NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 21, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 21, 2024

The Panthers and Rangers extend their win streaks as they jockey for first place in the Eastern Conference, the league-leading Canucks drop their third straight game, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers regained sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators. Anton Lundell netted the winning goal while Brandon Montour had a goal and an assist for the 37-15-5 Panthers (78 points), who’ve won six straight games and sit two points back of the league-leading Vancouver Canucks. Thomas Chabot and Tim Stutzle replied for the 23-27-3 Senators as they overcame a 2-0 deficit.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin kicked out 41 shots to backstop his club over the Dallas Stars 3-1, extending their win streak to eight games. Kaapo Kakko scored what proved to be the game-winner for the Rangers (37-16-3) as they sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 77 points, one behind the Panthers. Miro Heiskanen tallied for the 34-15-8 Stars, who sit in first place in the Central Division with 76 points.

The Vancouver Canucks lost their third straight game by falling 3-1 to the Colorado Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon collected an assist to extend his season-opening home points streak to 27 games while Ryan Johansen tallied twice for the 35-18-4 Avalanche (74 points) as they sit second in the Central and two points back of the Stars. J.T. Miller scored for the slumping Canucks (37-15-6).

Winnipeg Jets forwards Kyle Connor and Gabriel Vilardi each had three points in a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Laurent Brossoit stopped 36 shots as the Jets (34-15-5) sit third in the Central with 73 points. Marco Rossi netted two goals for the 26-24-6 Wild (58 points), as they remain two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

The Nashville Predators defeated the Vegas Golden Knight 5-3. Kevin Lankinen got the win with 23 saves in his first start since Jan. 27 while Roman Josi collected two assists for the 29-25-2 Predators as they moved into a tie with the St. Louis Blues with 60 points. Adin Hill made 35 saves for the Golden Knights (32-18-6) as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 70 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights captain Mark Stone left this game with an upper-body injury. There was no postgame update on his condition. Meanwhile, the Blues still hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with a game in hand.

New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech scored in overtime to lift his club to a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, who overcame a 4-2 deficit to force the extra period. Pelech, Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders (23-18-14) as they sit four points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot with 60 points. Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson picked up an assist for his 800th career NHL point for the 24-21-8 Penguins.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied two goals and added an assist to beat the New Jersey Devils 6-2. Connor McMichael also scored twice while Dylan Strome had a goal and two assists for the Capitals (25-21-8) as they sit six points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth with 58 points. Alexander Holtz and Erik Haula replied for the 28-23-4 Devils (60 points), who are four points out of that Eastern wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals center Nic Dowd left in the first period with an upper-body injury and didn’t return. Before the game, the Devils placed goaltender Vitek Vanecek (lower body) on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 10 while activating defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler.

The Los Angeles Kings got two goals from Pierre-Luc Dubois as they cruised to a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Quinton Byfield and Drew Doughty each had two points for the Kings (28-16-10) as they’ve won six of their last seven and hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 66 points. Adam Boqvist replied for the 17-27-10 Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kings winger Viktor Arvidsson left in the third period with a lower-body injury.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the five-game suspension for Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly for high-sticking Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig on Feb. 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rielly’s absence hasn’t hurt the Leafs as they’ve won four straight since his suspension.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings signed forward Michael Rasmussen to a four-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $3.2 million.

DAILY FACEOFF: The St. Louis Blues placed defensemen Justin Faulk and Scott Perunovich on injured reserve.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but there’s no talk of the 26-year-old getting traded. After missing 21 months dealing with mental health issues, his comeback has sparked mutual interest in a contract extension.

DAILY FACEOFF: Chicago Blackhawks winger Zach Sanford and San Jose Sharks defenseman Jacob MacDonald were placed on waivers yesterday. Teams have until noon ET to claim them.

