NHL Rumor Mill – April 3, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – April 3, 2024

Should the Maple Leafs trade or re-sign Mitch Marner: Will Brock Faber get a big pay raise from the Wild? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

WILL THE LEAFS TRADE OR RE-SIGN MARNER?

NHL.COM: A reader asked Dan Rosen if the Toronto Maple Leafs should part ways with Mitch Marner if they fail to reach the Eastern Conference Final this year.

The 26-year-old winger has a year left on his contract. Teammates Auston Matthews and William Nylander have already signed long-term extensions with the Leafs.

Rosen believes the Leafs must re-sign Marner because he’s too valuable. Along with his point production, he plays big minutes, handles tough matchups, and plays on the power play and the penalty kill. “He’s a Selke Trophy player,” wrote Rosen.

The Leafs won’t win a Marner trade unless they get back an elite No. 1 defenseman in his prime of the same age.

Rosen points out the salary cap will likely be north of $90 million when Marner’s new contract begins in 2025-26. By that point, John Tavares’ contract comes off their books. He believes the Leafs should sign Marner to a long-term contract extension before next season and project their cap out from there, assuming that Marner, Matthews and Nylander could account for $38 million of their payroll for ’25-’26.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of his current contract. Rosen is projecting that the annual average value of Marner’s next deal will be the same as Matthews’ $13.25 million. He might get a tad less than that but it will be a raise over his current $10.9 million.

I’ll be surprised if the Leafs don’t re-sign Marner this summer. They’ll want to avoid his contract status becoming an unnecessary distraction next season. As Rosen observed, he’s their “do-everything” forward. His overall contributions at times go unappreciated by some denizens of Leafs Nation.

The only question is how long that deal might be. He could take a page from Matthews’ book and ink a four-year deal that gives him another shot at free agency in his early 30s when he’ll still be in his playing prime.

What do you think, Leafs fans? Is Marner too valuable to trade away? Is he worth as much as Matthews? Let us know in the comments below.

BROCK FABER COULD GET A BIG RAISE FROM THE WILD

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo and Shayna Goldman believe Brock Faber could get the richest contract extension in Minnesota Wild history.

The 21-year-old defenseman is in the second year of his three-year entry-level contract. His performance this season could earn him the Calder Memorial Trophy as this season’s top NHL rookie.

Some observers compare Faber to Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who has an eight-year deal worth an average annual value of $9.5 million. The Dallas Stars’ Miro Heiskanen is earning $8.45 million annually for eight years.

A contract for Faber exceeding $9 million annually might make some wild fans nervous but the NHL is trending toward bigger second contracts for rising young talent.

Russo and Goldman point to the Wild signing Matt Boldy to a seven-year, $49 million deal. They also noted that inking Faber to a bridge deal could mean a more expensive third contract.

When Faber’s next contract kicks in the salary cap could reach $92 million. By then, the Wild’s $14.7 million in dead cap space from buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will drop to just $1.66 million annually to 2029.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Faber has done a remarkable job filling the role of No.1 defenseman for the Wild during his rookie season. He’s earned a significant raise, especially if he wins the Calder Trophy.

Faber will be a restricted free agent next summer and lacks arbitration rights. Wild general manager Bill Guerin doesn’t have to sign him this summer. He can see how the young blueliner performs during his sophomore campaign before getting down to serious discussions.

Guerin could be reluctant to invest in a big raise for Faber only to risk seeing him struggle to meet expectations. On the other hand, the cost of re-signing Faber will rise if the young blueliner exceeds this season’s performance.

I think Guerin will sign Faber this summer to an eight-year extension worth $9.5 million annually.

Too much? Not enough? Should Guerin sign Faber this summer or wait until next year? Let me know what you think in the comment section.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2024

Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury defeats the Penguins on the night commemorating his two recent career milestones, the Rangers and Oilers pick up victories in Friday’s action, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: On the night the Minnesota Wild honored Marc-Andre Fleury for recently reaching the 1,000-game and 552nd career win milestones, he backstopped them to a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 34-save performance.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Kirill Kaprizov broke a 2-2 tie in the third period and also collected an assist while Matt Boldy and Jonas Brodin each had a goal and an assist for the 23-23-1 Wild (51 points) as they moved within three points of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Reilly Smith and Sidney Crosby scored against their former teammate as the 23-18-7 Penguins (53 points) remain five points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game could also be Fleury’s last against the Penguins, with whom he played 13 of his 20 NHL seasons. The 39-year-old goalie is in the final year of his contract amid speculation he could retire at the end of this season.

