NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2019

The Oilers set a season-opening record, the Hurricanes winning streak ends, the Wild keep struggling, the Senators upset the Lightning, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers set an NHL record with their fifth straight come-from-behind season-opening victory by beating the New York Rangers 4-1. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another while Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist. Rangers rookie Kaapo Kakko tallied his first NHL goal. The Oilers sit atop the league’s overall standings. Earlier in the day, the Oilers placed center Colby Cave on waivers.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored twice in a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A surprising strong start by the Oilers. I’m interested to see how they do against tougher opposition.

Vladislav Namestnikov tallied twice and added an assist as the Ottawa Senators doubled up the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Senators center Artem Anisimov left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts are blowing hot and cold. They crushed the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 the game before, split a season-opening home-and-home against the Florida Panthers, and dropped an overtime decision to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Los Angeles Kings recovered from blowing a 4-1 lead to down the Nashville Predators 7-4. Alex Iafallo scored the winner with 59 seconds remaining in the game while empty-netters by Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty sealed the deal. In other news, the Kings intend to cover up singer Taylor Swift’s “most soldout performances” banner at the Staples Center during their home games. The banner has been an eyesore for Kings fans, as their club hasn’t won playoff series since it was raised in 2015.

Mark Scheifele’s overtime goal completed a three-goal rally for the Winnipeg Jets as they edged the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets depleted defense remains a cause for concern but their offensive punch has powered them to four wins in their first six games.

Tuukka Rask’s 31-save shutout backstopped the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils, handing the latter their fifth-straight loss. Brad Marchand had the game-winner and set up another.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are struggling despite the presence of a healthy Taylor Hall and the offseason additions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and Jack Hughes. Their lousy special teams haven’t helped. They’ve yet to tally a power-play goal while their penalty-killing percentage (50.0) is the league’s worst.

The Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-2 deficit to upset the St. Louis Blues 6-3. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and two assists while Jonathan Drouin collected two points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin is silencing his critics with his early-season play. He’s tied with Gallagher (six points) for the Habs scoring lead with a five-game points streak.

Ilya Mikheyev had a goal and an assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a three-game losing skid by beating the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Frederik Andersen kicked out 25 shots for the victory. In other Red Wings news, senior vice-president and alternate governor Jimmy Devellano will undergo surgery on Monday to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Devellano on a speedy recovery. As for the Leafs, they can thank their secondary scoring for this victory. John Tavares collected an assist while Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander were held scoreless.

New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov turned aside 35 shots and Brock Nelson tallied the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, handing the latter their third straight loss. Panthers forward Evgenii Dadonov had a goal and an assist. Islanders winger Jordan Eberle left the game with a leg injury.

The Carolina Hurricane’ five-game win streak came to end as they fell 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pierre-Luc Dubois netted the game-winner in the third period. Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes activated defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk from injured reserve.

Tom Wilson and John Carlson each had a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1. The Capitals successfully killed off six penalties to end a three-game losing streak. The Stars have dropped five of their last six games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How long before Stars president Jim Lites publicly dumps on Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin again? Asking for a friend.

The Minnesota Wild are off to their worst start in franchise history, suffering their fourth straight loss in a 7-4 drubbing by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rookie Sam Lafferty had a goal and two assists for the Penguins while Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, and Adam Johnson each had a goal and an assist.

Andre Burakovsky scored in overtime as the Colorado Avalanche nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Michael Grabner and Nick Schmaltz scored for the Coyotes as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame. Coyotes winger Phil Kessel played his 1,000th NHL game.

Shootout goals by Elias Pettersson and Tanner Pearson carried the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves for the win.

Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and William Carrier each had a goal and an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Calgary Flames 6-2. Golden Knights center Cody Eakin made his season debut after suffering a lower-body injury in preseason play. They also called up Oscar Dansk to replace sidelined backup Malcolm Subban.

TSN: Former NHL defenseman and coach Ted Green died on Tuesday at age 79. He spent nearly 11 seasons with the Boston Bruins from 1960-61 to 1971-72, winning the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. He also overcame a gruesome head injury after becoming involved in a stick-swinging incident with Wayne Maki in 1969.

