NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2024

Teams are expressing interest in Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich, the Canadiens inquired about Ducks forward Trevor Zegras, the Golden Knights could get busy in the trade market if Mark Stone is sidelined long-term, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

BLUES ARE GETTING CALLS ABOUT BUCHNEVICH

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a league source claims the St. Louis Blues are getting calls about Pavel Buchnevich. General manager Doug Armstrong is listening but he’s not shopping the 28-year-old winger, who has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.8 million. Buchnevich also carries a 12-team no-trade clause.

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich (NHL Images)

Rutherford’s source believes it would take a substantial offer for Armstrong to consider moving Buchnevich. Still, teams are operating on the premise that it’s possible to acquire him. With so little high-quality talent in this year’s trade market, Buchnevich could have a much higher value.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson indicates the Oilers have been scouting the Blues. He believes they’re looking at Buchnevich as a second-line winger option. Matheson believes the cost to acquire him could be comparable to what the Oilers gave up in last year’s Mattias Ekholm trade (a first-round pick, a fourth-rounder and a prospect).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are currently battling for a wild-card spot. Armstrong could be reluctant to part with one of his best forwards while his club remains in the playoff chase.

Buchnevich has another year left on his contract which means Armstrong is under no pressure to move him at the deadline. If he doesn’t get any suitable offers, he’ll wait until the offseason.

I think it’ll take more than a couple of draft picks and a prospect to get Buchnevich. The Blues are retooling rather than rebuilding their roster. They’ll want something that helps them now and in the future, and that likely means a good young NHL player as the centerpiece of the return.

CANADIENS CALLED ABOUT ZEGRAS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont cited TSN’s Pierre LeBrun recently reporting that the Anaheim Ducks were casually taking calls about Trevor Zegras. LeBrun also confirmed the Montreal Canadiens were among the callers. He indicated the Ducks haven’t been calling around mentioning Zegras but rather it’s other teams making inquiries.

Dumont doubted that a Zegras trade would come to fruition by the March 8 deadline. However, the young Ducks forward could be a name worth keeping in mind for the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on this report, the Ducks aren’t shopping Zegras and no one’s made an offer for him. Like Dumont, I don’t expect the 22-year-old forward to be on the move by March 8 but this could be something that carries over into the offseason.

Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has mentioned he’d like to add more scoring to his roster. He has the depth in draft picks, prospects and promising youngsters to make a competitive bid for Zegras if he becomes available. The youngster’s dazzling offensive abilities would be a big boost to the Canadiens scoring lines while his age makes him a good fit alongside their other young players.

However, there would be some concerns here. One is Zegras’ poor defensive play, though that can be improved with time and maturity on his part.

Another is whether he can handle the intense pressure of playing in a major hockey market. Zegras hasn’t faced the kind of media and fan scrutiny in Anaheim that he would have to endure in Montreal playing for a storied franchise like the Canadiens. Some players have handled it well while others have wilted under that harsh spotlight.

Finally, there’s the asking price. You’re not getting Zegras for a bunch of mid-range picks, second-tier prospects, and veterans or castoffs. The Ducks will want a significant return such as a first-round pick (Montreal’s 2024 without any top-10 protection), a top prospect (hello there, Lane Hutson) and a good young NHL player. Hughes has a reputation as a tough negotiator but so is Ducks GM Pat Verbeek.

STONE INJURY COULD SEND VEGAS INTO THE TRADE MARKET

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could go shopping for help if captain Mark Stone ends up on long-term injury reserve for the rest of this season. Stone is currently listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury and they’ll reevaluate him near the March 8 trade deadline.

Dreger said losing a heart-and-soul player like Stone hurts the Golden Knights. However, they’ll do everything they can to backfill on the trade front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights did the same thing last season when Stone went on long-term injury reserve following back surgery. He carries an average annual value of $9.5 million, so placing him on LTIR will give them considerable cap relief. It could make them a major player in the trade market leading up to March 8.

DEVILS REJECTED OFFERS FOR MERCER

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying some teams that have been speaking with the Devils have asked about the availability of Dawson Mercer. However, they told those clubs that the 22-year-old forward is not available.

