NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2021

Mika Zibanejad lights up the Flyers again, Sidney Crosby reaches another career milestone, the Canadian government will reportedly loosen quarantine rules for players, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Anthony Beauvillier lifted the New York Islanders over the Boston Bruins 4-3. The Isles overcame a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead until Boston’s Anders Bjork tied it late in the third. Beauvillier finished with two points while teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and two assists. Bruins backup Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves in relief of Tuukka Rask, who left the game following the first period with an upper-body injury. With 48 points, the Islanders hold a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for first place in the MassMutual East Division. The Bruins (37 points) hold a three-point lead over the New York Rangers for fourth place.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

Mika Zibanejad enjoyed a six-point game, including a natural hat trick, as the Rangers thumped the Philadelphia Flyers 8-3. Zibanejad set an NHL record with consecutive six-point performances against the same opponent. Adam Fox collected five assists, Ryan Strome had a goal and three assists and Pavel Buchnevich scored twice. The Rangers (34 points) surged past the Flyers into fifth place in the MassMutual East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter Hart was shelled for five goals before getting the hook from the Flyers net. The 22-year-old goaltender looks nothing like last season’s promising starter when he out-dueled Montreal’s Carey Price in the playoffs. His confidence is completely shot and he hasn’t received much help from his defense. The Rangers, meanwhile, have played their way into the playoff race in the East Division, though the Bruins have three games in hand.

The Washington Capitals picked up their eighth win in their last nine contests by edging the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied twice while Alex Ovechkin scored his 721st career goal. The Capitals (46 points) hold a two-point lead over the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the East Division.

Sebastian Aho’s overtime goal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton extended his assist streak to 13 games while Blue Jackets rearguard Seth Jones collected three helpers. The Hurricanes (47 points) sit three points behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division while the Blue Jackets (34 points) are three back of the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on an overtime goal by Justin Holl. Senators netminder Anton Forsberg made 38 saves in his first start in a year. The Leafs (44 points) move into sole possession of first place in the Scotia North Division, two points up on the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.

Sidney Crosby collected three assists to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Buffalo Sabres 4-0, handing the latter their 16th straight defeat. Crosby became the eighth-fastest player to reach 1,300 career points. Casey DeSmith kicked out 36 shots for the shutout while rookie Radim Zohorna’s first NHL goal proved to be the game-winner. Before the game, the Penguins announced winger Kasperi Kapanen is sidelined week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. With 44 points, the Penguins sit in third place in the East Division. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams took over his club’s coaching duties after interim head coach Don Granato and assistant Matt Ellis went onto the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list two hours before game time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: What happened to Granato and Ellis is just the latest blow in a season that represents the nadir of a decade of suck for the once-proud Sabres.

A 37-save shutout by Cam Talbot carried the Minnesota Wild to a 2-0 blanking of the St. Louis Blues. Marcus Johansson and Kirill Kaprizov were the goal scorers as the Wild (43 points) picked up their 11th straight home win and sit two points behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba returned to action after missing three games with a lower-body injury. The fourth-place Blues (37 points) sits six points back of the Wild.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen kicked out 41 shots in a 3-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks (37 points), who hold a three-point lead over the Blue Jackets for fourth in the Central Division. Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury following a hard hit by Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov. He’s listed as day-to-day as the Panthers (44 points) sit three points behind the second-place Hurricanes in the Central.

The Colorado Avalanche scored five unanswered goals in a 5-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar each had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche moved into a tie with the first-place Golden Knights (45 points), though the latter holds a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche have won eight of their last 10 and picked up points in all but one of those games.

A late third-period goal by Roope Hintz lifted the Dallas Stars over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Hintz and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and two assists. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy saw his winning streak end at 12 games. The Bolts remain atop the NHL’s overall standings with 50 points.

The Nashville Predators moved to within four points of the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central Division by crushing the Detroit Red Wings 7-1. Rocco Grimaldi scored four goals, including three in a span of 2:34 as the Predators have won five of their last six contests.

