NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2020

Check out the latest on the Maple Leafs and the Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons doesn’t believe Kyle Dubas should be fired, but feels the Maple Leafs general manager could be looking for work in a year if he hasn’t reversed the club’s fortunes by then.

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)

Simmons feels Dubas has to strengthen the Leafs after turning over almost half the roster last summer, weakening their depth in the process. The top of the roster wasn’t productive enough, the bottom of the roster not good enough, and the team defense was taken advantage of physically during puck battles.

Simmons called on Dubas to make bold changes via trades or free agency. He wondered if the Leafs GM will come back with goaltender Frederik Andersen next season or look for someone like Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, who Dubas knows from their days with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. He also noted there are desperate teams with salary-cap issues, roster issues, disappointed owners, or those like Pittsburgh and Nashville that have somehow lost their way.

TORONTO STAR: Dave Feschuk also wondered what Dubas has in store for the Leafs. He notes that fans and pundits are calling on the Leafs GM to trade William Nylander, or Mitch Marner, or Kasperi Kapanen and/or Andreas Johnsson. While Dubas could stubbornly stick to his plan, Feschuk suggests he needs to adjust it, pointing out the Leafs had this season’s sixth-worst goals-against per game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bloom is definitely off the Dubas rose. He’ll be under tremendous pressure to improve the Leafs this off-season.

Dubas isn’t afraid to make bold moves (signing Tavares and acquiring Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot, and Cody Ceci). The problem is those decisions failed to address the Leafs’ glaring weaknesses. He must get it right this off-season or the calls for his dismissal will grow.

The Leafs GM has limited salary-cap space to work with, carrying over $76.9 million invested in 17 players. He and his capologist were able to free up sufficient cap space last summer to re-sign Marner, but they’ll have to get more creative this year to address the club’s issues. Fixing those problems could mean moving one of the Leafs’ top forwards, or one or two of their more affordable secondary scorers.

WILD

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin knows his club is a long way from being a Stanley Cup contender. “There definitely have to be changes,” he said. “We haven’t had success here. Things need to get better. That’s just the way it is.”

Guerin indicated he’ll attempt to land a true first-line center, indicating that will likely come via free agency or the draft. “Teams don’t trade No. 1 centers. They just don’t,” he said. The Wild GM also indicated he was unhappy with his goaltending this season and didn’t rule out looking outside the organization for help.

Guerin will meet with pending UFA Mikko Koivu and intends to get started on contract extension talks with players such as Kevin Fiala. Jonas Brodin, Marcus Foligno, and Joel Eriksson Ek. He also said contract buyouts are a last resort, but Mizutani speculates Victor Rask could be a buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin took his time evaluating his roster until midseason when he traded Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh and replaced Bruce Boudreau as head coach with Dean Evason. He’ll start putting a bigger stamp on this team through the offseason.

Several good goalies are available in this summer’s UFA market, but Guerin might stick with his current netminders next season to buy time for promising Kaapo Kahkonen. The current tandem (Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock) are under contract for next season, meaning one of them will have to be moved to acquire another netminder.

There aren’t any No.1 centers available in this year’s UFA market. Guerin could draft a promising center this year but that prospect won’t address that need next season. If he can’t find help in the trade market, he could try the offer sheet route. With over $65 million invested in 17 players, that’s probably not a wise course of action.

Rask has an annual average value of $4 million through 2021-22. Mizutani pointed out a buyout will leave the Wild with over $1.33 million in dead cap space through 2023-24.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2020

Sidney Crosby reaches an assist milestone, Kyle Connor and Kevin Fiala extend their goal streaks and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM:The Boston Bruins widened their lead atop the overall standings by edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk scored for the Bruins (96 points), who sit nine points over the Lightning for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Third-period goals by Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz lifted the St. Louis Blues to their eighth straight win by downing the New York Rangers 3-1. The Blues (90 points) hold a three-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference. With 74 points, the Rangers remain four points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected his 800th career assist in a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

Bryan Rust’s hat trick powered the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Ottawa Senators 7-3 to snap a six-game losing skid. Evgeni Malkin collected four assists while Sidney Crosby (one goal, two assists) picked up his 800th career assist. The Penguins (82 points) sit one behind the Philadelphia Flyers for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby became just the sixth player in NHL history to reach 800 assists in less than 1,000 games.

Vegas Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner made 27 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils. Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson each had a goal and an assist. The Golden Knights (82 points) have won nine of their last 10 contests and sit atop the Pacific Division.

