Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

In the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup, Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract negotiations could be worth monitoring and the Wild must find a way to sign Kevin Fiala.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman believes Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets will be worth watching this offseason. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights sitting two years away from unrestricted free agency.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman speculated Dubois’ name could be out there in this summer’s trade market if the 23-year-old center and the Jets fail to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is completing a two-year deal with a $5 million annual cap hit but an actual salary of $6.65 million for this season. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll cost the Jets $6 million to qualify his rights. I daresay he’ll be seeking more than that on his new contract.

The Jets have $66.3 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23 with Dubois as their priority signing. They have the talent to be a better club than they’ve been this season but their defensive game needs improvement while their scorers need more consistency.

Whatever moves they make to address their issues this summer will likely factor into their contract discussions with Dubois. He’ll want assurances the Jets can get back on track and become a perennial playoff contender. He will also want to be paid as a first-line center, a role he took over from Mark Scheifele during this season. He could seek $8 million annually, which could mean shedding a high-salaried player to free up cap space for his new contract.

Having given up Patrik Laine to get Dubois last season, it wouldn’t be a good look for this franchise to start peddling him this summer. They might not have much choice if he only wants a two-year deal taking him up to UFA eligibility. However, I believe they’ll get him signed to a long-term deal but it will be expensive.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes the Minnesota Wild must find a way to re-sign Kevin Fiala, who’s formed a dominant scoring duo with rookie Matt Boldy this season. The 25-year-old winger is completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract and is enjoying a career year with 32 goals and 82 points.

Fiala is due for a significant raise on his next contract. The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch over the next three seasons following last summer’s contract buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Gretz suggests they need to shed some salary to free up the cap space needed to keep Fiala in the fold. They could ship out a depth forward such as Marcus Foligno or Jordan Greenway or Tyson Jost, or perhaps a higher-salaried player such as Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala has garnered praise for his improved performance this season. Cynics will suggest he only stepped up his game to land a lucrative long-term deal but I don’t buy into that theory. He’s genuinely worked hard to better all aspects of his game, so much so that parting with him now would be a serious blow to their top-six depth.

As Gretz points out, the Wild must make a cost-cutting deal in order to re-sign Fiala. They have over $74 million invested in 17 players for next season. That includes the $12.7 million buyout hit for Parise and Suter. Moving a higher-salaried player will make it easier to free up sufficient space for Fiala’s next season.

Dumba has frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past couple of seasons. He’s popular among his teammates but is only a year away from UFA status and carries a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be easier to move than Brodin, who has a full no-movement clause. He would also fetch a better return than Greenway or Foligno.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2022

The Flames set a franchise record in win over Blue Jackets, the Avalanche’s home win streak continues, the Penguins re-sign Jeff Carter, the Canucks hire Patrik Allvin as GM, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames fired a franchise-record 62 shots at the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 6-0 victory. Johnny Gaudreau collected three assists, Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals and Jacob Markstrom turned in a 23-save shutout. Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 56 saves. With 46 points, the Flames tie the Dallas Stars but take over the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with two games in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins wasn’t to blame for his club’s lopsided loss. His teammates let him down with a lousy defensive effort. They also lost center Alexandre Texier as he left the game with an injured hand.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

Cale Makar’s overtime goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins, extending their home winning streak to 17 games. They forced the extra frame with unanswered third-period goals by Samuel Girard and Gabriel Landeskog while Nazem Kadri finished the night with three assists. Charlie McAvoy collected two assists for the Bruins. The Avs are tied with the Florida Panthers with 63 points but hold first overall with two games in hand while the Bruins hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 51 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Avs as center Nathan MacKinnon left the game following a hard hit from Bruins winger Taylor Hall. MacKinnon’s face was bloodied by his own stick following contact from Hall’s shoulder. He could miss the Avs’ upcoming game with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on a shootout goal by Auston Matthews. Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell reached the 20-win mark in a season for the first time in his career as his club remains in third place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points. The Ducks picked up a point thanks to goalie John Gibson’s 41-save effort and sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 50 points.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Dylan Strome tallied his first NHL hat trick in an 8-5 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Alex DeBrincat scored twice and added an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have been trying to trade Strome since last season. The Athletic’s Scott Powers speculates his improved play of late might make him more enticing to other clubs if he keeps playing well between now and the March 21 trade deadline.

