NHL Rumor Mill – January 21, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 21, 2022

Could the Oilers target a Stars goalie? Will the Blackhawks shop Marc-Andre Fleury? How many teams could have an interest in Jakob Chychrun and John Klingberg? Could the Canucks shop J.T. Miller soon? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE OILERS GO SHOPPING FOR A GOALTENDER?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Edmonton Oilers are looking at all options around the NHL to address their goaltending issues. They’ve kicked tires on Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The Oilers also internally discussed the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin but the extra year on this contract at $3.33 million makes him less appealing. Stars goalie Braden Holtby could be more interesting as he’s a UFA at the season’s end. However, the real question is whether any of these options are better than Mikko Koskinen for the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No. No, they’re not. That doesn’t mean the Oilers might not acquire one of them in the hope they’ll provide some sort of upgrade. Khudobin did carry the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final but really struggled this season and wound up demoted to the minors. Holtby’s play has improved this season but his best days remain well behind him. Korpisalo failed to seize the starter’s job after Sergei Bobrovsky left town which is why the Jackets signed Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year extension.

Darren Dreger noted Chicago Blackhawks netminder Marc-Andre Fleury has also come up in the rumor mill but he’s not a fit in Edmonton for salary-cap reasons. When asked about trade possibilities, Fleury said he’s not thinking about that now as he’s trying to help the Blackhawks reach the playoffs.

Dreger expects there will be contract extension talks between the two sides. He also points out there’s an agreement with the Hawks that Fleury isn’t going anywhere unless he asks for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury might consider a trade if the Blackhawks fail to gain ground in the standings over the next six weeks. His $7 million cap hit and 10-team no-trade clause probably keep him away from Edmonton. Some have linked him to the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals. There’s even talk of a reunion with the Pittsburgh Penguins despite Tristan Jarry’s solid play this season. Whether he ends up with one of those clubs or heads elsewhere remains to be determined.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

THE LATEST ON CHYCHRUN AND KLINGBERG

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed potential landing spots for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. They suggested the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues as possibilities.

Both of them felt the Florida Panthers could be in on Chychrun, citing management’s ongoing efforts to build up their blueline. They felt the Panthers need one more big piece on their defense corps. Marek believes the Coyotes would want Spencer Knight, Anton Lundell and a first-round pick in return but Friedman felt that’s the price to be paid if they’re going all-in this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers GM Bill Zito has to consider if it’s worthwhile giving up that much of his club’s future to pursue the Stanley Cup this season. Granted, this move wouldn’t be for a rental player. The 23-year-old Chychrun is under contract for three more seasons who led all defensemen in goals last season.

The first-round pick is easy to part with given the Panthers’ depth and position in the standings. Giving up Knight would be tough but perhaps necessary with Sergei Bobrovsky carrying an almost untradable contract for four more seasons. Moving Lundell, who’s enjoying a solid rookie campaign, could be a bridge too far for Zito.

THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman and Saad Yousef recently examined potential trade destinations for Dallas Stars pending UFA defenseman John Klingberg. Their three contenders are the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Carolina Hurricanes, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs as dark horses.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks, Kings and Predators have the cap space and depth in promising young players to dangle for Klingberg if they wish to go that route. The Hurricanes showed a willingness to make big deadline deals, acquiring Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei two years ago. Their lack of cap space, however, would require some creativity to make the dollars fit.

The Penguins and Leafs are pressed for cap space. Both could stand pat or opt for more cost-effective options by the deadline. I’m not ruling out the possibility one of them swings a three-team deal to land someone like Klingberg. However, there’s no certainty they or the Hurricanes can find a third club to broker the deal given how many clubs have limited cap space this season.

WILL THE CANUCKS TRADE J.T. MILLER?

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli saying he could see a scenario where the Vancouver Canucks trade J.T. Miller soon, perhaps before they officially hire a new general manager.

Drance, however, is skeptical of that scenario becoming reality. While sources told him there are teams interested in Miller, the Canucks can afford to wait because he’s under contract through next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drance also acknowledged the Canucks will have to make a decision about Miller’s future in Vancouver. Unless a rival club is willing to make an offer too good to refuse by the trade deadline, Canucks management could wait until the offseason to move Miller when teams have more cap room and willingness to pursue players of his caliber.

That should also be a decision that should involve the new general manager. Otherwise, team president Jim Rutherford shouldn’t waste everyone’s time hiring a GM if he’s going to make all the decisions himself.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2022

The Bruins retire the number of hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree, the Canadiens hire Kent Hughes as their new general manager, updated COVID protocols are announced and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins retired hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 in a pregame ceremony last night. It was the 64th anniversary of O’Ree’s debut as the first black player in NHL history with the Bruins, becoming the 12th player in franchise history to have his number retired.

