NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2020

What next for the Flames, Capitals and Blue Jackets now that their postseason is over? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLAMES

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered about the future of Johnny Gaudreau following yet another disappointing early playoff exit by the Calgary Flames. The 27-year-old winger’s been the subject of trade speculation throughout this season as he put up his lowest offensive output since his rookie season.

Could the Calgary Flames shop Johnny Gaudreau in the offseason? (NHL Images)

It’s been speculated Gaudreau, a New Jersey native, could be peddled to an East Coast team. There’s also a theory the Flames could trade away “Johnny Hockey” to make room for Arizona Coyotes winger (and Calgary native) Taylor Hall.

With notable coaches such as Bruce Boudreau, Peter Laviolette, and Mike Babcock available, Wyshynski pondered the future of Flames interim bench boss Geoff Ward. He also wondered which of their notable UFAs (goalie Cam Talbot, blueliners T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic) will be back.

CALGARY SUN: Kristen Anderson and Wes Gilbertson wondered if changes could be coming to the Flames’ core forwards like Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and Sam Bennett. Gilbertson also mused over whether it’s time for general manager Brad Treliving to test Gaudreau’s trade value or make a change at center by trading Sean Monahan or dropping him to the second line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think a shakeup is coming and it could be Gaudreau on the move. A year ago, I considered that unthinkable. Not now. He seemed off-kilter until midseason and wasn’t much of a force in this postseason. As Gilbertson pointed out, he didn’t have an even-strength goal during the series with the Stars.

Despite Gaudreau’s struggles this season, he’s the Flames’ best trade chip. They aren’t moving Monahan because first-line centers are difficult to find. Spark plug Matthew Tkachuk isn’t going anywhere. I expect they’ll hang onto Bennett. He’s a versatile checking-line forward who elevates his play in the postseason. Backlund could be shopped but won’t fetch as strong a return as Gaudreau.

Dump Gaudreau to sign Hall? Stranger things have happened but Hall did little to raise his UFA stock this season. Maybe he’d regain his 2018 Hart Trophy form in Calgary but he would be an expensive gamble.

CAPITALS

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined some possible off-season moves by the Washington Capitals. It appears long-time starting goaltender and pending UFA Braden Holtby has played his final game for the Caps. Their blueline could use some help but they have limited salary-cap space. Kaplan also wondered about the fate of head coach Todd Reirden.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Barry Svrluga wondered if the Capitals’ early playoff departure suggests a team in decline or perhaps the interruption of the season by COVID-19 skewed the results. He points out most of their core players are now in their thirties, took note of Holtby’s expected departure and wondered about Reirden’s fate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Replacing the coach is easier than replacing the roster, and there’s some justification for a change behind the Capitals bench after Reirden got schooled in the Isles series by former Washington coach Barry Trotz. The Caps remain a talented team but most of their stars don’t have many good years left. 

Holtby’s departure is a foregone conclusion. His performance declined over the last couple of years. Ilya Samsonov had a promising debut season and will be their starter for the foreseeable future.

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $71.1 million invested in 16 players. There’s a chance they’ll re-sign Brenden Dillon but he could cost over $4 million annually. RFA Jonas Siegenthaler will get an affordable bridge deal coming off his entry-level deal. That won’t leave much to bolster their blueline depth.

BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports of rumors Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could be preparing for some big off-season moves to bolster his forward lines.

Portzline believes their priority should be adding a top-six center. He feels the Jackets’ GM could draw from his blue-line depth for trade bait, suggesting David Savard as a candidate. RFA winger Josh Anderson could be another. With Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins as bonafide starters, the Jackets could get calls from clubs seeking help in goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen showed a willingness to make significant moves leading up to the 2019 trade deadline. With his club in dire need of scoring punch, I expect he’ll swing a trade or two to address that need. Several clubs with limited salary-cap space could be looking to shed a high-salaried talent for a more affordable option.

As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $76 million invested in 23 players, with center Pierre-Luc Dubois due for a raise coming off his entry-level contract. He lacks arbitration rights so Kekalainen could ink him to an affordable short-term bridge deal with the promise of a more lucrative contract afterward.

