NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2022

Will the loss of Jake Muzzin send the Leafs into the trade market? Could Zdeno Chara be shipped to a playoff contender? What is the latest on the Canadiens? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TSN: Darren Dreger points out the Toronto Maple Leafs could free up over $5.6 million in salary-cap space if sidelined defenseman Jake Muzzin (concussion) ends up on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). Dreger suggested options such as the Anaheim Ducks’ Hampus Lindholm, the Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg, the Montreal Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot or the Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano, though he called them “pie in the sky options” right now. He also said the Leafs would like to add a top-six forward to compliment the second line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know yet how long Muzzin could be sidelined. If he goes on LTIR, there’s no certainty he’d be out for the remainder of the regular season. He’d have to be for the Leafs to take on one of those blueliners without it causing a salary-cap headache if he returns before the postseason.

Dreger’s colleague Pierre LeBrun indicated the Ducks have reached out to Lindholm’s agent regarding a contract extension so he might not be available by the March 21 trade deadline. Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman (stick tap to The Hockey Writers’ Kevin Armstrong) recently said the Leafs had considered Klingberg but they don’t want to part with a first-round pick or one of their top prospects for a rental.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

Speaking of Friedman, he thinks things could get interesting for Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas if he’s willing to use that LTIR space. “I’m on the J.T. Miller train,” said Friedman, referring to the Vancouver Canucks center. Miller wouldn’t be a playoff rental as he has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.25 million. However, I don’t think they could win a bidding war with teams like the New York Rangers that have lots of cap space and promising young players to draw upon for trade bait.

CHARA ON THE TRADE BLOCK?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports teams are calling the New York Islanders expressing interest in Zdeno Chara. The 44-year-old New York Islanders defenseman lacks a no-trade clause but it’s though GM Lou Lamoriello could approach him to see if he wants to move.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner cites a league source claiming the Islanders will explore the trade market for Chara once he breaks the league record for most games played by a defenseman later this week. Rosner wonders if Chara could return to the Boston Bruins or if the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs might take a flier on him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara has slowed considerably but there appear to be clubs interested in him for his leadership in a third-pairing role. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s keen for one more crack at the Cup.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently musing over whether the Montreal Canadiens would consider trading Josh Anderson. Friedman said he’s getting mixed reactions over whether the Canadiens will keep the 27-year-old winger. Murphy feels they should retain Anderson, suggesting he has the look of a future Habs captain.

Marco D’Amico, meanwhile, took note of recent speculation by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun linking the Canadiens to the New York Rangers, citing the ties Canadiens hockey ops executive VP Jeff Gorton has with his former team. LeBrun felt the Habs would prefer prospects over draft picks and pointed out the Rangers’ depth in that department.

D’Amico suggested Vitali Kravtsov could be on their radar, pointing to the Habs’ recent hiring of former Rangers director of European Scouting Nick Bobrov as their new co-director of Amateur Scouting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Judging from social media, trading Anderson wouldn’t go down well with Canadiens fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Habs are listening to offers on most of their players but Anderson could be someone they prefer retaining going forward. Then again, I said the same thing about Tyler Toffoli. Anderson, however, is younger and bigger than Toffoli and those factors could keep him in Montreal.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Canadiens acquired Kravtsov, who’s been playing in the KHL this season awaiting a trade. The 22-year-old was unhappy with his playing time with the Rangers and would get plenty of opportunities to prove himself with the rebuilding Habs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2021

Catching up on some notable late trades and free-agent signings, including the Avalanche acquiring Darcy Kuemper, plus a look at the notable free-agents still available in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes traded goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Conor Timmins, a first-round pick in 2022 and a conditional third-round pick in 2024.

Arizona Coyotes trade goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche needed a suitable replacement for Philipp Grubauer after he signed with the Seattle Kraken yesterday. They had to move quickly as several teams had some interest in Kuemper. That’s why Avs general manager Joe Sakic paid such a steep price to get him.

In the short term, the 31-year-old Kuemper should offset Grubauer’s absence provided he can stay healthy. He’s been sidelined in recent seasons by a variety of injuries and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong, meanwhile, is doing a superb job trimming payroll while laying the groundwork to restock his prospect pipeline. Timmins is a promising young defenseman who could be a good fit on this rebuilding team. The Coyotes now have two first-round picks and five second-rounders in next year’s draft. They could get more when Armstrong starts shopping some of his pending unrestricted free agents at next year’s trade deadline.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals reacquired goaltender Vitek Vanecek from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Kraken selected Vanecek during last week’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting back Vanecek maintains the Capitals’ goalie tandem from last season. His reacquisition spares them from shopping for a backup goalie that would’ve cost more than Vanecek’s $716, 667 salary-cap hit.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins traded goaltender Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The signing of Linus Ullmark and the emergence of Jeremy Swayman made Vladar the odd man out among the Bruins goaltenders, especially if they bring back Tuukka Rask next year following his recovery from hip surgery.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed veteran goaltenders Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell to one-year contracts.

SPORTSNET: The Sabres also acquired defenseman Will Butcher and a 2022 fifth-round pick from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for future considerations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I published a list yesterday of most of the notable free-agent signings and trades. You can read my take on yesterday’s top-10 signings here.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Krejci, Kyle Palmieri and Brandon Saad are among the best players still available in the free-agent market. Others include Tomas Tatar and Zach Parise.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman ranks the winners and losers from the opening day of free agency.