HEADLINES

TSN: The Canadian government is reportedly poised to approve reducing the 14-day quarantine on NHL players crossing the border from the United States into Canada to seven days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This would allow the Canadian general managers who could be buyers more time to make moves in the days leading up to the April 12 trade deadline. Under the 14-day quarantine, a player acquired by a Canadian team acquired at the April 12 trade deadline would be unable to join the roster until April 27. A seven-day quarantine means they can join the roster more quickly.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said one of his two players on their COVID-19 protocol list tested positive for one of the coronavirus variants. He wouldn’t say who the player was but indicated he was feeling ok. No other Habs have tested positive. The Canadiens had four games postponed by the league but could return to action early next week. Bergevin also suggested his club’s season could last a little longer to make up those games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The regular season is slated to end on May 8 and the playoffs begin on May 11. The Habs could play on May 9 and 10, or the league could extend the start date of the playoffs by a couple of days to accommodate teams with postponed games to be played.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Four Anaheim Ducks players (Danton Heinen, Ben Hutton, Jacob Larsson and Anthony Stolarz) are off the COVID-19 protocol list due to false-positive tests. Alexander Volkov goes on the list for seven days as per league protocols for traded players.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom underwent successful shoulder surgery on Thursday and is on track to return to action next season.

CBS SPORTS: Arizona Coyotes forward Tyler Pitlick was placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games, referee Tim Peel will no longer work NHL games, the Lightning and Ducks makes a trade, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Zach Aston-Reese each had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. A further evaluation of his condition is expected today. With 42 points, the Penguins sit two points behind the second-place Washington Capitals in the MassMutual East Division. The Sabres have dropped a league-record 15 straight games in the shootout era. It’s also a franchise record for the beleaguered club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this point, I almost wish there was a mercy rule so the Sabres could just end their schedule today and start the rebuild process. It’s just so painful watching this club flounder through the remainder of a lost season.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp (NHL Images).

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp scored a career-high four goals to lead his club to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Bo Horvat returned to the Canucks lineup after leaving the previous game between the two clubs with a lower-body injury. The Jets (42 points) move into a three-way tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers with the Leafs holding first place in the Scotia North Division with a game in hand over the Jets and two on the Oilers. Meanwhile, the Canucks (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens, who hold six games in hand.

The Ottawa Senators staged their second straight upset of the Calgary Flames with a 3-1 victory on second-period goals by Josh Norris, Chris Tierney and Nikita Zaitsev. Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves for his second straight win. The Flames have dropped three straight and remain two points behind the Canucks. Earlier in the day, the Senators announced winger Austin Watson (hand injury) will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the sidelined Canadiens hold games in hand, victories aren’t assured for them in what becomes a more compact, difficult schedule. The Canucks and Flames had golden opportunities to overtake the Habs in the standings. These recent losses could prove costly to their playoff hopes.

Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Ryan Suter collected his 600th career point as the Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2, handing the latter their 10th straight loss on home ice. With 41 points, the Wild sit two back of the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Wild winger Zach Parise missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols. 

The San Jose Sharks got two goals from Evander Kane and a 42-save performance by Martin Jones to double up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game in the final minutes of the third period following a late hit by Kings forward Jeff Carter.

HEADLINES

The NHL yesterday announced referee Tim Peel will no longer be working games after he was got on a hot mic stating his desire to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators during Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peel wasn’t fired but simply relieved of his duties until his intended retirement following what was slated to be his final game on April 24. The incident has raised concerns from Predators players and from pundits over how games are managed by on-ice officials. Some observers believe this could be an opportunity for the league to address this issue but there’s no guarantee we’ll see significant change. The league could simply dismiss this incident as a one-off and move on.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Alexander Volkov to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward prospect Antoine Morand and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois explained this move as a way of providing some short-term salary-cap flexibility and insurance against dressing only five defensemen in the event some of their blueliners suffer multiple short-term injuries. Volkov saw his ice time decline over the course of this season. Ducks GM Bob Murray believes he’ll benefit from a fresh start in Anaheim as the Ducks add more youthful talent.

NBC SPORTS: Bob McKenzie reports contract talks have started between the Minnesota Wild and Kirill Kaprizov’s representatives. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer. McKenzie suggests they could be working toward a mid-range deal of five or six years or possibly longer. A bridge contract might not work here because it’ll take Kaprizov up to his UFA eligibility age.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There is no definitive timeline for his return.

STLTODAY.COM: Former Blues defenseman Bob Plager was killed yesterday in a traffic accident in St. Louis. He was 78. An original member of the Blues renowned for his hip checks, Plager spent 11 of his 14 seasons in St. Louis and three seasons before that with the New York Rangers, finishing his career with 146 points in 644 NHL games. He and his brothers Barclay and Bill skated for the Blues from 1967 to 1972. Plager was one of the most popular players in franchise history and among the most popular of their alumni.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former NHL linesman Swede Knox passed away on Monday from lung cancer at the age of 73. Knox worked 2,248 NHL games from 1972 to 2000, including five Stanley Cup Finals and one NHL All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Plager and Knox families, as well as their friends and former teammates and colleagues.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2021

A look at some potential goalie trade bait, the obstacles facing teams in this year’s trade market plus the latest on the Hurricanes, Jets, Islanders, Penguins and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill. 

