NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 2, 2021

The Predators trade Viktor Arvidsson to the Kings, the Sabres and Jack Eichel nearing a resolution on potential surgery, updates on the Lightning and Canadiens and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators yesterday traded winger Viktor Arvidsson to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a second-round pick in this year’s NHL draft and a third-round pick in 2022.

The Predators trade Viktor Arvidsson to the Kings (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kings general manager Rob Blake was reportedly in the market for a couple of top-six forwards in their late twenties with two or three seasons on their contracts. Arvidsson fits that profile.

A former 30-goal scorer with good speed and a solid work ethic, he should provide a welcome boost to the Kings’ offense. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual cap hit of $4.25 million. The only concern is an injury history that hampered his performance over the past three seasons.

The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman believes the 28-year-old winger’s versatility could allow Kings coach Todd McLellan to employ him alongside first-line center Anze Kopitar or fellow Swede Adrian Kempe on the second line.

Dillman’s colleague Adam Vingan indicates the Predators now have over $23 million in projected cap room. General manager David Poile can put that toward re-signing key free agents this summer such as Dante Fabbro, Mikael Granlund, Juuse Saros and Eeli Tolvanen. It also frees up long-term cap room for new contracts for Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm. That cap room could be used to find a replacement if necessary for Arvidsson via trade or free agency.

Blake could soon make another addition. Having acquired one top-six forward, the other could be coming via trade or free agency later this month.

For those of you wondering why this trade took place during the Stanley Cup Final, non-playoff clubs or those eliminated from postseason competition are allowed to make trades with each other during the playoffs.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Joe Yerdon reported yesterday the Buffalo Sabres are nearing a resolution with captain Jack Eichel regarding treatment for the herniated disk in his neck. Both sides declined to elaborate as to what the outcome could be. GM Kevyn Adams said the team’s stance in denying the 24-year-old center’s request for surgery hasn’t changed as per the club’s medical staff recommendation as it has never been performed on an NHL player before.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel has been the subject of trade speculation for weeks with his health being an ongoing concern. Reports indicate Adams is receiving calls from interested clubs but he’s said to have set a high asking price. The outcome of this upcoming resolution will have an effect on Eichel’s trade status.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme will return behind the bench for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight in Montreal. A positive COVID-19 test forced Ducharme to miss the Canadiens’ final four games of their semifinal series with the Vegas Golden Knights and the first two games of this series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Alex Killorn traveled with his teammates to Montreal but his status for Game 3 remains questionable. He missed Game 2 with a leg injury and is considered day-to-day.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially introduced former Ottawa 67s coach Andre Tourigny as their new head coach during a press conference yesterday.

CAP FRIENDLY: provided a detailed breakdown of key dates regarding the upcoming NHL expansion draft, the 2021 NHL Draft, free agency and the first contract buyout period.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2021

Check out the latest on Seth Jones, Matthew Tkachuk, Jack Eichel, Viktor Arvidsson, Wayne Simmonds and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NOTABLE SPECULATION FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he’s still hearing a lot about the Philadelphia Flyers having an interest in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t elaborate but it’s not surprising the Flyers would look at Jones to fill their glaring need for a top-pairing, right-side blueliner. They have the assets to make a competitive pitch, but they’ll have to shed salary to squeeze in his $5.4 million cap hit for next season. Cap Friendly shows them with $13.08 in projected cap space. Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim are due for new contracts plus they need to find a suitable backup for Hart.

The Flames issued firm denials regarding a recent rumor claiming Matthew Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary. That’s different from when no one denied the leak that Seth Jones would test next summer’s free-agent market or the news the Arizona Coyotes will try to trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson or reports the Carolina Hurricanes allowed Dougie Hamilton to speak with other teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There weren’t any earlier indications Tkachuk was unhappy in Calgary prior to last week’s rumor claiming he wanted out. Flames management could consider all options after missing the playoffs this season. Moving Tkachuk, however, doesn’t sound like one of them.

Things were quieter on the Jack Eichel rumor front last week. Friedman expects things to pick up once they hire a new coach. Interim coach Don Granato and Rick Tocchet are among the contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports several sources said the Rangers have had preliminary talks with the Sabres and would like to look into Eichel’s medical condition. He said it’s uncertain if general manager Chris Drury is performing due diligence or has a serious interest in the Sabres’ captain. The Sabres haven’t granted permission for clubs to examine Eichel’s medical records but it’s expected they would do so if trade talks intensify.

