NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 24, 2021

Check out the recaps from a busy Saturday night in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: David Perron tallied a hat trick to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Torey Krug collected three assists for the Blues. Kings captain Anze Kopitar was held scoreless for the first time in five games.

St. Louis Blues winger David Perron (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings were without defenseman Drew Doughty, who was sidelined by a knee injury following a collision with Dallas Stars blueline Janne Hakanpaa on Friday. Doughty avoided ligament damage but he’s not expected to return to the lineup anytime soon.

The Vancouver Canucks’ 4-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken spoiled the latter’s first home-opener in franchise history. Conor Garland snapped a 2-2 tie with the game-winner late in the third period. Canucks captain Bo Horvat tallied twice and Thatcher Demko made 29 saves for the win. Defensemen Vince Dunn and Mark Giordano tallied for the Kraken, who’ve won just once (1-4-1) in six games.

A four-goal second period carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-1 drubbing of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Defenseman Marcus Pettersson had a goal and two assists, forward Drew O’Connor tallied twice and goalie Tristan Jarry kicked out 28 shots. Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced defenseman Kris Letang was placed in COVID protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were without Letang, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust and Jeff Carter. That didn’t unnoticed in restless Leafs Nation as their club put up a feeble effort against their depleted opponent.

Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm’s game-winner completed his hat trick in his club’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals, who overcame a 3-0 deficit with three unanswered third-period goals to force the extra frame. Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying goal was the 735th of his career, putting him within six of Brett Hull (741) for fourth place on the all-time list.

The Montreal Canadiens picked up their first win of the season (1-5-0) by thumping the Detroit Red Wings 6-1. Mathieu Perreault had a hat trick, Jake Allen made 26 saves and Jonathan Drouin, Christian Dvorak, Ben Chiarot and Sami Niku each collected two points. Filip Hronek, the Wings’ top defenseman last season, was a healthy scratch from this contest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings were playing without leading scorer Tyler Bertuzzi, whose decision not to be vaccinated for COVID-19 prevents him from traveling to Canada for road games. They missed his production against Montreal and in their 3-0 shutout loss to Calgary on Thursday. Bertuzzi is now reportedly the only unvaccinated player in the league.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice and added an assist as the Florida Panthers doubled up the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. The Panthers are 5-0-0 to start this season and are jockeying with the Edmonton Oilers (5-0-0) for first place in the overall standings. Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis missed this game with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day.

The Minnesota Wild remains unbeaten (4-0-0) following a 4-3 overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Hartman netted the game-winner for the Wild. Rickard Rakell scored twice for the Ducks.

A two-goal performance by Vincent Trocheck helped the Carolina Hurricanes defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1. Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Staal each had two points for the Hurricanes, extending their record to 4-0-0.

The Colorado Avalanche snapped a three-game skid by nipping the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on shootout goals by Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists for the Avs.

A 26-save shutout performance by Ilya Sorokin backstopped the New York Islanders to a 3-0 blanking of the Arizona Coyotes. Brock Nelson had a goal and an assist. The Coyotes are still seeking their first win of the season (0-4-1).

Paul Stastny scored twice and Nate Schmidt collected three assists as the Winnipeg Jets held off the Nashville Predators 6-4. Nick Cousins and Thomas Novak each had three points for the Predators, who drop to 1-4-0 to start the season. The Jets, meanwhile, move to 2-2-1.

Third-period goals by Chris Kreider, Ryan Lindgren and Barclay Goodrow rallied the New York Rangers over the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Matt Murray left the game following Kreider’s goal after the Rangers’ winger accidentally collided with the Senators goaltender. Ottawa also played without center Shane Pinto, who will miss at least two weeks with a shoulder injury.

An overtime goal by Pavel Zacha lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Devils rookie goalie Nico Daws won his NHL debut with a 24-save performance. Nico Hischier also scored for the Devils. New Jersey netminder Mackenzie Blackwood is now reportedly vaccinated for COVID-19, allowing him to travel to Canada with his teammates for their first Canadian road trip in December.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Being fully vaccinated would also allow Blackwood to play for Team Canada in the 2022 Winter Olympics if he is chosen as one of their three goaltenders. He’s reportedly among their long list of six potential candidates.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks placed Patrick Kane, Ryan Carpenter and Erik Gustafsson in COVID protocol on Saturday morning.

NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud is week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered during a 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2021

Could Vladimir Tarasenko spend the season with the Blues? What’s the latest on Dylan Strome? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In his recent season predictions for the St. Louis Blues, Jeremy Rutherford expects Vladimir Tarasenko will spend the entire season with the club. The 29-year-old right winger sought a trade during the offseason due to his unhappiness over two shoulder surgeries performed by team doctors and his subsequent treatment by their medical staff.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Rutherford questioned whether the Blues would trade Tarasenko if he got off to a great start. That could result in general manager Doug Armstrong getting some legitimate offers, but moving him could also affect the production of linemate Robert Thomas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko’s performance will be a factor, but his $7.5 million annual average value ($9.5 million in actual salary for this season) through 2022-23 is another reason why he probably won’t be moved this season.

A Tarasenko trade (if it happens) takes place next summer. That’s when there will be teams with more cap space and a willingness to invest in an established scoring winger with just one season left on his contract at a lower actual salary.

Rutherford also predicted Armstrong could bring in a goaltender from outside their organization. He doesn’t see how they get through an 82-game season with the current tandem of Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso without any injuries or a slip in performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. There’s no need to make that move right now.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis yesterday observed scouts/representatives from 15 different NHL clubs attended Thursday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks at the United Center. “Anaheim, Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, N.Y. Islanders, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tampa Bay (2) and Winnipeg.” Center Dylan Strome, the subject of recent trade speculation, played his first game of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those clubs were there simply to scout the performances of both clubs for upcoming games. The Blackhawks face the Coyotes, Flames, Predators, Islanders, Penguins, Kraken, and Jets in the coming weeks. The Canucks will soon face off with the Kraken, Predators, Ducks, Jets and Canadiens. Still. some were probably checking out Strome.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel plus updates on the Senators and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports Jack Eichel’s camp is meeting with the Buffalo Sabres in a final attempt to convince management to allow their client to undergo disc replacement surgery. Team doctors recommend a neck fusion procedure.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel has a herniated disc in his neck and there’s an urgency to have it addressed as soon as possible. Under the collective bargaining agreement, teams have the final say on injury treatment. The 24-year-old center has been meeting with various doctors, collecting medical opinions to support his preferred procedure.

Kaplan said sources claimed as many as five teams were interested in trading for Eichel. The Sabres’ standing firm on their huge asking price amid the medical uncertainty has cooled most of the trade talk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have my doubts the Eichel camp can convince Sabres management to change its mind. Kaplan said filing a grievance could be Eichel’s last resort but it’s unlikely to succeed because the Sabres have the CBA on its side.

Eichel could be forced into a procedure he doesn’t want to continue his playing career. That could backfire on the Sabres.

There are teams right now willing to acquire Eichel (with conditions attached) and allow him to undergo his preferred procedure. The Sabres risk blowing a chance at a decent return for a player who, to be blunt, is currently damaged goods. Their hard-line could prove costly if he undergoes neck fusion and his performance suffers upon his return to action.

Whatever the outcome of this situation, you can bet the NHLPA will be pushing the league to amend the CBA to allow more flexibility for the treatment of injuries.

UPDATES ON THE SENATORS AND CANADIENS

TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Ottawa Senators want to add a center or winger to their top-nine forwards to further boost their offense. He pointed out they have 11 picks in next year’s draft to draw upon for trade bait.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch took note of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom could become a trade chip. While he’s currently playing for their AHL affiliate in Belleville, Garrioch doesn’t believe his days with the Senators are numbered. They hope his defensive play will improve and could also use him in case injuries strike their blueline later in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators will have to use a draft pick or two as trade bait if they’re unwilling to move Brannstrom. Cap Friendly shows them with two picks in the second round of next year’s draft plus three in the third and seventh rounds.

Pierre LeBrun poured cold water on the notion the Montreal Canadiens might be interested in Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome. He said the struggling Habs aren’t shopping around for help. General manager Marc Bergevin believes the answer to the club’s woes lies from within and that message has been passed along to everyone in the organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could change if the losing continues in Montreal. Then again, why waste assets for a quick fix if there’s no one in the trade market who can reverse their fortunes.

