NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2021

Could a change of agents help Jack Eichel get traded sooner? Could the Bruins or Canadiens become a destination for the Sabres captain? Which head coaches could be on the hot seat this season? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wonders what Jack Eichel’s decision to change agents could mean for the Bruins if they want to trade for the Buffalo Sabres captain. He said the Bruins are among several clubs with an interest in the 24-year-old center. Trade discussions were expected to intensify, with a source telling Murphy that there’s a hope of getting this done within the next couple of weeks.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel’s new agent is Pat Brisson, who also represents high-profile stars such as Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Patrick Kane. He could be hoping Brisson’s cozy relationship with several NHL general managers could prove helpful in the trade market.

Murphy feels that might not help the Bruins as GM Don Sweeney had a good rapport with Eichel’s former agents. Brisson has a close relationship with Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and Eichel was linked to the Habs at one point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out soon enough if Brisson can succeed where his predecessors failed in finding a suitable trade for Eichel. Maybe he can convince Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to reduce his asking price of four assets comparable to first-round picks.

Any club acquiring Eichel will have to wait for his season debut because he’s still dealing with a herniated disc in his neck. Whatever procedure he undergoes to address that issue will determine how long he’s out of action. Disc replacement surgery would apparently sideline him for several weeks while fusion surgery could keep him on the shelf for months. His $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons is also a sticking point.

The question is whether this trade is worth doing. Eichel is very talented when healthy but he’s now facing a procedure that could keep him out of the lineup for perhaps most of this season. There’s also the risk he might not regain his high-scoring form once he returns to play.

The Canadiens could acquire Eichel if they’re prepared to ship out around $10 million annually in the deal to accommodate his hefty contract. They’re currently over $2.2 million into long-term injury reserve territory assuming Shea Weber goes on LTIR as expected. They also have restricted free agent Jesperi Kotkaniemi to sign.

Adams could ask for at least two good young roster players like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alexander Romanov or Kotkaniemi as part of the return. Promising blueliner Kaiden Guhle could also be part of the asking price.

As for the Bruins, they only have $1.089 million in cap space. Landing Eichel means moving out significant cap dollars to free up sufficient space for Eichel’s contract. Maybe Sweeney can convince the Sabres to pick up some of his salary but that seems unlikely. The Bruins also don’t have a Suzuki or Caufield in their lineup to tempt the Sabres and they’re not that deep in tradeable young assets within their system.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau recently looked at five NHL head coaches on the hot seat for the coming season.

The Calgary Flames hired Darryl Sutter midway through last season. The club is at a crossroads right now. If they stumble out of the gate, perhaps general manager Brad Treliving seeks another replacement to save his job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Treliving is going to sink or swim with Sutter. A poor start could cost the GM his job before he even has a chance to consider another coaching change.

Travis Green recently signed a contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks. However, some general managers have no problem firing a coach with term remaining on his contract. The Canucks must quickly show progress or fans will call for Green’s firing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a decisive year for Green and GM Jim Benning. Canucks ownership have been very patient with Benning but that could run out if they’re not a contender this season.

The Chicago Blackhawks made a series of changes this offseason, which include the acquisitions of Marc-Andre Fleury and Seth Jones. Jeremy Colliton’s job could be in jeopardy if the Blackhawks fail to improve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So could Stan Bowman’s job as general manager, especially given the club’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against a former video coach a decade ago.

Jeff Blashill has been coach of the Detroit Red Wings for six seasons. A lack of improvement this season could cost him his job. Meanwhile, San Jose Sharks bench boss Bob Boughner could also get the ax if GM Doug Wilson decides to shake up his mediocre roster.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Panthers, the Penguins and Golden Knights tie their respective series, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy nominees are announced, the Red Wings re-sign Jeff Blashill and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves to backstop the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Florida Panthers 3-1. Tampa Bay leads the series 2-0. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde scored for the Lightning while Mason Marchment replied for the Panthers. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vasilevskiy was the difference maker as the Lightning took an early 2-0 lead. The Panthers outshot the Bolts 24-13 over the second and third periods but could only get one shot past the former Vezina Trophy winner.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 37 saves as his club held on for a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders to even their series at a game apiece. The Penguins got first-period goals from Bryan Rust and Jeff Carter while Josh Bailey replied for the Isles in the second period. The series shifts to Long Island for Game 3 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid bounce-back effort for Jarry following his shaky performance in Game 1. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov looked rusty in the early going as he returned to action after missing a week with a lower-body injury.

Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 34 shots and Alex Tuch scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights tamed the Minnesota Wild 3-1 to tie their series 1-1. Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas while the Wild’s Matt Dumba opened the scoring. The series moves to Minnesota for Game 3 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strong goaltending was the theme for the winning teams on Tuesday. Fleury also played well in his club’s 1-0 overtime loss in Game 1.

The Vancouver Canucks doubled up the Calgary Flames 4-2 in their second-to-last regular-season contest. Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko made 38 saves while Brock Boeser, Tyler Myers and Travis Hamonic each had a goal and an assist. The two clubs will play their season finale tonight.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares are among this season’s 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings agreed to a contract extension with head coach Jeff Blashill. Details were not released. Blashill’s current contract was to expire at the end of this season. Meanwhile, the Wings announced captain Dylan Larkin is recovering from an undisclosed injury and is expected to be ready for the start of 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings also revealed assistant coach Dan Bylsma won’t be back. Wings general manager Steve Yzerman believes the club’s improvement this season earned Blashill at least another year behind the bench.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks have informed GM Jim Benning will return next season.

