much a team can take as far as volume is concerned. Don’t expect the Ducks to win these kinds of games often.

Worst: Holzer’s struggles – Korbinian Holzer has spent his entire career up until this point as a top AHL defenseman and a good seventh defenseman at the NHL level. This is his first year getting regular playing time, but we’re starting to see why he is best limited in his NHL minutes. This game highlighted how much he struggles with regular playing time at this level, and at this point there might be better options on the blueline like Josh Mahura, Chris Wideman, or Simon Beniot, who have all excelled in San Diego this season.

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UNIONDALE, NY — The Anaheim Ducks showed their resiliency in a back-and-forth game on the road against the New York Islanders.

Jakob Silfverberg scored in regulation and added the shootout winner in the Ducks’ 6-5 win over the Islanders on Saturday.

Adam Henrique had a goal and an assist, John Gibson made 28 saves as the Ducks snapped a two-game skid. Max Comtois, Sam Carrick and Cam Fowler also scored.

“We made the most of our opportunities,” Fowler said. “We had contributions from everyone up and down the lineup and when you can do that, it helps you win hockey games.”

Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal each had a goal and an assist while Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves as the Islanders fell for the second time in three games. Nick Leddy had a goal and two assists, and Jordan Eberle and Derick Brassardd each had two assists.

Ryan Pulock tied the score 5-5 when he blasted a slap shot past Gibson with 6:41 left in the third period. Leddy and Brassard assisted on the Islanders’ second power-play goal of the game.

Fowler scored a go-ahead goal midway through the third when his wrist shot sailed over Varlamov’s glove.

“It just felt like we would have a couple of good plays and then they would get one play and it would be in the back of the net,” Barzal said after the frustrating loss.

Varlamov started his second straight game, which was the first time the Islanders opened with the same goalie in consecutive games this season. It was the ninth longest streak in NHL history of a team alternating goalies.

Henrique scored for the second time in two games when he sneaked in front of Leddy at 5:25 of the middle period to give the Ducks a 3-2 lead. Michael Del Zotto and Korbinian Holzer collected assists on the play.

“We need full team efforts here, up and down the lineup,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “That’s a damn good hockey team over there. To be able to come into their rink and score five goals against a team that is that stingy, we’ll feel pretty good about that.”

Less than five minutes later, Barzal answered with the most entertaining goal of the high-scoring game at 9:20 of the second. Lee took advantage of Barzal’s speed and floated a perfect lead pass to help his teammate zip past the Ducks’ defenseman to tie the score at 3-3.

Lee ended his three-game goal drought with his 10th of the season to open the scoring. Barzal was able to drag defenseman Erik Gudbranson to his side of the ice before sliding the puck across to Lee at 1:50 of the first period. Eberle also assisted on the play.

Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield was unable to block out Comtois before he tipped in Isac Lundestrom’s shot at 16:27 of the first period to tie it 1-1.

Carrick gave the Ducks a short-lived one-goal lead when he netted his first of the season at 17:03.

Nelson ended a back-and-forth first period with a power-play goal to even the score 2-2 just 47 seconds after Carrick’s goal. Pulock and Leddy assisted.

Leddy went on to add a goal of his own with 5:45 left in the second to give the Islanders a 4-3 lead. The smooth-skating defenseman slipped behind a Ducks defenseman and Nelson found Leddy all alone in the slot.

Silfverberg responded with a game-tying goal 26 seconds later. Henrique and Hampus Lindholm each recorded their second points of the game with assists.

“We are not thrilled with giving up five but to see five go in should give our guys a little bit of a boost moving forward,” Fowler said. “Then if we can really lock down defensively that’s when things will start to turn for us.”

NOTES: Before the game, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said Cal Clutterbuck will be out indefinitely after an operation on his wrist. The alternate captain suffered the injury against Boston this week when Patrice Bergeron’s skate inadvertently cut his wrist. … Barzal and Pulock skated in their 200th NHL game. … Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf missed the game with flu-like symptoms. ,,, Anaheim scratched D Jacob Larsson.

UP NEXT:

Islanders: Host Columbus on Monday night.

Ducks: At the New York Rangers on Sunday.

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Troy Loney won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and played 12 NHL seasons before retiring in 1995.

Now, almost two decades later, he’s about to get into a different side of the hockey business.

