NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, the Leafs still shopping for a forward, plus updates on Dougie Hamilton, Tony DeAngelo and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman acknowledged the trade speculation swirling about Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel but doubts the 24-year-old center is moved by the April 12 trade deadline. He points out a number of teams cannot afford to take on his $10 million annual average value right now.

Could the New York Rangers or Los Angeles Kings try to acquire Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres? (NHL Images)

Friedman thinks the Rangers could do it anytime they wanted but called some of the proposals out there “kinda crazy.” If the Sabres decide to trade Eichel it’ll be in the summer when teams have more salary-cap space to work with.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Craig Custance cited an NHL executive who believes Eichel will eventually wind up a Ranger. Another, however, felt the Los Angeles Kings would be a better match because they have the type of promising high-centers (Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte) the Rangers lack to offer up as trade bait.

Kings general manager Rob Blake has stuck to the mantra of the patient rebuild and it looks like it’s starting to pay off. He could be tempted to accelerate the process by acquiring Eichel. However, I wonder how keen he’d be to add another $10 million player to his roster with Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty already on the books.

Speaking of the Rangers, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes it would be almost impossible for them to get into the bidding for Eichel and his $10 million AAV without first moving center Mika Zibanejad, who has a no-movement clause. Given Zibanejad’s struggles this season, finding a trade partner willing to gamble on him won’t be easy even if he agreed to waive his NMC.

LEAFS STILL SEEK A FORWARD

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Toronto Maple Leafs still want to bolster their forward lines before the April 12 trade deadline. Some speculation linked the Leafs to Nashville Predators forward Mikael Granlund. Dreger thinks there could be a fit if the Predators agree to retain some of Granlund’s salary. The Leafs have the prospects and draft picks to make something happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with just over $130K of trade-deadline cap space. Granlund has over $2.1 million remaining of his $3.75 million salary for this season. No chance of a deal there unless the Preds absorb a considerable chunk of his salary or take back a contract of equal or greater value.

HURRICANES UNLIKELY TO MOVE HAMILTON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports contract talks between the Carolina Hurricanes and pending UFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton have gone quiet since last month. The Hamilton camp could prefer a deal comparable to what Alex Pietrangelo received from the Vegas Golden Knights while the Hurricanes prefer something similar to what Torey Krug got with the St. Louis Blues. LeBrun doesn’t believe they’ll trade Hamilton, preferring to deal with this before the UFA market opens on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun points out, the Hurricanes are all-in this year. Hamilton’s contract discussions will be set aside until the season is over.

UPDATE ON DEANGELO

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports former New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo has told the club he’s willing to accept being loaned to an American Hockey League team. He’s not welcome with their AHL affiliate in Hartford but the Rangers are willing to facilitate sending him to another club. Servalli believes it’ll take another NHL team stepping up to make that happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several NHL teams were rumored to have an interest in DeAngelo earlier this season. However, that has dried up as his personal baggage made him too toxic. It’ll be interesting to see if one of those interest parties might give him an opportunity to skate below the media radar with their AHL farm team.

OTHER RUMORS OF NOTE

Seravalli reports Arizona Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski could be added to the TSN NHL Trade Bait board. He’s a pending UFA playing top-pairing minutes but there hasn’t been any contract extension talks between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goligoski has an eight-team no-trade list and a $5.45 million AAV. The latter could prove the more significant sticking point in any trade discussions.

Friedman reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are in the market for centers…The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers are eyeing defensemen but both must monitor their expansion draft protection lists…Teams seeking goalie depth might ask the Sabres about Jonas Johansson…The LA Kings hope to re-sign pending UFA forward Alex Iafallo.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Sidney Crosby on COVID-19 protocol list, the Canadiens fire their goalie coach, stars of the month and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A 5-2 victory by the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Philadelphia Flyers was overshadowed by the news Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier in the day. Kaspari Kapanen scored twice and Tristan Jarry made 40 saves for the win. Joel Farabee tallied both goals for the Flyers (25 points), who are tied with the Penguins but hold fourth place in the MassMutual East Division with two games in hand.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby being placed on the list doesn’t necessarily mean he’s contracted the coronavirus. If he hasn’t returned to the lineup by the end of the week, however, it will be assumed he has it. A long absence by their captain could affect the Penguins’ efforts to clinch a playoff berth. Crosby is one of only three players on the league’s COVID protocol list.

