NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2022

What’s next for the Canadiens after trading Shea Weber to the Golden Knights? Should the Flyers shop Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecny this summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CANADIENS FOLLOWING THE WEBER TRADE?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link for my thoughts on the Montreal Canadiens shipping Shea Weber to the Vegas Golden Knights for Evgenii Dadonov on June 16.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is still listening to trade offers for Jeff Petry. The 34-year-old defenseman has three more seasons on his contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million.

RDS.CA: Hughes was asked about Petry during his video conference announcing the Weber trade on Thursday evening. “There is no imminent transaction,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen before the draft.”

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (NHL Images).

Hughes also said he’s had several calls from rival general managers expressing interest in Josh Anderson. While admitting he’s always willing to listen to offers, he has no plans to trade the 28-year-old winger. Anderson’s signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports the Canadiens still have over $80 million invested in 19 players for 2022-23 following the Weber trade with promising restricted free agents like Alexander Romanov and Rem Pitlick to sign. There’s little they can do to clear sufficient cap room to pursue big-ticket talent in this summer’s free-agent market.

Engels expects Petry will be traded but Hughes indicated he’s not going to part with futures to make it happen. Despite the interest in Anderson, there’s no urgency for the Canadiens GM to move him.

Hughes also indicated he likely won’t have clarity on Carey Price’s status until close to training camp or possibly afterward. He intends to proceed with his offseason business as though Price will be on his active roster.

Engels also speculated forwards Paul Byron and Jonathan Drouin could be moved this offseason. If they’re not, the Canadiens will gain extra cap flexibility next summer when they become unrestricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s apparent Hughes intends to move Petry. There’s been recent speculation linking the blueliner to several clubs, including the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins. Whether he ends up with those teams remains to be seen.

The Habs GM intends to be patient to find the right deal for Petry. Considering the moves he’s made thus far (Weber on Thursday, Tyler Toffoli, Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak before the trade deadline), the return must either fetch the Canadiens an affordable player who can help their roster or futures such as draft picks and prospects.

Anderson is the Canadiens’ best trade chip if Hughes is willing to move him. However, he’ll have to receive an offer that’s too good to refuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anderson’s still wearing a Habs jersey when the 2022-23 season begins.

Drouin and Byron could draw some interest but their respective injury histories could make them difficult to move. Then again, Hughes found a trade partner to take Weber’s hefty salary-cap hit off his hands. We shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him finding a taker for either guy.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently suggested the Canadiens look into acquiring Martin Necas if he no longer fits into the Carolina Hurricanes’ plans. The 23-year-old forward became the subject of trade speculation after a disappointing season amid rumors of a possible rift with Hurricanes’ coach Rod Brind’Amour. He’s completing his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might not be a bad idea to look into Necas’ availability. However, the Hurricanes have some cap issues of their own to deal with.

Cap Friendly indicates they have $19.4 million in cap room and key players such as Vincent Trocheck, Nino Niederreiter and Tony DeAngelo are in need of new contracts. They probably won’t want to take back much salary unless the return is an affordable replacement for one of those three.

SHOULD THE FLYERS TRADE PROVOROV OR KONECNY?

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Prior to the Flyers’ reported signing of head coach John Tortorella, Sam Carchidi suggested it may be time for them to trade Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecny. He believes they should use either guy to pursue high draft picks and rising young players to restock their prospect pipeline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carchidi did go on to say perhaps a coach like Tortorella could do a better job bringing out the best in players like Provorov and Konecny. I think that’s what the Flyers’ front office is counting on having gone out and hired “Torts”.

That doesn’t mean Provorov or Konecny wouldn’t be traded if the right offer was made in the coming weeks. However, it seems to me that Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher still believes this club can turn things around with the right guidance behind the bench.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2022

Seven-goal performances by the Oilers and Leafs during Hockey Day in Canada, Jonathan Huberdeau takes over the scoring race, and Hockey Night in Canada pioneer Ralph Mellanby passes away. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each scored twice as the Edmonton Oilers crushed the Montreal Canadiens 7-2. Evander Kane also scored in his debut with the Oilers (46 points), who have four straight wins and sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad start for Kane with his new club in his first game of the season. Meanwhile, Draisaitl moved into second place in the NHL scoring race with 61 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting collected a hat track as the Toronto Maple Leafs rolled to a 7-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Toronto tallied five unanswered goals in the third period with Bunting tallying two of them. With 57 points, the Leafs remain in third place in the Atlantic Division, seven points back of the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning.