CAPITALS COULD BECOME TRADE-DEADLINE SELLERS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they haven’t made any progress in the standings by the trade deadline. Trade candidates would include pending free agents such as Anthony Mantha, Max Pacioretty and Joel Edmundson.

FLYERS IN CONTRACT EXTENSION TALKS WITH SEELER

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers are engaged in contract extension talks with Nick Seeler. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and was a frequent fixture in trade rumors this season involving the Flyers.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2024

Check out the latest on the Hurricanes, Sharks, Sabres and Canadiens in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE HURRICANES AREN’T INTERESTED IN RENTAL PLAYERS

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Carolina Hurricanes will be buyers by the March 8 trade deadline. However, general manager Don Waddell said he’s not interested in adding players on expiring contracts.

Our first priority, if we’re giving up premium picks or top prospects, we want to make sure that we get a player for more than a few months”, Waddell told LeBrun. He added that they’re aren’t many non-rental players in the market as most trade candidates are slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Contrary to popular belief, Waddell said he’s not looking to add a goaltender. He pointed out that sidelined netminder Frederik Andersen will be returning soon while Pyotr Kochetkov’s performance has been solid this season. He’s also comfortable with his blueline depth.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (NHL.com).

Waddell would like to add a top-nine forward or two. LeBrun speculates it might be a forward with term remaining on their contract whose name hasn’t yet surfaced in the rumor mill. He suspects that the Hurricanes GM has inquired about winger Travis Konecny but doesn’t think the Philadelphia Flyers intend to move him, especially after recently naming him an alternate captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes currently have over $6.6 million in trade deadline cap space so they’ve got the room to add a forward or two. They also have all their picks in this year’s draft along with the Flyers’ second-rounder to draw on for trade bait if necessary.

COULD THE SHARKS ATTEMPT TO TRADE LOGAN COUTURE THIS SUMMER?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller noted there is speculation suggesting if the San Jose Sharks are going to trade Logan Couture, it won’t happen until the offseason. Couture, 34, is sidelined week-to-week with a lower-body injury that has plagued him since last summer, limiting him to just six games.

With the Sharks near the bottom of the NHL standings, they are expected to be sellers by the March 8 trade deadline. Couture is signed through 2026-27 with an average annual value of $8 million and a three-team trade list.

Miller cited The Fourth Period’s Dave Pagnotta claiming Couture could be sidelined for the rest of the season. “If a move happens, it’s more likely to occur in the off-season,” he writes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couture would be almost impossible to move in-season under normal circumstances because of his contract. If he’s out for the rest of this season there will be a genuine concern that his condition could end his career. That will make it more difficult to trade Couture during this summer.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked if the Sabres can expect any changes before the upcoming trade deadline. He believed contenders would ask about pending free agents such as Erik Johnson, Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons. Lysowski also felt that Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will try to get a head start on finding players for next season like he did last year by acquiring Jordan Greenway from the Minnesota Wild.

If Johnson is traded, Lysowski speculated Adams will try to add another defenseman who could be part of the roster for next season, preferably a top-four blueliner. He also thinks the Sabres GM will open contract extension talks with Casey Mittelstadt’s agent. Lysowski doesn’t see them trading Mittelstadt or forwards Dylan Cozens, Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka, Tage Thompson or Alex Tuch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt recently surfaced as a trade candidate in the rumor mill. However, Adams was insistent in an interview last week that he wasn’t shopping the 25-year-old center and intends to re-sign him.

COULD THE CANADIENS TRADE DAVID SAVARD?

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu noted that Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes recently said he’s not shopping David Savard. However, Basu believes he’s listening to offers. He believes the market for a shot-blocking, right-shot defenseman like Savard will open up once the Calgary Flames trade Chris Tanev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard, 33, is signed through next season with an AAV of $3.5 million. He also lacks no-trade protection.

