NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 2, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, three stars of the week, plus the latest on Tony DeAngelo and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Chris Kreider broke a third-period tie as the New York Rangers downed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1. Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists for the Rangers, who lost defenseman Brendan Smith to an upper-body injury during the first period. The Rangers were also playing without Kaapo Kakko, who’s on their COVID-19 protocol list. The Penguins were playing without defensemen Kris Letang (undisclosed injury, day-to-day) and Brian Dumoulin (undisclosed, long-term injury reserve).

Overshadowing the Rangers win was their statement indicating defenseman Tony DeAngelo has played his final game with them following a post-game altercation on Saturday with teammate Alexandar Georgiev. DeAngelo, 24, cleared waivers yesterday. The club also denied a recent rumor claiming DeAngelo had a rocky relationship with rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are reportedly working with DeAngelo’s agent to trade the blueliner. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images)

The Boston Bruins tallied five unanswered goals to overcome a 3-0 deficit and defeat the Washington Capitals 5-3. David Pastrnak netted his first two goals of the season as the Bruins extended their points streak to six games (5-0-1). Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara scored against his former team.

Yanni Gourde scored twice and Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist as the Tampa Bay Lightning completed their two-game sweep of the Nashville Predators with a 5-2 victory.

A three-goal second-period outburst powered the Montreal Canadiens to a 6-2 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks. Jeff Petry had a three-point performance (including two goals) and Corey Perry collected his 800th career NHL point. Defenseman Victor Mete made his season debut for the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens earned this win with a dominating performance but the Canucks certainly didn’t help their cause with a lousy defensive effort.

Johnny Gaudreau scored in a shootout as the Calgary Flames edged the Winnipeg Jets 4-3. Gaudreau also tallied in regulation to extend his points streak to eight games. Kyle Connor scored twice for the Jets while teammate Blake Wheeler assisted on all three of his team’s goals.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko plus Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and forward Leon Draisaitl were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 31.

The NHL department of player safety fined Minnesota Wild center Nick Bjugstad $5,000.00 for cross-checking Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves on Sunday.

The league also announced the rescheduling of four games involving the Vegas Golden Knights after three of their games were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils’ next three games were postponed after four more players were added Monday to their COVID-19 protocol list. They have a league-high 10 players on that list, including Mackenzie Blackwood, Kyle Palmieri, Sami Vatanen, Andreas Johnsson, Travis Zajac and Pavel Zacha.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek could require surgery for a suspected right-arm injury after getting hurt during a collision with teammate Max McCormick during Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb was placed on long-term injury reserve with a lower-body injury.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed forward Alex Chiasson on waivers.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 28, 2021

The latest speculation over Vince Dunn’s future with the Blues plus some chatter about Bruins winger Anders Bjork in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford weighed in on recent trade conjecture surrounding Vince Dunn after the St. Louis Blues made the 24-year-old defenseman a healthy scratch against the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this week. He wonders if it was a wake-up call or an indication a trade could be coming soon.

Trade speculation continues to swirl around St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn (NHL Images).

Several factors cloud Dunn’s future with the Blues. They include his poor start to this season, his restricted free agent status (with arbitration rights) next summer, the club’s limited salary cap space, the emergence of blueliner Niko Mikkola, and this summer’s expansion draft.

Rutherford examined the pros and cons of trading Dunn. A good return would be a first-round pick or a player of equal caliber to the defenseman. Given the Blues’ limited cap space, landing a first or even a second-round pick could be worthwhile. The Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks or Winnipeg Jets might be kicking tires on Dunn.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas believes the Blues will have to make a salary cap move, probably in February before sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko returns from shoulder surgery. He also feels they’ll try to get a good a draft pick as they can for Dunn because of their limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers, Canucks and Jets need some blueline help. They all have their first-and-second round picks for the next three years, but are they willing to part with one of them for Dunn? If the Blues can’t get a first- or second-rounder, Thomas suggested they might have to look into a more complex deal.

