The latest on Alex Galchenyuk, some potential trade targets for the Golden Knights, and a recent blurb regarding Taylor Hall and the Dallas Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON GALCHENYUK.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels wonders if there’s an NHL team out there willing to believe Pittsburgh Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk can change. Now on his third team in his eighth NHL season, the 25-year-old winger has the talent to be a top-six forward but is too much of a liability to play in the top-six.
Galchenyuk is seeing fourth-line minutes with the Penguins. General manager Jim Rutherford is reportedly attempting to trade him. An Eastern Conference executive isn’t impressed with Galchenyuk’s performance. “Everyone knows what he is. Not sure who will want to acquire him”, he told Engels. “And more importantly, what will they want to give up to get him knowing all that?”
Engels points out Galchenyuk is on an expiring contract carrying a $4.9-million annual average value. He doubts rival clubs will offer up first- or second-round picks to acquire him as a playoff rental. He also speculates Rutherford might have to absorb part of the winger’s cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s quite an indictment of Galchenyuk’s performance. He’s got no one but himself to blame. Montreal coaches Michel Therrien and Claude Julien, Arizona coach Rick Tocchet, and Penguins bench boss Mike Sullivan were unable to improve his overall play. It won’t help his value in next summer’s UFA market. Maybe someone will take a chance on Galchenyuk before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, but it doesn’t sound like the Penguins will get much back in return.
BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
THE ATHLETIC: New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen and Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere are among Jesse Granger’s list of possible blueline trade targets for the Vegas Golden Knights. Detroit’s Mike Green, Buffalo’s Marco Scandella, and Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson round up the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All but Gostisbhere are due to become unrestricted free agents in July. Vatanen would be the best all-around option. Gostisbhere’s $4.5 million annual cap hit through 2022-23 could be difficult for the Golden Knights to squeeze within their limited cap space for this season and next. Green, Scandella, and Gustafsson could be affordable rental options. Green is the only one on this list with no-trade protection. He has a full no-trade clause until Feb. 1, after which it becomes a 10-team list.
Because I forgot how serious trade talk is on Twitter, I will make this statement: There is no trade that I can see that will bring Taylor Hall to Dallas. There, I might regret saying that, but just so you know how I feel.
— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) December 6, 2019
The Stars fire head coach Jim Montgomery, the latest from the Board of Governors meetings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars 2-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils was overshadowed by the news earlier in the day that the Stars had fired head coach Jim Montgomery for “unprofessional conduct”. Assistant coach Rick Bowness has taken over on an interim basis. Ben Bishop made 26 saves for the shutout.
General manager Jim Nill didn’t shed light on Montgomery’s alleged infraction. He said there was no criminal investigation and no former or current players were connected to the incident. There was no comment from Montgomery or the Stars’ ownership. The Stars players were shocked and confused by the decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montgomery’s firing wasn’t related to the recent allegations leveled at several former NHL coaches for abusive or racist behavior. Nevertheless, there’s a puzzling lack of information behind his dismissal. It’ll be interesting to see if any further details are revealed directly or via leaks to the media.
After blowing a 3-0 lead, the Carolina Hurricanes tallied three unanswered goals to down the Edmonton Oilers 6-3. Sebastian Aho scored twice while Dougie Hamilton, Teuvo Teravainen, and Andrei Svechnikov each collected two points. Connor McDavid had three assists and Zack Kassian tallied twice for the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After looking dominant through their first 23 games, the Oilers are wobbling a bit of late, winning just four of their last 10 contests. Some Oilers fans are worried their club could be poised for another collapse as defensive and goaltending issues become a concern.
The Calgary Flames picked up their sixth straight victory by downing the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. Flames goalie Cam Talbot kicked out 46 shots for the win. Michael Frolik and Zac Rinaldo each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Flames announced winger Matthew Tkachuk was listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Coyotes also announced defenseman Jason Demers is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
John Tavares scored twice and set up another as the Toronto Maple Leafs rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Mitch Marner collected two assists. Former Leaf Josh Leivo tallied for the Canucks.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves to backstop the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. It was Fleury’s first game since Nov. 23 after taking a leave of absence to be with his dying father. Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan left the game in the first period with an injured right shoulder.
Alex Killorn scored and set up another as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Florida Panthers 2-1. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 46 saves in a losing cause.