The Montreal Canadiens got their first win under head coach Dominique Ducharme by downing the Ottawa Senators 3-1 to snap a five-game winless skid. Carey Price made 26 saves while teammates Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry each had a goal and an assist. Following the game, the Canadiens announced goaltending coach Stephane Waite was relieved of his duties. Sean Burke takes over as their new director of goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waite’s sudden firing comes a week after they replaced Claude Julien with Ducharme. Some of the reactions on social media suggested management wouldn’t have made this move without clearing it first with Price. However, this move could also be a wake-up call from general manager Marc Bergevin to his struggling starting netminder.

Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele each collected three points as the Winnipeg Jets dumped the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The Jets (29 points) moved in second place in the Scotia North Division, one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers.

Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his third straight shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. Ondrej Palat and Yannie Gourde were the goal scorers. The Lightning have won five in a row while the Stars have just one victory in their last 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill is not laying the blame for his club’s struggles at the feet of head coach Rick Bowness. “There is no hot seat,” Nill told The Athletic’s Saad Yousef. He praised Bowness’ efforts guiding the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final last year and his handling of what’s proven to be a difficult schedule this season.

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their third straight win by doubling up the Nashville Predators 4-2. Sebastian Aho scored twice and rookie Steven Lorentz tallied his first NHL goal. Predators goalie Juuse Saros left the game early in the first period after being hit in the head. Before the game, the Predators placed defenseman Ryan Ellis and forward Luke Kunin on injured reserve and center Ryan Johansen on the COVID-19 protocol list. Ellis will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist and teammate Zach Werenski collected two assists in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It’s the Jackets’ first win in six games and came after general manager Jarmo Kekalainen gave a vote of confidence to head coach John Tortorella.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves as his club held off the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Oliver Wahlstrom and Anders Lee scored for the Islanders while Miles Wood replied for the Devils.

The New York Rangers edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist while teammate Filip Chytil returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with an upper-body injury.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrik Kane, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture are the NHL’s divisional stars for February 2021. Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stutzle was named the league’s rookie of the month for February.

TSN: Speaking of the Senators, the club confirmed center Derek Stepan will require season-ending shoulder surgery.

The NHL department of player safety suspended Edmonton Oilers winger Alex Chiasson one game for cross-checking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jimmy Vesey at the end of Monday’s game between the two clubs.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is slated to appear in his 800th career NHL game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, Jeff Skinner’s status with the Sabres concerns his agent, updates on Auston Matthews and Henrik Lundqvist, some notable injury news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders tallied five unanswered third-period goals to upset the Boston Bruins 7-2. Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves while teammates Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee and Adam Pelech each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders. The Bruins have dropped three of their last four games.

Three straight third-period goals lifted the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist. Tom Wilson tallied the game-winner and also received a two-minute minor penalty for injuring Penguins forward Mark Jankowski with a late hit in the first period. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed winger Jason Zucker (lower body) on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits but it doesn’t appear as though he’ll receive supplemental discipline for this one.

The Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice in the third period in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Yanni Gourde netted the game-winner as the Lightning won their third straight over the Hurricanes, moving into second place in the Discover Central Division with 27 points.

A three-goal third-period rallied the Florida Panthers over the Dallas Stars 3-2. Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves while Aleksander Barkov, Anton Stralman and Frank Vatrano tallied for the Panthers, who sit atop the Discover Central Division with 28 points. Stars forward Roope Hintz missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is playing his way into the Hart Memorial Trophy conversation (NHL Images).

Patrick Kane tallied his 399th career goal and Malcolm Subban made 26 saves for his first shutout with the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-0 blanking of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carl Soderberg also scored for the Hawks, who sit third in the Central with 26 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks keep finding ways to win thanks in part to Kane’s production and leadership. He’s moved into a tie with Toronto’s Auston Matthews (31 points) for third place in the NHL scoring race and continues to be considered among the early favorites for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

The Ottawa Senators are on their first three-game win streak of the season after upsetting the Calgary Flames 6-1. Matt Murray made 29 saves, Colin White scored twice and Drake Batherson scored for the fourth straight game.