TSN: The AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack released former NHL forward Artem Anisimov from his professional tryout agreement in January. He had one goal and three assists in 18 games with the Wolf Pack.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Former San Jose Sharks captain Patrick Marleau is part of the Bay Sports Area Hall of Fame’s class of 2024. He will be inducted on May 6, becoming the second Sharks player to be honored, joining Owen Nolan.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2024

The Devils defeat the Flyers in their Stadium Series matchup, Auston Matthews tallies another hat trick, and more from a busy Saturday in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 in front of 70, 328 fans at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey in their NHL Stadium Series. Nico Hischier led the way with two goals and an assist, Nathan Bastian scored twice and Nico Daws made 45 saves for the 28-22-4 Devils (60 points), who sit two points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Owen Tippett tallied two goals for the Flyers (29-20-7) as they hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 65 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews netted his second straight hat trick and his sixth of the season in a 9-2 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks. Matthews also collected two assists, Bobby McMann scored twice and added an assist and Timothy Liljegren picked up three assists as the Leafs (29-16-8) vaulted over the Tampa Bay Lightning into third place in the Atlantic Division with 66 points. Ryan Strome had a goal and an assist for the 19-33-2 Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews now has a league-leading 48 goals, nine more than second-place Sam Reinhart of the Florida Panthers. Leafs captain John Tavares missed this game with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day while defenseman William Lagesson left the game with an upper-body injury. The Ducks, meanwhile, activated Alex Killorn (knee surgery) off injured reserve for this game and placed winger Brock McGinn (upper body) on IR retroactive to Feb. 10.

Speaking of the Lightning, they were crushed 9-2 by the Florida Panthers as they picked up their fifth straight win. Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett each had two goals and two assists while Carter Verhaeghe scored twice and picked up an assist for the 36-15-4 Panthers as they lead the Eastern Conference with 76 points. Brandon Hagel and Brayden Point scored for the Lightning (30-21-5) as they slipped into the first Eastern wild-card spot with 65 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad missed this game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. Lightning forward Tanner Jeannot also didn’t play as he’s day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

Los Angeles Kings rookie defenseman Brandt Clarke scored his first NHL goal in overtime to lift his club over the Boston Bruins 5-4. Anze Kopitar scored the tying goal late in the third period while Pierre-Luc Dubois picked up two assists for the 26-16-10 Kings, who hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 62 points. James van Riemsdyk scored twice and collected an assist for the 32-12-11 Bruins, who had a 3-1 lead at one point in this contest. With 75 points, they sit second overall in the Eastern Conference.

A four-point performance by Mark Schiefele (one goal, three assists) carried the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Gabriel Vilardi scored two goals and picked up an assist while Connor Hellebucyk stopped 35 shots for the Jets (33-14-5) as they moved past the Colorado Avalanche into second place in the Central Division with 71 points. Noah Juulsen and Tyler Myers replied for the 37-13-6 Canucks as they remain in first place in the overall standings with 80 points.

The Edmonton Oilers nipped the Dallas Stars 4-3 on an overtime tally by Evan Bouchard, who finished the game with two goals. Leon Draisaitl and Corey Perry each had two points for the Oilers (32-18-1) as they’re perched in third place in the Pacific Division with 65 points. Matt Duchene had a goal and two assists for the Stars (34-14-7) as they hold first place in the Central Division with 75 points and sit second overall in the Western Conference.

Third-period goals by Seth Jarvis and Stefan Noesen gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Seth Martin turned aside 29 shots for the 32-17-5 Hurricanes, who sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 69 points. Jonathan Marchessault replied for the Golden Knights (31-17-6), who sit second in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender James Reimer turned in a 38-save shutout to blank the Calgary Flames 5-0. Patrick Kane and Lucas Raymond each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings (28-20-6) as they hold the final Eastern wild-card spot with 62 points. Jacob Markstrom got the hook after giving up four goals on 12 shots as the 25-25-5 Flames (55 points) have lost three straight and sit five points behind the St. Louis Blues for the final Western wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rough outing for Markstrom but he didn’t get much help from his teammates in this game. I’ll have more about the Flames in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

Speaking of the Predators, they rolled to a 5-2 win over the Blues. Juuse Saros kicked out 35 shots while Filip Forsberg and Ryan O’Reilly each had a goal and an assist for the 28-25-2 Predators (58 points) as they picked up their first regulation win in seven games. They sit two points behind the 29-23-2 Blues (60 points), who got goals from Jordan Kyrou and Nathan Walker.