Strome has had his difficulties with the Blackhawks. I don’t see him thriving under the immense pressure he’d face in Montreal.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2021

Growing speculation over Marc Bergevin’s future as Canadiens general manager plus updates on Vitali Kravtsov and Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THIS SEASON BE MARC BERGEVIN’S LAST AS CANADIENS GM?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Marc Bergevin said in a “perfect world” he’d like to remain general manager of the Canadiens beyond this season during an impromptu press conference. He’s in the final year of his contract. The lack of details regarding an extension is generating speculation over his future.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL.com).

Stu Cowan believes Bergevin’s answer makes it look like money and/or term are the sticking points in his talks with Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson. “It also makes it look like he won’t be back in Montreal next year,” said Cowan.

A recent report by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggested Bergevin could join the Los Angeles Kings next summer. Despite his apparent lame-duck status, Bergevin insists he remains in charge and as always will run significant decisions by Molson. The club has declined to comment on his contract status.

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas noted Bergevin doesn’t intend to shake up his struggling roster simply for the sake of doing so. “I don’t feel the need. It has nothing to do with cap space, it has to do with the group we have,” he said. The Habs GM felt they have some “pretty good hockey players that aren’t playing up to their potential.”

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos recently noted there are rumors claiming Molson has tabbed Patrick Roy as a potential replacement for Bergevin. He also pointed out Bergevin reportedly had a chance to re-sign with the Canadiens this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were reports this summer of Molson tabling a contract offer to Bergevin but negotiations didn’t get too far after that. The Canadiens 0-4-0 start only fueled the conjecture over Bergevin’s future and the possibility he could be replaced. His recent comments, however, should put to rest talk that he was growing weary of life in the Montreal fishbowl.

Bergevin’s future will remain a hot topic if the Canadiens continue to struggle this season. Even if they right the ship and become a playoff contender, questions about his future (and speculation over his potential successor) will continue to surface in the media.

LATEST ON VITALI KRAVTSOV AND DYLAN STROME

THE ATHLETIC: On Tuesday, Arthur Staple reported Vitali Kravtsov remains in Russia, unwilling to return to North America unless the New York Rangers trade him, according to two league sources. The cause of the dispute is said to be Kravtsov butting heads with Rangers GM Chris Drury since their time with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford two years ago.

Staple said sources indicate a few NHL teams have inquired about Kravtsov, more to get an understanding of the situation than to inquire about the Rangers’ asking price. A move doesn’t appear imminent.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites a source claiming the real reason Kravtsov wants out isn’t because of his relationship with Drury. Instead, he believes he won’t crack the roster because of the Rangers’ forward depth.

Brooks reports a handful of teams have expressed “lukewarm interest” in Kravtsov but there aren’t any offers on the table. The Rangers, meanwhile, were contacted by the Chicago Blackhawks about Dylan Strome (younger brother of Blueshirts center Ryan Strome) but Brooks doesn’t link that to Kravtsov’s situation.

SPORTSNET 590’s Nick Kypreos reported as many as 15 teams have inquired about Kravtsov. Among them are the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of the winger’s reason for wanting out of New York, it doesn’t appear a trade is coming in the near future. However, that could change with one phone call by an interested club.

The asking price for Kravtsov could be a second-round pick. He also carries an affordable $925K cap hit for this season. That would in part explain the interest from teams with limited cap space (Flames, Jets) and rebuilding clubs like the Senators.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the struggling Blackhawks aren’t doing themselves or Dylan Strome any favors by keeping him out of the lineup. He felt it could also hurt his trade value, though his exclusion from the lineup could be to avoid an injury while trade discussions are taking place.

Pope said the Anaheim Ducks have long had an interest in Strome as a young playmaker who could help their rebuild. The Senators were linked to the 23-year-old center, while the Canadiens, Rangers and Minnesota Wild all need help at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keeping Strome on the sidelines to avoid an injury that could derail trade talks makes sense. However, interested parties could prefer scouting his performance in game action before committing to a deal.

We know the Rangers made an inquiry thanks to Larry Brooks’ aforementioned report. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently reported the Senators kicked tires on Strome this summer but he felt they’ve since moved on. No indication thus far if the Ducks, Canadiens and Wild are seriously pursuing Strome.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2021

Can the Sharks find a way to move on from Evander Kane? Could the Senators pursue Blackhawks center Dylan Strome? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz wonders if the San Jose Sharks can find a way to get out of the remaining three years on Evander Kane’s contract. The 30-year-old winger’s off-ice problems prompted three NHL investigations in allegations of betting on games, domestic violence and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. The first two couldn’t be substantiated but the league suspended Kane 21 games for the fake card.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

As a group, the Sharks players have moved on from Kane, who wasn’t allowed to join them during training camp or their season-opener on Friday while the investigations were ongoing. Reports also emerged during the offseason suggesting Kane’s relationship with his teammates may be irreparably damaged due to his behavior and flouting of team rules last season.

