NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2018

Capitals force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final, Islanders to hire Lou Lamoriello, Wild name Paul Fenton as their new GM, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: There will be a seventh and deciding game in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final. Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made 24 saves in Game 6 to carry his club to a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. T.J. Oshie scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom had two assists and Devante Smith-Pelly scored a goal, had five hits and two blocked shots. 

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby’s 24-save shutout performance carried his club to a 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After dropping three straight games and facing elimination, the Capitals regained their mojo with a combination of a renewed emphasis on physical play, shutting down the Lightning’s lethal power play and getting contributions from their secondary scorers. The stage is set for Game 7 on Wednesday (8 pm ET) in Tampa Bay, with the winner advancing to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. 

Speaking of the Stanley Cup Final, it will begin on Monday, May 28. If the Lightning win the Eastern Conference Final, the series opens in Tampa Bay. If the Capitals win, it’ll start in Las Vegas. All start times will be 8 pm ET.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello is expected to take over the New York Islanders’ hockey operations within the next several days. Sources also confirmed Lamoriello met with Islanders captain (and pending free agent) John Tavares last week, “clearly in anticipation of assuming control of the Islanders.” No word on what this means for Isles general manager Garth Snow.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Lamoriello is still under contract with the Leafs, this move obviously has their blessing. He could take over as president of hockey operations but the anticipation is he’ll also take over Snow’s position.

As Staple pointed out, the fact Lamoriello also reportedly met with Tavares indicates the Islanders owners are intent on retaining their captain, who could depart this summer via unrestricted free agency. I’ll have more on Lamoriello joining the Islanders later this morning in the Rumors section. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday announced former Nashville Predators assistant general manager is taking over as their new GM. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this move by the Wild. Fenton’s been a prized target for clubs seeking new management for several years. He played a key role in the Predators rise in recent years to a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. 

THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of the Wild, forward Charlie Coyle recently underwent surgery on both wrists to repair tendon damage to both wrists that had troubled him since January. He’s expected to make a full recovery in time for training camp in September. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those injuries account in part for the decline in Coyle’s production this season and his inability to score in this year’s playoffs. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL: Golden Knights merchandise is now the top seller for all US-based NHL franchises. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres forward Matt Moulson is the latest NHL player putting his house on the market, seeking $1.1 million for his Amherst, NY home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt this means Moulson is going to be traded. He spent last season with the AHL’s Ontario Reign in California and is likely to finish the final season of his contract there. 

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues’ arena has been renamed Enterprise Center. 

 











Latest Wild and Panthers Speculation – May 2, 2018

Latest Wild and Panthers Speculation – May 2, 2018

Check out the latest on the Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers in your NHL rumor mill.

WILD

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked about possible candidates to replace Chuck Fletcher as general manager of the Minnesota Wild. Nashville Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton is considered the frontrunner and has already been interviewed for the position. Other possibilities include Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas, former San Jose Sharks and LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi and New Jersey Devils assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald.

Could the Minnesota Wild consider trading away Eric Staal this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Asked about which current Wild players could have the most trade value if the new GM opts for a major rebuild, Heika suggested Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jonas Brodin. Heika also doubted the Wild will get into the bidding for New York Islanders free-agent center John Tavares, citing in part the Wild’s need to shed considerable cap space to sign him.

Heika was also asked if this was the right time for the new Wild GM to shop center Eric Staal, who’s coming off a 42-goal season. He’d be hesitant unless the new GM can get a significant return.

STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: Chris Hine believes the Wild’s new GM doesn’t need to let big contracts hamper him from making a significant move this summer. He notes Thomas Vanek’s contract buyout comes off the books next season while Mikko Koivu’s new contract ($5.5-million cap hit) is cheaper than the $6.75-million of his current one.

