NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

The Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett and trade Anton Stralman to the Coyotes, the Jets re-sign Paul Stastny and acquire Brenden Dillion from the Capitals, the Golden Knights close to re-signing Alec Martinez and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers were busy on Monday. They signed forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.4 million. The club also traded defensemen Anton Stralman and Vladislav Kolyachonok plus a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2023.

The Florida Panthers re-sign forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising the Panthers re-signed Bennett. Slated to become a restricted free agent on July 28, the 25-year-old netted 15 points in his first 10 regular-season games after being acquired at the trade deadline from Calgary. He also had five points in as many playoff games. Bennett should be a key part of their top-two forward lines.

The Stralman trade was a straightforward salary dump by the Panthers. He had a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5.5 million. The 35-year-old blueliner reportedly had to be convinced to waive his modified no-trade to go to Arizona. He’ll likely become a bargaining chip at next season’s trade deadline if the rebuilding Coyotes are out of playoff contention by then.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets also had a busy day, re-signing center Paul Stastny to a one-year, $3.75 million contract and acquiring defenseman Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny isn’t the offensive talent he once was. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old should be an affordable short-term answer to their need for a second-line center while management seeks a long-term solution. Dillon will help address a glaring need for reliable stay-at-home depth on their blueline, though the cost of two second-rounders seems a little high.

The Capitals, meanwhile, freed up $3.9 million in annual cap space for the next three seasons. They now have over $12 million in cap room if they call up Martin Fehervary as expected for next season. That gives them some additional wiggle room to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly close to signing Alec Martinez to a three-year contract extension. The 35-year-old defenseman would receive an annual cap hit close to $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez proved his worth to the Golden Knights this season, especially in the playoffs where he was their best all-around blueliner. The contract is a bit long for a shot-blocking rearguard of his age but that seems the price the Golden Knights are willing to pay to remain in Stanley Cup contention.

That signing could push them over the $81.5 million salary cap. They could make a cost-cutting trade before the start of next season involving Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes expected to sign forward Dmitrij Jaskin to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. The 29-year-old spent seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals before spending the past two seasons playing for the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have been everyone’s favorite dumping ground for unwanted contracts this summer. General manager Bill Armstrong has been clearing up long-term cap space while restocking with draft picks and prospects.

Most of the contracts he’s taken on have only a year or two remaining, with most belonging to still-serviceable players who could become trade bait to playoff contenders later next season. He also did a great job shedding Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s hefty contract by shipping that off to Vancouver during the recent NHL draft.

THE SCORE: Several notable restricted free agents didn’t receive qualifying offers at yesterday’s deadline. Among them were Boston’s Nick Ritchie, Chicago’s Pius Suter, Edmonton’s Dominik Kahun and Anaheim’s Danton Heinen. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because they didn’t get qualifying offers doesn’t mean they can’t re-sign with their now-former teams. Sometimes teams don’t offer a QO because they want to sign those players to a more affordable contract. That’s what the Blackhawks did with Adam Gaudette, inking him to a one-year deal worth just over $997K.

TORONTO STAR: Defenseman Zach Bogosian won’t be back with the Maple Leafs. He’s likely headed to an American market via free agency on July 28.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are expected to sign Patrik Nemeth when free agency opens tomorrow. The Colorado Avalanche allowed the pending UFA defenseman to speak with other teams.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils traded forward Nick Merkley to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Christian Jaros. The Devils signed Jaros to a one-year, two-way contract.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed defenseman Sam Morin to a one-year, $750K contract.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is expected to be named head coach of the United States’ Men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2021

