It’s no April Fool’s, the Ducks and Flyers could be making some notable trades this summer. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Olivia Reiner and Giana Han looked at whether the Flyers will be looking at moving out some veteran players this summer and which ones are the likeliest to move.
Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes (NHL Images).
Han believes they’ll take calls on Kevin Hayes based on head coach John Tortorella’s comments before the March 3 trade deadline claiming the 30-year-old’s name came up in trade discussions. She also thinks defenseman Travis Sanheim could be another candidate based on the way Tortorella talks about him.
Reiner agrees with Han regarding Hayes, citing Tortorella’s comments about “addition by subtraction” since the start of the season. She noted how he’s been bumped from top-line center with Sean Couturier sidelined this season to a bottom-six center and sometimes winger earning over $7.142 million per season for the next three years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation linking Hayes to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche before the trade deadline. His contract (which also contains a 12-team no-trade list) is the biggest obstacle in the path toward a deal with another club.
The Flyers could end up retaining some salary or taking back a comparable contract in return. There was also chatter about a possible buyout but that would count as two-thirds of the remaining value over twice the remaining term. That’s likely the last option they’ll consider.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked if Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek will attempt to upgrade the blueline via free agency by pursuing someone like Matt Dumba, Damon Severson or Ryan Graves.
Stephens is leery about Dumba given his declining performance unless he’s willing to accept a two-year contract at $3 million annually. Severson and Graves are very serviceable but he cautions against investing too much in an established defenseman given the promising depth within their prospect pipeline.
Asked about struggling winger Max Comtois, Stephens doesn’t expect they’ll spend $2.55 million to qualify his rights. He noted that the 24-year-old pending restricted free agent was on the trade block this season but Verbeek couldn’t find any takers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Verbeek could peddle Comtois again around the draft in late June to see if he can get something for him. Otherwise, as Stephens noted, the Ducks GM could do what he did last summer with Sonny Milano and let him walk.
Sabres rookie Devon Levi backstops his club to a crucial win in his debut game, Stars winger Jason Robertson breaks a single-season franchise scoring record, plus the latest on Jonathan Toews, Ryan O’Reilly and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Devon Levi made 31 saves in his NHL debut in a 3-2 overtime win over the New York Rangers. Jeff Skinner scored the game-winning goal as the Sabres improved to 36-31-7 to move within five points of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 79 points. Kaapo Kakko and Adam Fox scored for the Rangers (44-21-11) to force the extra frame. With 99 points, the playoff-bound Rangers sit three points back of the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division.
Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson (NHL Images)
The Dallas Stars got a four-point performance by Jason Robertson (one goal, three assists) to defeat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. With 42 goals and 95 points, Robertson broke Mike Modano’s single-season franchise record as the 41-20-14 Stars (96 points) moved within one point of first place in the Central Division. The Coyotes fell to 27-36-13 on the season.
Winnipeg Jets forwards Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist in a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. With the win, the Jets (42-31-3) maintained their two-point lead over the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 87 points. The Red Wings dropped to 33-33-9.
Speaking of the Flames, they kept pace with the Jets thanks to an overtime goal by Tyler Toffoli to nip the Vancouver Canucks 5-4. Toffoli scored twice in this game to reach a personal best of 33 goals on the season for the 35-26-15 Flames. The Canucks sit at 34-34-7.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said defenseman Filip Hronek’s season is likely over as he continues to recuperate from a shoulder injury suffered earlier this season. The Canucks want Hronek to spend the next four months regaining his full strength to be ready for 2023-24.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will return to the lineup Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. He’s been sidelined since Jan. 28 dealing with the effects of long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews’ motivation for returning this late in the season with the Blackhawks eliminated from playoff contention is the realization that these could be his final games with the club. He becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.
Toews said he’s not near deciding on retirement. Given his health issues, however, he must decide if he can physically withstand the rigors of an NHL season.
TORONTO SUN: Ryan O’Reilly returned to practice with his Maple Leafs teammates on Friday for the first time since suffering a broken finger on March 4. His goal is to be 100 percent before the playoffs open on April 17.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Leafs, winger Noel Acciari remains sidelined by a neck injury while Wayne Simmonds missed practice on Friday due to illness.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken winger Andre Burakovsky suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury that has delayed his return to the lineup. It’s hoped he’ll be ready in time for the playoffs.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks rookie winger William Eklund underwent successful season-ending shoulder surgery on Friday. He’s expected to be ready for training camp in September.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Derick Brassard and defenseman Travis Hamonic (lower-body injuries) will miss Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Predators will honor the Covenant School shooting victims and their families on Saturday and for the remainder of this season.