Hine also suggests Charlie Coyle as a potential trade candidate, as clearing his $3.2 million cap hit could alleviate pressure to make other changes to the roster. He also proposed moving Eric Staal as his trade value will be high this summer. The Wild are expected to re-sign restricted free agents Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba, though they could trade one or the other if contract talks prove difficult.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever takes over as the Wild’s new GM will be expected to shake up a roster that is considered an playoff underachiever. However, I don’t expect them to pursue Tavares.

Moving out higher-salaried veterans with no-movement clauses (Koivu, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise) likely isn’t an option. The 33-year-old Staal has a year left on his contract ($3.5 million cap hit) with a modified no-trade clause. While his trade value has improved, there’s no certainty he’ll be dealt.

Younger Wild players such as Zucker, Coyle and Niederreiter will attract considerably more interest in the trade market. Coyle surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to the trade deadline and could be targeted by clubs seeking skilled depth at forward. 

PANTHERS

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Matthew DeFranks reports the Florida Panthers could seek an experienced defenseman, a winger for Vincent Trocheck’s line and a No. 3 goaltender this summer. GM Dale Tallon said his club has room in its budget to pursue high-end free agents.

DeFranks lists Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk, Vegas’ James Neal and Boston’s Rick Nash as possible free-agent winger options. Potentially available free-agent defensemen include Washington’s John Carlson, Detroit’s Mike Green and Columbus’ Ian Cole. They’re expected to have over $9 million of cap room and could have more if the cap ceiling significantly increases for next season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers narrowly missed qualifying for the playoffs this season. They’re loaded with good young talent and have the potential to become a perennial postseason club. If they’re willing to invest some of their cap space in this summer’s free-agent market, they could land one or two good veteran additions. 

 











Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 22, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 22, 2018

Latest on the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

WILD COULD FACE OFFSEASON CHANGES

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Improving the offense, determining what kind of contracts can be expected for restricted free agents Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker, and perhaps shaking up the roster with a trade are among the questions facing the Minnesota Wild this summer.

Chip Scoggins believes Wild owner Craig Leipold faces two choices: standing pat and hoping things improve next season or make major changes to the roster and/or management. While the Wild reached the playoffs in six consecutive seasons they’ve also made quick postseason exits, with just 15 wins in eight series. The first order of business is determining if general manager Chuck Fletcher returns for a 10th season.

Could Charlie Coyle become part of a potential offseason shakeup by the Minnesota Wild? (Photo via NHL Images)

Scoggins also points out players the Wild counted on for production, such as Zucker, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle, failed to score in their series against the Jets.  “The Wild has had too many passengers in the playoffs, not just one or two guys falling short. Whether they underperformed or are just not talented enough, this situation requires a realistic assessment of where the organization stands.”

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani suggests “guys like Coyle and Niederrieter might have finally worn out their welcome after following up disappointing regular seasons with scoreless postseasons.” He also notes the Wild face the decision on whether to re-sign Zucker and Dumba to high-paying contracts, pointing out  Zucker’s lack of production against the Jets and Dumba’s “head-scratching plays on the blue line.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Leipold does after his club made yet another early exit from the playoffs. If Fletcher returns, he could be under orders to shake things up and that could include moving Coyle or Niederreiter or Zucker.

As per Cap Friendly, Dumba and Zucker are both restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Dumba’s developing into a reliable puck-moving rearguard and should get a long-term contract. If Zucker isn’t traded he might only get a one-year deal from the Wild taking him up to unrestricted free agency next summer. 

WHAT NEXT FOR THE DEVILS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan lists adding defensive depth and making decisions on rental wingers (and pending free-agents) Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon among her keys to the New Jersey Devils’ offseason.

Regarding the defense, she notes John Moore is an unrestricted free agent this summer while 35-year-old captain Andy Greene is showing signs of slowing down. Given their salary-cap space for next season, there’s room to make a splash on defense. Grabner was a bust but Maroon did put up 13 points in 17 regular-season games and could be worth re-signing if the money and term are reasonable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have $55 million invested in 17 players for 2018-19, with Stefan Noesen, Blake Coleman and Miles Wood as their notable restricted free agents. Even if they don’t spend to the projected $80 million cap ceiling they have sufficient space to re-sign their key players and perhaps add a top-four defenseman and perhaps a faceoff specialist.

I don’t see them re-signing Grabner. Maroon was disappointing in the playoffs with just one goal in five games. If the Devils are looking for offense they could pursue other options. 

 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – April 21, 2018

Latest on the Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks in your NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE WILD?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports scoring depth and the power play was a problem throughout this season for the Minnesota Wild, who were bounced from the opening round of the 2018 playoffs by the Winnipeg Jets. She also noted general manager Chuck Fletcher faces an uncertain future. His contract expires at the end of this season and the club has failed to advance beyond the second round over the past six seasons. Considering the plethora of injuries the club endured this season, perhaps Fletcher will get another chance.

Kaplan also believes the Wild roster must continue to get younger. Re-signing restricted free agents Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker should be no-brainers.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo also wondered about Fletcher’s future with the Wild. While team owner Craig Leipold was happy with the way the Wild’s regular-season ended, their ghastly finish against the Jets could make him think twice about re-signing Fletcher. Even if he returns as general manager, Fletcher will have to be give an honest evaluation to a roster that isn’t good enough to get past the top teams in the Central Division (Winnipeg and Nashville) or advance beyond the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of who’s in the Wild general manager’s chair, transitioning toward younger talent won’t be easy. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $67 million invested in 22 players for next season. Re-signing Dumba and Zucker could push that to $77 million. Over $22 million is tied up in aging veterans Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, who also carry full no-movement clauses. They’ll likely free up additional cap space by attempting to trade Tyler Ennis ($4.6 million) or buying out the final season of his contract.

Younger forwards Zucker, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle are supposed to be part of the Wild’s core but they were held scoreless by the Jets. If a roster shakeup occurs this summer it could involve one of those guys. The Montreal Canadiens were reportedly interested in Coyle leading up to the trade deadline.  

Drew Doughty insists he wants to remain with the Los Angeles Kings (Photo via NHL Images)

UPDATES ON THE KINGS AND DUCKS

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Chris Zupke reports Kings GM Rob Blake said re-signing defenseman Drew Doughty is his top priority this summer. The 28-year-old blueliner is a year away from qualifying for unrestricted free agent status but the Kings can open contract extension talks with him on July 1. Doughty insists he “always wanted to be an L.A. King and I want to stay an L.A. King.” Zupke notes a new contract for Doughty, who could command far more than his current $7-million annual salary, could impact the Kings’ roster flexibility.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek also reported on Doughty’s desire to stay with the Kings and their hope of re-signing the Norris Trophy nominee. He speculates it could take a deal similar to that of teammate Anze Kopitar (eight years, $10-million annually) to get it done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty’s contract status will be of considerable interest in this summer’s rumor mill. The longer he goes without a contract extension after July 1, the more speculation over his future with the Kings. If they re-sign him it will bite deeply into their cap payroll. The Kings have over $32 million invested in Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown and Dion Phaneuf. Assuming he gets a deal similar to Kopitar’s, they’ll have $42 million tied up in just six players. That will adversely affect efforts to transition toward younger, faster talent. 

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited Elliotte Friedman’s appearance Friday on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 discussing possible moves by the Anaheim Ducks. He doubts they’ll replace general manager Bob Murray but wondered if they’ll look at their coaching staff. They also have to think about their goaltending depth given starter John Gibson’s injury history.

Friedman also wondered if they might approach veteran winger Corey Perry about waiving his no-movement clause for a fresh start elsewhere. Asked by his hosts about Perry playing for the Calgary Flames, Friedman said they could be one of the places where it might work, especially if the Ducks absorbed part of Perry’s $8.6-million cap hit. He thinks Perry might benefit from playing alongside younger, faster players like Paul Stastny has with the Winnipeg Jets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Perry’s willing to accept a trade (and so far that’s a big “if”), the Ducks will either have to pick up part of his cap hit or take back an expensive contract as part of the return. Even so, Perry could be a bit of a tough sell at this point in his career. His production has declined over the past two seasons. Given his age (32), that could dampen his trade value. 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2018

Latest on the Blues, Flames and Wild plus an update on Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.