Alex Chiasson’s overtime goal gave the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars. Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen kicked out 42 shots as Edmonton (80 points) remains two back of the Golden Knights, while the Stars (82 points) remain in third place in the Central Division. Oilers winger James Neal returned to the lineup for the first time since being sidelined by a foot injury on Jan. 29.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor scored twice and set up another to lead his club over the fading Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Connor’s goal streak has reached four games as the Jets (74 points) moved into the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Sabres have dropped four straight.

Kevin Fiala extended his goal streak to five games as the Minnesota Wild dumped the Nashville Predators 3-1. Wild goalie Alex Stalock made 37 saves as the Wild (73 points) moved one point ahead of the Predators to sit one point out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Preds have dropped three straight games.

A three-goal third period carried the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Evander Kane scored twice for the Sharks. With 78 points, the Leafs sit in third place in the Atlantic Division. Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his 46th goal to move into second place among this season’s goal-scoring leaders.

The Montreal Canadiens rolled to a 6-2 victory over the slumping New York Islanders, who’ve won just two of their last 10 games. Isles defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game in the third period after being inadvertently struck in the face by the skate blade of Canadiens winger Artturi Lehkonen. Boychuk suffered a facial cut but his eyesight was unaffected. Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar left the game early in the first with an upper-body injury. The Isles (78 points) cling to the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens (71 points) sit seven points behind them.

A four-goal second period lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, Dylan Strome tallied two goals and collected an assist.

HEADLINES

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand will be sidelined eight-to-ten weeks following surgery to repair an ankle sprain and a hairline fracture.

THE SCORE: Carolina Hurricanes goalies Petr Mrazek (concussion) and James Reimer (lower-body injury) are expected to miss at least another week. The Hurricanes are winless since Mrazek and Reimer were sidelined.

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers and Quinn Hughes are questionable for tonight’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said head coach Claude Julien will return behind the bench next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens fans are calling for Bergevin and Julien to be fired as the club is on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third straight year. Neither guy is going anywhere, but this off-season and the Canadiens’ performance in 2021-22 will determine if they still have their jobs a year from now.

The Nashville Predators have opened the doors of their arena to people affected by the tornado that ripped through the city early Tuesday morning. At least 19 people were killed and 40 buildings were destroyed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2020

Leon Draisaitl tallies four goals against the Predators, the three stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl tallied four goals and Connor McDavid had four assists as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Nashville Predators 8-3. The Oilers broke a 3-3 tie with five unanswered third-period goals. With 78 points, the Oilers moved within two points of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division. The Predators (72 points) cling to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Draisaitl (107 points) holds a big lead in the NHL scoring race. He also moved into fourth place (43 goals) in the goal-scoring race.

Leon Draisaitl had a five-point game in the Edmonton Oilers’ 8-3 win over the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring injury or a significant scoring drought, Draisaitl has the Art Ross Trophy locked up for this season. He’s also put himself into the running for the Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer, and should be a serious contender for the Hart Trophy as MVP. 

The Colorado Avalanche (87 points) edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to move within one point of the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues. Michael Hutchinson made 17 saves in his debut with the Avs. Colorado rookie defenseman Cale Makar missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Wings, meanwhile, played without winger Adam Erne, who could miss the remainder of the season with a broken hand.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala, Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 1.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson underwent shoulder surgery on Monday and will need four-to-six months to recover.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was considerable interest in Anderson leading up to last Monday’s NHL trade deadline, but uncertainty over the status of his injury likely scared off potential suitors. His status as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from unrestricted free agent status could make him a fixture in this summer’s rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks indicated defenseman Jacob Middleton is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. They’re also believed to have agreed to a four-year, $8-million contract extension with blueline Radim Simek, though this hasn’t been confirmed by general manager Doug Wilson.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Sidelined Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Brian Dumoulin and John Marino are close to returning to the lineup. Both are game-day decision’s for tonight’s contest against the Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And not a moment too soon for the struggling Penguins, who’ve dropped six straight games.

TORONTO SUN: Sidelined Maple Leafs blueliners Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci have returned to practice and could rejoin the lineup sometime next week.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey is expected to return to action tonight against the Buffalo Sabres after being sidelined for four games with an upper-body injuy. Winger Patrik Laine (left foot injury) could also return tonight.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators goalie Marcus Hogberg is returning to Sweden for family reasons. The club hopes to provide a further update shortly.

