Were The Canadiens Good Or Just Lucky?

Were The Canadiens Good Or Just Lucky?

Are the Montreal Canadiens a stronger team than we thought, or did they just get lucky and go on a five-week hot streak?

The Canadiens enjoyed an impressive run in the 2021 playoffs. The lowest overall postseason seed, they upset the heavily-favored Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

They came a cropper against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, falling in five games. However, the clubs the Habs eliminated wouldn’t have fared any better against the powerful Bolts.

The Canadiens’ playoff success papered over the fact they barely qualified in the first place.

They cooled off after a hot start, replaced most of their coaching staff by midseason, saw starting goalie Carey Price endure one of the worst regular seasons of his career, endure a 25 game in 44-night second-half stretch following a COVID-19 outbreak, lost playmaking winger Jonathan Drouin for the remainder of the season for personal reasons, and endured a shaky stretch drive with Price, captain Shea Weber and alternate captain Brendan Gallagher sidelined by injury.

Little wonder no one gave them a chance of defeating the Leafs, Jets and Golden Knights in each successive round. And yet, they defied the critics and overcame the odds.

Montreal Canadiens pose with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl (NHL.com).

But which team are the real Canadiens? The one that took their fans on a dazzling run that came within three games of the Stanley Cup? Or the one that stumbled through a shortened season and backed into the playoffs?

On the one hand, the Habs seemed to finally adjust to interim coach Dominique Ducharme’s system in the postseason. They played a strong team game with an emphasis on solid defensive play, quick zone transitions, and in-close scoring chances. Their penalty-killing was the best throughout this postseason.

Price bounced back, reminding everyone why he’s still among the best goalies in the game. Weber, Jeff Petry, Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson formed a solid top-four defense that cleared traffic from around Price’s net and took away the opposition’s scoring lanes.

Young forwards Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Jesperi Kotkaniemi continue to blossom into future stars. Josh Anderson provided size, speed and clutch scoring. Tyler Toffoli was strong at both ends of the rink. Phillip Danault was superb in a shutdown center role. Greybeards Corey Perry and Eric Staal provided invaluable depth experience and leadership.

On the other hand, Price admitted he didn’t play well during the first three games against the Lightning. Anderson’s scoring was inconsistent for most of the playoffs. A thumb injury robbed Weber of his fearsome point shot. Alexander Romanov’s limited postseason appearances raised questions over Ducharme’s faith in the promising defenseman. The power play often looked like they were playing with a live grenade.

So, are they an emerging Stanley Cup contender or an overachiever that crashed to earth in the Final?

Marc Bergevin was a finalist for GM of the Year, which for some weird reason is voted on following the second round of the playoffs. He wouldn’t have even been among the candidates had that vote occurred following the regular season.

The Canadiens’ playoff run probably saved Bergevin’s job (should he still want it) and should remove the interim label off Ducharme’s title. Having gotten their team to the Final, can they avoid the pitfalls that doomed many Cup Final underdogs of the past?

Everything depends on several factors.

Bergevin was able to use plentiful cap space to add Toffoli, Anderson, Perry, Staal, Edmundson and backup goalie Jake Allen. Making similar acquisitions won’t easy with a salary cap expected to remain flat for the next several seasons.

More promising youngsters must begin to crack the lineup. Ryan Poehling, Mattias Norlinder, Cayden Primeau, Jan Mysak, Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris have to make a positive impression within the next several years.

Price must maintain his strong playoff form throughout the regular season, something he’s had difficulty doing in recent years. The 36-year-old Weber must begin accepting a reduced role as a second-pairing defenseman, allowing Petry to take the first-pairing role on their right side.

Toffoli and Gallagher must remain healthy. Danault should be brought back but that could prove difficult given his earlier rejection of a six-year, $30 million deal. If not, a suitable replacement must be found. Perry should be an affordable one-year signing.

Suzuki, Caufield, Kotkaniemi and center Jake Evans must keep improving and take on greater roles and responsibilities. Romanov must be given more playing time and room to allow for his development. Anderson needs to find the back of the net more often. They need more from Drouin than what he’s given them in the past, assuming he can continue his playing career.

Ducharme must prove he can still make the right moves as he did through most of this postseason. He has to ensure the players still buy into his system. He must also silence critics who feel he’s slow to trust his youngsters given his seeming reluctance to insert Kotkaniemi, Caufield and Romanov into the lineup earlier in this postseason.

Even if all those factors pan out, will the Canadiens be deep enough and strong enough to match up well in an Atlantic Division? Can they compete on an even footing with the powerhouse Lightning, the improving Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators, the still-talented Maple Leafs and still-dangerous Boston Bruins?

