NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2020

The latest on the Leafs, Canucks and Blues in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports the Maple Leafs haven’t been actively shopping goaltender Frederik Andersen, but it behooves general manager Kyle Dubas to listen to offers. A high number of goalies potentially available via the trade and free-agent markets could affect Dubas’ final decision on Andersen. Koshan expects Andersen will still be a Leaf when next season opens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So do I unless Dubas can find a replacement who’s as good or better than Andersen.

Michael Traikos believes the Leafs shouldn’t waste their time pursuing an expensive defenseman such as St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. Instead, he suggests signing a more affordable physical option like Mark Borowiecki, who’s heading to the free-agent market after several seasons with the Ottawa Senators. While Borowiecki isn’t the right-shot blueliner the Leafs seek, he would add a much-needed element of toughness to their roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Dubas can’t find that top-pairing right-side rearguard, he might be forced to consider one or two affordable depth alternatives. Someone like Borowiecki could be among those options depending on how much cap space Dubas can free up.

SPORTSNET: Florida’s Aaron Ekblad, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen and Vancouver’s Troy Stecher are among Luke Fox’s list of 15 intriguing blueline trade targets for the Leafs.

Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Carolina’s Brett Pesce, Arizona’s Niklas Hjalmarsson, Columbus’ David Savard and Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin are also on Fox’s list. The remainder includes Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Chicago’s Connor Murphy, Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar and Edmonton’s Adam Larsson and Matt Benning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Ekblad, Dumba, Parayko and Pesce are available. Ristolainen was rumored to be on the trade block a year ago but Sabres coach Ralph Krueger loves his game so he’s probably off the market. Manson’s a possibility but the Ducks will want a good scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. Ditto the Wild with Brodin and the Blue Jackets with Savard. 

The Coyotes could try to move Hjalmarsson in a cost-cutting deal provided he waives his no-movement clause. The asking price for Ekholm could also be a scoring forward. Stecher is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and could hit the trade block if the Canucks can’t afford to re-sign him.

Larsson, Benning and Murphy have surfaced in offseason trade chatter. The Panthers could cut some payroll but I think they want to re-sign Weegar.

Rory Boylen, meanwhile, wondered if Dubas might flip his recently-acquired first-round pick (15th overall) to upgrade the defense corps, seek out further salary-slicing deals that would involve moving a mid-level contract like Alexander Kerfoot ($3.5 million), Andreas Johnsson ($3.4 million) and Pierre Engvall ($1.2 million), or explore options for Andersen’s replacement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t be surprised if Dubas flips that first-rounder in a deal for a top-four defenseman. They want to win right now and already have enough youth on the roster.

CANUCKS

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Tyler Toffoli’s willingness to re-sign with the Vancouver Canucks creates another salary-cap headache for GM Jim Benning. Toffoli, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9, along with goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Chris Tanev. Toffoli earned an annual average value of $4.6 million on his current contract and his next deal could be worth between $5-$6 million annually.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Tanev also wants to re-sign with the Canucks. Unless the club can free up some salary-cap space, keeping the 30-year-old defenseman won’t be easy. Benning remains hopeful of re-signing the long-time Canucks blueliner. Johnston urges caution, pointing out a decade of wear-and-tear have taken a tool upon Tanev’s performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston points out the Canucks have $15 million in cap space. Unless Benning can shed a salary or two, there won’t be enough room to re-sign Markstrom, Toffoli and Tanev. Even then, Tanev would be the odd man out. The combined cost of re-signing Markstrom and Toffoli could be at least $11 million.

Toffoli won’t lack for suitors if he hits the open market. In a recent mailbag segment, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz suggests he’d be a good target for the San Jose Sharks.

BLUES

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford reported a source claimed the St. Louis Blues offered Alex Pietrangelo a five-year deal worth close to $7 million than $8 million annually. It’s believed the 30-year-old defenseman isn’t happy with the offers he’s received.