The Washington Capitals kept their playoff hopes alive by downing the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Aliaksei Protas snapped a 3-3 tie while Anthony Mantha had a goal and an assist for the 24-21-8 Capitals (56 points) as they sit six points behind the Red Wings. Nick Suzuki scored to extend his points streak to 10 games while linemate Juraj Slafkovsky collected an assist as his points streak reached eight games for the Canadiens, who dropped to 22-25-8 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary left this game with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Henri Jokiharju lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens also scored for the Sabres (24-26-4) while Joel Eriksson Ek and Declan Chisholm replied for the 25-23-6 Wild (56 points) as they moved to within four points of the Blues for that final Western wild-card berth.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard had a goal and an assist as his team downed the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Petr Mrazek made 40 saves for the 15-37-3 Blackhawks while Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist for the 22-27-5 Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard has picked up from where he left off when he was sidelined on Jan. 5 with a fractured jaw. He now has three points in two games since his return to action and has regained the rookie scoring lead with 36 points.

A late goal by Boone Jenner gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. Johnny Gaudreau, Yegor Chinakhov and Erik Gudbranson each had two assists for the 17-26-10 Blue Jackets while Anthony Duclair tallied twice for the 15-34-5 Sharks.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 17, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 17, 2024

Another Flames defenseman surfaces as a trade candidate, the Senators are linked to Matt Dumba, the latest on Jake Guentzel and Tony DeAngelo plus updates on the Leafs and Capitals in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TEAMS HAVE INTEREST IN RASMUS ANDERSSON

ESPN’s Kevin Weekes tweeted that Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson is drawing some interest in the trade market. Weekes believes he’d be an attractive option for suitors given his age (27) and his $4.55 million annual average value through 2025-26.

Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Flames listening to offers for blueliners Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin I don’t doubt that some clubs are expressing interest in Andersson. However, there is a big difference between listening to offers and shopping a player.

By all accounts, the Flames are peddling Tanev and will do the same with Hanifin if he’s unwilling to sign a contract extension. However, there’s no indication that they’re looking to move Andersson.

Earlier this week, Flames general manager Craig Conroy indicated that he’s not staging a full roster rebuild but is instead attempting to retool. Moving Andersson along with Tanev and Hanifin constitutes a full rebuild as it would significantly deplete their blueline. Unless Andersson is asking to be traded, Conroy has no reason to move him.

Bear in mind that Conroy is under no pressure to trade Andersson as he still has two more seasons left on his contract. If a rival team were to pitch a significant offer for him involving a good young NHL player along with a first-round pick and a quality prospect, Conroy would probably give it serious consideration. Otherwise, I don’t see Andersson getting moved.

JAKE GUENTZEL’S INJURY WON’T HURT HIS TRADE VALUE

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli doesn’t expect Jake Guentzel’s upper-body injury will hurt his value in the trade market. The 29-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins winger is sidelined for four weeks, putting his recovery period beyond the March 8 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It won’t hurt Guentzel’s value but it will have interested general managers seeking full assurances that he’s on track to return to action by mid-March. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them attempt to attach conditions to their offers based on his injury.

SENATORS INTERESTED IN MATT DUMBA

Freelancer Graeme Nichols cited the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently reporting the Senators were taking a look at Matt Dumba. The 29-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman is on a one-year, $3.9 million contract and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s well-documented that the Senators are seeking veterans with experience and leadership to help some of their younger stars. If they acquire Dumba they could look at signing him to a short-term contract extension.

WILL THE MAPLE LEAFS SHOP THEIR FIRST-ROUND PICK?

SPORTSNET: Citing colleague Nick Kypreos, Justin Bourne believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will use their 2024 first-round pick as trade bait to bolster their roster leading up to the trade deadline.

