NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2022

The latest trade speculation on the Canucks’ Brock Boeser plus some suggested trade targets for the Wild in today’s NHL Rumor mill.

LATEST ON BROCK BOESER

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Brock Boeser’s future with the Vancouver Canucks remains murky.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

It was reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Saturday that the 25-year-old winger’s agent has been given permission to speak with other clubs about a trade. Boeser’s agent, Ben Hankinson, declined to comment about the story as Jim Rutherford, the Canucks president of hockey operations.

Johnston believes a trade seems unlikely given Boeser’s $6.65 million annual salary through 2024-25 plus a tight salary-cap situation for most teams around the league. Nevertheless, the door remains open.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report Boeser’s status on the trade block isn’t new. They indicate the winger has not asked to be moved. There’s no ill will between the player and management but rather a mutual agreement to see if there’s a fit for him elsewhere.

Drance and Dhaliwal indicate there’s an understanding among the front office that the return could be “relatively pedestrian” because of Boeser’s expensive contract, his concerning two-way play and his limited goal production this season. The move would be made to garner salary-cap flexibility. The same would apply to other expensive supporting players such as Tyler Myers, Tanner Pearson and Conor Garland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet whether Boeser’s agent is having any success drumming up potential trade partners. I daresay we’ll likely start hearing of possible suitors over the next week or two.

Boeser lacks no-trade protection, giving Canucks management plenty of options for potential destinations. However, Cap Friendly shows just three teams (Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks) have the cap space to take his cap hit. Those clubs are rebuilding and Boeser might not fit into their long-term plans.

A trade seems unlikely at this point in the season. Perhaps the market might open up as the schedule draws nearer to the March 3 trade deadline. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the type of deal that occurs in the offseason when clubs have more cap space and a willingness to spend on players like Boeser.

SUGGESTED TRADE TARGETS FOR THE WILD

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo and Joe Smith discussed some possible trade targets for the Minnesota Wild to land another top-six forward.

Smith suggested the Chicago Blackhawks’ Max Domi or Andreas Athanasiou would be affordable rental players. The Florida Panthers could move Anthony Duclair to become cap compliant but has another year on his contract at $3 million. Russo also mentioned Duclair and wondered if they might look at Montreal Canadiens forward Sean Monahan.

Russo and Smith also agree that this is Matt Dumba’s final season with the Wild. The 28-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. They believe general manager Bill Guerin could shop Dumba before the trade deadline even if they’re in the playoff race. However, his $6 million cap hit and modified no-trade clause could make him difficult to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin could explore Dumba’s value in the trade market before the deadline. The odds of moving him will be better if the Wild are out of postseason contention. He could dangle Dumba as trade bait for a scoring forward. However, Russo and Smith also observed the Wild could risk depleting the right side of their blueline by moving him.

Cap Friendly indicates the Wild will have over $10 million in projected trade deadline cap space with their current roster. Moving out the remainder of Dumba’s cap hit will free up additional room to perhaps add a top-six rental forward and bring in a right-side blueliner if necessary.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 5, 2022

Jason Robertson and Kirill Kaprizov extend their points streaks, Johnny Gaudreau is playing well with the injury-depleted Blue Jackets, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild overcame blowing a four-goal lead to defeat the Dallas Stars 6-5 on a shootout goal by Frederick Gaudreau. Kirill Kaprizov scored in regulation to extend his points streak to 12 games as the Wild improve their record to 13-9-2. Dallas winger Jason Robertson had two points to extend his streak to 18 games while Roope Hintz tallied a hat trick and Joe Pavelski added three assists. The Stars are 14-6-5 on the season.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

The Winnipeg Jets scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Saku Maenalanen and Nate Schmidt each had a goal and an assist while Connor Hellebucyk made 28 saves for the Jets (15-7-1) while the last overall Ducks drop to 6-17-3.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 21 shots to shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0. Matt Martin, Zach Parise and Brock Nelson tallied for the 16-10-0 Islanders while the Blackhawks fall to 7-13-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks announced that goaltender Petr Mrazek will be sidelined for at least a week with a groin injury.