Can they do more than just hold their own against Eastern Conference teams like the veteran-laden Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals? Will they be able to handle the rising Carolina Hurricanes, the promising New York Rangers, and the hard-working New York Islanders?

Can they keep pace with the best of the west in the Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche? Or the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers? The suddenly improved Minnesota Wild?

This year was a heckuva run for the Canadiens but they have a long way to go to prove they’re more than a one-year wonder.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens, Charlie Coyle undergoes surgery, key offseason dates, latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reported Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin admitted the past year was difficult for him mentally as he thanked his players for pulling through a tough season to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL Images).

Bergevin has one year remaining on his contract. He indicated his intention to honor that but declined to say if he would sign an extension if presented to him. That’s generated speculation over whether he wanted to continue in the job after nine seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin may simply be exhausted after a trying year in which he made several notable roster additions, replaced most of his coaching staff midway through the season, saw his club sidelined for 10 days by a COVID-19 outbreak, watched them struggle to clinch a playoff berth and overcome long odds to reach the Cup Final.

Perhaps his comment was a subtle way of angling for better terms on an extension. Or maybe he’s truly burned out after nearly a decade in one of hockey’s highest-pressure markets and intends to move on after next season.

Whatever the reason, his future with the Canadiens will become a hot topic for conjecture in Montreal throughout this offseason.

Speaking of uncertain futures, pending unrestricted free agent Phillip Danault expressed his wish to remain with the Canadiens. He also admitted he rejected a six-year, $30-million contract offer last fall, adding it affected his game during the regular season when the story was leaked to the press. He also said he was worried about losing ice time to younger centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault should be commended for his honesty. Most players in his situation would just mumble cliches to dodge the question. His strong defensive play throughout the postseason earned him the most ice time among Habs forwards. He garnered praise for shutting down his opponents’ top offensive players. He’s in line for a big raise, either with the Habs or another club via free agency.

Defenseman Jeff Petry revealed the reason behind his bloodshot eyes during Game 2 of the semifinal series against the Vegsa Golden Knights. It was tied to the broken pinky finger suffered during Game 3 of the previous series with the Winnipeg Jets. Petry said he passed out when his finger was being set in place before putting it in a cast, causing the blood vessels in his eyes to burst.

Petry jammed the finger into a photographer’s hole in the glass in a freak accident, which turned his finger sideways. He played the remainder of the playoffs with two fingers taped together. He hopes to avoid offseason surgery but will learn more when he revisits the doctor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry faced surgery that would’ve sidelined him six to eight weeks. He instead opted to immobilize the finger and rest for one-to-two weeks and return to action.

Canadiens captain Shea Weber could require surgery on his left thumb to repair damaged ligaments. If he goes under the knife it’s expected he’ll be ready for the start of next season.

Corey Perry hopes to return to the Canadiens next season. He joined them on a one-year, $750K contract and was placed on waivers earlier in the season to be placed on the taxi squad. There were three teams hoping to put in a claim for Perry but his agent advised them against it because he wanted to stay in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the superstar he was a decade ago but he was an invaluable and respected part of the Canadiens’ lineup this season. He had 21 points in 49 regular-season games and finished fourth among their postseason scorers with 10 points in 22 contests. He should be an affordable re-signing for the Habs. If they don’t bring him back he’ll draw plenty of interest from other playoff contenders.

NBC SPORTS: It’s still unclear if the Canadiens will lift the interim tag off Dominique Ducharme and make him the full-time head coach next season. Bergevin indicated it’s one of the first things he intends to sort out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme was criticized by many observers (including me) for the Canadiens’ struggles over the second half after he replaced Claude Julien. That tune changed with the Habs’ march to the Final.

I expect Ducharme will return as the Canadiens’ full-time bench boss. Still, there are legitimate questions about whether he belongs in that role. Much of their playoff success was due to Carey Price returning to his dominant form. Ducharme also seemed reluctant to give more ice time to his younger players, especially promising defenseman Alexander Romanov. The Habs also played well under assistant coach Luke Richardson when Ducharme was sidelined for two weeks by COVID-19.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks hired Joel Bouchard as the new coach of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Bouchard spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Canadiens AHL club in Laval.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens received some criticism for not retaining Bouchard, who did a fine job developing their promising players. They offered him the opportunity to remain in Laval or become one of their assistant coaches. But he opted to go to San Diego.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Charlie Coyle recently underwent two surgeries on his left knee. His agent said the 29-year-old Bruins center is recovering well and expects to be ready in time for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why Coyle struggled throughout this season.

