NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 8, 2021

The Rangers and Wild extend their respective win streaks, the Islanders snap a long winless skid, Jason Spezza suspended for six games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers picked up their seventh straight win by dropping the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. Artemi Panarin reached 500 career points with two goals and two assists as the Blueshirts (37 points) moved within a point of the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. Blackhawks forward Jujhar Khaira was stretchered from the ice in the second period following a hit by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. Khaira was taken to a hospital for further testing but Blackhawks coach Derek King said he was up and responsive and wanted to return to the game before he went to the hospital.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot made 38 saves backstopping his club to their seventh straight victory with a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers, handing the latter their third straight loss. Joel Eriksson Ek had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who sit atop the Western Conference with 37 points.

The New York Islanders snapped a 12-game winless skid by beating the Ottawa Senators 5-3. Anders Lee tallied twice for the Islanders while Oliver Wahlstrom had a goal and an assist. Alex Formenton had a goal and an assist for the Senators.

Morgan Rielly collected four assists and Auston Matthews scored twice to extend his goal streak to seven games as the Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two goals for the Jackets. The Leafs played without Jason Spezza after he received a six-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk. Winger Mitch Marner (shoulder) and defenseman Rasmus Sandin (knee) also missed this game. Marner is sidelined for three-four weeks. Sandin’s knee suffered no structural damage but will need time for the swelling to subside.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza had no history of fines or suspension in his NHL career. He reportedly intends to appeal his suspension. He deserved punishment for his dangerous retaliatory hit on Pionk but this seemed unduly harsh given his previously unblemished record.

The Carolina Hurricanes blew a 2-0 lead but rallied to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Carolina defenseman Ian Cole was ejected for a knee-on-knee hit on Jets center Mark Scheifele, who was uninjured. The Jets played without defenseman Neal Pionk, who received a two-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin. Pionk is also in concussion protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pionk had no history of fines or suspensions before this. Leafs fans are wondering why he got just two games while Spezza got six. The fact he was sidelined by a concussion from Spezza’s hit probably factored into it though Sandin was injured by Pionk’s hit in the first place.

Pavel Buchnevich’s overtime goal lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Florida Panthers 4-3. It was a costly win for the Blues as goalie Ville Husso left the game with a lower-body injury and defenseman Jake Walman suffered an upper-body injury. The Blues were already playing without starter Jordan Binnington, who is in COVID protocol. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov scored in his first game since being sidelined on Nov. 16 by a knee injury.

The Anaheim Ducks got a 25-save shutout by Anthony Stolarz to blank the Buffalo Sabres 2-0. Ducks forwards Trevor Zegras made a lacrosse-style pass from behind the net to Sonny Milano for the game-winner. The Sabres have lost five straight while the Ducks (33 points) move within two points of the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division.

Speaking of the Flames, they blew a 3-1 lead to fall 5-3 to the San Jose Sharks. Tomas Hertl led the way for the Sharks with a hat trick while Adin Hill made 40 saves for the win. Struggling Sharks forward Kevin Labanc was a healthy scratch from this game.

Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen and Dante Fabbro each had a goal and two assists to power the Nashville Predators over the Detroit Red Wings 5-2, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. The Predators played without goaltender Juuse Saros and defenseman Mattias Ekholm as both are sidelined by a non-COVID illness.

Two late third-period goals by Corey Perry and Ondrej Palat lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. The Lightning has won four straight games. Nick Suzuki had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens did almost everything right in this game except win. That’s the way this season is going for the hapless Habs. They rarely win even when they play well.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals have canceled today’s practice as part of their extra precautions after three players (Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway and Trevor van Riemsdyk) wound up on COVID protocol. No players tested positive yesterday.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers claimed defenseman Kevin Connauton off waivers yesterday from the Florida Panthers.

SPORTSNET: The Tampa Bay Lightning claimed forward Riley Nash off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers placed forward Brendan Perlini on waivers.

Former NHL goaltender Devan Dubnyk has signed a professional tryout offer with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2021

Updates on Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas while several notable unrestricted free agents could become tryout targets. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek was asked about St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko’s status in a recent mailbag segment. He doesn’t consider the 29-year-old’s contract as untradeable because this summer’s proved there’s no such thing, pointing to Tyler Johnson, Andrew Ladd and Loui Eriksson getting moved for a price.

ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 12: Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues poses for his official headshot for the 2020-2021 season on September 12, 2019 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tarasenko has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million. However, Duhatschek points out the winger will earn $9.5 million in actual salary this season, dropping to $5.5 million next season.

Despite Tarasenko’s trade request, Duhatschek speculates the winger will report to the Blues if he’s not moved when training camp opens next week. He feels the two sides will “make nice” and coexist while his salary-cap dollars click off and teams get an opportunity to evaluate his skill level following his third shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears the window for moving Tarasenko during the offseason has closed. Concerns over his thrice-repaired shoulder and his contract have made teams leery of meeting what could be an expensive asking price from the Blues. Most teams have also invested most of their cap space into the coming season’s rosters.

