NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2024

Check out the latest on Leafs winger Mitch Marner, Kings center Pierre-Luc Dubois and Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox believes a Mitch Marner trade makes sense for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 27-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. They cannot let him walk out the door for nothing.

Fox admits it would be difficult to move someone with an expensive salary cap hit ($10.9 million annually) like Marner. However, it’s not impossible, pointing to Jack Eichel and Erik Karlsson as recent examples.

The catch is how much Marner truly loves playing in Toronto. “That, we don’t know,” writes Fox.

At face value, Leafs general manager Brad Treliving can’t win a Marner trade. He’d risk the same criticism then-Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli faced in 2016 when he shipped Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for top-four defenseman Adam Larsson.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

However, Fox suggests Treliving “could properly disperse his dollars in a manner for fitting to team success.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner’s contract is the major obstacle in the path of a possible trade. It could adversely affect the type of return the Leafs might get.

The verdict is still out on the return the Sabres received from the Vegas Golden Knights in the Eichel deal. The Sharks might get an extra first-rounder in this year’s draft but they got little else in real value in last summer’s Karlsson trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With the right creativity, Treliving might pull it off. As to what that might be, your guess is as good as mine.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey believes the Flyers should avoid trying to acquire Marner. While he’s established himself among the league’s premier players, his reputation as an inconsistent playoff performer is one reason they should pass on him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers fans have little to worry about. Marner has a full no-movement clause and the Flyers might not be among his preferred destinations. Besides, general manager Daniel Briere insists he’s still following a rebuilding path despite his club exceeding expectations this season. He won’t pursue Marner if he becomes available this summer.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Spencer Lazary believes the Los Angeles Kings should bite the bullet and trade Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Montreal Canadiens. He cited the recent skepticism regarding Dubois’ future in Los Angeles and the speculation last summer regarding his desire to play for the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lazary’s column appeared before Kings GM Rob Blake’s press conference yesterday. Blake shot down speculation he might buy out Dubois’ contract, adding his club intends to work with him to improve his performance. That doesn’t sound like he’s planning to put the 25-year-old center on the trade block.

The Canadiens probably wouldn’t be interested in Dubois if Blake peddled him this summer. His $8.5 million annual average value for the next seven years is too expensive while the decline in his production will tank his trade value.

Maybe the Canadiens look into the availability of Arthur Kaliyev. Blake was critical of the 22-year-old winger, prompting speculation his time with the Kings could be over. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and could be an affordable reclamation project.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber cited Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek suggesting the Kings ship Dubois to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Both players could use a change of scenery. Dubois would have an opportunity to skate alongside Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin while Kuemper could address the Kings’ need for a starting goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Silber does a good job explaining why that deal wouldn’t interest the Capitals. His contract and underwhelming play this season are the main reasons against it.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2024

The Bruins defeat the Panthers in Game 1 of their second-round series, the draft lottery will be held today, Jets coach Rick Bowness retires, the Senators are poised to hire a new coach, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins defeated the Florida Panthers 5-1 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven second-round series. Jeremy Swayman kicked out 38 shots while Mason Lohrei and Jonathan Brazeau each scored their first NHL playoff goals for the Bruins. Matthew Tkachuk replied for the Panthers. Game 2 is Wednesday, May 8 at 7:30 pm EDT.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers opened the scoring in the second period but the Bruins quickly seized contract soon afterward with goals by Morgan Geekie, Lohrei and Brandon Carlo. Brazeau’s goal in the third period put this out of reach.

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (NHL Images).

Swayman was once again the difference for the Bruins. He’s their MVP thus far in this postseason.

Carlo missed practice yesterday as his wife gave birth to their son at 3 am back in Boston. The club flew him to Florida on a private jet in time to suit up for this game.

The 2024 NHL Draft Lottery will be held today at 6:30 pm EDT at NHL Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. The San Jose Sharks have the best odds of winning (18.5 percent) after finishing last in the regular-season standings.