Green finished his playing career with seven seasons in the World Hockey Association. He went on to win five Stanley Cups as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Green’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2019

The NHL buyout period begins today, Islanders re-sign Jordan Eberle, a list of Bruins injuries and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

The NHL buyout period begins today and runs to 5 PM ET on June 30. 

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders re-signed right wing Jordan Eberle to a five-year, $27.5-million contract extension. Eberle, 29, was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. 

The New York Islanders re-signed winger Jordan Eberle (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eberle took a cut in pay from his expiring six-year, $36-million deal to stay with the Islanders. This was a surprise most observers didn’t expect him to be re-signed. At the very least, he was considered a lower priority than captain Anders Lee and Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner.

Eberle may have accepted a pay cut but that contract term seems too long. It’ll be a worthwhile signing If he performs over the next five years at the same level he did down the stretch and in the postseason. Otherwise, it could become a salary-cap headache in the coming years. 

Newsday’s Mark Herrman believes Eberle’s decision to stay was “a sign of faith in general manager Lou Lamoriello, coach Barry Trotz and the future at Belmont Park.”  The winger and his family enjoy living and playing on Long Island. The future construction of a new arena at Belmont Park provides stability for the Islanders. That could become a factor in the Isles’ efforts to retain and attract quality talent. 

NHL.COM: A lengthy list of Boston Bruins players were nursing injuries during the Stanley Cup Final. Captain Zdeno Chara’s jaw was fractured in several places requiring plates, screws, and wires to repair. He’s looking at five-to-six weeks of recovery.

Brad Marchand played through groin, abdominal and wrist injuries. Patrice Bergeron played through a groin injury. David Pastrnak took a blow to his surgically repaired thumb.

Noel Acciari suffered a fractured sternum in the second round. Defenseman John Moore played 10 games despite fracturing his humerus on March 25. Blueliner Kevan Miller suffered a twice-fractured kneecap. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I remain amazed over how professional hockey players continue playing despite serious injuries that would sideline athletes in other sports. 

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals are still trying to re-sign pending UFA winger Carl Hagelin. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin to a one-year contract. Cap Friendly indicates it’s a two-way contract worth $925K at the NHL level. 

SPORTSNET: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed blueline Cameron Gaunce to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700K 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Gustav Olofsson to a one-year, two-way contract. 

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Former Canadiens rearguard Michael Bournival announced his retirement after suffering multiple concussions during his playing career. “I’d rather stop there before it’s too late,” he said in an interview with TVA Nouvelles. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have hired recently-retired winger Tanner Glass to work in their player personnel department. He spent this season playing in France and announced his retirement as an active player earlier this week.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced they’ve hired Mike Bales as their new goaltending coach and Don Granato as an assistant coach. Steve Smith will remain as an assistant but Davis Payne, Chris Hajt and Tom Ward were let go. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2019

Looking ahead for the Blue Jackets, plus the latest on the Islanders and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUE JACKETS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters believe the Columbus Blue Jackets should make a push to re-sign Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. Failing that, they’ll have to find suitable replacements this summer. Panarin and Bobrovsky are expected to test this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. Rumors link Panarin to the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers. There’s a sliver of hope that Bobrovsky could have a change of heart and re-sign with the Jackets. 

Has Artemi Panarin played his final game with the Columbus Blue Jackets? (Photo via NHL Images)

Forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel are also slated to become UFAs this summer. Both were acquired from the Ottawa Senators before the trade deadline. Duchene fit in well with the Jackets but Dzingel saw diminished ice time during the playoffs. 

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline said Panarin, Bobrovsky, Duchene, Dzingel, and Adam McQuaid are all expected to depart via free agency this summer. President of hockey operations John Davidson could depart to take on a similar role with the New York Rangers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Panarin, Dzingel, and McQuaid won’t be back. Bobrovsky could stay if the Jackets are willing to open the vault. However, he could get some tempting offers from rival clubs looking for an established starting goaltender. I also think Duchene would be willing to return for the right price, perhaps over $8 million per season on a long-term deal.

