NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 5, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 5, 2023

Kirill Kaprizov leads the Wild over the Lightning, the Red Wings make some roster moves, the 2023 Winter Classic ratings improve over last season’s, plus updates on Nicklas Backstrom, Max Pacioretty and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov scored twice and Calen Addison had a three-point performance in a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kaprizov has 22 goals on the season as the Wild (22-13-2) move to within three points of the second-place Winnipeg Jets in the Central Division with 46 points. The Lightning (24-12-1, 49 points) remain four points back of the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning’s Brayden Point also tallied his 22nd goal of the season.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

The New Jersey Devils defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Dougie Hamilton and Alexander Holtz each had a goal and an assist for the Devils (24-11-3), who hold a three-point lead over the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 51 points. Lucas Raymond replied for the Red Wings, who fell to 16-13-7 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings forward Robby Fabbri made his season debut since suffering a lower-body injury last March. Jakub Vrana cleared waivers and was assigned to the AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids while goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was assigned to Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint.

No surprise that Vrana cleared waivers. With a large number of teams carrying less than $3 million in salary-cap space, there were no takers for his $5.25 million annual cap hit through 2023-24.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson turned in a 35-save shutout to upset the Dallas Stars 2-0. Mason McTavish scored and collected an assist on Adam Henrique’s goal as the Ducks sit with a record of 11-24-4. The Stars (23-11-6, 52 points) remain two points behind the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: 1.8 million viewers tuned in on Jan. 2 to watch the Boston Bruins down the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in the 2023 NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park. That’s up 31 percent over the 2022 event.

ESPN.COM: The NHL has revamped its All-Star Game selection process to make it more inclusive for fans. The league’s hockey operations department has selected the first 32 All-Stars (one from each team), leaving the fans to vote for the rest.

THE ATHLETIC: Nickas Backstrom and Tom Wilson are close to making their season debuts for the Washington Capitals. Backstrom has been recovering from hip resurfacing in June while Wilson underwent surgery on his right knee in May.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals will have to free up cap room when Backstrom and his $9.2 million AAV come off long-term injury reserve. They could put defenseman John Carlson ($8 million) on LTIR as he’s sidelined indefinitely with a facial injury suffered on Dec. 23.

SPORTSNET: Max Pacioretty could soon make his season debut with the Carolina Hurricanes as the club activated him off LTIR. The 34-year-old winger has been sidelined since suffering a torn Achilles during offseason training.

DAILY FACEOFF: Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk reportedly suffered a fractured fibula. It’s uncertain if he suffered the injury during the Winter Classic (when he scored both goals for the Bruins) or sometime afterward.

PHILLY.COM: The Flyers activated goaltender Carter Hart from injured reserve. He’d been sidelined with a concussion since Dec. 23.

OTTAWA SUN: Cam Talbot is willing to re-sign with the Senators. The 35-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He’s interested in signing a contract extension but indicated there haven’t been any formal discussions yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That conversation might not happen until the end of the season. Much will depend on how the Senators end the season and if Pierre Dorion remains general manager under the club’s new ownership. It’s expected the team will have a new owner in place sometime in March.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed winger Jimmy Vesey to a two-year, $1.6 million contract extension. The average annual value is $800K.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2023

The potential effect of top prospect Connor Bedard upon this season’s trade market, the latest on the Blackhawks and Blues, updates on Alexis Lafreniere and Jakob Chychrun, the Predators could consider shopping Mattias Ekholm, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BEDARD’S POTENTIAL EFFECT ON THE TRADE MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports top prospect Connor Bedard’s unbelievable performance at this year’s World Junior Championship could spur clubs considered sellers in this season’s trade market to start shopping players sooner rather than closer to the March 3 trade deadline.

WHL forward Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats (NHL.com).

Doing so could help those bottom-feeding clubs improve their chances of winning this year’s draft lottery. Potential buyers, however, could prefer waiting until March given the limited salary-cap space around the league.

Chris Johnston believes the asking price for this year’s best assets at this year’s deadline will be at least a first-round pick in return. That goes for the high-profile forwards as well as defensemen like Montreal’s Joel Edmundson and Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every club with a shot at winning the 2023 draft lottery will be trying to dump pending free agents that they can’t or won’t re-sign as quickly as possible. However, Cap Friendly indicates there are only seven teams with more than $3 million in salary-cap payrolls right now. Several of those clubs will be sellers.