Friedman also heard Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson could be available. The hard-working winger has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A healthy Arvidsson would attract considerable interest. However, he’s been hampered by injuries the past three seasons, which would explain why the Predators could be willing to move him.

It sounds like Wayne Simmonds could be returning for another season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds completed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Leafs. Given their limited cap space, my guess is they’ll try to sign him to a one-year deal worth under $1 million. They’ll also probably wait until after the expansion draft to formally announce it so they don’t have to place him on their protected list.

**UPDATE: TSN reports the Leafs signed Simmonds to a two-year extension with an annual average value of $900K. 

Friedman thinks some trade discussions are stalled over worries about expansion draft protection. There’s also concern the Seattle Kraken could draft exposed players and then flip them elsewhere. For example, they could select someone like Matt Dumba or Mark Giordano and then entertain bids and potentially absorb part of their salary. Friedman feels either player would make sense for the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken GM Ron Francis will try to use the same playbook as the Vegas Golden Knights during their expansion draft. He’s going to look at side deals if it lands a return that provides long-term benefits.

Speculation suggests Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook could test the free-agent market. There are also Warren Foegele trade talks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The potential departures of Martinook and Foegele could be in anticipation of re-signing pending UFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton and restricted free agents Andrei Svechnikov and Alex Nedeljkovic. The Hurricanes have over $29 million in projected cap space but new contracts for those three will eat up a big chunk.

The New Jersey Devils could consider moving their first-round pick (fourth overall) in this year’s draft for a good young defenseman.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2021

More proposed destinations for Seth Jones plus the latest on the Predators and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PROPOSED DESTINATIONS FOR SETH JONES

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston listed the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible destinations for Seth Jones. The 26-year-old defenseman recently informed the Columbus Blue Jackets of his intention to test next summer’s free-agent market.

Speculation persists over possible destinations for Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

The Kings are considered early favorites, given their extra second and third-round picks and impressive depth in young forwards and prospects to offer up as trade bait. The Blackhawks also have extra picks and depth in prospects plus they hold the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft.

Johnston suggests the Oilers could feel pressure to add a defenseman if Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie depart this summer via free agency. Lacking extra draft picks, GM Ken Holland might have to part with one of his young players. The Flyers, meanwhile, would have to move a few bodies to free up cap space.

The Canadiens have extra picks and several players coming off the books this summer. Johnston suggests Jones would be an ideal replacement for Shea Weber if the Habs could find a way to move his $7.75 million annual cap hit. The Red Wings have the draft capitals to do it with 12 picks in this year’s draft, seven of those in the first three rounds.

As for the Leafs, the comments of GM Kyle Dubas and winger Mitch Marner suggest he’s not going anywhere. Nevertheless, Johnston wondered if he’d be off the table for a defenseman like Jones.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito could shoot for a reunion with Jones. Zito was the Blue Jackets former assistant GM before taking the full-time gig with the Panthers.

Brennan, however, thinks the Colorado Avalanche could make a pitch for Jones. They’re bound to lose a good defenseman to the Seattle Kraken in next month’s expansion draft. He also believes the Leafs will have to get creative to land Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The team with the depth in draft picks, prospects and young players plus the cap space to ink Jones to a long-term extension is the most likely to pry him away from the Jackets in this summer’s trade market. The Kings and Blackhawks seem to be the favorites but that depends on their willingness to meet what’s bound to be an expensive asking price by the Jackets.

One of those other teams mentioned by Johnston and Brennan could surprise us with some intricate wheeling-and-dealing. The key remains the willingness of Jones to sign an extension with the acquiring club. If he’s noncommittal that will narrow the field of potential suitors, making it difficult for the Jackets to get a significant return.

LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina made several bold predictions regarding possible offseason moves by the Nashville Predators. He thinks aging goalie Pekka Rinne could be brought back for one more season, Matt Duchene and/or Ryan Johansen could be left exposed in the expansion draft. Juuse Saros and Mikael Granlund will be re-signed while Viktor Arvidsson could be traded to make room for a young winger.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan believes it’s time for the Predators to shake up their core. He also suggests they consider trading the oft-injured Arvidsson. While Arvidsson’s contract isn’t prohibitive, the $8 million annually being earned by Duchene and Johansen could leave the Predators eating part of their salary or adding a draft pick in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Arvidsson would be easier if he were healthier, but if he were healthier, the Predators would have little reason to move him. His $4.25 million AAV isn’t expensive but he’s signed through 2023-24. It could be difficult finding suitors with the salary cap remaining flat for next season.