Loney and his wife Aafke will be announced as partial owners of the Youngstown (Ohio) Phantoms junior hockey team on Thursday morning, a source familiar with the situation told City of Champions.
Troy Loney helped the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and ’92. (Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins)

The Phantoms are in the midst of their fifth season in the United States Hockey League, which is considered the top-tier junior-level circuit in America. The USHL differentiates itself from the Canadian major-junior leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) by allowing its players to maintain NCAA eligibility.

Phantom Fireworks founder Bruce Zoldan has served as owner and CEO of the Phantoms since their inception as a North American Hockey League franchise in 2003. The team stepped up to the USHL as an expansion team for the 2009-10 season, making Youngstown’s Covelli Centre its home.

According to the source, the Loneys will also take over day-to-day operations of the franchise, duties that have previously been under the control of Zoldan and his subordinates.

The Loneys’ Phantoms connection began in 2010, when their son Ty joined the team late in its first USHL campaign. Ty, now a junior forward at the University of Denver, played 71 games for Youngstown before moving on to college hockey.

Troy, 50, was selected by the Penguins in the third round of the 1982 NHL Draft. He went on to play 624 regular-season NHL games – 533 of which with Pittsburgh – scoring 197 points in the process. Loney played in every game of the 1991 and ’92 Stanley Cup playoffs, serving in a checking-line role as the Pens claimed back-to-back titles.

Loney was picked up by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 1993 expansion draft, then finished his playing career in 1995 with the Rangers and Islanders.

It’s on a much smaller scale, but Loney joins old Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux as players-turned-owners.

UPDATE (10:15 a.m.) – The Loneys met the Youngstown-area press Thursday morning at the Covelli Centre.

Troy alluded to the Penguins’ grassroots efforts in western Pennsylvania and the Tri-State Area in describing the possible impact of his family managing the Phantoms.

“The Penguins are very excited about this,” Troy said. “They’re looking to grow hockey in the surrounding area.”

The Phantoms are still seeking a new long-term lease with the Covelli Centre, but Troy reiterated that he and his wife intend to pour every effort into helping junior hockey stick in the Mahoning Valley region.

“I’m looking forward to a long-term partnership,” he said. “We’re committed to this town, and growing the fan base here.”

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If you’re looking for the biggest stories in the hockey world over the past decade, you’ll have to look beyond the ice. Far beyond it. While the 2010s produced some of the most eye-popping and dynamic talent the game has ever seen, much of what we’ll remember about it the most happened away from the rink. Here are the top stories of the past 10 years:

10. 2012-13 Lockout
For the third time in NHL history, a season was disrupted when the owners locked the players out after failing to reach a collective bargaining agreement. The NHL, as always, was the big winner in the standoff, reducing the players’ share of revenues from 57 to 50 percent, and eliminated the ridiculously front-loaded contracts. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said five-year term limits was, “the hill we will die on,” and didn’t get it. The players failed to enshrine Olympic participation as part of the deal, which paved the way for the league to pull out of the 2018 Games against the players’ wishes.

9. Return of the Winnipeg Jets
When the NHL needed an NHL-ready landing spot for the Atlanta Thrashers in the summer of 2011, it chose Winnipeg, a market without an NHL team since the original Jets left for Phoenix 15 years prior. Since then, the Jets have built a model franchise, accumulating assets through the draft and doing a good job of convincing them to stay on the Prairies. There has not been a ton of on-ice success and, despite being picked by The Hockey News to win the Stanley Cup in 2019, lost in the first round of the playoffs.

8. Alex Ovechkin
No player has even come within the same area code of the 425 goals (through games of Dec. 21) scored in the decade. He scored 50 goals four times – and could be on his way to another 50-goal campaign this season – and picked up six Rocket Richard Trophies to go along with his Hart Trophy in 2012-13 and his Ted Lindsay Award in 2010. But it was in 2017-18 that Ovechkin finally realized his dream and proved to the hockey world that he could win when it mattered. Not only did the Capitals win the Cup in 2018, but they did it behind the inspired play of Ovechkin, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Could Ovechkin passing Wayne Gretzky for all-time goals be the story of the 2020s? It’s still a longshot, but it’s remarkable we’re even having the conversation.

