NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, speculation on how the Wild might make room to re-sign Kevin Fiala plus a look at what might be in store for the Sharks under a new general manager.

DAILY FACEOFF: Chris Gear recently examined ways for the Minnesota Wild to escape their salary cap hell following 2021-22 when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter bite deeply into their payroll for the next three seasons. The most immediate effect will be felt in the club’s efforts to sign winger Kevin Fiala to a new contract.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

Fiala, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. He’s completing a one-year, $5.1 million deal and is enjoying a career-best performance with 61 points in 69 games.

Gear speculates it could cost the Wild $6.5 million to sign Fiala. He wondered if they might part with Jordan Greenway or Marcus Foligno or perhaps consider moving defenseman Matt Dumba or winger Mats Zuccarello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild GM Bill Guerin knew full well he was putting his club into a cap crunch over the next three years when he bought out Parise and Suter. I daresay he’s got several options in mind to address this issue for next season.

Guerin could simply trade Fiala this summer if unable to reach an agreement with the winger on a new contract and use the savings to invest in younger, cheaper talent. Otherwise, he’ll have to make a cost-cutting deal or two to keep Fiala in the fold. Greenway or Foligno would be easiest to move given their affordable contracts and lack of no-trade protection.

Dumba’s been a fixture in the rumor mill over the past two seasons. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While he should draw interest in the trade market, his $6 million cap hit and 10-team no-trade clause are potential stumbling blocks.

Zuccarello also carries a $6 million annual average value and a full no-movement clause. However, the no-trade portion becomes modified after this season to a 10-team no-trade list. Nevertheless, teams could be reluctant to take on a 34-year-old winger with two years remaining on his contract.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks will conduct an extensive external search for a new general manager after Doug Wilson announced yesterday he’s stepping down for health reasons. They intend to take their time as several candidates might not be available until the summer.

Ownership has faith in the current management to handle the draft and free agency until a suitable replacement for Wilson is found. They’re not interested in a full rebuild and that could affect which candidates are interested in the job.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng also noted the Sharks’ unwillingness for a full rebuild, pointing to their recent signing of Tomas Hertl to an eight-year contract extension. He also believes the reason they’re not handing the role to assistant GM Joe Will, noting they’re seeking an infusion of new ideas as well as different types of candidates. Will also didn’t deny interest in the job.

Peng also thinks Bob Boughner’s job as head coach remains safe for now. That could depend on who eventually takes over for Wilson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Will did a good job filling in for Wilson. He re-signed Hertl, terminated Evander Kane’s contract and acquired promising goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen before the trade deadline. If he doesn’t end up with the GM job, he’ll likely remain in the front office as assistant GM.

The Sharks have several aging stars carrying expensive contracts that could prove difficult to move. With ownership uninterested in rebuilding, Wilson’s replacement will have to find suitable players to incorporate with those veterans in order to build a serious playoff contender.

As noted in yesterday’s rumor mill, the Sharks could trim some payroll to make room for younger talent. Kahkonen’s addition means James Reimer or Adin Hill will be shopped this summer. They could attempt to move Kevin Labanc and his $4.75 million cap hit or Radim Simek and $2.25 million annual average value.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2022

Auston Matthews reaches two goal-scoring milestones, the Hurricanes clinch a playoff berth, Roman Josi sets a Predators record, Doug Wilson steps down as Sharks GM, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice, including the winning goal in overtime, as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Dallas Stars 4-3. William Nylander had two points for the Leafs, who hold a five-point lead over the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division with 98 points. Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson each had two points for the Stars (82 points), who hold a two-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews broke the Leafs’ single-season goal-scoring record with his 55th goal while his 56th set the league record for most goals in a season by an American-born player. At this point, it’s a matter of when, not if, Matthews reaches the 60-goal plateau. He could reach 65 goals before the season ends.

The Carolina Hurricanes became the third team to clinch a playoff berth with a 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Jordan Staal scored twice as Carolina overcame a 3-2 deficit with three unanswered third-period goals. Sebastian Aho also tallied two goals for the Hurricanes, who hold a two-point lead over the New York Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division with 100 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sadly for the Sabres, they set an NHL record by missing the playoffs for the 11th straight season.

Roman Josi collected three assists to lead the Nashville Predators over the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Josi set Nashville’s single-season franchise record with 87 points. Matt Duchene scored his 37th goal of the season for the Predators as they sit two points up on the Stars in the first Western wild-card spot with 86 points. Senators forward Tim Stutzle missed this game with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Josi is running away with the scoring races for defensemen, sitting 12 points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar. With 12 games remaining in the season, the Predators’ captain has a legitimate shot at becoming the first blueliner to reach 100 points since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to 15 games in a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Evan Bouchard has a goal and two assists for the Oilers (89 points) as they sit six points behind the first-place Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division. Kings forward Trevor Moore had a goal and an assist as his club remains three points behind the Oilers.

