NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2020

Recaps of the second day of exhibition games, an update on John Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes, the Blackhawks announce initiatives to honor Native American culture, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EXHIBITION GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat combined for 10 points as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Florida Panthers 5-0. Point led the way with two goals and two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the shutout with a 26-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gave up five goals on 34 shots, but he was hung out to dry by his teammates. The Panthers must improve their defensive play before they face off against the New York Islanders in their qualifying round series.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied twice and set up another to lead his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Capitals defenseman John Carlson left the game in the final 10 minutes as a precautionary measure after crashing awkwardly into the boards. An update on his condition is expected today. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 16 shots before being replaced by James Reimer.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 37 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Jets captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist. Teammate Nikolaj Ehlers also scored, but left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. No word yet as to his status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the long layoff had little effect on Hellebuyck’s performance. The Vezina Trophy finalist was on top of his game against the Canucks. Ehlers may have aggravated an ailment that nagged him throughout training camp.

Dominik Kubalik scored twice and added an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 11 saves through two periods.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford looked sharp in this contest after missing most of the Blackhawks’ training camp when he tested positive for COVID-19. His performance against the Blues is a good sign as he and his teammates face the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round.

Colorado Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Joonas Donskoi were the goal scorers as their club edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Wild center Eric Staal had a goal and an assist. The Avs killed off seven of eight penalties.

Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss combined for 26 saves as the New York Islanders held off the New York Rangers 2-1. Anthony Beauvillier and Devon Toews scored for the Isles. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal left the game in the second period for precautionary reasons and isn’t expected to miss their qualifying series against the Hurricanes.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Howie Kussoy cites multiple reports claiming former Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka’s relationship with the club’s ownership was irrevocably damaged when he lied about having a job interview with the New Jersey Devils, who then were uninterested in hiring him. Chayka resigned from the Coyotes last weekend as the club was preparing to head to Edmonton for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan.

An NHL team approached Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo about a month ago seeking permission to speak to Chayka, which Meruelo rejected. Chayka then reportedly lied to Meruelo about the Devils’ interest, only to subsequently request his contract be terminated so he could pursue an opportunity within the Devils ownership’s sports portfolio.

Meruelo felt betrayed but wanted to wait until the season ended to discuss this with Chayka, but the latter felt that was unreasonable. The situation quickly deteriorated, culminating in Chayka’s departure from the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has degenerated into a messy they-said/he said situation with each side blaming the other. If Chayka lied about the Devils interview, it could damage his reputation and his efforts to find employment elsewhere in the NHL.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are taking steps designed to honor Native American culture. They’ve banned headdresses at their games and intend to incorporate Native American culture and education into their arena and the games there. The club has resisted calls to change its nickname and logo after the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced they were moving on from their nickname.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed forward Anders Bjork to a three-year, $4.8-million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins now have over $65.1 million invested in 19 players for 2020-21. Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and team captain Zdeno Chara are among the notables still to be re-signed.

TSN: Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has taken on a volunteer advisory role with the Vermont Catamounts coaching staff.

LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens winger Dale Weise denied a report out of Switzerland claiming he signed a contract with Swiss club HC Lausanne.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2020

Check out the latest on the Bruins, Oilers, and Sharks, plus an update on Robin Lehner in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST BRUINS TRADE BUZZ

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Jacob Camenker cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting the Boston Bruins could pursue Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli. “I’ll tell you this, I do think Boston if they wanted to, could do a deal for Toffoli almost at any time. I think they know they’ve got that in their hip pocket,” Friedman said. He added the question was whether they’d do that deal or wait for New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider to become available. Friedman said he’s been told the Rangers are starting to think more about keeping Kreider.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri checks all the boxes for the Bruins. If Palmieri’s available in the trade market, one NHL assistant general manager suggested the Bruins could make a pitch similar to the one that landed Charlie Coyle last year from the Minnesota Wild. Shinzawa proposed offering up winger Anders Bjork and perhaps a prospect like Axel Andersson for Palmieri, who’s signed through 2020-21.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports league sources confirmed the Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks have talked trade. One source mentioned Bruins defenseman John Moore as a possible trade target for the Hawks, who are in the market for a third-pairing rearguard.