As Duhatschek points out, things could change quickly and perhaps Tarasenko gets traded before camp opens. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if he spends this season with the Blues and gets traded next summer. Teams will have more cap space and a willingness to take on his lower actual salary for 2022-23.

Jeremy Rutherford reports the contract standoff continues between the Blues and restricted free agent Robert Thomas. The 22-year-old forward is coming off his entry-level deal with little leverage except if he signs an offer sheet with a rival club.

The Blues have almost no cap space left for the coming season. If a team signed Thomas for between $2.055 million and $4.11 million and the Blues declined to match, they’d receive a second-round pick as compensation.

Rutherford suggested the Arizona Coyotes as a possibility. General manager Bill Armstrong knows Thomas well, having drafted him when he was the Blues director of amateur scouting. He also has five second-round picks in next year’s draft. So far, however, there’s no indication Armstrong will make that move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Armstrong doesn’t want to cross his former team. Perhaps he’s not that keen on Thomas. Or maybe he intends to use those picks as trade chips for better options between now and next year’s draft.

As for Thomas and the Blues’ cap situation, they’re expected to place sidelined Oskar Sundqvist on long-term injury reserve to start the season. That’ll give them sufficient room to sign Thomas for perhaps $2 million on a one-year deal. They’ll have to shed salary when Sundqvist returns but other ways could be found to accomplish that. Maybe a deal for Tarasenko will have emerged by then.

NOTE: My original note incorrectly stated Bill Armstrong was related to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. I apologize for any confusion my error may have caused. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Right wing James Neal, center Travis Zajac, and defenseman Jason Demers are among Steven Ellis’ list of 10 noteworthy unrestricted free agents who might get the call for professional tryout offers.

The others include right wing Alex Chiasson, defenseman Sami Vatanen, left wing Alex Galchenyuk, center Tyler Ennis, left wing Nikita Gusev, goaltender Devan Dubnyk and blueliner Erik Gustafsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary has taken its toll on the UFA market. Several of those veterans would’ve landed affordable short-term contracts with NHL clubs by now. Some of them could avoid the PTO route by inking one-year deals for under $1 million. Others, however, could find themselves waiting in vain for any type of NHL offer.










Little Notable Talent Still Available in 2021 NHL Free Agent Market

Little Notable Talent Still Available in 2021 NHL Free Agent Market

Cap Friendly shows slim pickings for talent three weeks after the NHL annual free-agent market opened on July 28. As usual, most of the top players were quickly signed within hours of the market opening, with the remainder snapped up over the next several days.

Several recognizable names remain but almost all are now past their playing prime. With training camps set to open in a little over a month, those still available could end up accepting cheap one-year deals or professional tryout offers in hope of landing a contract.

Still, for teams seeking experienced depth at bargain-bin prices, several noteworthy options remain obtainable.

Tuukka Rask is among several notable players still available in the 2021 NHL free-agent market (NHL Images).

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask is sidelined until the New Year recovering from off-season hip surgery. It’s believed he’s only interested in returning with the Boston Bruins, who could keep a spot open for him. The former Vezina Trophy winner could be worth pursuing later this season if he and the Bruins part ways before the trade deadline.

Devan Dubnyk is still waiting for a contract. The 35-year-old struggled as a backup last season with the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. Still, he could be worth the gamble on a PTO for teams with a young starter seeking an experienced mentor.

Henrik Lundqvist hinted he’d be up to a comeback if he receives medical clearance. Heart surgery sidelined him for all of last season. The 39-year-old “King Henrik” is no longer an elite netminder but could be a worthwhile backup if he gets a clean bill of health.

Defensemen

Zdeno Chara had a good performance last season as a third-pairing defensemen with the Washington Capitals. The 44-year-old future Hall-of-Famer is training in Slovakia and hasn’t made any decisions about this season. He’d bring plenty of experience and leadership to any blueline if he decides to return for one more year.

Jason Demers could be a worthwhile addition for teams seeking an experienced third-pairing right-shot defender. The same goes for Sami Vatanen though his long injury history hurts his value.

Erik Gustafsson’s puck-moving abilities could be useful for teams looking for a power-play specialist on the blue line. Erik Gudbranson’s toughness and leadership keep earning him work despite the decline in his defensive game.

Forwards

Zach Parise, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac and Casey Cizikas are still available but speculation suggests they’ve already been signed by the New York Islanders. It’s believed Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello doesn’t want his rivals to know how much cap space he’s actually got left as rumors persist he’s shopping for a top-six forward.

Assuming those four are off the market, well-known but fading forwards such as Patrick Marleau, Eric Staal, Bobby Ryan and James Neal are available. Other noteworthy forwards among the 30-plus gang include Tyler Bozak, Artem Anisimov, Tyler Ennis, and Alex Chiasson.

