NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

by | May 26, 2021 | News, NHL | 31 comments

The Leafs and Hurricanes are on the verge of advancing to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the verge of winning their first playoff series in 17 years after blanking the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Alexander Kerfoot and Alex Galchenyuk each had three points, William Nylander tallied his fourth goal in as many games, Joe Thornton tallied his first playoff goal as a Leaf, and Jack Campbell kicked out 32 shots for his first NHL playoff shutout. The Leafs can wrap things up in Game 5 on Thursday in Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third straight game, the Leafs took control in the second period. They’ve done a fine job nullifying the Canadiens’ popgun offense and they’re getting more production from their secondary scorers as this series goes on.

The Habs have the depth to be a better team than what we’ve seen in this series and most of this season. However, their coaching staff doesn’t seem to know how to get the best out of them. Part of that could be due to pressure they’re getting from their desperate general manager.

Even if the Canadiens were playing better, they still couldn’t match the offensive depth the Leafs bring to bear in this series. While Austin Matthews was kept off the scoreboard in three games and Mitch Marner in two games, William Nylander has proven to be the biggest Hab killer in this series.

An overtime goal by Jordan Staal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of their first-round series. Martin Necas scored two goals for Carolina while Yakov Trenin tallied twice for the Predators. Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin returned to the lineup following a three-game absence and collected an assist. With a 3-2 series lead, the Hurricanes can end this series in Nashville on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will have to become the first team in this series to win a road game if they hope to wrap this up on Thursday.

SPORTSNET: Alex Ovechkin could become an unrestricted free agent this summer but the 35-year-old left winger wants to remain with the Washington Capitals. “I’m confident, we still have time,” said the Capitals captain. “Obviously, I want to finish my career here, I’m pretty sure we will do something.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals owner Ted Leonsis also wants Ovechkin to finish his career in Washington. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of deal they can hammer out and how long it takes to get it done.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said management and Tuukka Rask have agreed to table the goaltender’s contract talks until after the playoffs. The 34-year-old Rask is due to become a UFA this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask understands he’s not getting a long-term extension given his age. The sticking point could be salary. He’s earning an annual average value of $7 million on his current deal. He could point to his performance as justification for maintaining that annual salary. He backstopped the Bruins to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, was a finalist last year for the Vezina Trophy, and helped them advance to the second round of this year’s playoffs.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler joked about taking a Kris Russell slapshot to the groin during Game 4 of his club’s first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers. “I’ve got three beautiful kids, we’re not having anymore, so what the hell,” he joked with reporters following the Jets’ series-clinching 4-3 triple-overtime victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ballsy guy, that Wheeler. The Jets captain left the game briefly in obvious pain after blocking that shot but returned to play in all three overtime periods.

NEW YORK POST: New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom could be sidelined for Game 5 tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered an apparent right-knee injury following a collision with Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson in Game 4.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and defenseman Ryan McDonagh received fines from the NHL department of player safety for their actions during Game 5 against the Florida Panthers. Maroon was fined over $3,800.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct while McDonagh was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Panthers forward Mason Marchment.

NEW YORK POST: Wayne Gretzky has stepped down as vice-chairman of the Edmonton Oilers and is reportedly joining TNT as a lead hockey analyst starting next season.

The New York Rangers interviewed former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet for their vacant head-coaching position. The Blueshirts already interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant, who is considered the leading candidate for the job.


  1. Galchenyuk has looked pretty good for a guy that’s bounced around quite a bit.
    Can’t see Tocchet in NY. I’m guessing Gallant is weighing options, but is still their top choice. Bob Hartley is another name to watch.

    • Galchenyuk has extra motivation when he sees the bleu-blanc-rouge I guess.

      Bob Hartley? Like Mike Keenan hasn’t his style of coaching passed?

      • There’s a Drury connection there

  2. Wahlstrom looked like his neck snapped weird as well…

  3. The Habs have a plan to come back and win the series. They will petition the NHL to eliminate the 2nd period. The periods will now be known as the 1st, 3rd and 4th.
    The desperate GM must go. The team is stuck in quicksand and a change is needed in culture and direction. Every coach and GM has a shelf life. Bergevin has reached his.