Boston University center Macklin Celebrini is the prize. Winner of the 2024 Hobey Baker Award, the 17-year-old is considered the top prospect in this year’s draft class.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets head coach Rick Bowness announced his retirement on Monday. The 69-year-old spent 38 seasons in the NHL in various coaching roles.

Bowness’ 2,726 games behind the bench as a head coach or assistant coach are the most by anyone in league history. He served as a head coach for this incarnation of the Jets over the past two years and one season with the original club in 1988-89. Bowness was also the head coach of the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowness said he still loves the game and coaching but personal reasons were behind his decision. He took a month-long leave of absence earlier this season after his wife, Judy, was hospitalized by a seizure. Bowness also took some time away for a medical procedure. Here’s hoping he and his wife enjoy a happy and healthy retirement.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators are expected to announce Travis Green as their new head coach by as early as Wednesday. He served as the interim coach of the New Jersey Devils after Lindy Ruff was fired in early March. Green was considered a top candidate for the full-time position but Devils management appears to be waiting for better options, allowing Green to speak with other clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Green spent nearly five seasons with the Vancouver Canucks during a time of considerable upheaval in the front office as the club attempted to rebuild its roster. He faces the challenge of coaching a Senators club filled with good young players who have missed the playoffs over the past seven seasons.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe took full responsibility on Monday for his club’s first-round elimination by the Boston Bruins. In what many believe was his final press conference as Leafs coach, Keefe said he still believes in the team and in himself but admitted his fate was out of his control.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keefe sounds like he knows he’s coached his last game with the Leafs. His fate could be decided later this week.

Leafs center Auston Matthews explained his absence from Games 5 and 6 of that series against Boston. He said he was “really, really sick” following Game 2 and tried to play through it during the next two games. “Then I took a weird hit and I couldn’t go any longer. That’s as detailed as I’m going to get into it.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why Matthews appeared to be at half speed during Games 3 and 4. His illness contributed to the Leafs’ elimination by the Bruins.

Matthews’ teammate Mitch Marner said he wants to be part of the Leafs’ long-term plans. He has a year remaining on his contract.

I’ve expressed my love for this place, this city,” said Marner. “I grew up here. We’ll start thinking about that now and trying to figure something out.” He said it means the world to him to play in Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner also said he and his teammates are looked on as “kind of gods” in Toronto. That raised some hackles and criticism in Leafs Nation but he’s not wrong. The problem is that these “gods” keep coming up short after eight seasons of hype and expectation.

Marner’s teammates also came to his defense about the criticism of his play in recent years, expressing their hope that he’ll remain part of the team’s future. Whether management feels the same way remains to be seen. I’ll have more on Marner in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment CEO Keith Pelley, team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Brad Treliving will meet with the media on Friday. The press conference was originally scheduled for Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact Shanahan is part of this presser suggests he’ll be completing the final year of his contract. His future beyond that remains in doubt and will hinge on the club’s performance in 2024-25.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forwards Evander Kane and Adam Henrique missed recent practices in favor of maintenance days to get healthy. Head coach Kris Knoblauch expects they’ll resume practicing on Tuesday and be ready for Game 1 of their second-round series against the Canucks on Wednesday.

Kane has been hampered by a sports hernia this season. Henrique suffered what appeared to be a leg injury during the Oilers’ first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

THE PROVINCE: Canucks center J.T. Miller is expected to be matched up against Oilers center Connor McDavid in the upcoming series between their two clubs. He admitted it will be challenging to contain the Oilers captain. “He’s different than anybody,” said Miller. “You can play what seems to be a perfect shift and all of a sudden he’s gone.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That matchup will be a crucial factor in determining the outcome of this series.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings general manager Rob Blake shot down recent speculation suggesting his club should buy out Pierre-Luc Dubois. He said they have no intention of buying out the final seven seasons of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois had a disappointing first season with the Kings, ending up on their fourth line during the playoffs and finishing the regular season with only 40 points. The criticism of his play was justified but the notion of a buyout was absurd.