Moving Duchene and Johansen will be very difficult given their contracts and poor performance. GM David Poile could attempt to get a third team involved to broker a deal but that could still mean he’ll still have to absorb part of their salaries to make it work.

I doubt the Kraken will select Duchene or Johansen if they’re exposed in the draft. It would take a significant sweetener to convince them. Even then, I think they’d balk at paying out $8 million annually for a player with several seasons remaining on his contract.

WILL THE CANUCKS ADD A FORWARD VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston recently examined possible free-agent forward targets for the Vancouver Canucks. They have holes to fill at center and right wing but a tight budget could hamper efforts to address those needs.

Florida Panthers forward Alexander Wennberg would be an interesting option but he’s not going to be cheap coming off a 17-goal season. The same goes for Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman, who tallied 14 goals. More affordable options could include Vegas’ Tomas Nosek, Chicago’s Vinnie Hinostroza or Carolina’s Steven Lorentz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Canucks GM Jim Benning can find a way to shed some burdensome contracts, he’ll have to go to the bargain bin this summer.










NHL Playoffs: Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 1

NHL Playoffs: Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 1

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 9, 2021

The Hurricanes and Islanders move into first place in their respective divisions, Viktor Arvidsson tallies a hat trick for the surging Predators, Alex Ovechkin reaches another scoring milestone, the Blackhawks and Panthers swing a five-player deal, the Canucks re-sign Tanner Pearson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes took over first place in the Discover Central Division by blanking the Florida Panthers 3-0. Alex Nedeljkovic had a 24-save shutout performance, Sebastian Aho collected his 300th career point and Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas each had a goal and an assist. The Hurricanes (57 points) sit one point up on the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

A four-goal first period powered the Lighting to a 6-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ryan McDonagh scored twice and Yanni Gourde collected four assists for the Lightning, who lost captain Steven Stamkos in the third period with an undisclosed injury. No update was provided on his condition. The Jackets made defenseman David Savard a healthy scratch as a precautionary measure ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. The Lightning and Panthers are tied with 56 points but the Lightning hold second place in the Central with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard sits atop TSN’s Trade Bait list. This move means the blueliner could be playing elsewhere by Monday’s 3 pm ET deadline. Jackets captain Nick Foligno is also on TSN’s list but he played in this game, which suggests he could be finishing the season with the Jackets barring a significant trade offer before Monday.

Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson (NHL Images).

Viktor Arvidsson tallied a hat trick as the Nashville Predators crushed the Detroit Red Wings 7-1. The Predators (45 points) have won nine of their 10 games and hold a four-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks for fourth place in the Central.

Meanwhile, Chicago fell to the Dallas Stars 5-1 as Roope Hintz had a goal and three assists. The Stars sit three points back of the Blackhawks.

The New York Islanders took over first place in the MassMutual East Division by edging the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on a shootout goal by Brock Nelson. Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac were held scoreless in their first game with the Isles since being acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. With 56 points, the Islanders are two points ahead of the second-place Washington Capitals.

Speaking of the Capitals, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. Brad Marchand and Craig Smith each had a goal and an assist while rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman kicked out 31 shots for his second straight win. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 266th career power-play goal to move into second place on the all-time list. The Bruins (48 points) opened a six-point lead over the Flyers for fourth place in the East Division.

Kris Letang and Jason Zucker each had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins romped to a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers. The Penguins (52 points) moved to within two points of the second-place Capitals.

Third-period goals by Devin Shore and Jesse Puljujarvi gave the Edmonton Oilers a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Mike Smith turned aside 39 shots for the win as the Oilers (52 points) hold a one-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for second place in the Scotia North Division. Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

Winnipeg, meanwhile, doubled up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 38 stops and Kyle Connor collected two assists. With 43 points, the fourth-place Canadiens are eight back of the third-place Jets.

Two power-play goals by Pavel Zacha carried the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 6-3. Jack Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich each had a goal and two assists.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks acquired forward Brett Connolly, defenseman Riley Stillman, prospect forward Henrik Borgstrom and a 2021 seventh-round pick from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Lucas Wallmark and defenseman Lucas Carlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move is in line with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman’s stated willingness to use his cap space to absorb a bad contract if the return comes with a promising young player. Connolly’s contract isn’t onerous for the Hawks ($3.5 million annual average value through 2022-23) but it was for the Panthers as the veteran winger fell out of favor in Florida.