THE PROVINCE: There’s speculation former Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin could return to the club in front-office roles. Meanwhile, there’s still no indication if head coach Travis Green will receive a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The news of Benning’s return won’t please his critics. Meanwhile, uncertainty remains over Green’s future in Vancouver. Benning signaled his intent in January to sign Green to a contract extension but he’s gone quiet in recent weeks about those negotiations.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Young Canadiens Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Alexander Romanov and Cole Caufield will be scratched from Game 1 of their upcoming series-opening game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme wants to go with a more experienced lineup to open the series but benching those kids isn’t sitting well with Habs fans on social media. Their unhappiness will grow if that veteran-laden lineup drops Game 1 to the Leafs.

Speaking of the Canadiens, the province of Quebec will be easing some COVID-19 restrictions later this month. As a result, the Habs could have 2,500 fans at the Bell Centre for Game 6 against the Leafs on May 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming there is a Game 6. The Leafs are the heavy favorites in this series. Most experts predict they’ll eliminate the Habs in four or five games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon will miss Game 3 tonight against the Washington Capitals with an injured hand. He’s listed as day-to-day. Blueliner Kevan Miller suffered a cut in Game 2 but will be in the lineup for tonight’s contest.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have parted ways with Scott Gordon and Kerry Huffman. Gordon was head coach of their AHL affiliate while Huffman was the assistant coach.

THE QMJHL: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced Guy Lafleur’s No. 4 will be retired across the league starting next season. Lafleur wore that number when he starred with the Quebec Remparts from 1969 to 1971 before becoming the first-overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1971 draft.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens defenseman and NHL player agent Gilles Lupien passed away yesterday from cancer at age 67. He won two Stanley Cups with the Habs in 1978 and 1979, playing 226 career NHL games.

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










NHL Rumor Mill – May 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 1, 2021

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we take a look at the recent speculation over the futures of several head coaches.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently examined what the future could hold for several NHL coaches on expiring contracts or holding interim roles.

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour (NHL.com).

LeBrun believes the Carolina Hurricanes will sign Rod Brind’Amour to a new contract, citing team owner Tom Dundon’s recent reiteration that a deal will get done. His next contract could be worth over $2 million per season but reaching an agreement isn’t a slam dunk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also reported the negotiations between the Hurricanes and Brind’Amour were more of a grind than expected. Like LeBrun, Friedman doesn’t see Brind’Amour moving on but the talks turned out to be more of a challenge.

I’ll be shocked if the Hurricanes fail to re-sign Brind’Amour. It’s no coincidence they rose to become a league powerhouse during his tenure behind the bench. Letting him walk would be a huge blunder on their part.

LeBrun chided the Vancouver Canucks for allowing head coach Travis Green to enter this season on an expiring contract as it garnered unwanted media attention. He believes they want to bring him back and suggested there could be news on that front sooner rather than later.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also weighed in on Green’s contract status, saying he expects negotiations will get serious soon. Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s most recent comments indicated there was nothing new to report. Perhaps those discussions pick up later this month once the regular season ends.

Turning to the Arizona Coyotes, LeBrun speculates general manager Bill Armstrong could replace Rick Tocchet with his own bench boss. Armstrong inherited Tocchet when he took over last fall as GM.

As for the Detroit Red Wings, LeBrun doesn’t know if Jeff Blashill will return or not. Blashill has earned the opportunity to return but there could also be time for a fresh voice behind the bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tocchet and Blashill did the best they could in difficult situations with rebuilding clubs. They’ve earned the right to return but their respective general managers could see things differently. They shouldn’t have much difficulty finding other NHL coaching gigs if they depart from their current jobs.

Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen didn’t tip his hand as to what’s in store for head coach John Tortorella in a recent interview with LeBrun. This could come down to what Kekalainen feels is right as much as what Tortorella feels like doing. It could be headed for a split.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been some speculation suggesting Tortorella could test the market this summer. I think the Jackets are ready for a change behind the bench. While “Torts” did a good job with them through most of his tenure it seemed like the players were getting weary of his system this year. Wingers Patrik Laine and Max Domi struggled throughout this season, raising more questions about Tortorella’s future in Columbus.

The Seattle Kraken and Buffalo Sabres are searching for a head coach. Gerard Gallant would be an obvious choice for the Kraken. Brind’Amour, Tocchet or Green could also fit the criteria.

If the Montreal Canadiens reach the playoffs, Dominique Ducharme could have his interim tag lifted.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun noted Kraken GM Ron Francis wanted to be patient making his coaching selection to see who might become available after this season. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams seems to be following suit.

I still think Gallant would be the best choice for the Kraken but Brind’Amour could jump to the top of the list if he and the Hurricanes fail to work out a deal. Francis and Brind’Amour were teammates and associated during their days in Carolina.

Making the playoffs might not be enough for Ducharme to become the Canadiens’ full-time bench boss. They’ll have to at least win their opening-round series to make that happen. Getting swept by the Leafs could spell the end of Ducharme’s tenure and perhaps that of Marc Bergevin as the Habs’ GM.










What Next For The Detroit Red Wings?

What Next For The Detroit Red Wings?

 










Odds are COVID-19 Will Cost Some NHL Team a Playoff Berth

Odds are COVID-19 Will Cost Some NHL Team a Playoff Berth

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2020

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.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman (Photo via NHL.com).

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.