The Canadiens defeat the Sabres, the three stars of the week are revealed, plus the latest on Taylor Hall, Patrik Laine and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen made 36 saves to backstop his club to a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Brendan Gallagher and Tanner Pearson each had a goal and an assist and Justin Barron tallied his first of the season for the Canadiens as their record improved to 3-1-1. Jeff Skinner replied for the Sabres as they fell to 2-4-0.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens defenseman David Savard left the game in the third period following a solid penalty-killing effort when he blocked two hard shots by Tage Thompson. One of them broke one of Savard’s skate blades but the other struck the blueliner on the left hand. An update on his status could be announced on Tuesday.
NHL.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Alex DeBrincat, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart are the league’s three stars for the week ending October 22, 2023.
THE SCORE: Chicago Blackhawks winger Taylor Hall is once again listed as week-to-week after aggravating a shoulder injury suffered on Oct. 11 against the Boston Bruins. He only missed one game at that time.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Columbus Blue Jackets placed forward Patrik Laine (upper body) on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 20. He suffered the injury after being elbowed in the head by Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson, who is appealing a four-game suspension for the infraction.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Arizona Coyotes announced winger Jason Zucker is week-to-week with a lower-body injury that he suffered during Sunday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.
CAP FRIENDLY: Speaking of the Ducks, they placed defenseman Jamie Drysdale (lower body) on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 15.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils recalled defenseman Cal Foote from their AHL affiliate in Utica and placed forward Tomas Nosek (lower body) on IR.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets head coach Rick Bowness has taken a leave of absence after his wife Judy suffered a seizure on Sunday. She was taken to a hospital where she is undergoing further testing.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins rookie center Matthew Poitras is making the case to stick with the club for the entire 2023-24 season. A second-round pick by the Bruins in the 2022 draft, the 19-year-old Poitras has two goals and an assist in his five games thus far.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins can keep Poitras on the roster for four more games after which they must decide whether to retain him for the entire season or return him to the OHL’s Guelph Storm. If they keep him, his entry-level contract begins on his 10th game of the season.
It makes sense from a salary-cap perspective to return Poitras to the OHL. However, he’s made that decision difficult to justify given his on-ice performance thus far.
TSN: NHL veteran forward Sam Gagner signed a one-year AHL contract with the Bakersfield Condors, who are the minor-league affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers. The 34-year-old has played 1, 015 NHL games with seven NHL clubs including the Oilers. He’s also done previous stints in the AHL with Lehigh Valley, Toronto and Bakersfield.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicated that Gagner is trying to resume his playing career after undergoing season-ending double hip surgery in March. He signed a PTO with the Oilers but didn’t appear in any preseason games as he continues to rehab.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Hitchcock and Ed Belfour were inducted Sunday into the Dallas Stars Hall of Fame. Hitchcock coached the Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999 when Belfour was their starting goaltender. Hitchcock will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November. Belfour was inducted in 2011.
The Oilers and Lightning clinch playoff berths, the first 2023 playoff matchup is set, the Panthers overtake the Penguins in the Eastern wild-card race, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl tallied a hat trick to reach 50 goals for the third time in his career as his club clinched a playoff berth by blanking the Anaheim Ducks 6-0. Jack Campbell made 36 saves for his first shutout with the Oilers while Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist. With a record of 45-23-9, the Oilers hold second place in the Pacific Division with 99 points. Ducks goaltender John Gibson left the game with a lower-body injury as his club fell to 23-42-10 on the season.
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a big day for the Oilers. McDavid and Draisaitl were named the first and second stars of the month for March (Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller was the third star) while goaltender Stuart Skinner was named rookie of the month.
The Tampa Bay Lightning secured a playoff spot thanks to Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 38-save shutout of the New York Islanders. Brayden Point had a goal and two assists for the Lightning (45-26-6) as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 96 points. The Islanders, meanwhile, dropped to 39-29-9 and hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 87 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Point now has 48 goals on the season. Before the game, the Islanders announced that winger Oliver Wahlstrom is officially out for the season with a lower-body injury suffered on Dec. 27.