Whether at one-third or two-thirds of the remaining value depending on Dubois’ age during the buyout, it would count against the Kings’ cap for twice the remaining term. That means 14 years if they bought him out in June.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2024

What could be in store for the Predators in the offseason? What’s the latest on the Kings and Canadiens? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


ESPN.COM: Ryan S. Clark looked at the offseason keys for the Nashville Predators following their first-round elimination by the Vancouver Canucks.

The Predators were 10th in goals per game during the regular season. However, their lack of production against the Canucks could prompt them to find more options for next season.

Decisions must be made regarding Anthony Beauvillier, Alexandre Carrier and Jason Zucker. They’re slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Clark wondered when promising goaltender Yaroslav Askarov would make his full-time NHL debut. He could share the crease next season with starter Juuse Saros, who has a year remaining on his contract. Askarov could take over as their starter the following season.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Rexrode suggested trading Saros this summer to free up salary-cap space to bring in some help for Predators stars Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi. Re-signing the 29-year-old goalie to a long-term deal in the range of $8 million annually would be an unwise course of action with the gifted Askarov on the rise.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saros was the subject of trade speculation this season. General manager Barry Trotz refused to move him and was rewarded when Saros helped the Predators clinch a playoff spot.

The Predators have over $18 million in cap space with 17 roster players under contract next season, including all of their core players. There’s room to make additions without trading Saros if he wants to keep him around next season to begin the transition to Askarov. However, that could also cause an unnecessary distraction for next season.

Keeping Saros for next season also means losing him for nothing to free agency next July. He would fetch a decent return in this summer’s trade market while freeing up his $5 million cap hit. That would clear room for Askarov’s promotion, but Trotz must ensure he has a reliable veteran backup to mentor the young netminder.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens looked at the five questions that will shape the Los Angeles Kings’ offseason. Who will be their general manager and head coach top his list, followed by what to do with underachieving center Pierre-Luc Dubois, the futures of their UFAs, and the club’s direction in the future?

Dubois has seven seasons left on his contract with an average annual value of $8.5 million. They could buy him out at one-third of the deal’s remaining value if the buyout occurs before his 26th birthday, which is June 24, which is the last possible day of the Stanley Cup Final. The buyout window opens on June 15 or 48 hours following the end of the Final, whichever is later.

The Kings could also push for a trade before Dubois’ no-movement clause begins on July 1. They would probably have to retain up to half of his cap hit to spark any interest in the trade market. Their other option is retaining him and hope that a new head coach and a new system might bring out the best in Dubois.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens acknowledged a buyout, even at 1/3 the remaining value, would be on the Kings’ books for the next 14 seasons. Nevertheless, he pointed out that it could reshape them on the fly, providing salary-cap flexibility to address their roster needs. A buyout could be more palatable than trading him and retaining $4.25 million annually over the next seven years.

I don’t believe the Kings ownership wants to buy out Dubois. For his part, he admitted his first season in Los Angeles didn’t go as planned but said he’s committed to a better performance in 2024-25. “I’ll do anything to be better,” he said.

It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out. If the Kings intend to buy out Dubois they’ll hope the playoffs end well before his birthday on June 24. If they go the trade route, they’ll have a limited window of opportunity that will slam shut on July 1.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Spencer Lazary noted the Kings and winger Arthur Kaliyev didn’t see eye-to-eye for most of this season, affecting his performance and development. He recommended offering him to the New York Islanders for a draft pick or a prospect.

The Islanders badly need more offense. Kaliyev, 22, could be an affordable option for them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings could retain Kaliyev and see how he does under a new head coach but it’s more likely he’ll be traded. Whether the Islanders would be interested is another story.


THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu believes the Montreal Canadiens prefer to avoid signing free agents to long-term contracts, at least until they’ve sorted out those of Kaiden Guhle, Juraj Slafkovsky and Kirby Dach, and determined how much money will be at their disposal as the salary cap rises. If someone like Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault were to agree to a two or three-year deal, that’s something Basu believes they might consider.

The Canadiens could consider acquiring a young forward coming off an entry-level contract who their teams might undervalue. He suggested forward Cole Perfetti might be an option if the Winnipeg Jets don’t consider him ready to contribute right now. The Jets could use depth on their blueline, prompting Basu to suggest offering up the first-round pick that the Habs got from the Jets for Sean Monahan and/or one of their excess of young, cheap NHL-ready defensemen.

Basu also mentioned the possibility of taking a bigger swing in the trade market by pursuing Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras or Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas. Of the two, Necas would be the more affordable to acquire as the Ducks will set a high asking price for Zegras.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico also pondered the possibility of the Canadiens acquiring another young forward at the draft. In addition to Zegras and Necas, he mentioned St. Louis Blues winger Jordan Kyrou. He suggested the possibility of a smaller move for someone like Winnipeg’s Cole Perfetti, Columbus’ Kent Johnson or New Jersey’s Alexander Holtz.

The Canadiens will likely draw on their depth of promising defensemen for trade bait. D’Amico suggested Logan Mailloux, Adam Engstrom or Justin Barron as trade options. He didn’t rule out the possibility of shopping veteran David Savard, who garnered interest at the March trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens management acknowledged their need for more scoring and are expected to add one or two forwards via trade or perhaps free agency. GM Kent Hughes could pursue one of the players mentioned by Basu and D’Amico but could also have his eye on a forward that no one expects to be available.

Zegras will be very costly with the asking price starting with Montreal’s first-round pick and defense prospect David Reinbacher. Necas, Perfetti, Johnson and Holtz would be much more affordable. Kyrou probably isn’t available but it never hurts to ask. The Jets likely won’t give up on Perfetti but they might be open to offers.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2024

Are changes in store for the Kings following another first-round playoff exit? Would Leon Draisaitl be interested in joining the Bruins? What’s the latest on the Penguins? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


ESPN.COM: Ryan S. Clark looks at what might be in store for the Los Angeles Kings following another first-round elimination at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.

Clark pointed out the Kings had this season’s second-best penalty-killing stats but that turned into a weakness against the Oilers’ offense.

There could be a big turnover in goal this summer. Cam Talbot, David Rittich and Pheonix Copley are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Trevor Lewis and defensemen Matt Roy are also UFA-eligible this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was rumored the Kings attempted to acquire Linus Ullmark before the trade deadline but the Boston Bruins goalie used his no-trade clause to nix the deal. General manager Rob Blake could attempt to add a starter such as Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom or Nashville’s Juuse Saros this summer with Rittich retained as their backup.

Arvidsson’s injury history could lead to his departure via free agency. The 37-year-old Lewis probably won’t be back. Roy could be let go if Jordan Spence replaces him on the second-pairing and if Brandt Clarke is ready for full-time NHL duty next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens is critical of Blake’s management, pointing to his acquisition and signing of underachieving center Pierre-Luc Dubois. That move was among several questionable deals that left the Kings with insufficient salary-cap space to improve their roster at the March trade deadline.

Los Angeles Kings center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images)

With the Kings facing continued mediocrity, Stephens suggests a shift in course with someone other than Blake as general manager. He pointed to Blake’s inability to address his club’s goaltending after Cal Petersen failed to seize the starter’s job in 2021-22, leaving the Kings scrambling to find a suitable replacement.

