What Next For the Los Angeles Kings?
A record-setting performance for Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell, the NHL extends the end of the regular season as the Canucks get a date to return to action, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell set an NHL record with his 11th consecutive win in a 6-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Toronto center Auston Matthews tallied a hat trick to push his league-leading goal total to 31. The Leafs sit atop the Scotia North Division and the NHL overall standings with 59 points.
Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 19 shots as the Winnipeg Jets shut out the Montreal Canadiens 5-0. Nikolaj Ehlers, Mathieu Perreault and Andrew Copp each had a goal and an assist as the Jets (53 points) hold a one-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North.
Speaking of the Oilers, they were blanked 5-0 by the Calgary Flames. Jacob Markstrom made 17 saves for the shutout while Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano each had a goal and an assist. The Flames (37 points) are six points back of the fourth-place Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were listless in this game for a good reason. The NHL rescheduled this game for Saturday despite the fact the Oilers had previously scheduled a memorial service earlier in the day for their late teammate Colby Cave. Cave passed away a year ago today. Oilers captain Connor McDavid and his teammates justifiably questioned the league’s decision to play that game following the service.
A shootout goal by Adam Erne gave the Detroit Red Wings a 5-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Martin Necas and Dougie Hamilton each had a goal and an assist for Carolina. The Hurricanes are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 58 points but hold first place in the Discover Central Division over the Lightning because they hold a game in hand.
Andrei Vasilevskiy had a 36-save shutout performance to carry his Tampa Bay Lightning over the Nashville Predators 3-0. Yanni Gourde had a goal and an assist. Nashville holds fourth in the Central with 45 points. Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis returned to action after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury.
The Florida Panthers (56 points) suffered their third straight defeat by dropping a 4-1 decision to the Dallas Stars. Jason Robertson scored twice and Anton Khudobin made 20 saves as the Stars (40 points) moved to within five points of the fourth-place Predators in the Central Division. The Panthers slipped to third place, two points behind the Hurricanes and Lightning.
A four-goal rally by the Chicago Blackhawks enabled them to overcome a 2-0 deficit and hold off the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks (43 points), who sit two points behind the Predators.
An overtime goal by Ryan O’Reilly lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Mike Hoffman scored twice for St. Louis in his first game after being a healthy scratch from the previous two contests. The Blues regains fourth place in the Honda West Division with 44 points, one ahead of the Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman is considered among the top trade targets heading into tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline. It’ll be interesting to see if last night’s performance stokes further interest in his services from contenders seeking forward depth.
Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Andreas Athanasiou each had a goal and an assist as the Los Angeles Kings doubled up the San Jose Sharks 4-2. The loss leaves the Sharks stalled in sixth place in the West with 40 points, four back of the Blues.
Sean Couturier snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as his Philadelphia Flyers edged the Boston Bruins 3-2. Travis Konecny had a goal and an assist and Brian Elliott made 30 saves as the Flyers (44 points) moved within four points of the fourth-place Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury.
The NHL announced the Vancouver Canucks can return to play on Friday, April 16 after having eight games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Canucks last played on March 24. The league also announced it is extending the regular-season schedule to May 16 to allow the Canucks sufficient time to complete those games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The regular season was originally slated to end on May 8. It had been extended once already to May 11.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on injured reserve and recalled James Neal and Tyler Ennis. Both played in last night’s game against the Flames.
THE SCORE: cites a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Los Angeles Kings have opened contract talks with winger Andreas Athanasiou.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks held forward Mattias Janmark out of last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Coach Jeremy Colliton said it was an organizational decision and not based on Janmark’s performance.
Jonathan Toews sidelined by a mysterious illness, P.K. Subban and Lindsey Vonn end their relationship, Nico Hischier sidelined, Jack Roslovic asks for a trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jonathan Toews has been sidelined by a mysterious illness that’s left him “drained and lethargic,” according to a statement released yesterday by the Blackhawks captain. There’s no timetable for his return.
Toews indicated he’ll be working with doctors to better understand his condition. He said he won’t join his teammates until his health and fitness levels return to where he feels he can play at an elite level.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Toews can make a complete recovery and return to action soon.
