NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2021

In today’s NHL rumor mill: the Jack Eichel trade speculation resurfaces, questions about Sam Reinhart’s future in Buffalo, and wondering whether the Predators will expose Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen in this summer’s expansion draft.

LATEST EICHEL AND REINHART SPECULATION

WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators”, TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger speculated Jack Eichel might not be playing with the Buffalo Sabres next season. He’s heard the Los Angeles Kings have an interest in Eichel and thinks the 24-year-old could be a good fit there. However, he also believes the Sabres will hang onto their captain if they don’t get the return they want.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl recently noted Sam Reinhart’s stock was high before the trade deadline. He claimed there’s interest in the 25-year-old Sabres winger. Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer coming off a one-year, $5.2 million contract and is also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Vogl envisioned several possible scenarios for Reinhart, such as the Sabres trading him during the 2021 NHL Draft, re-signing him for a year to see if the club improves and shopping him as a rental next season if they don’t, or signing him to a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is going to be a decisive summer for the Sabres, one that finally puts them on the right track toward building a playoff contender or keeps them mired in an already decade-long streak of mediocrity. It’ll come down to whatever decisions general manager Kevyn Adams makes with Eichel and Reinhart.

Eichel lacks no-trade protection this summer, giving Adams the flexibility to trade him to any NHL club. He’s also under contract for the next five seasons with a whopping $10 million annual average salary.

A lot of teams will be interested in Eichel but few can afford the cost in dollars and tradeable assets (first-round draft picks, top prospects, promising young players) to pry him away from the Sabres. The Kings could be one of those few if GM Rob Blake hopes to accelerate his club’s rebuilding program.

Reinhart would be a much more affordable asset if Adams puts him on the trade block but the Sabres GM could seek at least a first-round pick and a top prospect or promising young player in return. An acquiring club must also negotiate a new contract for him if the Sabres haven’t re-signed him first.

WILL PREDATORS LEAVE DUCHENE AND JOHANSEN UNPROTECTED?

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan and Ryan S. Clark recently wondered if the Nashville Predators might leave forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen unprotected in this summer’s expansion draft. Both carry $8 million annual salary-cap hits but struggled to live up to contract expectations. The Seattle Kraken would need to be incentivized to take one of them. Others clubs will also attempt to expose high-salaries players in the hope the Kraken will take them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vingan and Clark point out Kraken GM Ron Francis will have leverage in this situation. They suggest the Predators would have to add a sweetener like a draft pick and/or a prospect and possibly some salary retention to make Duchene or Johansen palatable to the Predators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 16, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action include milestones for Tuukka Rask and Nicklas Backstrom, the Canucks’ Friday game is postponed plus the latest on Steven Stamkos and Jack Eichel in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Taylor Hall scored his first goal with the Boston Bruins and Tuukka Rask picked up his 300th career NHL victory after returning from injury in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders. Brad Marchand scored twice for the Bruins, who sit fourth in the MassMutual East Division with 52 points. The Islanders are in second place with 58 points.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

The Washington Capitals failed to widen their lead over the Isles as they were upset 5-2 by the Buffalo Sabres. Washington center Nicklas Backstrom picked up an assist in his 1,000th career NHL game. Anders Bjork had a goal and an assist for the Sabres. The Capitals remain atop the East with 60 points.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin picked up his second straight shutout over the New Jersey Devils with a 4-0 victory. Artemi Panarin scored two goals as the Rangers (48 points) remain four points behind the Bruins and two ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Speaking of the Flyers, they got shootout goals from Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier to nip the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. Carter Hart kicked out 31 shots for the Flyers. The Penguins are in third place with 57 points, one back of the second-place Islanders.

The Carolina Hurricanes moved into first place in the Discover Central Division by downing the Nashville Predators 4-1. Andrei Svechnikov and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and an assist to give the Hurricanes 60 points in the standings. The Predators, meanwhile, are in fourth place with 49 points.

An overtime goal by Victor Hedman gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. Alex Killorn had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. The Lightning also announced they placed captain Steven Stamkos on long-term injury reserve with a lower-body injury retroactive to April 9. Tampa Bay also has 60 points but sits second in the Central on the basis of games played while the Panthers are one point behind them.

Jakub Vrana scored his first goal with the Detroit Red Wings as they upset the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Troy Stecher also scored two goals for the Wings to extend their win streak to three games. The loss leaves the Blackhawks (45 points) four points behind the Predators.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive by dropping the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. Denis Gurianov scored twice and collected an assist as the Stars are one point back of the Blackhawks.