I don’t doubt that Hughes will listen to trade offers for Savard. As we’ve seen, however, he sets a high price for his players and usually won’t budge until someone meets it. With Savard under contract for next season, he’s under no pressure to trade him now. If no one meets his price, he’ll wait until the summer or next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 14, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 14, 2024

Oilers captain Connor McDavid has a six-assist performance, Bruins captain Brad Marchand reaches a career milestone, Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly is suspended for five games, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected a career-high six assists (including his 600th career NHL assist) in an 8-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two goals and an assist while Evan Bouchard had a goal and two assists for the 31-17-1 Oilers, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 63 points. Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and David Perron each had two points for the Red Wings (27-19-6) as they hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 60 points.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid also extended his home points streak to 19 games. His six-assist performance vaulted him into a tie with Boston’s David Pastrnak for third place in the NHL scoring race with 77 points. Meanwhile, Red Wings goaltender Ville Husso left this game in the first period with a lower-body injury. It was his first game back with the Wings since suffering a lower-body injury on Dec. 18.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov scored a goal for his league-leading 90th point as his club nipped the Boston Bruins 3-2 on a shootout goal by Brayden Point. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves as his club improved to 29-20-5 and sit third in the Atlantic Division with 63 points. Bruins captain Brad Marchand collected two assists in his 1,000th career NHL game. With a record of 32-11-10 for 74 points, the Bruins sit first in the Eastern Conference and second in the overall standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins will honor Marchand’s milestone in a pregame ceremony on Feb. 19. Lightning forward Tanner Jeannot returned to action after missing 12 games with a lower-body injury.

After learning defenseman Morgan Rielly received a five-game suspension for cross-checking Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Grieg on Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-1. Bobby McMann tallied his first career NHL hat trick for the 27-16-8 Leafs as they sit in the first Eastern wild-card spot with 62 points. Jordan Binnington turned aside 28 shots for the Blues (28-22-2) as they hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 58 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs roster for this game was further depleted with John Tavares and Mitch Marner sidelined by an illness while Conor Timmins is out with mononucleosis.

The league-leading Vancouver Canucks doubled up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Dakota Joshua lead the way with a Gordie Howe hat trick (including two assists) while Conor Garland tallied twice for the 36-12-6 Canucks (78 points). Petr Mrazek stopped 34 shots for the 14-36-3 Blackhawks as they sit in last place in the overall standings with 31 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Canucks, they’ve invited free agent forward Phil Kessel to work out for the team this week in Abbotsford, BC.

Colorado Avalanche forward Artturi Lehkonen scored twice and collected two assists in a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists to move within three points of Nikita Kucherov in the NHL scoring race with 87 points. The Avalanche improved to 33-17-4 and sit in second place in the Central Division with 70 points. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored for the sixth straight game but his Capitals slipped to 23-21-8 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals playoff hopes are fading, winning just twice in their last 10 games.

The Dallas Stars (33-14-6) maintained their two-point lead over the Avalanche in the Central Division by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Jason Robertson and Matt Duchene each had a goal and an assist for the Stars. Jordan Staal had a goal and an assist for the 30-17-5 Hurricanes as they sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 65 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Stars announced that winger Evgenii Dadonov will be sidelined for several weeks with a lower-body fracture. He suffered the injury during Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk’s hat trick powered his club to a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists for the 22-25-2 Senators, who picked up their fourth straight win. Daniil Tarasov made 24 saves for the Blue Jackets (16-26-10) as they remain in last place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, a derogatory remark about Patrik Laine on a Jackets fan podcast is being used to rally support for the winger and raise charitable donations on his behalf for mental health awareness.

Laine is undergoing treatment through the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. One of the podcast hosts said the Blue Jackets winger was away because he was contemplating a “Remington retirement”, which is a slang term for suicide by gunshot. If you’d like to donate to Laine’s charitable fund you can do so at this link.

The Buffalo Sabres thumped the Los Angeles Kings 7-0 as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 33 saves for the shutout. Jordan Greenway scored twice and collected an assist for the 23-25-4 Sabres. With 58 points, the 24-16-10 Kings are clinging to a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kings forward Carl Grundstrom left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced defenseman Owen Power will be sidelined for the next two weeks with an upper-body injury.