This is terrible news for a Blackhawks club already reeling from the recent loss of promising center Kirby Dach (fractured wrist) and Alex Nylander (knee surgery) for the next four-to-six months.
Toews’ absence is a major setback for the Blackhawks entering this season. Instead of challenging for a playoff berth, they could become a lottery team in the 2021 draft. I’ll have more about the Blackhawks in the rumors section.
ESPN.COM: One of pro sports’ notable power couples is no more. New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and former Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn ended their relationship after three years together.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban won’t be looking back on 2020 with any fondness. In addition to splitting up with Vonn, his declining performance dropped him out of the ranks of the NHL’s all-star players.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Devils, center Nico Hischier will miss the upcoming start of training camp with an injured leg. Fortunately, the issue isn’t expected to be long term.
TSN: Jack Roslovic has asked the Winnipeg Jets for a trade. The restricted free agent forward is reportedly home in Columbus and won’t be joining his teammates in training camp when it opens on Sunday. If he returns to the Jets, he’ll have to undergo a seven-day quarantine and have four negative COVID-19 tests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic frequently surfaced in trade speculation during this offseason. I’ll have more about his status in the Rumors sections.
LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Kings officially announced they’ve signed forward Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.
The Buffalo Sabres are bringing veteran center Riley Sheahan to training camp on a PTO.
NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Devin Shore and defenseman Ryan Stanton to professional tryout offers.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed goaltender Scott Darling to a professional tryout offer (PTO).
TSN: Speaking of the Panthers, they’ve informed their season-ticket holders that they are allowing 25 percent capacity at the BB&T Center when the season begins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Insert tired joke about the Panthers’ usually woeful attendance here.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators are working on a plan to allow a limited number of fans at Bridgestone Arena after receiving approval from Nashville’s Board of Health.
Henrik Lundqvist to undergo open-heart surgery, Kirby Dach sidelined by wrist surgery and a roundup of Monday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist announced yesterday he’ll be undergoing open-heart surgery to address the condition that has sidelined him for this season. The 38-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals after being bought out by the New York Rangers in September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik for a swift and complete recovery.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Kirby Dach could miss the entire upcoming season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. The timeline for his recovery is four-to-five months. The 19-year-old center suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada during an exhibition game against Russia during the World Junior Championships in Edmonton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Blackhawks heading into this season. Dach was expected to play a bigger role with the club following a solid debut in 2019-20. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup by the time the playoffs begin in May, provided the Blackhawks qualify for the postseason.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed free-agent winger Corey Perry to a one-year, $750K contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the high-scoring right winger he was during his playing prime with the Anaheim Ducks. Nevertheless, he played a key role in the Dallas Stars’ march to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The 35-year-old Perry should provide the Habs with experienced depth and leadership on their checking lines.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Former New York Islanders forward Derick Brassard is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Coyotes. Meanwhile, SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports they also signed Jordan Schmaltz to a professional tryout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes freed up cap space over the weekend by shipping Derek Stepan ($6.5 million annual average value) to the Ottawa Senators. That’s given them just over $3 million in cap space, with a portion going to replace Stepan with the more affordable Brassard.
SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a good opportunity for Athanasiou to get his career back on track following last season’s disappointing performance with the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers. A former 30-goal scorer, the 26-year-old should get plenty of playing time with the rebuilding Kings.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Ethan Bear to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $2 million. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inking the promising Bear to a short-term deal was a good cost-effective move by the Oilers. If his development continues as hoped he’ll be in line for a big raise in two years’ time. Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sitting over $2.19 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, they’ll be cap compliant once they place sidelined Oscar Klefbom ($4.16 million AAV) on long-term injury reserve.
The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a professional tryout offer.
SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports goaltender Garret Sparks is heading to the Calgary Flames on a PTO.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were the only club among 123 teams of North America’s “Big Four” professional men’s sports leagues to receive a loan through a COVID relief program. The Penguins received a $4.82 million loan through the CARES Act.
Check out the latest on the Jets, Canadiens, Red Wings and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre reports the status of Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic are among the pressing matters facing the Winnipeg Jets as they prepare for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
Earlier this fall, Laine’s agent suggested a trade might be “mutually beneficial” for his client and the Jets. However, the winger remains with the Jets. He has a year remaining on his contract. McIntyre wonders if this will become a season-long distraction or if it’ll blow over quickly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether Laine can rediscover the chemistry he had with center Paul Stastny, who was reacquired by the Jets following a two-year stint with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn’t have to rush into trading Laine, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. He can afford to wait for the right offer if he decides to shop the talented winger.
