NHL Rumor Mill – February 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 25, 2021

Could the Flyers pursue Mattias Ekholm? What’s the latest Bruins speculation? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD FLYERS PURSUE EKHOLM?

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi recently suggested Mattias Ekholm might be a fit on the Philadelphia Flyers’ blueline. He considered the 30-year-old Nashville Predators blueliner as “the most interesting veteran defenseman who might be on the market.”

Would Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm be a good fit with the Philadelphia Flyers? (NHL Images)

Carchidi observed the 6’4”, 215-pound Ekholm can be a first- or second-pairing defender with an affordable $3.75 million cap hit and can log over 21 minutes per game. The downside is he’s a left-shot rearguard, acquiring him could interfere with the Flyers’ protection list for this summer’s expansion draft and it would probably take a high draft pick and quality prospect to acquire him.

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor and Adam Vingan pointed out colleague Pierre LeBrun included the Flyers on his list of four possible landing spots for Ekholm, with the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals as the others.

Despite being a left-hand shot, Ekholm played on the right side last season when Predators’ d-man Ryan Ellis was sidelined. One reason the Predators could trade him is to protect Ellis, Roman Josi and Dante Fabbro in the expansion draft. O’Connor believes the Flyers might prefer acquiring a rental defenseman on an expiring contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm would be a good fit with any of those four teams suggested by LeBrun. The Bruins might be the best one as they’ve been using younger players on the left side of their defense corps this season. It’s going well so far but injuries to Matt Grzelcyk and Jeremy Lauzon could have them considering an experienced, affordable short-term addition.

Speaking of the Bruins…

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa recently examined the Boston Bruins’ options if long-time center David Krejci departs this summer via free agency. He suggested there would be “turbulence” if Charlie Coyle, Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic slot in at center behind Patrice Bergeron as rival clubs would attack those centers just as they’ve done this season with the Bruins’ young defensemen. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney tends not to re-sign pending UFAs.

In a recent mailbag segment, Shinzawa dismissed the notion of the Bruins using their cap space next season to take on a bad contract to gain extra draft picks and/or prospects. He also believes they’ll attempt to shore up their depth at center over the next couple of years via the draft and perhaps the trade market.

Bruins management and coaching staff might share the fans’ frustration over Jake DeBrusk’s development thus far but Shinawa feels the 24-year-old winger still has too much to toss aside, citing the risk he might blossom elsewhere. He also believes they’d be selling low at this point. He sees the Bruins’ signing goaltender Tuukka Rask to a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be interesting to see what the Bruins do with Krejci. If he’s willing to take a pay cut on a short-term deal they’ll keep him. The question is whether he thinks he can get a better deal in a free-agent market where the salary cap is expected to remain flattened. I have my doubts that he wants to move on from the only NHL team he’s ever played for.

DeBrusk’s name has floated in the rumor mill for some time. However, if he had suitable value that would help the Bruins he would’ve been traded by now.

Most speculation I’ve read and heard suggests they would want a good NHL player in return and not a draft pick/prospect package. There was some talk of a DeBrusk-for-Jake Virtanen swap with Vancouver but I don’t see that happening. Virtanen wouldn’t be an improvement over DeBrusk.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action featuring a hat trick for Bruins winger David Pastrnak plus injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins to a 7-3 romp over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday at Lake Tahoe. It was Pastrnak’s second hat trick of the season and the 10th of his career. James van Riemsdyk had a goal and two assists for the Flyers, who pulled goaltender Carter Hart after the second period. Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon left the game early in the first period with an undisclosed injury.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any lingering concerns over the effects of offseason hip surgery on Pastrnak’s performance must be alleviated by now. He’s picking up where he left off last season and climbing up the NHL stat board. Hart, meanwhile, appeared to have trouble tracking the puck in the outdoor environment.

Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice, including the winner in overtime, in a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Dubois also added an assist in his first game since being sidelined by a muscle injury 10 days ago. Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele also each collected three points. Elias Pettersson scored twice for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets moved Dubois to left wing on the top line alongside Wheeler and Scheifele while moving Kyle Connor down to the second line. It’ll be interesting to see if that becomes a permanent change.

The Washington Capitals got two power-play goals from T.J. Oshie and another from Alex Ovechkin to hold off the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Kyle Palmieri and Andreas Johnsson each had two points for the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 712 career NHL goals, putting him five back of Phil Esposito for sixth on the all-time goalscoring list.

Brady Tkachuk’s overtime goal lifted the Ottawa Senators over the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Senators’ goalie Matt Murray made 30 saves for the win while Habs netminder Jake Allen made 36 stops. Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were lucky to escape with a point as they were outplayed by the lowly Senators. The Habs bolted from the gate this season with a 7-1-2 record, leading the league in scoring and jockeying with the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the overall standings. They have since dropped five of their last seven games, managing just 13 goals during that stretch and slipping to fourth in the North Division.

