NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2021

Should the Bruins pursue Jack Eichel or revisit their interest in Oliver Ekman-Larsson? Will the Penguins add some toughness before the trade deadline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes the Bruins should be among the first team to contact the Buffalo Sabres if Jack Eichel decides he wants out or if they decide to move him in order to stockpile assets for their ongoing rebuild. However, the Bruins should say no if the asking price is David Pastrnak or Charlie McAvoy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Patrice Bergeron aging and the possible departure this summer of David Krejci via free agency, Eichel would be a great fit with the Bruins. However, I don’t believe they can come up with a suitable trade package to pry him away from the Sabres if they’re unwilling (as they should be) to part with Pastrnak or McAvoy.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted the Bruins’ need for an experienced left-shot defenseman. He suggested Bruins general manager Don Sweeney should revisit his offseason trade discussions with the Arizona Coyotes regarding blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Coyotes captain was willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Bruins or Vancouver Canucks but a trade failed to materialize by his self-imposed Oct. 9 deadline.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk continues to pop up in trade speculation (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s agent was emphatic his client wasn’t going anywhere after that deadline passed. Maybe the Bruins could revisit those discussions in the offseason. With the Coyotes jockeying for a playoff spot in the Honda West division they’re probably not thinking of becoming sellers right now.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean wonders if the Bruins should go for it this season and fill in the cracks in their roster to improve their chances for a deep playoff run. He points out their roster could have a different look next season if Tuukka Rask and David Krejci depart via free agency this summer.

If the Bruins decide to go for it they’ll need to at least add a top scorer on Krejci’s line. They have $3.62 million in salary-cap space. They could be unwilling to part with their 2021 first-round pick and their prospect pool is unimpressive. Bean suggests inconsistent winger Jake DeBrusk could be an interesting trade candidate, though there is the risk that he could blossom on another club.

Bean also noted the Bruins could use an experience left-side defenseman, pointing out Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm could be available.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports one NHL assistant general manager claims the Bruins haven’t made DeBrusk available. Another NHL source, however, can see the 24-year-old winger being moved.

Shinzawa points to DeBrusk being bounced around the lineup and a five-game stretch sidelined by a lower-body injury as factors affecting his disappointing performance this season. He feels the Bruins should get back a like-minded forward or a left-shot defenseman if they decide to put DeBrusk on the block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk has been a fixture in the rumor mill since the offseason but Sweeney has stuck with him. The Bruins GM might be able to bring in a decent second-line rental player by the trade deadline without having to part with DeBrusk to do so. Finding a top scorer for Krejci’s line or an established top-four left-side rearguard, however, could be difficult without giving up something worthwhile in return.

WILL THE PENGUINS ADD TOUGHNESS AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cites Penguins director of hockey operations Brian Burke hinting his club could make a move or two before the April 12 trade deadline. “That’s the goal, to see if we can add this year. See how far we can get with this group. Yes, the team is getting older. The stars are getting older. But since I’ve been here, they’ve all been excellent,” said Burke.

Penguins GM Ron Hextall last Saturday admitted he’d like to add some toughness after Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson injured Pens forward Mark Jankowski with a hit during a recent game. Hextall said his club would look into it if a suitable player could be found but there aren’t many available around the league.

Kingerski listed Ottawa’s Austin Watson, Anaheim’s Nicolas Deslauriers and Detroit’s Luke Glendening as three options that could address that need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We know Burke likes an element of truculence on his rosters. Acquiring one of those players listed by Kingerski shouldn’t cost very much provided they’re available.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2021

What the Penguins hiring Ron Hextall and Brian Burke could mean for the club going forward in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen wonders what’s in store for the Pittsburgh Penguins following their hiring of Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations. Hextall has a reputation for patiently building a team while Burke is known for his aggressive moves.

There’s no indication they’ll move away from ownership’s current win-now mentality. Nevertheless, Boylen questions how much their current core of talent has left in the tank. Team captain Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang are 33 while Evgeni Malkin is 34. The latter two have contracts that expire at the end of next season.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Boylen ponders what will happen if the Penguins miss the playoffs or suffer another early elimination. Do they re-sign Letang and Malkin or move in a different direction?

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Paul Zeise also deliberates over how well Hextall and Burke will work together. He suggests perhaps Hextall will focus on the draft, scouting prospects and building up the foundation while Burke can focus on trying to give the Penguins a chance of winning the Stanley Cup around their current core.

Zeise believes the first order of business is to upgrade the goaltending. However, he admits that’s easier said than done. He questioned who has the priority when it comes to making big decisions on personnel, and at what point do they decide the Penguins are no longer Cup contenders and try to retool by dumping some of their big-name players.

TSN: Darren Dreger recently reported on the possibility Crosby and Malkin might not finish their careers in Pittsburgh. Asked how their futures could be affected by the hiring of Hextall and Burke, Dreger believes it depends upon the conversations they have with those two and Letang about the club’s direction. That could happen in the short term and perhaps in the offseason.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski included Malkin’s situation among the five factors facing Hextall and Burke. Multiple sources indicate ownership’s unwillingness to move Malkin and Letang. He noted the Penguins have been approached in recent years with tantalizing offers for Malkin that could help the club in the short and long term only to be rebuffed.

A top priority is figuring out where Malkin and Letang fit best. If it’s not with the Penguins, they’ll have to convince ownership to buy into that.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski feels Hextall and Burke made it clear during their introductory press conference yesterday that moving Letang or Malkin is unlikely at least for this season. They and Crosby were cited as the top players to build around.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Attempting to build up the roster around Crosby, Malkin and Letang is the short-term goal for Hextall and Burke. That’s not going to be easy during a pandemic-shortened season when most teams have limited salary-cap space and trades between Canadian and American clubs are hampered by tight border restrictions.

