Latest Stanley Cup Final news, expansion updates, coaching hires & more in this morning’s NHL headlines. 

Penguins winger Phil Kessel is thriving in the heat of NHL playoff action.

Penguins winger Phil Kessel is thriving in the heat of NHL playoff action.

THE GLOBE & MAIL: James Mirtle explains why Phil Kessel is performing so well in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s performance is so notable that he’s among the contenders for the 2016 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen is one win away from a Stanley Cup championship and possible retirement.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks face a near impossible task of overcoming a 3-1 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final. Only one team, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, have accomplished that feat.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer isn’t ruling out the possibility of left wing Tomas Hertl (lower-body injury, day-to-day) returning in this series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word if Hertl will play in Game 5 tomorrow, but don’t be surprised if he isn’t in the lineup. 

YAHOO SPORTS: Sources claim the NHL’s executive committee has recommended expansion for Las Vegas. It doesn’t appear as though Quebec City will receive approval.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  A formal announcement is expected by June 22, the same day as the NHL Awards, which are being held in Las Vegas. No coincidence with that timing.


NEW YORK POST: A source indicates “teams only would be compelled to protect players with no-move clauses (and contracts) that extend through at least the 2017-18 season.” Players whose no-movement clauses (or contracts) expire at the end of 2016-17 won’t be protected from an expansion draft. That includes players such as the New York Rangers’ Dan Girardi, Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ben Bishop and Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  That seems fair. It’s also indicates that the expansion draft will take place sometime in June 2017. 

TODAY’S SLAPSHOT: Chris Nichols provides a list of critical NHL dates for the remainder of 2016.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche and former general manager Greg Sherman have parted ways.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Tampa Bay Lightning hired former Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards as an assistant coach, replacing Steve Thomas.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild hired NHL Hall of Fame defenseman and former New Jersey Devils assistant coach Scott Stevens as one of new head coach Bruce Boudreau’s assistants.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER/THE TENNESSEAN/NJ.COM/WINNIPEG SUN: The Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Winnipeg Jets released their preseason schedules.