Most playoff contenders will be trying to accrue as much cap space as they can leading up to March 3. That means most of the buyers will likely want to wait until within a week or two of the deadline to start making moves when they’ve got the cap flexibility to do so.

MORE RUMORS FROM TSN’S LATEST “INSIDER TRADING”

Darren Dreger believes St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has a decision to make regarding Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko when the two return from injury next month. Armstrong will have to consider the trade value of O’Reilly, who would be a hot asset in the trade market. There will have to be a conversation with O’Reilly, and maybe with Tarasenko, regarding contract extensions, and then make the call nearer the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything I’ve read or heard about Tarasenko’s future is that the Blues won’t be part of it. They reportedly could re-sign O’Reilly if he’s willing to accept a pay cut on a short-term deal.

Dreger also reports the Chicago Blackhawks still have to determine if pending UFAs Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews want to be traded. If they do, the pair will have to determine who the contenders will be. He also believes they would have to decide whether to accept a trade and then test their luck in this summer’s free-agent market or consider a trade-and-sign scenario.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pat Brisson, who represents Kane and Toews, is expected to meet with Blackhawks management later this month to discuss their futures.

Speaking of Gavrikov, Johnston said a lot of teams like him but so do the Blue Jackets. He doesn’t believe they’ve decided yet if they want to move the blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That decision will depend on how much Gavrikov wants to stay in Columbus. He could seek to double his salary from its current average annual value of $2.8 million.

Pierre LeBrun reports there were teams that looked into the availability of Alexis Lafreniere after the 2020 first-overall pick was a healthy scratch last week. However, the New York Rangers still believe in him and have also told that to the young winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should quiet the media trade chatter about Lafreniere for the time being. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it surfaces again before the March 3 trade deadline, especially if the Rangers decide to pursue a big-name player (hello there, Patrick Kane).

UPDATES ON CHYCHRUN, KLINGBERG, EKHOLM, MCDONAGH AND MERKLEY

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is sticking to his asking price of two first-round picks plus another asset as part of the return for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He indicated Chychrun still wants to be dealt to a Stanley Cup contender. If the assets are there, said Armstrong, he will certainly make that trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how well Chychrun’s played since returning in November from offseason wrist surgery, I daresay Armstrong feels confident that someone will meet his price by March 3.

Russo also noted that Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg’s full no-trade clause changed to a modified one on Jan. 1 that’s limited to 10 teams. He pointed out that Ducks GM Pat Verbeek scouted the Edmonton Oilers during two games last month. There’s been chatter they could have an interest in Klingberg, though they seem to have more of a need for a left-side defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ preference would be for Chychrun but they could lack the assets to make that deal happen. The Oilers have also been linked to Gavrikov.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm to his list of trade candidates at No. 7. He’s been told that Predators GM David Poile has some uncomfortable decisions to make as his club has regressed this season to a likely non-playoff team loaded with expensive contracts. Seravalli also wondered if defenseman Ryan McDonagh might be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm lacks no-trade protection and is in the first season of a four-year contract. However, he’s also turning 33 in May and carries an annual salary-cap hit of $6.25 million. Good luck moving that contract during a season under a flattened salary cap.

As for McDonagh, Seravalli pointed out he waived his no-trade clause last summer to go from Tampa Bay to Nashville. He believes that requesting the 33-year-old rearguard to waive it again could be a tall ask. Even if McDonagh agreed to be traded again, his age and $6.75 million cap hit through 2025-26 make him very difficult to move in-season.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Max Miller cited Seravalli reporting yesterday that Sharks defenseman Ryan Merkley requested a trade. A first-round pick (21st overall) in 2018, he’s spent much of his tenure with the Sharks organization playing for their AHL affiliate.

Merkley spent 39 games with the Sharks last season and was expected to skate with them again this season. Sharks GM Mike Grier declined to comment.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2022

The Red Wings stage a big rally to defeat the Penguins, the Bruins continue their winning ways, the Leafs are fined for violating the CBA and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Detroit Red Wings overcame a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jake Walman. Magnus Hellberg stopped all 19 shots he faced after replacing Ville Husso in the Red Wings net while David Perron scored the tying goal as his club improved to 15-11-7 on the season. Jason Zucker tallied twice for Pittsburgh as they dropped to 19-10-6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang were all held scoreless in this contest as the Penguins were outshot 46-31.