It’s believed Pietrangelo could settle for something between $8-$9 million. Rutherford expects negotiations to continue, but sources say if Pietrangelo’s wife wasn’t from St. Louis and they hadn’t started their family there he might’ve already told the Blues he’s moving on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo won’t come down from his asking price the Blues must shed more salary to re-sign him or bid him farewell. Plenty of time remains until the free-agent market opens on Oct. 9 to hammer out an agreement.

Rutherford acknowledged the trade chatter about Vince Dunn, but he believes the Blues want to keep him. He’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, giving the club control over his contract. Barring a holdout, they could re-sign him for next season between $2.5 – $3 million. Maybe they trade him if they cannot re-sign him beyond 2020-21.

Rutherford also expects the Blues will do everything they can to re-sign winger Jaden Schwartz, but if Pietrangelo re-signs, he could become a cap casualty. He’s got a year left on his contract with an AAV of $5.35 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford also touched on the possibility of the Blues getting $7.5 million in cap relief next season if Vladimir Tarasenko is on long-term injury reserve throughout the season. He’s projected for reevaluation of his surgically-repaired shoulder in December or January, but could be sidelined longer. Right now, there’s no certainty he’ll be out for the entire season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2020

The Stars regain the lead in the Western Conference Final, Sean Couturier wins the Selke Trophy, and updates on Alex Killorn, Brayden Point and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alexander Radulov scored 31 seconds into overtime as the Dallas Stars edged the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. The Stars hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Stars captain Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist while Anton Khudobin made 38 saves for the win. Mark Stone had two points for the Golden Knights, including the game-tying goal that forced overtime. Game 4 of the series is Saturday at 8 pm ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All of the scoring came in the third period, with the Golden Knights out-shooting the Stars 18-4 thanks to three power-play opportunities. Khudobin was outstanding for Dallas while Stars coach Rick Bowness’ decision to reunite Benn, Radulov and Tyler Seguin on the top line provided a much-needed boost to their offense.

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier is this year’s winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Couturier for a long-overdue recognition of his place among the league’s best defensive forwards. He’s the first Flyer to win the Selke since Dave Poulin in 1986-87.

The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn for one game for boarding New York Islanders center Brock Nelson in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Lightning could also be without their leading scorer for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. Center Brayden Point left Game 2 with an undisclosed injury and might not dress for tonight’s contest with the Isles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning coped without Killorn and Point for most of Game 2. It will be a bigger challenge offsetting their absences for the entirety of Game 3.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports 17 NHL teams have slashed expenditures and reduced payroll amid a COVID-19 crunch. That includes Original Six teams like the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.

Of the seven Canadian teams, only the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t yet reduced the pay of staff members, including team presidents, coaches and general managers. The Ottawa Senators’ coaching staff received relief from the league after having their pay cut by 50 percent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Seravalli points out, the teams are doing this because there’s been no meaningful revenue coming in since mid-March and none on the immediate horizon. He also anticipates those cuts will affect free agency and salary-cap payrolls.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki will test the free-agent market.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Jacob de la Rose to a one-year, one-way contract worth $700K.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Adam Cracknell to a one-year, two-way contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed a three-year agreement with the Chicago Wolves to be their new AHL affiliate.

NHL.COM: The Charlotte Checkers (the Hurricanes’ former AHL farm club) signed a multi-year affiliation deal with the Florida Panthers.

CBS SPORTS: Former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Mark Barberio signed a three-year contract with Lausanne HC of Switzerland’s National League.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2020

Update on the NHL’s plans to resume the season if possible, plus the latest on Colby Cave, Dougie Hamilton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently acknowledged the possibility of the league having to scrap the rest of the regular-season schedule, Pierre LeBrun reports the priority remains to hold regular-season contests before the playoffs. “Whether that’s 82 (games) – probably not – 78, 76, 74, all possibilities mentioned on that call,” said LeBrun.

Darren Dreger reported a flash poll of NHL general managers found 20 GMs supported a best-of-five series from the opening round through the Conference Finals, but they’d still want a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most NHL fans and pundits (including myself) believe this season is likely over in its entirety. I daresay those at NHL headquarters and the brain trust at the NHL Players Association understands this could happen.