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov kicked out 31 shots to shut out the Ottawa Senators 3-0. Michael Bunting, William Nylander and Radim Zohorna scored for the 45-20-10 Leafs as they sit in second place in the Atlantic with 100 points. With a record of 37-34-5, the Senators (79 points) are six points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Before the game, they announced center Derick Brassard is out for the season following surgery for a broken fibula.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Lightning and Leafs winning last night, they have officially become the first confirmed playoff match-up in the opening round of the 2023 playoffs, which begins on April 17. They faced each other in the first round last season with the Lightning winning the best-of-seven series in seven games.
A four-goal performance by Carter Verhaeghe powered the Florida Panthers to a 7-0 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Alex Lyon got the shutout with 21 saves while Sam Reinhart and Anthony Duclair each had three points for the 39-31-17 Panthers, who vaulted over the Pittsburgh Penguins into the final Eastern wild-card berth with 85 points. The Blue Jackets dropped to 23-44-8 on the season.
Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the league-leading Boston Bruins. David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to reach 102 points on the season while Pavel Zacha had three assists for the 59-12-5 Bruins (123 points). Bryan Rust scored twice for the Penguins (37-29-10) as they sit one point behind the Panthers.
The Vegas Golden Knights became the first Western Conference team to reach 100 points this season (101) by taming the Minnesota Wild 4-1. Jack Eichel and Chandler Stephenson each had two points as the conference-leading Golden Knights (47-22-7) sit two points ahead of the Oilers in the Western standings. Matt Boldy tallied his 29th goal of the season for the 44-23-9 Wild as they sit atop the Central Division with 97 points.
Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored and added three assists in a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars. Nathan MacKinnon tallied two goals for the 45-24-6 Avalanche as they sit one point behind the Wild in second place in the Central with 96 points. Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski replied for the Stars (41-21-14), who also have 96 points but sit third in the Central as the Avs have a game in hand and four more wins.
The Nashville Predators thumped the St. Louis Blues 6-1 to remain in the race for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Tommy Novak had a goal and three assists and Luke Evangelista had three points for the Predators (38-29-8) as they sit three points behind the Winnipeg Jets with 84 points. Calle Rosen replied for the 35-35-6 Blues, who also lost defenseman Marco Scandella in the second period with a lower-body injury.
A hat trick by Alex Tuch carried the Buffalo Sabres to a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Casey Mittelstadt collected three assists while Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 39 shots for the Sabres (37-31-7) as they sit four points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot with 81 points. Morgan Frost scored twice and Travis Konecny scored in his first game since being sidelined for 16 games by an upper-body injury as the Flyers fell to 29-33-13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, Flyers head coach John Tortorella said center Sean Couturier (back) won’t return this season.
The Carolina Hurricanes maintained their lead in the Metropolitan Division by blanking the Montreal Canadiens 3-0. Antti Raanta had a 14-save shutout while Brady Skjei, Paul Stastny and Sebastian Aho scored for the 48-18-9 Hurricanes (105 points) to hold a one-point lead over the New Jersey Devils. Sam Montembeault made 47 saves for the 30-41-6 Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens announced defenseman David Savard is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury while winger Rafael Harvey-Pinard (day-to-day) was being rested due to minor injuries.
Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in a 6-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Hamilton, Timo Meier, Erik Haula and Jesper Boqvist each had a goal and an assist for the 48-20-8 Devils. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews collected an assist in his first game since being sidelined by long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome on Jan. 28 as his club fell to 24-46-6.
Los Angeles Kings winger Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist as his club held off the Seattle Kraken 3-1. Alex Iafallo collected two assists and Pheonix Copley made 25 saves as the Kings (44-22-10) sit one point behind the Oilers in third place in the Pacific Division with 98 points. Oliver Bjorkstand replied for the 41-26-8 Kraken as they remain three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets in the first Western wild-card position with 90 points.
The San Jose Sharks crushed the Arizona Coyotes 7-2. Noah Gregor scored his first career NHL hat trick while Erik Karlsson had four assists for the 22-39-15 Sharks while the Coyotes dropped to 27-37-13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 95 points in 76 games, Karlsson could become the first NHL defenseman to score 100 points in a season since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.
