The Kraken unveil their roster, the Bruins close to re-signing Taylor Hall, the Oilers reportedly ink Mike Smith, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken finally have a full roster as they made their 30-player selections in their expansion draft yesterday. Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde were among the notable players chosen by the Kraken.
The Seattle Kraken officially announced their roster on July 21. (NHL.com).
Gourde will have to wait for a little way to make his debut with the Kraken after undergoing shoulder surgery this week. His recovery period is estimated to be four months.
Adam Larsson, Chris Driedger and Jamie Oleksiak were considered draft selections from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars respectively after signing new contracts with the Kraken. The trio was slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 28 but the Kraken had a three-day window to exclusively negotiate with free agents exposed in the draft.
Larsson signed a four-year, $16 million contract. Driedger’s new deal is for three years and is worth an annual average value of $3.5 million while Oleksiak’s is for five years with a $4.6 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The unofficial Kraken roster I posted yesterday based on media links throughout the day turned out to be the official list. You can read my take on the expansion draft on Bleacher Report.
No side deals emerged during the draft despite weeks of hype. General manager Ron Francis was asked if he has any trades in hand that could be unveiled when the expansion draft roster freeze is lifted at 1 pm ET today. “Probably a lot less than you guys think there might be,” he said.
In other news…
TSN: The Boston Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new deal for left wing Taylor Hall. Darren Dreger expects it’ll be a four-year contract worth close to $24 million in total.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprise. Most of the speculation about Hall’s negotiations with the Bruins suggested a three-to-four year contract worth around $6 million annually.
SPORTSNET: Mike Smith is reportedly returning to the Edmonton Oilers. The 39-year-old goaltender is expected to ink a two-year deal worth around $2 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad cap hit but it’s still a bit of a gamble to invest more than one year into a goalie who turns 40 in March. It remains to be seen who will share the netminding duties with Smith. The Oilers are reportedly shopping Mikko Koskinen. He has a year left on his deal worth $4.5 million but they can’t find any takers. There are no immediate plans to buy him out.
Speaking of the Oilers, they’ve engaged in preliminary contract talks with Tyson Barrie after losing defenseman Adam Larsson to the Kraken in the expansion draft.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have started contract discussions with Rasmus Dahlin. The 21-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent after coming off his three-year entry-level contract.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Trevor Letowski as an assistant coach. He spent the past 10 years coaching in the Ontario Hockey League, the last three as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).
Portzline brought up the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018 as a possible comparable. While Jones is a better all-around defenseman, Karlsson had a more impressive career at that point with two Norris Trophies on his resume. He anticipates the Jackets will get a smaller return for Jones than what the Senators got for Karlsson.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now cited a league source claiming the Toronto Maple Leafs were among the clubs interested in Jones from the beginning. He also believes Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman could be up to something.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Jones could also be interested in going to a team where he can play a leadership role. He could get that opportunity on teams like the Blackhawks, Kings and Flyers where there could be a turnover in veteran leadership in the next couple of years as contracts expire.
The Leafs could’ve kicked tires on Jones. I doubt they have sufficient cap room to sign him to a long-term contract extension or sufficient resources to outbid the clubs listed by Portzline.
With plenty of cap space and depth in draft picks and prospects, the Red Wings have the assets to make a competitive bid for Jones. However, they could also be on the blueliner’s 10-team no-trade list. The Wings could certainly use someone like Jones but he might not be keen to join a team still in the midst of a rebuild.
UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, RANGERS AND RED WINGS
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently proposed the Islanders need to land a reliable scoring winger for Mathew Barzal’s line. He believes they need someone “more dynamic and reliable than (Jordan) Eberle,” who has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. They could leave him exposed in the upcoming expansion draft but there’s no certainty the Seattle Kraken will take him.
He also wondered if they might move defenseman Nick Leddy. That would free up $5.5 million of cap space to find an upper-echelon talent to skate alongside Barzal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need more scoring punch up front. They were 21st overall during the regular season. Eberle had four goals and 11 points in 19 playoff games this year but at 31 he doesn’t have many productive years left. As Brooks pointed out, they must improve the quality of talent on Barzal’s right side.
