NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2021

Who could the Leafs, Flyers, Jets and Islanders pursue leading up to this year’s trade deadline? Read on to find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos believes Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t have much time to decide if he’ll make any acquisitions by the April 12 trade deadline. While that date is five weeks away any players acquired from American teams would face a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Could the Leafs, Flyers or Jets pursue Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm at the trade deadline? (NHL Images)

Traikos feels the Leafs don’t need another skill player such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall. “It needs more blue-collar players like (Zach) Bogosian and (Wayne) Simmonds. Guys like Nashville defenceman Mattias Ekholm and Calgary forward Sam Bennett. It needs guys that can push back against Boston and Tampa and Vegas. Guys that can help the Leaf go the distance.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Making the dollars fit is the sticking point for the Leafs. Cap Friendly indicates they have just $130K in projected trade deadline salary-cap space. It’ll have to be a salary-in, salary-out scenario, the selling team retains some salary, or Dubas and his capologist find another creative way to free up the necessary space to make an addition.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers would try to bolster their blue line by acquiring Mattias Ekholm from the Predators. Rosen believes he’d be a good fit and a more well-rounded rearguard than current Flyers left-shot defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Robert Hagg.

However, the Flyers could face competition for Ekholm’s services in what could be a limited trade market. He also has a year remaining on his contract, which could affect their protection list for this summer’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The effect of an Ekholm addition upon the Flyers’ protection list suggests they could opt for a rental player instead. Options could include Detroit’s Marc Staal, Patrik Nemeth or Jon Merrill, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski, Ottawa’s Mike Reilly or Vancouver’s Jordie Benn, though they’re not as good as Ekholm.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Murat Ates was asked if the Jets should acquire a defenseman. While he feels Ekholm would be a good fit he believes the Jets would prefer a right-hand defenseman to pair with Josh Morrissey.

Ates mentioned Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen but his $5.4 million cap hit through next season could make him expensive if he fails to deliver. He also feels acquisition cost could keep the Jets out of the Matt Dumba sweepstakes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Columbus’ David Savard is rumored to be available if the Blue Jackets become sellers at the deadline. Sames goes for the Sabres’ Brandon Montour. They’re UFAs who might serve as good rental options though whether they’d be a good fit with Morrissey isn’t a certainty.

Arthur Staple recently examined possible blue line depth options for the New York Islanders. Given their limited salary-cap space, he anticipates GM Lou Lamoriello will look at affordable options such as the Red Wings’ Jon Merrill, the Senators’ Mike Reilly or Nashville’s Mark Borowiecki.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s games, Brent Seabrook retires, Sabres GM speaks about his club’s poor performance and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand scored twice and set up another to lead the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals 5-1. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist to give him 700 for his career. Capitals winger Tom Wilson could face supplemental discipline after he drilled Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in the head during the first period. Wilson was unpenalized on the play while Carlo left the game and was taken to hospital for his injury.

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits stretching back to 2015. His previous antics earned him four fines and three suspensions totaling 23 games.

A shootout goal by Philipp Kurashev lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex DeBrincat scored twice, Patrick Kane collected two helpers and Malcolm Subban made 39 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have proven to be a handful for the Lightning in this series compared to their previous one earlier in the season. It’s indicative of how much the Hawks have improved since the opening weeks of the schedule.

David Perron’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Mike Hoffman’s overtime winner as the St. Louis Blues edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Perron scored twice while Ryan O’Reilly assisted on every Blues goal. The Kings have dropped four straight.

The Colorado Avalanche got an overtime goal by Valeri Nichushkin to nip the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Avs center Nathan MacKinnon remained sidelined by an apparent head injury suffered during Wednesday’s game against San Jose. He received clearance to play but was a late scratch to avoid further injury. Head coach Jared Bednar believes MacKinnon could miss a couple of more games.

A three-goal first period powered the Minnesota Wild to a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Jordan Greenway and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist while Kirill Kaprizov and Marcus Foligno both collected two assists.

Max Pacioretty scored in overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist. Vegas goalie Oscar Dansk made 24 saves to pick up his first win since 2017.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announced his playing career is over due to injuries. The 35-year-old blueliner’s last game was Dec. 15, 2019, after which he underwent surgery on both of his hips and right shoulder. He then suffered a back injury during the opening day of training camp in January. Seabrook finishes his career with three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015), an Olympic Gold Medal (2010) and 464 points in 1,114 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Blackhawks and played a crucial role in their rise from league laughingstock to three-time Stanley Cup champion. He hasn’t officially retired, however, as he has three years and $15 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. He’ll remain on long-term injury reserve, which will provide the Blackhawks with a measure of salary-cap relief.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams expressed his unhappiness yesterday over his club’s poor performance. He called where the team was at this time “unacceptable”, criticized what he called a lack of competitiveness by the players, emphasized he has “full authority on hockey decisions,” indicated “everything is being evaluated” when asked about head coach Ralph Krueger’s status and claimed team captain Jack Eichel has not requested a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ statement seemed to be the club’s attempt to mollify Sabres fans upset with the club’s lack of progress. Talk is one thing, action is another. The fans are more interested in what, if anything, the current management intends to do to end this team’s decade of mediocrity.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens goaltending coach Stephane Waite said the club expected starting goalie Carey Price would struggle in January and February as he adjusted to sharing his workload this season with backup Jake Allen. Price was expected to improve as the season wore on and saw more starts.

