NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Pittsburgh Penguins
The Bruins become the first team to reach 100 points this season, Mika Zibanejad and Filip Forsberg set franchise records with their respective clubs and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask kicked out 36 shots to shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Matt Grzelcyk and Patrice Bergeron were the goal scorers as the league-leading Bruins became the first team to reach 100 points this season. The Flyers played without defenseman Philippe Myers, who’s sidelined at least four weeks with a fractured patella in his right knee.
Mika Zibanejad became the fastest player to reach 40 goals in New York Rangers history in a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Rookie Kaapo Kakko scored twice for the Rangers (78 points), who sit three points out of an Eastern wild-card berth. The slumping Stars (82 points) sit third in the Central Division, but they’re winless in their last six contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how many great scorers the Rangers have had in their long history, that’s quite an achievement by Zibanejad.
The Nashville Predators (78 points) moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference by doubling up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Filip Forsberg scored twice, becoming the first player in Predators’ history to register six 20-goal seasons. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens announced leading scorer Tomas Tatar is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
Auston Matthews’ 47th goal of the season was also the game-winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Teammate Mitch Marner collected two assists as the Leafs (81 points) opened a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers for third place in the Atlantic Division. Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly returned to action for the first time after suffering a broken foot nearly two months ago. The Lightning are eight points behind the Bruins.
Evgeni Malkin scored twice and picked up an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the New Jersey Devils 5-2. With 86 points, the Penguins sit third in the Metropolitan Division. Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced center Nick Bjugstad is considered week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.
Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian tallied twice and added an assist in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek made 23 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a concussion in late February. With 81 points, the Canes move into the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Wings, meanwhile, have the dubious honor of clinching last place in the overall standings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The silver lining for the Wings is they have the best odds of winning the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.
The struggling New York Islanders winless skid reached seven games as they fell 5-4 in a shootout to the Vancouver Canucks. Brock Nelson scored twice for the Isles while Thatcher Demko made 45 saves for the Canucks (78 points), who moved back into the second Western wild-card berth, The Isles (80 points) sit one point out of an Eastern wild-card spot.
A natural hat trick by Nicolas Deslauriers carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon’s status remains uncertain after suffering a lower-body injury during Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar is expected to provide an update later today. Meanwhile, the Avs announced former Colorado Rockies stars and MLB Hall-of-Famer Larry Walker will be their honorary emergency backup goalie during Sunday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placing Troy Brouwer on waivers has raised speculation sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko could be nearing a return from shoulder surgery.
CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic could return to action against the Islanders on Thursday.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets assigned Mark Letestu to their AHL affiliate for a conditioning stint. A diagnosis of myocarditis sidelined him for all but seven games this season.
THE SCORE: The Columbus Blue Jackets will continue to allow fans at their home games despite the Ohio governor’s recommendation that indoor sports events be held without spectators over coronavirus concerns. The team has recommended those fans at higher risk, including the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, should avoid these events.
Updates on the Penguins, Rangers, and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.
PENGUINS SHOPPING GALCHENYUK, INTERESTED IN TOFFOLI OR ZUCKER?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are talking to teams again about moving winger Alex Galchenyuk. They’d like a draft pick or a bottom-six forward in return because that’s the role Galchenyuk’s filling with them, one that’s not suited for his skills.
Bob McKenzie reports replacing sidelined winger Jake Guentzel remains the priority for Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. It’s assumed he’ll look at rental players like the Rangers’ Chris Kreider or the LA Kings’ Tyler Toffoli. However, McKenzie said Rutherford could seek a hockey trade by moving players off his roster to acquire a top-six forward signed beyond this season.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports Rutherford could free up cap space by placing Guentzel’s $6 million annual average salary on long-term injury reserve for the remainder of the season. He could also attempt shopping Galchenyuk ($4.9 million) or Nick Bjugstad ($4.1 million).
It’s hard to imagine Rutherford getting much in return for Galchenyuk, leading Mackey to speculate the Pens might have to part with draft picks and/or prospects, perhaps even their 2020 first-round pick. He listed Kreider, Toffoli, Chicago’s Brandon Saad, or Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau as trade targets.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: cited a report from The Athletic’s Michael Russo indicating the Penguins have renewed interest in Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker. They attempted to acquire Zucker last spring in exchange for Phil Kessel but the latter nixed the deal. TSN’s Bob McKenzie suggested Kings winger Tyler Toffoli as another trade option for the Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford will do something before the deadline. With his club playing well despite their injury-depleted roster, he can take his time finding a suitable deal. I think he’ll try moving out Galchenyuk and/or Bjugstad, perhaps to bring in that top-six winger like Saad or Zucker with term on his contract. That could involve packaging his first-round pick in the deal.