SPORTSNET: The key dates for the NHL offseason are as follows:

July 8: NHL buyout window opens (24 hours after Stanley Cup is awarded). Window closes July 27.
July 17: Deadline for teams to submit protected lists for Seattle Expansion Draft (5 p.m. ET).
July 18-20: Seattle’s exclusive window to interview teams’ unprotected pending free agents.
July 21: Seattle Expansion Draft (8 p.m. ET).
July 23: 2021 NHL Draft, Round 1.
July 24: 2021 NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7.
July 28: NHL free agency opens. RFA & UFA signing period begins (noon ET).

NEW YORK POST: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to a two-year, $2.25 million contract.

The Rangers signed restricted free agent forward Brett Howden to a one-year contract worth $885K.

SPORTSNET: The Seattle Kraken will play six preseason games against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. The three home games will be played in Spokane, Everett, and Kent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a good way for the expansion club to make itself known throughout the state of Washington. It will also be the first games they’ll play against their regional NHL rivals.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL defenseman Bryan “Bugsy” Watson passed away on Thursday at age 78. He played 1,009 NHL games from 1963 to 1978 with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Watson’s family, friends and former teammates and associates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2021

Nikita Kucherov denies he was injured in the semifinals, Joel Armia in COVID protocol again, Jean-Gabriel Pageau faces surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov denied suffering an injury during Game 6 of the semifinal series against the New York Islanders. He left the game early following a hit by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and didn’t return. He was back in the lineup for the Lightning’s series-clinching win in Game 7. “There was no injury, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said during yesterday’s media conference.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov left that game in obvious pain and didn’t return. Lightning coach Jon Cooper wasn’t sure if his leading scorer would return for Game 7. So yes, he suffered an injury, though it wasn’t serious enough to keep him out of the lineup for the final game of that series. He logged the fourth-most ice time among Lightning forwards in Game 7.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Joel Armia missed practice on Sunday and didn’t travel with the team to Tampa Bay after being placed in COVID-19 protocol. The club will release more details on Armia’s status today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armia was placed on the COVID protocol list back in March and missed eight games.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he was not aware of sexual assault allegations made during the 2010 playoffs by a former player during his tenure as the club’s director of pro personnel.

It came out recently,” said Bergevin. “There was a meeting that I’ve heard was done in Chicago. I was not part of any meeting and I was not part of any decision based on that. I was not aware of what was going on at the time. You can go on the record with that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin was not among the Blackhawks senior front office personnel listed by TSN to have attended that meeting to address the allegations. A former Blackhawks marketing official recently said the alleged sexual assault of two players was an open secret among the staff within and outside the organization.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports a league source claims New York Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau deal with multiple injuries during the semifinal series against Tampa Bay. One of them will likely require surgery.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders captain Anders Lee said he’s ahead of his initial recovery timeline and expects to join his teammates for the start of training camp in September. He underwent season-ending knee surgery in March.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2021

The Islanders force Game 7 against the Lightning, Patrice Bergeron wins the Mark Messier Leadership Award, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: There will be a Game 7 in the semifinal series between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Anthony Beauvillier’s overtime goal gave the Isles a 3-2 victory in Game 6, tying their best-of-seven series at three games apiece. Game 7 is Friday evening in Tampa Bay.

New York Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier (NHL Images).

The Lightning took a 2-0 lead on goals by Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli. Point extended his goal streak to nine straight games and leads all postseason scorers with 14 goals.

Jordan Eberle got the Isles to within one in the second period. Scott Mayfield tied it at 11:16 of the third, setting the stage for Beauvillier’s overtime heroics. Mathew Barzal collected assists on the Eberle and Mayfield goals.

It was a costly loss for the Lightning as leading scorer Nikita Kucherov left the game early in the first period with an undisclosed injury following a cross-check by Mayfield. It happened in full view of the officials but no call was made. Bolts defenseman Erik Cernak missed this game with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That missed penalty call (the latest in a long string during this postseason) was the only blight on what was otherwise an entertaining Game 6 between these two clubs. If that becomes the final game played at Nassau Coliseum it was a helluva way to go out.

It was a solid response by the Islanders after being thumped 8-0 in Game 5. It appeared they were on their way out after falling behind 2-0 but they showed a lot of character and determination battling back for the win.