Murphy also claims Bruins GM Don Sweeney has an interest in Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad and Rangers winger Chris Kreider. With only $1.7 million in salary-cap space, Sweeney must shed some salary to make room for a top-six winger. Moore has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $2.7 million.

Are the Boston Bruins close to acquiring LA Kings winger Tyler Toffoli? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After falling just short of winning the Stanley Cup last spring, the Bruins are all-in this season. Sweeney’s not reluctant to make significant moves before the trade deadline, acquiring Coyle and Marcus Johansson last year and Rick Nash in 2018.

Be it Toffoli, Kreider, Saad, or somebody else, I believe the Bruins GM will pursue a top-six winger before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Anders Bjork could be packaged with a prospect or draft pick to acquire that winger. Given the Bruins’ limited salary-cap space, Sweeney must dump some salary and perhaps get a trade partner to pick up part of the salary of the player he’s pursuing to get a deal done.

WILL THE OILERS BOLSTER THEIR ROSTER BEFORE THE TRADE DEADLINE?

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos believes the Edmonton Oilers must add a top-six winger to avoid wasting another MVP season from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. While the Oilers hold a playoff position in the Western Conference, they’re not that far ahead of the ninth-place Vancouver Canucks. He suggests pursuing Ottawa Senators winger Anthony Duclair, who has 21 goals and 32 points in 43 games this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL’s Jim Matheson recently tweeted Oilers GM Ken Holland will help his players out at the trade deadline by going after a third-line center. He wondered if Holland might look at Nashville’s Nick Bonino if the Preds fail to gain ground in the standings, but only if they pick up part of his $4.1-million AAV through next season.

Matheson also speculated Holland could look at Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou. He doesn’t believe Holland will trade his first-round pick in this year’s draft but feels the second-rounder and a defense prospect could be in play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t dismiss the possibility of the Senators parting ways with Duclair, but he’s a restricted free agent this summer and they’re under no pressure to move him before the trade deadline. If he keeps playing well, the Sens could be keen to re-sign him.

Predators GM David Poile made a coaching change in hopes of getting his team back into the playoff chase. If they keep spinning their wheels, however, a roster shakeup could be in order, and that could include shopping Bonino before the trade deadline.

Not sure how interested Holland would be to acquire Athanasiou. The young forward staged an ill-advised contract standoff with Holland in 2017 but subsequently re-signed a two-year deal with no fuss. The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

Holland also has winger Jesse Puljujarvi as a trade chip. He recently told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun he wouldn’t rule out moving Puljujarvi for a playoff rental, depending on who that player was. However, I still think Holland intends to use the winger to seek a more long-term return.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE SHARKS?

THE ATHLETIC: With San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture sidelined for several weeks with a fractured ankle, Kevin Kurz examined how his absence will affect the Sharks lineup. He also suggested it could make GM Doug Wilson’s trade-deadline plans less complicated. The problem is Wilson doesn’t have much to sell as most of his key assets have various forms of no-trade protection. He believes defenseman Brendan Dillon is a goner and forward Melker Karlsson could also be on the way out.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton also weighed in on the struggling Sharks’ woes without Couture. In addition to Dillon and Karlsson likely hitting the trade block, Clinton suggested shopping defenseman Tim Heed and goalie Aaron Dell. He also recommended asking Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau if they want an opportunity to chase a Stanley Cup elsewhere. Clinton acknowledged whatever returns the Sharks get for those players won’t include first- or second-round picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a significant second-half turnaround, the Sharks aren’t going to reach the playoffs. They’re currently eight points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.

Wilson won’t get much back for those suggested trade bait, but whatever he gets will be better than nothing at all. He gambled everything on this roster, even giving up a first-round pick in this year’s draft for Erik Karlsson. Wilson must restock his prospect pipeline and look toward the summer in hopes of finding some affordable NHL talent via trades or free agency.

NO HOMETOWN DISCOUNT FOR LEHNER

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Jimmy Greenfield reports Robin Lehner made it clear he’s not accepting another discount on his next contract. The 28-year-old goaltender said he enjoys being a Blackhawks and hopes to remain part of their future. However, he’s also accepted contract discounts throughout his NHL career.