    • Howard, I know we disagree on Bergevin and the season is just about over for the Habs so my energy for debate is waning.

      That said, what about player performance? Do you not expect more from the Habs’ best players?

      Anderson had one great game, and currently he is one of four Habs with only 1 goal. Danault, who must contribute defensively because he clearly doesn’t contribute offensively, is a team low – 4.

      The only star who is playing like one is Price and with the non-existent offense has to be perfect in order for the Habs to win. The talent is there to do better. The talent hasn’t shown up. That has nothing to do with culture and direction.

      • Agreed Lj. I felt from the tart of this season it was going to be a wash for all teams. It has been a complete gong-show. I feel that making personnel decisions based only on this season is short-sighted. For example, coach DD has had few practices (relatively speaking) to be judged on. As it stands now, he looks to share the blame with the team; they have not been placed it the right circumstances to succeed.

        My biggest question too all who want MB fired: Who instead?

      • I strongly disagree. That has everything to do with culture and direction. The team isn’t playing well together. There is no winning culture. The team isn’t playing like they think they can win. Changing around a few players once again won’t help. This time the change must come from the top. Bergevin has had 9 years. His chances are over.

  4. Re “ Maroon was fined over $3,800.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct”

    Haven’t seen what he did; but if they are handing out fines (proportionate to Cap hit to max of $5K) for unsportsmanlike….. Wilson needs to cut a cheque (to the NHL) before next season for $410 K (82 * $5K)

    He plays every game “unsportsmanlike”

    Again, didn’t see it… what did Maroon do?

    • Cooper put him out to take the draw at centre ice with seconds left in the game and after the ref dropped the puck he proceeded to take his stick and drive it into Accari’s face and neck drilling him into the ice … and Cooper had the balls to whine about the Panthers???

      Bergy should have hired Gallant, the coach he elevated looks like a deer in the headlights …

      • Thanks

        Fine warranted for sure; perhaps even s game? Not sure of Maroon’s history of fines/suspensions

        I was lost with Parros rationale of “unsportsmanlike”

        Why didn’t Parros cite …. for “cross-checking” to face?

        Another Parros miscue

        He recently has been ramping up fines/suspensions…. but all due to his gross mishandling of Wilson

        The DOPS absolutely needs a full review from personnel all the way down to the nitti-gritty of processes and policies

        The inconsistency is tragic IMVHO

  5. Re Ovi

    Caps have less than $9.5 M n space to sign 4 players; including Ovi

    He’ll insist on being highest paid …. Backstrom gets $10 M next year

    So at least one significant player must exit from thr Caps

    A Captain Obvious tatement….. Ovi’s a 35+ contract…. so Caps have to keep that in mind just in case (slim chance but it is there) Ovi wants to go the Datsyuk route and end career in Mother Russia…. his Cap hit then would remain with Caps

    • They will move heaven and earth to trade Kuznetsov, though they will obviously want good, young, inexpensive players in return. One of Schultz or Dillon may have to go as well.

      • I think ur right Howard…. and heaven and earth

        Caps will not get the return they hope for on him

        Not the player he was mow

        Full season pace of 18-40-58…. and 4 more years at$7.8 M with $11M in guaranteed SBs; 15 team NTC

        A buyout only saves $1.5 M in each of the next two flat-Cap years before it picks up; then later on 4 deadcap years of $1.5M

        They are going to have to retain in any deal; and I’d think it would need to be 30% minimum; or if not their are giving up young talent with the deal for a team to take his full whack

      • I doubt they have to retain. Plenty of teams could use even the possibility of a top 6 center and 7.8 ain’t outrageous

      • OMG, I have visions of Bergevin trading Suzicki and Romanoff for that stiff Kuznetsov. Please, don’t let this happen.

