NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2021

Check out the latest on the Blue Jackets, Canucks, Hurricanes, and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski’s recent decision to change agents. He has a year remaining on his contract but changing agents suggests he wants to open contract discussions this summer.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would coincide with the contract talks expected this summer for Seth Jones, Werenski’s defense partner. Jones is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Werenski, meanwhile, will become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’ll cost $7 million just to qualify his rights. The Jackets ownership will have to dig deep for the big bucks to keep their top-two defensemen in Columbus.

Portzline also believes Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen must evaluate his current centermen before going shopping for one via trade or free agency. Max Domi, Jack Roslovic, and Alexandre Texier struggled in that position this season. Portzline doesn’t see Kekalainen adding three centers this summer but wonders how many the GM feels he needs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Portzline pointed out, Kekalainen might be lucky to pry away a prominent center from another team. I expect he’ll try to add one experienced center and hope for improvement from Domi, Roslovic and Texier next season, perhaps with a new coach behind the bench if John Tortorella doesn’t return.

TSN’s Darren Dreger believes Kekalainen will try his best to bring in a top-line center for winger Patrik Laine next season. That would be a costly undertaking during the best of seasons. It could prove more difficult under a flattened salary cap.

Boston’s David Krejci and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are the best centers in this summer’s UFA market. At 35, Krejci is at the tail end of his career and best suited for second-line duty. Nugent-Hopkins is a versatile two-way forward but I don’t see him as a first-line center.

Cap Friendly shows the Jackets have $56.5 million invested in 16 players for 2021-22. Kekalainen could target a cap-strapped club trying to shed salary. However, re-signing Laine (an RFA with arbitration rights this summer) will bite deeply into that cap space, perhaps as much as $8 million. It’ll take $7.5 million to qualify his right.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Vancouver Canucks haven’t put a new offer on the table for head coach Travis Green. He wants to stay and the Canucks want to keep him. Green is earning $1 million per season, which is in the lower third among NHL head coaches. LeBrun speculates it could take around $2.5 million to get it done.

Darren Dreger reports the Carolina Hurricanes hope to get head coach Rod Brind’Amour under contract before the playoffs begin. Management seems confident it will get a deal done soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brind’Amour has turned the Hurricanes into a Stanley Cup contender in just three seasons. They’re on the verge of winning their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy.

Dreger also reports Arizona Coyotes bench boss Rick Tocchet could be moving on at the end of this season. His sources indicated Tocchet is more likely to test the open market this summer.

AFTONBLADET: Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson could return to HV71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Hockey League after 14 NHL seasons. Hjalmarsson, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He spent three seasons with HV71 before starting his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007-08.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report doesn’t rule out Hjalmarsson staying in the NHL if he gets an offer he can’t resist or if the tax situation makes it difficult for him to play in Sweden this autumn.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 2, 2021

Is an offseason shakeup in store for the Rangers?  Is Alec Martinez any closer to re-signing with the Golden Knights? What’s the latest on Rod Brind’Amour’s contract talks with the Hurricanes? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently suggested the Rangers could face an offseason shakeup following Thursday’s season-crushing 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. He singled out marquee players such as Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad as well as the leadership group and head coach David Quinn.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

Brooks pointed out the lack of production from the Rangers’ core players (Panarin, Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome) against the Isles throughout this season, combining for just one goal against their rival. He feels the Rangers lack the mentality and personnel to adjust against a tight-checking opponent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks wasn’t as harsh in his assessment of the Rangers’ 3-0 loss to the Islanders on Saturday, perhaps because, as he pointed out, that loss felt inevitable. He did, however, suggest the Rangers lacked the physical presence to deal with rugged Islanders winger Matt Martin. He noted the Blueshirts attempted to sign Martin during the offseason before he returned to the Isles on a four-year deal.

The Rangers could make some offseason changes, perhaps behind the bench as well as in the lineup. There’s no shortage of former NHL coaches who’d relish the opportunity of coaching the promising Blueshirts. Gerard Gallant, Claude Julien and Bruce Boudreau could be among the potential candidates.

As for the roster, Cap Friendly shows the Rangers have $55.6 million invested in 17 players for 2021-22. Buchnevich and goaltender Igor Shesterkin are their notable free agents, with both being RFAs holding arbitration rights. Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Ryan Lindgren and Libor Hajek are coming off their entry-level contracts.

The Blueshirts have sufficient cap space to re-sign their key free agents and perhaps have some space to tap into the UFA market to add some toughness to their lineup. They could, however, forego an expensive signing by going the trade route.