Should the St. Louis Blues consider trading goaltender Jake Allen? (Photo via NHL Images)

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUES?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes the St. Louis Blues must address their goaltending, find a center for Vladimir Tarasenko’s line and acquire depth scoring.

Starting goalie Jake Allen was inconsistent this season. The Blues hope he’ll rebound next season but Kaplan suggests he might need a change of scenery. The safest bet is re-signing backup Carter Hutton to a one-year contract.

Kaplan suggests the Blues pursue New York Islander center John Tavares if he hits the open market in July. She also proposes the Blues “should be active bidders for any forwards on the market this summer.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The market is thin this summer for good goaltenders via trades or free agency, so I expect the Blues will return with the Allen-Hutton tandem next season.

The Blues were reportedly shopping for scoring help in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, lined to Montreal’s Max Pacioretty and Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman. It remains to be seen if they’ll go after those guys but I do expect them to pursue a scoring forward this summer.

Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $64 million invested in 20 players for 2018-19 with all their core players under contract. Assuming an $80-million salary cap, they could have sufficient room to pursue Tavares if he becomes available and still have enough to fill out the rest of the roster. 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?

THE ATHLETIC: Kent Wilson proposed an eight-point plan for the Calgary Flames to make the most of the offseason. Among his suggestions is finding depth at right wing, making a decision on forward Sam Bennett and find a goaltender capable of splitting time with starter Mike Smith. Regarding Bennett, Wilson feels his trade value could be affected the farther he drifts from his draft year and the promise of being an impactful player. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Right-wing depth was an issue throughout this season for the Flames. The options are very thin via this summer’s free-agent market, with New Jersey’s Michael Grabner as the best of the bunch. They could have better luck via the trade market, perhaps by targeting a club looking to shed salary by packaging Bennett with a top prospect .

They could have better luck via free agency finding a reliable, affordable backup goalie. Options could include Boston’s Anton Khudobin, Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier and St. Louis’ Carter Hutton. 

RECENT WILD SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked if he expected a higher salary-cap ceiling for next season could generate more trade activity and which players were most likely to be moved by the Minnesota Wild. He believes it will be a busy summer for trades. He expects the Montreal Canadiens to be active, pointing out they wanted to do a deal with the Wild before the trade deadline involving forwards Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. “It never really got close, sources say, mostly because the Wild weren’t willing to trade futures or significant players off their roster. The time just wasn’t right then. It very well could be this summer though.”

One reader brought up the Wild’s need to re-sign Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba plus a desire at some point to re-sign Eric Staal, wondering if Charlie Coyle could be their best trade option. Russo considers Coyle, with two years remaining on his contract at $3.2 million per season, to be “very moveable”, as well as perhaps Jonas Brodin, ” who will have three years left at $4.167 million per.”

Russo also doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Wild attempting to move forward Tyler Ennis, possibly by eating part of his cap hit. He also thinks a buyout is possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyle was one of the players the Canadiens were reportedly looking at in the trade market. Maybe they’ll revisit that option with the Wild this summer. Brodin has surfaced in the rumor mill over the past two years but the Wild appear reluctant to move him. Buying out the final year of Ennis’ contract will free up over $2.4 million of cap space for next season. 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not doubting Eronko or his source, but let’s wait and see if the Rangers confirm this. 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – January 24, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – January 24, 2018

Latest on the Canadiens, Predators and Penguins plus updates on Ryan McDonagh, Charlie Coyle, Tyson Barrie and more in your NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is “very active” in the NHL trade market. He’s not looking to rebuild but wants to address the club’s flaws. Other than Carey Price, Shea Weber, Victor Mete and perhaps Jonathan Drouin, Friedman thinks Bergevin is “listening and ready.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun (see below) said Tomas Plekanec’s is the Canadiens’ only notable unrestricted free agent. He said it’s not about selling but Bergevin is open-minded as he talks to teams in hopes of finding ways to fix his roster for next season. In other words, expect the Canadiens to retool for 2018-19, rather than engage in a long-term rebuild. That also means Bergevin isn’t likely to be replaced as general manager. 