    • Per CapFriendly on 35+ contracts and no Cap relief if early retirement;

      “ 35+ contracts that are two years in length or longer and:
      1. Have a signing bonus in the 2nd or later year, OR
      2. Are front-loaded “

      So if he signs 2 or more years…. no SB after year 1; and total each year must be static or increasing


      Option 1 —- 1 year ; $3M SB; $8 M Sal

      Option 2—- 2 years : year 1: $5 M SB;$5 M Sal; year 2 :$10 M Sal

      Option 3 (where he is not highest Cap hit on team) :

      Yr 1: $8 M SB; $750 K Sal
      Yr 2 & Yr 3 & Yr 4: $8.75 M Sal

  6. William Nylander in his 5yr NHL playoffs has already scored more goals and pts then any of his 4 previous playoffs.

    Lots of trashing Nylander on here and comments of wait until the playoffs he’ll disappear. He hasn’t.

    Yes i one of them, he has shown up and playing well, good on him.

    • I hear you and the others that had it bad for Nylander…for example, Pengy couldn’t stop saying how they should trade him, over paid, soft, perimeter player, soft, doesn’t compete, doesn’t show up when it maters…etc. The player everyone had issue with was only 23 and 24 year old as you know, the trade Nylander train rolled in right after he signed that egregious contract of $6.9Mx6yrs…

      Go to CapFriendly, search players that make as much he does and see how many produce like him. The whole idea of trading away Nylander (for cap relief or unhappy with player or a chip to improve the team) is like the Jets trading away Ehlers.

      I’m happy he’s approaching his prime and learning how to play to win. Put his 4 goals aside, he’s totally driving and excelling on the second line which Montreal should be better against considering.

      • Hi Ron

        Re “ Pengy couldn’t stop saying how they should trade him, over paid, soft, perimeter player, soft, doesn’t compete, doesn’t show up when it maters…etc.”

        You will NOT find a post of mine that says

        “over paid, soft, perimeter player, soft, doesn’t compete, doesn’t show up when it maters”

        You will not find that anywhere from me

        I repeatedly went out of my way to say that was NOT the case (of WW’s play) and that it was all about his trade value

        I have repeatedly said that trading WW is Leafs best option at getting a cup as I don’t believe they can win spending 1/2 the Cap on 4 forwards

        I repeatedly stated that 1 of the 4 had to be moved for the better of the team; AND that it can’t be JT (his choice) and won’t be AM (unrealistic option…. Leafs would definitely lose the trade IF ever considered);

        and so it’s then down to WW and MM…. and WW’s Cap much much less (many more teams could fit him in over MM) and his value to Cap so high; and his front loaded contract (leaving cash owed ~ $5 M per AAV); and his recent play….

        that potential WW trade (for a top 3 early/mid 20’s RHD with term and at a lower Cap hit… say saving $2M net Cap in trade) could very well set up Leafs for a good chance at a cup (or 2) in their window ‘22-‘24

        Leafs have 9-5-1 (F-D-G) … 15 players…signed next year with but only $11.7 M in space to fill out the team

        Leafs can score enough goals (to win a cup) with or without WW. Scoring is not Leafs deterrent to a Cup win

        Leafs have a much much better , IMVHO, chance at a cup next year with a suggested trade above …. WW for top 3 RHD (early mid 20’s) with term and at $5M max Cap hit…

        Leafs would be substantially better defensively AND be

        8-6-1 (F-D-G) … 15 players…. but with close to $14 M in space…. that $14 M would be very easily and strategically spent on a good 3C and surrounding middle 6 wingers and another good goalie

        That roster, IMVHO; at a minimum; doubles (probably triples) Leafs chances (over roster and space they are starting with next year) at a cup in their window (‘22-‘24)

        Repeating… you will NOT find a post from me stating about WW… “ “over paid, soft, perimeter player, soft, doesn’t compete, doesn’t show up when it maters”

        Those words are from other posters here

        You WILL find MANY posts of mine suggesting trading WW… and including my rationale above