TSN: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is hopeful of returning to action in 2021-22 once he receives medical clearance to do so. The 39-year-old goaltender signed last season with the Washington Capitals but heart surgery sidelined him for the entire campaign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be interest in Lundqvist if he’s cleared to resume playing. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a contract with a playoff contender.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed head coach D.J. Smith to a two-year contract extension.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

The Canadiens avoid being swept from the Stanley Cup Final, Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks dies in a fireworks accident, Wild re-sign Nick Bjugstad and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination from the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 on Monday night.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Josh Anderson opened the scoring in the first period and tallied the game-winner in overtime. Alexander Romanov scored his first of the playoffs for the Canadiens while Carey Price made 32 saves for the win. Barclay Goodrow and Pat Maroon replied for the Lightning.

The series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Wednesday night with the Lightning holding a 3-1 lead.

TSN: The Canadiens made some lineup changes for Game 4. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was replaced by Jake Evans as their third-line center while Romanov and Brett Kulak replaced Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on their third defense pairing. Anderson moved to the Canadiens’ second line alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Lightning winger Alex Killorn missed his third straight game of this series. He remains day-to-day with a leg injury suffered in Game 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled most of the play in this game. Head coach Jon Cooper lamented several near misses for his club, including several shots clanging off the goalposts.

That doesn’t detract from what was a big win by the Canadiens. Price and his penalty killers were outstanding as they shut down five Lightning power-play opportunities, including a double-minor on Habs captain Shea Weber that stretched from late in the third period into the early minutes of overtime. Price was particularly strong during the opening minutes of the game, shutting down the Lightning as they pushed to open the scoring.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died on July 4 at age 24. It was initially reported that he suffered an apparent head injury during a fall, but an initial autopsy revealed he suffered a percussive injury from a fireworks explosion that led to major damage to his heart and lungs.

The incident took place at the Novi, Michigan home of former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace. Kivlenieks’ death is being investigated as accidental and no charges are under consideration at this time.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets fans gathered at a popular bar near NationWide Arena to mourn Kivlenieks’ passing. It included an 80-second moment of silence in honor of the netminder, who wore No. 80 with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Kivlenieks’ family, friends, teammates and the Jackets organization and fans. This was a tragic ending to a young life and career that held so much promise.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Nick Bjugstad to a one-year, $900K contract. The 28-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He excelled in a depth role with the Wild this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bjugstad’s taking a big pay cut to stay in Minnesota. Cap Friendly indicates he was coming off a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.1 million. That reflects how much his role has changed since signing that deal with the Florida Panthers in 2014.

The signing puts only a slight dent into the Wild’s projected salary-cap space for next season. They have over $15.9 million remaining with restricted free agent stars Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala to re-sign.

NHL.COM: Swedish prospect forward William Eklund received the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence. The award, presented by NHL Central Scouting, goes to the candidate who best displays a commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism. Previous winners include Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eklund overcame an emergency appendectomy and a positive COVID-19 test to become this year’s top European skater as ranked by NHL Central Scouting. He’s projected to go in the top five of this year’s NHL Draft.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The AHL’s Providence Bruins will be seeking a new head coach as Jay Leach has joined the NHL’s Seattle Kraken as an assistant coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2021

The Canadiens stun the Golden Knights with a Game 3 OT win, Aleksander Barkov win the Selke Trophy, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored the tying and winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their semifinal series. Anderson made it 2-2 late in the third period when Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury mishandled the puck beside his net, giving Anderson a wide-open net for an easy goal. Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 43 saves for the win. Game 4 goes Sunday night in Montreal.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights opened the scoring in the second period as Nicolas Roy cashed in on an errant pass by Canadiens center Eric Staal. Cole Caufield quickly tied it with his second goal of the playoffs. Alex Pietrangelo restored the Golden Knights’ lead early in the third period before Fleury’s blunder cost them the game.

Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson made his NHL head-coaching debut filling in for Dominque Ducharme after the Habs bench boss tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day. All of his players tested negative for the coronavirus. Ducharme appears to be asymptomatic but is expected to be sidelined for the next 10 days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hockey gods were smiling on Montreal in this game. Vegas should’ve easily taken it after outshooting the Habs 45-27 and controlling most of the play throughout this contest. It’s becoming repetitive to type this, but Price was the difference once again. Still, the Golden Knights appeared poised to skate away with a narrow victory until Fleury’s costly turnover changed the script.

Questionable officiating continues to plague the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. A prime example was the referees missing Jonathan Marchessault high-sticking Montreal’s Corey Perry in the face during overtime, cutting the Habs forward and forcing him from the game for repairs.

The Golden Knights played without center Chandler Stephenson, who was also a late scratch from Game 2. He’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion-related symptoms.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is the 2021 winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

NEWSDAY: Oliver Wahlstrom could be in the New York Islanders’ lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 4 of their semifinal series. Wahlstrom was sidelined during Game 5 of the Isles’ first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need something to give them an offensive lift after their offense was stifled by the Lightning in the last two games.

WGR 550: Former Buffalo Sabres star Rene Robert is in a Florida hospital after suffering a severe life-threatening heart attack yesterday. Few details have been revealed as Robert’s family has requested privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here hoping Robert, 72, makes a full and swift recovery. He was a member of the Sabres’ famed French Connection Line with Gilbert Perreault and the late Richard Martin in the 1970s.

OTTAWA SUN: Goaltender Marcus Hogberg has signed a four-year contract with Linkoping HC in Sweden after the Senators informed him last month that they wouldn’t qualify his rights. He spent three seasons with the Sens from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Liam Kirk to a three-year entry-level contract. He’s the first player born and trained in England to be drafted by an NHL team.

 










NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Draw First Blood Against Leafs

NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Draw First Blood Against Leafs

 










NHL Playoffs: Underdog Canadiens Face Uphill Battle Against Maple Leafs

NHL Playoffs: Underdog Canadiens Face Uphill Battle Against Maple Leafs