The Flames meanwhile got two goals from Elias Lindholm and a three-point performance from Matthew Tkachuk to double up the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Lindholm has 38 goals on the season and Tkachuk 34 while Dan Vladar got the win with a 31-save performance. Sharks netminder James Reimer left the game with an injury in the third period.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin stopped 30 shots to shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0. Mika Zibanejad picked up two assists as the Rangers sit two points behind the first-place Hurricanes in the Metro Division. Sidney Crosby, John Marino and Radim Zohorna missed this game with undisclosed illnesses as the Penguins are six points behind the Rangers.

The Vancouver Canucks kept their playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson each had three-point performances while Jaroslav Halak kicked out 27 shots for the Canucks (78 points), who sit six points behind the Stars for that final wild-card spot in the West.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have no room for error now as the Stars hold two games in hand.

Seattle Kraken netminder Philipp Grubauer had a 29-save shutout to blank the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0. Alex Wennberg and Jordan Eberle were the goal scorers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During the first TV timeout, the Blackhawks announced they will retire Marian Hossa’s No. 81 in 2022-23. Earlier in the day, Hossa signed a one-day contract to officially retire as a Blackhawk. He will become the eighth player in franchise history to have his number retired.

The Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 7-4 to pick up their first regulation win over the Devils since January 2017. Christian Dvorak, Chris Wideman and Kale Clague each had a goal and two assists. Jesper Bratt and Tomas Tatar both had a goal and an assist for the Devils.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Martin Jones turned aside 26 shots and Travis Sanheim had two assists in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Philadelphia winger Cam Atkinson was held scoreless in his first game in Columbus since being traded to the Flyers last summer.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Doug Wilson announced yesterday he is stepping down as general manager of the San Jose Sharks after 19 seasons. Under his management, the Sharks reached the playoffs 14 times. He is currently on medical leave but hopes to continue his NHL career in the future. Wilson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During Wilson’s tenure as general manager, the Sharks topped the Pacific Division five times, won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2009, reaching the Western Conference Finals four times and the Stanley Cup Final in 2016. He was responsible for drafting such notable Sharks as Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and acquiring Joe Thornton and Brent Burns via trades. Best wishes to Wilson for a full recovery.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba will not play in tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues with an apparent shoulder injury. However, he remains with the club on their current road trip.

TSN: Former Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television at the 2022 Canadian Screen Awards show. Cole joined the CBC in 1969 and called his final game in 2019. He received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Cole for this recognition of his outstanding work over his long career.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 27, 2021

Alex Ovechkin reaches another goal-scoring milestone, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Joe Pavelski each reach career benchmarks, Kirill Kaprizov leads the Wild to a lopsided victory, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied the 28th hat trick of his career as his club held off the Florida Panthers 4-3. Ovechkin is now tied with Bobby Hull and Marcel Dionne for the sixth-most hat tricks in NHL history. He’s also one goal shy of tying Dave Andreychuk’s record for the most career power-play goals (274). Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had three points for the Capitals. The Panthers played without Anthony Duclair as he was a late scratch with a lower-body injury and considered day-to-day.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Joe Pavelski reached the 400 career goal plateau by scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger left the game in the second period following a collision with Avalanche forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel but returned for the third period. The Stars (9-7-2) have won five of their last six games. Cale Makar netted the only goal for the Avalanche.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 17 saves for his 200th career win and his second straight shutout to blank the Seattle Kraken 3-0. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s first goal of the season was the game-winner while Steven Stamkos netted his 11th goal of the season.

Kirill Kaprizov scored and set up three others as the Minnesota Wild romped to a 7-1 thumping of the Winnipeg Jets, handing the latter their fifth straight loss and chasing Connor Hellebuyck from the Jets net after he gave up four goals on 14 shots. Mats Zuccarello scored two goals and Kevin Fiala collected two assists.

Artemi Panarin broke a 2-2 tie in the third period as the New York Rangers tallied three unanswered goals on route to a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins. Panarin and Bruins winger Brad Marchand each received misconduct penalties in the final seconds of the game after an exchange of words between the benches led to the Rangers winger throwing one of his hockey gloves at Marchand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks cited two sources claiming Marchand invoked Russian president Vladimir Putin and said no Russian players like Panarin. It’s believed the club has contacted the league about Marchand’s remarks.

Panarin took a leave of absence from the Rangers last season to deal with allegations made by one of his former Russian coaches claiming he assaulted a woman in Latvia a decade ago. The coach has close ties to Putin, whom Panarin had singled out for criticism in the past. The allegations were eventually revealed to be unfounded.

The Anaheim Ducks got a 34-save shutout performance from Anthony Stolarz in a 4-0 win over the Ottawa Senators, handing the Sens (4-13-1) their 10th loss in their last 11 games. Rickard Rakell and Trevor Zegras each had two points while Troy Terry netted his 13th goal of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Senators goaltender Matt Murray was a healthy scratch and is expected to be placed on waivers later today. The move is seen as a “wake-up call” for Murray, who hasn’t performed up to expectations this season.