Wild defenseman Brock Faber set franchise records for single-season assists (27) and points (31) by a rookie defenseman. This game also had a bit of controversy as Kaprizov scored after the puck seemed to rebound off the netting above the glass behind the Penguins’ goal. The on-ice officials didn’t see it and a video review following a coach’s challenge proved inconclusive.

Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane tallied a hat trick in a 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Connor McDavid collected three assists for the Oilers (30-16-1) as they sit third in the Pacific Division with 61 points. Ryan Strome tallied twice and Adam Henrique had two assists for the 18-31-2 Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducks goaltender John Gibson left this game following the second period with a lower-body injury. The Ducks also played without center Mason McTavish as he missed this contest with an upper-body injury.

The New York Rangers blew a 3-1 lead to the Chicago Blackhawks before winning the game 4-3 on an overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad. Chris Kreider and Adam Fox each had two points while Igor Shesterkin stopped 28 shots in his first start since Jan. 26 for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers (33-16-3) as they moved into second place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points. Alex Vlasic, Nick Foligno and Jason Dickinson scored for the 14-35-3 Blackhawks.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Alex Newhook will return to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars after being sidelined since Nov. 30 with a high ankle sprain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Newhook’s return is timely considering the Canadiens traded center Sean Monahan last Friday to Winnipeg. He had seven goals and 13 points in 23 games but had points in four of his previous seven contests at the time of his injury.

CBS SPORTS: St. Louis Blues winger Kasperi Kapanen returns to action on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. He’d missed the last seven games with a lower-body issue.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Calgary Flames placed goaltender Dan Vladar on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled netminder Dustin Wolf from their AHL affiliate.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 2, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 2, 2024

The four All-Star Game rosters are set, the three stars and rookie of the month for January are revealed, the latest on Sam Reinhart’s contract situation and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The four teams are set for the 2024 NHL All-Star Game following the player draft by team captains Auston Matthews and singer Justin Bieber, Nathan MacKinnon and singer Tate McRae, Jack and Quinn Hughes with singer Michael Buble, and Connor McDavid with actor Will Arnett.

Among the notable picks:

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

The hometown Toronto Maple Leafs all-stars will be playing on Team Matthews as he and assistant captain Morgan Rielly used their first two picks to select William Nylander and Mitch Marner.

Team Hughes used the first overall pick to select Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov, who leads the league in scoring with 85 points.

Team MacKinnon chose Pittsburgh Penguins captain (and MacKinnon’s fellow Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native) Sidney Crosby with their first pick.

Team McDavid selected Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebucyk and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Seattle Kraken winger Oliver Bjorkstrand was the last pick of the draft as he joined Team MacKinnon. Well, he wasn’t chosen by that team. Each of the final four players – Anaheim Ducks winger Frank Vatrano (Team Hughes), New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck (Team Matthews), San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (Team McDavid) and Bjorkstrand – were assigned to their respective teams.

NHL.COM: Speaking of MacKinnon, he’s the league’s first star for January 2024. Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner is the second star with Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson the third star.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber was named the Rookie of the Month for January 2024.

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said his contract talks with the club are going well and he has no problem with the process taking more time. “I’ve got no issues with them being ongoing. They certainly don’t either,” said Reinhart, going on to say the main focus of both sides right now is winning the Stanley Cup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Both sides have expressed a willingness to get a deal done stretching back to last fall.

Reinhart has already set a career high this season with 37 goals and with 62 points is on pace to exceed his career-best of 80 points. He’s due for a big raise on his next contract. The 28-year-old is earning an average annual value of $6.5 million and could earn between $9 million and $10 million annually on his next deal.

With over $28 million in projected cap space for 2024-25, the Panthers can afford to re-sign Reinhart. It will put a big dent into their remaining cap space and could complicate efforts to re-sign pending UFA defensemen Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling as well as restricted free agent Anton Lundell.