The San Jose Sharks got a 32-save performance from James Reimer to beat the Washington Capitals 4-1, handing the latter their third loss in the past four games. The win keeps the Sharks (46 points) in the hunt for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Jeff Carter to a two-year contract extension. The 37-year-old forward will receive an annual average value of $3.125 million with a full no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable contract for a veteran forward who still has plenty left in the tank. He’s been a good fit with the Penguins since joining them in a trade last season. He’s sixth among their leading scorers this season with 12 goals and 26 points in 36 games.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Penguins with $51.8 million invested in 10 players for 2022-23. Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Kasperi Kapanen are among their free agents to be re-signed or replaced.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks officially announced Patrik Allvin as their new general manager. He’d been with the Penguins for 16 seasons and was named their assistant GM in 2020. Allvin previously worked with Canucks president Jim Rutherford during the latter’s tenure as Penguins GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Canucks management team in place, there’s speculation big roster changes could be coming before the March trade deadline. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor update.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Aaron Dell received a three-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for interference on Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson.

OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of Batherson, he suffered a high-ankle sprain as a result of Dell’s actions. He was slated to play in the upcoming NHL All-Star Game and has been replaced by Brady Tkachuk. Batherson could be sidelined for months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Batherson is the Senators’ leading scorer so this is a significant blow to their offense.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg is week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild got some good news as defenseman Jonas Brodin is set to return after missing several weeks with an upper-body injury.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks intend to begin reaching out to potential general manager candidates for interviews this week. Current interim GM Kyle Davidson will also interview for the job.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2021

The NHL returns to action from its COVID-extended holiday break while Brad Marchand and Vladimir Tarasenko express their unhappiness over the league’s withdrawal from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Details & more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 8-7 in the highest-scoring game of 2021-22. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl scored in the shootout to give the Sharks the win. Couture, Timo Meier and Alexander Barbanov each had a goal and an assist for the Sharks while teammate Brent Burns was held scoreless in his 1,200th career NHL game. Phil Kessel and Lawson Crouse each had four points for the Coyotes.

Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and added an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Los Angeles Kings 6-3. Both clubs combined for four goals in 76 seconds in the first period with the Golden Knights jumping to a 3-1 lead. Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 4-3 deficit to nip the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 on an overtime goal by Ondrej Palat. Corey Perry scored with 20 seconds remaining in regulation to force the extra frame. Lightning forward Braydon Point finished with two goals and an assist in his first game since being sidelined for 14 games by an upper-body injury. Canadiens defenseman Kale Clague and forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard each tallied their first career NHL goals.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Brad Marchand took to Twitter to once again condemn the NHL’s decision to withdraw from the 2022 Winter Olympics. He noted the recent mutually-agreed change to the collective bargaining agreement allowing NHL teams to use taxi squads to maintain their rosters and not miss any games or lose money due to postponements.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Marchand wondered why taxi squads couldn’t be used to allow players to participate in the Olympics. “please tell me that’s not bullshit,” he tweeted, calling for the league to allow the players to make the choice.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko also expressed his unhappiness over the league’s decision. “I think every Russian has a dream to play for the national team,” he said. “It’s very bad they took it away from us, I think it’s unfair. They give each player a choice, but we don’t have a choice at the end. So I think it’s very bad from them.”

Tarasenko indicated he read Marchand’s interview on Monday and agreed with the Bruins winger. “So with all the restrictions, all the rules, I don’t really understand the point when people are deciding for you.” He added he would’ve participated in the Beijing Games if given the choice. “I think you’d be surprised how many people would choose to go,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the frustration felt by Marchand and Tarasenko and sympathize with having this opportunity to participate in the Winter Olympics taken away from them. Given their ages, this was likely the only opportunity for both players to represent their countries on the Olympic stage.

However, the NHL didn’t arbitrarily decide to screw over the players. The CBA allows the league to withdraw from the Winter Olympics before Jan. 10 if participation would jeopardize the completion of the 2021-22 schedule in a timely manner. This was mutually agreed upon by the league and the PA as per the CBA. The players should know this. If they don’t, that’s the fault of their PA leadership, not the league.

It’s well known NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league board of governors (team owners) don’t like Olympic participation because there’s no money in it for them. Given their choice, they’d never take part in the Winter Games ever again. Nevertheless, they agreed to send players to the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics as part of their concessions to get the players to sign off on the CBA extension last year.

Up until roughly two weeks ago, the NHL was going to leave Olympic participation up to the players. The only reason they took their current action (in conjunction with the PA) was the latest COVID-19 outbreak led to multiple game postponements that threatened to derail the season.