Two-goal performances by Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connors carried the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto center Auston Matthews missed the game with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Jets (57 points) moved to within three points of the first-place Leafs in the Scotia North Division.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks’ scheduled game tonight against the Edmonton Oilers was postponed because of player preparation concerns. The Canucks last played on March 24 and their schedule was postponed on March 31 by COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation Saturday’s game could also be postponed. It wouldn’t surprise me if it takes another week before the Canucks can safely ice a healthy roster. This latest postponement came about after the players raised concerns with the NHLPA that they hadn’t fully recovered in time for Friday’s contest with the Oilers.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams denied reports claiming team captain Jack Eichel would soon undergo surgery to repair a season-ending herniated disk in his neck. He said Eichel will continue to rehab the injury and he’ll be reevaluated in May.










What Next For The Buffalo Sabres?

What Next For The Buffalo Sabres?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury reaches a career wins milestone, J.T. Miller expresses concern about the Canucks returning to action on Friday, Jack Eichel done for the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 485th career victory as he backstopped the Vegas Golden Knights over the Los Angeles Kings 6-2. Fleury moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time NHL wins list. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and two assists for the Golden Knights, who remain in second place in the Honda West Division with 60 points.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves in his debut with the Colorado Avalanche as they held off the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while Blues winger Mike Hoffman tallied twice. The Avalanche sit atop the West Division with 64 points while the Blues (44 points) remain in fourth place. They played without goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to be sidelined for two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent acquisition of Dubnyk proved timely for the Avs. With Grubauer on the shelf and regular backup Pavel Francouz out of the season, they would’ve been in big trouble without an experienced netminder to fill the void. Dubnyk’s no longer in his playing prime but should provide some short-term stability between the pipes.

The Arizona Coyotes missed an opportunity to overtake the Blues by dropping a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild. The Coyotes have lost five straight and remain one point back of the Blues. Mats Zuccarello scored two goals for the Wild as they sit in third place with 53 points.

A 27-save performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have lost four of their last five and sit four points back of the Blues.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive in the Scotia North Division by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves as the Flames (41 points) picked up their third straight win to sit just four points behind the Canadiens, who’ve dropped four of their last five contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ postseason hopes seemed all but dashed a week ago. They were mired in a lengthy losing skid while the Canadiens were playing .500 hockey and seem assured of clinching a playoff spot. The odds still favor the inconsistent Habs as they hold three games in hand over the Flames with several key games coming up between those two teams.

Laurent Brossoit stopped 27 shots as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2. With 55 points, the Jets opened a three-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North Division.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller spoke out yesterday against his club’s scheduled return to action on Friday after he and his teammates were sidelined for nearly three weeks by a recent COVID-19 outbreak. He believes the Canucks haven’t had sufficient time to recover and return to play, especially with eight players still on the COVID-19 protocol list. He feels he and his teammates would be at greater risk of injury, adding they’re also concerned over the health of their family members who also contracted the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported the Canucks players met with the NHLPA. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the PA, NHL and Canucks medical met to determine if the club is healthy enough to play on Friday. A decision is expected later today.

None of the Canucks want to opt-out of completing the season, but they have justifiable concerns about their health and safety right now. It could take at least another week for enough of them to be healthy enough to safely return to action.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of COVID-19, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson was placed on the NHL’s protocol list as a precautionary measure after the AHL postponed three Toronto Marlies games. Robertson recently played with the Marlies before skating in the Leafs’ last two games.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel will not return this season because of a herniated disk in his neck. He’s expected to be recovered and healthy for 2021-22. The Sabres also announced Jason Karmanos has been hired as associate general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s been sidelined since March 7 so I don’t think anyone’s surprised by this announcement. It’s just another blow in a seemingly unending series of them this season for the sad-sack Sabres.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars announced goaltender Ben Bishop (knee surgery) and winger Alexander Radulov (core muscle injury) will miss the remainder of the season. The Stars also signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $750K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop underwent surgery last fall. He was on track to return in two weeks’ time but his condition reportedly worsened and they decided to shut him down for the season. Tyler Seguin is still expected to return soon from offseason hip surgery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Conor Sheary signed a two-year, $3 million contract extension yesterday. The annual average value is $1.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The plans to construct a new arena for the Calgary Flames have been put on hold over budget concerns. The parties involved in the construction are pausing to review and resolve the issues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action following the trade deadline, the stars of the week are revealed, the Kings re-sign Alex Iafallo, the Flyers re-up Scott Laughton, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for Colorado as they’ve won 16 of their last 19 contests. With 62 points, the Avalanche sit atop the Honda West Division and the NHL’s overall standings. The Coyotes (43 points) remain one point back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty netted his 300th career NHL goal as his club scored four unanswered goals to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the first-place Avs in the West Division.