New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier tallied two third-period goals in a 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. Nico Daws stopped 30 shots for the Devils (27-21-4) as they sit two points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth with 58 points. Juuse Saros kicked out 43 shots for the 27-24-2 Predators (56 points) as they remain two points out of the final Western wild-card spot.

A 26-save performance by Philipp Grubauer carried the Seattle Kraken over the New York Islanders by a score of 2-1. Tomas Tatar netted the winning goal in a shootout for the 22-21-10 Kraken (54 points) as they sit four points out of the final Western wild-card berth. Ilya Sorokin turned aside 29 shots for the Islanders (22-18-13) as they sit three points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth with 57 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken winger Pierre-Edouard Bellemare returned to action after missing 19 games with a fractured bone in his leg.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Cayden Primeau made 13 saves for his first NHL shutout to blank the Anaheim Ducks 5-0. Juraj Slafkovsky had a goal and two assists for his first NHL three-point game while Nick Suzuki had two goals and an assist to extend his points streak to eight games for the 22-23-8 Canadiens. Lukas Dostal stopped 33 shots for the 18-32-2 Ducks, who welcomed back defenseman Pavel Mintyukov after being sidelined since Jan. 9 with a separated shoulder.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 13, 2024

Check out the latest on Jake Guentzel, Juuse Saros, Chris Tanev, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jake Allen in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

PENGUINS REPORTEDLY SET A HIGH PRICE FOR GUENTZEL

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Pittsburgh Penguins will set a high price for Jake Guentzel if they put the 29-year-old winger on the trade block.

Friedman pointed to what the Philadelphia Flyers received from the Florida Panthers two years ago in the Claude Giroux trade. That deal fetched the Flyers a first-round pick in 2024, a third-rounder in 2023 and winger Owen Tippett, who’s blossomed into a scorer in Philadelphia.

Horwat’s colleague Adam Proteau believes the Penguins should move Guentzel if a team is willing to meet their high asking price. Trading him away would hurt in the short term but could prove beneficial over the long run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Guentzel’s offensive numbers, team captain Sidney Crosby’s stellar play and Tristan Jarry’s solid goaltending, the Penguins are struggling to remain in the chase for a wild card spot.

The Penguins tried to make one more Stanley Cup run by re-signing aging stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang two years ago. Under new management last summer, they brought in Erik Karlsson and Reilly Smith.

It’s time to accept reality. The Penguins are not a Stanley Cup contender and haven’t been for several years. They’re not even holding a playoff spot right now. Even if they somehow rally and clinch a berth in the 2024 postseason they’ll probably be eliminated in the first round.

The Penguins don’t have to tear this roster down completely but they must restock with promising young talent for now as well as the future. If someone is willing to overpay for Guentzel, Dubas must pull the trigger.

SAROS RESURFACES IN THE RUMOR MILL

SPORTSNET: During Monday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman brought up Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros as an intriguing trade target for teams seeking a starting goaltender. He noted the Predators are looking for a top offensive player and Saros could be the kind of guy to fetch that type of return.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (NHL Images).

The New Jersey Devils are searching for help between the pipes and recently spoke with the Calgary Flames about Jacob Markstrom, who carries a $6 million cap hit. However, the Devils have limited salary-cap space and the Flames could be reluctant to retain salary for a player signed through 2025-26.

Regarding Saros, Friedman noted the name of Los Angeles Kings center Quinton Byfield has been tossed around. However, he doubts Saros would fetch Byfield. The Carolina Hurricanes are another club in need of goaltending. Friedman mentioned Martin Necas could be attractive to the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saros, 28, is slated to become a UFA next summer. The Predators aren’t under pressure to move him now.

Predators GM Barry Trotz earlier this season said he intended to speak with Saros’ agent about opening contract extension talks on July 1. Even if that plan has changed, Trotz isn’t likely to trade his starting goalie while his team is battling for a wild-card berth.

Everything I’ve read and heard coming out of Nashville is skeptical of the Predators moving Saros. They point to the trade talk that swirled about him leading up to last year’s deadline but nothing came of it. They don’t expect anything to happen now.