HEADLINES

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner could become a healthy scratch in their upcoming game against the New York Islanders. He’s hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games this season.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports there’s concern Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe may have suffered a season-ending knee injury on Saturday. The results of his examination are expected today and a source said they’re bracing for ligament damage.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators. He’s listed as week-to-week.

THE ATHLETIC: Multiple sources tell Jeremy Rutherford St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko has a back injury. It’s not known if he’ll require surgery. The club intends to rest him for now and see how he responds.

OILERS NATION: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Slater Koekkoek suffered a broken collarbone during the club’s 7-1 win on Saturday over the Calgary Flames.

NHL.COM: The Department of Player Safety fined Los Angeles Kings defenseman Austin Strand over $3,100.00 for cross-checking Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland on Saturday.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks have recalled top prospect Trevor Zegras from their AHL affiliate in San Diego. The young prospect had nine points in eight games in the AHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zegras was the MVP of the 2021 World Junior Championship as he led Team USA to a gold medal in the tournament. The Ducks hope the youngster will provide a boost to an anemic offense with a league-worst 1.83 goals per game average.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, another Stars game postponed, the league’s COVID-19 numbers are dropping, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice and set up two others to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Ottawa Senators 7-3. Matthews leads the league with 16 goals while his points streak has stretched to 15 games. Mitch Marner has a goal and three assists while Joe Thornton a goal and two assists. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle had a goal and an assist. Senators’ defenseman Thomas Chabot missed the game with an upper-body injury while Leafs forward Zach Hyman was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is making an early case for the Hart Trophy this season.

Kyle Palmieri scored twice as the New Jersey Devils held on for a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pavel Zacha scored what proved to be the game-winner while Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 25 saves. Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak replied for the Bruins, who lost center David Krejci to a lower-body injury.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin’s shootout goal gave his club a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Kevin Hayes collected two assists for the Flyers, who were playing their first game since Feb. 7 due to COVID-19. They will also play their upcoming outdoor game against the Bruins with six regulars (Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun) sidelined because of the NHL’s COVID protocols.

The Pittsburgh Penguins snapped the New York Islanders’ eight-game points streak with a 4-1 victory. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry made 31 saves while Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust each had a goal and an assist while Evgeni Malkin collected two assists.

A 32-save shutout performance by Elvis Merzlikins gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators. Cam Atkinson, Max Domi and Eric Robinson were the goal scorers. The Predators have dropped five of their last six contests.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom scored to extend his points streak to five games as his club downed the Buffalo Sabres 3-1, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen remains sidelined as he works on his conditioning after being sidelined for two weeks by COVID-19.

David Perron scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues edged the San Jose Sharks 3-2. Brayden Schenn scored the tying goal for the Blues late in the third period, setting the stage for the winning goal by Perron, who had a three-point performance. Torey Krug and Marco Scandella returned to the Blues roster from injuries but Colton Parayko missed the game with a nagging undisclosed injury. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced defenseman Erik Karlsson would miss at least the next two games with a groin injury.

The Los Angeles Kings nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on a shootout goal by Gabriel Vilardi. The Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and the shootout.

Kevin Fiala scored what proved to be the winning goal as the Minnesota Wild beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. It was the Wild’s first win since Jan. 31 when their schedule was paused because of COVID-19 protocols.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Dallas Stars’ Saturday game against the Tampa Bay Lightning was postponed due to power outages related to recent storms in Texas. It’s the fourth straight Stars game postponed this week and the eighth of the season. They face potentially playing 44 games in 78 days if the NHL mandates the Stars must play all their remaining games if the regular season ends on May 10 as scheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will also depend on where the Stars are in the standings later in the season. The league could cancel some of their remaining games if they’re out of playoff contention within the final couple of weeks in the season. No point in having them play a pointless game against another non-contender.

ESPN.COM: The NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list continues to shrink, dropping to 13 players yesterday. The drop coincides with enhanced health and safety measures implemented by the NHL within the past two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The outbreaks earlier this month may have also served as a wake-up call for players and staff, making them more vigilant and adhering more closely to the league’s protocols.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets claimed well-traveled goaltender Eric Comrie off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. It’s the second straight season the Jets have lost Comrie off waivers only to claim him back again later in the year.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez hopes to have an opportunity to play a game in Mexico City in an effort to expand the NHL’s brand. He’s also hopeful the Coyotes will one day take part in an outdoor game with one of their rivals.