        If you have a winning trade (that Dubas would make) for AM; I’m all ears

        If you have a plausible winning trade (and trade partner) for MM; I’m all ears

      • Pengy you’ve been going on for a few years about getting rid of ‘wee willy’ which is not his nickname on the team. You always have this magic window that they never quite reach. Will they win the cup this year? They could lose the Montreal series still or they could win the cup or anything in between. There are intangibles as well, and expectations that may not be accurate. Go to a habs message board and there are tons of comments about how soft Toronto’s defense is, then comments last night about how they didn’t realize how good Tor is defensively. They have the 7th best GA in the league, Montreal has like the 23rd and they are surprised Tor is not a defensive trainwreck. You can take away elite scoring depth by trading away Nylander, who arguably has the best contract on Tor and possibly in the league to add more defense, building net out is working great for Montreal at the moment. At the end of the day you need to score more than the other guys, Tor’s forwards are all playing hard at both ends and locking things down, everyone’s blocking a ton of shots, hot goalie and everyone clicking…but you’re ruling them out because you want to trade an elite scorer for a young, so probably not fully developed, defenseman so they can score fewer goals in a situation like they are in now. Without Nylander what is the series at? Do you really think they can’t get hot and go on a run? If so then why are you watching?

      • Pengy, I have to say I do not recall you posting anything other then what you just posted about Nylander.

        I did say Nylander disappears in the playoffs and up until this playoffs was true.

        Same thing as Ehlers until this year he disappeared in the playoffs.

        Credit to the players for changing their game and shown everyone that they are here to compete.

      • True that Caper, players learn and get better at their jobs, at least the good ones do. Kind of like the rest of us out here in the real world.

        Which is why I think the Oilers figure it out down the road, just like the Leafs are now, so far anyway.

        Pengy, you have always been consistent on Nylander. If they do trade him, they will get a good return.

      • Hi fcl

        Re “ Pengy you’ve been going on for a few years about getting rid of ‘wee willy’ which is not his nickname on the team. You always have this magic window that they never quite reach. Will they win the cup this year? ”

        It’s been since the summer of ‘19 (so less than 2years)…. I started with the golden opportunity of just after his SB was paid … July of ‘19…. value to remaining cash contract very very high

        My proposed “window” for the cup has always ended in ‘24 (last possible day AM is a Leaf is 30/6/24…. UFA the next day)

        I’ve been consistent with ‘22-‘24 since last summer…. I had ‘21-‘24 when it included my proposed move of WW off season to start ‘20-‘21

        Re will they win this year…. I would be lying huge if I stated I thought they had a chance

        Setting aside they still haven’t yet beaten Habs

        They still have to beat the brick wall Hellebyuck and his invigorated and looking extremely strong teammates

        Setting that aside… IF Leafs win the North…. to get to the cup they’ll have to get past one of

        Bolts, Knights, Avs, Bruins or perhaps Penguins (that was more likely before Tuesday’s OT)

        Then beating one of those; they have to meet in the SC…. one of Bolts, Knights, Avs, Bruins or perhaps Penguins

        I don’t see Leafs winning a series against any of them…. I hope and pray I’m wrong

        I can in good conscience say that is the long shots of long shots (getting cup in ‘21)

        To give you an indication of my thoughts=predictions … the playoff pool that I’m in… now closing in on 4 decades with basically the same guys (all from Toronto, all but 1 are Leafs fans from birth and for life)…. this year because we couldn’t get together , instead of a draft, each guy picked 10 players (so their was going to be duplication). 20 guys …$500 each; $10 K total

        Again , 19 including me, are die hard Leafs fans …. not 1 single guy had greater than 2 Leafs on their roster (thoughts are highest Leaf in 1 or two rounds should get points at/near 9th/10th best on cup winning team (who would have played 4 series)

        All had MM; a few had MM & AM. None had WW

        Most guys loaded up on a single team (7 or 8 players)…. and they were predominantly Knights; Avs; Bolts heavy , with Bruins a distant 4th in popularity