Niklas Hjalmarsson to retire, the Red Wings re-sign Marc Staal, the Canucks to buy out Jake Virtanen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes Niklas Hjalmarsson is retiring. Morgan doesn’t anticipate he’ll make a formal announcement.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hjalmarsson, 34, spent 14 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Coyotes. A shutdown defenseman, his best years were with the Blackhawks as he helped them win three Stanley Cups during his 10 seasons with the franchise. He finishes with 172 points in 821 career NHL games. Best of luck to Hjalmarsson and his family in their future endeavors.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed defenseman Marc Staal to a one-year, $2 million contract. The deal also includes a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal proved to be a valuable addition to the Red Wings. The 34-year-old provided experience, leadership and stability to the rebuilding club’s defense corps. He hopes to become a mentor this season to promising Wings blueliner Moritz Seider, who’s expected to make his NHL debut in 2021-22.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed Jake Virtanen on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out the final year of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen was once considered a promising offensive forward but he failed to play up to expectations. His recent questionable off-ice behavior also became an issue. The Canucks attempted to trade the 24-year-old winger during this season but reportedly couldn’t find any suitable offers. He’s been on leave from the club since May 1 following a sexual misconduct allegation.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to keep their goaltending tandem of Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo intact to start the 2021-22 season. Both are entering the final year of their contracts. It was anticipated one of them would be traded this summer but the tragic death of promising Matiss Kivlenieks on July 4 changed that plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps one of them will be shopped later in the season if the Jackets are out of playoff contention before the February trade deadline.

CAP FRIENDLY: The St. Louis Blues signed forward Nathan Walker to a two-year, two-way contract. He’ll earn $750K at the NHL level.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2021

The remaining rounds of the 2021 draft are completed, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Seth Jones and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The remaining rounds (2 through 7) of the 2021 NHL Draft were completed yesterday. It was something of a family affair as the sons of several former NHL players were selected, continuing a trend that began during the first round when Tyler Boucher (son of Brian Boucher) was chosen by the Ottawa Senators (10th overall), Cole Sillinger (son of Mike Sillinger) was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets (12th overall), and Chase Stillman (Cory Stillman’s son) was taken at 29th overall.

Other sons who followed in their fathers’ footsteps this year as NHL draft picks include Josh Doan (Shane Doan) selected 37th overall by the Arizona Coyotes (his dad’s former team), Redmond “Red” Savage (Brian Savage) taken 114th overall by the Detroit Red Wings, Justin Robidas (Stephane Rodidas) selected 147th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes and Shane Lachance (Scott Lachance) chosen 186th overall by the Edmonton Oilers.

The second day saw its second brother act in this year’s draft as Colton Dach, the younger brother of Chicago Blackhawks center Kirby Dach, was chosen 62nd overall by the Blackhawks. Luke Hughes, the younger brother of New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes, was selected by the Devils with the fourth-overall pick on Friday.

With the 2021 NHL Draft completed, some are gazing ahead to next year’s draft. OHL center Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs could be the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saturday also saw the Philadelphia Flyers trade Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Cam Atkinson, the Buffalo Sabres ship Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers, and the Colorado Avalanche re-sign Cale Makar to a six-year contract extension. You can get my take on those moves by following this link.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan remains confident of getting team captain Alex Ovechkin under contract before the unrestricted free agent market opens on Wednesday, July 28. “I think both parties want the same goal, and I think we will get it done by then,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I anticipate Ovechkin will ink a three-year deal with the Capitals worth an annual average value of $9 million.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Seth Jones said he’s up for the challenge of meeting the high expectations he’ll face playing for the Blackhawks. The 26-year-old defenseman was traded on Friday to Chicago by the Columbus Blue Jackets and signed an eight-year, $76 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have been criticized for the trade and the contract signing because of Jones’ declining stats over the past two or three years. Hawks management is betting Jones’ stats will improve playing on a team with more scoring punch where he’ll get an opportunity to play a less restrictive style than what he faced in recent years.

SPORTSNET: The Kings re-signed forward Trevor Moore to a two-year, $3.75 million contract.

TSN: The New York Rangers officially bought out the final year of Tony DeAngelo’s contract. The 25-year-old defenseman is now an unrestricted free agent.

THE SCORE: After being chosen by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round on Friday, defenseman Logan Mailloux addressed the November incident in Sweden that led him to renounce himself from the draft before being chosen.