Third-period goals by Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Zacha lifted the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils (22-11-2). Linus Ullmark stopped 30 shots for the 28-4-3 Bruins as they extended their points streak to nine games and sit atop the overall standings with 59 points, seven ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes. The once red-hot Devils, meanwhile, have dropped eight of their last nine contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Devils placed defensemen John Marino (upper body) and Ryan Graves (lower body) on injured reserve. Both are considered week-to-week.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Bruins fourth-line forward Tomas Nosek (undisclosed) was kept out of the lineup for this game. Head coach Jim Montgomery called it nothing serious, preferring Nosek not to play in back-to-back games during his recovery.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made a season-high 49 shots backstopping his club to a 3-2 shootout upset of the Vegas Golden Knights. Adam Henrique scored twice in regulation while Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry tallied in the shootout for the 10-22-4 Ducks. Mark Stone and Ben Hutton replied for the Golden Knights (24-12-2), who hold a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference with 50 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was Gibson’s fifth game this month and his first since Dec. 13 as injuries and illness limited his playing time.

The Calgary Flames nipped the Seattle Kraken 3-2 as Jonathan Huberdeau snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period. Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist for the Flames (17-13-7) while Philipp Grubauer made 41 saves for the 18-11-4 Kraken.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point scored twice to drop the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Victor Hedman collected two assists as the Lightning improved to 21-11-1 while the Canadiens (15-17-3) dropped their third straight game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens also set a franchise record in this game by starting five rookies (Kaiden Guhle, Johnathan Kovacevic, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj and Justin Barron) on their blueline.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs were fined $100,000 by the NHL for violating the collective bargaining agreement. They traveled to St. Louis on Dec. 26 for their game the following day against the Blues. That date was a mandated off-day for all team purposes, including travel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans criticized the league for this action. However, it was the NHL Players Association that mandated off days for players in the CBA. The league is merely enforcing the rules.

Meanwhile, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was fined $25,000 by the league for what it called “demeaning conduct directed at the officials” during the Leafs 5-4 overtime win against the Blues. Keefe was upset over what he considered two uncalled infractions by Blues players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The second infraction was Leafs forward Zach Aston-Reese getting cut by a high stick from Blues winger Brandon Saad. I don’t think Keefe was unjustified in his anger at the officials over that missed call.

Speaking of the Leafs, Morgan Rielly is set to return to the lineup in Thursday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. The 28-year-old defenseman has been sidelined since Nov. 21 by a knee injury. During his absence, the Leafs went 12-2-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not to imply that the Leafs are a better team without Rielly but rather an indication of how well they adjusted during his absence. Having their best defenseman back in the lineup should only make them better.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers placed goaltender Carter Hart on injured reserve despite the fact he practiced with the club earlier this week. He is expected to play in the final two games of their upcoming road trip against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks provided he clears concussion protocol.

THE SCORE: Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin has reinjured his surgically repaired left ankle. There is no timetable for his return. Nichuskin underwent the procedure in early November and returned to the lineup on Dec. 9.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday against the Canadiens. He’s been sidelined since Dec. 3 by a concussion.

YARDBARKER: The Minnesota Wild placed winger Marcus Foligno (lower body) on injured reserve.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2022

Game recaps feature a four-point game for Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, the three stars of the week are revealed, two trades go down before the holiday freeze goes into effect, the Oilers re-sign Stuart Skinner and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins extended their home points streak to 19 games by dumping the Florida Panthers 7-3. Boston captain Patrice Bergeron scored twice and collected two assists while Brad Marchand collected three assists as the Bruins (25-4-2) opened a seven-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the overall standings with 52 points. Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe each had two points for the 15-14-4 Panthers.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are showing no signs of cooling off from their hot start to this season as they approach the holiday season. They’re widening their lead over the teams chasing them in the overall standings.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Buffalo Sabres. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 41 saves to hold off Vegas while Tage Thompson tallied his 26th goal of the season as the Sabres improved to 16-14-2. Chandler Stephenson and Reilly Smith replied for the Golden Knights (22-11-1) as they hold a one-point lead over the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference with 45 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury.