Is it time for the Penguins to clean house? Will the Red Wings pursue scorers in the offseason? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
TIME FOR THE PENGUINS TO CLEAN HOUSE?
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: That’s what Dan Kingerski believes despite the fact the Penguins could make their 17th consecutive playoff appearance. While he doesn’t rule out a possible playoff upset, he felt that they must shake things up after this season’s uneven performance.
General manager Ron Hextall and his staff should be questioned by their bosses over the rebuilding side of Hextall’s plan. Kingerski noted he hasn’t had the same success signing NCAA free agents as his predecessor, wondered if they’ll land any European free agents, and why their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is worse now than they were.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade rumor but I think the Penguins will be worth watching in the offseason. There’s no doubt that they have not improved compared to last season. They’re the oldest team in the league and have played like it on too many nights this season.
Making the playoffs should save Hextall’s job but that’s not a certainty with the Florida Panthers nipping at the Penguins’ heels. He’s been feeling the heat from fans and pundits (like Kingerski) over the course of this season. That should be concerning to the club’s owners.
I agree with Kingerski that Sullivan should be back and that the supporting cast around Crosby, Malkin and Letang must improve, especially the goaltending and their blueline depth.
Whether Guentzel is part of those changes remains to be seen. Carter only has a year left on his contract but the 38-year-old center is coming to the end of his playing days. However, his full no-movement clause should ensure he plays out that season in Pittsburgh.
Another immediate fix would be an offseason trade similar to the Ottawa Senators acquiring Alex DeBrincat last summer. However, it’s too early right now to determine which players could be available.
Bultman also believes they must add a more reliable No. 2 goaltender. Possible short-term UFA options could include Semyon Varlamov or Alex Stalock.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings have plenty of projected salary cap space (over $30 million) with all their core players under contract for next season. They also have five picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft plus a deep pool of promising players within their system to draw upon as trade bait during the offseason.
Whether general manager Steve Yzerman will make a significant signing or a bold trade to help his club remains to be seen. Nevertheless, like the Penguins, they could be worth monitoring this summer.
The Bruins clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, the Golden Knights clinch a playoff berth, the Oilers’ Connor McDavid scores his 300th career goal, the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk reaches 100 points, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins won their fourth Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on an overtime goal by David Pastrnak. Tyler Bertuzzi also scored for the league-leading Bruins (121 points) as they set a franchise record for wins with 58. Jack Roslovic scored for the 23-43-8 Blue Jackets, who played without Adam Boqvist due to an illness.
The Vegas Golden Knights dropped a 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks but gained a point to become the first Western Conference club to clinch a playoff berth. Logan Couture tallied the game-winning goal for the 21-39-15 Sharks. The Golden Knights (46-22-7) sit atop the West with 99 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas center Jack Eichel became the eighth player in NHL history to make his playoff debut after scoring 400-plus regular-season points.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored his 300th career goal while Stuart Skinner kicked out 43 shots to shut out the Los Angeles Kings 2-0. Evander Kane also scored as the Oilers improved to 44-23-9 and moved one point ahead of the Kings into second place in the Pacific Division with 97 points. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 35 shots for the 43-22-10 Kings, who were without winger Kevin Fiala due to a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid set an NHL record by becoming the first player to record five 10-game points streaks in a single season. He’s also the fifth-fastest player to score 300 goals and 500 assists before his 600th career game.
Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk became the fourth player to reach 100 points this season in a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Tkachuk (101 points) tallied a hat trick while Anton Lundell scored twice for the 38-31-7 Panthers (83 points) as they remain one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Canadiens defenseman David Savard missed this game with a lower-body injury while forward Kirby Dach is sidelined for at least a week with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk became the fourth player in NHL history to record 100-plus points in consecutive seasons with two different teams.