The Boston Bruins raise Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 banner (NHL.com).

Following the ceremony, the Bruins were thumped by the Carolina Hurricanes 7-1. Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored two of the Hurricanes’ five goals in the first period while Jaccob Slavin and Tony DeAngelo each finished the night with three points. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was pulled after giving up five goals on 12 shots. The Hurricanes are tied with the New York Rangers atop the Metropolitan Division with 54 points but hold three games in hand while the Bruins hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 46 points.

Johnny Gaudreau collected four assists as the Calgary Flames snapped a four-game losing skid to drop the Florida Panthers 5-1, ending the latter’s nine-game points streak. Sean Monahan scored twice and Matthew Tkachuk collected three points. Sam Bennett scored for the Panthers in his first game in Calgary since being traded to Florida last season. The Flames (42 points) move within two points of the San Jose Sharks for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Panthers (57 points) slip to second in the overall standings.

Victor Hedman scored twice and chipped in an assist to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Despite playing with 12 forwards and four defensemen, the shorthanded Lightning picked up their fourth straight win to regain first place in the overall standings with 59 points. The Kings (45 points) remain in second place in the Pacific Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his league-leading 27th goal in a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Tom Wilson netted the game-winner in overtime as the Capitals (53 points) sit one point behind the second-place Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers could be sidelined for more than one game after leaving in the third period following a knee-on-knee collision with Capitals defenseman Dmitri Orlov. With 40 points, the Jets are two back of the Flames.

The Vancouver Canucks got a 31-save performance from Thatcher Demko to down the Nashville Predators 3-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson each scored for the Canucks, who sit one point behind the Jets. The Predators, meanwhile are third in the Central Division with 51 points.

New York Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom scored in the ninth round of a shootout to give his club a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, who’ve lost nine straight games. Semyon Varlamov turned aside 31 shots to give the Isles their sixth win in their last eight games. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced center Kevin Hayes will miss the next three to four weeks following a procedure to drain fluid from his adductor region.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Michael Hauser kicked out 43 shots in his season debut to backstop his club over the Ottawa Senators 3-1. Alex Tuch and Dylan Cozens each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.

Montreal Canadiens netminder Sam Montembault turned aside a career-high 48 shots in a 5-3 victory over the slumping Dallas Stars. Christian Dvorak scored twice while Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist in his first game back with the Canadiens since Nov. 20. The Stars have dropped three straight and slip one point behind the Canucks.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Prior to yesterday’s game against the Stars, the Canadiens announced they’ve hired Kent Hughes as their new general manager. A bilingual Montreal native, Hughes was a player agent with a client list that included such notables as Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse and New York Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hughes hiring received widespread acclaim among NHL pundits. He built up an excellent reputation during his years as an agent. He understands the business of hockey, especially dealing with players and negotiating contracts.

Canadiens Executive VP of Hockey Ops Jeff Gorton is good friends with Hughes and reportedly wanted him for the job from the start. However, the latter apparently needed some convincing before agreeing to a five-year deal with the Canadiens.

This hiring should allay concerns among some Canadiens followers that Gorton was seeking a frontman while he pulled the management strings. Hughes wouldn’t have left his lucrative gig to be a puppet GM even for a friend.

Hughes and Gorton now face the daunting challenge of rebuilding a Canadiens roster seriously depleted by injuries to superstars Carey Price and Shea Weber, the departures of leaders such as Phillip Danault and Corey Perry to free agency, and significant talent gaps in the roster. They must decide the fate of embattled head coach Dominique Ducharme, who has two years remaining on his contract.

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA announced it will stop testing asymptomatic players, coaches and staff who are fully vaccinated following the All-Star Break in early February, saying COVID-19 cases are declining around the league. The current testing policy will remain in place until Feb. 3.

