Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).
Richards reports the Panthers are expected to announce a new contract for Barkov in the coming weeks, perhaps before training camp opens on Sep. 22. It’s believed he’ll get more than the $7.75 million per season that Couturier and Svechnikov will receive. The 25-year-old Panthers star is earning $5.9 million annually on his current deal which expires next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is the Panthers’ top player and among the best two-way forwards in the league. I don’t see them letting him go to market next summer. Richards expects it’ll be an eight-year maximum deal. He could pull in over $10 million per season.
The Isles didn’t announce a contract for Zach Parise but the winger will be joining them this season. Staple speculates he’ll get a one-year deal for the league minimum with performance bonuses on a plus-35 deal that could earn him over $2 million for the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines, the Islanders are $3.7 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. That will increase once they officially announce Parise’s contract.
They’ll address that overage by placing permanently sidelined Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million cap hit on LTIR. However, it still won’t leave much room to add a defenseman unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap or one or two players get demoted.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Peter Baugh was asked if the Colorado Avalanche might add a free agent or two to their bottom-six forwards. He believes they could offer someone like Tyler Bozak a cheap one-year contract or a tryout offer but they aren’t desperate to add someone before training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Baugh’s column was published before the Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a professional tryout offer yesterday. They could do the same for a UFA forward like Bozak though there’s no certainty they will. GM Joe Sakic could see how things unfold in training camp before seeing if he needs another veteran for his bottom-six.
Is there a date the Florida Panthers could consider trading Aleksander Barkov? What’s the latest on the Stars logjam between the pipes? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ESPN: Greg Wyshynski reports Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is entering the final year of his six-year contract. He asked Panthers general manager Bill Zito if there was a date when he’d have to consider trading the 25-year-old center.
Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).
Zito said there isn’t one, expressing confidence they’ll get a deal done. He expects an extension will “probably” come before the start of the upcoming season.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards doesn’t see Barkov going anywhere. He reports contract extension talks have been ongoing for some time and are going well. It’s believed they’re close to a deal or have already reached an agreement.
Richards feels the reason why it hasn’t been done yet is there’s no rush. Barkov is still training in Finland but Richards believes the deal will be announced when he returns to South Florida to gear up for the coming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams like to announce the re-signing of core players right away. Others, like the Panthers, prefer to wait until their players are in town to make the formal announcement.
The Panthers are a team on the rise with the potential to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender for the next several seasons. Barkov is a crucial piece of those plans. He’s their franchise player who won his first Selke Trophy last season leading his club to their best performance in years.
Barkov will remain a Florida Panther. The only questions are for how long and for how much. I’m guessing an eight-year deal worth over $9 million annually.
NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Heika was asked how the Dallas Stars will address their logjam in goal if Ben Bishop should return to action at some point this season. He remains sidelined recovering from surgery last fall.
The Stars also have Anton Khudobin and Braden Holtby under one-way contracts while promising Jake Oettinger is on a two-way deal that doesn’t require waivers. If Bishop returns, Khubodin or Holtby could be traded. For now, they don’t appear interested in moving a goalie before the start of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop missing all last season recovering from surgery factored into their decision to sign Holtby. They want to ensure they’ve got sufficient depth if he can’t return and if Khudobin or Oettinger struggle this season. Sitting $4.9 million over the cap, they’ll get some relief if necessary by placing Bishop’s $4.916 million annual cap hit on long-term injury reserve.
Unless Oettinger outperforms Khudobin and Holtby in training camp and preseason, he’s likely headed back to the farm to start the season.
NHL.COM: David Satriano believes the Stars could seek another veteran forward this season rather than relying on young players in their system.
What can the Leafs do to address their short- and long-term salary-cap issues? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons took note of young defensemen such as Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse, Colorado’s Cale Makar, Chicago’s Seth Jones and Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen landing long-term deals worth over $8 million. He believes the going rate for a 27-year-old blueliner like the Leafs’ Morgan Rielly is around $8 million per season, which is a big raise over his current $5 million annual cap hit.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images).
He believes the Leafs face a challenging decision with Rielly. Do they re-sign him? Do they let him depart via free agency next summer? If they re-sign him, how will they clear sufficient cap space for his new contract?