7. The NHL’s gamble pays off
Aided by the most generous rules in expansion draft history, the Vegas Golden Knights put together the best first season of any team in professional sports. Five days before the Golden Knights played their first-ever game, a gunman opened fire on a crowd at a music festival, killing 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The franchise responded by reaching out to the victims and their families as well as the first responders. The ‘Golden Misfits’ won six of their first seven home games and crafted an unbelievable season that culminated in a berth in the Stanley Cup final.

6. Blackhawks Up
After decades of languishing as one of the league’s most moribund and neglected franchises, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years in 2010, starting a run that qualifies them as a modern-day dynasty. They followed that up with Cups in 2013 and 2015 and sold out every one of their home games in the decade (as of Dec. 22). The end of the decade brought the predictable ebb in fortunes that comes after a team has a run of success, but there more than two dozen franchises in the NHL that would trade this decade with the Blackhawks in a heartbeat.

5. Connor McSavior
He first entered the consciousness of the hockey world while playing minor hockey in Toronto and even before he played a game with the Erie Otters as an exceptional player, Connor McDavid was being labeled a generational talent. And so far in his NHL career he has done nothing to suggest the label was overhyped. If anything, perhaps the hype wasn’t even large enough. The NHL has never, ever seen a player with the gifts McDavid has. By the end of the decade, McDavid had established himself as the best player in the world. The only thing that has eluded him is playoff success. That should come in the next decade as the Edmonton Oilers, after so many attempts, finally look as though they’re starting to get it right.

4. Sid’s golden goal
Prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, the game had never been played at a higher level than the 1987 Canada Cup when Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux performed their magic. From start to finish, the 2010 tournament was a spectacular display of the game at its best, on the biggest stage in the world. And it was capped off by an overtime goal by a 22-year-old Sidney Crosby at 7:40 of the extra frame. Down by two goals in the second period, Team USA fought back, tying the score with just 24.4 seconds remaining. It was the most-watched hockey game in the U.S. since the Miracle on Ice in 1980 and half of Canada watched the game in its entirety.

3. Matt Cooke and Rule 48
In a game on March 7, 2010 in a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, Cooke delivered a blow to the head of Marc Savard that knocked Savard out of the lineup for two months. And the hit was perfectly legal at the time. Responding to outrage that Cooke had not been suspended, within 17 days the league did something almost unprecedented, invoking an in-season rule. This one was Rule 48, and while it came short of invoking a complete ban on blows to the head, it did begin to seriously penalize hits such as the one Cooke put on Savard.

2. Concussions, premature deaths and CTE
The NHL lost former enforcers Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Todd Ewen, all of whom took their own lives. The deaths brought to light the role of enforcers in the game and how the league dealt with the health problems brought on by repeated concussions. It ultimately led to a concussion lawsuit on behalf of more than 300 former players. The two sides settled six years after the lawsuit was launched, with plaintiffs receiving up to $22,000 and up to $75,000 worth of treatment. To this day, commissioner Gary Bettman has dismissed a direct link between concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disorder that can only be diagnosed after death.

1. Humboldt Broncos bus crash
On the afternoon of April 6, 2018, 13 people were killed and another 16 injured when a semi-trailer truck collided with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to a playoff game in nearby Nipawin. The worst tragedy in Canadian sports history rocked the hockey world to its core. A GoFundMe campaign raised a record $15 million for the families of the dead and injured. The driver of the truck was charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and received concurrent sentences of eight years. The families have lobbied for stricter guidelines around training and governing truck drivers and installing seatbelts on buses, but change has been slow.

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Chuck Fletcher was somewhat judicious and reticent when asked for his thoughts on the NHL Department of Player Safety’s three-game suspension given to Joel Farabee.

Alain Vigneault did not hold back.

Farabee, a 19-year-old rookie, was handed a game misconduct for interference on Mathieu Perreault during the Flyers’ 7-3 defeat last Sunday to the Jets. Moments before he delivered his hard hit, Farabee was crosschecked from behind in front of Winnipeg’s net. His check came after Perreault passed the puck up the boards.

During the Flyers’ 4-3 win over the Senators on Dec. 7, Travis Konecny was drilled in open ice by 30-year-old Mark Borowiecki, a player with a history of suspensions. No penalty was called on the play and Borowiecki did not receive supplemental discipline.

Vigneault was left confounded after comparing both hits. When asked Tuesday if he was surprised by the number of games the NHL handed down on Farabee, the Flyers’ head coach said bluntly: “Yes.”