“I’m not a guy that wants to be overpaid either. I want to gain some respect that I think I deserve, and we’ll see if that happens or not,” he said. Lehner knows the market is wide-open for goaltenders this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, if the Blackhawks won’t pony up a lucrative long-term deal worth considerably more than the $5 million he’s earning this season, there are plenty of other NHL clubs willing to do so this summer.

They could include the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, or Ottawa Senators. The Vancouver Canucks could also come calling if they can’t get Jacob Markstrom re-signed, as well as the Edmonton Oilers if they’re not sold on Mikko Koskinen as their starter.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2019

Game recaps, Ryan Johansen suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Thomas Greiss made 19 saves as the New York Islanders blanked the Washington Capitals 2-0. During a break in the first period, the Capitals honored Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz, who coached the Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season. With the win, the Islanders take over first place in the Metropolitan Division and extend their win streak to four games. 

Vancouver Canucks rookie goalie Thatcher Demko made 36 saves in his season debut to backstop his club to a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Canucks forwards Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each had two points for the Canucks (50 points), who vaulted over the Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

Two power-play goals by Sam Bennett helped the Calgary Flames defeat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 (Photo via NHL Images).

Three power-play goals and a shorthanded tally carried the Calgary Flames to a 6-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Sam Bennett netted two of their power-play goals. Red Wings center Dylan Larkin also scored twice. The Flames sit first overall in the Western Conference with a three-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets.  Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic returned to action after missing two games tending to his daughter, who became seriously ill last weekend and was rushed to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to the Hamonic family as their daughter recovers from her illness. 

The Florida Panthers snapped a seven-game losing streak by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck made his return after missing 27 games to an ankle injury and assisted on Mike Matheson’s game-winning goal. 

Montreal Canadiens forwards Tomas Tatar and Joel Armia each scored twice in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 34 saves as his club won its fourth straight contest while ending the Jackets four-game win streak. 

The Ottawa Senators collected their fourth win in their last five games by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Anders Nilsson kicked out 33 shots for the win. 

Phil Kessel scored in overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. 

The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen for two games for high-sticking Jets center Mark Scheifele on Thursday. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins forward Anders Bjork underwent season-ending surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. His recovery will last five-to-six months. 

NBC SPORTS: Former Buffalo Sabres forward Patrik Berglund told a Swedish publication he’s at peace with his decision to quit the club just a little over two months into this season. He claimed he lost some of his passion for hockey after being traded by the St. Louis Blues last summer. He added his emotions had nothing to do with playing in Buffalo and he apologized to Sabres fans for betraying them. 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 3, 2018

Latest on the Leafs, Bruins, and Wild in your NHL rumor mill.

CAN LEAFS AFFORD TO RE-SIGN GARDINER?

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston reports William Nylander’s new six-year, $41.77-million contract could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs’ efforts to re-sign Jake Gardiner. The 28-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next July and is earning an annual average value of $4.05 million on his current deal. The Leafs must also re-sign star forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, who become restricted free agents next summer and will be due to receive significant raises.

Can the Toronto Maple Leafs afford to re-sign Jake Gardiner? (Photo via NHL Images)

Johnston cites colleague Nick Kypreos could command between $6 million to $7 million per season on the open market next summer, though that might not be feasible for the Leafs, who have over $56 million invested in 12 players for 2019-20. Kypreos believes if Gardiner is willing to accept a slight increase over his current cap hit the Leafs would be more than willing to sign him to a long-term deal. Elliotte Friedman suggests using signing bonuses as a way of getting Gardiner to accept less than what he’d get via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could cost around $22 million for the Leafs to get Matthews and Marner under contract, pushing the Leafs’ cap hit to around $78 million committed to 14 players. Even if Gardiner agrees to a slight pay bump, the Leafs won’t have much room to re-sign him and still have enough room to fill out the rest of their roster. They’ll have to shed some salary to free up sufficient cap space or watch Gardiner depart via free agency. 

RECENT BRUINS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty addressed trade suggestions and questions from his readers. Asked about the possibility of adding a power forward, Haggerty suggested Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds could be a good short-term option if he’s available by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: if the Flyers don’t gain ground soon in the Eastern Conference standings, their new general manager (whoever that might be) could try to trade him before the Feb. 25, 2019 deadline. Despite Simmonds’ struggles this season, he could still attract plenty of interest from playoff contenders (like the Bruins) in need of a two-way physical presence on their forward lines. 

