NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2021

The Lightning thump the Islanders to take a 3-2 lead in their semifinal series, updates on the Golden Knights and Canadiens, 18 players exempt from the expansion draft, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are one game away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final after crushing the New York Islanders 8-0 in Game 5 of their semifinal series. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each scored twice, Nikita Kucherov collected three assists, Brayden Point scored to extend his goals streak to eight games, and Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 21-save shutout.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Islanders center Mathew Barzal could face supplemental discipline from the NHL department of player safety after receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for cross-checking Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta, who was shaken up and played just one shift in the third period.

The Lightning holds a 3-2 series lead and can wrap up the series in Game 6 Wednesday on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the Lightning’s most dominating performance of these playoffs. It was also the Islanders’ worst effort of the postseason. The Bolts jumped from the gate early with three first-period goals, chasing Isles starter Semyon Varlamov from the net. Backup Ilya Sorokin didn’t fare any better, allowing five goals on 26 shots.

This loss isn’t all on the Isles goaltenders. Their teammates seemed caught off guard by the Lightning’s strong start and never really mounted much of a response.

Barzal’s frustration boiled over when he crosschecked Rutta. It could prove more costly to the Isles in Game 6 if his actions result in suspension.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights’ top forwards are struggling to score in their semifinal series with the Montreal Canadiens. Nicolas Roy has two goals, Mattias Janmark one, and that’s it for their scoring forwards. Their defensemen have accounted for the bulk of their offense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have done a good job thus far bottling up Vegas’ top scorers. They’ll have another opportunity to find a way to thwart the Habs’ tight-checking system in Game 5 tonight in Las Vegas.

TSN: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher believes the longer this series goes the more pressure falls on the heavily favored Golden Knights. “As this series goes on, we get more and more comfortable in these situations and we’re looking forward to it. We’ve shortened this series to a best-of-three,” said Gallagher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tonight’s game could determine the direction of this series. The winner will have a chance to close it out in Game 6 on Thursday in Montreal.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector weighs in on the poor quality of officiating in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mark (no relation) isn’t the only pundit raising questions about the questionable calls and missed penalties in every series thus far. We can expect this issue to be raised by reporters during NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual postseason press conference prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma expressed concern over the recent positive COVID-19 tests of Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme and Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon. He suspects they contracted the coronavirus in Las Vegas, where transmission rates are six times higher than in Quebec as health guidelines in Vegas have gone from relaxed to non-existent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of where Ducharme and McCrimmon were infected with COVID-19, the league and the two clubs must ensure their health protocols for this series remain strictly enforced. An outbreak among the players could put their health at risk and derail their series.

CAP FRIENDLY: 18 NHL players are exempt from next month’s expansion draft due to injury or career-ending illness. They include Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler, Arizona’s Marian Hossa, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg, Tampa Bay’s Marian Gaborik and Washington’s Henrik Lundqvist.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed forward Matt Nieto to a two-year, $1.7 million contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Blake Comeau to a one-year, $1 million contract.

ESPN.COM: J.T. Brown has retired from professional hockey to join the expansion Seattle Kraken as a television analyst. He played seven NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild from 2011-12 to 2018-19, finishing with 72 points in 365 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Brown in his broadcasting career.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild assistant general manager Tom Kurvers passed away Monday from lung cancer at age 58. He was diagnosed in 2019 despite being a non-smoker.

Kurvers spent 11 NHL seasons as a defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks from 1984-85 to 1994-95, finishing with 421 points in 659 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kurvers’ family, friends, former teammates and associates, and the Wild organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

The Hurricanes clinch first place in the Central Division, the Panthers and Lightning will face each other in the playoffs, the Blues clinch a postseason berth, the Stars stay alive and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. Joe Pavelski led the way with two goals and two assists while Roope Hintz had three points. With 58 points, the Stars sit two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski (NHL Images).

Thanks to the Stars, the Carolina Hurricanes clinched first place in the Discover Central Division. The Lightning will face the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have an opportunity to win their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy. They have 80 points with two games remaining while the Vegas Golden Knights have 78 points with three games left.

The Panthers-Lightning will be facing each other for the first time in postseason competition. I’m looking forward to watching their opening-round series. These rivals are evenly matched, with each team have won three of their six games thus far in their season series. We’ll get a first-round preview as their final two games of the schedule (today and Monday) are against each other with playoff seeding on the line.

The Washington Capitals remain two points out of first place in the MassMutual East Division after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Wade Allison scored two goals for the Flyers. Washington was without Alex Ovechkin (lower-body injury) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID-19 protocol list). With 73 points, the Capitals have a game in hand over the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins (75 points), who play their final game of the schedule today against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins, Sabres, New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks all have one game remaining in their respective schedules.

The St. Louis Blues clinched a playoff spot in the Honda West Division despite falling 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally by the Golden Knights, who hold a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues were in danger of missing the playoffs in early April following a seven-game losing skid. Their current eight-game points streak (including five wins) put them over the top.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 30th goal of the season as his club held off the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon missed the game with a lower-body injury in what appeared to be a precautionary move by head coach Jared Bednar. Earlier in the day, the Kings announced winger Dustin Brown will miss the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Kaprizov has 27 goals on the season as the Wild sits one point back of the Avalanche in third place with 73 points.