POTENTIAL GOALIE TRADE BAIT

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin included Florida’s Chris Driedger, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick on his list of 10 goaltenders who could get moved at the NHL trade deadline. Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and Arizona’s Antti Raanta are the others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger’s a pending unrestricted free agent but I don’t see the Panthers trading him while they’re among the top three clubs in the Discover Central Division. The same goes for Korpisalo and Merzlikins as the Jackets remain in the playoff chase. Besides, they both have a year left on their contracts so there’s no rush to move either guy at the deadline.

If the Coyotes trade Kuemper I believe that happens in the offseason when they could get a better return from a club with cap space. If Miller wanted one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup he would’ve signed with a contender instead of the Ducks. He’s happy in Anaheim and I doubt he has any intention of leaving.

Quick has two more years left on his contract worth $5.8 million. I don’t see much interest in him given the current cap situation. Even if the Kings picked up half of his cap hit he’s still a declining asset with a long injury history.

Bernier, Dubnyk and Raanta are pending UFAs and thus more likely to move. Khudobin could be intriguing to some clubs and he carries an affordable $3.33 million annual average value, but he’s 34 and that contract has two more years on it.

TEAMS FACING OBSTACLES IN TRADE MARKET

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports most NHL clubs are still trying to navigate through quarantine protocols and a flat salary cap as the April 12 trade deadline approaches. He also adds the cost of top rental players such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall and Eric Staal and New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri could be a high draft pick and a top prospect. Those in the rumor mill with term on their contracts, such as Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, could be more expensive.

Asking prices could be expensive for rental players such as New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri (NHL Images)

Some teams, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders, are in the market to add players before the deadline. The Islanders have additional salary-cap flexibility after placing captain Anders Lee (knee injury) and his $7 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any significant movement by Canadian teams could come by the end of March. If they wait until the deadline any player acquired from American franchises will be unavailable until April 27 after they’ve cleared the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people crossing the US border into Canada. That won’t leave them much time to adjust to their new teams before the playoffs open on May 11.

LATEST ON THE HURRICANES, JETS AND SHARKS

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he and Dougie Hamilton’s camp have agreed to table contract extension talks until the season is over. Hamilton is in the final season of a six-year, $34.5 million contract and is slated for UFA eligibility this summer.

Waddell also said he believes his club is close to a contract extension for head coach Rod Brind’Amour. He could be willing to tinker with his roster before the trade deadline, citing a need for a right-shot defenseman and perhaps a top-nine forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell doesn’t have to make any significant moves with his club battling for first place in the Central Division. However, he alluded to team owner Tom Dundon’s competitive nature and desire to ice the best team possible. The Hurricanes will be worth watching as the trade deadline nears. Dundon’s wish to turn them into a Stanley Cup contender could push Waddell into the market.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe reports the expectation remains the Winnipeg Jets will try to add a defenseman to play on one of their top-two pairings. The best trade target remains Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm. Columbus’ David Savard could be out of the picture given the Blue Jackets’ recent rise into playoff contention in the Central Division.

Another option could be Anaheim’s Josh Manson. Like Ekholm, he has a year remaining on his contract. The asking price for Ekholm will be high while injuries have limited Manson to six games this season. Wiebe also suggests keeping an eye on Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets must be careful taking on a defenseman with term on his contract (Ekholm, Manson, Ristolainen) as that could complicate their expansion draft protection list for their blueline. A rental such as Savard or perhaps Vancouver’s Travis Hamonic might be the way to go here unless they work out a deal with the Seattle Kraken before the expansion draft.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Alex Didion cited a report by The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz indicating Patrick Marleau would be open to a trade that sends him to a playoff contender before the April 12 deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But are playoff contenders open to acquiring a fading winger like the 41-year-old Marleau at the trade deadline? He has just five points in 30 games this season.

UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, PENGUINS AND DUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports acquiring a first-line winger remains the New York Islanders’ priority. He believes Columbus’ Nick Foligno could be off the Isles’ list of targets owing to the Jackets’ recent rise in the Central standings. Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson has been sidelined a month, curtailing the Canucks’ trade options.

Sean Gentille, Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe report the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t shopping defenseman Marcus Pettersson. Despite their left-side blueline depth, they’re reluctant to move a blueliner given the schedule and need for depth to secure a playoff spot. They also rejected a rumor linking the Penguins to Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, citing the club’s lack of cap space and available assets to pry him away from the Sabres.