Joining the Canadiens on Friedman’s list of teams active in the trade market include Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Rangers, St. Louis, Ottawa and Los Angeles.

The Pittsburgh Penguins could be among the clubs interested in Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Edmonton Oilers center Mark Letestu could also be an option for the Pens. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues could be looking at Senators winger Mike Hoffman. Friedman thinks the Senators have monitored sidelined Blues forward Robby Fabbri, though he’s not saying that’s their choice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, San Jose Sharks and Buffalo Sabres are also believed sniffing around for forward. One of them could also have interest in Hoffman. 

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports he’s recently checked around Boston but they don’t have an appetite to make a big deal. While they might be willing to listen, Dreger feels they’re no urgency on their part looking for areas to improve. The Bruins are loaded with promising youngsters but they’re reportedly unwilling to part with them. If they’re still chugging along at their current pace by the deadline, GM Don Sweeney could stand pat. 

Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle is starting to pop up in the NHL rumor mill (Photo via NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle could be garnering some attention. However, it would take a significant offer to tempt the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyle’s struggled after missing 16 games with a fractured right fibula, but the 25-year-old tallied a career-high 56-points last season. If the Wild are willing to move the 6’3″, 221-pound center, I expect a number of clubs will come calling. 

The Calgary Flames need for a winger might not be as strong as it once was. Micheal Ferland has scored 19 goals, Michael Frolik is getting healthy and there’s increasing hope Kris Versteeg could also be an option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Versteeg could be back by mid-March at the latest. Frolik will be back much sooner than that. With Ferland playing well and Sam Bennett settled in well as third-line left wing, the Flames might not need to go shopping for forward depth at the deadline. 

Clubs seeking a puck-moving defenseman could try to pry Tyson Barrie away from the Colorado Avalanche. They’ve been on a tear while he’s been sidelined by a hand injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Avs have identified the need for a winger and will decide about a week leading up to the trade deadline if they’ll splurge and add one. Perhaps Barrie could be used as trade bait to land such a winger. Then again, they could retain Barrie as insurance in case of injuries down the stretch. They can probably land a rental winger without having to part with a roster player. 

LATEST FROM TSN INSIDERS

TSN: During the latest “Insider Trading” segment, Darren Dreger said the New York Rangers recent slide could have them leaning toward being open for business on the trade front. He expects pending UFA forward Rick Nash and Michael Grabner could be highly-sought after, though it’ll take a lot to acquire Nash and he’s yet to be asked for his 12-team trade list.

Dreger also notes defenseman Ryan McDonagh has come up a lot in recent trade chatter. While Dreger expects a McDonagh trade seems more likely in the summer, GM Jeff Gorton is willing to listen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks recently suggested the Rangers offer up McDonagh to the Toronto Maple Leafs for William Nylander or perhaps dangle the Minnesota native to the Wild. Gorton could listen to offers but if he’s going to move an asset like McDonagh he’ll likely see better trade pitches in the offseason. Anyway, as long as the Rangers remain in playoff contention, they won’t go into sell mode. They’ll have to slide a lot further in the standings for that to happen. 

Pierre LeBrun reports the Nashville Predators have set adding a top-six winger as a priority. However, they’ve yet to make a decision if they’ll get into the bidding for Buffalo’s Evander Kane, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty or Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman. They could wait until after the All-Star break. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price for those players will be youthful assets such as draft picks and either a promising young NHL player or a top prospect. With the Predators considered a Stanley Cup contender this season, perhaps GM David Poile might consider packaging his 2018 first-round pick for one of those forwards. 

Bob McKenzie reports the Detroit Red Wings have let it be known that defenseman Xavier Ouellet is available.