Odds are COVID-19 Will Cost Some NHL Team a Playoff Berth
Check out the latest on the Detroit Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the Detroit Red Wings season may be over, but general manager Steve Yzerman faces a busy off-season.
One of his first decisions will be whether to pick up the option year in head coach Jeff Blashill’s contract or find a new bench boss. Gerard Gallant and Lane Lambert (former Yzerman teammates) could be among the candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year for guiding the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup in their expansion season. He could become the front-runner if the job becomes available.
In addition to deciding which of his free agents to re-sign, Khan speculates Yzerman could look to this year’s unrestricted free agent market for affordable second- and third-tier talent on short-term deals as stop-gap measures during the roster rebuild. He believes the Wings need a winger with scoring ability, a pair of defensemen, and a backup goaltender.
Khan also anticipates Yzerman will make low-risk value trades similar to his acquisitions of Robby Fabbri and Brendan Perlini.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Fabbri acquisition worked out well, but Perlini struggled throughout this season and probably won’t be back. Nevertheless, Yzerman will likely keep his eye open for once-promising players struggling with other clubs who could benefit from a fresh start elsewhere.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently posted a three-part series examining potential UFA targets to address the Red Wings’ roster needs.
He doubts Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall or Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will be interested in joining a rebuilding clubs like the Wings. He also expects the St. Louis Blues will re-sign Alex Pietrangelo while Michigan native Torey Krug could be re-signed by the Boston Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits suggested Krug might be willing to return home if he can’t sign with the Bruins. While we shouldn’t rule it out, I think he’d prefer playing for a contender.
Kulfan’s list of proposed forward options includes Colorado’s Vladislav Namestnikov, Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, or Erik Haula, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, Vegas’ Tomas Nosek, or the New York Rangers’ Jesper Fast.
Blueline possibilities could include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, or the New York Islanders’ Andy Greene.
Goaltending targets could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, but the term and price would have to be worked on). Others include Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and Calgary’s Cam Talbot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players. Once Yzerman re-signs key free agents like Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Anthony Mantha, he’ll have plenty of cap room to bring in a couple of quality veteran free agents on short-term deals.
With the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million and several clubs looking to pinch pennies, that could work in Yzerman’s favor. If he sticks to affordable short-term options, he’ll have plenty to choose from once the notable names are snapped up.
A milestone night for Alex Ovechkin and Patrice Bergeron, Dougie Hamilton suffers a serious leg injury, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s hat trick carried his club to a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin tied Mike Gartner by starting his NHL career with 15 consecutive 30-goal seasons. He also needed four stitches after being clipped in the mouth by a high stick from Devils winger Miles Wood in the first period. With 689 goals, Ovechkin is one shy of Mario Lemieux for 10th on the all-time list.
Patrice Bergeron tallied his 20th goal of the season as the Boston Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. Bergeron has reached 20 goals in seven straight seasons. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug got into a rare tussle by dropping the gloves with Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist. Sidney Crosby tallied the lone goal for the Penguins. Earlier in the day, the Bruins placed goaltender Tuukka Rask (concussion) on injured reserve.
The Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on a late goal by captain Nick Foligno. Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton left the game in the second period with an apparent left leg injury that coach Rod Brind’Amour said doesn’t look good.
Pete DeBoer got his first win as head coach with the Vegas Golden Knights as they doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. Golden Knights winger Mark Stone had a goal and an assist in his first game in Ottawa since getting traded to Vegas last February.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice, Carey Price made 40 saves, and Tomas Tatar collected three points as the Montreal Canadiens downed the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. Canadiens sophomore Jesperi Kotkaniemi also got into the first fight of his career.
The Calgary Flames picked up their sixth win in seven games by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. Flames goaltender David Rittich made 35 saves for the win as teammate Matthew Tkachuk scored the only goal in the shootout.
Sam Montembeault made 23 saves coming off the bench to replace sidelined Chris Driedger as the Florida Panthers held on for a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists for the Kings.
Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark made 28 saves as his club defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1. It’s the Sabres fifth win in their last seven contests. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Philipp Grubauer had a 27-save shutout as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the San Jose Sharks 4-0. It’s the Avs first win in five games.
The Vancouver Canucks picked up their 10th win in their last 13 games by beating the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves while Elias Pettersson collected two assists.
A late power-play goal by Chris Kreider lifted the New York Rangers over the New York Islanders 3-2. Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev kicked out 38 shots.
The Anaheim Ducks snapped a four-game losing skid by upsetting the Nashville Predators 4-2. Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson each had a goal and an assist. The Predators have dropped seven of their last 10 games and sit six points out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Minnesota Wild held on for a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning for their first win in five games. Nikita Kucherov scored both Lightning goals.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TSN: Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet will replace Gerard Gallant as coach of the Pacific Division at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game. Gallant was fired earlier this week as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.
MLIVE.COM: Gallant’s firing raised questions about Jeff Blashill’s future as bench boss of the Detroit Red Wings. Blashill remains unconcerned and is focused on trying to find solutions to help his club.
THE SCORE: As expected, the NHL is talking to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to ensure the next two games between the clubs don’t get out of hand. Senior VP of Player Safety George Parros will attend the Jan. 29 game in Edmonton. Tensions were raised after Oilers winger Zack Kassian received a two-game suspension for an on-ice altercation with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.
Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault is incensed that Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen won’t be suspended for elbowing him in the face during a recent game between the two clubs. “Player safety, my ass!,” he told a Winnipeg Sun reporter. “This is literally an elbow to the face of a guy that didn’t have the puck,” Perreault added he could take measure into his own hands the next time a rival player does that to him. “I’m the smallest guy (on) the ice so I can’t really fight anybody. The only thing I can do to defend myself is use my stick, so the next guy that does that to me is gonna get my f—— stick. And I better not get suspended for it.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have a feeling Perreault is going to get a phone call from Parros over his comments.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks placed center Dylan Strome (right ankle sprain) on injured reserve.
NEWSDAY: Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has asked the NHL to consider moving all Islanders games to Nassau Coliseum next season before they open their Belmont Park arena in 2021.