Zibanejad and Strome are one year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Their names popped up in trade speculation in the recent past and could surface in the offseason if management decides core changes are needed.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen recently reported there haven’t been any contract talks between the Vegas Golden Knights and Alec Martinez. The 33-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Martinez is hopeful this season won’t be his last with the Golden Knights. He has 27 points on the season and averages over 22 minutes per game. General manager Kelly McCrimmon acknowledged the blueliner’s value to the lineup, adding talks will happen when appropriate and declined to comment further.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez is completing a six-year, $24 million contract and turns 34 in July. His age will work against him getting a significant raise. So will the Golden Knights’ limited cap space. They have $75.4 million invested in 17 players next season. He’ll have to accept at least the same annual cap hit on a short-term deal to stay in Vegas, and only if they can free up some cap room.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports one of the biggest issues in the Carolina Hurricanes contract negotiations with head coach Rod Brind’Amour is he wants contract extensions for his coaching, training and equipment staffs. Like Brind’Amour, their respective contracts expire at the end of this season.

Friedman believed Brind’Amour will re-sign with the Hurricanes. However, he’s made it clear the future of his staff is as important as his own.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brind’Amour was a team guy during his playing days. That attitude has carried over into his coaching career. Given the success he’s had turning the Hurricanes within three years from an also-ran to a Stanley Cup contender, he’s justified in wanting to keep his staff intact.

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.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 2, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 2, 2021

Is an offseason shakeup in store for the Rangers?  Is Alec Martinez any closer to re-signing with the Golden Knights? What’s the latest on Rod Brind’Amour’s contract talks with the Hurricanes? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently suggested the Rangers could face an offseason shakeup following Thursday’s season-crushing 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. He singled out marquee players such as Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad for criticism as well as the leadership group and head coach David Quinn.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

Brooks pointed out the lack of production from the Rangers’ core players (Panarin, Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome) against the Isles throughout this season, combining for just one goal against their rival. He feels the Rangers lack the mentality and personnel to adjust against a tight-checking opponent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks wasn’t as harsh in his assessment of the Rangers’ 3-0 loss to the Islanders on Saturday, perhaps because, as he pointed out, that loss felt inevitable. He did, however, suggest the Rangers lacked the physical presence to deal with rugged Islanders winger Matt Martin. He noted the Blueshirts attempted to sign Martin during the offseason before he returned to the Isles on a four-year deal.

The Rangers could make some offseason changes, perhaps behind the bench as well as in the lineup. There’s no shortage of former NHL coaches who’d relish the opportunity of coaching the promising Blueshirts. Gerard Gallant, Claude Julien and Bruce Boudreau could be among the potential candidates.

As for the roster, Cap Friendly shows the Rangers have $55.6 million invested in 17 players for 2021-22. Buchnevich and goaltender Igor Shesterkin are their notable free agents, with both being RFAs holding arbitration rights. Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Ryan Lindgren and Libor Hajek are coming off their entry-level contracts.

The Blueshirts have sufficient cap space to re-sign their key free agents and perhaps have some space to tap into the UFA market to add some toughness to their lineup. They could, however, forego an expensive signing by going the trade route.

Zibanejad and Strome are one year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Their names popped up in trade speculation in the recent past and could surface in the offseason if management decides core changes are needed.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen recently reported there haven’t been any contract talks between the Vegas Golden Knights and Alec Martinez. The 33-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Martinez is hopeful this season won’t be his last with the Golden Knights. He has 27 points on the season and averages over 22 minutes per game. General manager Kelly McCrimmon acknowledged the blueliner’s value to the lineup, adding talks will happen when appropriate and declined to comment further.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez is completing a six-year, $24 million contract and turns 34 in July. His age will work against him getting a significant raise. So will the Golden Knights’ limited cap space. They have $75.4 million invested in 17 players next season. He’ll have to accept at least the same annual cap hit on a short-term deal to stay in Vegas, and only if they can free up some cap room.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports one of the biggest issues in the Carolina Hurricanes contract negotiations with head coach Rod Brind’Amour is he wants contract extensions for his coaching, training and equipment staffs. Like Brind’Amour, their respective contracts expire at the end of this season.

Friedman believed Brind’Amour will re-sign with the Hurricanes. However, he’s made it clear the future of his staff is as important as his own.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brind’Amour was a team guy during his playing days. That attitude has carried over into his coaching career. Given the success he’s had turning the Hurricanes within three years from an also-ran to a Stanley Cup contender, he’s justified in wanting to keep his staff intact.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 13, 2020

Recaps of yesterday’s playoff games, the Penguins fire their assistant coaches, the Leafs respond to the qualifying-round elimination and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron’s double-overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Bergeron’s linemates David Pastrnak (one goal) and Brad Marchand (two assists) picked up their first points of the postseason. Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton returned to action after missing the qualifying round with an undisclosed injury, but winger Justin Williams and blueliner Sami Vatanen were ruled “unfit to play” for Game 1.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour was fined $25K for his comments disputing the Bruins’ second goal when Anders Bjork appeared to swat the puck out of Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek’s glove on the ice to teammate Charlie Coyle. “This is why the league’s a joke, in my opinion, on these things,” said Brind’Amour following the game. “That one is a crime scene.”