No Lead Is Safe In The NHL This Season

No Lead Is Safe In The NHL This Season

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 17, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s action, the league reschedules more postponed game, an explosive report about turmoil within the Coyotes’ organization and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored with 41 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Colorado Avalanche over the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Nathan MacKinnon scored, Brandon Saad tallied a goal and picked up an assist and Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves for the win.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of the night. It could be a preview of a potential playoff series between these two clubs.

The New York Islanders extended their points streak to eight games by blanking the Buffalo Sabres 3-0. Isles rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin made 20 saves for his first NHL win and shutout while team captain Anders Lee scored twice. Anthony Beauvillier returned to the Islanders lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury.

Three unanswered goals in the third period gave the New Jersey Devils a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Mackenzie Blackwood kicked out 37 shots and Janne Kuokkanen collected three assists in the Devils’ first game since Jan. 31. Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

The Washington Capitals snapped a four-game losing skid by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1. Vitek Vanacek made 26 saves, Jakub Vrana tallied what proved to be the game-winner and Richard Panik collected two assists. Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson returned to action after being sidelined for nine games.

Jonathan Quick turned in a 28-save shutout as the Los Angeles Kings blanked the Minnesota Wild 4-0. It was the Wild’s first game since Feb. 2 following a COVID-19 outbreak. They took to the ice with five regulars (Jonas Brodin, Brad Hunt, Victor Rask, Carson Soucy and Cam Talbot) still on the protocol list.

HEADLINES

THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang reported on widespread turmoil and financial woes with the Arizona Coyotes organization. Her detailed investigation involving interviews with more than 50 people including current and former employees. Among the issues revealed were inquiries into the Coyotes’ finances (including unpaid invoices, delays in paying bonuses to players and accusations of breach of contract) and complaints of dysfunctional workplace culture.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes released a statement condemning Strang’s report, accusing The Athletic of engaging in a “harassment campaign” and questioning the reliance on what the club deemed “disgruntled ex-employees.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strang is a well-respected hockey reporter who did considerable research into this story. This wasn’t harassment, it was journalism. The issues examined in her report are serious and have been bubbling for some time. raising legitimate concerns about the Coyotes’ ownership and the club’s future in Arizona.

The NHL announced widespread changes to its schedule. Twenty-nine postponed games have been rescheduled while another six are expected to be rescheduled in the near future.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The NHL postponed a second straight game between the Stars and Nashville Predators due to ongoing power issues in Dallas stemming from a major winter storm.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, the latest on Patrik Laine, injury updates, waiver news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs got third-period goals by Justin Holl and Ilya Mikheyev to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Leafs center Auston Matthews’ goal streak ended at eight games but he collected an assist to extend his points streak to 11. Teammate Jake Muzzin collected three assists.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Brad Marchand’s overtime goal lifted the Boston Bruins the New York Rangers 3-2. Marchand extended his points streak to nine. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and spent most of the third period on the bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs sit atop the overall standings with 23 points while the Bruins vaulted past the Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning into second place with 20 points.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine said he and the coaching staff have moved on after he was benched during their previous game for disrespecting a member of the staff. He and assistant coach Brad Larsen spoke amicably during practice yesterday. While it’s not confirmed Larsen was the coach in question, Portzline feels their discussion spoke volumes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Laine benching, Mikko Koivu’s retirement and Pierre-Luc Dubois’ recent departure have critics of head coach John Tortorella wondering if he’s on thin ice with the Jackets. I don’t believe that’s the case.

Laine admitted he deserved his benching. The now-retired Koivu was an aging center whose limited effectiveness led to his reduced playing time. Dubois requested a trade for reasons not directly tied to Tortorella. I think management and the players still believe in their coach.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson and Ottawa Senators center Artem Anisimov was placed on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt either guy gets claimed. Their play has declined and they’re carrying expensive salary-cap hits. Eriksson is signed through 2021-22 at $6 million annually while Anisimov’s is carrying $4.55 million for this season.

NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks-Vegas Golden Knight game for Thursday will proceed as scheduled after Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek was pulled from Tuesday’s contest due to a positive COVID-19 test. Nosek was immediately isolated from his teammates and close contact tracing initiated. The Golden Knights didn’t practice yesterday.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers games on Sunday against the New York Rangers has been postponed. The Flyers will be out of commission until Monday when they will resume practicing. Three players – Claude Giroux, Justin Braun and Travis Sanheim – were added to the NHL protocol list earlier this week.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann is sidelined on a week-to-week basis with an undisclosed injury.

TSN: The Washington Capitals hired Michael Peca as a player development coach.

NEWSDAY: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced arenas and stadiums in the state can admit up to 10 percent capacity provided they follow appropriate social distancing and masking protocols.