Waite also said the long-time Habs netminder isn’t at 100 percent physically but he can still play. “He’s not hurt but he has some stiffness. He has to learn to play with the pain and that’s why we need a very good backup and that’s what we have in Montreal right now.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will further stoke debate among Canadiens fans over whether Price will ever regain his once-dominant form on a consistent basis.

THE SCORE: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s not looking to make a coaching change. Bench boss Travis Green is in the final season of his contract but Benning believes Green and his staff “have done a good job with our group”. As for trades, the Canucks GM said his struggling team has to figure this out from within as new players would have to quarantine for two weeks and regain their conditioning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, no Jake Virtanen to the Anaheim Ducks for Danton Heinen as rumored a week ago?

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are breathing a sigh of relief as they learned goaltender Igor Shesterkin suffered a mild groin strain during Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils. He had to be helped off the ice at the end of the third period when he was unable to put weight on his right leg. He’s listed as day-to-day.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Former 1980 Team USA forward Mark Pavelich, 63, was found dead in a Minnesota treatment facility. Pavelich helped Team USA upset the powerful Soviet Union squad on route to winning Olympic gold in 1980. He went on to spend six seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, tallying 329 points in 355 games.

Pavelich was arrested in 2019 and charged with a violent assault on his neighbor but was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Family and friends believe his condition was linked to head trauma suffered during his playing career. He was receiving treatment for his condition and was believed to be making progress at the time of his death.

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










Sabres Desperately Need Experienced Management and Coaching

Sabres Desperately Need Experienced Management and Coaching

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2021

Updates on Taylor Hall, Alex Ovechkin and Tuukka Rask plus the latest on the Canucks and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HALL INTERESTED IN RE-SIGNING WITH SABRES

NHL.COM: cited a report in The Buffalo News in which Taylor Hall said he’s willing to sign another contract with the Sabres despite a disappointing performance by himself and the team this season. Hall said he’s enjoying his time in Buffalo, praising his teammates and coaching staff, adding he and his agent are “open to anything.”

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not doubting Hall’s sincerity and perhaps Sabres management would be interested. Given the club’s current plight, however, I don’t think there’s a deal to be had unless the Sabres are willing to pony up a hefty long-term contract.

The Sabres have already been soaked with the Jeff Skinner deal. Unlike Hall, Skinner had a solid performance in his contract year. Team owners Terry and Kim Pegula could be reluctant to risk a similar investment on Hall.

LATEST ON THE CAPITALS AND BRUINS

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie reporting Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin could resume contract talks with management in April. Ovechkin (who represents himself in contract talks) met with Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan earlier this season but the two sides agreed to table talks until later in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gretz points out, both sides want to get a contract extension done but how much and for how long could make it challenging. Ovechkin will be 36 when his new contract begins next season and at some point won’t be a $9.5 million player anymore.

MacKenzie also reported the Capitals could be in the market for an experienced goaltender given the lack of experience of their current tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. Their limited salary-cap space could hamper those efforts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals added Craig Anderson as a third goalie. However, the 39-year-old is past his prime and only appeared in two games this season.

McKenzie also reports the Boston Bruins could explore new contracts for pending free-agent goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. The Bruins also have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to add a significant player before the April 12 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have limited options available to replace Rask and Halak via this summer’s UFA market. It would also be difficult to find suitable replacements via the trade market. Re-signing both to reasonable short-term contracts could be their best option.

The Bruins need an experienced top-four, left-side defenseman and a reliable second-line scorer. They’ve been linked to Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm and forward Mikael Granlund.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS AND FLAMES

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates the Vancouver Canucks could shop pending UFA winger Tanner Pearson if unable to re-sign him before the April 12 trade deadline.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reported the Arizona Coyotes have had a longstanding interest in Pearson stretching back to last October’s trade talks with the Canucks regarding Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He suggests it’s best the Canucks move Pearson for something handy as they face re-signing young stars such as Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes in the near future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Pearson could be traded if the cost of retaining him could affect the cap space necessary to re-sign the Canucks’ top young players. Maybe the Coyotes could revisit their interest if they become buyers at the trade deadline.