Alex Galchenyuk heads the list of younger options in the mid-to-late twenties. There was talk the Toronto Maple Leafs could bring the 27-year-old forward back but it appears he’ll be seeking work elsewhere. Ryan Donato, Dominik Kahun, Riley Sheahan and Jimmy Vesey round out this group.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2021

The Oilers and Bruins clinch playoff berths, Connor McDavid gets closer to 100 points, the players of the week are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice and set up two others as the Edmonton Oilers (64 points) clinched a playoff spot in the Scotia Central Division by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-3. McDavid has 31 goals and a league-leading 91 points on the season. The Oilers are eight points behind the division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re the only two Canadian clubs to secure postseason berths thus far. Canucks forwards Brandon Sutter and Marc Michaelis missed the game with upper-body injuries.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid has six games remaining to reach 100 points for the season.

Montreal Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield tallied his second straight overtime goal in a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Nick Suzuki and Jeff Petry each collected three assists as the Canadiens (57 points) moved into a tie with the third-place Winnipeg Jets. Leafs center Auston Matthews netted his league-leading 39th goal of the season while teammate Nick Foligno left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are getting closer to clinching a playoff spot. They’ve opened a 10-point lead over the fifth-place Calgary Flames.

The Jets, meanwhile, suffered their seventh straight defeat by dropping a 2-1 decision to the Ottawa Senators. Nikita Zaitsev tallied the game-winner for the Sens late in the third period. The Jets still hold third place with three more wins than the Canadiens. Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot left the game with an upper-body injury.

A 20-save shutout by Tukka Rask carried the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils to clinch a playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and an assist as the Bruins moved into third place with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins join the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders in clinching the four playoff berths in the East.

The Capitals (71 points) regained first place in the division by dropping the New York Rangers 6-3 to end the latter’s playoffs hopes. A nagging lower-body injury forced Washington captain Alex Ovechkin from the game within the first minute. The Capitals are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins but hold a game in hand.

Capitals winger Tom Wilson could once again face supplemental discipline for punching Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while Buchnevich was face down on the ice. When Blueshirts winger Artemi Panarin jumped on Wilson’s back to restrain him, the Capitals forward pulled Panarin to the ice by the hair, punched him and slammed him to the ice again. Wilson received a double minor and 10-minute misconduct while Panarin suffered a lower-body injury that could sideline him from his club’s remaining three games.

Speaking of the Penguins, they were upset 7-2 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Joel Farabee each collected three points for the Flyers. Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin collected an assist in his first game since suffering a lower-body injury on March 18. Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced defenseman Mike Matheson is week-to-week with a suspected facial injury.

The Buffalo Sabres upset the New York Islanders 4-2. Michael Houser made 34 saves for the win in his NHL debut while teammate Sam Reinhart scored two goals. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov’s shutout streak ended at 248 minutes as his club slipped to fourth place with 67 points.

A hat trick by Sebastian Aho carried the Carolina Hurricanes over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2, eliminating the latter from playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. The Hurricanes extended their points streak to 11 games and sit atop the division with a league-leading 77 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have a good shot at winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history.

Aleksander Barkov’s overtime goal gave the Florida Panthers a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Stars overcame a 4-2 deficit to force the extra frame with Tyler Segun tallying the game-tying goal in his season debut following offseason hip surgery. The Panthers sit two points behind the Hurricanes with 75 points. The Stars playoff hopes took a hit as they sit four points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

As for the Predators (60 points), Roman Josi’s overtime goal lifted them past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Jackets forced the extra frame on a third-period hat trick by Emil Bernstrom.

Two goals within 26 seconds by Kirill Kaprizov and Jonas Brodin late in the third period powered the Minnesota Wild over the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 6-5. Nick Bonino scored twice and set up another for the Wild (70 points), who remain two points behind the Avalanche in the Honda West Division.

An overtime goal by Andre Burakovsky gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Burakovsky, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each had two points while Evander Kane scored twice for the Sharks. The Avalanche (72 points) are two behind the Golden Knights. Avs goalie Devan Dubnyk missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19 and is expected to miss the next two weeks.

Third-period goals by Robert Bortuzzo and Ryan O’Reilly gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. St. Louis winger David Perron collected an assist for his 600th career point. The Blues (55 points) opened a five-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the division.

The Coyotes’ playoff hopes grew dimmer as the Los Angeles Kings beat them 3-2. Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist to reach 999 career points. Teammate Jonathan Quick left the game after allowing two goals on 19 shots through two periods with an undisclosed injury.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending May 2.










NHL ProteauType: Five NHLers Worth Taking A Chance on In Your Playoff Pool

NHL ProteauType: Five NHLers Worth Taking A Chance on In Your Playoff Pool

 










Evaluating The Notable Trades Before The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline

Evaluating The Notable Trades Before The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline