Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Possible free-agent destinations for Alex Pietrangelo, plus the latest on the Islanders and Canadiens in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WHERE COULD PIETRANGELO GO VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Joel Wegman listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers as possible destinations for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he hits the open market next month. Contract talks between Pietrangelo and the Blues broke off last week as the club advised him to pursue free agency.

Wegman acknowledged the salary-cap constraints of the Leafs and Oilers mean they’d have to shed a salary or two to sign Pietrangelo. The Bruins’ logical need is for a scorer (Wegman suggests Arizona’s Taylor Hall) but he doesn’t rule out general manager Don Sweeney signing Pietrangelo and shopping Brandon Carlo or Connor Clifton for a left-side defenseman.

The Flames would have to overpay but they have $17 million in salary-cap room. The Avalanche have plenty of cap room and Wegman suggests they could shop Ian Cole and Erik Johnson to make room for Pietrangelo and create long-term cap space to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting suggestions from Wegman. The Leafs have been tied to Pietrangelo in the rumor mill for months. Signing him, however, requires some nifty salary-cap gymnastics by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, which could include acquiring a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to spend over the cap ceiling.

The Oilers must improve their goaltending and add a reliable right-wing scorer. I don’t think they’ll get into the Pietrangelo sweepstakes. The Flames could try but GM Brad Treliving could be reluctant to overpay for his services.

Boston and Colorado are the intriguing ones on this list. Perhaps Sweeney gets creative as Wegman suggests, but the Avs’ Joe Sakic seems in prime position to strike. I think he should pursue an experienced starting goalie, but Pietrangelo could be that missing piece of the championship puzzle.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at the roster issues facing the New York Islanders next season. She expects UFA goalie Thomas Greiss will be replaced by promising Ilya Sorokin. UFA defenseman Andy Greene and winger Matt Martin might have to take pay cuts to stay with the Isles. Forward Derick Brassard was a healthy scratch at times during the postseason.

Center Mathew Barzal and defensemen Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock are restricted free agents. GM Lou Lamoriello said earlier this year he’d match any offer sheet for Barzal and it isn’t his intention to allow negotiations to reach that point.

NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross believes the Islanders need a top-six scorer or two who can improve their power play. Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, or Arizona’s Taylor Hall could be good initial targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have $72.5 million invested in 20 players. Barzal’s new contract will eat up most of that remaining $8.9 million even if he agreed to an affordable bridge deal. GM Lou Lamoriello will have to shed salary just to re-sign Barzal, Toews and Pulock, which could mean bidding farewell to Martin, Greene and Brassard.

Lamoriello could get creative to add a scoring forward. However, I don’t see him being able to acquire a sniper such as Laine or sign an expensive UFA winger like Hall or Hoffman.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TVA SPORTS: noted Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently said he’s interested in landing a big forward who can help his club’s offensive attack. The site listed Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Detroit’s Anthony Mantha, Columbus’ Josh Anderson, Carolina’s Nino Niedereitter, Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway and Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi as power forwards who might be enticing to Bergevin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks must shed salary to re-sign RFAs Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome as well as re-sign or replace UFA goalie Corey Crawford. They could move Saad and his $6 million cap hit for next season but could be reluctant to go that route unless they get a more affordable replacement. Some Habs fans might suggest Max Domi, but the Blackhawks are set at center with Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, and might not see Domi as an effective substitution for Saad.

Anderson has potential but his season-ending shoulder injury could be cause for concern. Niederreiter tends to be inconsistent and at $5.25-million annually for the next two seasons would be an expensive gamble.

Puljujarvi has proven nothing yet at the NHL level. Unless the Oilers are willing to dump him for a song, Bergevin should consider more established options. I don’t believe Mantha or Greenway are available.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

The latest on Matt Murray, Taylor Hall and Phillip Danault plus updates on the Jets and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON MATT MURRAY

TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cites Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater claiming Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is going to be at the top of the Colorado Avalanche’s wish list. He felt goaltending was a big factor in the Avs’ second-round elimination from the playoffs. Dater said the Avs like Murray’s age (26) as he’d fit into their template of building with younger players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Avs general manager Joe Sakic intends to stick with his tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz for next season. He cited their strong regular-season performances and didn’t fault them for injuries that sidelined both during the playoffs. Francouz played hurt in the second round until making way for Michael Hutchinson.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports being told the Penguins and Edmonton Oilers have had discussions about Murray but the asking price (first-round pick?) is too rich for the Oilers. He believes Edmonton will be patient with the goalie search and hasn’t ruled out bringing back Mike Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the flooded market for goalies in the coming offseason there’s no reason for the Oilers to bring back Smith. Time to go with a younger option.