Phil Kessel collected his 900th career point as his Arizona Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Kessel had a goal and an assist while teammate Conor Garland collected three points. The Sharks were without captain Logan Couture, who could miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

A three-goal outburst in the second period rallied the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice, Valtteri Filppula collected three assists and Joe Veleno tallied his first NHL goal.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Friday he’s hopeful of returning to action for his club’s postseason opener. Stamkos has been sidelined by a lower-body injury since April 8.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Phillip Danault is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Goaltender Carey Price (concussion) has been working out on the ice at the Habs’ practice facility but there’s no timetable for his return. Shea Weber and Paul Byron are each listed as day-to-day. Brendan Gallagher (broken thumb) has resumed skating while Jonathan Drouin remains on an indefinite leave of absence.

THE PROVINCE: The NHL department of player safety handed a one-game suspension to Vancouver Canucks forward Zack MacEwen for kneeing Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse on Thursday.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Ondrej Kase returned to Bruins practice for the first time in four months after taking a high hit from New Jersey Devils winger Miles Wood back in January. He hasn’t ruled out returning for the Bruins’ final two games of the season.










What Next For the Los Angeles Kings?

What Next For the Los Angeles Kings?

 










Trade Candidates Unlikely To Move At 2021 NHL Trade Deadline

Trade Candidates Unlikely To Move At 2021 NHL Trade Deadline

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 3, 2021

Who could the Islanders be targeting in the trade market? Could Sam Bennett become available as the Flames fade? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE HALL, PALMIERI ON THE ISLANDERS’ TRADE LIST?

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple believes Taylor Hall could be among those on the New York Islanders list approaching the April 12 trade deadline as they seek a replacement for sidelined captain Anders Lee.

Staple doubts the 29-year-old Buffalo Sabres winger is at the top of the Isles wish list. General manager Lou Lamoriello is unwilling to pay the reported asking price of a first-round pick.

Kyle Palmieri is still the best fit in Staple’s estimation. However, teams like the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs could also pursue the 30-year-old New Jersey Devils winger, potentially driving up the Devils’ asking price.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri could be among the New York Islanders’ trade list (NHL Images).

Staple also noted Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown have also been connected to the Islanders in the rumor mill. Foligno is a pending UFA who could end up re-signing with the Jackets while the Kings could hang onto Brown if they remain in playoff contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello holds his cards close to the vest but he’s also made his share of bold moves over the years. He could land Hall if the Sabres lower the asking price but I think he’d prefer Palmieri as his style of play fits better into Isles coach Barry Trotz’s system.

I don’t see Foligno or Brown going anywhere. It wouldn’t surprise me if Foligno signs a contract extension with the Jackets. Brown has another season remaining on his contract with a seven-team no-trade list. I don’t think the Kings are really feeling any pressure to move their former captain. That doesn’t mean they won’t listen to offers but trading him isn’t among their priorities.

As for what Lamoriello might offer up, Newsday’s Andrew Gross suggested young forward Kieffer Bellows as a potential trade candidate.

BENNETT COULD DRAW TRADE INTEREST AS FLAMES FADE

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes plenty of teams could line up to make a pitch for forward Sam Bennett as the Calgary Flames playoff hopes fade. Earlier this season, Bennett’s agent told Elliotte Friedman his client would welcome a change of scenery. Francis feels the 25-year-old forward’s versatility and previous postseason performance could attract more attention in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary GM Brad Treliving could make Bennett’s trade wish come true by next Monday at 3 pm ET. The Flames have dropped seven of their last nine and sit six points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the Scotia North Division. The end of the regular season is just over five weeks away and the Canadiens hold five games in hand.

LEAFS CALLED SABRES ABOUT ULLMARK

WGR 550: During an April 1 appearance on “The Instigators” with Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Toronto Maple Leafs spoke with the Buffalo Sabres regarding goaltender Linus Ullmark.

Friedman indicated the Leafs were doing due diligence and merely inquiring as to the Sabres’ plans for Ullmark. He doesn’t think the Sabres’ asking price would be a first-round pick but does believe the netminder would have some value in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This came about as a result of Leafs starter Frederik Andersen remaining sidelined by a lower-body injury until at least next week. Ullmark is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said he doesn’t believe the Leafs are panicked over Andersen’s status and didn’t have a sense they were calling other teams. Like Friedman, however, he acknowledged that could change if Andersen is sidelined longer than expected.

LATEST OILERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector wondered if Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland can find the right fit for his roster before the trade deadline when he’s already maxed out at the $81.5 million salary cap. His lack of second, third and fifth-round picks in this year’s draft also limits his buying power.

A third-line center and a top-six left winger as the Oilers’ primary needs. Spector suggested Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening, Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter and Ottawa Senators winger Ryan Dzingel as trade targets.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar would be a good fit but that hinges on the Canadiens’ playoff fortunes. He also doesn’t see Canucks winger Tanner Pearson as much better than what the Oilers already have. His suggested trade asset includes Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear if the price is right.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis also mentioned Glendening and Sutter as well as Vancouver’s Travis Boyd and Calgary’s Derek Ryan as his proposed trade targets. He considers Ryan as best-suited to address the Oilers’ needs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever Holland pursues in the trade market it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out. That means giving up a current roster player in a one-for-one swap or shipping out a player to another club in a separate move to clear cap space for the intended target.

I don’t see the Canadiens moving Tatar while they’re in the thick of the Scotia North playoff chase. Pearson is currently sidelined but could return to action later this month. However, the current outbreak of COVID-19 among the Canucks likely takes him and Sutter out of the equation.










Expect More Moves By The Sabres Before The NHL Trade Deadline

Expect More Moves By The Sabres Before The NHL Trade Deadline