Complicating things further is goaltender Jack Campbell will also become eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer. Simmons speculates it could the Leafs $6 million they don’t have to keep them both.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why some observers believed the Leafs could trade Rielly this summer rather than risk losing him next summer for nothing. However, management is sticking with its core (which includes Rielly, their best puck-moving defenseman) for the coming season.
Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $67.78 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23. Assuming the cap rises that season by $1 million, that’ll leave the Leafs with $14.7 million in projected cap space. If they re-sign Rielly for $8 million annually, they’ll have only $6.7 million left to re-sign Campbell and promising blueliner Rasmus Sandin, leaving nothing to fill out the rest of the roster.
They could let Rielly walk or shop him before the trade deadline. However, that will leave a big hole on their blueline that could prove difficult to fill.
Simmons also observed the Maple Leafs are above the salary cap but don’t have to be cap compliant until the start of the regular season. He wonders which players will be waived in training camp or whether Alex Kerfoot will be moved in a cost-cutting trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are 1.394 million over the $81.5 million cap. They also have 15 forwards under contract. Rather than trade Kerfoot, they’ll likely attempt to demote two or three of those extra forwards or see one or two of them claimed by other clubs via waivers.
Regarding rumors linking the Panthers to Zdeno Chara, Richards believes they want to add another veteran defenseman but he’s not sure if Chara is the right fit. He also acknowledged the trade rumors about winger Frank Vatrano before the expansion draft. While nothing came of them, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a training camp deal.
Richards also predicted Sergei Bobrovsky could be moved out in 2023 “one way or another” but it won’t be a contract buyout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky will have just three years remaining on his contract following 2022-23. However, he must waive his no-movement clause first. The Panthers will also have to pick up a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual average value to facilitate a trade. Even then, they won’t get much interest in Bobrovsky if his performance doesn’t improve by that point.
The Canadiens stun the Golden Knights with a Game 3 OT win, Aleksander Barkov win the Selke Trophy, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored the tying and winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their semifinal series. Anderson made it 2-2 late in the third period when Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury mishandled the puck beside his net, giving Anderson a wide-open net for an easy goal. Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 43 saves for the win. Game 4 goes Sunday night in Montreal.
Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).
The Golden Knights opened the scoring in the second period as Nicolas Roy cashed in on an errant pass by Canadiens center Eric Staal. Cole Caufield quickly tied it with his second goal of the playoffs. Alex Pietrangelo restored the Golden Knights’ lead early in the third period before Fleury’s blunder cost them the game.
Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson made his NHL head-coaching debut filling in for Dominque Ducharme after the Habs bench boss tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day. All of his players tested negative for the coronavirus. Ducharme appears to be asymptomatic but is expected to be sidelined for the next 10 days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hockey gods were smiling on Montreal in this game. Vegas should’ve easily taken it after outshooting the Habs 45-27 and controlling most of the play throughout this contest. It’s becoming repetitive to type this, but Price was the difference once again. Still, the Golden Knights appeared poised to skate away with a narrow victory until Fleury’s costly turnover changed the script.
Questionable officiating continues to plague the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. A prime example was the referees missing Jonathan Marchessault high-sticking Montreal’s Corey Perry in the face during overtime, cutting the Habs forward and forcing him from the game for repairs.
The Golden Knights played without center Chandler Stephenson, who was also a late scratch from Game 2. He’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion-related symptoms.
NEWSDAY: Oliver Wahlstrom could be in the New York Islanders’ lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 4 of their semifinal series. Wahlstrom was sidelined during Game 5 of the Isles’ first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need something to give them an offensive lift after their offense was stifled by the Lightning in the last two games.
WGR 550: Former Buffalo Sabres star Rene Robert is in a Florida hospital after suffering a severe life-threatening heart attack yesterday. Few details have been revealed as Robert’s family has requested privacy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here hoping Robert, 72, makes a full and swift recovery. He was a member of the Sabres’ famed French Connection Line with Gilbert Perreault and the late Richard Martin in the 1970s.
OTTAWA SUN: Goaltender Marcus Hogberg has signed a four-year contract with Linkoping HC in Sweden after the Senators informed him last month that they wouldn’t qualify his rights. He spent three seasons with the Sens from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Liam Kirk to a three-year entry-level contract. He’s the first player born and trained in England to be drafted by an NHL team.
Zach Trotman announced his retirement.