Pierre LeBrun reports Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray could attempt to trade a few veteran players between now and the start of next season as he transitions his roster toward younger players. However, most of those moves might not come until the offseason. Murray admits things are quiet in the trade market due to the pandemic, the flattened salary cap, and this summer’s expansion draft.

Murray doesn’t have many rental players to shop. The Ducks GM could instead look for a hockey deal, with LeBrun suggesting winger Rickard Rakell making the most sense. Rakell is a good two-way winger with an affordable $3.78 million cap hit through next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2021

Connor McDavid widens his lead in the NHL scoring race, Mikko Rantanen enjoys a four-point performance and Robby Fabbri tallies a hat trick. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers have the same number of points (40) as the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division but the latter hold three games in hand. McDavid (58 points) extended his points streak to eight games and leads the NHL scoring race by nine points over teammate Leon Draisaitl.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is on pace for 98 points in 56 games this season.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored twice and added two assists in a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and two assists as Colorado peppered Wild goaltender Cam Talbot with 55 shots. Avs defensemen Cale Makar and Bo Byram returned from upper-body injuries that had sidelined each from multiple games. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Avalanche (38 points) moves one point up on the Wild into second place in the Honda West Division.

A hat trick by Robby Fabbri enabled the Detroit Red Wings to hold off the Dallas Stars 3-2. It was a costly victory for the Wings as goalie Jonathan Bernier left the game in the second period with an apparent injury to his right leg. An update is expected on his condition today.

The New Jersey Devils held off the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 thanks to goaltender Scott Wedgewood’s 40-save performance. Devils forward Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist. Wedgewood got the call after starter Mackenzie Blackwood suffered an upper-body injury during warmups. No update was provided for his status. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed forwards Evgeni Malkin and Teddy Blueger (undisclosed) on injured reserve. The Pens sit in third place in the MassMutual East Division with 37 points.

A new head coach didn’t change the Buffalo Sabres fortunes as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Boston Bruins in their first game with Don Granato behind the bench. The Sabres fall to 0-11-2 in their last 13 games. David Krejci collected three assists for the Bruins, who sit one point behind the Penguins in the East Division.

The Philadelphia Flyers (33 points) moved to within three points of the Bruins by edging the New York Islanders 4-3. The Flyers blew a 3-0 lead but got the win on Oskar Lindblom’s second goal of the game late in the third period. Travis Konecny had three assists for the Flyers while Isles defenseman Nick Leddy had three helpers. Before the game, the Flyers announced defenseman Robert Hagg would be sidelined two-to-four weeks with a shoulder injury. The Islanders (42 points) remain in second place in the East.

An overtime goal by Seth Jones lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. It was Jones’ second goal of the game. Carolina center Sebastian Aho countered with two goals. The Hurricanes remain in third place in the Discover Central Division with 42 points while the Jackets (31 points) climbed to within two points of the fourth-overall Chicago Blackhawks.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves for his 10th straight victory while Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist. The Lightning (44 points) opened a two-point lead over the Hurricanes and Florida Panthers for first place in the Central Division. Chicago center Dylan Strome scored in his first game since being sidelined a month ago by a concussion. The Blackhawks have dropped three straight.

The Nashville Predators got two goals from Calle Jarnkrok and a 40-save effort from Juuse Saros to edge the Panthers 2-1. Jonathan Huberdeau scored for the Panthers, who remain in second place in the Central.

Anaheim Ducks rookies Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras each scored their first NHL goals in a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Drysdale finished the game with two points while Adam Henrique tallied the game-winner. Clayton Keller and Conor Garland replied for the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drysdale and Zegras offer what could be a promising look at the Ducks’ future depending on what moves management makes to rebuild the roster.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen admits he’s been battling a nagging lower-body injury for the past six games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news won’t silence Andersen’s critics but it explains his struggles since returning to action from the same injury that sidelined him for two weeks in the second half of February.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2021

The latest on the Leafs and Canadiens plus ongoing speculation about Mattias Ekholm, Rickard Rakell, Devan Dubnyk and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS AND CANADIENS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun cited the different approaches by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens toward the April 12 trade deadline. Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas is going all-in as the Leafs aim to add a forward. Meanwhile, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin indicated he might not do much owing to limited salary cap space and 14-day quarantine for players acquired from American-based teams. LeBrun also feels the Canadiens’ inconsistency thus far could affect whether Bergevin adds at the deadline.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com).