Speaking of the Lightning, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights on a goal by Mark Stone in the seventh shootout round. The Bolts were down 2-0 but rallied on third-period goals by Ross Colton and Corey Perry. With 65 points, they sit two behind the first-overall Florida Panthers. The Golden Knights (55 points) remain one up on the Anaheim Ducks for first in the Pacific Division.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

Jonathan Huberdeau took over the lead in the scoring race with a goal and two assists as the Panthers defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-4 on an overtime goal by Sam Bennett. Jonathan Dahlen tallied twice and Nick Bonino collected three assists for the Sharks, who sit one point out of the final Western wild-card berth with 47 points.

The Carolina Hurricanes (62 points) moved one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into first place in the Metropolitan Division by nipping the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Antti Raanta made 24 saves in his first game since Jan. 1 while teammates Jordan Martinook and Andrei Svechnikov scored. Jesper Boqvist replied for the Devils.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom needed just 15 saves to extend his league-leading shutouts for this season to seven in a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Johnny Gaudreau netted the winner in overtime while Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko turned aside 31 shots. The Canucks picked up a point to sit four back of the Flames (48 points) for that final Western wild-card spot.

The Winnipeg Jets (43 points) picked up a big win by beating the St. Louis Blues 4-1 as they snapped a six-game losing skid to sit five points back of the Flames. Paul Stastny scored two goals while goalie Eric Comrie made 28 saves for the win. The Blues (57 points) sit one back of the second-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry potted his 25th goal of the season and John Gibson stopped 44 shots in a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Rickard Rakell also scored for Anaheim while Tyler Ennis replied for the Senators. With the win, the Ducks (54 points) move one point behind the Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

An overtime goal by Scott Laughton lifted the Philadelphia Flyers over the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 to snap their 13-game losing skid. Flyers winger Cam Atkinson scored twice and collected an assist while Viktor Arvidsson tallied two goals for the Kings, who sit three points back of the Ducks in third place in the Pacific.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson made 27 saves in his first game since Nov. 2 to backstop his club over the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.

HEADLINES

TSN: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price skated in full equipment for 10 minutes during practice yesterday but didn’t face any shots. He’s still recuperating from offseason knee surgery. Canadiens goalie coach Eric Raymond said Price is looking forward to returning to action later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on when Price will be back. His return won’t save the Canadiens’ dreadful season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Paul Byron is expected to make his season debut tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets following offseason hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have missed his two-way experience and leadership this season.

SPORTSNET: Canadiens defenseman David Savard will miss the next eight weeks with an injured right ankle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been that kind of season for the Habs. Injuries have decimated their lineup and contributed to their woeful performance.

SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators center Josh Norris is likely sidelined by a shoulder injury until after the All-Star break.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a tough week for the Senators, losing their leading goal scorer in Norris (18 goals) and their points leader in Drake Batherson (34 points) earlier in the week.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks center Kirby Dach removed social media from his phone back in December to get away from the noise and pressure he felt from fans. “Obviously you miss out on news, what’s going on and stuff cause that’s how you get it nowadays but I’ve enjoyed it. I like the break from it,” said Dach.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars owner Tom Gaglardi admitted he’s felt frustrated by his club’s inconsistent performance this season. Nevertheless, he’s preaching patience over the second half of the season and prefers not to make midseason changes. He also remains confident that his coaching staff and management can find a way into the playoffs.