Ben Kuzma recently reported there’s been some trade buzz surrounding Canucks center Brandon Sutter. A pending UFA like Pearson, Sutter wants to stay in Vancouver but Kuzma points out he could also be a good rental solution for the Edmonton Oilers as a replacement for the disappointing Kyle Turris on their third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sutter has a 15-team no-trade list but the Oilers might not be on it. They have limited cap space so the Canucks would have to pick up a healthy chunk of Sutter’s remaining salary. They could try to swap Turris for Sutter but I doubt the Canucks would do it as Turris has another year remaining on his contract with a $1.65 million cap hit.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports the Calgary Flames are in the market for a right-winger. They’d like to move Elias Lindholm from the top line to center the second line, which would create a need to replace him on the right side. They’ve tried several players in that role this season but haven’t found the right fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli recently listed Detroit’s Bobby Ryan and Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen on his updated trade-bait list. Both are affordable but Ryan would be the better option if the Flames seek a rental player. Kyle Palmieri could be a better one if the New Jersey Devils become sellers at the trade deadline.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2021

Walter Gretzky, the father of Wayne Gretzky, passed away at 82, the Flames replace head coach Geoff Ward with Darryl Sutter, plus recaps of Thursday’s games and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Walter Gretzky, father of Wayne Gretzky, passed away at age 82 after battling several illnesses including Parkinson’s disease. The world’s most famous hockey dad, Walter’s guidance and tutelage helped develop Wayne into the greatest player in NHL history.

Walter Gretzky passed away at age 82 (NHL.com).

For my sister and my 3 brothers, Dad was our team captain – he guided, protected, and led our family every day, every step of the way,” wrote Wayne on Twitter in announcing Walter’s passing. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Gretzky family and Walter’s friends. He will be greatly missed. A kind, friendly man who devoted considerable time to charitable causes and always had time for a fan, Walter’s passing leaves a void in the hockey world.

 

The Calgary Flames’ 7-3 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators was overshadowed by their firing of head coach Geoff Ward following the game. His replacement is Darryl Sutter, who coached the Flames from 2002 to 2006 and was also their general manager from 2003 to 2010. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Flames signed Sutter to a three-year contract (this season plus two more).

Flames winger Dillon Dube tallied his first career NHL hat trick while Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists. Sam Bennett was made a healthy scratch from this contest as a “coach’s decision” by Ward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward became the Flames’ interim head coach in November 2019 and was named their full-time head coach last September. The club’s inconsistency this season has threatened to derail their playoff hopes. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform under Sutter, a no-nonsense coach who guided the Flames to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final and went on to win two Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.

The New York Islanders extended their home record to 8-0-2 by dropping the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Matt Martin scored twice and Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist. Sabres winger Taylor Hall tallied his first goal since the club’s season-opener on Jan. 14.

Chris Kreider tallied a hat trick to lead the New York Rangers over the New Jersey Devils 6-1. It was a costly win for the Rangers as goaltender Igor Shesterkin left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury. Struggling Blueshirts center Mika Zibanejad had his ice time reduced, including being bench for the first half of the second period. Earlier in the day, the Devils announced captain Nico Hischier is week-to-week with a sinus fracture after being hit in the face by the puck during Saturday’s loss to Washington.

Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov finally faced off against brother Evgeny Svechnikov in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Andrei had a goal and an assist while Evgeny picked up an assist for the Red Wings. Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player discipline for a dangerous slew foot on Wings forward Robby Fabbri.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Claude Giroux scored twice, including the game-winner. Flyers forward Joel Farabee missed the game as he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Penguin captain Sidney Crosby came off the list yesterday and picked up an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Farabee is just one of three players on the protocol list, joining Boston’s Charlie Coyle and San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.

Paul Stastny scored twice and Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets nipped the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Corey Perry had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who’ve dropped six games in overtime this season and are 3-5-4 in their last 12 games. They hold a two-point over the Flames for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Scotia North Division.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Killorn. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak ended at three games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Blackhawks as they outplayed the Lightning through the first two periods and carried a 2-0 lead into the third.

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad had a career-best four-point performance (two goals, two assists) as his club held off the Nashville Predators 5-4. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov collected three helpers. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson each had a three-point game for the Predators.

The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.

A two-goal performance by Jake Virtanen lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-1 upset of the league-leading Toronto Maple Leafs. Canucks center Elias Pettersson missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was fined $5,000.00 by the league’s department of player discipline for spearing Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic on Wednesday.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm will be sidelined for six weeks with a fractured wrist.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks forward Joachim Blichfeld received a two-game suspension by the league for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon on Wednesday. MacKinnon’s status remains uncertain as the Avs have yet to release an update on his condition.










Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov Emerges as Calder Trophy Front-Runner

Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov Emerges as Calder Trophy Front-Runner