Dubois hasn’t come close to unseating Anze Kopitar or Phillip Danault among their top two centers. He has seven more seasons left on his contract with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

Buying out Dubois would count against the Kings’ salary cap for the next 14 years. A trade would mean retaining half of his AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens cited the positive things Blake had done (drafting and developing young talent like Quinton Byfield and acquiring Kevin Fiala) but the goaltending and the Dubois contract are the major blunders he believes have hamstrung the Kings. It remains to be seen if the Kings ownership shares his belief that a management change is necessary.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited Georges Laraque telling a Montreal sports radio show that Leon Draisaitl is interested in joining the Boston Bruins if he doesn’t re-sign with the Edmonton Oilers.

Draisaitl is slated to become a UFA next July. Laraque cited someone “well-placed within the Oilers organization” claiming the high-scoring forward could leave the club next summer if they don’t go deep in the playoffs, adding “he’d prefer to be a first-line center in Boston.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl will become a hot topic in the rumor mill if he doesn’t sign a contract extension before next season. Nevertheless, he could be keen to stick around with Connor McDavid beyond next season. His future in Edmonton could come down to how much of a raise he’s seeking over his current $8.5 million AAV.

Assuming Draisaitl is interested in playing for the Bruins, they’d have to wait until next summer to get him as a free agent. They reportedly lacked sufficient depth in tradeable assets to acquire Elias Lindholm or Noah Hanifin before the trade deadline. They won’t have enough to get one of the NHL’s high-scoring superstars this summer or next season.

The Bruins have nearly $45 million invested in seven players for 2025-26. The salary cap could rise to over $92 million for that season. There would be plenty of room to sign Draisaitl for a long-term deal worth $15 million annually.

Oh, you thought it would be much less than that? Think again. Draisaitl has been underpaid for years. He will seek a new contract befitting one of the NHL’s leading superstars.

Still, that looks like plenty of cap space to accommodate Draisaitl, right? Wrong.

Team captain Brad Marchand will need a contract extension. They must sign goaltender Jeremy Swayman to a new contract (probably between $6 million and $7 million annually given his arbitration status), re-sign or replace Jake DeBrusk, and fill out the rest of the roster. Rumor has it they could pursue a center who can play on their top-two lines plus a top-four defenseman via free agency in July. They won’t come cheap.

Even if the Bruins could do all that with some cap room to spare, they won’t have enough for Draisaitl without shedding sufficient space to ensure they can win a bidding war for his services.

I’m not saying the Bruins can’t sign Draisaitl if he wants to come to Boston. However, it’ll take a hell of a lot of work to free up the cap space to make it happen without significantly weakening their roster depth in the process.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey suggested how Penguins GM Kyle Dubas can improve his club for next season and beyond.

One option is exploring the possibility of trading Erik Karlsson to the Ottawa Senators if they’re interested in reacquiring their former captain. Karlsson denied rumors of returning to Ottawa in March but Mackey didn’t believe him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Karlsson would agree to return to the Senators but I don’t believe their new ownership and management want to bring him back. Even if Dubas agreed to retain half of the $10 million of his $11.5 million AAV that the Penguins currently carry, the Senators are likely looking at younger, more affordable right-shot options for their blueline.

Mackey also suggested Dubas attempt to find a trade partner to take goaltender Tristan Jarry and his $5.375 million cap hit for the next four years off his hands. Another option is shopping a winger such as Reilly Smith or Rickard Rakell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas seems intent on sticking with Jarry and call up promising Joel Blomqvist as his understudy next season. Trading Smith or Rakell seems a more likely option.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes Ryan Graves’ contract would be a major sticking point in any attempt to trade the 28-year-old defenseman this summer. He’s signed for five more years with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million.

Graves’ struggles in his first season with the Penguins damaged his trade value. Their best bet is to hope he regains his former next season.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2024

The Oilers win their 14th straight game, Nikita Kucherov regains the scoring lead, the Devils re-sign general manager Tom Fitzgerald, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


ESPN.COM: The Edmonton Oilers picked up their 14th consecutive win by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. Warren Foegele and Evander Kane each had a goal and an assist for the 27-15-1 Oilers, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 55 points. Dmitri Voronkov scored for the Blue Jackets (14-23-9) as they dropped to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with 37 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers need just three more wins to tie the league record of 17 straight wins currently held by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov regained the league in the NHL scoring race (80 points) with a hat trick and an assist in a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Anthony Cirelli collected two assists for the Lightning (25-18-5) as they moved past the idle Toronto Maple Leafs into third place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points. Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist for the 25-17-6 Flyers, who have lost three straight but remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 56 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov sits three points ahead of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon in the scoring race…Earlier in the day, the Lightning announced forward Austin Watson is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Meanwhile, the Flyers announced before this game that goaltender Carter Hart was on an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons…They also placed winger Owen Tippett on injured reserve.

The Vegas Golden Knights nipped the New York Islanders 3-2 thanks to a 40-save performance by Adin Hill. Ivan Barbashev and Nicolas Roy each had a goal and an assist for the 28-14-6 Golden Knights as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 62 points. Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau replied for the 20-16-11 Islanders (51 points) as they sit two points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Speaking of the Red Wings, they dropped a 5-4 decision to the Dallas Stars. Roope Hintz tallied twice and collected an assist while Wyatt Johnston collected three assists for the Stars (28-13-6) as they sit in third place in the Central Division with 62 points. Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond each had two points for the 24-18-5 Red Wings.

An overtime goal by Tomas Hertl gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 upset victory over the New York Rangers. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 29 shots for the 13-31-4 Sharks (30 points). Adam Fox had a goal and an assist for the Rangers (29-15-3), who hold first place in the Metropolitan Division with 61 points but have won just three of their last 10 games.

The Minnesota Wild picked up their third straight win by dropping the Washington Capitals 5-3. Marcus Johansson tallied twice while Filip Gustavsson made 30 saves for the 21-21-5 Wild (47 points) as they move within four points of the final Western Conference wild-card spot. Anthony Mantha scored two goals for the 22-17-6 Capitals (50 points) as they sit three behind the Red Wings for the final Eastern wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals defenseman Ethan Bear was a healthy scratch from this game as Rasmus Sandin returned from injury.

St. Louis Blues winger Brandon Saad scored twice, including the winning goal as his club rallied to a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames. Nick Leddy picked up three assists while Jordan Binnington turned aside 32 shots for the Blues (23-20-2) as they sit three points out of a Western wild-card spot with 48 points. Yegor Sharangovich had a goal and an assist for the 21-21-5 Flames (47 points) as they dropped their third straight contest.

The Anaheim Ducks doubled up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Jakob Silfverberg tallied two goals while John Gibson made 28 saves for the 16-30-0 Ducks. Jordan Greenway had a goal and an assist for the 20-23-4 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducks rookie Olen Zellweger collected an assist in his NHL debut. Meanwhile, the Sabres announced before this game that defenseman Erik Johnson would miss this contest and Wednesday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Kings.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 24 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Shane Pinto scored his first goal of the season for the 18-24-1 Senators while Johnathan Kovacevic replied for the 19-21-7 Canadiens, who have lost three straight games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovacevic returned to the Canadiens lineup after being out of the lineup for the last three games. Winger Tanner Pearson played his first game since being sidelined on Dec. 9 with an upper-body injury while defenseman Arber Xhekaj was recalled from their AHL affiliate in Laval.


NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils yesterday announced they’d reached an agreement with general manager Tom Fitzgerald on a multi-year contract extension. He’s also been promoted to president of hockey operations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald has done a good job rebuilding the Devils back to respectability despite their struggles this season. He signed Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt to reasonable long-term contracts, acquired Timo Meier, Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Toffoli and Ondrej Palat and drafted Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec. His biggest challenge remains addressing his club’s inconsistent goaltending.

THE SCORE: Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan has called out center Pierre-Luc Dubois. “At the end of the day, whether PL gets four minutes or 24 minutes, he has to be a difference-maker,” said McLellan.