TSN: Canadian sports broadcasting pioneer Ralph Mellanby has passed away at age 87. He was the creative force behind CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada as its executive producer from 1966 to 1987. He introduced new camera angles in arenas, slow-motion replays, telestrators and on-air graphics to Hockey Night broadcasts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mellanby helped make Hockey Night in Canada a sports institution in Canada. My condolences to his family, friends and broadcast colleagues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

Jack Eichel’s agents issue a statement critical of Sabres management, David Krejci will finish his playing career in the Czech Republic, and surgeries for Alex Tuch and Paul Byron top today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The agents for Jack Eichel released a statement yesterday expressing their displeasure over the Buffalo Sabres’ handling of their client’s medical treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. Eichel prefers surgery but his representatives accused the Sabres medical staff of preventing him from undergoing the procedure. “This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and is not working,” they conclude.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This statement was released in response to a recent press conference by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams where he said he’s not feeling pressure to trade Eichel. It’s apparent they intend to turn up the heat on Adams to speed up the “process”. Time will tell if it has the desired effect but it’s apparent the pending divorce between Eichel and the Sabres is growing acrimonious.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Krejci brought his 15-season NHL career to a close yesterday. The long-time Bruins center issued a statement indicating he was finishing his playing career back home in the Czech Republic.

Krejci, 35, spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins, playing in 962 career games and scoring 215 goals, 515 assists and 730 points. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Cup Final in 2013 and 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci was sometimes overshadowed by teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand but was an invaluable part of their success during most of his tenure in Boston. He ranks among their all-time leaders in games played, assists and points.

His departure leaves a big hole in their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill in the short term. Best wishes to Krejci over the remainder of his playing career and beyond.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch will be sidelined for six months after undergoing shoulder surgery last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest he could return to the lineup is late January. This could explain their acquisition of Evgeni Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators this week.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron underwent hip surgery this week and is expected to be out for five months. He could be out until January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain their signing of Mathieu Perreault this week to a one-year, $950K contract.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed forward Ivan Barbashev to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Tyson Jost to a two-year, $4 million contract.

NHL NETWORK‘s Kevin Weekes reports the New York Rangers signed recently acquired winger Ryan Reaves to a one-year, $1.75 million contract extension.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed winger Ondrej Kase to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings acquired forward Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2022.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens hired Eric Raymond as their new goalie coach.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 7, 2021

A look at some of this summer’s potential buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli listed 10 buyout candidates who could enter this summer’s free-agent market. The first window for contract buyouts opens 24 hours following the completion of the Stanley Cup Final and closes at 5 PM EST on July 27.

Tony DeAngelo is expected to be bought out of his contract later this month (NHL Images).

Topping his list is New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo. The Blueshirts have reportedly finalized plans to buy out the final season ($4.8 million annual average value) of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo has played his final game with the Rangers. While his defensive game needs work he’s a skillful puck-moving blueliner. Given his personal baggage, however, the question is whether another NHL club will take a chance on him. Rumors linked him to the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens before the April 12 trade deadline.

Edmonton Oilers winger James Neal, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, Florida Panthers blueliner Keith Yandle and San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones were among the top-five candidates.

Seravalli pointed out Oilers general manager Ken Holland has hinted at buying out one or two contracts this summer. The 33-year-old Neal has two years with an annual average value of $5.75 million.

Johnson missed all but four games this season to injury but Seravalli observed he wasn’t on the list of players exempted from the upcoming expansion draft due to injury. He suggested placing Johnson on long-term injury reserve might be the better way to go for the Avs. Johnson has two years left at $6 million annually.

Yandle was a healthy scratch during the Panthers’ playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 34-year-old has two years remaining on his deal with an AAV of $6.35 million.

Seravalli suggests the Sharks buy out Jones and use the cap savings to put toward his replacement. The 31-year-old netminder has three years remaining at $5.75 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland could buy out Neal but there’s also talk of shipping him to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Duncan Keith, whereby the Blackhawks would buy him out.

Putting Johnson on LTIR sounds like a better option. However, a buyout might be the only choice if it appears he’ll be healthy to return next season. The Avs need cap space to re-sign Cale Makar, Philipp Grubauer and Gabriel Landeskog.

Yandle surfaced in the rumor mill back in January when it appeared he would become a healthy scratch to start the season, putting his Ironman streak in jeopardy. That talk died down when the 34-year-old blueliner never missed a game during the regular season.

There might be a trade market for Yandle if he agrees to waive his no-movement clause. However, the Panthers would either have to absorb part of his cap hit, take back a bad contract, or try to work a three-way deal.

Jones has really struggled over the last three seasons. The Sharks need more consistency between the pipes. Buying him out, however, would result in six years of dead cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly) totaling over $12 million.

Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise is No. 6 on Seravalli’s list. He suggests they “bite the bullet” and use the savings for next season to re-sign Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Parise buyout seems unlikely. It’s eight years of dead cap space. They’d get a $2.3 million cap hit for next season, but it jumps to over $6.3 million in 2022-23 and over $7.3 million annually for the following two seasons. The only real cap relief would come in the final four years at over $833k per season.

Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen, Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop, Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron, and Anaheim Ducks winger Sonny Milano round out the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks tried to trade Virtanen but couldn’t find any takers. A buyout seems likely given his on-ice struggles and off-ice issues.

Bishop missed all of the 2021-22 schedule recovering from knee surgery but Seravalli indicated he worked out with the club toward the end of the season. He could be bought out if healthy but they might not go that route if Anton Khudobin is selected in the expansion draft. Seravalli suggests a buyout of Bishop would enable them to protect Khudobin as Jake Oettinger is exempt but that might not be in their plans.

Seravalli pointed out the Canadiens put Byron on waivers three times during the regular season. However, his performance in this year’s playoffs probably means he’ll be back next season. The Habs could consider other options to free up some cap space.

Milano only played six games last season with the Ducks. With a year left on his contract at $1.7 million, he could become a buyout candidate, though the savings ($500K) are minimal.

Seravalli also suggested keeping an eye on Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen, Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman, Detroit Red Wings blueliner Danny DeKeyser and Los Angeles Kings rearguard Olli Maatta.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2021

Sidney Crosby set a franchise scoring record and a points-per-game milestone, Zdeno Chara reached a games-played milestone, the Wild clinch a playoff spot, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust each scored their 20th goals of the season as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the New Jersey Devils 4-2. Crosby’s empty-netter late in the game set a franchise record for most 20-goal seasons with 13. He also joined Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe as the only NHL players with 16 point-per-game seasons, sitting fifth on the all-time list in that category. The Penguins sit in second place in the MassMutual East Division with 65 points, one behind the Washington Capitals. The Devils have dropped nine straight games.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara became the fifth defenseman in NHL history to play 1,600 games during his club’s 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders. Daniel Sprong scored twice and Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who played without captain Alex Ovechkin as he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The Islanders (63 points) sit third behind the Penguins.

Aleksander Barkov’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally by the Florida Panthers as they nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar had a goal and three assists while Carolina blueliner Dougie Hamilton scored twice. The Panthers (67 points) sit one point behind the first-place Hurricanes in the Discover Central Division.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive on Jamie Benn’s overtime goal to edge the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 50 saves in a losing cause. With 52 points, Dallas sits just two behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Central. Stars defenseman John Klingberg missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

The league-leading Vegas Golden Knights (70 points) picked up their ninth straight victory by dropping the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Chandler Stephenson scored twice for the Golden Knights, who opened a four-point lead over the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf left the game following the second period with an upper-body injury.

A hat trick by Ryan O’Reilly rallied the St. Louis Blues past the Colorado Avalanche 5-3. O’Reilly also collected an assist as the Blues (46 points) are one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes in the West Division. Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche.

The Minnesota Wild became the third team to secure a berth in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs in a 6-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Kevin Fiala and Jared Spurgeon each had a goal and an assist for the Wild (65 points), who moved one point behind the Avalanche. Before the game, the Sharks honored Patrick Marleau for recently setting the NHL all-time games played record.

Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper had a 26-save shutout to blank the Los Angeles Kings 4-0. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist.

Joe Thornton became the oldest player (41 years, 296 days) in Toronto Maple Leafs’ history to score a goal as his club beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. Toronto sits atop the Scotia North Division with 65 points, eight up on second-place Winnipeg. The Jets played without forward Adam Lowry, who remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.

The Calgary Flames moved closer to the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the Scotia North Division by downing the sputtering Habs 5-2. Johnny Gaudreau scored twice as Calgary sits just four points (45 points) sit just four behind Montreal. Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. Canadiens forwards Tomas Tatar and Paul Byron missed the game with lower-body injuries while goaltender Carey Price returned to Montreal for further treatment for a concussion suffered earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames season seemed over three weeks ago after winning just once in nine games. They’ve since won five of their last seven to keep their playoff hopes alive while the floundering Canadiens have won just three of their last 11.