But as I’ve frequently pointed out, as long as there’s a chance to salvage part of this season to recoup some of their lost revenue and crown a Stanley Cup champion, the league and the PA – with the full blessing of the team owners and the players – will consider every option.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said his club is looking into staging home games that would include a limited number of fans should the regular-season resume later this year. Waddell indicated it’s part of several options the club is exploring, including returning with no fans in the building.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes probably aren’t the only NHL club considering such choices.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders what the NHL will do about this season’s conditional trades if the season prematurely ends and those conditions can’t be met.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of speculation and suggestions from some in the media, but the league insists it’s too early to address that issue. Nevertheless, I expect that will become a larger issue if it becomes apparent the rest of the season could be canceled.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Santa Clara County executive officer Dr. Jeffrey Smith recently told the county’s Board of Supervisors he didn’t expect sports to resume until at least the American Thanksgiving weekend in November. That would mean no games for the San Jose Sharks and the NFL’s San Francisco ’49ers, among others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If that turns out to be the case, kiss the 2019-20 NHL season goodbye.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave remains in a medically induced coma following surgery on Tuesday to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Cave pulls through and makes a complete recovery.

Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton would be ready to play if the NHL seasons resumes later this year. Hamilton suffered a broken left leg in January.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki said he expects to be able to play his club’s remaining regular-season games if the schedule should resume. He was sidelined by an ankle injury when the league went on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Rather than return to the Oilers, forward Anton Slepyshev re-signed a two-year deal with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Journal’s Jim Matheson speculated the Oilers were offering up a one-year deal. Looks like Shepyshev wants the security of a multi-year deal. He also probably received more money to stay in Moscow than he would’ve got from the Oilers.

NBC SPORTS: After adopting the ’80s hit “Gloria” as a theme song last season, the St. Louis Blues players have opted this year for the Eddie Murphy tune “Party All The Time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can bet that’s what they’ll do if they repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former Blackhawks captain Pat Stapleton suffered a stroke on Wednesday and passed away at the age of 79. “Whitey”, as he was nicknamed, spent eight seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks from 1965-66 to 1972-73, and was a member of Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. He also spent five seasons in the WHA. In 10 NHL seasons, Stapleton tallied 43 goals and 337 points in 635 games.

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










What Are Pierre Dorion’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Ottawa Senators?

What Are Pierre Dorion’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Ottawa Senators?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2020

Bobby Ryan scores a hat trick in an emotion return with the Senators, Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik nets his first NHL hat trick and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Bobby Ryan scored a hat trick to lead the Ottawa Senators over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. It was Ryan’s second game since returning from the player assistance program for alcohol abuse. He was overcome with emotion as his teammates and Ottawa fans cheered after he scored his third goal. The loss left the Canucks with 74 points, four behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

Bobby Ryan tallied a hat trick to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well done, Bobby Ryan.

David Pastrnak scored his league-leading 46th goal as the Boston Bruins held off the Dallas Stars 4-3. The league-leading Bruins (92 points) widened their lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning by seven points in the Eastern Conference standings.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik tallied his first NHL hat trick as his club netted five unanswered third-period goals in a 5-2 win over the Lightning, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. Kubalik leads the Blackhawks and all NHL rookies with 29 goals. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed the game with a lower-body injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from a 3-1 deficit to down the Florida Panthers 5-3. Auston Matthews, Zach Hyman, and Justin Holl each had a goal and an assist. With the win, the Leafs (76 points) moved four ahead of the Panthers for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Colton Parayko’s overtime goal lifted the St. Louis Blues over the New York Islanders 3-2. The Blues (86 points) widened their lead atop the Western Conference standings by five points over the Colorado Avalanche. With 78 points, the Islanders cling to the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund scored the tying and winning goals in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames. Ryan Ellis collected three assists for the Predators (72 points), who hold the final Western wild-card berth with three games in hand over the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets (72 points) got a 34-save shutout from Connor Hellebuyck to blank the Washington Capitals 3-0. Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and an assist. The Capitals (84 points) hold a four-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division. Jets winger Patrik Laine left the game with a lower-body injury in the first period. The Jets also played without defenseman Josh Morrissey and Sami Niku. Morrissey is expected back in the lineup on Saturday, but Niku could be sidelined for weeks.