SHOULD THE PREDATORS PURSUE HALL?

THE ATHLETIC: Adan Vingan reports a league executive told colleague Scott Burnside last month the Nashville Predators would make sense as a landing spot for Taylor Hall. The Arizona Coyotes left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

In examining the pros and cons, Vingan observes the cost of signing the 28-year-old Hall could be in excess of $8 million. The Predators have around $9.3 million in cap space and enough money already tied up in players in the late-20s and early-30s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And that, folks, is why I don’t see Hall landing in Nashville in the offseason.

COULD THE CANADIENS KEEP DOMI & TRADE DANAULT?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR 550 that he thinks the Canadiens will look at the trade market for Max Domi and Phillip Danault. With the latter saying he’s not crazy about his situation where he’s the No. 3 center, Friedman thinks there’s a chance Danault could be traded before Domi. He feels Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is open to anything.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t rule anything out. Nevertheless, I think it’s more likely Domi gets moved before Danault. The latter is a year away from UFA eligibility but Bergevin could stick with him for next season and see how promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi develop before deciding on Danault’s future.

Speaking of Domi, his future in Montreal depends upon his contract talks with Habs management. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE JETS

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck feels it would make sense for the Jets to trade winger Patrik Laine only if they feel they can’t afford to re-sign him long-term. The same can be said if the return is too good to pass up. “But rarely do deals featuring big-name stars result in both sides walking away with their heads held high.”

Billeck also feels a Laine trade will depend upon which direction the club wants to go. They cannot continue with their current make-up. They’re currently a scrappy team that relies on their goaltending to bail them out, which isn’t a recipe for a Stanley Cup contender.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils should target Laine and what it would cost to land him. He acknowledged the Devils could use a skilled sniper like Laine and have the cap space to afford him. However, he doesn’t believe the Devils can afford the asking price, which would include parting with center Nico Hischier as part of the return. The Jets are built to win right now and won’t be interested in picks and prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine, 22, is a restricted free agent next year with arbitration rights who will seek a big raise over his current $6.75-million annual average value. That will factor into whatever decision the Jets make, but I believe they intend to keep him.

What the Jets need is a good second-line center to play alongside Laine, as well as improvements to their defense corps. Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe suggested Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic as possible targets to address their blueline needs.

WHAT DOES THE OFFSEASON HOLD FOR THE FLYERS?

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher sounded as though he’d look toward his farm system to improve his roster. “I don’t think we have to do anything necessarily in the free-agent market or the trade market,” said Fletcher. “We have some holes we have to fill. Certainly we’re going to have to supplement some of the core pieces we have right now.”

Fletcher acknowledged his club’s need for another goal scorer. However, he pointed to the Flyers’ young players. “We have a lot of good kids coming,” he said, singling out those who got a taste of NHL action this season like Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Connor Bunnaman.

Carchidi points out the Flyers have over $72 million invested in 15 players, leaving little wiggle room for additions.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall also weighed in on Fletcher’s end-of-season comments. He also pointed out addressing the Flyers needs won’t be easy given the league’s current economic climate. Hall noted Fletcher indicating the Flyers have to manage their cap properly to ensure they can re-sign their young players two or three years from now.

NHL.COM: Adam Kimelman observed Fletcher indicating he’ll be looking to improve his roster, but it won’t be through free agency over the next couple of years. “We’ll be working the phones to see what we can find on the trade front,” said the Flyers GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher won’t be going the UFA route to address his club’s needs. He’ll look at the trade market but he’ll also promote from within.

If he does swing a deal it’ll likely be a dollar-for-dollar swap or something as close to that as possible. He does have depth in prospects and draft picks to use as trade bait, but as Fletcher pointed out, he has to ensure he leaves enough long-term cap room to re-sign those promising youngsters down the road.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2020

Will the Canucks re-sign Jacob Markstrom? Could the Predators pursue Taylor Hall? What could the Wild do during the offseason?

WHAT WILL THE CANUCKS DO WITH MARKSTROM?