Garrioch reports there are teams struggling between the pipes this season (Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres) who could use an experienced starter. However, Murray’s $6.25 million cap hit makes it unlikely he’ll be claimed.

The Toronto Maple Leafs picked up their eighth win in their last nine contests by downing the San Jose Sharks 4-1. John Tavares and William Nylander each had a goal and an assist while Joseph Woll kicked out 34 shots for the win. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced general manager Doug Wilson is taking a temporary medical leave from the club to deal with a non-COVID-related illness.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Wilson for a quick and full recovery.

A four-goal second period powered the Carolina Hurricanes over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3. Sebastian Aho scored two goals and Jesperi Kotkaniemi had a goal and an assist as the Hurricanes set a franchise record for requiring the fewest games (19) to reach 15 season-opening wins. The Flyers have dropped five in a row.

An overtime goal by Alex DeBrincat set up by Patrick Kane lifted the Chicago Blackhawks over the St. Louis Blues 3-2. The Blackhawks (7-11-2) were down 2-0 but rallied back on goals by Jujhar Khaira and Brandon Hagel. The Blues have now lost seven of their last nine contests.

Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi had a goal and an assist as his club doubled up the New Jersey Devils 4-2. Josi now has 20 points in as many games this season. Andreas Johnsson also had a goal and an assist for the Devils, who have lost five of their last six.

Tristan Jarry turned aside 25 shots and Kasperi Kapanen scored the only goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins shut out the New York Islanders 1-0 to pick up their fifth straight win. The Islanders (5-10-2) have lost eight straight.

A 39-save effort by Elvis Merzlikins gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Jack Roslovic scored the tie-breaker in the third period for the Jackets (12-6-0) while the Canucks’ record sinks to 6-13-2.

The Buffalo Sabres broke a four-game losing skid with a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Tage Thompson tallied two goals for the Sabres (8-10-2). The Canadiens (5-14-2) are 1-9-1 on the road this season. Earlier in the day, the Sabres placed forward Drake Caggiula on injured reserve.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2021

Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa are among the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inducted on Monday, COVID-19 derails the Senators schedule, Alex Ovechkin tops the three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa were among the six inductees of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 on Monday. Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson were the other notable former NHL players to be inducted. Canadian women’s hockey star Kim St. Pierre was also inducted into the players’ category while Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland was inducted into the builders’ category.

Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa and Kevin Lowe are among the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the HHoF Class of 2020. Their induction ceremony was delayed a year due to COVID-19. The pandemic also meant there would be no inductees for 2021 as the decision was made to allow last year’s class to enjoy the same ceremony as those of previous classes.

OTTAWA SUN: The NHL has postponed the Senators’ three games this week due to the outbreak of COVID-19 that has sidelined 10 players and assistant coach Jack Capuano. The expectation is the Senators will return to action next Monday against the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is the first major North American sports league to postpone games this season. This recent outbreak among the Senators reached the point where the club depleted their AHL affiliate calling up replacements. The San Jose Sharks endured a recent outbreak that sidelined seven players and head coach Bob Boughner but it didn’t reach the point where they could no longer call up replacements from the minors.

Everyone on the Senators and Sharks was fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Breakthrough infections, however, can still occur, especially among athletes in close contact with each other despite protocols to limit the spread. The NHL’s protocols had been loosened for this season as COVID restrictions eased throughout North America.

The Senators will make up those postponed games at later dates. Whether this leads to any tightening of the NHL’s COVID protocols remains to be seen.

Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 14, 2021.

GAME RECAPS

Brayden Point had a goal and an assist and Victor Hedman collected two assists to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders, handing the latter their third straight loss. The Lightning has won six of their last 10 games while the Islanders (5-5-2) sit at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been an uneven start for the Isles. They were projected to be a Stanley Cup contender after reaching the Eastern Conference Final in 2020 and the semifinal last season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-3. Yegor Chinakhov tied the game for the Jackets with his first career NHL goal and Zach Werenski tallied the game-winner. Red Wings forwards Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond each had a goal and an assist.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Two days after returning from injury, Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis is once again sidelined by a lingering lower-body injury. His status is listed as week-to-week.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche forward J.T. Compher will be sidelined for approximately a month with an upper-body injury.

WASHINGTON POST’s Samantha Pell reports Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby won’t face supplemental discipline for throwing Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary into the boards during Sunday’s game.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights forward William Carrier entered COVID protocol while defenseman Alec Martinez remains sidelined after suffering a facial laceration requiring 50 stitches in last Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Coyotes forwards Christian Fischer and Dmitrij Jaskin were placed on injured reserve while Johan Larsson entered COVID protocol.

TSN: The St. Louis Blues placed forward Kyle Clifford on waivers.