NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2022

A look at the potential off-season plans for the Senators and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE SENATORS?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch looked at some potential offseason moves for the Senators. They need to determine Matt Murray’s status as the oft-injured goaltender was sidelined for the final 30 games of the season with a neck/head injury. He’s appeared in just 47 games over the last two seasons with the Senators and has two more years remaining on his contract.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

The 27-year-old Murray will have to earn his job back if he returns next season. Anton Forsberg was their best goaltender this season and signed a three-year contract extension in March. Filip Gustavsson had a strong finish and is signed to a one-way deal for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch recently spoke with colleague Wayne Scanlan and the Senators’ French play-by-play man Nicolas St-Pierre to get their thoughts on Murray’s situation. Both suggested buying out the veteran netminder but Garrioch doesn’t see that happening because the Senators aren’t likely to be a cap team.

The only other option the trio sees is Murray returning healthy and battling for his job this fall. There was speculation about placing him on long-term injury reserve but they have no reason to believe Murray won’t play again.

Murray’s injury history makes a trade unlikely. His $6.25 million annual average value through 2023-24 and 10-team no-trade list also complicates things. It doesn’t mean Murray can’t be shopped if the Senators were to pick up a healthy chunk of his cap hit but concerns over his health should keep him in Ottawa for the foreseeable future.

The Senators will have to make a decision regarding Colin White, who missed most of this season due to shoulder surgery and was inconsistent on his return. It’s believed the Montreal Canadiens had an interest in the 25-year-old center before the trade deadline. Perhaps that deal is revisited if the two sides can work something out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whether the Canadiens revisit their rumored interest in White will depend on how they go about addressing their needs during the offseason. They’ve got 14 picks in this year’s draft, with 10 of those in the first four rounds. They must determine whether Carey Price and Shea Weber will be returning next season and if they can find a suitable trade partner for defenseman Jeff Petry. They could find better options than White through this summer’s trade and free-agent markets.

Unrestricted free agents Chris Tierney, Tyler Ennis and Scott Sabourin likely won’t be back. Restricted free-agent defenseman Victor Mete requested a trade in March and probably won’t get a qualifying offer. Blueliner Michael Del Zotto has a year remaining on his contract and could be shopped this summer.

Garrioch also reports Senators fans will be keeping a close eye on Florida Panthers center Claude Giroux. There’s a belief the 34-year-old Ottawa native might be intrigued and interested in the possibility of playing for the Senators if he wins a Stanley Cup with the Panthers. He could play a big role in helping Ottawa’s young roster take the next step.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not dismissing the possibility of Giroux signing with Ottawa if he wins a Cup this spring in Florida. However, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high if I’m a Senators fan. A lot could depend on whoever replaces late owner Eugene Melnyk and what type of contract Giroux would seek to come home to play.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE RED WINGS?

THE ATHLETIC: Max Bultman offered up his thoughts on possible off-season moves by the Detroit Red Wings.

Making a decision behind the bench is the priority for general manager Steve Yzerman as head coach Jeff Blashill’s contract expires at the end of this season. While the rebuilding club showed improvement in the first half of the season, things went really sideways for them from late February onward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blashill’s been the Wings head coach for seven seasons. He couldn’t be faulted for the club’s struggles through most of his tenure as management tore down and rebuilt the roster. However, they were expected to make significant strides this season. It may be time for Yzerman to find a new bench boss who can turn this roster into a legitimate playoff contender.

Yzerman could decide to bring in some veteran help via free agency and trades like the Los Angeles Kings did last summer. They have over $30 million in salary-cap space to make those investments if they wish to sign second-tier free agent talent (such as Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck or the Rangers’ Andrew Copp) to medium-term contracts. The Wings GM could also bide his time and wait for more prospects to arrive, or he could opt to sacrifice some of his current core players for more promising talent in order to build a playoff window for three or four years from now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bultman has observed that Yzerman likes to add players who are proven winners, such as Oskar Sundqvist from the St. Louis Blues and Jakub Vrana from the Washington Capitals. Copp, Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat and Colorado’s Andre Burakovsky were among his suggested free-agent targets.