To add some secondary scoring, Haggerty suggests dealing from some of their surplus young wingers. He in favor of moving Anders Bjork as he’s not sure Bjork fits into the Bruins’ big picture. They might also have to part with Ryan Donato or Danton Heinen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those three have frequently surfaced in the trade-rumor mill of late. One of them could be playing elsewhere by the trade deadline. 

Regarding the possibility of trading defenseman Torey Krug, Haggerty feels there’s more upside to keeping Krug than in trading him. The only reason to move him would be if there’s significant value for him in the trade market. Haggerty also shoots down the idea of dealing for St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko, citing the high cost to land him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins aren’t landing Tarasenko and I don’t see the Blues making such an extreme move this season. If they decide to shop Taranseko, it’ll happen in the offseason, perhaps during the 2019 NHL Draft.

As for Krug, he was frequently mentioned in last summer’s trade chatter but that talk has since died away. Seems the Bruins value his puck-moving abilities and offensive contributions. 

LATEST WILD RUMORS

THE ATHLETIC: During a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked about recent speculation claiming the Boston Bruins could be interested in Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle. He believes Coyle might benefit from a fresh start and playing in his hometown. He mentioned Bruins forward Ryan Donato as an intriguing possibility for the Wild. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo’s colleague Joe McDonald recently reported the Bruins could revisit their offseason interest in Coyle, suggesting it could take packaging one of their young forwards with a draft pick to acquire him. Since then, however, there’s been nothing really new about this speculation. Could be worth watching as Wild GM Paul Fenton continues to evaluate his roster. 

Asked if the Wild should pursue Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, Russo feels it depends on the asking price. He’d also like to see how Puljujarvi performs under new Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Oilers remain reluctant to part with Puljujarvi as they fear he’ll blossom elsewhere. Baring a significant offer, they’re unlikely to move him this season. 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 2, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 2, 2018

Could William Nylander fit with the Hurricanes or Flyers? What’s the latest on the Bruins and Rangers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RUMORS LINK NYLANDER TO HURRICANES AND FLYERS

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During a recent appearance on Toronto’s TSN 1050, Pierre LeBrun was asked about the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs landing defenseman Brett Pesce if they were to trade William Nylander to the Carolina Hurricanes. He said it’s his understanding the Hurricanes would consider it. However, he reminds us we still don’t know if the Leafs intend to trade Nylander. It’s also one thing for the Hurricanes to be among the clubs believed monitoring Nylanders’ status but it’s another to say they can sign him.

Could the Carolina Hurricanes consider trading Brett Pesce to Toronto for William Nylander? (Photo via NHL Images)

During this week’s “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman said the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t been mentioned much regarding Nylander but he thinks they have the pieces to interest the Leafs. “So who have we mentioned. We’ve mentioned – if Toronto gets to this point – we’ve mentioned Los Angeles, we’ve mentioned Minnesota, Carolina definitely – they’re all over the place there – but I really do believe that a stealth team that has what Toronto would want would be the Flyers.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting note from LeBrun regarding Pesce. The Hurricanes value him highly but one can’t blame them for at least considering the possibility of moving him for a skilled top-six forward like Nylander. Pesce would probably be the Leafs’ asking price. The 23-year-old is a mobile blueliner with good size (6’3, 200 pounds), a right-handed shot and (stick tap to Cap Friendly) carries an affordable $4.025-million salary-cap hit through 2023-24. 

As for the Flyers, NBC Sports’ John Boruk is skeptical about their chances of landing Nylander. If the Leafs want a defenseman, Boruk dismisses the notion of the Flyers parting with Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim and doubts they’ll move promising Philippe Myers. “If I’m Hextall, (Robert) Hagg may be the only defenseman I’d be willing to part with in a deal for Nylander and it would likely take a little bit more on the Flyers’ end to facilitate a trade.” He also questions if the Flyers could re-sign Nylander and where he would fit among their top-six forwards.

UPDATES ON THE BRUINS AND RANGERS

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on Toronto’s TSN 1050 yesterday, Darren Dreger noted the Boston Bruins have some good young players, such as Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork, who are “kind of similar to one another” that they might be willing to move for an experienced forward. “Maybe, maybe there’s a fit, maybe there’s a piece in Los Angeles that makes sense to Boston, and L.A. gets a cheaper, younger player, as an example. And I use L.A. just for sake of discussion here. I’m not suggesting that there’s any trade dialogue happening between those clubs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are in need of secondary scoring and recent media speculation suggests they either want a second-line winger or a third-line center. The Kings could soon be in the market for younger, more affordable forwards and Heinen or Bjork could be interesting to them.