And he explained why:

“Initially on that play, if you watch it and if you listen to the explanation of the NHL, they say [Farabee] was pushed from behind. He was crosschecked from behind,” Vigneault said. “It should have been a penalty, we should have been going on the power play. The time between the puck being passed and the hit I think is 1.34 seconds, which is late. But T.K.’s one just a few days before that was 1.04. There’s .3-something seconds difference. One is nothing, one is a three-game suspension to a young man that has no history.

“Sometimes things are hard to figure out. You’ve just got to roll with it and deal with it. That’s the best explanation that I can give you.”

The Flyers, who were already undermanned at forward because of injuries, will miss Farabee all week — Tuesday vs. the Ducks (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Thursday vs. the Sabres (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Saturday at the Senators (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

“I’ve been in this game a long time, I’m not meaning this to sound flippant or anything, I don’t have an opinion. I don’t know,” Fletcher said. “[Head of the NHL Department of Player Safety George Parros] and his staff work hard, they look at these things and have the experience to know previous hits. I don’t spend the time to the level he does to really comment. Obviously it’s a blow for us. If anything, I think this road trip showed how competitive [Farabee] is. Certainly might be as competitive a hockey player as we have — a 175-pound 19-year-old kid.

“He certainly earned the respect of everybody in that room and from us. … That’s a blow for us to lose him for three games, but that’s hockey.”

On Tuesday night, the Flyers will at least see the return of Konecny, who missed the club’s 0-3-0 road trip with a concussion suffered on the hit from Borowiecki.

“I had the puck on my stick and he hit me,” Konecny, the Flyers’ leading scorer, said. “I wasn’t watching, I should know who’s on the ice at all times, you know that he’s definitely a player that’s going to take advantage of guys not looking. It’s my fault, I didn’t have my head up.

“Joel’s hit, it’s tough, it’s the NHL’s decision to make those calls. I feel like those two hits were a little different. I can’t really compare them.”

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Frederik Andersen is a stabilizing anchor for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His composed demeanor and style of goaltending have been major contributors to his impressive consistency.

Since joining the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, Andersen has posted a save percentage between .917% and .920% every season. He also currently leads the NHL in wins, earning 18 of the Leafs 19 wins to date.

Truthfully though, goaltending performance is notoriously difficult to evaluate. Sv% and GAA statistics are inseparable from a team’s defensive effectiveness.

A strong goalie on a poor defensive team can have identical numbers to a weak goalie on a strong defensive team. So how can Frederik Andersen be accurately evaluated?
Rising Above Expectations

Expected save percentage (xSv%) measures the quality of shots that a goalie faces.

Strong defensive teams may have a xSv% as high as .920% (i.e. forcing low quality shots) while weaker defensive teams can have a xSv% as low as .905% (i.e. allowing high quality shots).

Frederik Andersen’s actual Sv% is often well above his xSv%, showing that he is in fact a strong goaltender. Since joining the Leafs, the difference between Andersen’s Sv% (.918) and xSv% (.911) ranks 5th among NHL goaltenders who average 35+ games/year.

Translating that into goals saved, Andersen’s total Goals Saved Above Average is 46, 3rd in the NHL over that time, behind only Sergei Bobrovsky and John Gibson.

From those numbers over the past four seasons, Andersen has a strong argument as a top-5 goaltender in the NHL. However, Andersen currently has even greater value to the Toronto Maple Leafs than his numbers suggest.

That is because the Leafs backup goaltender, Michael Hutchinson, has the 2nd worst differential between his Sv% (.894) and xSv% (.912) among all goalies that have played 40+ games over the past four seasons.

Hutchinson’s -38 Goals Saved Above Average/82 games is far below average goaltending, especially in comparison to Andersen’s +17.1 Goals Saved Above Average/82 games.

These statistics support the notion that the Leafs are highly dependent on Frederik Andersen.

That trend will likely continue until the team finds a solution to their backup goaltending issues, as the Leafs have only received a single win from backup goaltenders this season.

The Leafs are likely exploring backup goaltending options around the NHL, as the price for solid goaltending is surprisingly low in today’s NHL. Louis Domingue and James Reimer have both been traded this season, yielding returns of only 7th and 6th round picks, respectively.