Testing of asymptomatic individuals will continue when it is needed for crossing the Canada-US border. One negative test result will be required for players to return to team facilities following the All-Star break. The 90-day testing “holiday” for those who have recovered from COVID-19 will remain in place. Both sides also agreed to maintain the five-day isolation period for those who test positive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA want to avoid any further game postponements that could jeopardize their intent of ending the regular season on April 29. It also appears they don’t want rosters to become significantly depleted as teams jockey for playoff positioning over the final half of the schedule.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Roussel, Montreal Canadiens wingers Cole Caufield and Joel Armia and Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat are the latest notable players to enter the NHL COVID protocol.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel have been named the Last Men In for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin (concussion) will miss their upcoming games against the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

AWFUL ANNOUNCING: Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl got into a testy exchange yesterday with Edmonton Journal reporter Jim Matheson during a press conference yesterday. At one point, Matheson asked Draisail, “Why are you being so pissy?” after the forward declined to give much of an answer to one of his questions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ poor play of late now seems to have ratcheted up tensions between the players and some of the reporters covering the club. Maybe Draisaitl should’ve been more forthcoming but most hockey players talk in cliches when addressing the media so I don’t know what answer Matheson thought he was going to get out of him with that catty remark.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 17, 2022

The Canucks down the Capitals, the Oilers struggle to halt their tailspin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Elias Pettersson scored two goals as the Vancouver Canucks doubled up the Washington Capitals in the only NHL game on the schedule yesterday. Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller each had a goal and an assist while Thatcher Demko picked up the win with a 31-save effort as the Canucks snapped a three-game losing skid. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 26th goal of the season to tie Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl for the league lead.

NBC SPORTS: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is among several of his teammates at a loss to explain their club’s tailspin in the standings following a 6-4 loss to the 30th overall Ottawa Senators on Saturday. “We’ve talked about it over and over and over again in that room and obviously we haven’t found an answer yet,” a dejected McDavid told reporters following Saturday’s game.

The Oilers began the season 16-5-0. They’re 2-10-2 in their last 14 and have fallen out of playoff contention in the Western Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Steve Tambellini, Craig MacTavish and Peter Chiarelli before him, general manager Ken Holland has failed his team. Lousy goaltending, a porous defense and lack of scoring punch behind McDavid and fellow superstar Leon Draisaitl accounts for the Oilers’ woes this season.

It’s up to Holland to fix this mess. So far, his only solution seems to be entertaining the idea of adding free-agent winger Evander Kane and his personal baggage into a fragile dressing-room environment. Some observers suggest replacing head coach Dave Tippett might provide a spark but it won’t overcome the obvious roster issues.

SPORTSNET: Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, Los Angeles Kings forward Adrian Kempe, and Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland are among the latest players added to the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

NHL.COM: Today is the last day for fans to vote for the final players from each division in its “Last Man In” polling.

THE BUFFALO NEWS‘ Mike Harrington reports Sabres defenseman Jacob Bryson will miss the next two games with an upper-body injury. He has seven points in 32 games this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2022

A number of teams appear interested in Evander Kane plus the latest on the Flames and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TEAMS INTERESTED IN SIGNING EVANDER KANE

TSN: With Evander Kane now an unrestricted free agent following his contract termination with the San Jose Sharks, Pierre LeBrun believes the 30-year-old winger will want to sign a one-year deal for the remainder of the season. It would be for a bargain price as he attempts to prove his worth.

Former San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

LeBrun also indicated Kane’s agent, Dan Milstein, indicated a number of teams have expressed interest in his client. One of those clubs is the Edmonton Oilers but he doesn’t know if that’ll translate into a contract offer. He said it remains to be seen how many of those clubs come back with legitimate offers. LeBrun believes the Kane camp will take their time to evaluate what makes sense.

Meanwhile, LeBrun’s colleague Gord Miller tweeted he’s heard Kane could have a contract with a new team by the end of this week.

CALGARY HERALD: Michael Traikos reports a source close to Kane said the winger wants to play for a championship contender on a one-year deal worth $1.5 million to $2 million. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights are among the other teams reportedly interested in Kane’s services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I noted Kane’s contract termination and the NHLPA filing a grievance on his behalf in today’s morning coffee headlines.

Despite Kane’s personal baggage and his reputation as a dressing room cancer, he is a proven performer as a power forward. Hence the interest by so many clubs provided they can get him cheap. There were rumors prior to his contract termination of several teams interested in him if the Sharks could find a way to swing a three-team deal to spread around his $7 million annual cap hit.

Some of these clubs, like the Hurricanes and Lightning, have well-respected head coaches who get the best out of their players. Some, like the Golden Knights and Panthers, have a solid leadership core within their rosters who can rein in a teammate’s selfish tendencies.

As Traikos pointed out, some of these clubs (Toronto, Carolina) have taken chances before on players with reputations for underachievement (Alex Galchenyuk, Joshua Ho-Sang) or courting controversy (Tony DeAngelo). For the right price, they could take a calculated gamble on Kane.

The Oilers’ interest, however, has a whiff of desperation given their free-fall in the standings. Goaltending is their primary concern but they could use another scoring winger. Nevertheless, they seem like they’re flailing about for anything at this point that can save their season.

