By Matt Connolly, Chat Sports
The final week of the 2016 NHL regular season is upon us. While several teams are still battling for playoff positioning, one squad just punched its ticket into the first round. Meanwhile, a pair of star players had their seasons come to an end, while a fan favorite was granted a special return.
Check out the latest NHL rumors below.
• The New York Rangers clinched their sixth-straight playoff berth with a 4–2 win over the Blue Jackets, but lost captain Ryan McDonagh in the process. The defenseman left in the first period after blocking a shot with his hand. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday, the team announced.
• The St. Louis Blues will be without forward David Backes and goaltender Jake Allen for their last three games of the regular season, the team announced.
• Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, who underwent successful surgery on a blood clot on Monday, could have difficulty landing a lucrative payday this off-season, according to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox. Whether he returns to the Bolts or signs elsewhere remains to be seen.
• Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri saw his season come to an end on Monday, as the NHL suspended him four games for cross-checking Detroit Red Wings forward Luke Glendening. But even with his on-ice transgressions, the Leafs will likely lock him up this summer, reports Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
• Florida Panthers captain Willie Mitchell, who is currently out with a concussion, has called out the NHL for not doing enough to protect its players.
• John Scott, the most unlikely All-Star Game MVP in NHL history, will get to skate one game for the Montreal Canadiens. The former Arizona Coyotes forward has been playing for the team’s minor league affiliate since being acquired in mid-January, but has been called up to play the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, according to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels.
• The relationship between Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy and forward Matt Duchene appears to be on thin ice, reports Mike Chambers of The Denver Post. Roy openly criticized Duchene’s goal celebration after a loss to the Blues on Sunday.