The Blues placed Taransenko on long-term injury reserve to start the season but must ensure they have sufficient cap space when he’s ready to return to action. If Dunn isn’t traded it could be somebody else.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty believes trading Anders Bjork would make a lot of sense for the Bruins. Such a move, however, won’t happen until winger David Pastrnak makes his imminent return from offseason hip surgery and sidelined wingers Jake DeBrusk and Ondrej Kase recover from their recent injuries.

Once everyone is healthier, there might not be room for Bjork in the regular lineup. While the 24-year-old winger hasn’t blossomed into a scorer he has value as a speedy, versatile forward.

Haggerty said there are teams keeping an eye on Bjork. A rumored swap last fall with the Edmonton Oilers for winger Alex Chiasson didn’t materialize.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bjork could be shopped for another struggling forward or a draft pick at this point. While he still has potential his lack of production has really hurt his trade value.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2020

Check out the latest speculation on the Oilers and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OILERS FACE A CAP SQUEEZE

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently reported the Oilers will be squeezed by the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21. With over $71 million already invested in next season’s payroll, general manager Ken Holland will have around $10.5 million available.

The Oilers restricted free agents include Ethan Bear, Andreas Athanasiou, and Matt Benning. Their unrestricted free agents include Mike Smith, Mike Green, and Tyler Ennis.

Staples feels $10.5 million should be enough to retain those free agents or bring in potential replacements. However, it rules out the possibility of pursuing a big-ticket free agent. He knows some Oilers followers would love to see the club bring back winger Taylor Hall, but that doesn’t seem possible, especially with younger players like Bear, Kailer Yamamoto, and Evan Bouchard in need of contracts down the road.

Could the Edmonton Oilers consider an off-season buyout of James Neal’s contract? (Photo via NHL Images)

It could also be difficult to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson if the cap stays flat for 2021-22. Both are due to become UFAs next summer.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell also examined the difficulties facing the Oilers under a flat cap.

He speculates useful UFAs like Smith and center Riley Sheahan could find cost-conscious offers unacceptable. The Oilers could also trade or walk away from RFAs like Athanasiou or Benning, who have arbitration rights.

For those without arbitration rights like Bear, Mitchell speculates they could get an affordable one-year bridge deal. They could also consider trading Kris Russell or Alex Chiasson or buying out winger James Neal’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fates of some of those free agents could depend upon their play in the upcoming playoff tournament. The same goes for Russell, Chiasson, or Neal. I agree that those players lacking arbitration will probably have to accept bridge deals for a year or two.

As Staples observed, Russell could be enticing to a cost-conscious club looking to reach the cap floor. He carries a $4 million cap hit but will earn just $1.5 million in actual salary after being paid his $1 million signing bonus for 2020-21. That’s assuming one of those clubs will be on his 15-team trade list for next season.

Cap Friendly indicates buying out Neal would free up over $3.8 million, leaving just over $1.9 million against the Oilers cap. However, it would also be that much dead cap space annually for the next six seasons.

Holland could be reluctant to move Chiasson. He carries an affordable $2.15 million cap hit for next season.

LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): John Vogl recently examined several potential free-agent forwards who could help the Sabres improve their road record. He suggested Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikail Granlund, Colorado’s Vladislav Namestnikov, or Florida’s Erik Haula.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli, a skilled two-way player with Stanley Cup experience, would be the best bet. Granlund struggled following his trade from Minnesota last season but improved when John Hynes took over as Predators coach at midseason.

Both could provide a welcome boost to the Sabres’ secondary scoring. Signing them, however, could be difficult given the Sabres’ recent reputation as a dysfunctional franchise.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 20, 2020

The NHL schedule may be paused, but that hasn’t stopped speculation over off-season trades and free agency. Check out the latest on the Blackhawks and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT BOWMAN’S RETURN MEANS FOR THE BLACKHAWKS

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the Blackhawks decision to retain president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman and coach Jeremy Colliton indicates the club remains committed to retooling, not rebuilding. That means retaining their aging (though still productive) core and attempting short-term tinkering instead of a roster teardown.