Bourne believes the Maple Leafs badly need a couple of defensemen. If they want to get anyone meaningful, they have to trade a legitimate asset. They don’t want to move their prospects so that leaves their first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have been linked to Calgary’s Chris Tanev and Philadelphia’s Sean Walker in the rumor mill. Giving up a first-rounder for either guy would be an overpayment but the Leafs are in “win-now” mode and that means overpaying for one of them.

Otherwise, they’ll have to find cheaper, less-talented depth or stick with what they’ve already got and hope for the best. Either option ensures the Leafs will struggle again to advance in the playoffs. That means wasting another season for superstar forwards Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner while they’re still in the prime of their careers. It also means captain John Tavares watches his Stanley Cup hopes recede further into the distance along with his playing prime.

Parting with a first-rounder for Tanev or Walker doesn’t guarantee a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Hell, it doesn’t assure getting beyond the opening round. Nevertheless, it gives them a better shot than standing pat or making cheap additions that don’t move the needle. If they’re unwilling to part with their promising prospects (and I agree that they shouldn’t), trading the first-rounder is their only option.

LATEST ON THE CAPITALS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber recently reported on the trade rumors dogging the Washington Capitals as they struggle to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff race. If the Capitals become sellers by the trade deadline it might not become a total sell-off.

The New York Rangers could look into the availability of checking-line center Nic Dowd. Given how thin the trade market is on centers, he could fetch a first-round pick. The shrinking market in quality forwards might also work to their advantage with winger Anthony Mantha given the improvement in his goal production this season.

Max Pacioretty, Joel Edmundson and Nicolas Aube-Kubel could also be shopped.

UPDATE ON TONY DEANGELO

THE ATHLETIC: Cory Lavalette reports Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo has been the subject of trade rumors with the Hurricanes shopping him. He’s due to become a UFA this summer and has been a frequent healthy scratch this season.

DeAngelo and his agent have met with Hurricanes management to discuss what’s best for both sides. He admits that his reputation and his past could be holding up a potential trade.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2024

The Panthers gain ground on the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins, another milestone for Alex Ovechkin, and much more from a busy Saturday in the NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers moved to within three points of the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins by blanking the Colorado Avalanche 4-0. Sergei Bobrovsky turned in a 35-save shutout performance, Sam Reinhart scored his 39th goal of the season, and team captain Aleksander Barkov had a goal and two assists for the 33-15-4 Panthers, who sit second in the conference with 70 points. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 39 shots for the Avalanche (32-17-4) as they’re winless in their last four games (0-3-1) and remain in second place in the Central Division with 68 points.

Florida Panthers winger Sam Reinhart (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart sits second among NHL goal scorers this season and leads the league with 22 power-play goals. He also recently broke the club record for most power-play goals in a season (19) originally held by Scott Mellanby and Pavel Bure. Meanwhile, the Avalanche held a players-only meeting following this game to address their struggles and lack of preparedness since the All-Star break.

Speaking of the Bruins, they were shut out 3-0 by the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin scored for the fourth straight game with his 57th career empty-net goal, surpassing the record of 56 previously held by Wayne Gretzky. Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie each had two points while Charlie Lindgren made 18 saves for the 23-20-7 Capitals. Jeremy Swayman turned aside 25 shots for the 32-11-9 Bruins, who missed an opportunity to move ahead of the Vancouver Canucks in the overall standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin has struggled to score in 2023-24 but is on a bit of a tear since the All-Star break. He now has 12 goals on the season and 834 for his career putting him 70 behind Gretzky’s record of 894.

The Canucks, meanwhile, dropped a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Red Wings. Jake Walman tallied the winner in overtime on a penalty shot as the Wings (27-18-6) overcame a 3-1 deficit on third-period goals by Daniel Sprong and Michael Rasmussen. They hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 60 points. Elias Pettersson and former Red Wing Filip Hronek each had a goal and two assists for the 34-12-6 Canucks as they hold first overall with 74 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Patrick Kane collected an assist in his return to the Wings lineup after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. Canucks defenseman Nikita Zadorov received a two-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Wings forward Lucas Raymond, who left the game for assessment but would return to action.