Bultman suggests remaking the defense, bolstering their scoring punch, re-signing captain Dylan Larkin and deciding what to do with winger Tyler Bertuzzi should also be on Yzerman’s offseason to-do list. Larkin and Bertuzzi both have a year remaining on their current contracts and will be eligible next summer for UFA status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman has been patiently rebuilding with youth while adding several veterans to provide some experienced depth and leadership. However, I think the time has come to make a bold move or two to get this club over the hump. I’m not saying he should blow all his cap space on an expensive addition but he can certainly bring in some secondary talent that won’t break the bank and provide some real improvement to the roster.

It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman does with Bertuzzi and Larkin. Bertuzzi was the subject of trade speculation in the weeks before the trade deadline. It wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up getting shopped this summer. Larkin could also hit the trade block if he’s grown weary of the rebuild and decides to move on to a playoff contender next summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2022

The Avalanche clinch the top seed in the Western Conference, the Flames, Blues and Bruins secure playoff berths, Kirill Kaprizov sets a new Wild scoring record, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche secured the top seed in the Western Conference with 116 points by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 7-4. Nathan MacKinnon and J.T. Compher each scored twice while rookie forward Ben Meyers scored in his first NHL game. Jordan Staal scored twice for Carolina but left the game with an undisclosed injury following a hit by Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. Hurricanes goaltender Frederic Andersen left the game in the third period with an apparent injury to his left leg. The Hurricanes remain in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 104 points.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Calgary Flames forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk each had two goals and two assists in a 9-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes. Elias Lindholm had a goal and three assists for the Flames, who sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 101 points. They clinched a playoff berth earlier in the day following the Edmonton Oilers’ win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

Speaking of the Oilers, they blanked the Golden Knights 4-0 with Mike Smith kicking out 39 shots for his second shutout in as many games. Kris Russell, Cody Ceci, Warren Foegele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the goal scorers as the Oilers sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 94 points. The Golden Knights (87 points) sit four points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

After blowing leads of 4-1 and 5-3, the St. Louis Blues bested the Minnesota Wild 6-5 on an overtime goal by Brayden Schenn to clinch a playoff berth. Schenn and teammate Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and two assists as the Blues hold second place in the Central Division with 100 points. Minnesota center Ryan Hartman scored twice and collected an assist while teammate Kirill Kaprizov tallied his 43rd goal to set a single-season franchise record. The Wild are one point back of the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues defenseman Nick Leddy left the game after taking a stick near one of his eyes. He’ll be undergoing further evaluation. Meanwhile, Wild forward Tyson Jost suffered a lower-body injury and will miss today’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Boston Bruins secured a playoff berth by holding off the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 thanks to early first-period goals by Trent Frederic and Erik Haula and a 23-save effort by goaltender Jeremy Swayman. With 97 points, they hold the first wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. Danton Heinen replied for the Penguins, who sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 97 points. Earlier in the day, they announced goalie Tristan Jarry is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have already clinched a playoff berth so Jarry’s absence won’t hurt them in that regard. However, this could be a problem if he’s still sidelined when the playoffs open in early May.

New York Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin made 20 saves to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 4-0. Alexis Lafreniere put the game out of reach with two third-period goals. The Rangers are tied with the Hurricanes with 104 points but the former holds first in the Metro division with 42 regulation wins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko left this game in the first period with a lower-body injury. It was only his fourth match since missing 31 games with a wrist injury. On Friday, the club revealed winger Tyler Motte will be sidelined for at least the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by Mark Giordano gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. Giordano finished the game with a goal and two assists while Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs (104 points) as they tied a franchise record with their 49th win of the season. They hold a four-point lead over the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators played without Colin White as the 25-year-old center was placed in COVID protocol yesterday.

The Lightning, meanwhile, got four-point performances from Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman to down the Winnipeg Jets 7-4. Kyle Connor tallied his 43rd goal of the season for the Jets, who sit 10 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets aren’t eliminated yet from the postseason chase but they’re on the brink.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars (91 points) maintained their grip on that final Western wild-card position by nipping the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Tyler Seguin and Michael Raffl scored for the Stars while Jake Oettinger made 23 saves for the win.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi scored his 20th goal of the season as his club held off the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Juuse Saros picked up the win by stopping 28 shots while Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist. The Predators are tied with the Stars but they hold the first wild-card spot with 35 regulation wins.