Nevertheless, Pope believes salary-cap limitations mean jettisoning some salary. He thinks new contracts for Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik will flesh out the Blackhawks’ growing youth corps, which includes Alex DeBrincat and Connor Murphy.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz is critical of the Blackhawks’ decision, pointing out questionable roster management decisions in recent years have made things worse over the short- and long-term. The Hawks have struggled where similar clubs with high-priced veteran talent (Washington, Pittsburgh) have succeeded.

Gretz cites trading away Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen as part of cap-related moves hurt the Hawks. Lesser deals, such as swapping Dominik Kahun and Henri Jokiharju for Olli Maatta and Alex Nylander, failed to pan out. They also got underwhelming returns on Robin Lehner and Erik Gustafsson at the trade deadline.

Could Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad once again become a salary-cap casualty? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only saving grace for Bowman of late is the recent influx of young talent, such as DeBrincat, Kubalik, Strome, Murphy, Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach. Otherwise, the Blackhawks’ future would be quite bleak.

Nevertheless, Bowman is once again saddled with a cap-strapped roster. With over $73 million invested in 17 players and free agents like Strome, Kubalik, and Corey Crawford to re-sign, he must once again cut costs.

Winger Brandon Saad surfaced in the rumor mill in the weeks leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He was a cap casualty in the past. With a year left on his contract and an annual average value of $6 milion, I believe he’s their most likely off-season trade candidate.

LATEST OILERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector believes Mike Smith has played well enough this season to earn a one-year contract with the Oilers. Since December, the 37-year-old netminder went 12-3-4 and tied for the second-most points accrued by a goalie since Jan. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $70 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. Assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million, they won’t have much cap room unless they can shed some salary to re-sign or replace key players. Smith must accept a significant pay cut to stay in Edmonton.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes Oilers veterans Kris Russell, James Neal, and Alex Chiasson could be among the Oilers squeezed out to make room for younger talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russell is signed through 2020-21 with a $4 million AAV, Neal through 2022-23 at $5.75 million AAV, and Chiasson through 2020-21 at $2.15 million. Chiasson would be the easiest to move via trade. Russell and Neal could be more difficult and might involve taking back a salaried player.

If the league and the NHLPA agreed to a one-time amnesty buyout because of the loss of revenue wrought by the coronavirus, Russell and Neal would be prime candidates.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently cited Jesse Puljujarvi’s Finnish head coach saying the young winger would be best off playing another season in Finland. Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent embroiled in the contract dispute with the Oilers. The 23-year-old Finn opted to play for his hometown club Karpat this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some media chatter after Puljujarvi became ineligible to play in the NHL this season suggesting he could have some value if the Oilers attempted to trade him this summer. It’ll be interesting to see what that assessment by his Finnish coach might have upon his trade value if Edmonton GM Ken Holland decides to shop him.










NHL Injury Outlook Week 2

NHL Injury Outlook Week 2

 










NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2019

The Senators and Rangers trade watches continue plus updates on Artemi Panarin, Ilya Kovalchuk and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

SENATORS AND RANGERS TRADE WATCH

 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators forwards Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel were scratched from last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets as they await their fates. He believes Dzingel has one foot out the door after spurning a five-year contract offer worth in excess of $20 million, but there’s a chance (albeit slim) that Stone could re-sign before Monday’s trade deadline.

Garrioch thinks 17 or 18 clubs, including the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, may have expressed interest in Stone. The asking price is said to be higher than what the Senators received for Matt Duchene (two prospects, a first-round pick and a conditional first) from the Blue Jackets. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins could be sniffing around on Dzingel, with the Sens seeking a first-round pick or a high-end prospect in return. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Bob McKenzie believes the Jets, Predators, Flames, and New York Islanders could be among the suitors for Stone. He also brought up the Colorado Avalanche but isn’t sure where they are regarding a rental player. McKenzie also suggests what could be complicating things is teams could prefer acquiring Stone if they feel they can sign him rather than getting him as a rental for the playoffs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Duchene trade was the first major domino to drop in the market. I think interest in Stone will only increase and I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Dzingel are traded before Monday’s 3 pm ET deadline. Could be a bidding war going on that stretches this out for a bit. We’ll find out soon enough. The Jets and Predators are thought to be the front-runners. 