The Bruins clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, the Golden Knights clinch a playoff berth, the Oilers’ Connor McDavid scores his 300th career goal, the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk reaches 100 points, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins won their fourth Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on an overtime goal by David Pastrnak. Tyler Bertuzzi also scored for the league-leading Bruins (121 points) as they set a franchise record for wins with 58. Jack Roslovic scored for the 23-43-8 Blue Jackets, who played without Adam Boqvist due to an illness.
The Vegas Golden Knights dropped a 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks but gained a point to become the first Western Conference club to clinch a playoff berth. Logan Couture tallied the game-winning goal for the 21-39-15 Sharks. The Golden Knights (46-22-7) sit atop the West with 99 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas center Jack Eichel became the eighth player in NHL history to make his playoff debut after scoring 400-plus regular-season points.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored his 300th career goal while Stuart Skinner kicked out 43 shots to shut out the Los Angeles Kings 2-0. Evander Kane also scored as the Oilers improved to 44-23-9 and moved one point ahead of the Kings into second place in the Pacific Division with 97 points. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 35 shots for the 43-22-10 Kings, who were without winger Kevin Fiala due to a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid set an NHL record by becoming the first player to record five 10-game points streaks in a single season. He’s also the fifth-fastest player to score 300 goals and 500 assists before his 600th career game.
Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk became the fourth player to reach 100 points this season in a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Tkachuk (101 points) tallied a hat trick while Anton Lundell scored twice for the 38-31-7 Panthers (83 points) as they remain one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Canadiens defenseman David Savard missed this game with a lower-body injury while forward Kirby Dach is sidelined for at least a week with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk became the fourth player in NHL history to record 100-plus points in consecutive seasons with two different teams.
Speaking of the Penguins, they maintained their lead over the Panthers by blanking the Nashville Predators 2-0. Tristan Jarry turned in a 28-save shutout while Jason Zucker and Jake Guentzel scored for the 37-28-10 Penguins. Juuse Saros stopped 43 shots for the 37-29-8 Predators (82 points) as they remain three points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
The Ottawa Senators blew a 4-1 lead but recovered to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Alex DeBrincat. Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist while Shane Pinto tallied his 20th goal of the season for the Senators (37-33-5) as they remain five points back of the Penguins with 79 points. Cam York had a goal and an assist and Owen Tippett netted his 23rd of the season for the 29-32-13 Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins and Senators each have seven games remaining. Unless the Pens collapse, the Sens aren’t going to catch them.
First-period goals by Erik Haula and Timo Meier enable the New Jersey Devils to hold off the New York Rangers by a score of 2-1. Chris Kreider replied for the Rangers. The Devils improved to 47-20-8 and widened their lead over the Rangers by four points (102) for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
A goal by Jake Walman with four seconds remaining in the third period gave the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 upset win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Alex Nedeljkovic made 31 saves for the win as the Red Wings improved to 33-32-9 on the season. Jaccob Slavin had a goal and an assist for the 47-18-9 Hurricanes as they sit one point ahead of the Devils in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points. Hurricanes winger Teuvo Teravainen missed this game due to illness.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon tallied twice in a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each had a goal and an assist for the 44-26-6 Lightning as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 94 points. Craig Smith replied for the Capitals (34-33-9) as they fall seven points behind the Penguins with 77 points.
The Seattle Kraken strengthened their hold on the first Western Conference wild-card spot by dropping the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Matty Beniers and Jaden Schwartz each had a goal and an assist for the 41-25-8 Kraken as they hold a five-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets with 90 points. Brock McGinn replied for the 23-42-10 Ducks.
St. Louis Blues winger Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist in a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues (35-34-9) have won six of the last eight games. Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist for the 24-45-6 Blackhawks, who’ve now dropped seven straight games.
DAILY FACEOFF: Marty Walsh, the new executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, spoke with the media yesterday for the first time since taking over from former director Donald Fehr.
Walsh said he recently met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, joking that they’ll have a wonderful relationship as long as Bettman agrees with everything he says. Turning serious, he expressed the hope of working together with Bettman but stressed that he works for the players.
He also addressed his relationship with the Jacobs family, who own the Bruins and donated to his political campaigns. “Supporting my campaign is one thing,” said Walsh. “Using that as a way to leverage me is never going to happen.”