If Kekalainen seeks impact forwards, he’ll have to move salaried players too. He could get $5.85-million in cap flexibility if sidelined forward Brandon Dubinsky starts the season on long-term injury reserve.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2020

Jets eliminated from the qualifying round in today’s recaps of Thursday’s games, the date for Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery is revealed, and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets became the second team eliminated from the qualifying round as they were blanked 4-0 by the Calgary Flames in Game 4 on Thursday night. Cam Talbot turned in a 31-save shutout, Dillon Dube scored the eventual game-winner while Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A dominating physical performance by the Flames over the shorthanded Jets, whose fate was sealed when scoring forwards Mark Scheifele (Achilles tendon) and Patrik Laine (wrist) were sidelined in Game 1. The Jets remain eligible to win Phase 2 of the upcoming NHL Draft Lottery and the chance to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.

Columbus Blue Jackets’ center Pierre-Luc Dubois’ hat trick (including the game-winner) completed his club’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit to down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime. The Jackets hold a 2-1 series lead and can wrap things up later today in Game 4. The Jackets’ fortunes turned after pulling goalie Joonas Korpisalo in the second period for Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped all 21 shots he faced from the Leafs.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs seemingly had this game well in hand but, as we saw during the regular season, their lack of defensive depth once again proved to be their undoing. Dubois was a one-man wrecking crew but his teammates also stepped up as the Jackets outshot the Leafs 37-27 from the second period onward.

The Vancouver Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 to take a 2-1 lead in their qualifying series. Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves for the shutout, Quinn Hughes collected three assists, and Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Four of the Canucks’ best players came through in this physical contest with the Wild. They’ll have a chance to finish this series later today.

Three unanswered third-period goals gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues in round-robin play. Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore each scored twice for Vegas while Colton Parayko tallied two goals for the Blues.

Scott Laughton’s two goals powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Washington Capitals 3-1 in round-robin play. Laughton and teammate Kevin Hayes each had three points. Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was benched for most of the third period.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on Monday, Aug. 10 at 6 pm ET to complete the order of the top 15 selections. The winner will get the first-overall selection.

CBS SPORTS: Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (leg) skipped practice yesterday but is expected to be in the lineup today for Game 4 of his club’s qualifying-round series with the New York Islanders. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.

Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (undisclosed) skated yesterday at practice, raising speculation he could be in the lineup for Game 4 later today against the Nashville Predators. The Coyotes lead the series 2-1.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis is sidelined indefinitely with a suspected leg injury. The Oilers are down 2-1 in their series with the Chicago Blackhawk with Game 4 set for later today.

Montreal Canadiens winger Jakes Evans is doubtful for Game 4 today against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered a suspected upper-body injury in Game 3 on Wednesday. The Canadiens lead the series 2-1.

NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton has resumed practicing with his teammates after missing their entire qualifying-round series with the New York Rangers. He’s hoping to return to action in their first-round playoff series next week.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed defenseman Jacob Larsson to a two-year, $2.4-million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.2 million.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, recaps of Wednesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin,  Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Micheal Ferland, and more.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jeff Petry scored his second game-winning goal as the Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3, taking a 2-1 lead in their qualifying-round series. Habs captain Shea Weber led the way with a goal and two assists.

 

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens seemed done like dinner midway through the second period. They’re now poised to eliminate the Penguins in Game 4 on Friday. And speaking of potential upsets…

The Chicago Blackhawks got two unanswered third-period goals by Matthew Highmore and Jonathan Toews to nip the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and take a 2-1 lead in their qualifier. Toews finished the game with two goals while teammate Corey Crawford made 25 saves to become the 20th goaltender in NHL history to record his 50th career playoff win. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another for the Oilers. Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson was unfit to play while Oilers winger Tyler Ennis left the game in the second period with an apparent leg injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bounces went the Blackhawks’ way as Highmore’s goal was a deflection from a point shot while Toews’ deflected shot bounced in off an Oilers’ defenseman. They’re now poised to eliminate the Oilers if they win Game 4 on Friday.

The Boston Bruins won’t be the top seed in the 2020 playoffs after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning in round-robin play. Tyler Johnson tallied the winning goal late in the third period. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 32 saves in his return to action after being unfit to play in their first round-robin game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the first time in NHL history the season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner won’t be the top seed in the playoffs. The Bruins are 0-2 in round-robin play. While they are guaranteed a playoff spot, they risk drawing a tougher first-round opponent the lower they sink in the round-robin seedings.