TSN: In the wake of yesterday’s Duchene trade, Darren Dreger reported teams will starting dialing in on New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes. He adds a few teams are interested in acquiring Hayes and teammate Mats Zuccarello. If Zuccarello is moved separately, the asking price could be high draft picks or a high pick and a prospect. 

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports some of the teams believed interested in Mark Stone are also thought to have interest in Hayes. If Stone moves soon, Hayes might not be far behind. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Where Hayes and/or Zuccarello end up before the trade deadline remains tied to what the Senators do with Stone and Dzingel. The Duchene trade, however, may have already ramped up more interest in Hayes among clubs in need of skilled depth at center. 

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin appears to be off the trade market (Photo via NHL Images)

JACKETS KEEPING PANARIN?

TSN’S Pierre LeBrun reports that, unless another team steps up, the Columbus Blue Jackets are content to retain pending free agent left wing Artemi Panarin for the remainder of the season in hopes of staging a Stanley Cup run this spring. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen intends to keep an eye on the trade market but indicates he’s not moving Panarin just for draft picks. It would take an offer he can’t refuse, one that helps the Jackets now and in the future, to convince him to part with the talented winger. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bang goes my theory of the Jackets shipping Panarin to another club (like the Florida Panthers) and flipping part of the return to the Senators for Duchene. Looks like Kekalainen has decided to bolster his roster for one last run with Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky before the two depart via free agency in July. 

KOVALCHUK

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott reports Kings management spoke with winger Ilya Kovalchuk about his future, with one option being a trade before the Monday deadline. It’s unclear if Kovalchuk will agree to waive his no-movement clause if another team expresses interest in acquiring him. Elliott speculates the Kings might have to absorb part of the winger’s $6.25-million annual salary-cap hit to make it work. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the right team, Kovalchuk might be tempted to waive his clause. Lots of recent speculation suggesting perhaps a reunion with New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello but we don’t know if the always-secretive Lamoriello is receptive to that notion. 

BRUINS

NBC SPORTS: While Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney has hinted he might be done dealing before the deadline, Joe Haggerty believes they still need a top-six winger. He doubts Sweeney would pursue an expensive option like Mark Stone or Artemi Panarin, suggesting Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, Carolina’s Micheal Ferland, Detroit’s Thomas Vanek, or the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes as affordable options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds and Hayes and perhaps Mats Zuccarello would be the best choices here. With the Hurricanes jockeying for a wild-card spot, I don’t think they’ll move Ferland now.

Vanek’s inconsistency in the playoffs makes him the least palatable of Haggerty’s suggestions. Indeed, The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan reports there’s no interest in Vanek. Maybe the Wings’ Gustav Nyquist could be in play.

The market for Simmonds, Hayes, and Zuccarello could grow more expensive depending on when the Senators move Stone. Panarin, of course, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere now. 

OILERS

EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers don’t want to trade winger Alex Chiasson because they lack secondary scoring depth and he’s cheap ($650K). His agent has had discussions with management but no contract talks. The Oilers are shopping winger Tobias Rieder and defenseman Alex Petrovic but Matheson believes their current play ensures they won’t get much in return. If the Oilers are in the market for a rental player, he feels Ottawa’s Ryan Dzingel would be ideal. 

 DEVILS

NJ.COM:  Chris Ryan reports New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson and defenseman Ben Lovejoy are expected to be scratched from tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. Both are pending UFAs who are expected to be moved before the trade deadline.

**UPDATE: The Devils this morning traded Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Connor Carrick and a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.