NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2021

The Colorado Avalanche clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, the opening-round schedule of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs is released, plus the latest on Nikita Kucherov, John Carlson, Patrick Marleau and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record by defeating the Los Angeles Kings 5-1. Tyson Jost scored twice for the Avalanche, who’ll face the St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the upcoming 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Colorado Avalanche win the 2020-21 NHL Presidents’ Trophy (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Avalanche on winning their first Presidents’ Trophy in 20 years.

Speaking of the Blues, they completed their regular-season schedule by overcoming a 3-0 deficit to thump the Minnesota Wild 7-3. David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou each scored two goals. The Wild will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round.

The Calgary Flames downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Earlier in the day, the Canucks confirmed sidelined center Elias Pettersson (upper-body injury) will miss their remaining games of this season but he’s working hard on a healthy return for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks still aren’t revealing the details of Pettersson’s injury but it’s believed to involve a wrist or hand.

The full schedule for the opening round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was released Thursday.

It kicks off on Saturday, May 15 with the Boston Bruins facing off against the Washington Capitals. Sunday, May 16, sees the New York Islanders squaring off against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning tangle with the Florida Panthers, and the Minnesota Wild squaring off against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Monday, May 17 features the Nashville Predators facing the Carolina Hurricanes while the St. Louis Blues meet the Colorado Avalanche. Wednesday, May 19 sees the start of the Winnipeg Jets-Edmonton Oilers series while Thursday, May 20 features the start of the Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs series.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and winger Nikita Kucherov practiced with their teammates on Thursday and are expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 of their series against the Panthers. Stamkos missed the final 16 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury while Kucherov missed the entire season following hip surgery on Dec. 29.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson said he’ll be ready for his club’s upcoming series against the Boston Bruins. He missed the final two games of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Patrick Marleau plans to return for a 24th NHL season and isn’t ruling out coming back to the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 41-year-old Marleau set the NHL record this season for most career games. This season was also statistically the worst of his career with just nine points in 56 games. If the Sharks don’t bring him back he could end up seeking a training camp tryout with another club.

THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE: Tyler Toffoli has embraced life with the Montreal Canadiens following his tenures with the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks. He cited the Montreal fans and the atmosphere at the Bell Centre among his reasons for signing with the Canadiens last fall and looks forward to when fans can return to the building.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli said he wants what Montreal fans want: winning the Stanley Cup. He praised his teammates, singling out Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. He also revealed he thought he would re-sign with the Canucks last fall but they never made him a contract offer.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have received permission to interview former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant for their vacant head-coaching job. Meanwhile, Brian Leetch resigned as the Rangers’ hockey operations adviser.

Former New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk has taken on a coaching and advisory role with the club. Boychuk’s career was prematurely ended by an eye injury last season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are being sued by a former player for alleged sexual assault in 2010 by their former video coach.










Potential Trade Destinations For The Sabres’ Jack Eichel

Potential Trade Destinations For The Sabres’ Jack Eichel

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2021

Should the Rangers pursue Jack Eichel or Matthew Tkachuk? What the latest speculation on the Flames and Sharks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RANGERS

ESPN: Emily Kaplan believes the New York Rangers will be mentioned as front-runners for Jack Eichel if the Buffalo Sabres shop their captain in the offseason. His agents are the same ones who represented Rangers general manager Chris Drury during his playing days.

They could find a way to fit Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit through 2025-26 into their cap payroll. However, Kaplan feels a bigger priority is figuring out how to re-sign center Mika Zibanejad.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello doesn’t believe it would be worth the cost for the Rangers to acquire a center like Eichel when he’s not much better than Zibanejad right now. Pursuing an upgrade over second-line center Ryan Strome would be a better option. He recommends targeting an “Aleksander Barkov type” – slated for unrestricted free agent status next summer and possibly available at next season’s trade deadline.

Could the New York Rangers pursue Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk in this summer’s trade market? (NHL Images).

Adding a tough forward comparable to the Tkachuk brothers in Calgary and Ottawa or Washington’s Tom Wilson should be the Rangers’ priority. It could mean sacrificing a top-six forward or two to address that need.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk would be a perfect fit for the Rangers. It would take a “massive bounty” to pry Tkachuk away.

Brooks considers Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere and perhaps Ryan Lindgren as untouchable. The Rangers would be reluctant to part with Kaapo Kakko and K’Andre Miller but they’ll have to trade someone they don’t want to sacrifice to land a transformational top-six forward. A package containing a permutation of Filip Chytil, Pavel Buchnevich, Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, Nils Lundkvist and future first-rounders probably won’t get it done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading for Eichel would be a bold move for the Rangers and one team CEO James Dolan would probably approve. However, his cap hit would be expensive while meeting the Sabres’ asking price could hurt the Rangers’ overall roster depth. It’ll also make it very difficult to re-sign Zibanejad.