The Detroit Red Wings doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 to snap a three-game losing skid. Ville Husso kicked out 32 shots while David Perron, Filip Hronek and Olli Maatta each collected two assists for the Red Wings (12-7-5). Boone Jenner had two assists for the 8-13-2 Blue Jackets.

Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Quinn scored twice while teammate Tage Thompson had a goal and an assist and Dylan Cozens collected three helpers in a 6-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Sabres improve to 11-13-1 while the Sharks (8-16-4) have lost six of their last seven contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thompson’s been drawing considerable attention for his scoring feats but Cozens has also been garnering notice for his production this season. Now in his third NHL campaign, the 21-year-old center’s 24 points in 25 games have him on a path to far exceed last season’s 38 points.

HEADLINES

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Johnny Gaudreau is still producing well despite the high number of injuries depleting the Blue Jackets’ lineup this season. He’s on pace for franchise records in assists (63) and points (93) over a full 82 games. The 29-year-old left winger has drawn praise from Jackets coach Brad Larsen for his production and poise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a disappointing season thus far for the injury-ravaged Blue Jackets but Gaudreau has been among their few bright spots. His production would undoubtedly be higher if he had healthier, consistent linemates. He continues to prove himself as an elite offensive player.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights will be without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo when they face off tonight against the Boston Bruins. It’s the fourth straight game he’s missed due to personal reasons. Meanwhile, Jack Eichel will be a game-day decision as he’s nursing an apparent leg injury suffered during the Golden Knight’s 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forward Andreas Athanasiou was angered at Jacob Trouba after the New York Rangers defenseman laid him out with a high hit on Saturday. Athanasiou was unhurt on the play but accused Trouba of deliberately attempting to injure opponents.

That’s his game; that’s what he does,” said Athanasiou. “He’s an $8 million man with zero goals, so he has to figure out how to do something when making that much. If you can’t help the team, I guess you try to hurt guys on the other team.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba does have a reputation for high hits, with the most notable examples being those he laid out on Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby last season. The Rangers’ captain has only been suspended and fined once in his career and that was back in 2017 when he was with the Winnipeg Jets.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper and defenseman Martin Fehervary are both listed as day-to-day with upper-body injuries.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Calle Jarnkrok is expected to miss two weeks with a groin injury.

NHL.COM: The NHL has rescheduled two Nashville Predators games recently postponed by flooding at Bridgestone Arena. Their game against the Blue Jackets which was originally scheduled for Nov. 26 will take place on Jan. 17, 2023 while their contest against the Colorado Avalanche (originally scheduled for Nov. 25) will occur on Apr. 14, 2023.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers head scout Barry Fraser passed on Sunday at age 82. He was the architect of the Oilers dynasty of the 1980s as his scouting led to the club selecting such notables as Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Grant Fuhr.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Fraser’s family, friends, former co-workers and the Oilers organization.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – November 23, 2022

A look at the early season trade targets in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

ANALYSIS OF THE EARLY-SEASON TRADE TARGETS

DAILY FACEOFF: Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat top Frank Seravalli’s first list of trade targets for 2022-23. He pointed out there hasn’t been much talk about a contract extension between the pending free agent and Canucks management since prior to training camp. Seravalli suggests “Colorado, Detroit, Boston and Edmonton” among the clubs that could use a top-flight center like Horvat.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford is in no hurry to decide what to do with Horvat. That’s understandable since the trade deadline isn’t until March 3 so there’s no reason for Rutherford to rush into a decision regarding his captain at this point.

Nevertheless, the longer Horvat remains unsigned the more speculation over his future will increase as the trade deadline approaches. We’ll find out in due course if those clubs mentioned by Seravalli actually get into the bidding for the Canucks captain.

Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews sit second and third on Servalli’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli indicated the Blackhawks are expected to start a conversation with Kane in December to gauge his interest in a trade. He and Toews have complete control over their fates given their no-movement clauses.

