NHL News & Notes: Sparks, Sutter & More

In today’s News & Notes, Garret Sparks has signed a one-year contract extension, Brandon Sutter is out for the remainder of the 2018-19 season and Jesperi Kotkaniemi is set to be a healthy scratch Tuesday.

Related: NHL News & Notes: Lindsay, McCabe & More

Sparks Signs Contract Extension

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Sparks to a one-year contract extension worth $750,000 that will keep him under contract through the 2019-20 season. The 25-year-old goaltender has gone 7-5-1 with a 3.09 goals-against average and .902 save percentage this season in 14 appearances.

While he hasn’t necessarily been the best backup goaltender in the league this season (his second stint in the NHL after going 6-9-1 with a 3.02 goals-against average and .893 save percentage with the Maple Leafs back in 2015-16), Sparks has proven at the AHL level that he is more than capable of boasting impressive figures and winning games.

Toronto Maple Leafs Garret Sparks
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Garret Sparks (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Last season, Sparks would go 31-9-1 with a sterling 1.79 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. He’d win the Aldege (Baz) Bastien Memorial Award as the league’s most outstanding goaltender, leading the league in goals-against average, save percentage and wins en route to a Calder Cup Championship.

This wasn’t a fluke for Sparks either as he’s been lights-out at every level outside of the NHL for years. If his game can translate to the next level, the Maple Leafs could end up having one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL. For the cap hit, the value simply can’t be beaten.

Sutter Out for Season

The Vancouver Canucks will be without Sutter for the remainder of the 2019-19 season as the veteran center is set to have surgery to repair a sports hernia, the team announced Tuesday. The expected recovery time for this procedure is six to eight weeks. With the Canucks unlikely to qualify for the postseason, that would mean that Sutter’s next shot at action would come at the start of the 2019-20 season.

Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks
DENVER, COLORADO – FEBRUARY 02: Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks plays the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on February 02, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Sutter had a similar procedure on his left side in 2015, though this time around the injury is on his right side.

In 26 games this season, Sutter has scored four goals and six points. He’s been held out of action since Feb. 9 due to injury.

In 683 career games in the NHL, the 30-year-old has scored 135 goals and 260 points.

Kotkaniemi Will Be a Healthy Scratch

The Montreal Canadiens will be giving Kotkaniemi a chance to rest after the rookie forward has battled fatigue and been less effective as of late as a result, according to Jonathan Bernier of the Montreal Journal.

Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

The 18-year-old center has done very well in his rookie campaign but has only recorded two points in his last five games and has played over 14 minutes just one time in those contests, according to Eric Engels. In 66 games this season, he’s scored 11 goals and 32 points.

The Canadiens are still very much alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race and will need Kotkaniemi at his best down the stretch. There’s nothing wrong with giving him a chance to sit out and watch the game from the press box to see the game from a different perspective. This will also give him a chance to rest and recharge as the most important part of the season is about to get underway.