THE TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs great Dave Keon believes current Leafs stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander will probably reach the top of the list among the club’s all-time scoring leaders. “And unless they win a Cup, that will be their legacy,” he said.

What is the object of this exercise? At the start of the year when you gather in training camp, the object of the exercise is to win the Stanley Cup,” said Keon. “If you have all of these players putting up great numbers and you’ve won one playoff series in eight or nine years, and you haven’t even played for the Stanley Cup, then you have to take a look in the mirror.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keon is speaking some harsh truth here. One of the greatest two-way forwards in NHL history, he won four Stanley Cups in six seasons with the Leafs between 1961-62 and 1966-67 and won the 1967 Conn Smythe Trophy.

Yes, the league and the game have changed since Keon’s heyday 60 years ago. Matthews, Marner and Nylander aren’t to blame for their club’s inability to build up a solid supporting cast around them. Nevertheless, they’re the foundation on which the club’s success depends. So far, they’ve struggled to meet those postseason expectations.

CALGARY SUN: Elias Lindholm posted a heartfelt message on his Instagram account to Flames fans following his trade to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. “Thank you Calgary and thank you C of Red for these five and a half years,” he wrote.

It’s been truly amazing to represent this organization and play in front of you all. You guys have been nothing but incredible to me and my family. We’re so grateful for our time in Calgary and it will always have a special place in our hearts. All the best, it’s been an honor.”

TSN: The sexual assault case involving five players from Canada’s 2018 World Junior team will be before a court in London, Ontario starting on Monday.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube, New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod and defenseman Cal Foote and unsigned Ottawa Senators winger Alex Formenton (who played in Switzerland this season) are each charged with one count of sexual assault. The five are on indefinite leaves of absence from their teams.

McLeod also faces an additional charge of sexual assault for “being a party to the offence.” The alleged incident occurred in London on June 19, 2018, following a Hockey Canada event.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2023

The Bruins set the single-season wins record as David Pastranak reaches the 60-goal plateau while the Avalanche take over first in the Central Division as Mikko Rantanen reaches 100 points. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins collect their 63rd victory to set the league’s single-season win record by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. David Pastrnak had a hat trick to reach the 60-goal plateau for the first time while Tyler Bertuzzi collected three assists as the Bruins sit atop the overall standings with 131 points. Owen Tippett and Joel Farabee each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak is the first Bruin to score 60 goals in a season since Phil Esposito in 1974-75. He’s now four goals behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid for the lead among this season’s top goal-scorers with both players having two games remaining in the schedule.

The Bruins played without goaltender Linus Ullmark as he missed this game with “a lower-body issue.”

An overtime goal by Nathan MacKinnon lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 5-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks. MacKinnon scored twice and collected an assist, Devon Toews had three assists and Mikko Rantanen had two goals and two assists to reach the 100-point plateau for the first time. The Avalanche improved to 49-24-6 to take over first place in the Central Division with 104 points. Frank Vatrano tallied twice for the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon (107 points) and Rantanen (102 points) are the first Avalanche duo to reach 100 points in a season since Joe Sakic (120 points)and Peter Forsberg (116) in 1995-96.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat raised some eyebrows over the weekend when the New York Islanders center was asked what he thought he thought of the energy in the Isles arena and their fans. “I mean it’s been unbelievable. A lot better than Vancouver, I can tell you that for free,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks fans could feel slighted by Horvat’s remarks. The team’s management, however, should be worried.

They’re trying to retool the roster and create a winning environment after the Canucks spent years wallowing through failed retooling efforts by the previous management. Horvat’s words validate concerns about the sour atmosphere that’s hung over the franchise for some time. It could make it difficult for management to attract and retain talent in their quest to build a winning roster.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed top prospect and Hobey Baker Award finalist Matthews Knies to a three-year entry-level contract.

LA KINGS INSIDER: Speaking of signing promising players to entry-level contracts, the Kings did the same with center Alex Laferriere.

TWINCITIES.COM: So did the Wild with defenseman and Minnesota native Brock Faber.

Speaking of the Wild, they recalled forwards Marco Rossi and Nic Petan.

CBS SPORTS: The Seattle Kraken recalled goaltender Joey Daccord on an emergency basis.