Earlier in the day, the Senators placed center Derek Stepan on injured reserve among reports he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. They also placed little-used forward Filip Chlapik on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. Meanwhile, the Flames placed goaltender Jacob Markstrom (upper body) on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ improvement throughout February is due in part to giving more ice time to their younger players. They still have more rebuilding to do but they’ve served notice in recent weeks that they’re no longer an easy two points. The Flames, meanwhile, have dropped five of their last six.

An overtime goal by Pavel Zacha lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. The Sabres made winger Jeff Skinner a healthy scratch for the third straight game, prompting his agent to contact general manager Kevyn Adams to express his concern over his client’s status. Sabres captain Jack Eichel was a late scratch with a lower-body injury while goalie Linus Ullmark left the game following the first period with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner’s poor production this season is cause for concern for the Sabres but critics question if he’s being properly utilized by head coach Ralph Krueger. It’s yet another issue for a team whose playoff hopes are fading while raising questions about Eichel’s future in Buffalo.

Sam Gagner tallied his third career hat trick as the Detroit Red Wings downed the Nashville Predators 5-2. Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The mounting losses for the Predators continue to stoke speculation they’ll become sellers at the Apr.12 trade deadline. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor section.

Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists while Kyle Connor scored twice as the Winnipeg Jets overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. The Habs dropped their fourth straight, spoiling the debut of interim head coach Dominique Ducharme. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson left the game in the first period after an apparent slew foot by Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo. He’ll undergo more tests but Ducharme said his injury isn’t considered to be too serious.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme declared a clean slate for his players before this game. What he got was a strong start undone by more shaky goaltending from Carey Price, sloppy defensive play and a collapse of confidence as the game rolled along. The Habs (22 points) still hold a playoff spot in the Scotia North Division only because the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are playing worse than they are. Speaking of the Canucks…

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith turned in a 32-save shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Canucks. Alex Chiasson, Jesse Puljujarvi and Connor McDavid were the goal scorers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have only two victories in 13 games this month.

HEADLINES

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said center Auston Matthews has been dealing with a wrist injury for most of this season. Matthews appeared to aggravate the injury during Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Flames but Keefe feels it hasn’t gotten worse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews was scoring at a goal-per-game pace prior to Wednesday. He has a shot at becoming the first player since Brett Hull in 1991-92 to score 50 goals in 50 games.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist returned to the ice earlier this week after undergoing open-heart surgery seven weeks ago. However, the 39-year-old goaltender said it will be months before he can reach a decision on whether he’ll continue his playing career.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Saturday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues will continue as scheduled after the Sharks announced no new positive COVID-19 tests. Thursday’s game between the two clubs was postponed after Sharks forward Tomas Hertl tested positive. He’s expected to miss some time as he remains on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

TSN: The number of players on the league’s protocol list shrunk to seven players with three of those being members of the Philadelphia Flyers.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets are preparing to increase the number of fans attending their home games after Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced indoor sports and entertainment events in the state to 25 percent capacity. The Jackets currently have a plan approved by the state that allows 10 percent capacity.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins will soon welcome fans back to TD Garden as the state of Massachusetts will allow 12 percent capacity starting on March 22.










NHL Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 6

NHL Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 6

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, another Stars game postponed, the league’s COVID-19 numbers are dropping, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice and set up two others to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Ottawa Senators 7-3. Matthews leads the league with 16 goals while his points streak has stretched to 15 games. Mitch Marner has a goal and three assists while Joe Thornton a goal and two assists. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle had a goal and an assist. Senators’ defenseman Thomas Chabot missed the game with an upper-body injury while Leafs forward Zach Hyman was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is making an early case for the Hart Trophy this season.

Kyle Palmieri scored twice as the New Jersey Devils held on for a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pavel Zacha scored what proved to be the game-winner while Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 25 saves. Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak replied for the Bruins, who lost center David Krejci to a lower-body injury.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin’s shootout goal gave his club a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Kevin Hayes collected two assists for the Flyers, who were playing their first game since Feb. 7 due to COVID-19. They will also play their upcoming outdoor game against the Bruins with six regulars (Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun) sidelined because of the NHL’s COVID protocols.

The Pittsburgh Penguins snapped the New York Islanders’ eight-game points streak with a 4-1 victory. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry made 31 saves while Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust each had a goal and an assist while Evgeni Malkin collected two assists.