The Kings acquired Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets last summer and signed him to an eight-year contract worth an average annual value of $8.5 million. He’s managed just nine goals and 19 points in 44 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not the kind of positive impact the Kings envisioned when they traded for Dubois. It’ll be interesting to see whether McLellan’s remarks light a fire under the 25-year-old center.

CBS SPORTS: The Seattle Kraken activated goaltender Philipp Grubauer off long-term injury reserve and sent Chris Driedger to their AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Toronto Maple Leafs activated winger Ryan Reaves from injured reserve and designated winger Tyler Bertuzzi as a non-active roster player as he and his wife await the birth of their child.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2023

Recaps of Wednesday’s games include comeback wins by the Canucks and Oilers, plus the latest on the Sabres’ Tage Thompson, the Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Quinn Hughes lifted the Vancouver Canucks over the New York Islanders 4-3. Hughes, Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller each had a goal and two assists as the Canucks overcome a 3-1 deficit to move into first overall in the Western Conference with 25 points (12-3-1) to sit one point back of the first overall Boston Bruins. Mathew Barzal collected two assists for the slumping Islanders (5-6-4) as they’ve won just three of their last 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vegas Golden Knights have an identical record but the Canucks hold first place in the West with 11 regulation wins.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (NHL Images).

The Canucks are off to an impressive start to this season. A big reason is they’re getting strong performances thus far from Hughes, Boeser, Miller, Elias Pettersson and Thatcher Demko.

Hughes, Pettersson and Miller are tied for the league lead in points with 26, Boeser is tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor for the goal-scoring lead (13), Hughes is the overall assists leader (20) and Demko is among the goaltending leaders with a 2.04 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and two shutouts.

The Canucks got some bad news earlier in the day as they announced defenseman Carson Soucy will be sidelined for up to eight weeks with a leg injury.

The Edmonton Oilers got a natural hat trick from Evander Kane as they overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Seattle Kraken 4-3 on an overtime goal by Kane. Evan Bouchard collected three assists for the 5-9-1 Oilers, who’ve won three straight games. Jared McCann tallied his seventh goal of the season for the Kraken as they slipped to 5-8-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken winger Jordan Eberle returned to action in this game after being sidelined for a week by a deep cut to one of his legs from a skate blade during practice.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar collected three assists while Valeri Nichushkin scored twice in an 8-2 rout of the Anaheim Ducks. Joel Kiviranta had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche as they improved to 10-5-0 on the season. Sam Carrick and Max Jones replied for the Ducks as they dropped to 9-7-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson missed this game against his former club as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Philadelphia Flyers got a 31-save performance from Carter Hart to upset the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. Owen Tippett, Travis Konecny and Ryan Poehling scored for the Flyers (8-7-1) while Stefan Noesen replied for the 9-7-0 Hurricanes.


TSN: Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson is expected to miss at least a month with an injured left wrist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres will look to Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens to step up and fill the void during Thompson’s absence.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Pierre-Luc Dubois is drawing criticism for his “uninvolved, hesitant” play this season. He was acquired from the Kings during an offseason trade with the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article points out that when Dubois is playing his best within the Kings’ well-defined system he’s difficult to stop. However, they haven’t seen enough of that version of the 25-year-old center thus far. He has four goals and eight points in 14 games.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Arizona Coyotes are shedding their losing reputation this season. They’re playing as a team, believe in themselves and play hard to the very end of every game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I said at the start of this season not to sleep on the Coyotes. They’ve got a rising star in Clayton Keller, a reliable offensive presence in a healthy Nick Schmaltz, a promising rookie in Logan Cooley, a confident goal scorer in Lawson Crouse, a solid playmaker in Matias Maccelli and a defense bolstered by the offseason addition of Sean Durzi. They could be in the playoff hunt throughout 2023-24.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Rasmus Kupari will be sidelined for four to six weeks with an injured shoulder.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Columbus Blue Jackets placed forward Emil Bemstrom on waivers.