A franchise-record 46-save shutout performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks over the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alexander Volkov scored two goals for the Kings. The loss leaves the Sharks (40 points) four points behind the Blues.

The Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 to snap Leafs goalie Jack Campbell’s 11-game winning streak. Montreal winger Tomas Tatar scored twice while Leafs star Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 32nd of the season. The Canadiens sit in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 45 points, 14 back of the first-place Leafs.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk tallied two goals in a 4-2 upset of the Winnipeg Jets. Senators forward Connor Brown extended his goal-scoring streak to eight games. The Jets remain in second place in the North with 53 points.

An overtime goal by Brandon Hagel gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets, who sit eight points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Discover Central Division. The fifth-place Blackhawks, meanwhile, sit just two points back of the Predators.

The Detroit Red Wings spoiled the 1,000th career NHL game of Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal by dropping the Hurricanes 3-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves as his teammates tallied three third-period goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes tied with the Tampa Bay Lighting with 58 points but the latter holds first place in the Central Division on the basis of wins.

The NHL postponed Monday’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. The game is rescheduled for May 12.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz are the three stars for the week ending April 11, 2021.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed forward Alex Iafallo to a four-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract talks between the Kings and Iafallo went through most of Monday before an agreement was reached before the 3 pm ET trade deadline. Having traded long-time veteran forward Jeff Carter to Pittsburgh, the Kings cleared sufficient cap room to keep the 27-year-old Iafallo as they continue their rebuild.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed forward Scott Laughton to a five-year contract extension worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Iafallo, Laughton’s contract talks carried on until close to the trade deadline. Both players were considered potential trade candidates if their respective teams failed to re-sign them before the 3 pm ET deadline. This is an affordable signing by the Flyers, retaining a versatile, energetic 26-year-old player who could help them rebound from this difficult season going forward.

WIVB.COM: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Jack Eichel will remain sidelined for a while. The Sabres captain has been out since March 7 with an upper-body injury. With 15 games remaining, this could be season-ending for Eichel.

THE ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm could miss the remainder of the season with a fractured wrist suffered on Feb. 27 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Branden Tanev could be sidelined for the rest of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators claimed defenseman Victor Mete off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.

NJ.COM: The Dallas Stars claimed blueliner Sami Vatanen off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2021

The latest on Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Mike Hoffman and Josh Manson plus updates on the Leafs, Bruins, Flames, Oilers and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SABRES SCRATCH HALL AS TRADE TALKS INTENSIFY

TSN: Darren Dreger believes the Buffalo Sabres deciding to hold Taylor Hall out of last night’s game against the New Jersey Devils indicates trade talks regarding the 29-year-old left winger are picking up. “Thing have intensified with a couple of teams,” said Dreger, adding it’s unlikely Hall will still be a Sabre by Monday’s trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said sitting out Hall (and the New Jersey Devils doing the same with Kyle Palmieri) doesn’t mean anything’s imminent but more precautionary to avoid injury leading up to deadline day. He believes Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is considering a number of scenarios big and small before the deadline, including perhaps listening to pitches for Jack Eichel.

Buffalo Sabres sit Taylor Hall ahead of the April 12 trade deadline (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall will be on the move by deadline day, it’s just a question of where and how much the Sabres can get for him. I doubt they’ll get a first-round pick. As for Eichel, that sort of trade happens in the offseason. Friedman feels Adams may be getting the lay of the land regarding what his captain’s trade value will be.

UPDATES ON THE LEAFS, BRUINS, FLAMES AND OILERS

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski said recent reports have the Maple Leafs linked to Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett and Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm. An industry source told Zwolinski the Leafs have been heavily scouting Los Angeles Kings right-winger Adrian Kempe. They’re also believed eyeing Predators forward Mikael Granlund. Salary cap space is a major consideration as the Leafs are among nine teams with less than $1 million in cap room.

THE ATHLETIC (stick tap to THE SCORE): Leafs GM Kyle Dubas told Pierre LeBrun the play of forward Alex Galchenyuk has somewhat lessened his club’s urgency to add a forward. He cited how well Galchenyuk has fit in on a line with John Tavares and William Nylander. Nevertheless, the Leafs GM is keeping his options open as the deadline approaches.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak would be a consideration for the Leafs if they pursue a depth blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kempe, 23, carries a $2 million cap hit and is a year away from becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He’s second among Kings scorers this season with 12 goals. Dubas has a trade history with the Kings but GM Rob Blake is under no pressure to move Kempe.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports rumors are swirling linking the Bruins to Devils winger Kyle Palmieri and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to address their needs for a scoring winger and left-side blueline depth. The cost for Palmieri would likely be a first-round pick and a forward prospect.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also hears the Bruins linked to Palmieri and Hall but also heard they don’t think adding a rental player is a good idea for the cost.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giving up a first-rounder as part of the return for Palmieri makes sense only if the Bruins can re-sign him. Otherwise, they’re better off trying to find a winger with term remaining on his contract.