The prize for the Blackhawks is Borgstrom, a promising young forward who struggled to crack the Panthers’ lineup. He could have a better chance to establish himself as an NHL regular with the retooling Blackhawks as they transition toward younger players.

Meanwhile, the Panthers have cleared cap space for perhaps another move or two before Monday’s trade deadline. Cap Friendly indicates they have $16.4 million in trade deadline cap space. I’ll have more about the Panthers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TSN: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is unavailable until next week because of a lower-body injury.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy is recovering from an upper-body injury. However, he’s expected to miss the club’s next two games.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture (lower body) remains questionable for tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed winger Tanner Pearson to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $3.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing received mixed reviews among pundits and fans on social media. It’s not because Pearson’s a bad player or that the contract is an overpayment. He’s become a dressing room leader and a good second-line winger.

Critics, however, point to other depth signings by Canucks GM Jim Benning (Sven Baertschi, Sam Gagner, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Jake Virtanen) as cap dollars poorly invested when young stars like Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will soon be in need of significant raises. They fear the Pearson signing will further squeeze the Canucks cap space, leaving little room for other moves once Pettersson and Hughes receive their new contracts.

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jacob MacDonald received a two-game suspension by the department of player safety for an illegal check to the head of Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman on Wednesday.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 12, 2021

A look at some suggested trade targets for the Leafs and Bruins, speculation of Eric Staal returning to the Hurricanes and the latest on the Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SUGGESTED TRADE TARGETS FOR THE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs should look at acquiring Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres for Alex Kerfoot, a pick and a prospect plus 50 percent of Hall’s $8 million cap hit retained. Depending on the pick and prospect, it could be a high price for the Leafs (or any team) to pay for a playoff rental. Hall’s full no-movement clause makes moving him by April 12 challenging but Fox believes he’d waive it to join the Leafs.

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox is betting on the Leafs adding another top-six forward. However, I doubt it’ll be Hall unless Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and his capologist can pull off another creative move to free up the necessary cap space to acquire him. The Leafs are pressed against the cap with almost nothing banked for trade-deadline cap space.

They could consider more affordable options to bring in a top-six forward. Fox cited Elliotte Friedman saying they’re poking around sellers like the Nashville Predators, Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. They’ve been frequently linked for Predators forward Mikael Grandlund. If they’re looking at one of the Sabres my guess is it would be Eric Staal. Fox also tossed out Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri as other options but I’m not sure either guy is available right now despite their pending free-agent statuses.

SUGGESTED TRADE TARGETS FOR THE BRUINS.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss included Hall, Granlund and Palmieri among his list of suggested trade targets for the Bruins. He also included Nashville forwards Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson and defenseman Mattias Ekholm, Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell, Vancouver Canucks winger Tanner Pearson, Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard and Arizona Coyotes rearguard Alex Goligoski.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Hall, Forsberg, Arvidsson or Palmieri as realistic trade options for the Bruins. Hall’s contract is a problem while the Preds’ asking price for Forsberg and Arvidsson will be far too expensive. The Bruins also lack sufficient tradeable assets to win a bidding war for Palmieri. I’d include Rakell in that group but Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and Ducks GM Bob Murray have a recent trade history so I won’t fully dismiss that possibility.

The Bruins could use some experienced blueline depth. However, the need for scoring depth is the priority so I’m ruling out Ekholm, Savard or Goligoski. That leaves Granlund or Pearson as their more realistic trade options.

A STAAL REUNION IN CAROLINA?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Carolina Hurricanes have internally discussed the possibility of bringing back Eric Staal, though it’s not a “top-of-the-agent” item. However, there could be a couple of Canadian teams that could have interest in the Sabres center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eric Staal spent nearly 12 of his 17 NHL seasons with the Hurricanes. He enjoyed his best years in Carolina, winning a Stanley Cup in 2006 and wearing the captaincy for seven seasons. A reunion with brother and current Hurricanes captain Jordan and with head coach and former teammate Rod Brind’Amour would make a great story. However, it remains to be seen if it’s a realistic option.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland indicated he’d prefer adding an impact player over a depth player if he makes a move before the trade deadline. He said his roster has enough depth players. However, his salary-cap situation means any deal would be dollar-in, dollar-out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson believes the Oilers need a top-six left-winger. One option would be Montreal’s Tomas Tatar but Matheson doubts he’ll be available with the Canadiens fighting for a playoff berth. He feels the Canucks’ Tanner Pearson could be a better option but his cap hit ($3.75 million) could be a problem.