Friedman wonders whether the Los Angeles Kings would make a pitch for Kane. He indicates they have the picks and prospects to make this move. Provided Kane is willing to accept a trade to Los Angeles, I question whether the Kings can comfortably afford to pick up the remainder of his $10.5 million cap hit.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun and Anaheim Ducks blueliner John Klingberg sit fourth and fifth on this list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman reported the Coyotes are still asking for “two first-rounders (upcoming picks or recently-drafted prospects), plus something else.”

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Coyotes based their high asking price for Chychrun on what the Ducks received from the Boston Bruins last season for Hampus Lindholm. That package included a first-round pick and two second-rounders. He also cited the two first-round picks the Chicago Blackhawks received as part of the return from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Brandon Hagel deal.

As for Klingberg, Seravalli reminds us that the pending UFA’s no-trade clause is lifted on Jan. 1. We can expect to hear his name more frequently in trade rumors between New Year’s Day and March 3.

San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier, Florida Panthers winger Anthony Duclair, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, Los Angeles Kings blueliner Sean Walker and Sharks rearguard Erik Karlsson fill positions six through 10.

Seravalli points out Meier’s expensive qualifying offer ($10 million) will have teams looking at him as a rental player than as a restricted free agent…Duclair is only on the list because the Panthers will have to shed salary when he’s ready to return from his offseason Achilles tear but he might not necessarily be the player who gets traded. He carries a $3 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier could be shopped unless he and the Sharks can agree to a new deal with a more affordable cap hit. Given his RFA status next summer, the Sharks can wait until the offseason to shop him if they don’t get any offers they like before the trade deadline.

As for Duclair, I think the Panthers intend to keep him after he rediscovered his game playing for them last season. They’ll have to shed around $3 million to become cap compliant.

Gavrikov is a pending UFA but I’m not convinced the Blue Jackets will move him unless contract talks go south before the trade deadline…Seravalli pointed out the Kings have a glut of defensemen. They don’t want to move Walker but he could be the odd man out given his injury history.

Karlsson would help any NHL club but, as Seravalli notes, his $11.5 million annual cap hit and full no-movement clause significantly limit the number of potential trade destinations. That could be a trade that happens in the offseason provided Karlsson is willing to waive his NMC and the Sharks retain a big chunk of his cap hit.

Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic, Washington Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen, Blackhawks winger Andreas Athanasiou, Coyotes blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere and Sharks goalie James Reimer coming in at spots 11 through 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic’s inconsistency really hurts his trade value…The Capitals could peddle Jensen if they’re out of playoff contention leading up to the trade deadline. The same goes for Athanasiou and Reimer…I would place Gotisbehere higher on this list, perhaps in the bottom half of the top 10. The puck-moving defenseman had 51 points in 82 games last season on the offensively anemic Coyotes and has 10 points in 17 games this season. He should draw plenty of interest near the trade deadline from teams seeking offense from the blueline.

Canucks winger Brock Boeser, Blackhawks center Max Domi, New York Rangers winger Ryan Reaves, Canadiens center Sean Monahan and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen round out the remainder of this list.

If the Canucks continue to spiral they could start unloading expensive contracts like Boeser’s…Reaves has been a healthy scratch in recent games. The Rangers wouldn’t want much in return as they’d prefer the cap flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s a scoring threat when healthy but his injury history could make him difficult to move…Domi would draw interest from contenders seeking a versatile depth rental…Reaves’ toughness should make him an affordable and enticing option for contenders seeking postseason grit…Monahan’s having a solid season (11 points in 17 games) with the Canadiens and would make a good depth center on a playoff contender…Kapanen’s trade value is so low right now that the Penguins probably couldn’t give him away at this point.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 29, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – October 29, 2022

It’s Saturday and you know what that means: more speculation about Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Jakob Chychrun. Check it out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

WHAT WILL THE BLACKHAWKS DO WITH KANE AND TOEWS?

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector doesn’t see the Chicago Blackhawks’ surprisingly good start to this season will deviate management from its rebuilding plans. That includes what to do with longtime franchise superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who are both slated to become unrestricted free agents next July.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Some observers feel Kane will decide to sign a cheaper contract extension with the Blackhawks to help shepherd the rebuild and perhaps attempt to become the franchise’s all-time leader in goals, assists, points and games played. Others, however, see him finishing this season with the New York Rangers or Colorado Avalanche, with Kaapo Kakko or Samuel Girard heading to Chicago as part of the return.

As for Toews, Spector believes teams will line up for his services at the trade deadline. He suggested the Edmonton Oilers as a suitor as Toews would provide depth at center among their middle-six plus former teammate Duncan Keith works in their front office.

Spector also sees the Blackhawks peddling other UFAs such as Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if Cousin Mark’s suggested destinations for Kane and Toews pan out by the trade deadline. The Blackhawks won’t just give those two away but it could prove difficult to get a king’s ransom for either guy.

The Rangers, Avalanche and Oilers would have to accrue sufficient cap space to take on what remains of their respective $10.5 million salary-cap hits. That’s assuming they’re willing to waive their no-movement clauses.

We already know Kane and his agent Pat Brisson intend to meet with Blackhawks management in December or January to discuss the situation. As Brisson also represents Toews, I daresay he’ll be in there as well. Until then, it’s all a guessing game as to whether they’ll stay or go.

COULD THE BLUE JACKETS HAVE INTEREST IN CHYCHRUN?

THE JEFF MAREK SHOW: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline recently joined Jeff Marek to discuss the Columbus Blue Jackets’ rough start to this season. During the conversation, Marek mentioned the trade rumors linking the Jackets to Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

Portzline noted the rumors this summer claiming the Jackets attempted to acquire Chychrun during the first round of this year’s draft in Montreal. The Jackets denied it but some in the defenseman’s camp said it was true.

There were also differing reports claiming Chychrun didn’t want to come to Columbus. He lacks no-trade protection but teams take into consideration whether a player wants to join them or not.

Portzline noted the Jackets have the assets to acquire Chychrun but believes they soured on him. He’s also more of a left-side defenseman whereas the Jackets require right-side depth. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t be surprised if they tried again. The Coyotes might want one of the Jackets’ young defensemen as part of the return. He doesn’t see the Jackets parting with David Jiricek or Denton Mateychuk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This interview took place before the report later in the week claiming Chychrun suffered a setback in his recovery from offseason wrist surgery and could be sidelined longer than expected.

It’s believed interested clubs will want to see how well the talented but oft-injured Chychrun performs when he finally returns to action. Perhaps the Jackets will be among the suitors if the blueliner has had a change of heart about coming to Columbus. Stay tuned…










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2021

More COVID cases among NHL teams raise concerns about Olympic participation, the Blackhawks reach a settlement with Kyle Beach, Alex Ovechkin ties an NHL scoring record, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

COVID CASES AMONG NHL CLUBS STILL RISING, CONCERN GROWING OVER OLYMPIC PARTICIPATION

CALGARY SUN: The number of Calgary Flames players and staff testing positive for COVID-19 grew to 27 yesterday. Head coach Darryl Sutter and players Jacob Markstrom, Rasmus Andersson, Erik Gudbranson, Byron Froese, Trevor Lewis and Tyler Pitlick joined the list yesterday. Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets has been postponed. The good news is all the Flames’ cases are reportedly doing well, which is being attributed to the players being fully vaccinated.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron joined teammates Brad Marchand and Craig Smith in COVID protocol yesterday.