The Stars (19-8-6), meanwhile, nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 2-1. Jake Oettinger made 27 saves while Wyatt Johnston and Jason Robertson were the goal scorers. Kent Johnson replied for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four in a row and dropped to 10-19-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets forward Yegor Chinakhov left this game with an upper-body injury. The Jackets also played without captain Boone Jenner as he’s sidelined for four weeks with a broken thumb.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev turned in a 26-save shutout and Evan Rodrigues scored the only goal in a 1-0 shootout victory over the New York Islanders. Ilya Sorokin stopped 46 shots for the 18-13-2 Islanders. The Avalanche improved to 17-11-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar provided a fine example of sportsmanship by telling the referees not to call a tripping penalty on Isles center Mathew Barzal. The call was reversed after Makar told the official that he wasn’t tripped by Barzal but merely slipped and fell down.

Before the game, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said goaltender Semyon Varlamov (lower-body), Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Palmieri (upper body) are day-to-day. Defenseman Adam Pelech remains sidelined with an upper-body injury but it’s not believed to be long-term. The Isles also terminated the contract of Nikita Soshnikov.

An overtime goal by Alexander Carrier lifted the Nashville Predators over the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Juuse Saros kicked out 30 shots for the Predators (13-13-4) as they end a six-game skid. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice and Connor McDavid (two assists) extended his points streak to 13 games. The Oilers sit at 17-14-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Oilers announced they’ve signed goaltender Stuart Skinner to a three-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $2.6 million. Skinner has outplayed Jack Campbell ($5 million AAV) and taken over the starter’s job from the struggling Campbell.

Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov’s overtime goal gave his club a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Nic Dowd scored twice in 11 seconds during the second period for the Capitals as they move to 17-13-4 on the season. Ville Husso made 38 saves for the 13-11-7 Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. He backed up Charlie Lindgren for this contest.

A hat trick by Jordan Kyrou carried the St. Louis Blues over the Vancouver Canucks 5-1. Vladimir Tarasenko collected three assists and Jordan Binnington made 33 saves for the Blues as they improved to 16-15-1. Ilya Mikheyev scored for the Canucks as they drop to 13-15-3.

An overtime goal by Mike Hoffman gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Sam Montembeault stopped 37 shots while Cole Caufield netted his 19th goal of the season for the Canadiens (15-15-2). Nick Schmaltz and Matias Macelli replied for the Coyotes as they slide to 10-15-5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens announced they’ll honor former Habs defenseman P.K. Subban prior to their Jan. 12 game at the Bell Centre against the Nashville Predators. Subban played for both clubs but he spent seven of his 13 NHL seasons with the Canadiens, winning the Norris Trophy in 2012-13. He retired before the start of this season.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson and Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello are the three stars for the week ending Dec. 18, 2022.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers winger Cam Atkinson’s season is over before it had a chance to begin. He’ll undergo neck surgery on Dec. 21 and is expected to make a full recovery.

Meanwhile, Flyers center Kevin Hayes didn’t believe he deserved to be a healthy scratch for the club’s 6-3 loss to the Islanders on Saturday. “I wasn’t happy but it’s not my decision,” said Hayes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tensions appear to be rising between Hayes and Flyers coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl for two games for high-sticking Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm during Sunday’s game between the two clubs.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs traded forward Denis Malgin to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Dryden Hunt.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks acquired defenseman Michael Del Zotto in a three-team trade involving the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. Del Zotto was traded first by the Panthers to the Red Wings for blueliner Giavani Smith. The Wings then flipped him to the Ducks for center Danny O’Regan. All three will be reporting to their new minor-league teams.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks activated Alex Stalock from injured reserve and sent Arvid Soderblom to their AHL affiliate in Rockford. They also placed Jarred Tinordi (facial fracture) on IR retroactively to Dec. 18.