A 32-save shutout performance by Elvis Merzlikins gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators. Cam Atkinson, Max Domi and Eric Robinson were the goal scorers. The Predators have dropped five of their last six contests.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom scored to extend his points streak to five games as his club downed the Buffalo Sabres 3-1, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen remains sidelined as he works on his conditioning after being sidelined for two weeks by COVID-19.

David Perron scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues edged the San Jose Sharks 3-2. Brayden Schenn scored the tying goal for the Blues late in the third period, setting the stage for the winning goal by Perron, who had a three-point performance. Torey Krug and Marco Scandella returned to the Blues roster from injuries but Colton Parayko missed the game with a nagging undisclosed injury. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced defenseman Erik Karlsson would miss at least the next two games with a groin injury.

The Los Angeles Kings nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on a shootout goal by Gabriel Vilardi. The Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and the shootout.

Kevin Fiala scored what proved to be the winning goal as the Minnesota Wild beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. It was the Wild’s first win since Jan. 31 when their schedule was paused because of COVID-19 protocols.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Dallas Stars’ Saturday game against the Tampa Bay Lightning was postponed due to power outages related to recent storms in Texas. It’s the fourth straight Stars game postponed this week and the eighth of the season. They face potentially playing 44 games in 78 days if the NHL mandates the Stars must play all their remaining games if the regular season ends on May 10 as scheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will also depend on where the Stars are in the standings later in the season. The league could cancel some of their remaining games if they’re out of playoff contention within the final couple of weeks in the season. No point in having them play a pointless game against another non-contender.

ESPN.COM: The NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list continues to shrink, dropping to 13 players yesterday. The drop coincides with enhanced health and safety measures implemented by the NHL within the past two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The outbreaks earlier this month may have also served as a wake-up call for players and staff, making them more vigilant and adhering more closely to the league’s protocols.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets claimed well-traveled goaltender Eric Comrie off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. It’s the second straight season the Jets have lost Comrie off waivers only to claim him back again later in the year.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez hopes to have an opportunity to play a game in Mexico City in an effort to expand the NHL’s brand. He’s also hopeful the Coyotes will one day take part in an outdoor game with one of their rivals.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 11, 2021

Are the Predators and Bruins interested in Canucks forwards Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette? What’s the latest on the Senators and Blue Jackets. Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like the Nashville Predators are among the teams interested in Vancouver Canucks winger Adam Gaudette. He also indicated the Boston Bruins were among the clubs checking out Canucks winger Jake Virtanen but he doesn’t know where that stands. He also said the San Jose Sharks had an interest in Virtanen during the offseason.

Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Province’s Patrick Johnston recently reported the Canucks have been trying to move either (or perhaps both) Virtanen and Gaudette. However, sources say interest in the pair is “lukewarm at best.” He suggested Gaudette’s lower salary-cap hit makes him “somewhat more appealing” than Virtanen.

Johnston doubted either player would fetch much of a return that provides immediate help for the struggling Canucks. Any player they acquire from an American club would be unavailable for two-to-three weeks due to quarantine restrictions. Gaudette, meanwhile, claims he’s unconcerned about the trade speculation.

Speaking of the Predators, Friedman noted forward Nick Cousins was a healthy scratch from their 6-1 loss earlier this week to Tampa Bay. Cousins has had a rough start in Nashville and Friedman believes there would be interest from other clubs depending on what the Predators do.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Cousins for Gaudette? Discuss…

Friedman reports the Ottawa Senators were looking to ease their crowded blueline once Erik Brannstrom got up to speed. He felt Mike Reilly was the most likely to move but that may have changed now that Brannstrom is sidelined. He also claims they’re trying to move center Derek Stepan closer to his family in Arizona.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Ian Mendes commented on Senators general manager Pierre Dorion’s remarks about Stepan during his appearance yesterday on TSN 1200. Dorion said the center hasn’t requested a trade to be close to his family. However, Mendes also pointed out Dorion, when asked point-blank about Stepan’s status, merely replied he’s a member of the team.

Mendes feels there might be a team interested in Stepan’s services. However, he doesn’t expect the Senators would get much back in return. My guess is a draft pick or prospect.

Friedman said the sudden retirement this week of Mikko Koivu has the Columbus Blue Jackets considering all options at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will include trades and waivers. Hey, Nick Cousins is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. Hmmm…