Mailloux read from a prepared statement acknowledging he took a photo of a young woman engaged in a consensual sex act and sharing it without her knowledge among his teammates. He was fined by Swedish authorities for defamation and invasion of privacy. He admitted what he did was a “stupid and egotistical act”, that he showed a lack of judgment and had caused harm to the woman and her family.

Though Mailloux said he didn’t want to be selected in this year’s draft, he’s accepted the possibility of joining the Montreal Canadiens because he believes the organization will help him improve as a person and a player. He also said he’s participating in professional counseling.

Taking questions from reporters, Mailloux acknowledged he had work to do to regain the public’s trust. He also indicated he’d had no contact with the Canadiens from the time he renounced himself from the draft on Tuesday to when he was selected on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mailloux broke the law but he should have an opportunity to redeem himself as a person. As The Athletic’s Arpon Basu observed, he needs the time to get his house in order by making the self-improvements he claims he’s committed to doing and make amends to his victim’s satisfaction, not just his own. She claims all she wants from him is a heartfelt apology that she said she hasn’t received from him yet. That would be the best place to start.

The Canadiens haven’t done Mailloux any favors by selecting him just three days after renouncing himself from the draft. The same would apply for any of the rumored teams that intended to choose him in the second round had the Canadiens not taken him. It also applies to the NHL and NHLPA for not having a rule in place that honors a player’s request not to be part of a given draft.

Regardless of whatever round Mailloux might’ve been chosen in this year’s draft, this only makes his situation more difficult. As Basu also pointed out, it’s hard to see how this will put him in a position to improve as a person or a player.










Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021

Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021

Here’s a listing of the notable trades and free-agent signings during the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft. This will be updated throughout the day.

The Sam Reinhart trade reported early this morning is official. The Buffalo Sabres trade Reinhart to the Florida Panthers for prospect goaltender Devon Levi and a 2022 first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s one year away from UFA eligibility. That could explain why the Sabres got a prospect rather than a player as part of the return, though they did get a first-rounder as well.

The Philadelphia Flyers trade Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Cam Atkinson. The Flyers did not retain any of Voracek’s salary in this transaction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers and Blue Jackets are among the busiest teams this weekend in the trade market as they continue shaking up their respective rosters. Voracek and Atkinson were both reportedly seeking a change of scenery. They are still reliable top-six wingers though their best seasons are likely behind them.

Voracek is returning to the team where his NHL career began. He was traded by the Jackets to the Flyers prior to the 2011 NHL Draft as part of the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus. Now 31, he has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.

Atkinson, 32, spent his entire 10-season NHL career to his point with the Blue Jackets. He has four years remaining on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5.875 million. The Flyers are freeing up $2.75 million over the next three years.

The Colorado Avalanche sign defenseman Cale Makar to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the pay raise for the 22-year-old blueliner coming out of his entry-level contract. He quickly became one of the league’s top rearguards, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019-20 and was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy this season.

I’m only surprised that it wasn’t more. Some observers estimated he could receive over $10 million annually. Given his youth and talent, this contract will probably age very well for the Avalanche.

The Edmonton Oilers sign goaltender Mike Smith to a two-year, $4.4 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith played well for the Oilers over the last two seasons…when healthy. The 39-year-old has had injury issues in recent years. He missed 12 games at the start of this season with an undisclosed injury. The annual cap hit is affordable but a two-year deal for a goalie who turns 40 next March seems one year too long.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2021

The first round of the 2021 draft is completed, Carey Price undergoes knee surgery, Sam Reinhart reportedly traded to the Panthers, Taylor Hall re-signs with Bruins, Zach Hyman heading to the Oilers, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres selected University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power with the first-overall selection in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft. The Seattle Kraken selected Powers teammate, center Matthew Beniers, with the second-overall pick, and the Anaheim Ducks took center Mason McTavish of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes third overall.

The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft is complete (NHL.com).

Defenseman Luke Hughes of the USA U-18 National Team Development Program is joining his older brother Jack Hughes with the New Jersey Devils as the fourth overall pick. Center Kent Johnson, another University of Michigan player, was taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the fifth overall pick.