Tkachuk would provide that physical boost among the Rangers’ top-six. That being said, the factors that make him attractive to the Blueshirts also make him valuable to the Flames.

Finding a Barkov-type by next year’s trade deadline won’t be easy. Barkov himself could be re-signed by the Panthers this summer following their strong performance this season. Sean Couturier would be the best fit but I don’t see the Philadelphia Flyers parting ways with him.

Patrice Bergeron falls into that category but he’ll turn 36 in July and should finish his career as a Bruin. Nazem Kadri could also fall into that category but the Avs won’t move him if they’re still among the Cup contenders.

FLAMES

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson includes the status of winger Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Mark Giordano among the five key questions facing the Flames this offseason.

Some are convinced the 27-year-old Gaudreau could depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent. Trading one of their leading scorers, however, would also force the Flames to go shopping for his replacement.

The Flames could have little choice but to leave Giordano exposed in this summer’s expansion draft. The team captain turns 38 later this year and has a year remaining on his contract. Gilbertson wonders if they should swing a side deal with the Seattle Kraken to convince them to take another player.

GM Brad Treliving will be on the hot seat after seven seasons and five head coaches. However, his future could be tied to recently-hired head coach Darryl Sutter. They both have two years left on their contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’ve been growing calls among Calgary fans and pundits to move Gaudreau. This team needs a shakeup after two disappointing seasons. Trading Gaudreau could be part of that plan unless there are talks afoot about a contract extension. If they trade him they must find someone via trade or free agency to replace his production.

As for Giordano, the Kraken could be reluctant to select an aging defenseman who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. It’ll be interesting to see how the Flames handle this situation.

SHARKS

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson acknowledged his club’s depth in goal and finding a third-lie center must be addressed. He said he’s willing to explore all options. That could include talks with teams to make players available, either with the Seattle Kraken or other clubs in a different position than the Sharks at the expansion draft.

Kurz speculates the Sharks could buy out the remaining three years of goalie Martin Jones’ contract. That would save the Sharks $3.8 million next season, $3.3 million in 2022-23 and $2.8 million in 2023-24 before getting dinged with $1.67 million annually against their cap over the final three years of the six-year buyout period.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White believes Tomas Hertl’s future with the Sharks should also be among their priorities. The 27-year-old forward is eligible next summer for UFA status. He recommends re-signing him this summer or trading him by the draft. He also feels they should consider exposing high-salaried players such as Jones, Evander Kane and Brent Burns in the hope the Kraken selects one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a well-deserved reputation as a savvy wheeler-dealer. However, this offseason could be the biggest test of his long career as the Sharks GM. They’ve got too many aging players carrying hefty contracts that could prove too difficult to move without absorbing some salary and/or packaging them with sweeteners (draft picks, prospects) they can’t afford to give up.

Judging by Wilson’s comments, he’s mapped out his plans for the offseason and seems confident that he has sufficient options to address his needs. We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out what they are and if he can pull it off. His job could depend on it.










NHL ProteauType: Take a playoff chance on the Blues, and steer clear of the Jets

NHL ProteauType: Take a playoff chance on the Blues, and steer clear of the Jets

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2021

More Jack Eichel trade speculation plus the latest on the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EICHEL

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports multiple sources said Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel had a contentious exit interview with the organization. It’s believed he’s exploring an artificial disk replacement in his neck on the advice of his medical team. The Sabres, however, aren’t thrilled with that option because of the lack of evidence of its effectiveness on elite-level athletes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That resulted in Eichel’s surprising comments about his future during his season-ending media conference call on Monday.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

Eichel may have played his final game for the Sabres. He will attract plenty of interest in the trade market despite his medical treatment.

The Rangers are the obvious suitor given their interest in Eichel last year. They weren’t willing to part with their 2020 first-round pick because it was first overall but that could be an option this time around unless they win the draft lottery again. Friedman wonders if the Sabres would ship Eichel to New York but also mused over whether they would say no if the Rangers made the best offer.

Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets could try but Friedman wonders if they have the pieces. He thinks the Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings could do it. The Ottawa Senators could too but it doesn’t make sense for them. So could the Montreal Canadiens.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun also believes the Rangers could be a suitor for Eichel, as well as the Minnesota Wild. The latter have to re-sign Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek so they have to make the money work.

Frank Seravalli doubts the Sabres would want to trade Eichel to a division rival and risk facing him six to eight times a season. He thinks California teams like Anaheim and Los Angeles would be better destinations. Ducks general manager Bob Murray wants to make a splash while the Kings reportedly had a cursory conversation with the Sabres about Eichel before last month’s trade deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun asked several NHL team executives about a potential Eichel trade sweepstakes and received a wide range of views. Despite some concerns about Eichel’s injury history and character, LeBrun has no doubt that the center will be too tempting for teams to pass up.