Cap Friendly indicates the Jackets have over $52.3 million invested in 16 players. Assuming an $83 million cap and provided ownership is willing to spend, they’ll have over $30 million to re-sign some of those UFA or find replacements via trade or free agency. The Jackets won’t be able to draw upon their draft picks as trade bait. They have just two picks in this year’s draft and five in next year’s. 

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports the New York Islanders will face decisions with pending UFAs Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, and Robin Lehner. General manager Lou Lamoriello expressed interest in re-signing all of them. Cyrgalis believes Lamoriello would love to bring in a high-impact forward such as Columbus’s Artemi Panarin. Adding more offensive skill might allow head coach Barry Trotz to loosen the reins on his tight-checking defensive system.

Cygalis notes Lee is interested in returning. Over the weekend, however, Cyrgalis suggested Mark Stone’s new eight-year, $76-million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights could be used as a starting point. He also feels Eberle is the most likely to depart while Lehner and Nelson are toss-ups. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lee’s representative could use Stone’s contract as a comparable but I doubt he’ll get that much from the Isles or anyone else. He earned $3.75-million per season on his current contract. Lee turns 29 in July and I expect Lamoriello will offer up something between $6 – $6.5 million per season on a five-year deal.

I also expect Lamoriello will do all he can to keep Lehner in the fold. As a Vezina finalist, he will be expensive to retain. His reps could seek something in the neighborhood of $7 million per season. I agree that Nelson’s a toss-up and Eberle is probably a goner.

UPDATES ON THE WILD

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo recently listed Jared Spurgeon, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin among his list of Minnesota Wild player who could be on the move this summer.

Spurgeon is a year away from UFA eligibility. If it appears a contract extension is impossible to reach this summer, Russo suggested the defenseman’s trade value could be high at this year’s draft. He pointed out the Toronto Maple Leafs need a right-shot blueliner. 

Zucker is coming off a down year and was nearly shipped to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline. With GM Paul Fenton committed to a roster rebuild, the winger could be a prime trade candidate. Russo wouldn’t be surprised if Fenton explored Brodin’s trade value. However, moving him out could be a risk because veteran blueliner Ryan Suter isn’t getting any younger. 

During a recent mailbag segment, Russo was asked which impact players the Wild should pursue this summer. He suggested Columbus center Matt Duchene and Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner. He also thinks one of the Islanders UFA forwards (Eberle, Nelson or Lee) would be a good fit. 

Russo wondered if Fenton looks into Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen or revisits his interest in William Nylander. If Spurgeon is traded, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers might be a good replacement. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Fenton will be among this summer’s busiest general managers. He already shook things up during the regular season, swapping Nino Niederreiter for Viktor Rask, Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato, and Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala. Zucker could be next.

If Fenton decides to move Spurgeon I can see the Leafs expressing interest, though finding sufficient cap space to re-sign him will be difficult. If Spurgeon is re-signed, maybe he’ll look at shopping Brodin.

The Wild have over $62.4 million invested in 14 players, with all their core players under contract. Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek are restricted free agents and should be affordable re-signings. If Fenton ships out Zucker and either Spurgeon or Brodin, he’ll want affordable young NHL-ready players in return. If he goes shopping for UFA help, I expect he’ll look for twenty-something talent. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2019

A look at the Islanders’ potential offseason plans, the latest Oilers GM speculation, and an update on Ryan Miller in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello faces “a massive amount of questions” this summer. They have “a gaggle of free agents” plus “a handful of attractive trade pieces”. He feels they must add some “high-end skills” to supplement their defensive style.

Robin Lehner is among four notable New York Islanders’ unrestricted free agents this summer. (Photo via NHL Images)

Cygalis’ colleague Larry Brooks expects changes are coming. Goaltender Robin Lehner, captain Anders Lee, center Brock Nelson, and winger Jordan Eberle are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Brooks believes Eberle is “essentially out the door”.