        I’ve got MM; Sid; Kuch; MacK and 6 Knights

        I just can’t see Leafs winning a cup this year 😭💩

      • Well that was a lot of words and pictures but I don’t believe you had an opinion on my main point, where is the advantage of moving Nylander to marginally improve their defense? Even if by some chance they got a blue-chip young defenseman in a trade for Nylander, they are in win-now mode so why move a proven and improving scoring winger for a not yet developed defenseman to go along with Sandin, the not yet fully developed defenseman they are using in these playoffs? I see disadvantages but no real advantages. And again where are they in this series if they’d grabbed your ‘golden opportunity’ and been grateful to trade away a guy who has scored as many goals in this series as Montreal has.
        And if your window depends on when you think they aren’t ever underdogs then they will miss your window. I think Winnipeg would be a great series that they could definitely win, they’re doing ok against an elite goaltender at the moment, in a series where everyone was talking about how Toronto wouldn’t be able to deal with Montreal’s physical play. Seems to be going ok. I agree there will be teams they are underdogs against but by your logic that means they can’t win but you know they play the games for a reason. f I’m not mistaken Tampa was swept in the first round a couple of years ago, nothing is a given.

      • Hi Caper and Ray

        There are ups and downs and disappearances and “reappearances” by players. Goalies can (and have) stolen games (and series).

        That said… I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fully believe that Bolts come out of Central

        Isles (if they beat Pens) can’t beat Bruins ; I can’t envision a scenario of Isle’s winning East; a Pens/Bruins tilt would be nice

        As at now I’m thinking (unfortunately dreading) that Jets beat Leafs (I’m strongly believing that Habs can’t come back and win 3 straight)

        Unfortunately the best series in the playoffs will be Avs v Knights

        If Jets come out of North …. then it’s Avs/Knights v Jets…. Avs/Knights going to SCF; leaving Bolts v Bruins or Pens…. Bolts IMVHO

        That’s Avs/Knights v the defending SCCs in the SCF

        Leafs winning North; Bruins East…. semis are Leafs v Bolts … Bolts going on ; Bruins v Avs/Knights….. and IMVHO Avs/Nights v Bolts in SCF

        Leafs win North; Pens East… that means Avs/Knights v Bolts in Semis (tragically knocking out a team that deserves to be in the cup final) ; and Leafs v Pens…..where I could absolutely care less who wins…. but Leafs or Pens v the winner between Avs;Knights; or Bolts in SCF….it’s Avs or Knights or Bolts winning the cup IMVHO

      • Hi fcl

        I felt I did address your main point

        I am not talking about trading WW for marginal improvement on D….. it’s a top 3 RHD …. so substantial overall D improvement AND gaining at least $2M in greatly needed cap space to be strategically used

        Re “win now”…. I am not talking about this year. See my other posts today. I don’t see a cup this year for Leafs. I listed all the scenarios I can envision transpiring this year

        The “win now”…. is , IMVHO, winning in ‘22, or ‘23, or ‘24 (AM gone by the ‘24/‘25 season)

        A substantially improved D AND at least an extra $2M in Cap space; at the expense of giving up WW; is , in my truest beLEAFs (sorry had to) , the best option (and chance at a cup) for Leafs

        Trades for AM like:

        AM & Holl for Manson, Drysdale, Henrique and Comtois


        AM & Holl for Doughty, Vilardi, and Byfield


        AM & Holl for Seguin, Heiskenen, Klingberg


        AM & Holl for Barkov, Ekblad, Duclair

        Are just NOT going to happen

        JT will not waive his rights

        What teams can afford a $10.9 M winger in MM; and if they CAN afford (have space)…. what could they offer up in return that increases Leafs Cup chances

        I’m all ears for any route in which they can get a cup and as I’ve stated; I can’t see it happening with 1/2 the cap tied up in 4 forwards

      • I’m saying they have had good defense all season, 7th in goals against. How much more productive would another young defenseman be? Where would they be without Nylander’s production not just during the playoffs but 42 pts in 51 games this season. Secondary scoring is more important, and your reasoning that you trade Nylander because other teams can’t afford Matthews or Marner isn’t even worth responding to.