Others, like the Golden Knights, Leafs, Lightning and Panthers, have limited cap space. They could end up having to make a cost-cutting deal to create sufficient cap space to sign Kane.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES AND CANUCKS

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane paused on the idea of the Flames adding Evander Kane and examined the pros and cons of several possible trade options to bolster their offense and improve their blue-line depth.

San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl topped his list, followed by Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux and Seattle Kraken defenseman (and former Flames captain) Mark Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl won’t be available if the Sharks are in playoff contention by the trade deadline. The Flames will have to win a bidding war for his services if he hits the trade block as he’ll generate considerable interest. His three-team no-trade list will significantly narrow the field of potential trade destinations.

Giroux has a full no-movement clause and there’s no indication thus far he’ll be available. That could change by the deadline but there’s no certainty he’ll waive his clause to come to Calgary as a rental forward.

Giordano, meanwhile, could welcome an opportunity to return to the Flames, who reluctantly made him available in last summer’s expansion draft. His agent didn’t dismiss that possibility in a recent interview with Sportsnet’s Eric Francis.

The others on Macfarlane’s list are Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust, Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot and Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Rust or Fiala going anywhere. Rust is a UFA this summer but I believe the Penguins will hang onto him for the playoffs. Fiala was briefly linked to Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller in November but there hasn’t been any other speculation suggesting the Wild are shopping him. Doesn’t mean they won’t but it seems unlikely right now.

DeBrusk made a trade request over a month ago but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in his services. Chiarot is expected to be available but the asking price could be a first-round pick. Kessel still has an eight-team trade list and could be reluctant about returning to a Canadian team.

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cites the Toronto Star’s Chris Johnston reporting the Vancouver Canucks are open to the idea of trading backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak. He has two performance bonuses in his contract totaling $1.5 million that will count against the Canucks cap payroll for 2022-23 if he reaches them. His current cap hit is $1.5 million.

THE ATHLETIC’S Rick Dhaliwal yesterday tweeted the Vancouver Canucks have shown no interest in trying to sign Evander Kane.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 2, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 2, 2022

In the first Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup of 2022: a prediction that Patrik Laine will be traded again, a potentially complicated trade deadline lies ahead, and the Panthers could covet Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot.

COULD LAINE BE ON THE MOVE AGAIN?

SPORTSNET: In his recent three bold NHL predictions for 2022, Luke Fox speculated the Columbus Blue Jackets could trade Patrik Laine at some point this year. The 23-year-old winger got off to a hot start to this season but was sidelined by an oblique muscle injury and the tragic death of his father

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Laine will be completing his one-year, $7.5 million contract, becoming a restricted free agent with salary arbitration this summer. Fox doubted he’ll commit to a long-term deal with a club that’s been sheddings assets for draft picks and prospects and are still a long way from contention. He believes Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen won’t run the risk of Laine inking another one-year deal and departing in 2023 as an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Jackets decide to trade Laine that move likely happens in the offseason, probably around the NHL draft weekend. While the Finnish sniper has had a couple of difficult seasons largely due to injuries, he remains a legitimate scoring threat who should return to his high-scoring ways when healthy.

The cost of Laine’s next contract and his injury history will affect his trade value. Nevertheless, teams will still line up to make bids if the Jackets signal their intent to move him. They could still get a decent return for Laine.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek believes the number of teams with interim general managers or those still seeking GMs will have an effect upon this year’s trade deadline (March 21). The Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks fall into that category. Meanwhile, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is on medical leave.

Interim general managers like those in Chicago and Anaheim don’t have established trading records. It’s difficult to know if they’ll be aggressive in the trade market or take a more conservative approach.

Other factors also come into play. The Ducks are playing better than expected and might not be sellers by the deadline. Jim Rutherford, the Canucks new president of hockey operations, isn’t afraid to make deals but he could wait to see if the club’s improvement under head coach Bruce Boudreau is for real.

Jeff Gorton, the Montreal Canadiens new executive VP of hockey operations, also has an established trade record. However, he’s still trying to figure out his team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek also observed none of the potential sellers appear to be in any rush to make deals right now. That will likely change as the deadline nears.

The Canucks and Ducks won’t be sellers if they’re in the thick of the playoff hunt by March 21. Indeed, they could become buyers to provide a little more depth to their lineups for the postseason.

The Blackhawks and Canadiens will attempt to shed the pending UFAs they can’t or won’t re-sign this summer. The latter should have a new GM in place by then but they’ll be working in tandem with Gorton.