Nashville Hockey Now’s Clay Brewer made a good point when he noted that it’s rare these days for a starting goalie to fetch a big return. He thinks the Predators should consider moving Saros if the return is two top prospects or young NHL players plus two high draft picks. He’s not holding his breath expecting anyone to pitch that type of offer.

FLAMES SEEKING A FIRST-ROUNDER FOR TANEV

CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal spoke yesterday with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman about Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev. Friedman believes the Flames seek a first-round pick for the 34-year-old Tanev but teams are offering up second-round picks.

Asked if the Vancouver Canucks could do that, Friedman didn’t think so. Nevertheless, he believes the Canucks have a lot of time for Tanev, who began his NHL career in Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tanev spent 10 of his 14 NHL seasons with the Canucks before signing with the Flames in 2020. Speaking of the Flames’ asking price, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun suggested it was a second-rounder plus another asset or a first-rounder if teams lacked a second-round pick.

UPDATE ON TARASENKO

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Vladimir Tarasenko isn’t paying any attention to the trade rumors swirling about him as he considers his options with the March 8 trade deadline approaching. The 32-year-old Senators winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and carries a no-trade clause. He has 34 points in 46 games this season.

Tarasenko hasn’t ruled out re-signing with the Senators. He wouldn’t say if he’s spoken with general manager Steve Staios about the situation.

Garrioch noted that Tarasenko recently changed agents again but doubted that it had to do with signing a contract extension with the Senators. He cited an insider claiming the winger made this move to get a contract extension in place with a new club before agreeing to waive his no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Senators mired near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, I’ll be surprised if Tarasenko isn’t moved by the March 8 trade deadline. Whether he can get a contract extension as part of the condition of a trade remains to be seen. Interested clubs could be leery about investing long-term before seeing how well he performs for them first.

UPDATE ON JAKE ALLEN

TVA SPORTS: Tony Marinaro and Jean-Charles Lajoie believe Jake Allen’s recent poor performance will adversely affect the Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender’s value in the trade market.

They believe Allen doesn’t want to leave the Canadiens. They speculate he was likely offered a role with the franchise following his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s enduring the worst season of his career with the Canadiens carrying three goalies. He seems like the odd man out with Sam Montembeault becoming their starter while promising Cayden Primeau looking more and more like Montembeault’s backup.

Some general managers could blame Allen’s struggles this season on the Habs three-goalie system. One of them could take the chance on him regaining his form with a change of scenery with a traditional two-goalie system..

Canadiens GM Kent Hughes said he’s comfortable carrying all three goalies for the rest of the season. However, it’s believed he’s still willing to trade Allen.

Some observers think Hughes has set his asking price for Allen and won’t budge from it. He’s signed through next season so Hughes doesn’t have to move him at the trade deadline. He could wait until the offseason for a club to meet his price.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2024

The Golden Knights snap the Oilers’ 16-game win streak, Elias Lindholm and Andrei Kuzmenko scored in their first games with their new teams, the Blackhawks will host another Winter Classic game, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights ended the Edmonton Oilers’ win streak at 16 games by defeating the latter 3-1. Chandler Stephenson snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period, William Karlsson scored an empty-netter and Adin Hill made 30 saves for the 30-15-6 Golden Knights as they hold second place in the Pacific Division with 66 points. Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored for the Oilers (29-16-1) as they sit seven points behind Vegas in the Pacific Division with 59 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will add fodder to the growing rivalry between these two clubs. The Golden Knights also eliminated the Oilers from the second round of the 2023 playoffs during their march to the Stanley Cup.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Elias Lindholm had a memorable debut with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. J.T. Miller netted the game-winner in the third period while Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser each collected two assists for the league-leading Canucks (34-11-5, 73 points) as they extended their points streak to 12 games (10-0-2). Jordan Martinook and Sebastian Aho replied for the 28-16-5 Hurricanes as they sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 61 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm was acquired from the Calgary Flames by the Canucks on Jan. 31.