Walsh said he likes the idea of increasing next season’s salary cap by more than $1 million but indicated the players are not interested in increasing their escrow payments to do so. He also said he’ll need some time to consider the next round of collective bargaining that is two and a half years away.
The new PA director is interested in working with the league toward staging a World Cup of Hockey in 2025. He also said that he’s supportive of the LGBTQ-plus community and wants NHL dressing rooms to be inclusive spaces but also supports a player’s individual right to decide whether they’ll wear a Pride warmup jersey. He pointed out that “a super majority” of players have worn the jersey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh addressed other topics but these were the main points of interest. It’s noteworthy that he is willing to discuss raising the cap for next season by more than the agreed-upon rate of $1 million but quickly dismissed the idea of increasing escrow payments, which is what Bettman has said must happen for the rate to rise beyond $1 million.
The players seem fine with playing one more season under a flattened cap. They’re secure in the knowledge that there will be significant cap increases over the remaining two seasons of the current CBA that won’t require increases in escrow.
It’s the team owners and general managers who prefer raising the cap for 2023-24. It’ll be up to them to pressure Bettman into finding another way to raise it that’ll meet with the PA’s approval.
DAILY FACEOFF: The NCAA announced that University of Michigan forward Adam Fantilli and University of Minnesota forwards Logan Cooley and Matthew Knies are the 2023 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as the most outstanding player in NCAA hockey.
Fantilli is eligible for the 2023 NHL draft. Cooley was chosen third overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2022 draft while Knies was taken 57th overall in the 2021 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Bruins are the first team to reach 50 points this season, Alex Pietrangelo returns for the Golden Knights, the once red-hot Devils suffer their fifth straight loss, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins are the first team to reach 50 points this season as they doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2, extending their home points streak to 18 games. David Pastrnak tallied his 20th goal of the season while Jeremy Swayman made 31 saves and narrowly missed scoring an empty-net goal. The Bruins (24-4-2) hold a five-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the overall standings. Patrik Laine had a goal and an assist for the 10-18-2 Blue Jackets.
Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).
Speaking of the Golden Knights (22-10-1), they suffered their fifth straight home loss by dropping a 5-2 decision to the New York Islanders. Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves for the win despite leaving late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. Zach Parise and Brock Nelson each had a goal and an assist as the Islanders improved to 18-13-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returned to the lineup for the first time since taking a leave of absence for personal reasons on Nov. 27. He explained that his four-year-old daughter took ill over the American Thanksgiving weekend resulting in a lesion on her brain that required hospitalization. Her condition has since improved and she is expected to make a full recovery.
In other Golden Knights news, Paul Cotter missed this game and is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Vegas sits first overall in the Western Conference with 45 points. Meanwhile, the Islanders played without Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Palmieri, who are day-to-day with upper-body injuries.
The Florida Panthers dropped the New Jersey Devils 4-2, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Sam Reinhart scored twice and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots as the Panthers improved to 15-13-4. John Marino and Erik Haula replied for the 21-8-2 Devils, who sit second overall in the Eastern Conference with 44 points and a game in hand over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Panthers as captain Aleksander Barkov left the game late in the first period with a possible knee injury.
Washington Capitals defenseman Erik Gustafsson tallied his first career hat trick to lead his club to a 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Sonny Milano collected three assists and Charlie Lindgren made 34 saves as the Capitals move to 16-13-4 on the season. Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist for the Leafs (19-7-6).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals winger T.J. Oshie left this game with an upper-body injury. The Caps were already shorthanded entering this contest with Nic Dowd (lower body) and Hunter Shepard (upper body) on the sidelines.
An overtime goal by Martin Necas lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Dallas Stars 5-4 to extend their points streak to 10 games. Necas, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist as the Hurricanes (18-6-6) moved to within two points of the Devils in the Metropolitan Division. Jason Robertson collected three assists for the 18-8-6 Stars, who sit atop the Central Division with 42 points.