Jeff Carter, who lacks a no-trade clause in his contract, checks the box in terms of top-six experience. However, he’s also 33, missed most of last season to injury and carries a $5.27-million AAV through 2021-22. The Bruins would probably have more interest in younger, more affordable options like Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson. 

During this week’s “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman spoke about the possibility of the New York Rangers shopping pending free agent veterans Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes. Co-host Jeff Marek asked about moving defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Friedman believes he’d be more difficult to trade because he’s still got term on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected Zuccarello and Hayes will be traded by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline, if not sooner than that. Shattenkirk is in the second season of a four-year deal with an annual average value of $6.65-million per season. He also carries a 10-team no-trade list. Not saying he can’t be dealt but as Friedman observed he’ll be tougher to move. 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2018

Updates on the Leafs, Hurricanes, Bruins, Ducks, and Senators in your NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST “INSIDER TRADING”

TSN: While the Toronto Maple Leafs insist they’re not shopping restricted free agent William Nylander, Pierre LeBrun reports teams are keeping track of the contract impasse. He speculates the Leafs might change their minds if this standoff drags into November and the Dec. 1 deadline to sign Nylander approaches.

LeBrun suggests the Carolina Hurricanes could be a team worth watching because of their prior interest in Nylander and their defensive depth. LeBrun believes Hurricanes blueliner Brett Pesce would be of interest to the Leafs, as he’s a top-four defenseman on a six-year contract with a cap-friendly contract worth over $4 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes could be reluctant to part with Pesce, preferring instead to offer up Justin Faulk, who’s been linked to the Leafs for some time in the rumor mill. LeBrun recently reported Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas contacted the Hurricanes this summer about Faulk but it was a brief conversation and Nylander wasn’t brought up. 

A strong season for Kasperi Kapanen could result in a hefty raise for the Toronto Maple Leafs winger. (Photo via NHL Images)

Darren Dreger addressed Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen’s strong start to this season skating alongside Auston Matthews and the possible effect upon his next contract. Kapanen is in the final year of his entry-level deal and Dreger speculates he could be looking at $5-million per season if he reaches 40, 50 or 60 points this season. It could mean the Leafs face shedding someone in a cost-cutting move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That move doesn’t have to happen this season but it certainly must take place next summer. Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs currently have over $49 million invested in 11 players for 2019-20, with forwards Kapanen, Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner to re-sign, as well as defensemen Ron Hainsey and Jake Gardiner to re-sign or replace.

By my conservative estimates, Matthews could get around $12 million per season, Marner at least $8 million, and Nylander between $4 million to $8 million depending on the length of the deal and how much the Leafs are willing to pay. If Kapanen becomes a $5 million per season player, the Leafs simply won’t have enough cap-payroll space to fill out the remainder of their roster. Matthews and Marner won’t be going anywhere, meaning the choice could come down to Nylander or Kapanen. 

Dreger also reports the Boston Bruins could be in the market for an experienced forward, preferably a center, and might dangle one of their young players as trade bait. He said Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen are “potentially out there”. Dreger added he’s not saying those players are being shopped “but maybe there’s a team that has experienced forwards that they want to swap out with a younger more inexpensive player.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heinen showed promise in his debut last season with 47 points but he’s scoreless through four games this season and was a healthy scratch against the Red Wings last Saturday. Bjork has two points in four games and seems to be regaining his form after being sidelined by shoulder surgery last February. The Bruins aren’t under any pressure to make a move right now and will likely remain patient but could keep an eye on the trade market in the coming weeks.

Bob McKenzie reports Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion and agent Pat Brisson met yesterday. “The obvious point of discussion there was preliminary talks about Matt Duchene’s future.” He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer and can sign an extension at any time.

McKenzie reports the chilly contract standoff between the Anaheim Ducks and restricted free agent Nick Ritchie shows signs of thawing. It’s expected the young forward could get a three-year deal in the coming days, provided there are no further hiccups in negotiations.