Roslovic is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. His agent told McIntyre there’s been no progress in contract talks with the Jets. The 23-year-old forward has been the subject of trade speculation. Cheveldayoff has explored Roslovic’s trade value but hasn’t found a deal to his liking.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic seems more likely to be traded than Laine right now. Cheveldayoff could have better luck finding a suitable trade partner now that the start of the season has finally been announced. The Jets could use more depth on the blue line so I wouldn’t be surprised if Cheveldayoff seeks a defenseman in return.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Montreal Canadiens might not be done dealing following a busy offseason of player movement. He cites a source claiming Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is still looking to improve his roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canadiens with over $383K in cap space. If Bergevin is looking at improving his roster it could be a dollar-for-dollar swap or a deal in which he ships out a player for one with a more affordable cap hit.
Tomas Tatar ($4.8 million), Paul Byron ($3.4 million AAV through 2022-23) and Philip Danault ($3.083 million) have come up as potential trade candidates. Bergevin could be loath to move any of them but he does have a history of making bold moves.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said he might make another move before the season begins. The Wings have over $9 million in salary-cap space for the coming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation linked the Wings with Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV) or Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV) as the Bolts look to shed salary. A report out of Europe suggested the Lightning could acquire Henrik Zetterberg’s $6.083 million cap hit. A bad back put Zetterberg on permanent long-term injury reserve since 2018.
F Andreas Athanasiou, just 25. Defensive concerns, yes, but the guy can skate. His agent Darren Ferris in discussions with team right now.
RHD’s Sami Vatanen and Travis Hamonic also still out there, both 29…
Bargain city out there right how.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 22, 2020
A look at a recent update on the notable unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Emily Sadler recently published her updated list of the top remaining unrestricted free agents.
Mike Hoffman remains atop the list, with the Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils among possible destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports talks have heated up with Hoffman, with as many as six clubs involved. With the dates for training camp and the start of the season now official, Hoffman won’t be the only UFA whose contract discussed will intensify.
Sadler cited Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland earlier this month linking winger Mikael Granlund to the Predators, Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes, among other clubs. She doubts there will be a reunion between the Predators and Granlund, who struggled during his brief tenure in Nashville.
Manitoba-born defenseman Travis Hamonic could be a fit with the Winnipeg Jets. The Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers had had some interest in Hamonic. Sadler also notes his former team, the Calgary Flames, could use him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation persists linking Hamonic with the Canucks, but they’ll have to clear some cap space to do it. One way could be placing Micheal Ferland (head trauma) on long-term injury reserve as well as demoting someone like winger Sven Baertschi. The Flyers no longer seem interested while the Flames seem to be going with younger, more affordable blueliners.
Speculation persists of a possible reunion between center Erik Haula and the Vegas Golden Knights. Given their cap constraints, they’ll have to shed a salary to get under the salary cap and to sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent trade chatter about the Golden Knights shopping Max Pacioretty or Jonathan Marchessault was based on them cutting cap payroll and perhaps add an affordable forward like Haula.
Golden Knights owner Bill Foley denied Pacioretty was being shopped but we haven’t heard any denials about Marchessault’s trade status. I think the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup hopes are better with those two in the lineup. They’ll have to consider other options if they want to bring back Haula.
Other notables on Sadler’s list include center Carl Soderberg, defenseman Sami Vatanen, forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Derick Brassard and Corey Perry and blueliner Zdeno Chara, as well as winger Matt Martin, defenseman Andy Greene and goaltender Cory Schneider, plus defenseman Ron Hainsey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed Martin, Greene and Schneider already have deals with the New York Islanders that will be officially announced once center Mathew Barzal is re-signed.
Anthony Duclair, Ilya Kovalchuk and Melker Karlsson also appeared on Sadler’s list. Since its publication last week, Duclair signed with the Florida Panthers, Kovalchuk is reportedly signing with a KHL team while Karlsson is under contract with a Swedish team for the rest of this season.