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons mused over what the Vancouver Canucks will do with Jacob Markstrom. The 30-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent this fall. Simmons points out they also have promising Thatcher Demko and must expose a goalie in next year’s expansion draft. He wonders if the Colorado Avalanche might pursue Markstrom if he hits the open market.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports the Canucks have $15 million in salary-cap space for next season to spend on six players to fill out their roster. They’ll have to find an experienced backup for Demko if they part ways with Markstrom. If they re-sign Markstrom, Demko could become a fascinating trade chip.

Johnston also wondered what Canucks general manager Jim Benning will do with Jake Virtanen. The 24-year-old winger is a fan favorite and a restricted free agent, but he has arbitration rights and struggled with consistency. Benning must also prioritize his other free agents, including UFAs like Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev and RFAs Troy Stecher and Tyler Motte.

Jim Benning could also look at a cost-cutting move or two to free up cap space to re-sign key players. Candidates could include Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Jay Beagle or Sven Baertschi.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Thomas Drance also examined the Canucks’ free agent and salary-cap issues for the offseason. If they can free up cap space, he feels they must bring in a top-four, right-handed defenseman and upgrade their third-line center position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will be an interesting offseason for the Canucks. How Benning addresses his club’s needs and cap issues will have far-reaching consequences. The goaltending is the priority. Simmons makes a good point about the risk of losing one of them in the expansion draft.

Some might argue passing on Markstrom after watching Demko’s playoff performance, but three outstanding games isn’t a large enough body of work to crown him as their starter going forward. On the other hand, this year’s goalie market is a deep one and they could bring in a quality veteran at a reasonable price to tutor Demko if they part ways with Markstrom.

COULD THE PREDATORS SIGN TAYLOR HALL?

THE ATHLETIC: (subscription required): Adam Vingan was asked in a recent mailbag segment about Scott Burnside suggesting the Nashville Predators as a destination for Taylor Hall because of his connection with coach John Hynes. The Arizona Coyotes left wing is this summer’s top UFA forward and played well for Hynes during their time with the New Jersey Devils.

Citing Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston suggesting Hall could a stable, winning situation where he fits in well over filling up his bank account, Vingan doesn’t see the Predators meeting that requirement. He cautions against signing an aging player at this stage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Predators GM David Poile making a big splash in this year’s UFA market. His club has $72.2 million tied up in 17 players. Poile will try to shed center Kyle Turris’ $6 million per season cap hit through 2023-24 but that won’t be easy. He could be forced to absorb a big chunk of Turris’ cap hit or buy him out and carry $2 million in annual dead-cap space through 2027-28.

LATEST ON THE WILD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked if the Minnesota Wild will do any contract buyouts. He felt there’s a chance, suggesting if they did so for goalie Devan Dubnyk or center Victor Rask it would be to create roster spots rather than clear cap space. He also felt Alex Stalock would only fetch a mid-round draft pick if placed on the trade block. Russo doesn’t believe GM Bill Guerin will pursue Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom if he becomes available in the free-agent market.

In a second mailbag segment, Russo noted the Wild have to protect Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon in next year’s expansion draft because of their no-movement clauses. If they decide to protect just three defensemen, this is the offseason to move Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin unless they intend to move one of them before the 2021 trade deadline. Brodin has a year left on his contract and could be the one to get traded if he proves too expensive to re-sign.

Russo is against trading Brodin to Montreal for Max Domi because he doesn’t feel Domi can address the Wild’s need for a first-line center. Asked if Guerin could pursue Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan, Russo feels the asking price would be steep. If Monahan is available, the Flames will want a first-line center to replace him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Guerin will be busy in the offseason. He indicated he wasn’t happy with his goaltending and pointed out his club’s need for a first-line center.

He could move Stalock or Dubnyk and promote promising goalie Kaapa Kahkonen. Russo said he could seek them signing Braden Holtby or Cam Talbot to buy Kahkonen some time if they part ways with Dubnyk, but those two could prove expensive signings, especially Holtby.

Some in the Montreal media suggested swapping Domi for Brodin or Dumba. I think Guerin shares Russo’s opinion of the Habs’ center. Domi could be a good second-line center but he’s not the proven No.1 the Wild need. Guerin also sought to tamp down the expectations of Wild fans calling for him to pursue a first-line center, pointing out teams typically don’t part with that type of player.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2020

Looking ahead at the offseason for the Avalanche and Canucks plus updates on the Bruins, Blues and Leafs and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE AND CANUCKS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan noted the Colorado Avalanche are in a good position where they’re ready to become a championship contender but also have a decent amount of salary-cap space. She wondered if Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic will revisit his interest in Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall or make a pitch for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo via free agency. Sakic must ensure he maintains sufficient long-term cap room to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog to new contracts next summer.

THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla disagrees with Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon’s belief his club doesn’t need to make changes. Kiszla feels they need a goaltending upgrade over Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. He suggests Vegas’ Robin Lehner or Chicago’s Corey Crawford could be available via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now recently reported hearing the Avs linked to Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Goaltending is considered the Avs’ Achilles heel. That’s likely the issue Sakic addresses if he takes the plunge into the offseason free-agent or trade markets.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wonders what the Vancouver Canucks will do with starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom. He’s an unrestricted free agent coming off the best season of his career. However, Wyshynski asks if it’s worthwhile keeping him when his best work came in a contract year and points to promising Thatcher Demko’s strong performance in the playoffs.

Management must also bear in mind young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will be due for new contracts after next season. Wyshynski advocates augmenting the young core by getting players with championship experience, but doing so within their salary-cap constraints won’t be easy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Demko’s performance against the Golden Knights could give GM Jim Benning something to think about in his negotiations with Markstrom’s representatives. Does he invest in a lucrative long-term deal for Markstrom or bet the future on Demko? Once that’s sorted out, Benning will have to find sufficient cap space to re-sign or replace pending UFAs Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev.

WILL KRUG AND THE BRUINS PART WAYS?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports it sounds like Torey Krug won’t be re-signing with the Boston Bruins. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Krug said contract talks with the Bruins have been few and far between. He also rejected the notion of signing a one-year contract, seeking instead to maximize his value with a big-money, long-term deal.

Krug didn’t rule out re-signing with the Bruins, but Haggerty observes they have limited cap space with $15 million and several other players (including Zdeno Chara, Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk) to re-sign. He feels Krug will find his lucrative new deal with a club seeking an elite offensive blueliner to quarterback their power play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t blame Krug for wanting to take advantage of his best shot at a big, long-term deal. He might not get as many offers as he would’ve in a normal year, but he should find some worthwhile options. The Bruins must decide if he’s worth keeping or consider cheaper alternatives.

LATEST BLUES SPECULATION

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Tom Timmermann was asked about recent rumors linking the Toronto Maple Leafs to St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko. He feels the Blues intend to keep Parayko (even if they re-sign Alex Pietrangelo), considering him one of the NHL’s best young defensemen.

Timmermann also feels the Blues will do all they can to re-sign Vince Dunn, a restricted free agent who recently appeared on TSN’s trade-bait list. Moving him and not re-signing Pietrangelo would mean an almost total overhaul of the Blues’ defense corps.

Asked which member of the Blues becomes a cost-cutting trade candidate, Timmermann suggested winger Jaden Schwartz. He feels Alex Steen, Tyler Bozak, and Carl Gunnarsson would have limited value to other clubs. Schwartz is a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parayko is also signed through 2021-22, which is another good reason to hang onto him. We don’t know if the Blues would move Schwartz but if push comes to shove they might not have much choice in order to free up more cap space for Pietrangelo.

The Blues could still make one or two smaller cost-cutting moves like trading Gunnarson and buying out Steen. They could then re-sign Pietrangelo, sit at 10 percent over the cap and perhaps start the season with Vladimir Tarasenko on LTIR. They would have to be cap compliant when Tarasenko returned but it would buy them more time if necessary.

LEAFS UFA OPTIONS

SPORTSNET: Alex Pietrangelo, Vancouver’s Chris Tanev and Calgary’s T.J. Brodie are the top-three options on Luke Fox’s list of unrestricted free agent defense options for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Calgary’s Travis Hamonic, Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas, Tampa Bay’s Zach Bogosian, Carolina’s Joel Edmundson, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, the New York Islanders’ Andy Greene, and Carolina’s Sami Vatanen round out his list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo is the best of this bunch but the Leafs would have to clear considerable cap space to sign him. The rest would be much more affordable but won’t have the same impact.