Calgary Flames defenseman MacKenzie Weegar scored his first career NHL hat trick in a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Jacob Markstrom kicked out 35 shots while Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman each had a goal and an assist for the Flames (25-22-5) as they sit one point out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 55 points. Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau replied for the 22-18-12 Islanders (56 points) as they sit four points back of the Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar became the seventh defenseman in Flames history to score a hat trick. He also takes over the lead among NHL defensemen in goals this season with 15. Islanders blueliner Alexander Romanov missed this game with a lower-body injury.

The Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Brandon Hagel had a goal and two assists while Nikita Zadorov collected two assists for the 28-20-5 Lightning as they vaulted over the Toronto Maple Leafs into third place in the Atlantic Division with 61 points. Boone Jenner netted both goals for the 16-25-10 Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 89 points, Kucherov has opened a four-point lead in the NHL scoring race over Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon. Blue Jackets forward Yegor Chinakhov left this game with an upper-body injury.

Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they fell 5-3 to the Ottawa Senators, who picked up their third straight win. Shane Pinto led the way with a goal and two assists while Joonas Korpisalo stopped 31 shots for the 21-25-2 Senators. Auston Matthews netted his league-leading 42nd goal of the season for the Leafs (26-16-8) as they dropped into the first Eastern wild-card berth with 60 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly could face supplemental discipline as he took exception with Ridley Grieg’s slapshot into an empty net in the dying seconds and cross-checked the young Senators forward in the head. Meanwhile, Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano and Senators blueliner Jake Sanderson missed this game with injuries. There’s no timetable yet for when either player will return to action.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s 35 saves backstopped his club to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mark Scheifele and Nino Niederreiter scored for the 31-14-5 Jets (67 points) as they snapped a five-game winless skid and sit one behind the second-place Avalanche in the Central Division. Bryan Rust replied for the Penguins (23-19-7).

The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 in their first game under interim head coach Jim Hiller. David Rittich turned in a 26-save shutout while Quinton Byfield scored two goals and picked up an assist for the 24-15-10 Kings, who hold the first Western wild-card berth with 58 points. Stuart Skinner stopped 22 shots for the Oilers (30-17-1) as they hold third place in the Pacific Division with 61 points.

An overtime goal by Sebastian Aho gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 1-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Pyotr Kochetkov made 34 saves for the shutout as the Hurricanes improved to 30-16-5 and hold second place in the Metropolitan Division with 65 points. Vitek Vanecek stopped 31 shots for the 25-21-4 Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes welcomed back winger Andrei Svechnikov from his six-game absence with an upper-body injury. However, backup goaltender Antti Raanta missed this game with a lower-body injury and is expected to remain sidelined for the next two weeks.

Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin scored twice as his club nipped the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Matt Duchene and Mason Marchment each collected two assists for the 32-14-6 Stars, who’ve won 10 of their last 14 and moved into first place in the Central Division with 70 points. Nick Suzuki had a goal and an assist while Sam Montembeault turned aside 35 shots for the 21-22-8 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard left this game early in the second period with a lower-body injury. He will be re-evaluated over the next couple of days to determine the severity of the injury.

The St. Louis Blues got two goals by Jake Neighbours in a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, picking up their sixth victory in their last seven games. Joel Hofer made 33 saves for the 27-21-2 Blues as they hold the final Western wild-card berth with 56 points. Kyle Okposo replied for the 22-25-4 Sabres.

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier snapped a 2-2 tie to defeat the Seattle Kraken 3-2. Cal Petersen made 17 saves in his first start since Nov. 11 for the Flyers (28-19-6) as they picked up t their third straight win and sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 62 points. Tomas Tatar and Jared McCann replied for the 21-20-10 Kraken (52 points) as they sit four points out of the final Western wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken defenseman Justin Schultz missed this game for personal reasons but is expected to rejoin his teammates later this week.

An overtime goal by Ryan McDonagh lifted the Nashville Predators to a 5-4 win over the Arizona Coyotes. McDonagh, Roman Josi, Ryan O’Reilly, Filip Forsberg and Tommy Novak each had a goal and an assist for the 27-23-2 Predators (56 points) as they remain behind the Blues for the final Western wild-card berth with the latter holding two games in hand. Jason Zucker collected three assists for the Coyotes (23-23-4) as they’re winless in their last five games (0-4-1).










NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024

The Sabres are rumored to be shopping Casey Mittelstadt, speculation over Max Pacioretty’s future, two Canadian clubs could have an interest in Alexandre Carrier, plus the latest on the Flyers and Sharks in the NHL Rumor Mill.

REPORT: SABRES ACTIVELY SHOPPING MITTELSTADT

AFTER THE WHISTLE: Andrew Peters said Friday that he’d heard “from a very reliable source” that Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is “shopping Casey Mittelstadt hard” because he doesn’t want to pay the 25-year-old forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1. He’s in the final season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.5 million. The versatile forward enjoyed a 59-point breakout performance last season and currently leads the Sabres in scoring with 42 points in 50 games.

Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (NHL Images).

Peters’ source didn’t know what Adams’ asking price would be for Mittelstadt but indicated that he’s looking for a goaltender. “They don’t trust the three that they have,” said Peters.

SPORTSNET: On Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman talked about Mittelstadt’s contract situation. He believes Mittelstadt would not be happy not to get a lucrative new contract when several other teammates did. “If you’re not going to pay him, you almost have to move him.”

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited Peters’ claiming the Sabres are shopping Mittelstadt. He believes the Flyers should pursue him and suggested offering up right-shot defenseman Sean Walker as part of the return.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Evan Rawal also noted Peters’ report about Mittelstadt. He believes the Sabres forward would be a good candidate for the Avalanche’s second-line center position. However, a young forward under team control for a few more years would be expensive to acquire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Kevin Weekes last month suggested Mittelstadt could be available if Adams didn’t want to sign him to a long-term extension. He shrugged off the speculation while Adams has not spoken about it.

Mittelstadt will draw plenty of interest in the trade market if Adams is indeed peddling him. Finding a reliable, established starting goaltender, however, won’t be easy as the pickings are slim right now.

Maybe Adams could offer up Mittelstadt to the Calgary Flames for Jacob Markstrom provided the latter would waive his no-movement clause to go to Buffalo. Perhaps a deal could be made with the Nashville Predators for Juuse Saros provided he’s willing to sign a contract extension on July 1. Anaheim Ducks starter John Gibson’s been a fixture in the rumor mill stretching back to last season but the Sabres could be on his 10-team no-trade list.

COULD THE CAPITALS ATTEMPT TO MOVE PACIORETTY?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculated the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they don’t gain ground soon in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Their pending unrestricted free agents include Anthony Mantha, Joel Edmundson and Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty carries a full no-movement clause giving him and his agent complete control over his situation. However, LeBrun believes he could waive it for the right fit and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

LeBrun thinks Mantha could be difficult to move even with retaining some salary. Edmundson’s playoff pedigree, meanwhile, could make him enticing to a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is on a one-year deal with a base salary of $2 million plus another $2 million in performance bonuses. The six-time 30-goal scorer has seven points in 14 games thus far in his comeback with the Capitals.

LATEST FLYERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek talked about possible trade-deadline moves for the Philadelphia Flyers.

They believe they are contemplating retaining Sean Walker and moving Rasmus Ristolainen. The latter would be easier to trade in the offseason for financial as well as hockey reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, 29, lacks no-trade protection but carries a $5.1 million AAV through 2026-27. He would be easier to move this summer when teams have more money to absorb that type of cap hit. However, he could still be a difficult sell unless the Flyers are willing to retain some salary.

They also believe Scott Laughton’s time with the Flyers could be drawing to a close. It could happen at the trade deadline or in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laughton, 29, is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. He carries an affordable $3 million AAV through 2025-26 and lacks a no-trade clause. He could attract a fair bit of interest in the trade market.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli suggesting Mikael Granlund might fetch the best return for the San Jose Sharks in the trade market.

Peng noted that the 29-year-old two-way center has bounced back this season with 29 points in 38 games. He carries a $5 million AAV through next season and lacks no-trade protection.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Julian Gaudio cited The Fourth Period recently claiming the Vegas Golden Knights are interested in Anthony Duclair.