TSN: Frank Seravalli believes Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving could be open to doing just about anything as his club slips further out of playoff contention. A couple of teams could be interested in Treliving’s plans for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan but deals like that typically happen in the offseason. Backup goaltender (and pending UFA) David Rittich is drawing some interest but things are quieter on lower-priced UFAs like Derek Ryan.

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson doesn’t expect any blockbuster moves by the Flames at the trade deadline. He can see Rittich, Ryan and Sam Bennett getting peddled as potential rentals in exchange for mid-round draft picks. He anticipates a more significant shakeup in the summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Big changes are likely coming for the Flames but we’ll have to wait until the offseason for those. Bennett, Rittich and Ryan are the most likely to be moved at the deadline.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector doesn’t expect any movement by the Edmonton Oilers before the trade deadline. The Oilers are capped out and deep into their long-term injury reserve. GM Ken Holland made most of his significant moves during the offseason.

Elliotte Friedman isn’t convinced about the Oilers being among the suitors for Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening.

LATEST ON THE BLUES, DUCKS AND KINGS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes St. Louis Blues forwards Mike Hoffman and Tyler Bozak could be on the move before the deadline. GM Doug Armstong isn’t shy about trading underachieving UFAs when his club is in playoff contention.

STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon believes Armstrong could become a seller if the Blues don’t reverse their fortunes soon. Hoffman could draw interest from teams seeking scoring depth such as the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. Defenseman Vince Dunn could become a trade chip to restock their depth chart.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman turned into a big disappointment this season for the Blues. They might get a second-round pick for him at the trade deadline but his inconsistent play could make him a tough sell. Dunn would draw more interest but I don’t see him fetching a first-round pick. Maybe a prospect and/or a promising NHL-ready player.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Anaheim Ducks have had a few calls on Josh Manson. They still like the 28-year-old defenseman but given where they are in the standings and youth movement they have to listen. The Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets are among the clubs with interest in Manson but the Ducks’ asking price is a first-round pick and a top prospect.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Ducks are seeking players between ages 19 and 23 who are ready to play but they’re really hard to find. He wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights might kick tires on Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Manson won’t be moving at the deadline if the Ducks maintain that asking price. GM Bob Murray said he won’t move Getzlaf unless the Ducks captain asks to be traded. So far, there’s no indication that’s happening.

If Getzlaf waives his no-movement clause the Golden Knights are unlikely to land him. The Las Vegas Sun’s Justin Emerson reports the flattened cap and a number of long-term contracts handed out in recent years limits what they could do at this year’s deadline.

Friedman also reported what the Los Angeles Kings do at the deadline could come down to whether they re-sign pending UFA forward Alex Iafallo. “They’ve been grinding away at it”, he said.

NOTABLE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Philadelphia Flyers are listening to offers for Scott Laughton. There hasn’t been much contract extension talk regarding the UFA center. He can see the Pittsburgh Penguins with interest in the Flyers forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible but I think Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could look at moving Laughton to anyone except the Penguins.

The Colorado Avalanche have looked into adding a forward with an edge, a defenseman to replace what they lost in Ian Cole and sidelined Erik Johnson and a goaltender. They could be lurking on Kyle Palmieri.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending depth is their priority. They’d also like to add some muscle to their blueline. They’re already loaded with offensive depth up front.

Goaltenders to watch include San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Ottawa’s Anton Forsberg and perhaps some of the Carolina Hurricanes’ depth now that Petr Mrazek has returned from a fractured them. A wild rumor about the Hurricanes having an interest in Anaheim’s John Gibson was shot down by multiple sources.

The Florida Panthers have some decisions to make before the deadline. Do they carry goalies Chris Driedger and Spencer Knight? Add a scorer like Hall or Palmieri or add a defenseman. Sources say they want this season’s performance to be a multiple-year thing so they’re not going to rush into anything.

Tampa Bay Lightning could be a stealth team on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out. The Lightning are capped out this season.

Nashville Predators called the Winnipeg Jets about defense prospect Ville Heinola but the Jets don’t want to move him.