The New York Rangers overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2, picking up their ninth straight road win. Ryan Strome scored two goals and Mika Zibanejad extended his goal streak to six games. Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin missed the game with an injured ankle. The surging Rangers (74 points) have won nine of their last 10 and sit two points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Matt Dumba scored twice as the Minnesota Wild crushed the Detroit Red Wings 7-1, handing Wings goalie Jimmy Howard his 20th straight defeat. Kevin Fiala had a three-point performance for the Wild (69 points), who sit three points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.

Logan Couture scored in overtime as the San Jose Sharks edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights re-signed William Carrier to a four-year contract with an annual average value of $1.4 million.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson (shoulder injury) could be done for the season.

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion hopes to make Mark Borowiecki a “Senators for life”. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2020

Wild fire head coach Bruce Boudreau, Oilers winger Zack Kassian receives a seven-game suspension, an update on Jay Bouwmeester, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier rallied the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The loss leaves the Jets (63 points) one point behind the Arizona Coyotes for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Jason Zucker scored his first two goals as a Pittsburgh Penguin in a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens (Photo via NHL Images).

Jason Zucker tallied his first two goals with the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected three assists for the Penguins (76 points), who sit three points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. The slumping Canadiens (61 points) remain seven points behind the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division.

The New York Rangers picked up their fourth straight win by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist while Alexandar Georgiev made 36 saves. The Jackets (71 points) hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth while the Rangers are seven points behind them.

Nino Niederreiter and Martin Necas each had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2. With 69 points, the Hurricanes sit two points behind the Blue Jackets.

HEADLINES

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday fired head coach Bruce Boudreau, replacing him on an interim basis with assistant coach Dean Evason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers questioned why this move was made when the Wild have won six of their last 10 games and sit just three points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. General manager Bill Guerin believes the club could benefit from a different voice behind the bench. Considering Guerin also traded winger Jason Zucker earlier this week to Pittsburgh, it appears he’s trying to motivate his club over the remainder of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how the players respond to his move.

TSN: The NHL department of player safety handed Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian a seven-game suspension for kicking Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak in the chest on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kassian’s critics wonder why he didn’t receive a harsher punishment. Perhaps the fact Cernak wasn’t injured explains the league’s rationale behind the decision. Regardless, I believe Kassian’s skating on thin ice. He’s a repeat offender, having been previously suspended seven times by the league, including a two-game suspension last month for roughing Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. One more suspendable offense after this one could lead to a punishment harsher than the 20-game one he received in 2010.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator placed in his chest to monitor and control his heartbeat. The Blues will provide another update on his condition next week. Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident during a game on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks and had to be revived with a defibrillator.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon said there’s nothing in the CBA that prevents Bouwmeester from returning to action with a pacemaker. Nevertheless, it’s not a certainty that he will.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson requires surgery on his right knee and could be sidelined for eight weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That timeline means Johnsson won’t return until the playoffs. The Leafs can place him on long-term injury reserve and use the cap savings ($3.4 million) to add a replacement before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Because there’s no salary cap in the postseason, the Leafs wouldn’t have to shed salary when Johnsson returns to the lineup.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights have yet to provide an update on the status of winger Alex Tuch, who injured his left leg against the Blues on Thursday.

TSN: The Vancouver Canucks announced winger Micheal Ferland suffered concussion-like symptoms during an AHL rehab game last night. His last game with the Canucks was Dec. 10.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres placed defenseman Zach Bogosian on waivers. Bogosian has only appeared in 19 games since returning from hip surgery in November.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki suffered a high-ankle injury on Thursday.