        I’ve asked several times, why do you assume some undetermined young defenseman is going to balance out scoring depth, I am saying Nylander is more important to keep. Also who are these 23 year old stud defenseman for $5M/year that are under contract and you are trading Nylander for?

      • Hi fcl

        We are both Leafs fans but at an impasse as to our perceptions and beliefs re their status; future and path to a cup

        Your stance is keep the 4 ; fill 8 spaces with a tad over $11 M and that will improve the club to a level of getting a cup next year

        My stance is that status quo plus adds/replacements with those parameters will NOT get them improved enough to beat a team like Avs; who, at this time; already a serious cup contender; $20 M to fill only 6 spots;

        or Knights (also a serious cup contender this year) who can have the exact same team next year as this year less only Martinez (note Knights exempt from Kraken) and still have about $1M left

        To win in ‘22 they (Leafs) IMHO have to, at a minimum, be better than both those teams

        and they (Leafs) will be back in the East Div next year (with Bolts, Bruins, Panthers, and a charging young Sens team)

        we are both Leafs fans that agree to disagree; that’s OK; that is exactly what this forum is all about

        I truly believe keeping the 4 ; impairs the Cap enough to hamper fielding a cup winning roster in ‘22 – ‘24 under this flat cap era

        Again, with that in mind; to me there is but 2 options I see…. to do a trade that improves team long run and nets enough space to field a team that CAN get a cup…. MM or WW

        I’m all ears for a suggested trade of MM

        Re improved D and 23 year old

        Of course 23 would be ideal but I never said 23 ; I said early to mid 20’s …. so that is 22 – 26 (possibly 27)

        There are many out there in that range that would improve the team

        I’m not saying that Dubas could get a deal done for sure as he seems not to be interested; that to me is stubborn and sad

        The one trade I posted several times about (noting that Lou , although lacking scoring; would rather keep the defensive type team he has that is built to “not lose” [a strategy to win games 1-0 or 2-1; game in game out] instead of a team built to “end with more goals than the other team”; would be highly reluctant to do) was WW for Pullock

        This was when WW was 24 and Pullock was 25

        Pullock is a tremendous top pairing RHD

        Pullock in trade would net an extra $2M in Cap

        I firmly believe; a Leafs team with


        With an extra $2M to spend; but without WW; has a much much better chance at a Cup than keeping the 4 and struggling to fill 8 spots and somehow improving with just over $11 M (likely losing Hyman; or if kept; filling the bottom 6 forward positions with League min players)

        Not a chance it happens but can you imagine the Leafs with a 22 year old Makar OR 21 year old Heiskenen

        A little older? Weegar (27 ) for WW (25) AND freeing up $3.7 M !!! …. that is a reasonable trade of Fwd for D but more importantly it is $3.7 M in EXTRA (and very needed )space

        Holl/Sandin AND $3.7 M extra in space!!!

        Certainly not happening but can you imagine 26 year old Jones for 25 yr old WW ; AND an extra $2.5 M in space to boot

        Seth Jones on Leafs playing 27 mins a game…. insanity !!

        We agree to disagree

        We’re both Leafs fans

        Go Leafs Go

  7. Sitting here drinking my White Handgun Tea this morning and thinking about how my son has watched exactly 3 hockey games with me in his young life, games 2, 3 and 4 of Toronto’s first round,. That’s right, a Leafs fan who has never seen them lose, the rarest fan on earth.

    BTW, great pass by Chucky last night and when he was asked after the game what it was like to play a playoff game in Montreal with friends on the other side he said it’s the playoffs, there are no friends. This is a motivated guy it looks like.

    • Ha! nice one…. and I agree.

      Pengy sorry I mistyped in I meant how so many of the trade/hate Nylander gang would say those things enough that you yourself seemed to make it almost a daily thing for a very long time ranting to trade WW as your and the teams only solution for the best future of the team … it’s easy to mix you all up. Crazy looks crazy no matter how you look at it.