The Los Angeles Kings strengthened their hold on third place in the Pacific Division with a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dustin Brown and Phillip Danault scored first-period goals and Jonathan Quick made 21 stops as the Kings sit three points ahead of the Golden Knights with 90 points and are four back of the Oilers.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin netted his 47th goal in an 8-4 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens. Anthony Mantha and Dmitry Orlov each had four-point performances as the Capitals hold the final Eastern wild-card spot with 94 points. Canadiens center Nick Suzuki reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career while Ryan Poehling tallied twice.

The Seattle Kraken got a shootout goal from Ryan Donato to defeat the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Kraken rookie Matty Beniers scored his first NHL goal in his second game while Philipp Grubauer made 23 saves for the win.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin had a goal and an assist while teammate Kyle Okposo netted his 20th goal of the season in a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2022

Could Claude Giroux join the Senators in the offseason? Why didn’t the Coyotes trade Jakob Chychrun and Phil Kessel at the deadline? What other interesting tidbits emerged from the recent trade deadline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD GIROUX JOIN THE SENATORS THIS SUMMER?

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman said he believes Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux “is doing his research” on the Ottawa Senators. He adds there’s no guarantee it happens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t the first time speculation has surfaced linking Giroux, an Ottawa native, to the Senators. It’s easy to dismiss the notion of the 34-year-old joining the Senators at this stage in his career given the club’s difficulties emerging from its much-ballyhooed rebuild. Still, never say never.

WHY DIDN’T THE COYOTES MOVE CHYCHRUN OR KESSEL ON DEADLINE DAY?

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports no team will willing to meet the high asking price Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong set for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Armstrong hinted some of the teams he was dealing with had the pieces to make the deal but they didn’t want to break apart their rosters. He anticipates greater trade opportunities for the 23-year-old blueliner this summer, expressing his willingness to listen to offers.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported Armstrong’s price tag for Chychrun kept changing, settling on three first-round picks and a high-end prospect. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claimed the return the Montreal Canadiens received from the Florida Panthers for Ben Chiarot drove up the Coyotes’ asking price.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned the Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins among the suitors. The latter might not be among those calling about Chychrun this summer given their acquisition and signing of Hampus Lindholm on Sunday.

Morgan reports Phil Kessel wanted a trade to a playoff contender since the start of this season and his camp wasn’t happy that a deal failed to materialize. The Coyotes’ $6.8 million share of his $8 million annual average value was the sticking point, as retaining half of it would’ve left an acquiring team picking up $3.4 million. Teams weren’t willing to acquire that hit. The Coyotes weren’t able to retain any more salary after doing so to ship Johan Larsson to the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Morgan observes, Kessel’s next chance to join a playoff contender will be this summer as an unrestricted free agent. He’ll have to accept a significant pay cut to do so.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Regarding the possibility of the Vegas Golden Knights trading Evgenii Dadonov to a non-playoff club following the deadline, league bylaws prevent him from playing for the remainder of the season. Friedman speculates the Arizona Coyotes could be a trade partner if they’re not blocked by the league. The Seattle Kraken could be another given their cap room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Dadonov wouldn’t be a rental player. He’s signed through next season with an annual cap hit of $5 million.

The Montreal Canadiens could be an offseason destination for Colin White. Canadiens GM Kent Hughes is White’s former agent and negotiated the 25-year-old center’s current contract with the Ottawa Senators. The Habs and Senators had some trade conversations before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: White struggled in the two seasons following his 41-point performance in 2018-19. He was sidelined most of this season with a dislocated shoulder. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him regain his promising form. He’s signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $4.75 million.

Zdeno Chara drew lots of interest at the trade deadline. New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello kept his promise to Chara and Andy Greene that they would finish the season with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 45-year-old Chara is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Perhaps one of those interested clubs will try to sign him if he doesn’t opt for retirement.

Seattle Kraken defenseman Carson Soucy drew a lot of attention but the club resisted all inquiries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Soucy has a year remaining on his contract. The Kraken could attempt to sign him this summer to an extension if they see him as a key part of their future.