The Islanders could have up to $34 million in salary cap room this summer but Lamoriello might not spend all of it. Brooks wonders if the Isles GM will get into a bidding war with the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers for Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin. He also pondered the possibility of Lamoriello attempting to sign Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitch Marner to an offer sheet.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters expect Lee to be re-signed and recommend retaining Nelson. The contract term for Eberle could become a sticking point for Lamoriello. Lehner will command a big raise but Kaplan and Peters wonder if the Isles GM will instead attempt to sign Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.

They also wonder if Lamoriello will pursue a high-end forward like Panarin or Matt Duchene.

Backup goaltender Thomas Greiss has a year remaining on his contract. He could be traded if promising Ilya Sorokin cracks the roster next season. Center Valtteri Filppula could return on another one-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have over $47 million invested in 16 players. They’ll have plenty of cap room to re-sign their key free agents and bring in a high-end player or two. Lamoriello has a reputation for frugalness but he’s also willing to pay big raises to deserving players.

As long as the Lehner camp doesn’t seek Carey Price money, I expect he’ll return with the Islanders. I can see Lamoriello offering big bucks to Lehner on a two-year deal with the promise of more money to come on his next deal if he maintains his Vezina-worthy form. The netminder could feel a sense of loyalty to the Isles for taking a chance on him and perhaps agree to such a deal. We’ll see.

Lee seems keen to stay with the Islanders and Lamoriello probably doesn’t want to lose another captain two years in a row. Dollars shouldn’t be an issue but I recall reading somewhere that Lamoriello won’t want to go beyond five years for Lee.

Eberle has probably played his final game with the Islanders while Nelson’s status appears hazy. He’s coming off a career regular season and played well in the opening round sweep of the Penguins. However, he didn’t have a good series against the Hurricanes. Time will tell if that affects his contract negotiations with Lamoriello.

I expect Lamoriello will attempt to land a skilled player or two via free agency or trades. He’s got the cap space to make a competitive bid via free agency. He’ll also have to sell his prospective UFA targets on why the Isles are worth joining. The club’s improvement this season and the presence of well-respected head coach Barry Trotz should help.

Speaking of trades, I expect winger Joshua Ho-Sang will be shopped this summer. He’s struggled to crack the Isles roster under two different GMs and head coaches. He won’t fetch much on his own but could be bundled into a package offer.

As for an offer sheet, you can’t rule anything out with Lamoriello. However, he’s never gone that route before and could remain unwilling to go down that path.

OILERS STILL WOOING HOLLAND FOR GM JOB?

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reported sources claim the Edmonton Oilers are going all-in trying to woo Detroit Red Wings senior VP Ken Holland into becoming their new general manager. The two sides have reportedly conducted extensive negotiations, with Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson offering Holland complete autonomy to hire and fire at will.

The two sides could reach an agreement over the weekend with an official announcement of the hiring to be made next week. If Holland doesn’t accept the job, Mark Hunter, Sean Burke, and Oilers interim GM Keith Gretzky would remain in the running. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By the sound of things, Holland would take over full control of the Oilers’ hockey operations department. That would rule out the possibility of any meddling from the so-called “Old Boys Network” of former Oilers among the front-office staff. Indeed, it could mean some of those people would be replaced by Holland. It’s a tempting offer for the former Wings GM, who’s been shunted aside in Detroit since Steve Yzerman took over that job.

If Holland accepts he’ll bring a stellar resume with him. The Red Wings were among the league’s dominant teams for most of his 22-year tenure as general manager. During that period, they appeared in four Stanley Cup Finals and won three championships. He also has a solid reputation at the draft table, selecting such notables as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Dylan Larkin. Critics, however, point to his tendency to overpay in the free-agent market and the Wings decline during his final years as GM.

It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds. 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2019

What changes are in store for the Detroit Red Wings under new GM Steve Yzerman? Which scorers could the Arizona Coyotes pursue this summer? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE WINGS UNDER YZERMAN?

MLIVE.COM: Prior to yesterday’s press conference announcing Steve Yzerman was taking over as general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, Ansar Khan looked at what could be on Yzerman’s “to-do” list in the coming months. Decisions will have to be reached regarding pending unrestricted free agent Niklas Kronwall, Thomas Vanek, and Luke Witkowski. Yzerman’s predecessor Ken Holland indicated a willingness to re-sign the Kronwall if the 38-year-old blueliner is willing to return for one more season. 