The Winnipeg Jets (20-9-1) moved to within a point of the Stars in the Central with a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Kyle Connor and Sam Gagner each had a goal and an assist while Pierre-Luc Dubois picked up three assists. Bo Horvat replied for the Canucks as they fell to 13-14-3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets played without Blake Wheeler (groin injury) and Nate Schmidt (upper body) as they’re both sidelined for at least a month. Canucks forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser missed this contest with a non-COVID illness.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brandon Hagel scored twice and chipped in an assist as his club dumped the Montreal Canadiens 5-1. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist for the Lightning (20-9-1) as they move to within three points of the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Nick Suzuki replied for the Canadiens (14-15-2) as they fall into the bottom of their division with 30 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson returned to the lineup following a four-game absence with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Habs moved blueliner David Savard to injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 4.
The New York Rangers extended their winning streak to six games with a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Artemi Panarin and K’Andre Miller each had a goal and an assist as the Rangers (17-10-5) sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division with 39 points. Carter Hart made 29 saves for the 10-15-7 Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Flyers placed winger Cam Atkinson on injured reserve. He’s been sidelined the entire season with an upper-body injury.
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators, handing the latter their sixth straight defeat. Alexandar Georgiev made 25 saves for the win as the Avalanche improved to 16-11-2 and sit fourth in the Central Division with 34 points. Matt Duchene scored for the 12-13-4 Predators.
Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson scored his 25th goal of the season in a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Jeff Skinner returned to the Sabres lineup following a three-game suspension and tallied twice. The Sabres (15-14-2) have won three straight. Connor Ingram kicked out 38 shots for the Coyotes as they drop to 10-15-4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes played without Liam O’Brien as they announced earlier in the day that he’s week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
The Anaheim Ducks got a 46-save performance by Lukas Dostal to upset the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. John Klingberg broke a 3-3 tie for the Ducks (9-20-3) after the Oilers (17-14-1)had overcome a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third period. Oilers captain Connor McDavid extended his points streak to 12 games with a goal and an assist.
Special teams made the difference for the Ottawa Senators as they clipped the Detroit Red Wings 6-3, tallying three power-play goals and two short-handed tallies. Alex DeBrincat had three assists as the Senators improved to 14-14-2. Olli Maatta returned to the Red Wings (13-11-6) following a four-game absence due to a non-COVID illness. The Wings have now lost five straight contests.
Shootout goals by Kevin Fiala and Trevor Moore gave the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Phillip Danault and Josh Anderson-Dolan scored for the Kings (17-12-5) while Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc replied for the Sharks as they fell to 10-16-6.
Could the Senators attempt to bring back Erik Karlsson or are there better trade options for them with the Canadiens or Penguins? Should the Leafs target Karlsson or are there better alternatives to address their defense? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
COULD THE SENATORS TRY TO REACQUIRE ERIK KARLSSON?
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Sharks may have had conversations with the Ottawa Senators regarding Erik Karlsson. In 2018, the Senators traded Karlsson to the Sharks, who signed him to an eight-year contract with an average annual value of $11.5 million.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).
Karlsson has never lost his affection for the city of Ottawa and he and his family still maintain a home there. With the 32-year-old defenseman enjoying the best start of his career, Sharks general manager Mike Grier earlier this week indicated he was willing to entertain offers for the blueliner.
Peng points out that trading Karlsson will be difficult given how few teams can afford his contract, which also contains a full no-movement clause. He also noted that Friedman doubted the Senators could afford to do so even if the Sharks agreed to retain 50 percent of Karlsson’s cap hit. That’s because they still want to re-sign winger Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Artem Zub.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grier’s comments combined with Senators GM Pierre Dorion telling reporters he’s still actively shopping for a defenseman prompted some folks to suggest a reunion with Karlsson. If the Sens had more long-term cap space perhaps there would be a possibility, assuming that Karlsson would waive his NMC to return to Ottawa.
The Senators have $21.7 million of cap space for 2023-24 if the cap only rises by $1 million as originally projected with just 10 players under contract. DeBrincat, Zub and Shane Pinto will eat up a big chunk of that cap room as well as pending UFA goaltender Cam Talbot if they attempt to re-sign him. If not, replacing Talbot could also prove to be expensive.