SPORTSNET: The NHL has no plans to make any changes to its emergency backup goalie rule.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2019

Could the Bruins pursue Tyler Toffoli or Kevin Fiala? Should the Senators trade Jean-Gabriel Pageau? Should the Leafs shop for a backup goalie? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TOFFOLI OR FIALA ON BRUINS’ RADAR?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported the Boston Bruins are doing due diligence on Tyler Toffoli and other members of the Los Angeles Kings. Murphy cites an NHL source claiming the Bruins’ interest in Toffoli is exploratory at this point as they attempt to determine the asking price for the 27-year-old winger.

Is Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli on the Boston Bruins’ radar? (Photo via NHL Images)

Murphy also claims another NHL source said Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin is receiving plenty of interest in Kevin Fiala. The 23-year-old winger is earning $3 million annually on a two-year contract. He’s been a healthy scratch on more than one occasion. The source noted the Bruins looked at Fiala during his days with the Nashville Predators but couldn’t say if they’re revisiting that interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins GM Don Sweeney isn’t in any hurry to make a move with his club off to a strong start. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if he’s keeping an eye on the trade market for a second-line winger. That move could come in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. That’s usually when he makes his biggest in-season deal. He acquired Rick Nash near the 2018 deadline and Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson last February.

Toffoli would provide more immediate help to the Bruins. Fiala is younger, has offensive potential and would be more affordable to acquire. Toffoli, however, is a better two-way player with Stanley Cup experience. 

SHOULD THE SENATORS PUT PAGEAU ON THE TRADE BLOCK?

THE ATHLETIC: Graeme Nichols recently made the case for the Ottawa Senators to trade Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He notes the winger turns 27 today and his prime years are winding down. His strong play thus far this season would make him enticing to playoff contenders.

The Senators have also built up depth at the center position and won’t have room for everyone. If Colin White’s defensive game continues to improve it could give the Senators the flexibility to cash in on Pageau’s value now.

Nichols acknowledged there is a risk to trading Pageau for draft picks. He cites their moves during the 2011 trade deadline in which the two additional first-rounders they received failed to pan out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pageau’s future in Ottawa could depend upon his willingness to stay with the rebuilding Senators and if they see him as part of their long-term plans. His asking price could also be a factor.

SHOULD THE LEAFS SHOP FOR A BACKUP GOALIE?

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes goaltending is an issue for the Maple Leafs as backup Michael Hutchinson continues to struggle in the early going. Hutchinson allowed three goals on the first six shots in last night’s 5-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Koshan believes few would blame the Leafs if they called up Kasimir Kaskisuo from the Toronto Marlies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hutchinson is 0-4-1 this season with a bloated 4.44 goals-against average and a lousy .879 save percentage. If GM Kyle Dubas is reluctant to call up Kaskisuo, he could be forced into the trade market at some point in the season.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2019

Latest on Alex Pietrangelo, Torey Krug, Chris Kreider, Kevin Fiala and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi’s new eight-year, $72.4-million contract will affect St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo and Boston’s Torey Krug. Pietrangelo and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong are waiting for the other to make the first move. Whatever happens with Krug, Friedman doubts the Bruins will shop him at the trade deadline.

No sign of progress in Alex Pietrangelo’s contract talks with the St. Louis Blues (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Josi’s negotiations reportedly hit a snag entering training camp but was sorted out earlier this week. The same thing could happen to Pietrangelo and Krug. Pietrangelo could seek over $9 million annually but Krug’s is open to a hometown discount.

Speaking of the Blues, Armstrong will look to within their organization for a short-term replacement for sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He wants to avoid a potential salary-cap crunch once Tarasenko returns to the lineup. Friedman believes New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider would be a good fit with the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong could jump into the market near the trade deadline if Tarasenko remains out until the playoffs. Kreider is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July and could be available if the Rangers are out of playoff contention by February.

Kevin Fiala could be on shaky ground with the Minnesota Wild. The 23-year-old winger has been a healthy scratch twice this season. His talent and favorable contract should make him a good fit with the Wild but they’re going to see what out there in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala had a 23-goal, 48-point performance in 2017-18. If he can’t find his footing with the aging Wild he could regain his form with a younger club.

A slow start by forward Andreas Athanasiou could raise questions about his future with the Detroit Red Wings. He’s in a contract year and his previous negotiations were difficult.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman won’t be as patient as his predecessor. If Athanasiou doesn’t improve soon he could hit the trade block.