Yes, the league is concerned about hockey-related revenue. So should the players. Another shortened season means the salary cap remains flattened beyond 2024, meaning less money to go around for players in line for new contracts in two years’ time. That also means it will take longer for the players to pay back the debt they owe to the owners because their share of HRR in 2020 exceeded that of the owners’ share.

Speaking of postponed games, the total number yesterday reached 80 with 10 more games put on hold. Nine of them were upcoming games in Canada due to limits on large gatherings in Canadian NHL cities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was media speculation yesterday suggesting the league could soon announce some Canadian teams could end up playing home games scheduled for January on the road until those restrictions are eased or lifted. That’s because playing those games with limited attendance or no fans in the stands will adversely affect HRR for this season.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras, Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson were the latest notable NHL players placed on the COVID protocol list yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild were hoping to avoid an outbreak with their Jan. 1 Winter Classic game against the St. Louis Blues at Target Field fast approaching. Brodin is the only member of the wild (thus far) to test positive.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have recalled goaltender Matt Murray from a month-long stint with their AHL affiliate in Belleville.

CBS SPORTS: The Vegas Golden Knights placed defenseman Alec Martinez (facial injury) on long-term injury reserve. He’s been sidelined since Nov. 11.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Hurricanes, the Vezina Trophy finalists are announced, the 2021 Draft Lottery goes tonight, an update on Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A third-period goal by Anthony Cirelli was the game-winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Alex Killorn opened the scoring in the second period for the Lightning. Andrei Svechnikov got the Hurricanes on the board late in the third. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves for the win as the Bolts were outshot 32-15. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck left the game with an injured right leg following a second-period collision with teammate Warren Foegele. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said it didn’t know the extent of Trocheck’s injury but indicated it didn’t look good. An update could come later today.

Losing their second-line center would be another blow to the Hurricanes’ forward lines. Winger Nino Niederreiter is out for the series with an undisclosed injury suffering in practice before Game 1.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

Speaking of Andrei Vasilevskiy, he joins Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche as this year’s finalists for the Vezina Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the fourth straight season Vasilevskiy has been named a finalist, winning the award in 2018-19. It’s the first time Fleury and Grubauer have been honored.

The 2021 NHL Draft Lottery goes tonight at 7 pm ET at league headquarters. The Buffalo Sabres have the best odds of winning after finishing with the worst overall record, followed by the Anaheim Ducks. The expansion Seattle Kraken has the third-best odds.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL Draft will be held virtually on July 23-24. Follow the link above for full details on the lottery rules and this year’s top prospects.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel has reached the end of the rehab period for the herniated disk in his neck. If he still wants the neck surgery that team doctors haven’t been comfortable with, he has the right to take the team to arbitration. If he doesn’t agree with the arbiter’s decision, he can ask for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The surgical procedure Eichel prefers has never been done before on an NHL player. The team doctors’ preference is for continued rehab. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds if Eichel feels he hasn’t made much progress with his current treatment.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted goaltender Tuukka Rask has been battling nagging injuries. However, he doesn’t feel there’s any reason to believe Rask won’t be ready to play against the New York Islanders tonight in Game 3 of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask appeared to struggle during the Bruins’ overtime loss in Game 2. If that continues in Game 3 we could see backup Jeremy Swayman for Game 4.

TSN: Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield in Game 2.

WINNIPEG SUN: The province of Manitoba will allow 500 fully-vaccinated healthcare workers into the MTS Centre tonight for the Winnipeg Jets’ opening game of their second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin said he suffered a sprained shoulder during his club’s series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Teammate Joel Eriksson Ek played through a knee injury suffered in Game 6. The duo won’t require offseason surgery.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, Connauton will earn $825K at the NHL level. He spent most of this season on the Panthers’ taxi squad, seeing action in seven games.

TSN: The Pittsburgh Penguins have given teams around the league permission to speak with former general manager Jim Rutherford before his contract with them expires at the end of June. Rutherford stepped down as GM in January for personal reasons.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2021

The Canadiens force Game 7 against the Leafs, David Pastrnak leads the Bruins to a Game 1 victory over the Islanders, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Jesperi Kotkaniemi lifted the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 of their first-round series before 2,500 fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The seventh and deciding game of this series goes Monday night in Toronto.

Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

Power-play goals by Corey Perry and Tyler Toffoli gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead in the first half of the third before Jason Spezza and TJ Brodie tied it for the Leafs. Habs goalie Carey Price made 41 saves for the win, including 13 in overtime.

Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin left the game in the third period with an apparent groin injury. Canadiens blueliner Jon Merrill missed his game with an undisclosed injury and could be sidelined 1-2 weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teetering on the brink of elimination after Game 4, Montreal has stormed back to set up a winner-take-all match on Monday night. For the second straight game, the Canadiens took a multi-goal lead, the Leafs rallied to tie it, but the Habs get the win on goals by their young forwards.

I expected the Leafs to put forth a better effort in this game after they came out flat in Game 5. Instead, they were worse in Game 6, with only the goaltending of Jack Campbell (especially in the first period when he made 15 saves) preventing a lopsided Montreal victory.

The series momentum has shifted in the Canadiens’ favor, leaving the Leafs reeling as they face the ghosts of recent Game 7 failures. As someone noted on Twitter last night, even if the Leafs win this series, it doesn’t bode well for their Stanley Cup chances when they needed seven games to beat the worst team to qualify in this year’s playoffs.

If the Canadiens pull off this upset, it would be arguably the greatest series comeback in franchise history.

David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins to a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their second-round series. David Krejci collected three assists for the Bruins, who lost winger Craig Smith with a lower-body injury. Jordan Eberle had two assists for the Isles. Game 2 is Monday night in Boston. The game was played before some 17,000 fans at Boston’s TD Garden as pandemic restrictions ease in Massachusetts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: More fans being allowed back into NHL arenas in recent weeks brings a feeling of normalcy that was missing for most of the regular season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman expects Mike Sullivan will return as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins next season. There were questions about Sullivan’s future following the Penguins’ first-round exit against the Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins haven’t formally announced Sullivan’s return. Friedman, however, is among the best-connected insiders in the league. I daresay he’s heard from a reliable team source (President of hockey ops Brian Burke, perhaps?) regarding Sullivan’s status.

CBS SPORTS: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin injured the AC joint in his left shoulder during Game 7 of his club’s series with the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s not expected to require surgery and should be ready for training camp in September.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Brian Daccord, the Coyotes special assistant to the general manager and director of goaltending operations, reportedly resigned from the team.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2020

The Islanders stave off elimination, the Capitals hire Peter Laviolette as their new head coach, the Wild re-sign Jonas Brodin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders live to play another day after edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in double overtime during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Jordan Eberle tallied the game-winner, forcing a sixth game on Thursday. The Lightning hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves for the win. Ryan Pulock opened the scoring in the first period but Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman tied it with his eighth goal of the postseason. Lightning center Brayden Point missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled the play for most of this game but the Isles hung in there for the win. They blew a couple of opportunities to score the go-ahead goal during regulation, including Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s lame attempt to pass on a two-on-one that was broken up by Zach Bogosian and a long opportunity on a delayed penalty where they failed to find the back of the net with six attackers. Nevertheless, they prevailed and have another chance to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive on Thursday.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday named Peter Laviolette as their new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals general manager Brian McLellan sought an experienced no-nonsense bench boss and he’s got one in Laviolette. He has 18 seasons of NHL experience with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and guided the Flyers and Predators to the Stanley Cup Final.

There was a sense the Capitals were lackadaisical this season, especially during the playoffs. They won’t get away with that under Laviolette.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday re-signed defenseman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension beginning in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodin was mentioned as a possible trade candidate this season. This signing indicates GM Bill Guerin sees him as a key part of the Wild’s roster. Brodin also has a full no-movement clause in the first four years of his new contract, which extends the one he has for 2020-21.

This signing sparked speculation over Matt Dumba’s future with the Wild. You can read more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.

RDS.CA: The Montreal Canadiens are reportedly close to re-signing recently-acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson. The deal could be between three-to-five years, with a cap hit of $3.5 million or $4 million, depending on the duration.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The addition of Edmundson has generated rumors suggesting the Canadiens could move a left-side defenseman for a scoring forward. Check out the details in today’s Rumor Mill.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed goaltender Adin Hill to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes insider Craig Morgan speculates Hill will become the leading candidate as the club’s backup next season if they trade Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.

Speaking of the Coyotes, the leading candidate for their vacant general manager position is St. Louis Blues assistant GM Bill Armstrong.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars GM Jim Nill said interim head coach Rick Bowness has earned the right to return as head coach. Nill and Bowness have an agreement to discuss the matter following the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the job is Bowness’ if he wants it.

TSN: The Florida Panthers have parted ways with assistant coach Mike Kitchen for allegedly kicking a player on the bench during a game this season.

CALGARY SUN: Noted NHL author Kirstie McLellan Day is taking Hall-of-Famer Lanny McDonald to court after he withdrew his approval of a biography at the last minute. She’s seeking a court order to have the book published.