Speaking of the Flames and memorable debuts, Andrei Kuzmenko scored in their 4-1 upset of the Boston Bruins. Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri each collected three points for the 23-22-5 Flames (51 points) as they moved within three points of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Pavel Zacha scored for the Bruins (31-10-9) as they lead the Eastern Conference with 71 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzmenko was part of the return to the Flames in last week’s Lindholm trade with the Canucks. he had good chemistry skating alongside Huberdeau in this game. It’ll be interesting to see if the duo can maintain it over the rest of the regular season. Meanwhile, Flames forward Martin Pospisil received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for cross-checking Bruins captain Brad Marchand in the face during the first period.

The New Jersey Devils downed the Colorado Avalanche 5-3, ending Avs center Nathan MacKinnon’s points streak at 14 games. Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Erik Haula each had two points for the 25-20-3 Devils (53 points) as they sit five points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Jonathan Drouin collected two assists for the Avalanche (32-15-4) as they sit in second place in the Central Division with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils activated forward Tomas Nosek off injured reserve for this game. He’d been sidelined for three months with an injured foot.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 23 shots for his league-leading sixth shutout of the season to blank the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, spoiling Sean Monahan’s debut with the latter following his trade last Friday from the Montreal Canadiens. Kris Letang, Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust were the goal-scorers for the Penguins (23-17-7) as they sit five points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth with 53 points. The Jets are now winless in their last four (0-3-1) and sit third in the Central Division with 65 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for an illegal hit to the head of Penguins forward Noel Acciari in the second period. Acciari left the game with help from his teammates and was undergoing evaluation following the game.

The Dallas Stars got a 47-save performance from Jake Oettinger to nip the Buffalo Sabres 2-1, picking up their fourth straight win. Sam Steel broke a 1-1 tie in the third period for the 31-13-6 Stars as they hold first place in the Central Division with 68 points due to a game in hand over the Avalanche. Tage Thompson scored for the Sabres (22-24-4), who got 28 saves from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Sabres placed defenseman Mattias Samuelsson on injured reserve and activated blueliner Erik Johnson off IR. 

A third-period goal by Noah Cates lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. Travis Konecny also scored and Samuel Ersson stopped 20 shots for the 26-19-6 Flyers as they snapped a five-game losing skid and hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 58 points. Carter Verhaeghe scored for the 31-15-4 Panthers, who sit second overall in the Eastern Conference with 66 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers forward Sam Reinhart was held scoreless as his 13-game points streak came to an end. The Panthers activated forward Nick Cousins off injured reserve while the Flyers activated winger Owen Tippett off IR for this game.

The Montreal Canadiens beat the Washington Capitals 5-2. Nick Suzuki and Juraj Slafkovsky each scored twice, Cole Caufield picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 10 games, and Sam Montembault kicked out 37 shots for the 21-21-8 Canadiens. Alex Ovechkin tallied his 10th goal of the season for the 22-19-7 Capitals.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks will host the 2025 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field where they’ll face the St. Louis Blues. It will be the seventh time the Blackhawks have taken part in the Winter Classic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Call it the Connor Bedard effect. The Blackhawks are the worst team in the league but the presence of their talented young rookie resulted in an 18.9 percent increase in home attendance through their first two months of the season, drawing an average of 3,005 more fans per game compared to the same period last season. The league is banking on a promising young Blackhawks team led by a healthy Bedard drawing a huge crowd at Wrigley and big TV ratings as a result.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Columbus Blue Jackets are one of only three NHL teams not to participate in an outdoor game. However, that could change as it’s believed they will host a 2025 NHL Stadium Series game against the Detroit Red Wings at Ohio Stadium on or around March 1, 2025.

TSN: The New York Rangers placed center Nick Bonino on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of contract termination. He’s currently on a one-year, $800K deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chris Johnston reported Bonino might not have to wait long to land with a new NHL team as there have been inquiries. He must sign before the March 8 trade deadline to be eligible to play in the postseason.

NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Rangers, captain Jacob Trouba returns to action on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He served a two-game suspension for elbowing Golden Knights forward Pavel Dorofeyev on Jan. 26.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2024

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: the latest on Flames defensemen Chris Tanev and Hanifin, updates on the Canadiens and Rangers, and a hypothetical trade to send Penguins winger Reilly Smith back to the Golden Knights.

UPDATES ON CHRIS TANEV AND NOAH HANIFIN

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports Flames defenseman Chris Tanev has become a top target in the trade market for playoff contenders seeking a missing piece for their respective bluelines.

A pending free agent, the 34-year-old Tanev is a dependable right-shot shutdown defenseman. He could fetch the Flames a couple of meaningful assets like a prospect and a draft pick. The New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks could be among the suitors for Tanev.

Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (NHL Images).

Gilbertson also noted the Flames have made a big-money contract offer to Noah Hanifin. Like Tanev, the 27-year-old blueliner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Gilbertson believes Hanifin is likely a goner if he’s not re-signed soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tanev is the most likely to move of the two. There’s still a chance that Hanifin and the Flames reach an agreement on a contract extension by March 8. However, the longer he remains unsigned, the more likely he will also be on the move by deadline day.

WILL THE CANADIENS MAKE A SIGNIFICANT ADDITION?

TVA SPORTS: Maxim Lapierre believes the Montreal Canadiens have the assets to use as trade bait to make a significant addition to their lineup.

The Canadiens got a 2024 first-round pick from the Winnipeg Jets in last Friday’s Sean Monahan trade. They also have an additional first-rounder in the 2025 draft. Lapierre thinks that gives general manager Kent Hughes the tools to make a big trade to bolster the roster.

Lapierre noted that some Canadiens fans would like to see Hughes acquire center Trevor Zegras from the Anaheim Ducks. However, he’d like to see the Habs GM bring in “a playoff player” comparable to Boston captain Brad Marchand or former Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes has noted that he has sufficient assets in draft picks and prospects that he could use some of them as trade bait to add an established talent. He’ll likely keep a close eye on the trade market leading up to the March 8 deadline but also in the offseason, especially around the draft in June.

I understand why some Canadiens followers want Hughes to acquire Zegras. He’s young, possesses dazzling offensive skills and carries a reasonable short-term bridge contract. However, I agree with Lapierre that Zegras hasn’t reached the stage where he’s proven he can help a team win the Stanley Cup. So far, he’s all flash but little substance.

WHO WILL THE RANGERS PURSUE AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers will be buyers leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. He believes they need to bring in a third-line center, a right winger for the Mika Zibanejad-Chris Kreider line, and a physical left-side third-pairing defenseman.

Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique would address that third-line need. Brooks considers it unlikely that Rangers GM Chris Drury would part with a first-round draft pick or a young player like Kaapo Kakko for a rental player like Henrique.

If Ducks right winger Frank Vatrano became part of the equation, Brooks believes it would become “a more nuanced conversation.” Unlike Henrique, Vatrano has a year remaining on his contract at a more affordable cap hit ($3.65 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple and Eric Stephens recently reported the Rangers were interested in Henrique and Vatrano. Landing one or the other won’t be easy largely because Ducks GM Pat Verbeek has a reputation as a tough negotiator. Acquiring both will likely involve parting with a first-rounder or someone like Kakko as part of the return. Verbeek won’t just give

COULD REILLY SMITH RETURN TO THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger believes the Vegas Golden Knights would look for a winger if they become buyers at the trade deadline. He suggested they reacquire Reilly Smith, who was traded last summer to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a cost-cutting move.

Smith has the third-most goals and points in Golden Knights history. He hasn’t clicked with the Penguins this season and could become a trade candidate if they become sellers leading up to March 8. He’d likely welcome a return to Las Vegas. However, it would require some salary-cap gymnastics to fit his $5 million average annual value within their cap payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is merely a suggestion on Granger’s part. He isn’t saying the Golden Knights and Penguins have discussed a trade involving Smith. Still, it would be an interesting move by both clubs if it did come to pass. Smith wouldn’t be the first player in NHL history to struggle on a new club only to regain his form once traded back to his old team.