Hextall and Burke might not shake things up right away if the Penguins fall short this season because of ownership’s insistence on sticking with their aging core. The goal this summer could become restocking their prospect cupboard while attempting to make trades and/or free-agent signings that provide immediate help, especially if they can land younger talent. They could also open contract-extension talks with Letang and Malkin or put those off until the end of next season.

The Penguins, however, have limited cap room for 2021-22. Cap Friendly indicates they have $79.3 million invested in 17 players. With the cap expected to remain at $81.5 million, there’s little wiggle room for free-agent additions while trades would have to be dollar-for-dollar.

If the Penguins fail to improve next season, Hextall and Burke will have no choice but to convince ownership that it’s time for big changes. That means deciding whether to re-sign Letang and Malkin, assuming they haven’t already been signed to new deals. It could also mean shopping them before next year’s trade deadline.

Preparing for a rebuild will also mean determining whether Crosby wants to be part of it. He’s signed through 2024-25 so there’s not as much urgency about his situation as there is with Letang and Malkin. Still, the front office will have to have that discussion with their captain sooner or later.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s action, the Penguins hire Ron Hextall as GM and Brian Burke as head of hockey ops, Mikko Koivu retires, and more game postponements related to COVID-19 in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on a tie-breaking third-period goal by Patric Hornqvist. Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists for the Panthers. Wings forward Luke Glendening was unavailable due to an upper-body injury and is expected to miss at least one additional game.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen made 40 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held pointless for the first time in 10 games. Earlier in the day, the Oilers revealed winger Zack Kassian is week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. The Senators, meanwhile, announced defenseman Erik Brannstrom was placed on injured reserve for seven-to-10 days.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Steven Stamkos and Mathieu Joseph each scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning extended their win streak to six games by thumping the Nashville Predators 6-1. Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev each collected three assists.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their third straight victory by nipping the Dallas Stars 2-1 in overtime. Kevin Lankinen kicked out 34 shots while Pius Suter tallied the game-winner.

Zach Whitecloud snapped a 4-4 tie in the third period to give the Vegas Golden Knights a 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, who had overcome 3-0 and 4-1 deficits. Following the game, the Golden Knights canceled its virtual post-game press conference citing COVID-19 concerns. The club also canceled today’s practice, adding there would be no media availability to answer questions. The Ducks’ post-game presser was also cut short.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights returned to action on Feb. 5 after having three games postponed when a coach tested positive and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Their next game is slated for Thursday against the Ducks.

The San Jose Sharks nipped the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in a shootout. Evander Kane tied the game late in the third period and Logan Couture netted the winning goal. Sharks forward Patrick Marleau passed Jaromir Jagr for third place on the all-time games played list with 1,734. Dustin Brown scored twice for the Kings, who lost defenseman Drew Doughty to an apparent arm injury after blocking a shot in the third period.

Pierre-Luc Dubois’ debut with the Winnipeg Jets was spoiled as they fell 3-2 to the Calgary Flames. Elias Lindholm got the winner on a power-play goal late in the third period. Dubois was held scoreless while Nikolaj Ehlers tallied twice for the Jets.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins hired Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.

The former GM of the Philadelphia Flyers and an advisor to the Los Angeles Kings hockey ops department, Hextall brought in many of the players currently on the Flyers roster and helped build the Kings into a two-time Stanley Cup champion.

Burke is a former general manager of the Hartford Whalers, Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs, winning a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He was also president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall’s hiring wasn’t a shock as he was considered among the front-runners for the job. Burke’s hiring was surprising as he seemed comfortable in his recent role as an in-studio hockey analyst for Sportsnet.

This will make an interesting mix of personalities. Hextall is patient to a fault when it comes to building a roster. His reluctance to make trades to speed up the Flyers’ rebuild led to his dismissal. Burke, meanwhile, is known for his outspokenness, his love of physical hockey and his willingness to tinker with his rosters. How well they mesh will play a big role in determining the direction of the Penguins.

The hiring of Hextall and Burke have given rise to questions over how they’ll run the Penguins. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Mikko Koivu announced his retirement, bringing his 16-season NHL playing career to an end. Koivu signed with the Blue Jackets after 15 seasons with the Minnesota Wild. He was their captain from 2008-09 to 2019-20, becoming their franchise leader in games played (1,028), assists (504) and points (709) while finishing second all-time with 205 goals. He had one goal and one assist in seven appearances with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Koivu and his family in their future endeavors. His retirement, however, leaves the Jackets even thinner at center.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, Patrik Laine’s benching during the club’s 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday was reportedly the result of his being disrespectful to a member of the Jackets’ coaching staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been an interesting week thus far for the Jackets.

NHL.COM: Last night’s game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals was postponed after Flyers’ Claude Giroux and Justin Braun were added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list. Teammate Travis Sanheim was placed on the list Sunday. The league has postponed 32 games thus far due to COVID-19.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Cam Talbot and Jonas Brodin joined the Minnesota Wild’s growing list of players on the protocol list. They now have 12 players on that list.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev declined to elaborate on his altercation with former teammate Tony DeAngelo following a game on Jan. 30. The incident resulted in DeAngelo’s banishment from the Rangers. “Emotions happened and that’s all I can say,” said Georgiev. “I wish Tony the best moving forward.”










Hextall, Burke Exactly What Penguins Need To Right Ship

Hextall, Burke Exactly What Penguins Need To Right Ship