 

  SPECTOR’S NOTE: In my opinion, the officials got the call wrong, but Brind’Amour should know the league takes a dim view of coaches publicly airing their grievances about officiating.   The New York Islanders overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Washington Capitals 4-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Anthony Beauvillier tallied four unanswered goals for the Islanders while T.J. Oshie netted both Capitals goals. The Caps were unhappy with Lee over a late hit on Nicklas Backstrom that sidelined the center for the rest of the game. A further word on Backstrom’s condition could be provided later today.  

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eberle’s goal late in the second period gave the Isles a much-needed lift. They went on to dominate the Capitals in the final frame.

A three-goal outburst within a 1:23 span in the third period powered the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes in the first game of their opening-round series. Nazem Kadri, J.T. Compher, and Mikko Rantanen were the goal scorers while Philipp Grubauer made 14 saves for the shutout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colorado controlled this game from the opening faceoff. Only the play of Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper kept this scoreless until the Avs’ third-period flurry.

Carter Hart made 27 saves as the Philadelphia Flyers held off the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. Joel Farabee tallied the game-winner 16 seconds after the Habs tied it on a second-period power-play goal by Shea Weber. Habs goalie Carey Price made a breathtaking stick save on a second-period Scott Laughton blast, preventing either a sure goal or perhaps serious injury to teammate Nick Suzuki as the youngster attempted to block the shot.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a physical,closely-contested game that could set the tone for the remainder of the series. Both goaltenders were outstanding.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat scored twice in a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Horvat, Troy Stecher (with the game-winner), and J.T. Miller netted three unanswered third-period goals. Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom made 29 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a close game until the Canucks blew it open with three goals on five shots. The Blues played better than they had in the round-robin but seemed to wilt in that final period.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins dismissed assistant coaches Sergei Gonchar, Jacques Martin, and Mark Recchi yesterday. A search for new assistants for head coach Mike Sullivan will begin at once.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford promised changes after his club’s qualifying-round exit. He’ll turn next to his roster, but don’t expect any big changes there other than perhaps trading goalie Matt Murray and letting Justin Schultz depart via free agency. If those moves fail to improve the Pens next season, Sullivan could lose his job while Rutherford looks at maybe a bigger roster move or two.

The Penguins also opted to retain their 2020 first-round pick (15th overall). They will instead send their 2021 first-round pick to the Minnesota Wild to complete February’s Jason Zucker trade.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist’s future with the New York Rangers appears hazy following a recent meeting with team president John Davidson. The long-time Rangers starting goalie lost his job to rookie Igor Shesterkin this season and the club doesn’t intend to carry three goalies next season. Lundqvist has a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $8.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could be trying to convince Lundqvist to retire, removing his full cap hit from their books. They could also buy him out, but that would only save $3 million next season and give them $1.5 million in dead cap space for 2021-22.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan reaffirmed his faith in general manager Kyle Dubas during yesterday’s online end-of-season press conference. Dubas, meanwhile, defended his players and resisted the notion that management misread the club’s potential. Leafs stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and Morgan Rielly acknowledged the disappointment and frustration over yet another early postseason exit but maintain their belief they have the core to develop into a winner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unhappy Leafs followers appear to be running out of patience with “The Shanaplan”, Dubas’ management, and the inconsistent performance of some of the club’s stars. It’ll be interesting to see what off-season moves they make to address their roster deficiencies, especially on the blueline. Another erratic season could cost Dubas his job and perhaps lead to a core player getting traded.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: An undisclosed injury appears to be affecting Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin. He failed to register a shot in the Stars’ Game 1 loss to the Calgary Flames, marking the second time in three games he’s done so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The low-scoring Stars need veterans scorers like Seguin at his best if they hope to stage a run for the Stanley Cup.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Bryan Little is unsure if he’ll play again after suffering a punctured eardrum and concussion when he was struck in the head by a shot during a game last November. He’s been sidelined ever since as he recovered from surgery to repair his eardrum. His symptoms have reduced but brain scans revealed lingering damage that could put his future at risk if he continues playing hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Little intends to take time to heal as he undergoes further tests and seeks different medical opinions. Nevertheless, his playing career appears in jeopardy.

THE SCORE: Top prospect Alexis Lafreniere won’t be returning to Rimouski Oceanic training camp and he won’t be playing in Europe as he prepares for his NHL career. He intends to train at home and report to his NHL team whenever their training camp opens this fall. It’s expected the New York Rangers will select him with the first-overall pick in this year’s draft in October.










Notable Former NHL Stars Still Awaiting Induction Into Hockey Hall of Fame

Notable Former NHL Stars Still Awaiting Induction Into Hockey Hall of Fame