There is also the question of the Sharks’ asking price. They’re not going to just give Karlsson away, especially if they have to retain a portion of his cap hit to facilitate a trade. They’ll want a decent return, perhaps in the form of a package containing a first-round pick, a high-end prospect and a promising young player like Pinto or Jake Sanderson. And if it becomes a three-team trade to spread the cap hit around, that third team will also want a sweetener.
ARE THERE OTHER BLUELINE TRADE OPTIONS FOR THE SENATORS?
TVA SPORTS: Louis Jean wondered why the Senators didn’t attempt to sign David Savard in 2021 when he became an unrestricted free agent. He felt the 32-year-old rearguard would’ve been a perfect complement for Thomas Chabot.
Savard is currently signed with the Montreal Canadiens through 2024-25 with an AAV of $3.5 million. Jean wondered if Dorion might put in a call to Habs GM Kent Hughes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, I suppose, but I don’t see that call taking place. If Dorion wasn’t interested in Savard in 2021, he’s probably not interested now.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently wondered if the Penguins and Senators could become trade partners. In addition to needing defensemen, the Senators could use some help at center with Josh Norris sidelined until at least January with a shoulder injury.
Kingerski suggested Brian Dumoulin and Jeff Carter as short-term options for the Senators since both are slated to become UFAs next summer. Other options could include center Teddy Blueger and defensemen such as Mark Friedman or Ty Smith.
In return, Kingerski suggested the Senators part with Alex Formenton. The Sens have until Dec. 1 to sign the RFA winger or he’ll become ineligible to play in the NHL this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators could be on Dumoulin’s 10-team no-trade list and I don’t see Carter agreeing to waive his no-movement clause to go to Ottawa. If Dorion were interested in the Penguins’ defensemen I believe he’d prefer Marcus Pettersson or Pierre-Olivier Joseph than Friedman or Smith.
LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION
TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos proposed a way for the Maple Leafs to acquire Erik Karlsson. “Could the Leafs get the Sharks to take (Jake) Muzzin’s contract back, retain salary, and build a deal around top prospect Matthews Knies?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Why would the Sharks want Muzzin’s contract? He’s earning a $5.6 million AAV through 2024-25 with a full no-trade clause this season. They could agree to that if the Leafs are taking Karlsson’s full cap hit through 2026-27 off their books, assuming Muzzin agrees to be shipped to the Sharks.
I’m assuming the “retain salary” bit refers to the Sharks’ absorbing part of Karlsson’s $11.5 million AAV. However, if they’re taking on Muzzin’s contract, why would they retain any part of Karlsson’s cap hit? Sorry, I don’t see that happening.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli lists six trade options for the Leafs to replace Muzzin by using his placement on long-term injured reserve to acquire a defenseman.
The Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg tops Seravalli’s list, followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov and the Los Angeles Kings’ Matt Roy. The Seattle Kraken’s Carson Soucy and the Washington Capitals’ Nick Jensen or Dmitry Orlov round out the list. He also suggested keeping an eye on the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those defensemen likely won’t be available until close to the March 3 trade deadline.
Klingberg isn’t a shutdown blueliner like Muzzin so I don’t see him as a good fit for the Leafs. Gavrikov could be a better option but I think the Jackets intend to re-sign him.
Seravalli points out the Kings have a surplus of defensemen and Roy has another year on his contract. However, they could be reluctant to part with him given his adaptability and ability to play big minutes. Seravalli also admitted Soucy might not be available yet given the Kraken have exceeded expectations thus far this season. I agree that he could be an intriguing option if the Kraken are out of playoff contention by March and looking to sell.
The Capitals could go into sell mode if they’re out of a playoff berth before the March trade deadline. However, I see them improving as their injury-ravaged roster gets healthier, which could put Jensen or Orlov out of reach. As for Dumba, his status could depend on where the Wild are in the standings as March approaches.
Seven-goal performances by the Oilers and Leafs during Hockey Day in Canada, Jonathan Huberdeau takes over the scoring race, and Hockey Night in Canada pioneer Ralph Mellanby passes away. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each scored twice as the Edmonton Oilers crushed the Montreal Canadiens 7-2. Evander Kane also scored in his debut with the Oilers (46 points), who have four straight wins and sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad start for Kane with his new club in his first game of the season. Meanwhile, Draisaitl moved into second place in the NHL scoring race with 61 points.
Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting collected a hat track as the Toronto Maple Leafs rolled to a 7-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Toronto tallied five unanswered goals in the third period with Bunting tallying two of them. With 57 points, the Leafs remain in third place in the Atlantic Division, seven points back of the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning.
Speaking of the Lightning, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights on a goal by Mark Stone in the seventh shootout round. The Bolts were down 2-0 but rallied on third-period goals by Ross Colton and Corey Perry. With 65 points, they sit two behind the first-overall Florida Panthers. The Golden Knights (55 points) remain one up on the Anaheim Ducks for first in the Pacific Division.
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).
Jonathan Huberdeau took over the lead in the scoring race with a goal and two assists as the Panthers defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-4 on an overtime goal by Sam Bennett. Jonathan Dahlen tallied twice and Nick Bonino collected three assists for the Sharks, who sit one point out of the final Western wild-card berth with 47 points.
The Carolina Hurricanes (62 points) moved one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into first place in the Metropolitan Division by nipping the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Antti Raanta made 24 saves in his first game since Jan. 1 while teammates Jordan Martinook and Andrei Svechnikov scored. Jesper Boqvist replied for the Devils.
Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom needed just 15 saves to extend his league-leading shutouts for this season to seven in a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Johnny Gaudreau netted the winner in overtime while Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko turned aside 31 shots. The Canucks picked up a point to sit four back of the Flames (48 points) for that final Western wild-card spot.
The Winnipeg Jets (43 points) picked up a big win by beating the St. Louis Blues 4-1 as they snapped a six-game losing skid to sit five points back of the Flames. Paul Stastny scored two goals while goalie Eric Comrie made 28 saves for the win. The Blues (57 points) sit one back of the second-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.
Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry potted his 25th goal of the season and John Gibson stopped 44 shots in a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Rickard Rakell also scored for Anaheim while Tyler Ennis replied for the Senators. With the win, the Ducks (54 points) move one point behind the Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.
An overtime goal by Scott Laughton lifted the Philadelphia Flyers over the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 to snap their 13-game losing skid. Flyers winger Cam Atkinson scored twice and collected an assist while Viktor Arvidsson tallied two goals for the Kings, who sit three points back of the Ducks in third place in the Pacific.
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson made 27 saves in his first game since Nov. 2 to backstop his club over the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.
TSN: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price skated in full equipment for 10 minutes during practice yesterday but didn’t face any shots. He’s still recuperating from offseason knee surgery. Canadiens goalie coach Eric Raymond said Price is looking forward to returning to action later this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on when Price will be back. His return won’t save the Canadiens’ dreadful season.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Paul Byron is expected to make his season debut tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets following offseason hip surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have missed his two-way experience and leadership this season.
SPORTSNET: Canadiens defenseman David Savard will miss the next eight weeks with an injured right ankle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been that kind of season for the Habs. Injuries have decimated their lineup and contributed to their woeful performance.
SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators center Josh Norris is likely sidelined by a shoulder injury until after the All-Star break.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a tough week for the Senators, losing their leading goal scorer in Norris (18 goals) and their points leader in Drake Batherson (34 points) earlier in the week.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks center Kirby Dach removed social media from his phone back in December to get away from the noise and pressure he felt from fans. “Obviously you miss out on news, what’s going on and stuff cause that’s how you get it nowadays but I’ve enjoyed it. I like the break from it,” said Dach.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars owner Tom Gaglardi admitted he’s felt frustrated by his club’s inconsistent performance this season. Nevertheless, he’s preaching patience over the second half of the season and prefers not to make midseason changes. He also remains confident that his coaching staff and management can find a way into the playoffs.
TSN: Canadian sports broadcasting pioneer Ralph Mellanby has passed away at age 87. He was the creative force behind CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada as its executive producer from 1966 to 1987. He introduced new camera angles in arenas, slow-motion replays, telestrators and on-air graphics to Hockey Night broadcasts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mellanby helped make Hockey Night in Canada a sports institution in Canada. My condolences to his family, friends and broadcast colleagues.