The 28-year-old Sharks winger has just 17 points in 46 games this season with San Jose but was a productive middle-six forward for the Florida Panthers during their run to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. He’s in the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $3 million.

Gaudio’s colleague Max Miller cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting there are teams with an interest in Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. The pending UFA has put up good underlying numbers this season but doesn’t have a resume in high-pressure games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Duclair seems the more likely to move given his cap hit and his performance in last year’s playoffs.

Granlund’s cap hit remains difficult to move unless the Sharks retain part of it. Having used up two of their three salary-retention slots on Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, I doubt they’ll keep any part of Granlund’s cap hit to facilitate a trade.

Kahkonen’s inexperience in playoff action will be an issue for contenders shopping for goaltending depth.

OILERS & CANUCKS COULD BE INTERESTED IN ALEXANDRE CARRIER

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if the Edmonton Oilers might be looking at Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier as a trade option. Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Thomas Drance recently mentioned Carrier as a trade target for the Vancouver Canucks.

Gallagher noted that Predators GM Barry Trotz isn’t necessarily shopping Carrier but is willing to listen to trade offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carrier could be an attractive option for contenders with limited cap space looking for an affordable defenseman. He carries a $2.5 million cap hit, lacks a no-trade clause and is slated to become a UFA this summer.

Gallagher also noted the Predators are trying to move blueliner Tyson Barrie following his trade request back in December.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 5, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 5, 2024

The Rangers are believed interested in two key Ducks’ forwards plus the latest on the Hurricanes and Capitals in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

RANGERS INTERESTED IN HENRIQUE AND VATRANO

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple and Eric Stephens report the New York Rangers have an interest in Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique as a playoff rental replacement for the sidelined Filip Chytil.

It’s also rumored that the Rangers might be interested in a reunion with winger Frank Vatrano. The 29-year-old winger played well for the Blueshirts two years ago before signing as a free agent with the Ducks.

Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique (NHL Images).

Vatrano is Anaheim’s leading scorer but he might not fit into the club’s rebuilding plans. Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek could try moving him while his value is high.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Verbeek’s reputation as a tough negotiator it won’t be easy for the Rangers to land one or both players. Reports emerged last week claiming Blueshirts GM Chris Drury was taking calls about winger Kaapo Kakko. Perhaps he’d be part of an offer to the Ducks that would also likely include some draft picks and one or two prospects.

WHO COULD THE HURRICANES TARGET IN THE TRADE MARKET?

THE ATHLETIC: Cory Lavalette recently looked at some possible targets for the Carolina Hurricanes leading up to the March 8 trade deadline.

Lavalette doesn’t seem them pursuing a blockbuster trade for an expensive goalie such as Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, Nashville’s Juuse Saros or Anaheim’s John Gibson. They could stick with Pyotr Kochetkov and Antti Raanta and it’s possible sidelined Frederik Andersen could return. If they go the trade route it could be for more affordable options like Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Detroit’s James Reimer or San Jose’s Kaapo Kahkonen.

It’s expected the Hurricanes will try to trade defenseman Tony DeAngelo before the deadline. Washington’s Joel Edmundson could be one possibility if they wish to acquire a blueliner while forwards such as San Jose’s Anthony Duclair and Alexander Barabanov or Chicago’s Colin Blackwell would be cost-effective forward options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lavalette pointed out that Hurricanes GM Don Waddell acquired players over the last four trade deadlines. With over $6.6 million in projected trade deadline cap space, he’s got the room to make one or two affordable depth additions.

LATEST ON THE CAPITALS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber recently wondered if the thin market for centers could work to the Washington Capitals’ advantage if they become sellers leading up to the trade deadline.

Checking-line center Nic Dowd should receive some interest. He’s got a year remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $1.3 million.

Silber also mused over whether the thin market might increase interest in center Evgeny Kuznetsov. Signed through next season with a $7.8 million AAV, his contract and inconsistent play make him difficult to move.

Winger Anthony Mantha could also be worth watching. He’s on pace for a career-best 27 goals this season, which should improve his value in the trade market.