The Islanders could also try to move Eberle and/or Leddy simply to free up cap room to re-sign restricted free agents Ilya Sorokin, Adam Pelech and Anthony Beauvillier. Perhaps they cut a deal with the Kraken to take one or the other. Maybe they get shopped to other clubs this summer.
Brooks doesn’t think the Rangers have room on their roster to add an unrestricted free agent such as Montreal’s Phillip Danault or Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow. He also doesn’t see them pursuing Toronto’s Zach Hyman because of their depth on left wing. To address the club’s deficiencies, he feels GM Chris Drury can’t add players without subtracting in two-for-one or three-for-one deals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the Rangers are being linked to Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in the rumor mill. They have the depth in young assets to bundle into solid trade offers for an established young center or power forward. We’ll find out over the coming weeks if Drury will make that kind of move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman also has 11 picks in the 2021 draft, including two in the first round, three in the second and two in each of the following three rounds. He could draw upon them as bait for clubs looking to moving a blueliner leading up to the draft weekend (July 23-24).
Recaps of Thursday’s action, Pierre-Luc Dubois benched, an update on the four Capitals sidelined under COVID-19 protocols, and a lengthy list of injuries in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 in the second game of their three-game series. With the score tied 2-2 following the first period, the Canadiens blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.
Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).
Montreal winger Joel Armia also scored twice but suffered a concussion late in the third period from a blindside hit by Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Habs forward Paul Byron also left in the third after being struck in the leg by a shot from teammate Shea Weber. Canucks defensemen Travis Hamonic and Alexander Edler missed the game with upper-body injuries, while blueliner Jalen Chatfield suffered a first-period upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli now has five goals in two games against his former club this season. It’s uncertain if Myers will receive supplemental discipline for his cheap shot on Armia. The Canadiens and Canucks will play the final game of this series on Saturday, with the Habs unbeaten in regulation (3-0-2) thus far.
Jake DeBrusk tallied the only goal in a shootout to give the Boston Bruins a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Nick Ritchie had a goal and an assist while David Krejci collected two assists. James van Riemsdyk tallied twice and Jakub Voracek collected three assists for the Flyers, who gave up 43 shots in this contest. The Flyers played without forward Morgan Frost (dislocated shoulder, injured reserve) and defenseman Philippe Myers (fractured rib, week-to-week).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a big win for the Bruins, who entered this game sitting dead-last in goals for per game (1.00). A porous defense saw the Flyers blow 2-0 and 3-2 leads in this game. The injuries are piling up for the Flyers, who were also playing without Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere.
The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their third straight win by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brayden Point. Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched for almost the entire game, seeing less than four minutes of ice time in the first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts victory was overshadowed by Dubois’ benching. This is ramping up speculation over the 22-year-old center’s future with the Blue Jackets and his relationship with head coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.
New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle tallied twice in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Isles center Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists. Josh Bailey returned to the Isles lineup after spending one day on the club’s COVID-19 absence list. The Devils were without starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was placed on the club’s COVID list, though that doesn’t mean he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.
Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 4-1. The Jets took control of the game with three unanswered second-period goals. Jets winger Patrik Laine missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.
The Los Angeles Kings got their first win of the season by doubling up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. The Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit with Adrian Kempe netting the game-winner in the third period. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist for the Avs.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19. Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absence list on Wednesday. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov will miss at least four games while Samsonov could be sidelined longer. It remains to be seen if the other three tested positive.
Samsonov’s positive test triggered contact testing within the Capitals dressing room, leading to the NHL discovering the four players spent time socializing in the team hotel without facial coverings on multiple occasions. The league fined the Capitals $100K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits and fans questioned the NHL’s protocols when this story broke on Wednesday. The bottom line is the Capitals, and every other team in the league knew what the protocols were before this season started. The NHLPA voted for them. Every player had the opportunity to opt-out of playing this season. The players involved in this incident broke those rules and must now suffer the consequences.