Will Steve Yzerman make a big move in his first summer as GM of the Detroit Red Wings? (Photo via NHL.com)

Khan wondered if forwards Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen become buyout candidates. “It would cost $9.1 million over eight years to buy out Abdelkader” while Nielsen “would cost $6.33 million over six years to buy out, with hefty cap hits of $3.8 million and $4.8 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively.” Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has one year remaining on his deal and Khan doubts he’ll be bought out.

Yzerman’s name might be a selling point if the Wings new GM goes shopping for experienced talent via this summer’s UFA market. Holland recently estimated the Wings could have between $15-$20 million in cap space, but Khan believes they must also ensure they leave sufficient long-term room for Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi when those youngsters become restricted free agents next summer. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: John Niyo believes Yzerman’s arrival buys the Wings some time to complete their roster rebuild. He noted Yzerman acknowledging there’s plenty of work to do and his call for Wings fans to be patient. He points to Yzerman’s tenure as Lightning GM when he wasn’t afraid of making bold moves (trading Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis), convinced current Bolts stars like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov to accept below-market contracts and invested heavily in player development. 

Niyo also suggested there are buyouts to consider, such as Ericsson or Trevor Daley, while others (Abdelkader, Nielsen, Darren Helm) could be too difficult to get out from under. While Yzerman’s cachet could help the Wings land some big fish in the free-agent pool, he doesn’t sound as though he’ll be going that route just yet, pointing to his remarks downplaying a pursuit of UFA talent while putting an emphasis on drafting and developing talent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman does this summer. I agree with Niyo that it’s unlikely he’ll be a major player in the UFA market, but I can see him exploring the trade market to see what’s available that might help his club.

As per Cap Friendly, the Wings have just over $71 million invested in 18 players, but they’ll get nearly $10 million in cap relief to start the season by placing all-but-retired forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen on long-term injury reserve at the start of the season. They could get another $5.375 million if Mike Green’s ongoing liver ailment prevents him from continuing his playing career. 

The Wings also hold three second-round picks and two fifth-round selections in this year’s draft plus two seconds and two thirds in next year’s draft to draw upon for trade bait.  Yzerman could also dip into his club’s growing pool of young players and prospects but I don’t see him drawing too much from that well.

Yzerman could use the combination of his cap space and depth in draft picks to target a club facing a salary-cap crunch in need of shedding salary. He won’t be looking at aging expensive veterans like Edmonton’s Milan Lucic or Chicago’s Brent Seabrook but it wouldn’t be surprising if he targeted the Toronto Maple Leafs for a young forward like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson or the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Jacob Trouba.   

Some Edmonton pundits think Ken Holland would be a good fit as the Oilers new general manager but he’s reportedly taken himself out of the running for that job and will stay on as the Wings’ senior vice-president

SOME POTENTIAL GOALSCORING TARGETS FOR THE COYOTES

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Arizona Coyotes need scoring and Richard Morin believes Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner would be a great fit. However, budget constraints likely mean the Coyotes can afford him, which could force GM John Chayka to get creative and find more affordable options. Morin suggested New York Islanders forwards Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Jordan Eberle and Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel as possible free-agent targets. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Chayka returned to the offseason trade market, perhaps by targeting clubs looking to move salary. 

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan also looked at several scorers the Coyotes could target via trade or free agency. He notes Chayka pointed out his club needs scoring wingers and not centers, though Morgan believes they’d take on a first-line center if one became available. A right-shot, top-four defenseman would also help. 

Chayka also indicated he would prefer adding players in the prime of their careers or just entering their prime. Expensive options such as Columbus’ Artemi Panarin or Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner would be out of their price range. 

Morgan also listed Lee, Nelson, Eberle, and Dzingel as possible UFA options. Others could include Nashville’s Wayne Simmonds, Winnipeg’s Kevin Hayes, San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist or Washington’s Brett Connolly. Given the Coyotes’ budget constraints, Morgan rules out Chaya going the offer-sheet route. 