Speaking of the Penguins, they maintained their lead over the Panthers by blanking the Nashville Predators 2-0. Tristan Jarry turned in a 28-save shutout while Jason Zucker and Jake Guentzel scored for the 37-28-10 Penguins. Juuse Saros stopped 43 shots for the 37-29-8 Predators (82 points) as they remain three points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
The Ottawa Senators blew a 4-1 lead but recovered to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Alex DeBrincat. Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist while Shane Pinto tallied his 20th goal of the season for the Senators (37-33-5) as they remain five points back of the Penguins with 79 points. Cam York had a goal and an assist and Owen Tippett netted his 23rd of the season for the 29-32-13 Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins and Senators each have seven games remaining. Unless the Pens collapse, the Sens aren’t going to catch them.
First-period goals by Erik Haula and Timo Meier enable the New Jersey Devils to hold off the New York Rangers by a score of 2-1. Chris Kreider replied for the Rangers. The Devils improved to 47-20-8 and widened their lead over the Rangers by four points (102) for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
A goal by Jake Walman with four seconds remaining in the third period gave the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 upset win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Alex Nedeljkovic made 31 saves for the win as the Red Wings improved to 33-32-9 on the season. Jaccob Slavin had a goal and an assist for the 47-18-9 Hurricanes as they sit one point ahead of the Devils in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points. Hurricanes winger Teuvo Teravainen missed this game due to illness.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon tallied twice in a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each had a goal and an assist for the 44-26-6 Lightning as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 94 points. Craig Smith replied for the Capitals (34-33-9) as they fall seven points behind the Penguins with 77 points.
The Seattle Kraken strengthened their hold on the first Western Conference wild-card spot by dropping the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Matty Beniers and Jaden Schwartz each had a goal and an assist for the 41-25-8 Kraken as they hold a five-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets with 90 points. Brock McGinn replied for the 23-42-10 Ducks.
St. Louis Blues winger Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist in a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues (35-34-9) have won six of the last eight games. Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist for the 24-45-6 Blackhawks, who’ve now dropped seven straight games.
DAILY FACEOFF: Marty Walsh, the new executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, spoke with the media yesterday for the first time since taking over from former director Donald Fehr.
Walsh said he recently met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, joking that they’ll have a wonderful relationship as long as Bettman agrees with everything he says. Turning serious, he expressed the hope of working together with Bettman but stressed that he works for the players.
He also addressed his relationship with the Jacobs family, who own the Bruins and donated to his political campaigns. “Supporting my campaign is one thing,” said Walsh. “Using that as a way to leverage me is never going to happen.”
Walsh said he likes the idea of increasing next season’s salary cap by more than $1 million but indicated the players are not interested in increasing their escrow payments to do so. He also said he’ll need some time to consider the next round of collective bargaining that is two and a half years away.
The new PA director is interested in working with the league toward staging a World Cup of Hockey in 2025. He also said that he’s supportive of the LGBTQ-plus community and wants NHL dressing rooms to be inclusive spaces but also supports a player’s individual right to decide whether they’ll wear a Pride warmup jersey. He pointed out that “a super majority” of players have worn the jersey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh addressed other topics but these were the main points of interest. It’s noteworthy that he is willing to discuss raising the cap for next season by more than the agreed-upon rate of $1 million but quickly dismissed the idea of increasing escrow payments, which is what Bettman has said must happen for the rate to rise beyond $1 million.
The players seem fine with playing one more season under a flattened cap. They’re secure in the knowledge that there will be significant cap increases over the remaining two seasons of the current CBA that won’t require increases in escrow.
It’s the team owners and general managers who prefer raising the cap for 2023-24. It’ll be up to them to pressure Bettman into finding another way to raise it that’ll meet with the PA’s approval.
DAILY FACEOFF: The NCAA announced that University of Michigan forward Adam Fantilli and University of Minnesota forwards Logan Cooley and Matthew Knies are the 2023 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as the most outstanding player in NCAA hockey.
Fantilli is eligible for the 2023 NHL draft. Cooley was chosen third overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2022 draft while Knies was taken 57th overall in the 2021 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Could the Rangers re-sign Vladimir Tarasenko or Patrick Kane? What’s the latest on Cam Talbot’s contract talks with the Senators? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
COULD TARASENKO OR KANE RE-SIGN WITH THE RANGERS?
THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Arthur Staple was asked if Patrick Kane or Vladimir Tarasenko (or both) re-sign a cheap one-year contract with the New York Rangers if they fall again in the Eastern Conference Finals and return for another run at the Stanley Cup.
New York Rangers winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images)
Staple doesn’t see how both players would be back. Of the two, he speculated that Kane might be more likely to accept a discount, especially if he gets off-season hip surgery and isn’t ready for the start of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would have to be a very cheap one-year contract to keep either guy. According to Cap Friendly, the Rangers have $12.3 million in cap space for 2023-24 with 14 roster players under contract.
Defenseman K’Andre Miller and winger Alexis Lafreniere are restricted free agents this summer plus they need to re-sign or replace backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak. That’s going to eat up a significant chunk of their cap space.
IS CAM TALBOT SEEKING JACK CAMPBELL MONEY?
OILERS NATION: Zach Laing cited TSN 1200’s Dean Brown reporting Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot has been approached twice by the club regarding contract extension discussions. He’s heard the 35-year-old apparently seeks a deal worth close to $5 million annually. If that’s his asking price, Brown believes it’s best for the Senators to walk away.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That average annual value would be comparable to what Jack Campbell currently earns with the Edmonton Oilers. So far, that contract looks regrettable for the Oilers.
No indication in that report if Talbot wants a similar tenure (five years). Regardless of the contract length, $5 million annually is too much for a goalie who’ll turn 36 in July and has been hampered by injuries since last season.
The Panthers rally to nip the Leafs, the Wild widen their lead in the Central Division, the Islanders strengthen their hold in the first Eastern wild-card spot, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brandon Montour. Alex Lyon got the win with a 38-save performance while Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist for the 37-31-7 Panthers (81 points), who moved one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Auston Matthews tallied his 37th goal of the season for the 44-20-10 Leafs as they sit second in the Atlantic Division with 98 points.
Minnesota Wild forward Frederick Gaudreau scored two shorthanded goals to double up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. Filip Gustavsson kicked out 42 shots for the Wild (44-22-9) as they hold a three-point lead over the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division with 97 points. Bowen Byram and Lars Eller replied for the 44-26-6 Avalanche, who remain in third place in the Central with 94 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild winger Ryan Reaves was unavailable for this game with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar wasn’t pleased with his club’s performance in this game, claiming there were “some passengers” among his players. In other words, he believes some of them didn’t play up to their expected level of performance.
New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (NHL Images).
New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin picked up his eighth win in 10 starts through March in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals. Bo Horvat and Kyle Palmieri tallied in the shootout as the Islanders improved to 39-28-9 (87 points) to open a five-point lead over Pittsburgh for the first Eastern wild-card spot. The Capitals (34-32-9) are five points behind the Penguins.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery dismissed a TSN report claiming Taylor Hall was close to returning to the lineup. “The only thing I can say is that I know he is not cleared. That’s what I know so that report to me is false,” said Montgomery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report cited sources claiming Hall felt he was ready to return but the Bruins lack the salary-cap space to activate him, speculating they could attempt to stretch it out until the playoffs start when the cap no longer applies.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers yesterday signed Filip Chytil to a four-year, $17.75 million contract beginning in 2023-24. The average annual value is $4.4375 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable deal for Chytil, who centers the Rangers’ third line between Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. The 23-year-old was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who is earning $2.3 million on his current deal. He’s enjoying a career-best performance with 22 goals and 42 points in 66 games.
Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Rangers with a projected $12.3 million in cap space for 2023-24 with 14 roster players under contract. Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller are also eligible for RFA status this summer.
THE SCORE: Ottawa Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot is likely sidelined for a couple of weeks with an upper-body injury.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings goaltender Ville Husso won’t be out of the rest of the season with a lower-body injury after all. He’s not expected to return this week but could get in some games before the season’s end. Winger Robby Fabbri, however, is confirmed to be out for the season following surgery to address a lower-body injury that will take four to six weeks of recovery.
CTV NEWS OTTAWA: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the league will evaluate its Pride Nights after a handful of players refused to wear Pride-themed jerseys during pregame warmups.
ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reports Buffalo Sabres prospect goaltender Devon Levi will make his NHL debut on Friday against the Rangers.
THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks signed forward Nikolai Knyzhov to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.25 million.