The NHL’s COVID protocols were based on CDC and Health Canada guidelines enabling the 31 NHL teams to stage this season in their home arenas. They must also follow local guidelines.
Those rules have had an effect upon this season. A ban on non-essential travel at the Canada-US border has limited Canadian teams to playing among themselves during the regular season. The San Jose Sharks started this season on the road because Santa Clara County has prohibited all sports activities due to high local COVID levels.
The NHL has already postponed games involving the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes because of COVID outbreaks. They cannot risk further spread jeopardizing the season because some players won’t adhere to the rules.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola will each be sidelined several weeks with undisclosed injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford shopping for help. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.
SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson is sidelined for six weeks with an oblique muscle injury.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (medical reasons) is questionable for his club’s season-opener on Friday against the Nashville Predators.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews left practice early yesterday as he wasn’t feeling great, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe. His status will be updated today. Forward Joe Thornton is expected to miss some games with an upper-body injury.
CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Dillon Dube is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
WGR550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton will miss at least two games with a head injury. Sabres starter Linus Ullmark revealed he missed Monday’s game against Philadelphia as he was grieving the death of his father in Sweden. Ullmark returned to practice and is slated to travel with the club for their upcoming two-game series against Washington.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ullmark during this difficult time.
How will the Islanders find cap space to sign Mathew Barzal? How will the Blue Jackets replace sidelined Gustav Nyquist? Check out the latest in the NHL rumor mill.
ISLES MUST SHED SALARY TO SIGN BARZAL
NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports the Islanders have around $3.9 million in salary-cap space with center Mathew Barzal still to sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello will also find it challenging to bring back unrestricted free agents Matt Martin and Andy Greene and to add goaltender Cory Schneider.
Don’t expect the New York Islanders to buy out Jordan Eberle to alleviate their cap crunch (NHL Images).
Pulock filing for arbitration provides the Isles with a second buyout window that opens for 24 hours on Friday. However, they can only buy out a player earning an annual average value of over $4 million, ruling out Leo Komarov and Thomas Hickey as options.
Lamoriello could attempt another cost-cutting trade. It’ll be difficult to find takers for Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) or Andrew Ladd ($5 million AAV) in this economic climate.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin indicates buying out Boychuk or Ladd won’t provide much immediate relief. The way their salaries are structured, a Boychuk buyout would give the Isles $833K in savings for 2020-21 while Ladd’s would be over $666K.
Larkin wondered if Lamoriello could place a player like Ladd on long-term injury reserve. Failing that, he’ll have to dump another salary via trade.
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple also weighed in on the Islanders’ options. He indicates Martin, Greene and Schneider already have agreed-upon deals with the club but they’re being kept off the books for now in case Barzal signs an offer sheet.
Lamoriello could take a drastic step like buying out Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey or Nick Leddy but Staple doubts he’ll go that far. He also doubts Barzal will get $10 million annually from the Isles unless Lamoriello can find a taker for Boychuk and at least one other contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple believes Lamoriello will have to get creative given how the trade market has dried up and the complications of going the LTIR route. He has a well-earned reputation for creativity when it comes to finding wiggle room under the cap, but this situation will still be a significant challenge.
Leddy has surfaced as a trade candidate. He’s under 30, doesn’t have a long injury history like Boychuk and Ladd, lacks no-trade protection and carries an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. With Devon Toews shipped to Colorado last month in a cost-cutting deal, it’s unlikely Lamoriello parts with Leddy now.
He could try to move Komarov ($3 million AAV through 2021-22, seven-team no-trade list) and Hickey ($2.5 million AAV, lacks no-trade protection. Both could be easier to move than Boychuk and Ladd, though it will still be challenging drumming up interest for either guy.
HOW WILL THE JACKETS REPLACE NYQUIST?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets might pursue Mike Hoffman now that winger Gustav Nyquist is sidelined five-to-six months following shoulder surgery. Losing Nyquist is a big blow for the low-scoring Jackets, who still haven’t suitably replaced the offense lost when Artemi Panarin departed via free agency to the New York Rangers last year.