Third-period goals by Tanner Pearson and J.T. Miller lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa goaltender Matt Murray left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Canucks center Elias Pettersson is reportedly doubtful to return this season as he remains sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered on March 2.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, Pierre-Luc Dubois benched, an update on the four Capitals sidelined under COVID-19 protocols, and a lengthy list of injuries in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 in the second game of their three-game series. With the score tied 2-2 following the first period, the Canadiens blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

Montreal winger Joel Armia also scored twice but suffered a concussion late in the third period from a blindside hit by Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Habs forward Paul Byron also left in the third after being struck in the leg by a shot from teammate Shea Weber. Canucks defensemen Travis Hamonic and Alexander Edler missed the game with upper-body injuries, while blueliner Jalen Chatfield suffered a first-period upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli now has five goals in two games against his former club this season. It’s uncertain if Myers will receive supplemental discipline for his cheap shot on Armia. The Canadiens and Canucks will play the final game of this series on Saturday, with the Habs unbeaten in regulation (3-0-2) thus far.

Jake DeBrusk tallied the only goal in a shootout to give the Boston Bruins a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Nick Ritchie had a goal and an assist while David Krejci collected two assists. James van Riemsdyk tallied twice and Jakub Voracek collected three assists for the Flyers, who gave up 43 shots in this contest. The Flyers played without forward Morgan Frost (dislocated shoulder, injured reserve) and defenseman Philippe Myers (fractured rib, week-to-week).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a big win for the Bruins, who entered this game sitting dead-last in goals for per game (1.00). A porous defense saw the Flyers blow 2-0 and 3-2 leads in this game. The injuries are piling up for the Flyers, who were also playing without Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their third straight win by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brayden Point. Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched for almost the entire game, seeing less than four minutes of ice time in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts victory was overshadowed by Dubois’ benching. This is ramping up speculation over the 22-year-old center’s future with the Blue Jackets and his relationship with head coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle tallied twice in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Isles center Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists. Josh Bailey returned to the Isles lineup after spending one day on the club’s COVID-19 absence list. The Devils were without starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was placed on the club’s COVID list, though that doesn’t mean he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 4-1. The Jets took control of the game with three unanswered second-period goals. Jets winger Patrik Laine missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings got their first win of the season by doubling up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. The Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit with Adrian Kempe netting the game-winner in the third period. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist for the Avs.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19. Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absence list on Wednesday. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov will miss at least four games while Samsonov could be sidelined longer. It remains to be seen if the other three tested positive.

Samsonov’s positive test triggered contact testing within the Capitals dressing room, leading to the NHL discovering the four players spent time socializing in the team hotel without facial coverings on multiple occasions. The league fined the Capitals $100K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits and fans questioned the NHL’s protocols when this story broke on Wednesday. The bottom line is the Capitals, and every other team in the league knew what the protocols were before this season started. The NHLPA voted for them. Every player had the opportunity to opt-out of playing this season. The players involved in this incident broke those rules and must now suffer the consequences.

The NHL’s COVID protocols were based on CDC and Health Canada guidelines enabling the 31 NHL teams to stage this season in their home arenas. They must also follow local guidelines.

Those rules have had an effect upon this season. A ban on non-essential travel at the Canada-US border has limited Canadian teams to playing among themselves during the regular season. The San Jose Sharks started this season on the road because Santa Clara County has prohibited all sports activities due to high local COVID levels.

The NHL has already postponed games involving the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes because of COVID outbreaks. They cannot risk further spread jeopardizing the season because some players won’t adhere to the rules.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola will each be sidelined several weeks with undisclosed injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford shopping for help. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson is sidelined for six weeks with an oblique muscle injury.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (medical reasons) is questionable for his club’s season-opener on Friday against the Nashville Predators.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews left practice early yesterday as he wasn’t feeling great, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe. His status will be updated today. Forward Joe Thornton is expected to miss some games with an upper-body injury.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Dillon Dube is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

WGR550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton will miss at least two games with a head injury. Sabres starter Linus Ullmark revealed he missed Monday’s game against Philadelphia as he was grieving the death of his father in Sweden. Ullmark returned to practice and is slated to travel with the club for their upcoming two-game series against Washington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ullmark during this difficult time.