THE TENNESSEAN: 11 members of the Nashville Predators were placed in COVID protocol yesterday. They include forwards Mikael Granlund, Matt Luff, Michael McCarron and Philip Tomasino and defenseman Ben Harpur and head coach John Hynes.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Five Panthers players (Ryan Lomberg, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe, Radko Gudas and Brandon Montour) enter COVID protocol on Wednesday.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings placed forwards Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen in COVID protocol Wednesday. Tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes is expected to go ahead as scheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The growing number of cases is alarming but it’s not expected to result in a shutdown of the NHL schedule at the present time. That could change if the cases continue to spread and more games become postponed. However, it’s not expected to result in a season-ending shutdown as we saw in 2019-20. It could instead be a pause of two-to-three weeks.

One reason is all cases are experienced at worst minor symptoms because all but one player is fully vaccinated. Another is a return to enhanced COVID protocols (including daily testing) are expected to be implemented soon.

TSN: The province of Ontario is reducing capacity limits at sporting events to 50 percent starting Saturday. That includes the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL has no control over provincial or state COVID guidelines regarding sporting events. It remains to be seen if others will follow Ontario’s lead. The Leafs and Senators will likely see a return to full capacity once the COVID numbers in Ontario are reduced.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is the latest NHL player to express concern over potential three-to-five week quarantine in China for players taking part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics who test positive for COVID-19 during the tournament. “If that’s the way it’s going to be, I don’t see it being very feasible for guys to take that risk. That’s my personal opinion,” said Karlsson.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin expressed apprehension over the potentially strict COVID guidelines for Olympic participants. “It would be unfortunate for anyone to get stuck in quarantine for that long and a serious unknown of when you’d come home. I think it’s unfortunate for all athletes,” said Larkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is so far leaving it up to the NHLPA members to decide if they’ll participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. No one has definitively said they won’t go because of those restrictions but that could change if there is no loosening of those rules for Olympic athletes.

The opt-out date is Jan. 10. The league can also withdraw if COVID outbreaks reach a point where it cannot complete the remainder of this season on time.

It’s been suggested the NHL would simply run a normal schedule during the Olympic break in February. However, The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reported that would create a logistical nightmare for team owners as they attempt to reschedule events in their arenas during that period.

BLACKHAWKS REACH SETTLEMENT WITH BEACH

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: After eight months of legal battles, the Blackhawks and Kyle Beach have reached a confidential out-of-court settlement during third-party mediation yesterday. Beach alleged former Blackhawks video coach sexually assaulted him in May 2010 and that Blackhawks executives knowingly covered it up. An independent investigation by the Blackhawks supported Beach’s claims.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping this settlement brings Beach the closure and peace of mind he deserves after enduring a decade of hell dealing with what happened to him. It will take a long time for the Blackhawks organization to scrub away the stain on their reputation for the atrocious way they treated Beach and their handling of this situation.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tied the all-time power-play goal record as his club fell 5-4 to the Blackhawks. Ovechkin tallied his 274th PP marker to tied Dave Andreychuk.

Blackhawks defenseman Caleb Jones won it for his club with an overtime goal. Chicago winger Alex DeBrincat scored two goals while Marc-Andre Fleury got his 501st career win with a 42-save performance. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist in his season debut after missing 28 games recovering from a hip injury

New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko scored twice, including the game-winner as his club downed the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Chris Kreider assisted on all three Rangers goals. The Coyotes have lost six straight. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin left the game in the second period with a minor lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry netted his 18th of the season in a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Goalie Anthony Stolarz picked up his sixth straight win for the Ducks this season.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Christian Dvorak is listed as sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Winger Josh Anderson will be out for another six weeks with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, winger Brendan Gallagher and defenseman Sami Niku are expected to rejoin their teammates later this week after emerging from COVID protocol.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Labanc will be sidelined for three months after opting for surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder.

NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Henrik Borgstrom on injured reserve backdated to Dec. 10 with a non-COVID-related illness.

LA KINGS INSIDER: Kings winger Andreas Athanasiou will miss the remainder of his club’s current road trip with a lower-body injury.

NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils acquired goaltender Jon Gillies from the St. Louis Blues for future considerations.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2021

The Panthers tied a winning-streak record, McDavid and Draisaitl reach scoring milestones, Alex Ovechkin tallies his most assists through 20 games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their 11th straight home win to start the season as they downed the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. Aaron Ekblad tallied in overtime as the Panthers tied the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks for the longest season-opening home win streak at 11-0-0. The victory also propelled them into first overall with 31 points.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid each scored two goals and collected two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Zack Kassian also chipped in a goal and two assists while the Coyotes Clayton Keller had a three-point performance. Draisaitl has a league-leading 20 goals and 40 points, joining Wayne Gretzky as the only Oiler to score 20 goals in less than 20 games. McDavid, meanwhile, netted his 400th career assist. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes placed goaltender Carter Hutton in COVID protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl maintains a four-point lead over McDavid in the NHL scoring race.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin collected three assists in a 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Ovechkin (33 points) has 18 assists in 20 games, exceeding his previous best (17) in 2008-09. He joins Mario Lemieux, Johnny Bucyk, Gordie Howe and Martin St. Louis as the only players’ age 36 or older to reach at least 18 assists in their first 20 games of the season. Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz left the game with an upper-body injury. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield potted his first goal of the season.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri had two points to extend his points streak to 10 games to help his club beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Kadri has netted 21 points during that streak. Sonny Milano scored both goals for the Ducks. Earlier in the day, the Ducks listed Adam Henrique as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs netted four goals in the second period on route to a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Auston Matthews and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist while Rasmus Sandin chipped in three helpers. The Leafs have won seven of their last eight. Earlier in the day, the Kings placed forward Andreas Athanasiou in COVID protocol.

A four-goal first period powered the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and Nick Foligno each collected two points for the Bruins, handing the Sabres their fourth straight loss. Bruins netminder (and former Sabre) Linus Ullmark didn’t start as he’s nursing a minor undisclosed injury but served as a backup in this contest.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala scored in the shootout as his club nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Wild goalie Cam Talbot made 40 saves in regulation and overtime and was perfect in the shootout. The Devils overcame a 2-0 deficit on goals by Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sherangovich with Nico Hischier assisting on both.

A 36-save performance by Tristan Jarry carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. The Penguins have won four straight while the Canucks have dropped seven of their last eight contests.

Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 36 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, spoiling Pierre-Luc Dubois’ return to Columbus for the first time since getting traded to Winnipeg in January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets’ usually reliable offense has dried up of late, managing just four goals in their last four games. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets continue to exceed expectations, winning seven of their last 10 contests.

The Detroit Red Wings got 35 saves from Alex Nedeljkovic to snap a four-game losing streak by doubling up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Adam Erne broke a 2-2 tie while Robby Fabbri had a goal and an assist. Blues center Brayden Schenn returned to action after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed defenseman Danny DeKeyser in COVID protocol.

Chris Kreider and Kevin Rooney each scored twice to lead the New York Rangers to a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders, who had seven players in COVID protocol. The Isles have lost seven straight games. Adding to their misery, defenseman Noah Dobson is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple shot down a rumor claiming Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello asked the league for a postponement. NHL sources said they didn’t believe any such request came from Lamoriello. The league continues to monitor the Isles’ situation closely. Yesterday was the first time in a week the club had no new COVID cases.

Max Pacioretty collected an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2. Pacioretty missed 17 games with a fractured foot. Filip Forsberg scored both Predators’ goals as he returned from a nine-game absence with an upper-body injury.

The Seattle Kraken got 35 saves from Philipp Grubauer and a late goal in the third period by Marcus Johansson to upset the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Jared McCann tallied the tying goal on a power play in the second period for the Kraken (6-12-1), giving them their second straight win. The Hurricanes (14-3-1) sit two points behind the first-overall Panthers.

A three-point effort by Timo Meier (one goal, two assists) gave the San Jose Sharks a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Sharks forward Nick Bonino also scored in what was his 700th career game. Brady Tkachuk had a goal and an assist for the Senators.