As for the Sharks, Duhatschek observed they have a significant potential trade chip in Tomas Hertl. Should they decide to move him, assistant GM Joe Will will likely be in contact with Wilson before pulling the trigger on a deal.

THE PANTHERS MAY BE INTERESTED IN CHIAROT.

RDS: Pierre LeBrun reports the Florida Panthers have held internal discussions regarding the possibility of acquiring Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens. The 30-year-old defenseman is drawing plenty of interest among playoff contenders. LeBrun believes the Panthers will make a pitch but they won’t be the only ones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Media consensus suggests Chiarot could fetch a first-round draft pick for the Canadiens. The Panthers, however, traded their 2022 first-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Sam Reinhart deal.

The Panthers could offer up their 2023 pick or perhaps package a couple of prospects for Chiarot. Their limited cap space will also make it difficult to absorb his $3.5 million cap hit but they could add a sweetener to convince the Habs to pick up part of his salary or perhaps get creative with a three-team deal to spread his cap hit around.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 2, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 2, 2022

The Blues defeat the Wild in the 2022 Winter Classic, Canucks trainer finds Kraken fan who saved him from cancer, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A four-point performance by Jordan Kyrou (two goals, two assists) powered the St. Louis Blues to a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild in the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Target Field. Kyrou set a record for the most points in an outdoor game. At minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit, it was the coldest outdoor game in league history. With the win, the Blues (43 points) moved into first place in the Central Division.

St. Louis Blues forward Jordan Kyrou (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues put the game away with five goals in the second period. Nearly 40,000 fans braved the extreme cold to watch the game.

The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-4. Brady Skjei and Steven Lorentz each scored two goals for the Hurricanes. Frederik Andersen replaced Antti Raanta in the Carolina crease after the latter gave up three goals on nine shots. Blue Jackets netminder Elvis Merzlikins allowed four goals on 15 shots after Daniil Tarasov left the game with a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell made 23 saves to shut out the Ottawa Senators 6-0. William Nylander and Ilya Mikheyev each scored twice while T.J. Brodie had a goal and two assists. The game was played in front of just 1,000 fans at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena due to the Ontario government’s limits on attendance at indoor events amid the current wave of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The Los Angeles Kings ended the Philadelphia Flyers’ seven-game points streak with a 6-3 victory. Viktor Arvidsson scored twice and set up two others while linemates Trevor Moore also had a four-point performance and Phillip Danault collected three points.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko kicked out 30 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken to win his seventh straight game. The Canucks remain unbeaten in regulation (8-0-1) in their last nine games.

The Boston Bruins overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 with Charlie Coyle’s overtime goal completing their comeback. It was the Bruins’ first game in 15 days due to COVID-related postponements.

An overtime goal by Noah Dobson lifted the New York Islanders over the Edmonton Oilers 3-2. Leon Draisaitl tallied his league-leading 25th goal for the struggling Oilers, who’ve won just twice (2-6-2) in their last 10 games. Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed this game as they’re listed as day-to-day with undisclosed injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers still hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 38 points. However, the Kings (37 points), Colorado Avalanche (36), San Jose Sharks and the surging Canucks (35 points) are right behind them. They’re in danger of tumbling further down the standings if they don’t soon reverse their skid.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros made 37 saves, Mattias Ekholm collected three assists and Tanner Jeannot tallied twice in a 6-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Jeannot’s 10 goals on the season tie him for the rookie goal-scoring lead with Detroit’s Lucas Raymond. It was the Blackhawks first game in 14 days

Jonathan Huberdeau collected three assists and Sam Bennett scored twice to lead the Florida Panthers over the Montreal Canadiens 5-2. The depleted Canadiens dressed just 16 skaters for this contest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens reportedly opted to press on with this game despite having 16 players in COVID protocol. They now have a 10-day break as four of their upcoming home games were postponed. The club has also paused all team activities through Thursday as a preventative measure. That also extends to their AHL affiliate in Laval.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian Hamilton has a sharp-eyed Seattle Kraken fan to thank for spotting what was a cancerous growth on his neck as she sat behind the Canucks bench during a game in October. She informed Hamilton with a note on her phone that she held up to the glass between periods.

Hamilton subsequently had the malignant melanoma removed. He and the Canucks recently put out a call on Twitter to find the fan, who turned out to be an aspiring medical school student named Nadia Popovici.

Hamilton got to meet and thank Popovici before yesterday’s game between the Canucks and Kraken at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. During the game, the two clubs announced a joint $10,000.00 fund to go toward Popovici’s medical training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s great to start the New Year off with a positive story like this. Best wishes to Hamilton and to Popovici in her studies.