Zucker is nearing a return to action after being sidelined by a broken leg since Dec. 17. His availability will depend upon where the Wild are in the standings and if GM Bill Guerin is willing to part with him for the right offer.
It was Guerin’s predecessor Paul Fenton who nearly shipped Zucker to Pittsburgh for Kessel. Fenton was also close to sending Zucker to Calgary at last year’s trade deadline. Guerin, however, could decide Zucker’s worth retaining, especially if the Wild remain in the playoff chase by the trade deadline.
LATEST ON ANDERSSON AND DEANGELO
TSN: Darren Dreger said reports are suggesting New York Rangers forward Lias Andersson is potentially dealing with mental health issues. He and his agent denied this, indicating he’s to undergo a minor surgical procedure on his foot. Unhappy over his role with the Rangers, Andersson returned to Sweden last month and requested a trade.
Bob McKenzie reports the Rangers are receiving calls on Andersson. They’re prepared to move him before the Feb. 24 trade deadline if they get the right prospect in return. They’re less interested in a draft pick. They also don’t want to be hasty moving Andersson to avoid sending the wrong message that they’ll trade players in their system who pack up and go home.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Rangers management is staying mum on Andersson’s situation, their three-goaltender system, and potential decisions on pending UFAs Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast and RFAs Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, and Alexandar Georgiev. It’s believed Andersson hasn’t spoken with the Rangers since his suspension for walking out on their AHL affiliate in Hartford. Brooks said there’s an extreme disconnect between the young forward’s self-evaluation and the Rangers’ assessment of his status and performance
Brooks also reports DeAngelo could put the Rangers in salary-cap hell next season. The 24-year-old defenseman is on pace for a 69-point performance this season. Forced to accept a one-year, $925k contract last summer, DeAngelo has salary-arbitration rights this summer.
Brooks suggests Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson’s new contract (six years, $4.55-million per season) as a comparable, wondering how high DeAngelo’s asking price could go. He also thinks Ryan Strome’s play this season could push the winger into the $5-$6 million per season range.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson’s made cryptic statements to the Swedish media regarding his time within the Rangers’ organization. He said many incidents disturbed him, leading one journalist to speculate the young forward was bullied. It seems there are irreconcilable differences between Andersson and Rangers’ management. If he’s not moved before the trade deadline, he’ll likely get traded in the offseason.
Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $66.7 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. At DeAngelo’s current rate of production, he could seek over $5 million annually on his next contract. Given his age and value to the Rangers’ blueline, they can’t afford to lose him. It could force the Rangers to part ways with Kreider and Fast.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
TSN: Darren Dreger yesterday told TSN Radio 690 that the conversation around the league that the Montreal Canadiens aren’t thinking about a complete rebuild, nor are they interested in doing so soon. Pierre LeBrun believes Habs management will decide their plans for the remainder of the season during their Jan. 20 bye week.
If they haven’t gained ground in the standings by then, LeBrun feels they could become sellers. If recently-acquired winger Ilya Kovalchuk continues playing well, LeBrun thinks he could be flipped at the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Barring a stunning reversal of fortune, the Canadiens will be sellers leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Pending UFAs like Kovalchuk, Nate Thompson, and Marco Scandella are the most likely trade candidates.
Don’t expect high-priced talent like Carey Price and Shea Weber to be going anywhere. I also don’t see them shopping RFA Max Domi. He’s well-liked within the organization, loves playing in Montreal, and among their few skilled veteran forwards. Maybe they try shopping Tomas Tatar, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.
The Islanders set a franchise-record points streak, Sheldon Keefe gets his first win as the Leafs’ coach, Claude Giroux has a four-point game, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders extended their points streak to a franchise-record 16 games (15-0-1) with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brock Nelson scored twice (including his second straight overtime tally) while teammate Mathew Barzal collected three assists. Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist scored in his return from injury. Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced Justin Schultz (lower body) and Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery) will be sidelined for a while. Bjugstad could be out for eight weeks.