Morgan also thinks Chayka could get creative in the trade market. He suggested perhaps the Coyotes GM could use his cap space to pry away one of the Leafs’ promising young forwards (Kapanen, Johnsson or William Nylander) by offering to take on the final year of winger Patrick Marleau’s contract ($6.25 million cap hit), though Marleau’s no-trade clause could complicate things. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chayka’s been busy in the trade market since becoming the Coyotes GM in 2016. Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Alex Goligoski were among his trade acquisitions. I expect he’ll go the trade route again to bring in a top-six winger, using his depth in promising youngsters and draft picks to target cap-strapped clubs.  










NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2019

Updates on the Islanders and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

ISLANDERS FREE AGENTS DRAWING ATTENTION

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports Islanders pending unrestricted free agents Anders Lee, Robin Lehner, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson are showing general manager Lou Lamoriello what type of players they are with their performances down the stretch and in their playoff series against Pittsburgh. Lamoriello acknowledged everyone is talking about their free agents, adding they want to keep them and will try to do so. 

Cyrgalis suggests Eberle could be playing his way off Long Island. The 28-year-old has performed very well since being reunited on center Mathew Barzal’s line, scoring five goals in his final seven regular-season contests and tallying a goal and an assist in each of the Isles two games thus far against the Penguins in their opening-round series. Should Eberle continue playing this well over the remainder of the postseason, Cyrgalis believes suitors will be lining up for his services. 

A strong playoff could boost New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle’s UFA value (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello will face some difficult decisions regarding his “Big Four” UFAs. Cap Friendly indicates the Isles have over $47 million invested in 16 players for 2019-20, giving Lamoriello around $35 million to work with should the cap reach $83 million as projected for next season. Assuming management is willing to spend to the cap there’s plenty of room to re-sign all four. However, Lamoriello still has a reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator.

I believe Lee and Lehner are his priorities, followed by Eberle and Nelson. Much will depend upon what those players seek on their next contracts. Eberle is completing a six-year, $36-million deal and Lamoriello could be reluctant to pay him that much for that long to stay on Long Island.  

COYOTES NEED SCORING BUT WILL THEY GET SOME?

ESPN.COM: In their season-ending assessment of the Arizona Coyotes, Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters believe boosting the scoring should be among their priorities. The limited market via free agency and the team’s economics could hamper efforts to address the issue. They suggest finding a solution via the trade market. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Danny Shapiro reports Coyotes GM John Chayka acknowledges his club’s offense must improve next season. “We didn’t score enough goals, so we have to go through and figure out how to get more out of our own group and how to add to the group and that’s the summer plan,” Chayka said.

While management will hope a healthier lineup next season will help, Chayka didn’t rule out pursuing a scoring in the offseason. Shapiro noted Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Jordan Eberle, and Jeff Skinner are among the notable potentially available via free agency.

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan doesn’t believe Panarin is interested in signing long-term with the Coyotes. He wondered if they should or could look at Islanders UFAs like Anders Lee, Brock Nelson or Jordan Eberle, or Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, or Panarin’s teammate Ryan Dzingel. He also wondered if Chayka would be best-served going the trade route as he has the past two years. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes already have over $73 million invested in 16 players next season. If necessary, they can deduct $5.25 million from their cap payroll by placing all-but-retired Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve. Still, ownership could be unwilling to spend much more than they already have for 2019-20.

A healthier roster will certainly improve the Coyotes’ offense. However, Chayka should try to add another proven scorer. Duchene, Lee or Skinner would address that need but could be too expensive for the Coyotes. Dzingel, Nelson and perhaps Eberle might be more affordable but they could prefer signing with established playoff contenders.

If Chayka boosts his offense I expect he’ll make a trade. Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nicklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Jason Demers, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Alex Goligoski were all Chayka acquisitions. Ditto Jakob Chychrun, as Chayka acquired the pick to select Chychrun in a trade with Detroit during the 2016 Draft.

He’s got the depth in young players to draw upon as trade bait for a proven scorer. Perhaps he’ll entertain offers for his first-round pick (14th overall) in this year’s draft.