Larkin acknowledged adding Hoffman won’t make the Jackets a Stanley Cup contender, but it would provide a much-needed injection of offense. He’s the type of player who can score given the opportunity at five-on-five or on the power play, which he’ll certainly get with the Jackets.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t a big fan of free agency. Instead, he’s expected to continue to play the waiting game with the handful of cap-strapped NHL clubs in the hope one of them will be willing to trade away a quality player on the cheap.
Portzline also examined internal options for the Jackets. They could slide Nick Foligno or Boone Jenner into left wing on the second line. Nyquist’s absence could also create an opportunity for rookie Liam Foudy to skate on the third line with Mikko Koivu and either Foligno or Jenner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets still have to sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois. With over $12 million in cap space, however, they’ve got sufficient room to do that and to find a suitable short-term replacement for Nyquist.
Hoffman is the best choice in the UFA market. He’d prefer a long-term contract but recent reports indicated he’d accept a one-year deal worth $6 million. That’s probably too rich for Kekalainen’s blood. He could be keeping an eye on the Lightning to see if he can land Tyler Johnson or Alex Killorn.
As with his efforts to sign Dubois, Kekalainen can afford to remain patient. He might not move on finding Nyquist’s replacement until training camp, which could be at least two months away.
Jordan Eberle and Jared Spurgeon each tally hat tricks, the Jets acquire Cody Eakin from the Golden Knights, the Avalanche re-sign Pavel Francouz, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: On the night the New York Islanders honored John Tonelli, Jordan Eberle netted a hat trick to lead them to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Islanders (74 points) hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Earlier in the day, the Isles placed Cal Clutterbuck on injured reserve, while the Red Wings claimed defenseman Cody Goloubef off waivers from the Ottawa Senators.
Jared Spurgeon’s natural hat trick gave the Minnesota Wild a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon netted a natural hat trick to beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected three points for the Oilers. The Wild (65 points) sit three points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Goaltender Pavel Francouz celebrated his two-year, $4-million contract extension with the Colorado Avalanche by kicking out 26 shots to blank the Anaheim Ducks 1-0. J.T. Compher scored the only goal as the Avs (77 points) move one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for second in the Central Division.
The St. Louis Blues (80 points) opened a three-point lead atop the Western Conference by beating the Stars 5-1, leaving the latter four points behind them. Blues defenseman Colton Parayko had a goal and two assists.
Mika Zibanejad scored and set up two others to lead the New York Rangers over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho tallied his 35th goal of the season. With 68 points, the Rangers sit five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Hurricanes (72 points) are one point behind the Jackets.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat scored twice in a 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 42 saves for the win. The Predators (68 points) sit two behind the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Blackhawks made defenseman Erik Gustafsson a late scratch, prompting speculation he could be moved before the upcoming Feb. 24 trade deadline.
Speaking of the Flames, they blew a 3-1 lead to drop a 4-3 decision to the Boston Bruins. Patrice Bergeron scored twice and David Pastrnak had two assists as the Bruins (90 points) won their fifth straight and widened their lead atop the overall standings by five points over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mikael Backlund scored two goals for the Flames.
WINNIPEG SUN/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Winnipeg Jets acquired center Cody Eakin from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2021.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eakin is expected to center the Jets’ fourth line, providing an additional measure of experienced depth to their bottom-six forward lines. By shedding Eakin’s $3.85 million salary-cap hit, the Golden Knights freed up cap room for perhaps another deal before the upcoming trade deadline.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres yesterday placed defenseman Zach Bogosian on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. If unclaimed by noon today, Bogosian will become an unrestricted free agent.
TSN: Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan opened up about his alcohol addiction and his ongoing treatment. He’s returning to the lineup after being out of action for three months participating in the NHL player assistance program.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Ryan on his path forward.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand will be sidelined eight-to-ten weeks with a sprained and factured ankle.
The NHL Department of Player Safety fined Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen $5,000.00 for slashing and Senators forward Scott Sabourin over $1.881.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
TVA SPORTS: With Victor Mete and Xavier Ouellet sidelined by injuries, the Montreal Canadiens recalled defenseman Karl Alzner.