The Florida Panthers avoided elimination by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Third-period goals by Mike Hoffman and Brian Boyle broke a 1-1 tie while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the win. A rare penalty by Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov for playing the puck beyond the trapezoid behind his net led to Hoffman’s power-play goal. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Panthers’ first postseason victory since the 2016 playoffs. It certainly came at the right time. They also shook up their lineup yesterday, scratching Mike Matheson and Frank Vatrano after their disappointing performances in the first two games.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Conor Garland, Taylor Hall, and Carl Soderberg lifted the Arizona Coyotes over the Nashville Predators 4-1. The Coyotes hold a 2-1 series lead. Darcy Kuemper enjoyed a bounce-back effort in this contest with a 39-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes weathered the first-period onslaught from the Predators and opened the scoring on their first shot of the game. They finally got some productions from Hall and Garland, who’d been held goalless in the first two games.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz kicked out 27 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0 in round-robin action. Cale Makar tallied the game-winner while Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were without starting goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman John Klingberg in this game. Both were declared unfit to play. Under league protocols, no reason was given for their absence, but it doesn’t appear as though it’s COVID-related.

HEADLINES TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin won’t be available for the remainder of his club’s qualifying-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was injured in Game 2 and taken to hospital with what appeared to be a head or neck injury. Muzzin was released yesterday and returned to the Leafs hotel within the safety zone and will remain in quarantine until cleared. Martin Marincin will replace him in the lineup for today’s match with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois won’t face supplemental discipline for the hit that sent Muzzin to hospital after colliding awkwardly with Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstand.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets aren’t ruling out Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine for Game 4 of their qualifier with the Calgary Flames later today. Both players have been sidelined since Game 1. The Flames hold a 2-1 series lead and could wrap it up with a win today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets need some help following a dispiriting loss in Game 3. They also need Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor to start cashing in or this series will be over later tonight.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland is out of action and has returned to his home in Brandon, Manitoba. He’s been declared “unfit to play”, raising speculation it’s tied to the concussion symptoms that sidelined him for most of this season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Lars Eller returned to Washington to be with his wife as she gives birth to their second child. He’ll rejoin his teammates following a period of quarantine and testing in the first round of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: A report from a Swedish media outlet indicates winger Oskar Lindblom will be traveling to the Toronto bubble to join his Philadephia Flyers teammates. He missed the bulk of this season battling a rare form of bone cancer and finished his treatment on July 2. He could return to action in September if the Flyers are still in the playoffs by then.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl has resumed skating for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in January.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi has re-signed a one-year contract with Finland’s Karpat. It’s believed the deal contains an out-clause should Puljujarvi return to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports suggest the relationship between Puljujarvi and the Oilers has improved after he spent last season in Finland. With the NHL tentatively planning a full 82-game schedule in December, it makes sense for him to get in some meaningful playing time in Finland before NHL camps open in November.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The general managers of the seven non-playoff teams have submitted a proposal to the league allowing their clubs a two-week mini-camp before training camp for all clubs open in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a reasonable proposal. Those teams haven’t played since the regular season was derailed in mid-March and they’re now amid an unusually long off-season.  










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2020

Ted Lindsay Award nominees announced, exhibition and Stanley Cup qualifying round schedules revealed, plus the latest on Johnny Gaudreau, Shea Weber, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHLPA.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the 2020 finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, presented annually to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is among the finalists for the 2019-20 Ted Lindsay Award (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All are worthy finalists. They could also be in the running for the Hart Memorial Trophy. The finalists for that award will be announced on July 21.

NHL.COM: The league released its schedule of exhibition games and the Stanley Cup qualifiers schedule for Phase 4 of its return-to-play plan. All Western Conference games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton and all Eastern Conference games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