The Leafs could pursue a rental player such as New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Columbus’ Nick Foligno or Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, or a hockey deal for a player with term on his contract like Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell. Frank Seravalli also noted Dubas’ willingness to move a top prospect. He considers Rasmus Sandin as close to untouchable as possible unless Dubas can hit a home run at the deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas told reporters yesterday he’d like to get a deal done sooner rather than closer to the trade deadline because of that 14-day quarantine period. He would like to add a rental player but didn’t rule out adding a player with term if the deal made sense. Darren Dreger considers Dubas’ willingness to move a top prospect falls in line with being open to moving a first-round pick if the trade made sense.

Adding a rental forward is probably the Leafs’ best bet in terms of cost. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t think Rakell’s a fit. He observed the Anaheim Ducks’ asking price for Rakell is high, preferring younger players with a bit of NHL experience. He also said the Calgary Flames wouldn’t pay it. The Predators will also set a high ask for Forsberg.

Montreal GM Bergevin didn’t rule out making a move if it made sense but it’s clear it would have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap. Defenseman Ben Chiarot could be placed on long-term injury reserve thus giving the Habs around $3.5 million in cap relief. However, Bergevin expects he’ll return from his fractured hand by late-April, meaning the Canadiens would have to dump salary to become cap compliant.

Bergevin could make a move over the next couple of weeks if his club can string together some wins and improve their chances of securing a playoff spot. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels believes he’ll pursue a more affordable addition like Detroit’s Luke Glendening than Buffalo’s Eric Staal to shore up his depth at center.

Engels cites sources saying the Canadiens are interested in Glendening but they’ll have to move a player off their roster if they wish to have enough cap space to address their need for a left-side defenseman. He suggested a swap of forward Artturi Lehkonen for Glendening.

LATEST ON EKHOLM AND DUBNYK

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm “is the belle of the trading ball.” The Predators have made it clear they want a return similar to that the Leafs gave up two years ago to acquire Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings. That was a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a prospect.

Friedman believes the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets are among those interested in Ekholm. He’s doubtful the Philadelphia Flyers are in because they could be unwilling to pay the cost this year. The Leafs looked into it but they’re already deep on the left side of their blue line with Muzzin and Morgan Rielly. Friedman feels Ekholm would be a good fit with the Edmonton Oilers but he believes Oilers GM Ken Holland wants to build up his draft and prospect capital.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss doesn’t believe the Bruins should pursue Ekholm when their obvious priority is landing a top-six forward. He points out secondary scoring is their most glaring issue right now.

Eric Engels also mentioned the Canadiens as a suitor for Ekholm if they can find a way to shed a salary such as Tomas Tatar or Joel Armia. Based on Bergevin’s comments, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be pursuing the Predators’ defenseman.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes San Jose Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk could be available by the trade deadline. Dubnyk has a 10-team no-trade list but LeBrun feels he’d waive it for the right contender and the right fit. The Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals come to mind as possible destinations. The Avs are in the market for a short-term replacement for sidelined backup Pavel Francouz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk isn’t a full-time starter anymore but he has plenty of playoff experience and could be a worthwhile addition for playoff contenders in a backup role. Making the dollars fit, however, could be tricky. He carries a $4.33 million annual average value with over $1.9 million remaining to be paid.

MORE TRADE TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S “31 THOUGHTS

The Jets need one more defenseman. Ekholm or David Savard would be a good fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard might be the better one as they seem to have more of a need to address the right side.

The Ducks were asked about Max Jones but that’s a no-go. Friedman said we’ll see where things go with Troy Terry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman last Saturday said he’d heard Terry might welcome a change of scenery. However, The Athletic’s Eric Stephens subsequently cited a source saying that’s not the case.

The New Jersey Devils and Kyle Palmieri have started conversations about the pending UFA’s future. Friedman thinks the Bruins, New York Islanders and Leafs could be interested if Palmieri hits the trade block.

Friedman believes Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will consider almost anything heading toward the trade deadline. He feels Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider aren’t going anywhere. There’s interest in pending UFA goalie Jonathan Bernier.

It could be difficult for the Vancouver Canucks to re-sign pending UFA winger Tanner Pearson with Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes due for new contracts as well.

The Colorado Avalanche is one of the teams seeking a Blake Coleman-type player.

The Chicago Blackhawks are in a position to absorb a contract or two for the right assets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli also reported on this, pointing out they’ve got $22 million in LTIR cap space. They’re willing to take on a rival team’s bad contract if they can also get some good assets (draft picks, prospects) as part of the return.










Blue Jackets, Ducks Could Soon Become NHL Sellers

Blue Jackets, Ducks Could Soon Become NHL Sellers