The remaining rounds (two through seven) will be held today starting at 11 am ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the full list of first-round selections by following the link above. I offer my sincere congratulations to all the players taken in this round except for the Montreal Canadiens’ selection with the 31st overall pick.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens made a controversial selection with defenseman Logan Mailloux of the OHL’s London Knights. Mailloux had withdrawn from this year’s draft after being fined for invasion of privacy and defamation in Sweden. He took a photo of himself and an 18-year-old woman engaged in a consensual sex act and shared that photo with his teammates without the woman’s consent.

The Canadiens issued a statement acknowledging the severity of Mailloux’s actions but also felt his decision to renounce himself from the draft was an acknowledgment of his poor behavior. They expressed their willingness to help him become a better person and player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are trying to justify this by claiming he was the best available player at that stage in the draft from a hockey standpoint. They also reportedly took him that high because several teams intended on taking him in the second round before the Canadiens would select with the 63rd overall pick.

The young woman victimized by Mailloux hasn’t forgiven him because she doesn’t believe he’s genuinely remorseful for what he’s done. “I do not think Logan has understood the seriousness of his behavior,” she told The Athletic’s Katie Strang in an e-mail, adding all she wanted was a heartfelt apology. Multiple sources told The Athletic that Mailloux has portrayed her as vindicative during interviews with some NHL teams.

This is inexcusable by the Canadiens. An organization that prides itself on class and character has been stained by this decision. And shame on the teams that were still willing to select him later in the draft before the Canadiens did.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price underwent knee surgery on Friday in New York. His expected recovery period is 10-12 weeks and he’s expected to return in time for the start of the 2021-22 season. Price was also evaluated for a hip injury but it will not require surgery.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins signed winger Taylor Hall to a four-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall was a good fit with the Bruins following his acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres at the April trade deadline. He was seeking some stability after playing for four teams in the past two years. Cap Friendly indicates he gets a no-movement clause throughout the deal and a modified no-trade clause starting in 2022-23.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres have reportedly traded center Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers. It’s believed the Sabres will receive prospect goaltender Devon Levi and the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade is expected to be officially announced later today during the remaining rounds of the draft. Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s one year away from UFA eligibility. That could explain why the Sabres got a prospect rather than a player as part of the return, though they did get a first-rounder as well.

Speaking of trades, several notable moves took place before the first round of the draft. They include the Columbus Blue Jackets trading Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes engaged in a multi-player swap involving Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Sabres shipping defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers dealing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues. You can read my take on those deals by following this link.

TORONTO SUN: Zach Hyman’s days with the Maple Leafs are done. The pending UFA winger has verbally agreed to sign with the Edmonton Oilers. If a trade can be worked out between the two clubs before noon ET on July 28, Hyman will sign an eight-year contract with the Oilers. If not, it’ll be a seven-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are seeking draft picks from the Oilers. If a trade cannot be worked out today those picks will have to be in future drafts. It’s expected Hyman’s new contract will be worth between $5 million and $5.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The Carolina Hurricanes traded defenseman Jake Bean to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a second-round pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: That’s the second young defenseman the Blue Jackets added yesterday. They also got promising Adam Boqvist as part of the return from Chicago in the Seth Jones trade.

TSN: The New York Rangers yesterday placed defenseman Tony DeAngelo on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract.










Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

A list of the noteworthy trades that took place leading up to, and including the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft along with my hot take on each. I will update this throughout the evening.

The Columbus Blue Jackets trade defenseman Seth Jones, the final pick in the first round of the 2021 draft (32nd overall) and a sixth-round pick in 2022 to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Adam Boqvist, a first-round pick in 2021 (12th overall), a second-round pick in 2021 and a first-round pick in 2022. If the latter pick is top-two, it becomes a 2023 first-rounder.

Jones also signs an eight-year contract extension with the Blackhawks worth an annual average value of $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t say I’m surprised that Jones wound up in Chicago. The Blackhawks were among the early suitors and really wanted to bolster their defense, especially after shipping Duncan Keith to Edmonton earlier this month.