NHL.COM: Former NHL goaltender Andrew Hammond has announced his retirement. He spent six seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils from 2013-14 to 2021-22 with a record of 31 wins, 20 losses and 7 overtime losses. He had a career goals-against average of 2.56 and a .916 save percentage with four shutouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hammond is best remembered for his 20-1-2 run with the Senators to carry the club into the 2015 playoffs. Best wishes to “The Hamburglar” in his future endeavors.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 18, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 18, 2022

Check out the latest on the Canucks plus recent rumors on Ryan O’Reilly, James van Riemsdyk and more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks don’t want to tear down and rebuild their roster but they’re interested in changing their mix and breathing new life into the team.

The Canucks have indicated center Elias Pettersson is their only untouchable. They’re not looking to trade defenseman Quinn Hughes and it would take “a mammoth offer” to pry him away.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (NHL Images)

As for Bo Horvat, Friedman believes they don’t want to go over the $56 million they signed J.T. Miller to back in September on an eight-year deal. However, Horvat’s performance this season puts him over that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes is all but untouchable. I don’t see them moving him given he’s their best defenseman and it would be very difficult to find a comparable replacement. Unless he wants out, they’re not trading him.

Horvat, meanwhile, is on pace to reach 50 goals this season. If the Canucks aren’t willing to pay him more than the $8 million per season that Miller will start earning in 2023-24, expect him to be suiting up with a new club by no later than March 3.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Canucks would seek a hockey deal rather than a futures-only return if they were to move Horvat before the March 3 trade deadline. They want to upgrade at center and/or their right-shot defense if possible and bring in a player in his twenties.

LeBrun wondered if non-playoff teams with cap space might try to acquire Horvat before the deadline. He considers it a long shot but one of those clubs might consider it worthwhile to acquire him in order to negotiate a new contract with him before his unrestricted free-agent eligibility on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been frequently reported that Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini doesn’t want to rebuild the roster. Management has no other option but to try and retool around the current core. That means shopping players like Horvat and Brock Boeser for comparable roster players (or as close to it as possible) in return.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps doesn’t count out the Golden Knights as a potential suitor for Horvat. He acknowledged the Golden Knights’ lack of salary-cap space and that they play in the same division as the Canucks are two factors that work against it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Let’s just say that Horvat ending up with the Golden Knights this season is a long shot and leave it at that.

OTHER NOTABLE POTENTIAL TRADE BAIT

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek wondered if St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly might return to the Colorado Avalanche before the March 3 trade deadline. O’Reilly returning to the team where he started his NHL career would be a juicy storyline but a lot would have to happen to make it take place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche’s limited cap space plus the recent rivalry between the Avs and Blues probably works against this. Still, never say never, I suppose.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist could be worth monitoring. He’s been playing five-on-five minutes with Johnny Gaudreau and has a modest 13 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nyquist also had a 53-point performance last season with the Jackets before Gaudreau arrived. Duhatschek points out he’s got a $5.5 million cap hit this season. However, I think the Jackets could retain part of that for the right return.

Duhatschek also suggested Anaheim Ducks forward Derek Ryan and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could become trade bait. He also included Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Jack Johnson and Arizona Coyotes forward Nick Bjugstad.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek reports the Philadelphia Flyers have made winger James van Riemsdyk available. He’s in the final season of his contract with a $7 million salary-cap hit but he’s earning $5 million in actual salary, of which $1 million was already paid as a bonus. Marek believes the Flyers could be willing to retain part of his salary to make the 33-year-old winger more palatable in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marek pointed out that van Riemsdyk has playoff experience and could be enticing to playoff contenders seeking help on the power play. He’s reached 20-plus goals seven times and 40 or more points eight times in his previous 13 seasons. He was sidelined by a fractured finger earlier in the season but has 11 points in 12 games this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 18, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 18, 2022

The Bruins are the first team to reach 50 points this season, Alex Pietrangelo returns for the Golden Knights, the once red-hot Devils suffer their fifth straight loss, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins are the first team to reach 50 points this season as they doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2, extending their home points streak to 18 games. David Pastrnak tallied his 20th goal of the season while Jeremy Swayman made 31 saves and narrowly missed scoring an empty-net goal. The Bruins (24-4-2) hold a five-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the overall standings. Patrik Laine had a goal and an assist for the 10-18-2 Blue Jackets.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Golden Knights (22-10-1), they suffered their fifth straight home loss by dropping a 5-2 decision to the New York Islanders. Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves for the win despite leaving late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. Zach Parise and Brock Nelson each had a goal and an assist as the Islanders improved to 18-13-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returned to the lineup for the first time since taking a leave of absence for personal reasons on Nov. 27. He explained that his four-year-old daughter took ill over the American Thanksgiving weekend resulting in a lesion on her brain that required hospitalization. Her condition has since improved and she is expected to make a full recovery.