Not to take anything away from the Islanders’ performance but the Lightning felt the absence of their leading scorer and best shutdown defenseman in this game. No word as of this morning whether Kucherov and Cernak will be back for Game 7.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is this year’s winner of the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed John Sedgwick, their VP of hockey operations and legal affairs, to a three-year contract extension, sparking speculation general manager Marc Bergevin could get a similar extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin has a year remaining on his current contract. I daresay an extension is likely after the Canadiens’ surprising run to the semifinal this spring. It’ll become a certainty if they eliminate the Vegas Golden Knights tonight and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports a former team marketing official with the Chicago Blackhawks said the alleged sexual assault of two former Blackhawks players by a former video coach in 2010 was an open secret among staff both within and outside the club’s hockey department. One of those players has filed a lawsuit against the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have declined to comment because of the ongoing lawsuit. The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers believe the allegations over how the club handled the sex abuse complaints could cast a stain on its championship legacy from 2010 to 2015. Former team president John McDonough and current general manager Stan Bowman are among the club officials linked to this purported incident.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Speaking of the Blackhawks, their Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Pat Foley will be retiring at the end of 2021-22 after 39 seasons in the job.

OTTAWA SUN: Former Senators defenseman Chris Phillips has resigned as the executive director of the Senators Community Foundation.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson announced his retirement yesterday. In 12 NHL seasons with the Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs, he tallied 30 goals and 138 points in 629 games. He won a Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019, scoring the overtime time in Game 2 of the Cup Final against the Boston Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Gunnarsson and his family in their future endeavors.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 9, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 9, 2021

Could the Rangers pursue Jack Eichel in the offseason? Will Tony DeAngelo return with the Blueshirts? What’s the latest on the Canadiens and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor roundup.

ESPN.COM: With Chris Drury taking over as general manager of the New York Rangers, Greg Wyshynski wonders what he’ll do to carry out owner James Dolan’s wish to accelerate the club’s rebuild.

Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel springs to mind, and not just because Dolan’s never met a high-priced center he didn’t want to acquire,” wrote Wyshynski. He pointed out the Rangers have considerable depth in prospects and draft picks to use as trade bait if Eichel becomes available.

Could the New York Rangers’ new management pursue Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel in this summer’s trade market? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski also speculated the Rangers could instead look at building up the grit and strength in their roster this summer. Nevertheless, he’s not the only pundit or fan who’s linked them to Eichel in recent weeks.

The Rangers have the prospects and young players to make a competitive bid for Eichel if he and the Sabres decide to part company this summer. They also have sufficient cap space to take on his $10 million cap hit as Cap Friendly shows them carrying $57.4 million invested in 19 players for next season.

However, we don’t know if Eichel wants out of Buffalo or if the Sabres intend to entertain trade offers this summer. If they do, they could be reluctant to move him to an intra-state rival.

NEW YORK POST: Don’t expect Drury to bring back banished Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo. Larry Brooks cites a “reliable source” claiming the recent change in management won’t affect DeAngelo’s status.

The previous administration indicated DeAngelo played his final game with the Rangers since being waived on Feb. 1 in the aftermath of a post-game scuffle with teammate Alexandar Georgiev two nights earlier. He has a year remaining on his contract with a $4.5 million cap hit. Buying out that year will cost the Rangers over $383K against their cap next season and over $833K for 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo’s done as a Ranger. They could try to trade him in the offseason or hope the Seattle Kraken select him in the expansion draft. However, they’ll likely buy out his contract following this season and he’ll try to land with another NHL club on an affordable one-year deal.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has been discussing his future with team owner Geoff Molson. Bergevin has a year remaining on his contract. Friedman mentioned the discussions could involve a contract extension and what it could look like.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t sit well with those among the Montreal media and fanbase who want Bergevin fired over the Canadiens’ limited progress in recent years. Nothing seems carved in stone here but it doesn’t sound like Bergevin’s in danger of losing his job. Best to take Friedman’s suggestion of waiting to see where those decisions and conversations go.

Friedman also reported the Edmonton Oilers have been in contract extension talks with defenseman Adam Larsson since before last month’s trade deadline. They’re reportedly making good progress on what could be a four-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larsson is completing a six-year deal with an annual average value of $4.166 million. The 28-year-old has developed into a solid shutdown defenseman for the Oilers. No word on how much that new deal could be worth. The Oilers have $57.3 million committed to 14 players for 2021-22 with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyson Barrie also slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2021

The latest on the Leafs and Canadiens plus ongoing speculation about Mattias Ekholm, Rickard Rakell, Devan Dubnyk and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS AND CANADIENS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun cited the different approaches by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens toward the April 12 trade deadline. Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas is going all-in as the Leafs aim to add a forward. Meanwhile, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin indicated he might not do much owing to limited salary cap space and 14-day quarantine for players acquired from American-based teams. LeBrun also feels the Canadiens’ inconsistency thus far could affect whether Bergevin adds at the deadline.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com).