He spent the last four years in the Penguins organization, playing 24 games in Pittsburgh. He was limited to 8 games in WBS this season due to injury. pic.twitter.com/ID02nv33Pu
A five-point performance by the Islanders Mathew Barzal, three more Canucks games are postponed by COVID-19 protocols, division stars and rookie of the month for March are announced, Nathan MacKinnon fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Mathew Barzal’s hat trick carried the New York Islanders to an 8-4 romp over the Washington Capitals. Barzal finished with five points while teammate Jordan Eberle scored twice. John Carlson tallied twice for the Capitals, who lost goaltender Ilya Samsonov early in the first period following an accidental collision with teammate T.J. Oshie. The Islanders are tied with the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins with 50 points but the Capitals remain in first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of a game in hand.
New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).
The Penguins, meanwhile, rode a 30-save performance by goaltender Casey DeSmith to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pittsburgh forward Branden Tanev returned to the lineup after missing six games and picked up an assist. The Penguins have won five straight but sit in third place behind the Islanders as the latter has two more regulation wins. Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo left the game with an upper-body injury. The Bruins sit fourth in the vision with 41 points, three ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.
Speaking of the Rangers, they edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on an overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Blueshirts while Sabres goalie Dustin Tokarski kicked out 44 shots. The Rangers are tied with the Flyers with 38 points but the latter holds fifth place with a game in hand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The East division is getting quite interesting. The Penguins have surged to jockey with the Capitals and Islanders for first place, the Bruins are clinging to fourth place but are being threatened by the Rangers, who could soon surpass the struggling Flyers.
Third-period goals by Ross Colton and Brayden Point 66 seconds apart lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 to snap a three-game losing streak. Point had two goals on the night while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 36 shots. Zach Werenski had a goal and an assist for the Jackets. With 52 points, the Lightning holds onto first place in the Discover Central Division. The Jackets (36 points) remain in sixth place in the division, three points back of the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.
An overtime goal by Alex Wennberg gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal and collected an assist on Wennberg’s winner. The Panthers also have 52 points but remain in second place in the Central as the Lightning hold a game in hand.
The Carolina Hurricanes got a late goal by Jesper Fast to nip Chicago 4-3 and sit one point behind the Lightning and Panthers. Warren Foegele tallied twice for the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks remain tied with Nashville with 39 points but the latter holds fourth place in the Central on the basis of regulation wins.
As for the Predators, they missed an opportunity to open a lead over the Blackhawks as their six-game win streak ended in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Joe Pavelski collected two assists for the Stars (34 points), who sit five behind the Predators and Blackhawks.
A shootout goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild past the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 3-2. Cam Talbot had a 35-save performance while Kirill Kapizov had a goal and an assist for the Wild (46 points), who moved within four points of second-place Vegas in the Honda West Division. The Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche each have 50 points but the latter holds first place because of regulation wins.
The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 as Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault each had a goal and an assist. Jake Allen made 23 saves for the Habs, who hold a six-point lead for fourth place over the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks with 41 points.
Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is the star of the month for March in the Discover Central Division. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer is the Honda West star of the month. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took home the honor for the MassMutual East Division while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the Scotia North Division star for March.
Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for March 2021.
The Vancouver Canucks have had three additional games postponed as forwards Adam Gaudette and Travis Hamonic and a member of the coaching staff were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier this week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette and his wife faced some flak on social media by several folks alleging they failed to properly protect themselves from COVID-19. In fact, the couple followed all guidelines and were informed they did nothing wrong by the team and health officials. The Gaudettes have no idea how they caught the coronavirus and don’t deserve being hounded by some ill-informed fans.
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon received a $5,000.00 fine from the NHL department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct against Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland on Wednesday.
Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson received a three-game suspension for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot on Wednesday.
NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux requested a trade from the Rangers prior to their dealing him last week to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick. Lemieux made the request as he wanted to play for a team where he’d have a more meaningful role. He’d been seeing fourth-line duty this season with the Rangers.
THE SCORE: Roberto Luongo is expected to be named general manager of Team Canada’s 2021 World Championship team.
SPORTSNET: Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield, Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay and North Dakota forward Shane Pinto are this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Caufield recently signed an entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens while Pinto inked a similar deal with the Ottawa Senators.