In other Golden Knights news, Paul Cotter missed this game and is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Vegas sits first overall in the Western Conference with 45 points. Meanwhile, the Islanders played without Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Palmieri, who are day-to-day with upper-body injuries.

The Florida Panthers dropped the New Jersey Devils 4-2, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Sam Reinhart scored twice and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots as the Panthers improved to 15-13-4. John Marino and Erik Haula replied for the 21-8-2 Devils, who sit second overall in the Eastern Conference with 44 points and a game in hand over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Panthers as captain Aleksander Barkov left the game late in the first period with a possible knee injury.

Washington Capitals defenseman Erik Gustafsson tallied his first career hat trick to lead his club to a 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Sonny Milano collected three assists and Charlie Lindgren made 34 saves as the Capitals move to 16-13-4 on the season. Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist for the Leafs (19-7-6).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals winger T.J. Oshie left this game with an upper-body injury. The Caps were already shorthanded entering this contest with Nic Dowd (lower body) and Hunter Shepard (upper body) on the sidelines.

An overtime goal by Martin Necas lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Dallas Stars 5-4 to extend their points streak to 10 games. Necas, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist as the Hurricanes (18-6-6) moved to within two points of the Devils in the Metropolitan Division. Jason Robertson collected three assists for the 18-8-6 Stars, who sit atop the Central Division with 42 points.

The Winnipeg Jets (20-9-1) moved to within a point of the Stars in the Central with a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Kyle Connor and Sam Gagner each had a goal and an assist while Pierre-Luc Dubois picked up three assists. Bo Horvat replied for the Canucks as they fell to 13-14-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets played without Blake Wheeler (groin injury) and Nate Schmidt (upper body) as they’re both sidelined for at least a month. Canucks forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser missed this contest with a non-COVID illness.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brandon Hagel scored twice and chipped in an assist as his club dumped the Montreal Canadiens 5-1. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist for the Lightning (20-9-1) as they move to within three points of the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Nick Suzuki replied for the Canadiens (14-15-2) as they fall into the bottom of their division with 30 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson returned to the lineup following a four-game absence with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Habs moved blueliner David Savard to injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 4.

The New York Rangers extended their winning streak to six games with a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Artemi Panarin and K’Andre Miller each had a goal and an assist as the Rangers (17-10-5) sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division with 39 points. Carter Hart made 29 saves for the 10-15-7 Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Flyers placed winger Cam Atkinson on injured reserve. He’s been sidelined the entire season with an upper-body injury.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators, handing the latter their sixth straight defeat. Alexandar Georgiev made 25 saves for the win as the Avalanche improved to 16-11-2 and sit fourth in the Central Division with 34 points. Matt Duchene scored for the 12-13-4 Predators.

Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson scored his 25th goal of the season in a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Jeff Skinner returned to the Sabres lineup following a three-game suspension and tallied twice. The Sabres (15-14-2) have won three straight. Connor Ingram kicked out 38 shots for the Coyotes as they drop to 10-15-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes played without Liam O’Brien as they announced earlier in the day that he’s week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

The Anaheim Ducks got a 46-save performance by Lukas Dostal to upset the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. John Klingberg broke a 3-3 tie for the Ducks (9-20-3) after the Oilers (17-14-1)had overcome a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third period. Oilers captain Connor McDavid extended his points streak to 12 games with a goal and an assist.

Special teams made the difference for the Ottawa Senators as they clipped the Detroit Red Wings 6-3, tallying three power-play goals and two short-handed tallies. Alex DeBrincat had three assists as the Senators improved to 14-14-2. Olli Maatta returned to the Red Wings (13-11-6) following a four-game absence due to a non-COVID illness. The Wings have now lost five straight contests.

Shootout goals by Kevin Fiala and Trevor Moore gave the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Phillip Danault and Josh Anderson-Dolan scored for the Kings (17-12-5) while Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc replied for the Sharks as they fell to 10-16-6.