The Leafs could pursue a rental player such as New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Columbus’ Nick Foligno or Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, or a hockey deal for a player with term on his contract like Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell. Frank Seravalli also noted Dubas’ willingness to move a top prospect. He considers Rasmus Sandin as close to untouchable as possible unless Dubas can hit a home run at the deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas told reporters yesterday he’d like to get a deal done sooner rather than closer to the trade deadline because of that 14-day quarantine period. He would like to add a rental player but didn’t rule out adding a player with term if the deal made sense. Darren Dreger considers Dubas’ willingness to move a top prospect falls in line with being open to moving a first-round pick if the trade made sense.

Adding a rental forward is probably the Leafs’ best bet in terms of cost. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t think Rakell’s a fit. He observed the Anaheim Ducks’ asking price for Rakell is high, preferring younger players with a bit of NHL experience. He also said the Calgary Flames wouldn’t pay it. The Predators will also set a high ask for Forsberg.

Montreal GM Bergevin didn’t rule out making a move if it made sense but it’s clear it would have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap. Defenseman Ben Chiarot could be placed on long-term injury reserve thus giving the Habs around $3.5 million in cap relief. However, Bergevin expects he’ll return from his fractured hand by late-April, meaning the Canadiens would have to dump salary to become cap compliant.

Bergevin could make a move over the next couple of weeks if his club can string together some wins and improve their chances of securing a playoff spot. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels believes he’ll pursue a more affordable addition like Detroit’s Luke Glendening than Buffalo’s Eric Staal to shore up his depth at center.

Engels cites sources saying the Canadiens are interested in Glendening but they’ll have to move a player off their roster if they wish to have enough cap space to address their need for a left-side defenseman. He suggested a swap of forward Artturi Lehkonen for Glendening.

LATEST ON EKHOLM AND DUBNYK

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm “is the belle of the trading ball.” The Predators have made it clear they want a return similar to that the Leafs gave up two years ago to acquire Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings. That was a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a prospect.

Friedman believes the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets are among those interested in Ekholm. He’s doubtful the Philadelphia Flyers are in because they could be unwilling to pay the cost this year. The Leafs looked into it but they’re already deep on the left side of their blue line with Muzzin and Morgan Rielly. Friedman feels Ekholm would be a good fit with the Edmonton Oilers but he believes Oilers GM Ken Holland wants to build up his draft and prospect capital.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss doesn’t believe the Bruins should pursue Ekholm when their obvious priority is landing a top-six forward. He points out secondary scoring is their most glaring issue right now.

Eric Engels also mentioned the Canadiens as a suitor for Ekholm if they can find a way to shed a salary such as Tomas Tatar or Joel Armia. Based on Bergevin’s comments, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be pursuing the Predators’ defenseman.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes San Jose Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk could be available by the trade deadline. Dubnyk has a 10-team no-trade list but LeBrun feels he’d waive it for the right contender and the right fit. The Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals come to mind as possible destinations. The Avs are in the market for a short-term replacement for sidelined backup Pavel Francouz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk isn’t a full-time starter anymore but he has plenty of playoff experience and could be a worthwhile addition for playoff contenders in a backup role. Making the dollars fit, however, could be tricky. He carries a $4.33 million annual average value with over $1.9 million remaining to be paid.

MORE TRADE TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S “31 THOUGHTS

The Jets need one more defenseman. Ekholm or David Savard would be a good fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard might be the better one as they seem to have more of a need to address the right side.

The Ducks were asked about Max Jones but that’s a no-go. Friedman said we’ll see where things go with Troy Terry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman last Saturday said he’d heard Terry might welcome a change of scenery. However, The Athletic’s Eric Stephens subsequently cited a source saying that’s not the case.

The New Jersey Devils and Kyle Palmieri have started conversations about the pending UFA’s future. Friedman thinks the Bruins, New York Islanders and Leafs could be interested if Palmieri hits the trade block.

Friedman believes Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will consider almost anything heading toward the trade deadline. He feels Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider aren’t going anywhere. There’s interest in pending UFA goalie Jonathan Bernier.

It could be difficult for the Vancouver Canucks to re-sign pending UFA winger Tanner Pearson with Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes due for new contracts as well.

The Colorado Avalanche is one of the teams seeking a Blake Coleman-type player.

The Chicago Blackhawks are in a position to absorb a contract or two for the right assets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli also reported on this, pointing out they’ve got $22 million in LTIR cap space. They’re willing to take on a rival team’s bad contract if they can also get some good assets (draft picks, prospects) as part of the return.