SPORTSNET: Johnny Gaudreau’s separation from his linemates and the main group during the opening two days of the Calgary Flames’ training camp is raising eyebrows. Flames coach Geoff Ward claimed the move was due to “circumstances that became apparent last week.” He declined to elaborate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first-line winger continues to participate in the Flames’ practices with a smaller group, and Ward suggested he could be reunited with his linemates at some point. The NHL’s tight controls over the players’ medical status could cause imaginations to run wild over Gaudreau’s situation. If he were suffering COVID-19 symptoms, he wouldn’t be at practice. Perhaps he’s nursing a recent injury.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber was “unable to practice” yesterday but took to the ice afterward with assistant coach Luke Richardson for some individual work. Canadiens coach Claude Julien anticipates Weber will return to practice on Wednesday.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois missed practice yesterday with what is believed to be a minor issue. Because of the league’s return-to-play rules, the team didn’t provide details.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko returned to the ice yesterday with his teammates after missing the first day of training camp. Teammate Robert Bortuzzo remained absent. Both are believed to have recently tested positive for COVID-19. Blues coach Craig Berube expects Bortuzzo will return soon.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals forwards Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin intend to leave the protective bubble during the playoffs to be with their expectant wives. Eller’s wife is due to give birth on Aug. 8 while Hagelin’s spouse is due in September. Both players must isolate and test negative for four consecutive days before returning to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players are allowed to leave and return to the host cities for family reasons.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan missed practice yesterday for a family emergency. Teammate Corey Crawford remains “unfit to play” for the second straight day.

WGR550.COM: Buffalo Sabres winger Michael Frolik has reportedly received a contract offer from KHL team Avangard Omsk. The 32-year-old is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed winger Troy Terry to a three-year, $4.35-million contract extension. Terry, 22, is completing his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Terry is among several promising youngsters the Ducks hope to rebuild around over the next several years. He’s tallied eight goals and 28 points in 81 games over the past three seasons.

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks signed prospect defenseman Jack Rathbone to an entry-level contract.

SPORTSLOGO.NET: cites The Athletic reporting the Ottawa Senators will be switching to a slightly modified version of the 2d Senator Head logo they wore from 1997 to 2007.










2020 NHL Free Agent Class Could Be Adversely Affected By a Flat Salary Cap

2020 NHL Free Agent Class Could Be Adversely Affected By a Flat Salary Cap

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 7, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 7, 2020

Should the Buffalo Sabres listen to trade offers for Jack Eichel? Should the Canadiens target Mikhail Sergachev, Pierre-Luc Dubois, or Torey Krug? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SHOULD THE SABRES ENTERTAIN OFFERS FOR EICHEL?

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag, Dan Rosen was asked if he thought any of the non-playoff NHL clubs might attempt to acquire Jack Eichel. Rosen doesn’t believe the Buffalo Sabres’ captain is on the trade block. He also thinks it would take a significant offer (high draft picks, top prospects, at least one high-end NHL player) to get him.

Should the Buffalo Sabres listen to offers for Jack Eichel? (Photo via NHL Images)

If the Sabres were willing to trade Eichel, Rosen doubts they’d limit their market to just the six non-playoff clubs. Nevertheless, he thinks those teams (New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks) should at least ask about Eichel’s availability. He also believes it costs nothing for the Sabres to hear what other clubs feel their 23-year-old captain is worth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has any plans to move Eichel unless he requests a trade. And no, I don’t believe Eichel’s reached that point where he wants out of Buffalo.

I agree it doesn’t hurt for Botterill to at least listen to offers for Eichel or for those clubs to inquire into his availability. But unless the Sabres front office has decided to tear down their roster and start another rebuild, I don’t see Eichel going anywhere. He’s their cornerstone player, the guy they have to build around if they hope to become a playoff contender next season.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Arpon Basu was asked if he’d prefer seeing the Montreal Canadiens sign Mikhail Sergachev or Pierre-Luc Dubois to an offer sheet, or Torey Krug via unrestricted free agency.

Basu doesn’t see the Canadiens prying Dubois away from the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have lots of cap space and love the 21-year-old center’s game. If Krug doesn’t re-sign with the Boston Bruins, he’d love to see the Canadiens sign the 29-year-old defenseman.

He thinks the Tampa Bay Lightning would have a difficult time matching an offer sheet for Sergachev, making the 21-year-old blueliner a tempting target if Habs GM Marc Bergevin fails to make progress with Krug.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, the Canadiens stand a better chance of signing Krug than Sergachev or Dubois. That’s assuming, of course, he’s willing to sign with the Habs if he tests the UFA market.

Dubois’ not going anywhere. Neither is Sergachev. While the Bolts have limited cap space, it’s assumed they’ll shed a salary or two to clear up cap space for Sergachev and fellow RFA Anthony Cirelli. We also shouldn’t assume Sergachev is open to an offer sheet.