What I am surprised by is the shock on social media that Jones got that expensive contract extension. Folks, if I’ve said it once, I said it a thousand times: never underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to spend too much on talent. Even under a flattened salary cap, some just can’t help themselves.

Some believe this is a lousy deal for the Blackhawks, pointing to the decline in Jones’ play over the past year, or the drop in his offensive numbers over the last two years. I believe Jones’ play suffered last season because the Blue Jackets were falling apart. Maybe the reason behind the decline in his production was playing for a club with a popgun offense.

Jones is 26, still in his playing prime, with a contract taking him up to age 35, skating for a team with a lot more talent than the one he just left. True, the Blackhawks are rebuilding, but they’ve got a mix of established and promising talent. Adding Jones to their lineup could help him regain his form and accelerate their rebuild.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, got the best return they could for a player who wasn’t going to re-sign with them before next season. Boqvist, 20, is coming off his NHL sophomore season. He’s a promising offensive blueliner who could be very effective on the Blue Jackets power play.

Landing the Blackhawks’ first-rounder while giving up the 32nd selection still gives the Jackets three selections in that round. They’re in a good position to land some promising prospects as they commence their rebuild in earnest this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for winger Loui Eriksson, winger Antoine Roussel, center Jay Beagle, the Canucks first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, their second-rounder in 2022 and a seventh-rounder in 2023. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be the blockbuster of the day. The Canucks were one of just two teams Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for when the Coyotes tried to trade him last October. The two sides ran out of time to hammer out a deal before the blueliner’s deadline on Oct. 9.

Ekman-Larsson’s performance has declined over the past three seasons. The Canucks are betting he’ll regain his form on a promising team in Vancouver. The Coyotes retained 12 percent of his $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit but that could still be an expensive gamble with six years remaining on his contract at $7.26 million per season.

Garland, 25, is coming off back-to-back 39-point performances and should provide a boost to the Canucks’ secondary scoring. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, he was pursued by several clubs in recent weeks.

The Canucks tried shedding Eriksson’s $6 million cap hit for the past two years. They’re finally rid of it when there’s just one year remaining. Beagle has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $3 million. There was speculation he could miss 2021-22 with an undisclosed injury. Roussel also has a year left on his deal with a cap hit of $3 million. The Coyotes could use the physical winger as a trade chip at next year’s trade deadline. 

For the Coyotes, the real prize was that first-round pick. They forfeited theirs for violating 2020 Draft Combine rules under former general manager John Chayka. Current GM Bill Armstrong was willing to eat the remaining year on Eriksson’s and Beagle’s contracts to get a top-10 pick.

Canucks GM Jim Benning is getting roasted on social media for this move. If Ekman-Larsson improves in Vancouver and Garland bolsters their scoring he’ll come out of this smelling like a rose. If not, he’ll be smelling of something rather unpleasant.

The Buffalo Sabres trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Robert Hagg, a first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher continues to shore up his defense after acquiring Ryan Ellis last Saturday from the Nashville Predators. Expect Ristolainen to slot in behind Ellis as their second-pairing right-side defenseman. 

The Sabres begin what appears to be another rebuild. Ristolainen’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for a couple of years now. Prying a 13th overall pick from the Flyers was quite a coup by GM Kevyn Adams, especially for a player who’s slated to become a UFA next summer. Flyers fans are taking to social media expressing their unhappiness with Fletcher for parting with that pick for Ristolainen. 

The New York Rangers trade right wing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for winger Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could set the table for the Blues to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It could also set the stage for the Rangers to make their much-rumored deal for Sabres center Jack Eichel. Or, it could simply be the Blueshirts being unwilling to invest too much for too long in Buchnevich when they’ve got two key players to re-sign next summer in Mika Zibanejad and 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believed the Rangers had to bring in another physical winger to skate on the third line with recently-signed Barclay Goodrow. Blais will fill that role at an affordable cap hit of $1.5 million.