Brodie and Vatanen might be the best of the bunch. Bogosian has been terrific in the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he’s got a long history of injuries and could struggle on another club to replicate his success with the Bolts.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2020

The Lightning eliminate the Bruins, the Avalanche stay alive against the Stars, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the fourth time in six years, the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Eastern Conference Final. Victor Hedman scored in double overtime as the Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 to win their second-round series four games to one.

Tampa Bay LIghtning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images)

Hedman had a goal and an assist while teammates Brayden Point and Kevin Shattenkirk each had two assists. Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli scored in regulation for the Bolts, who played without winger Nikita Kucherov as he left the game before the third period after being high-sticked by Zdeno Chara in the first period. David Pastrnak and David Krejci scored for the Bruins.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning did a good job keeping Boston’s top line under wraps as this series went on. The Bruins’ lack of secondary scoring and the absence of starting goalie Tuukka Rask were contributing factors to their early demise.

After reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season and winning the Presidents’ Trophy this season, questions are being asked if the Bruins’ championship window is closing. Asked about his future plans, the 43-year-old Chara said he hadn’t reached a decision, intending to be open-minded.

No word yet as to how long Kucherov might be sidelined. Bolts blueliner Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup since being sidelined in the first game of this series.

The Colorado Avalanche avoided elimination by riding a five-goal first period to a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their second-round series. Avs third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson made 31 saves in his first-ever playoff start while the Stars’ Ben Bishop was pulled after giving up four goals on 19 shots. Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal and collected an assist, giving him a playoff-leading 23 points. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and added an assist. The Stars still lead the series 3 games to 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop was shaky in his first start since Aug. 13 but he had little help from his teammates. The Stars were flat-footed and unprepared in the first period, outshot 23-5 in the first period.

SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers hired Jacques Martin as their new assistant coach.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jeremy Rutherford cites sources claiming St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Bill Armstrong is believed to be a finalist for the vacant Florida Panthers GM position.

TSN: Thirteen NHL clubs will carry salary cap overages into next season. The Stars lead the list with over $2.9 million, followed by the Bruins ($1.928 million), Vancouver Canucks ($1.7 million), Carolina Hurricanes ($1.367 million), and Buffalo Sabres ($1.275 million). Because of the unusual circumstances emerging from this season, those teams have the option of dividing that amount equally over the next two seasons.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Edmonton Oilers re-signed forward Patrick Russell to a one-year, $700K contract extension.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said the club intends to honor defenseman Andrei Markov, who spent his entire 16-season NHL career with the Habs.    

 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2020

The Lightning take a 3-1 series lead over the Bruins, the Islanders and Golden Knights go up 2-1 in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Boston Bruins 3-1 to take a 3-1 lead in their second-round series. Nikita Kucherov collected two assists for the Bolts.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat has four goals in his last three games against the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read my take of this game by following this link. If both teams keep playing the way they have over the past three games, this series could be over on Monday evening.

Three unanswered goals by Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, and Anders Lee gave the New York Islanders a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Semyon Varlamov returned to the net after giving up three goals on 10 shots in Game 2, stopping 26 shots for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong first period by the Flyers was snuffed out by the Isles’ solid defense and opportunistic scoring over the next two periods. In what’s become a running theme in this postseason, the Flyers’ leading scorers weren’t much of a factor. Their playoff bubble will burst if this trend continues.

Robin Lehner picked up his second shutout in three games by kicking out 31 shots to blank the Vancouver Canucks 3-0. Alex Tuch and Zach Whitecloud scored in the first period and Mark Stone tallied in the third. The Golden Knights lead the series 2-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The game was pretty much over in the first period when Vancouver failed to cash in on a 5-on-3 opportunity. Defensive mistakes by the Canucks led to all three Vegas goals, the most egregious being Alex Tuch blazing through the defense to open the scoring.

 

 

THE DENVER POST: The recent two-day protest pause in the schedule could help the Colorado Avalanche, allowing banged-up players like Nikita Zadorov, Joonas Donskoi, and Matt Calvert a chance to heal and return to the lineup.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports former Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be the one to watch as the Florida Panthers narrow their list of contenders for their general manager position.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports NBC Sports hockey analyst Ed Olczyk has interviewed for the GM position.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Panthers job.

SPORTSNET: Kevin Weekes, Mike Futa and Bill Armstrong are also being considered by the Panthers, as well as the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out for the Panthers and Coyotes. Both clubs desperately need quality management.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Joel Kellman to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $750K. The first season is a two-way deal.