Around the NHL: Vegas Starts Fast, Trade Season Underway, L.A. Inks Gavrikov, More

When I previewed the Stanley Cup Final, I picked Florida in seven games but talked about how playoff-built Vegas is. I have to admit after the first two games I don’t feel great about my pick. Vegas is big, fast, strong, deep, and they’re winning the goaltending battle. Game 3 is tonight in Florida, so the Panthers aren’t dead — yet. But tonight’s a must-win.

Vegas Dominates Games 1 & 2 of the Stanley Cup Final

The Golden Knights taking Games 1 & 2 at home isn’t all that shocking, but the way they’ve done it has been stunning to me. I did think on paper they were the better team coming into this series, but Florida had that team of destiny feel and the hottest goaltender in the world. Just two games later, the Panthers seem like they’ve lost all momentum and so has Sergei Bobrovsky.

Sure, the extended time off after the sweep of Carolina is a factor, but let’s give credit where it’s due. Vegas has played OUTSTANDING hockey so far and they’ve gotten great goaltending from Adin Hill. The Knights have been the deeper, bigger, and faster team. Most importantly, they haven’t let Florida throw them off their game. The Panthers were able to get to Boston, Toronto, and Carolina with an edgy and gritty style of play. Vegas hasn’t let that phase them. They’ve just gone about their business and kept producing. Matthew Tkachuk has racked up an insane 36 penalty minutes in two games and threw himself around trying to create a spark or rattle the Knights and it just hasn’t worked.

Another key that I mentioned in the preview was special teams. Vegas really struggled on both sides in the first three rounds. Through the first two games in the Stanley Cup Final, not so much. They’ve killed all seven of their penalties and have four goals on the power play. If Florida doesn’t stay out of the box, figure out their power play, and clean up the kill this will be a short series.

There’s a bit of good news for some Florida defensemen prior to Game 3. First, despite his Game 2 injury, Radko Gudas is expected to play tonight. Gudas has been a big part of Florida’s blueline. The Panthers’ best defenseman Brandon Montour will be in the lineup for Game 3, though he might be a bit tired! Montour’s wife Ryian went into labor with the couple’s first child after Game 1, causing the defenseman to hop on a private jet back home for the birth of their son Kai. Montour then made it back to Vegas for Game 2 where he played over 26 minutes. Congrats to the Montours!

NHL Trade Season Underway

Trade season is officially underway in the NHL even though the Stanley Cup Final is going on. We had our first deal of the offseason go down this week. Philly sent defenseman Ivan Provorov to Columbus in the main piece of the trade in exchange for picks and prospects. The Kings were also involved in the deal, moving goalie Cal Peterson. Here’s the official deal:

Philadelphia trades Ivan Provorov and Hayden Hodgson to Los Angeles in exchange for Cal Peterson, Sean Walker, Helge Grans and the Kings’ 2024 second-round pick. Columbus acquires Kevin Connauton from Philadelphia in exchange for a 2023 first-round pick (22nd overall) and conditional second-round pick in either the 2024 or 2025 NHL Draft. Columbus acquires Provorov from Los Angeles in exchange for Connauton.

You can read Tab’s full breakdown of the deal HERE.

In addition to the three-team trade, the Ottawa Senators are looking to move a familiar face. They’re reportedly shopping former Blackhawk Alex DeBrincat. The Hawks traded DeBrincat to the Senators last offseason for picks that turned into Kevin Korchinski and Paul Ludwinski. It’s unlikely the Senators will get the same type of return Kyle Davison got last season unless DeBrincat were to agree to an extension along with the deal. DeBrincat had 41 goals for the Hawks prior to being moved last off-season. This season in Ottawa he had a down year, at least compared to 2021-22. He had 27 goals and 66 points. Don’t look for the Hawks to be too involved with a DeBrincat return. There might be a phone call, but like Tab said in his blog, if a reunion is in the cards it’s more likely in free agency next off-season.

Report: Senators Shopping Alex DeBrincat?

Action in L.A.

The Kings have been on the cusp of a playoff run each of the last two seasons. Both times though, they fell short in hard-fought series with the Oilers. Given the moves they’ve made and the ones they’ve tried to, they should be a team to keep an eye on this summer. We already mentioned the three-team deal they were a part of. That freed up a little bit of cap space which in turn allowed them to extend Vladislav Gavrikov.

There’s another trade, or I guess I should say trade talks I want to discuss though. According to NHL insider David Pagnotta, the Kings kicked the tires on Predators star goalie Juuse Saros this season. Saros was fantastic in the 2020-21 season and followed up with a top-3 Vezina Trophy finish last season. He put together a solid campaign again this year.

The Kings added Vladislav Gavrikov at the deadline from Columbus, and pending UFA Joonas Korpisalo came along with him. Korpisalo was good in net for the Kings in 11 regular season games but had a rough series against the Oilers with a goals-against average close to 4.00.

With Barry Trotz taking over as the general manager in Nashville, would he be willing to make a big shakeup and put his stamp on the roster? Nashville has a lot of draft picks and cap space to work with, so they could go a few different routes this off-season. Barry Trotz’s comments in April didn’t seem like he’d be too interested in moving an elite goaltender. However, if the Preds had discussions before it’s not out of the question they could happen again.


  • Even though Columbus added Ivan Provorov to their blueline already, they’re reportedly still looking for veteran defensemen. They need some size and toughness back there, especially after the hiring of Mike Babcock. Look for them to be aggressive in the coming weeks to add as the NHL off-season rapidly approaches.
  • Another team that might be making some significant roster changes is the Anaheim Ducks. According to the NHL Network, the Ducks could be willing to take offers on goalie John Gibson and forward Adam Henrique. The Ducks are still in a rebuild, so moving those players could fetch them a nice return from a contender.
  • Speaking of the Ducks, Adam Fantilli is almost a lock to go to Anaheim with the second pick in the draft. Fantilli has long been seen as the no-doubt second-best prospect to Connor Bedard in this year’s draft. Yesterday, reported that Fantilli could go back to Michigan for his sophomore season. Fantilli said no decision is imminent, and that he’ll listen to the advice of the team that drafts him and his close circle. I’m not sure there’s really a wrong decision here. He was phenomenal with Michigan last year and is likely NHL-ready. But with the Ducks rebuilding, if they see no need to rush him and feel he could grow from another season in Ann Arbor maybe he does go back. I still think we see him suited up in Anaheim to start next year, though.
  • Shoutout to Chicago native and CBS Miami reporter Samantha Rivera for being Chicago tough. Rivera went viral after Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. She stiff-armed an unruly fan out of the way during her postgame game hit from Vegas and didn’t miss a beat!
  • written by

    Matt is from the Chicagoland area and has been working in Chicago sports since 2015 with stops at WGN Radio, the Chicago Blackhawks, Stadium, and NBC Sports Chicago prior to landing at Betsperts. Matt covers just about everything for Betsperts and Bleacher Nation but focuses on the NHL and college football.

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