Kurz is hoping Sharks general manager Doug Wilson can provide some clarity into Kane’s future in the coming days. He considers signing the winger to be the worst move in Wilson’s tenure, suggesting that sort of thing tends to lead to a management housecleaning.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt wonders whether the Sharks might get into the bidding for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel if they can somehow shed the remainder of Kane’s contract. He pointed to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun suggesting the same thing last Friday before the winger’s suspension was announced.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kurz feels Kane’s use of a fake vaccination card to be a “blatant disregard for the health of his teammates and, in turn, his teammates’ families”. However, that behavior might not be sufficient grounds under the collective bargaining agreement for the Sharks to terminate his contract. We’ll have to wait and see what transpires.

Given Kane’s problems, I don’t see any team trading for him. Even without those issues, his contract would still be difficult to move under the flattened salary cap with so few teams carrying sufficient cap space to take on his $7 million annual average value.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis reports the Blackhawks don’t seem to be giving Dylan Strome the same opportunity everyone else is getting. The 24-year-old center remains a healthy scratch after the Hawks opened the season with three straight losses. He wonders if Strome will get the opportunity with the Blackhawks or another club.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is still looking around for help with center Colin White sidelined for potentially the season by shoulder surgery and forwards Auston Watson and Clarke Bishop out with ankle injuries.

Garrioch observed the Blackhawks have been trying to trade Dylan Strome. “Ottawa studied this option in the summer, so it feels like that ship has sailed.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries and inconsistent play over the last two seasons contributed to a decline in Strome’s production. However, he’s proven he can be productive when healthy and skating alongside talented linemates. Based on Garrioch’s assessment, the Senators aren’t likely to give him that chance.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 18, 2021

Check out the latest on Phil Kessel, Dylan Strome and Vitali Kravtsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

GOPHXN.COM: Craig Morgan reports it’s no secret Phil Kessel wants to be traded. He also indicated the Arizona Coyotes are “working feverishly to grant his wish.”

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Kessel missed all of the preseason but was “largely unnoticeable” during the Coyotes’ season-opening loss to Columbus. Head coach Andre Tourigny noted the 34-year-old winger was behind his teammates in that game because of his absence from the preseason with an injured foot. “Phil’s track record speaks for itself,” he said, indicating his staff intends to give him some slack as he adjusts to their new system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once Kessel gets his game up to speed he should have good value in the trade market closer to the March 21 trade deadline. Most teams currently can’t afford to take on the $6.8 million of his $8 million salary-cap hit that the Coyotes carry unless they’re willing to retain a healthy chunk of it to facilitate a trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus believes Dylan Strome won’t be with the Chicago Blackhawks for much longer. He’s now their 14th forward and they can’t send him to the minors because they know he won’t clear waivers.

The 24-year-old center can’t seem to crack the lineup with Jonathan Toews and Tyler Johnson in the way. Head coach Jeremy Colliton lacks faith in his defensive game to put him in a bottom-six role.

Blackhawks management is listening to trade offers for Strome, which they’ve been doing since last season’s trade deadline. Lazerus, however, believes they should retain him as insurance in case something happens with Toews or Dach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot could also depend on the Blackhawks’ performance through the early going. They could hang onto Strome if they continue playing as poorly as they did through their first three games, inserting him into the lineup to shake things up. If they turn things around while he remains a healthy scratch, that could make it easier for management to ship him out.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov has returned to Russia after refusing to report to their AHL affiliate in Hartford last week. It appears the Rangers are seeking a trade for the 21-year-old forward, who was also unhappy over where he’s been playing in the lineup during his brief tenure with the Blueshirts. Head coach Gerard Gallant said general manager Chris Drury is in regular contact with Kravtsov’s agent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had Kravtsov accepted the assignment to Hartford he’d be back in the Rangers’ lineup now because of the recent injury to second-line right wing Kaapo Kakko. Speculation suggests the Rangers could seek a second-round pick for him in the trade market.