Michael Russo believes the Minnesota Wild would have to shed salary to fit Eichel’s $10 million annual average value within their salary cap. He wondered if the Sabres would be interested in an offer of Kevin Fiala and Matt Dumba. However, they could prefer a first-line center or blue-chip center prospect as part of any return for Eichel.

Hailey Salvian thinks Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving could look into acquiring Eichel. She speculates Matthew Tkachuk would have to be part of a package offer.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White doesn’t see the San Jose Sharks winning a bidding war for Eichel. The Kings and Ducks can outbid them and they have more cap space to work with.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still believe the Rangers and Kings would be the front-runners in the Eichel sweepstakes if they choose to pursue a trade. They have the depth in assets to make a strong pitch.

Ducks GM Bob Murray did attempt to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois in January before he was traded to Winnipeg. However, the Sabres will ask for promising Trevor Zegras and perhaps defenseman Jamie Drysdale as well. Murray didn’t want to part with either guy for Dubois and could be reluctant to do so for Eichel.

The Blue Jackets have the cap room but I don’t see them outbidding the Rangers or Kings. Cap Friendly shows the Flyers with over $69 million invested in 17 players for next season. They must shed cap space to make room for Eichel’s $10 million cap hit and I doubt they can tempt the Sabres into helping them.

The Senators have the depth in promising assets and plenty of cap space. However, they seem happy with how their current roster is developing and could be reluctant to mess that up with a big splash in the trade pool. The Canadiens have the assets but, like the Flyers, lack the cap space to pull it off.

Wild GM Bill Guerin could kick tires on Eichel. While Joel Eriksson Ek has blossomed into a solid two-way center but they still lack a genuine first-liner. However, I think Guerin will consider more affordable options to address that need.

Treliving of the Flames could also inquire but I don’t believe he can meet the Sabres asking price or outbid other clubs He could, however, look at Eichel’s teammate Sam Reinhart. Friedman suggested Reinhart, a West Vancouver native, could attract interest from the Western Canadian NHL teams.

COYOTES

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan believes the Arizona Coyotes’ biggest need is a No. 1 center but believes they’ll have to draft and develop one as rival clubs are reluctant to trade such commodities. If GM Bill Armstrong pursues a center it’ll likely be a middle-six option.

Morgan also believes the Coyotes need a physical top-four defenseman with a right-hand shot. Addressing that need is a priority for Armstrong.

Of the Coyotes’ pending unrestricted free agents, Morgan believes Alex Goligoski is the only one who might be brought back. He feels Goligoski would get a one- or two-year deal.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates the Coyotes could trade winger Phil Kessel for draft picks and prospects. He was among the top-30 in goals this season and is due for a $5 million bonus for next season followed by $1 million in base salary. Friedman also shot down a rumor suggesting the Coyotes would buy out Nick Schmaltz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel would certainly fill that first-line center need for the Coyotes. They have the cap space but I don’t see them getting into the bidding given the reports earlier this season of ownership’s financial woes.

Kessel still has his 8-team no-trade list but that still gives the Coyotes a decent number of possible destinations if they wish to move him. Any interested parties, however, will wait until he’s received that bonus payment.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2021

The Flames stay alive in the North Division playoff chase, John Tortorella parts ways with the Blue Jackets, Rick Tocchet leaves the Coyotes, plus the latest suspensions and fines in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive by thumping the Ottawa Senators 6-1. Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk each had a goal and two assists as the Flames (49 points) moved to within eight points of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the Scotia North Division.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary holds two games in hand over Montreal, who have two games remaining in their schedule. However, the Canadiens need just one point to clinch.

A two-goal performance by Alex DeBrincat gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars. DeBrincat has 31 goals and 54 points in 51 games.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen released a statement yesterday indicating John Tortorella won’t be returning as head coach. The decision was a mutual one. Tortorella’s contract expires after this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline leaked this story yesterday hours before Kekalainen made it official. Tortorella departs the Jackets as the most successful coach in franchise history, winning the second of his Jack Adams Awards for his efforts in turning the Jackets into a playoff club in 2016-17. They reached the playoffs four times during his six seasons behind their bench, winning their first-ever playoff series in 2019. I’ll have more about the Jackets in the Rumors section.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes and Rick Tocchet mutually agreed to part ways. Tocchet was their head coach for four seasons, during which the club underwent a change of ownership in 2019 and a change in management last when GM John Chayka suddenly departed on the eve of the postseason.  His contract was expiring after this season. The Coyotes reached the playoffs last season, upsetting the Nashville Predators in the qualifying round before falling in the first round to the Colorado Avalanche.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon received a one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct during Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers. Brandon Montour of the Panthers was fined $5,000.00 for spearing Maroon while teammate MacKenzie Weegar was fined $5,000.00 for high-sticking Maroon’s teammate Mathieu Joseph.

The NHL’s department of player safety fined Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson $1,000.00 for a dangerous trip on Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares on Saturday.