Sense or Nonsense – Early NHL Rumors of Coaching Changes

 










NHL Gold & Mold: Neal, Crosby Take Top Billing to Start 2019-20.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 16, 2019

The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Kyle Turris, Jake Muzzin and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST TSN “INSIDER TRADING”

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s a growing sense of optimism that Dustin Byfuglien could return to the Winnipeg Jets. There’s still no guarantee or timeline for the big defenseman’s return. Byfuglien would be a welcome addition to the Jets’ struggling blueline.

Could Dustin Byfuglien return to the Winnipeg Jets? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will give Byfuglien the time and space he needs to reach a decision. You can bet they’re hoping his return comes sooner rather than later.

Bob McKenzie believes it’s worth watching Kyle Turris’ situation with the Nashville Predators. The 30-year-old center is earning $6 million annually with five seasons remaining on his contract but he’s also seeing fourth-line minutes. McKenzie doesn’t think it’s any secret general manager David Poile was trying to move Turris this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Turris’ reduced ice time he has four points in six games this season. That puts him on a 54-point pace and could make him attractive to clubs in need of depth at center ice. That hefty cap hit, however, could make Turris difficult to move. Poile doesn’t pick up part of a player’s salary to facilitate a deal but he might have to break with that tradition in this case.

Pierre LeBrun believes the Toronto Maple Leafs could find it challenging to re-sign Jake Muzzin. The 30-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

LeBrun said there have been no contract discussions, in part because the Leafs were focused on re-signing their restricted free agents this summer. Blueliners Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci are also slated for UFA status. LeBrun thinks the Leafs want to take some time to evaluate and prioritize those rearguards. They can’t afford to re-sign all three and might not be able to re-sign two of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have over $65.5 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. Muzzin and Barrie could cost at least a combined $13 million to re-sign. That won’t leave much for the rest of the roster. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas did a good job juggling his limited salary cap space this summer. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pull it off again.

LeBrun and McKenzie reported the struggling Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils will remain patient with their respective head coaches. Speculation arose in recent days over the future of Wild coach Bruce Boudreau and Devils bench boss John Hynes, with false reports yesterday claiming Hynes was fired. Dreger also noted the Dallas Stars have stumbled from the gate but there’s no sense of panic coming from the front office or the coaching staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hynes could feel the heat much sooner than the others. Expectations were high following the summer’s acquisitions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and promising Jack Hughes. Many observers predicted they would be a playoff contender. If they don’t turn things around soon, calls for Hynes’ firing will grow among Devils followers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2019

Game recaps, the Blues are honored at the White House, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Morgan Rielly assisted on all of the Toronto Maple Leafs goals as they doubled up the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists while Auston Matthews and John Tavares also tallied for the Leafs. Wild winger Kevin Fiala was a healthy scratch.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly collected four assists in a 4-2 win over the MInnesota Wild (Photo via NHL Images).

The Vancouver Canucks picked up their third straight victory by downing the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. J.T Miller tallied two power-play goals while Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Alex Edler each had three-point performances. Earlier in the day, the Wings assigned Evgeny Svechnikov to the minors and activated Frans Nielsen and Trevor Daley from injured reserve.

Four straight goals powered the Nashville Predators to a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Kyle Turris and Ryan Ellias each had a goal and an assist. Predators winger Filip Forsberg left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury while teammate Roman Josi dropped the gloves with Vegas’ Mark Stone. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed forward Daniel Carr on waivers.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning as they scored three unanswered goals.

Darcy Kuemper made 38 saves backstopping the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Christian Dvorak scored twice and Nick Schmaltz collected three points.

Calgary Flames winger Michael Frolik scored in his 800th career game as his club defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. Earlier in the day, the Flyers signed forward Chris Stewart to a one-year, one-way contract worth $750K. Stewart spent last season playing for the Nottingham Panthers in the British Elite Ice Hockey League.

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek had a 31-save shutout performance in a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas were the goal scorers.

HEADLINES

STLTODAY.COM: The 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues were honored yesterday at the White House by President Donald Trump. 

NEW YORK POST: Contract issues and being supplanted by Artemi Panarin from the New York Rangers’ top line could account for winger Chris Kreider’s slow start. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Jared McCann is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. 

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres updated the status of winger Conor Sheary (upper-body injury) from week-to-week to day-to-day as he returned to practice yesterday. Assistant coach Don Granato, meanwhile, is doing much better as he recovers from pneumonia. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Veteran reporter Rick Dhaliwal was among several cuts yesterday at Sportsnet 650. Dhaliwal is well-connected in the NHL world. 

CBC.CA: Former NHL forward Danny Grant passed away Monday at age 73.  He spent 12 seasons in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota North Stars, Detroit Red Wings, and Los Angeles Kings. Career highlights include winning a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1968 and six seasons with 29-or-more goals, including a 50-goal performance with the Wings in 1974-75. The Fredericton native went on to become a college and Junior A coach and was a member of the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Grant’s family, friends, and former teammates. 










Has The Buffalo Sabres Long-Awaited Breakout Season Finally Arrived?

 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2019

The latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Pittsburgh Penguins better-than-expected start without sidelined centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad has taken some pressure off general manager Jim Rutherford. Nevertheless, he’s still carrying nine defensemen and sources say he’s still trying to move one of them.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins attempt to shop a defenseman like Erik Gudbranson (Photo via NHL Images).

LeBrun suggests the Winnipeg Jets could be an option, though they’re still waiting for Dustin Byfuglien to reach a decision on his future. He wondered if Erik Gudbranson might be a fit with the Anaheim Ducks.

Despite losing Niklas Hjalmarsson to injury, the Arizona Coyotes appear intent to address his absence from within. There’s no indication the struggling New Jersey Devils are seeking help but they could if they don’t snap out of their early-season funk.

LeBrun also said there’s competition in the trade market. The Dallas Stars are still shopping Julius Honka, plus the Buffalo Sabres could have moves to make once their blueline is fully healthy.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports a source claims the Penguins kicked tires on Joshua Ho-Sang. The New York Islanders winger cleared waivers two weeks ago and has requested a trade. Kingerski said his source claims the discussion was initial contact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets really can’t make a move without Byfuglien’s decision. Their $6.6 million in cap space will evaporate if he decides to return. They’ll have to do a dollar-in, dollar-out deal at this point. The Ducks are seeking a right-shot defenseman but they might prefer a more affordable option that Gudbranson and his $4 million cap hit through 2020-21.

The Coyotes and Devils could be worth monitoring if they haven’t suitably addressed their respective issues soon. Losing Hjalmarsson is a big blow to their blueline but they also need to boost their anemic offense.

Rookie winger Sam Lafferty is playing well thus far for the Penguins. If he keeps this up they’ll have no need for Ho-Sang unless it’s to move out one of those defensemen.