Sheldon Keefe picked up his first win as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs as they snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside 30 shots while Auston Matthews netted his 15th goal of the season. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced Keefe signed a new contract through 2022.
Claude Giroux scored twice and set up two others leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, snapping a four-game winless skid. Travis Konecny collected three assists in the victory.
Jordan Binnington had a 40-save shutout and Zach Sanford enjoyed the first four-point performance of his NHL career in a 5-0 blanking of the Calgary Flames. Sanford had a goal and three assists while Oskar Sundqvist tallied two goals. The Flames are winless in their last six games.
The Boston Bruins extended their points streak to six games by edging the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Brad Marchand scored twice and goaltender Tuukka Rask made a highlight-reel save with his blocker hand. The Sabres have dropped three straight and have just one victory in their last 10 contests.
An overtime goal by Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad completed a five-goal rally as his club downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-4. Ekblad and Brett Connolly each scored two goals. Ondrej Kase had a goal and an assist for the Ducks. The Panthers have surged into fourth overall in the Eastern Conference.
Third-period goals by Oliver Bjorkstrand, Boone Jenner, and Eric Robinson powered the Columbus Blues Jackets over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. The Jackets have won four of their last six contests. Tyler Bertuzzi scored twice for the Wings. The Jackets also announced Paul MacLean was joining their coaching staff.
The Vancouver Canucks netted five power-play goals on route to a 6-3 pasting of the Nashville Predators, extending the latter’s winless skid to six. Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom kicked out 45 shots while teammates Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes each collected three points.
Jason Zucker netted the game-winner as the Minnesota Wild nipped the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. Cale Makar tallied twice for the Avs.
Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Curtis McElhinney made 32 saves as his club held on for a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos left the game with a lower-body injury. The Bolts were also playing without winger Nikita Kucherov, who remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.
The Dallas Stars blew a 3-0 lead but rallied to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3. Jamie Benn tallied the game-winner and Corey Perry picked up three assists for the Stars, who’ve won five straight to sit fourth overall in the Western Conference.
The San Jose Sharks picked up their seventh victory in their last eight games by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1. Logan Couture picked up the winner in overtime. Aaron Dell made 37 saves for the win.
Tyler Toffoli scored twice and Jeff Carter had a three-point night as the Los Angeles Kings thumped the Edmonton Oilers 5-1. Connor McDavid tallied the Oilers’ only goal. Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson returned to the lineup after being sidelined with a broken fibula since their season-opener.
Marc-Andre Fleury picks up his 450th career win, the Islanders tie a franchise-record points streak, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 450th career win backstopping his club over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Fleury made a spectacular glove save on the Leafs’ Nic Petan in the third period. He sits just three wins behind New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist for sixth on the all-time list. The Leafs are winless in their last six games.
The New York Islanders tied a franchise record as their point streak reached 15 games in a 5-4 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Isles overcame a 4-2 deficit to force the extra frame. Brock Nelson scored twice, including the game-winning goal. Earlier in the day, the Penguins revealed center Nick Bjugstad will be sidelined longer than expected with an undisclosed ailment. Bjugstad was hurt during Friday’s loss to New Jersey.
Connor McDavid had his third-straight multi-point game as his Edmonton Oilers beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. McDavid scored and set up two others while Leon Draisaitl picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 13 games.
The Colorado Avalanche held off the Calgary Flames 3-2, leaving the latter winless in their last five. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 30 saves in his first game since a five-game absence with a lower-body injury. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists. Earlier in the day, the Flames revealed Sam Bennett is week-to-week with an upper-body injury. They also played without defenseman Travis Hamonic (lower body).
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out 35 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Aleksander Barkov, Evgenii Dadonov, and Brett Connolly each collected two points for the Panthers, who picked up their fourth win in their last five games.
The Boston Bruins extended their points streak to five games by downing the New Jersey Devils 5-1. David Pastrnak and Matt Grzelcyk each scored twice for the Bruins, who were playing without center Patrice Bergeron (lower-body injury) for the second straight game. Devils goaltender Cory Schneider cleared waivers earlier in the day and was assigned to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton.
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice and set up another to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The Jackets broke the game open with three third-period goals.
The St. Louis Blues snapped a three-game winless skid by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period following a hit from Brayden Schenn and didn’t return.
Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 38 shots as the Winnipeg Jets nipped the Nashville Predators 2-1. Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers were the goal scorers for the Jets as teammate Mathieu Perreault played in his 600th career NHL game. The Predators raised eyebrows by making Kyle Turris a healthy scratch.
The Carolina Hurricanes collected their fourth straight victory by doubling up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Petr Mrazek made 30 saves while Nino Niederreiter had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes.
Jamie Benn scored twice to lead the Dallas Stars over the Vancouver Canucks 6-1. Tyler Seguin, Corey Perry, and Miro Heiskanen each collected two points for the Stars, who’ve won four straight.
Zach Parise scored twice to lead the Minnesota Wild over the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. Alex Stalock made 30 saves for the Wild. The Sabres have just one win in their last nine contests.
Anthony Duclair tallied two goals and added an assist as the Ottawa Senators edged the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. Senators goalie Anders Nilsson made 35 stops.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player discipline for spitting at Anaheim Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson.
CBS SPORTS: The Los Angeles Kings placed Mario Kempe on unconditional waivers.
TSN: The NHL has renamed the NHL General Manager of the Year Award to the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. Gregory spent 10 seasons as the Toronto Maple Leafs GM and another 40 years as an NHL executive. He recently passed away at age 83.
The latest on the Penguins and Blackhawks plus some suggested destinations for Josh Ho-Sang in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT WILL THE PENGUINS DO WITH THEIR EXTRA SALARY-CAP ROOM?
THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi examines what the Pittsburgh Penguins could do with their extra cap room beyond this season after trading Erik Gudbranson and his $4-million annual salary-cap hit to Anaheim yesterday. They could attempt to re-sign goaltender Matt Murray or defenseman Marcus Petterson to a contract extension. He also suggests packaging goaltender Tristan Jarry with a forward like Nick Bjugstad, Zach Aston-Reese or Dominik Kahun for a rental scorer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe that extra $4 million will go toward Murray, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. It wouldn’t be surprising if Rutherford swings another trade later this season. He could bring in a rental player or perhaps something that provides some long-term help. For now, I think he’ll wait for his roster to get healthier to gauge their performance before making another move.
FIVE SUGGESTED TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR HO-SANG
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, and Arizona Coyotes top Steven Ellis’ list of suggested trade destinations for Josh Ho-Sang. The winger is currently in Toronto awaiting a trade by the New York Islanders.
Ellis believes the Oilers should swap Jesse Puljujarvi for Ho-Sang. Puljujarvi is playing in Finland awaiting a trade. Ellis suggests a reunion with midget hockey linemate Connor McDavid might spark Ho-Sang.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I explained in a recent Rumor Roundup for The Hockey News, Puljujarvi is believed to have more upside than Ho-Sang. There’s a belief the young Finn can still blossom into a top-six winger, something Ho-Sang hasn’t done at the NHL and AHL levels.
Ellis felt Ho-Sang could be an affordable fix for the Bruins’ lack of right-wing depth. He also suggests the Coyotes flip disappointing Christian Fischer or struggling Lawson Crouse for Ho-Sang.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins though Ho-Sang would help they would’ve acquired him by now. I’m not sure the Coyotes are willing to give up on Fletcher but could part with Crouse. As Ellis points out, he and Ho-Sang are once-promising prospects who haven’t played up to potential.
Ellis also suggests the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators as possible destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes are believed in the market for a top-nine forward. They were angling for winger Ondrej Kase in trade talks regarding defenseman Justin Faulk with the Anaheim Ducks before shipping the blueliner to St. Louis. Ho-Sang isn’t in Kase’s class. The rebuilding Senators, meanwhile, don’t appear to be interested in the Islanders’ winger.
LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Madeline Kenney reports Blackhawks forward Brendan Perlini confirmed TSN’s recent report claiming he has requested a trade. He’s discouraged by his lack of playing time after being a healthy scratch in seven of their eight games this season. Kenney said Perlini doesn’t want his situation to become a distraction for his teammates.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Blackhawks center Zack Smith has popped up in the rumor mill. He’s been hampered by a back issue and only suited up for five games. Smith carries an annual average value of $3.25 million through next season. Garrioch believes he’ll have limited value in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perlini, 23, has power-forward potential, netting 17 goals with the Arizona Coyotes in 2017-18. He’ll have more value than Smith.