Friedman feels little-used Buffalo Sabres winger Evan Rodrigues could be a good fit with the Ottawa Senators or Toronto Maple Leafs, though he’s not sure the Sabres would want to help the Leafs. Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman said they would move defenseman Martin Marincin, though Jake Muzzin’s health could change that.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to add, it’s just a matter of when GM Jim Rutherford wants to. It’s also believed a contract extension for defenseman Marcus Pettersson is all but done but he can’t sign until Jan. 1 at the earliest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford is a bold wheeler-dealer throughout the season. He’s already made a recent trade and could pull off another well before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

With the Calgary Flames struggling, GM Brad Treliving isn’t afraid of making changes. Friedman doesn’t think anything’s imminent but expects Treliving will see what’s out there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving nearly moved winger Michael Frolik at last year’s trade deadline to Minnesota for Jason Zucker. I don’t think there’s a chance of revisiting that move now but Frolik could be available. He’s a UFA next summer. They also waived Tobias Reider earlier this week.

Friedman also noted the tense situation with the struggling Chicago Blackhawks. Defenseman Brent Seabrook recently expressed his displeasure over being scratched twice from the lineup. Friedman said things got awkward last season when management wanted to see if he’d be willing to move but Seabrook claimed the request wasn’t specifically made to him. Starting goaltender Corey Crawford has to wonder about his future in Chicago with Robin Leher on a one-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be Crawford’s last season with the Blackhawks if Lehner keeps out-performing him. Seabrook’s hefty contract ($6.875 million annually through 2023-24) and declining play makes him difficult to move.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2019

Big nights for Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, the Stars rally back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Wild, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

A four-point performance by Alex Ovechkin carried the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored two goals, including the winner in overtime, and added two assists to lead the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ovechkin moved ahead of Luc Robitaille into 12th spot on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list with his 669th career goal. Nicklas Backstrom collected three helpers and John Carlson scored twice for the Capitals. Auston Matthews had a three-point effort for the Leafs, who also lost defenseman Jake Muzzin to a leg injury following a first-period collision with Capitals winger Tom Wilson.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists as his club crushed the Philadelphia Flyers 7-1. Dominik Kahun and Dominik Simon also each had a goal and two assists. The Penguins welcomes back winger Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Brian Dumoulin off injured reserve.

The Dallas Stars overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Minnesota Wild 6-3. Stars winger Alexander Radulov led the way with a hat trick and an assist while Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and an assist. Wild winger Kevin Fiala was a healthy scratch.

Nick Bonino tallied a natural hat trick and Pekka Rinne picked up his second straight shutout as the Nashville Predators blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0. Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner made 48 saves in defeat while teammate Brent Seabrook was a healthy scratch for the second straight game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook wasn’t pleased about it. I’ll have more on his situation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

The Boston Bruins extended their winning streak to four games by beating the San Jose Sharks 5-1, handing the latter their third straight loss. David Pastrnak scored to extend his points streak to 10 games while Brad Marchand picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 11 games. Bruins center David Krejci returned to action after a five-game absence, tallying a goal and an assist.

Cam Fowler set a franchise record for most goals by an Anaheim Ducks defenseman in a 7-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Fowler surpassed Scott Niedermayer with his 61st career goal. Carter Rowney scored twice, Josh Mahura collected three assists, and John Gibson made 36 saves for the Ducks. Nikolaj Ehlers had three points in a losing cause. The Jets played without winger Patrik Laine, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

The New York Rangers upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Filip Chytil scored the game-winner in his season debut, Ryan Strome had a two-point performance, and goalie Alexandar Georgiev kicked out 29 shots. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and forwards Pat Maroon and Anthony Cirelli left the game with injuries and are considered day-to-day.

Andrei Svechnikov scored twice, including a lacrosse-style goal, as the Carolina Hurricanes edge the Calgary Flames 2-1. Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek made 28 saves for the win. Earlier in the day, Flames winger Tobias Rieder cleared waivers but remained in the lineup.

The Detroit Red Wings snapped an eight-game winless skid by upsetting the Edmonton Oilers 3-1. Dylan Larkin had a two-point outing and netminder Jimmy Howard stopped 31 shots.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Head coach Jared Bednar believes the winger will miss some significant time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s two-thirds of the Avalanche’s first line out of the lineup. Landeskog joins Mikko Rantanen (leg injury) on injured reserve. It’ll be a big test for the Avs, who sit atop the Western Conference standings.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils winger Nikita Gusev will be a healthy scratch for tonight’s matchup against the Lightning.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Mark Pavelich was deemed unfit to stand trial for an alleged assault of a neighbor in August. The judge suspended the trial, ruling Pavelich “lacks the ability to rationally consult with counsel, is incapable of understanding the proceedings, and is incapable of participating in the defense due to mental illness or deficiency.”