The Montreal Canadiens scored four unanswered goals to down the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Tatar, and Joel Armia each had a goal and an assist. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry had his franchise-record shutout streak end at 177:14.
Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel extended his points streak to 14 games in a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Eichel scored twice while teammates Sam Reinhart and Johan Larsson each tallied a goal and an assist. The Blues have lost three straight games.
Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros turned aside 24 shots to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1. Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok each collected two points. The Sharks are winless in their last five games (0-4-1).
Shootout goals by Rickard Rakell and Max Comtois gave the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. Before the game, the Wild honored captain Mikko Koivu for reaching 1,000 career NHL games.
A three-goal outburst late in the second period carried the Winnipeg Jets over the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Blake Wheeler and Andrew Copp each had a goal and an assist. The Wings are winless in their last 12 contests (0-10-2).
Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick made 29 saves to hold off the New York Rangers 3-1. Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: The NHL won’t be staging a World Cup of Hockey tournament in 2021. The league and the NHLPA are instead focused on staging tournaments in 2024 and 2028. Discussions remain open on Olympic participation, depending on what the International Olympic Committee brings to the table.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the IOC agrees to cover the cost for the players’ travel, insurance, and accommodation expenses, as well as agree to share broadcasting and licensing revenue, I believe the NHL would agree to return to the Olympics.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman still hasn’t revealed his projected figure for next season’s salary cap. One league governor told LeBrun several different ranges were discussed, including a low range of $82.5 million, a modest increase over the current $81.5 million. Another governor suggested $83.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After years of lofty projections that fell short, it appears the league could be more conservative in their estimates for 2020-21.
A look at some potential trade targets for the Canadiens, plus the latest on Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE CANADIENS
SPORTSNET: Included Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Anaheim Ducks rearguard Cam Fowler on its list of six trade targets for the Montreal Canadiens to shore up the left side of their blueline.
Gostisbehere’s star has fallen a bit over the last two seasons. He was a recent healthy scratch and might benefit from a change of scenery. Having already parted ways with Corey Perry earlier this year, the struggling Ducks could be ready to move on from some of their established talent. The 28-year-old Fowler is among their top trade chips to bring in pieces for the future.
Other options include Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Oliver Kylington, Pittsburgh’s Juuso Riikola, and Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin seeks a top-pairing left-side, Fowler is the best option. He’s a solid, all-around blueliner who would bring a big boost to their defense. Those traits are also why the Ducks are unlikely to part with him unless they get a terrific offer, like a good young scoring forward as part of the return. Fowler also has a four-team trade list and might not be keen to go to Montreal.
Gostisbehere’s struggles since last season have sparked speculation over his future in Philadelphia. He’s a skilled puck-mover but his defensive game often leaves much to be desired.
Brodie’s recent medical scare and UFA status could make him a risky acquisition. Then again, those factors could also make him more affordable. Kylington is young (22), has potential and won’t cost much to acquire, but the Habs are likely in the market for an established top-four defender.
Riikola has been a frequent healthy scratch and I don’t see him significantly improving the Habs’ defense. Like Gostisbehere, Gustafsson is a mobile puck-moving d-man but his defensive play is an area of concern.
WHAT WILL THE RANGERS DO WITH GEORGIEV?
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has to figure out what to do with his overcrowded crease. Current backup Alexandar Georgiev has played very well spelling off veteran Henrik Lundqvist. However, he’ll soon become waiver-eligible once he plays his 60th NHL game.
“There’s a lot written about who’s going to be here, and waivers and all that stuff, said Gorton. “We’re just worried about the team playing well, and let events play themselves out.” He insists Georgiev remains “a big part of our team.”
Cyrgalis, however, believes Georgiev could be a very attractive trade piece as the Feb. 24 deadline approaches. He feels the Toronto Maple Leafs are an obvious landing spot. Moving Georgiev would create room to bring up promising Igor Shesterkin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cyrgalis believes Gorton will still be active leading up to the trade deadline. He feels the Rangers GM wants to bring in assets that will eventually make the Blueshirts a Stanley Cup contender, not just a playoff contender.
When Georgiev’s name first surfaced, I dismissed the notion he’d be available if the Rangers were in the playoff chase by the deadline. If Gorton’s plan is to build a future Cup winner, perhaps he’d consider parting with Georgiev for the right price.