NHL Rumor Mill – January 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 21, 2021

The latest on Aleksander Barkov, Keith Yandle and Patrik Laine in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS (via KUKLA’S KORNER): TSN insider Darren Dreger reports it’s hard to say at this point how seriously we should take trade speculation about Aleksander Barkov. The 25-year-old Florida Panthers captain is due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

Dreger said the Florida Panthers and general manager Bill Zito believe they have time. Zito spoke to Barkov’s representative stating they had no interest in trade the center. Barkov has a no-movement clause in his contract for this season and a modified (12-team no-trade list) no-trade clause for 2021-22.

Barkov wants to win and wants assurances the Panthers are on the road toward achieving that goal. If they’re heading in that direction when it comes time to start contract talks, he’s willing to listen. Dreger indicates there are lots of NHL general managers who are eager to let Zito know they’re interested if Barkov becomes available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers cannot open contract talks with Barkov until he’s officially entered the final season of his deal, which will be when free agency begins on July 28. The recent trade speculation arose because some general managers are said to be skeptical that he’ll re-sign with the Panthers.

Barring the unforeseen, this will probably be the last we’ll hear about Barkov in this season’s rumor mill. Don’t be surprised, however, if the speculation over his future in Florida resurfaces this summer, especially if the Panthers have another disappointing season.

Dreger was also asked about Keith Yandle’s status with the Panthers. He called it “curious, at best,” suggesting the 34-year-old defenseman probably isn’t sure about his situation with the club going forward. He was told before the start of the season that he wouldn’t be in the lineup but there was an about-face perhaps because of push-back from his teammates. Dreger wondered if Yandle was seeing action to improve trade interest.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes believes the Bruins should pursue Yandle. Weekes called out the Panthers’ organization for disrespecting the veteran blueliner and believes it’s an opportunity for Bruins GM Don Sweeney to acquire Yandle to bolster the Bruins’ scoring if the Panthers agree to pick up part of his $6.35 million cap hit.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss acknowledged Yandle, a Massachusetts native, is still productive. However, his agent, contract and the Bruins’ need to give their young defensemen a chance to prove themselves doesn’t make Yandle a good fit at this time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Goss. If Yandle were a little younger or had less time remaining on his contract at a more reasonable cap hit, perhaps he’d be a worthwhile trade target for the Bruins.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the current absence of Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) will give the Winnipeg Jets a good idea of what life will be like without him. The winger asked for a trade during the off-season but Garrioch said the Jets could find a suitable trade partner.

That doesn’t mean Laine is off the market. Garrioch pointed out many observers believe a deal could happen during this season. The 22-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer who could seek over $9 million per season. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could attempt to move Laine before the trade deadline rather than meet Laine’s expensive salary demands.

Garrioch notes the speculations linking Laine to Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Like Laine, Dubois has requested a trade, prompting suggestions of a one-for-one swap. Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen would have more than a passing interest in Laine.

Anyone interested in acquiring Laine will have to talk to him about a contract extension. Garrioch lists the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks among the potential suitors. He dismissed rumors linking Laine to the Carolina Hurricanes because he doesn’t believe they’ll shell out big bucks to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Laine during the season is possible but only if the Jets have fallen out of the playoff race or they get an offer of an immediate impact player in return. Laine remains a key ingredient in the Jets’ playoff hopes for this season.

The Blue Jackets would certainly need to know if Laine would be willing to sign a contract extension. The Jets, however, could also have concerns about Dubois’ contract status. He’s signed through next season and they could be unwilling to part with Laine for a player who could prove unwilling to commit to a long-term deal with them.

Laine would certainly provide some welcome star power to the Red Wings but their biggest needs remain improving their defense. Ditto the Blackhawks.

The Flyers reportedly kicked tires on Laine but the cost of the return apparently ended those discussions. The Devils could be a good fit as they have the cap space and the assets to acquire and re-sign Laine, provided he’s willing to agree to a long-term deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Hurricanes-Predators game postpone over COVID-19 concerns, Avalanche trade Ian Cole to Minnesota, Elias Pettersson fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jack Hughes enjoyed his first two-goal game and added an assist as his New Jersey Devils held on for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 47 saves for the win. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Rangers, who lost center Mika Zibanejad to an apparent upper-body injury after falling into the corner boards late in the third period.

New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes and Blackwood were the Devils’ stars in this contest. This was Hughes’ best game in his young NHL career, showing the skills that made him the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. An update on Zibanejad’s status could be made later today.

The Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 thanks to a 40-save performance by goalie Brian Elliott. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who lost defenseman Philippe Myers and center Morgan Frost to injuries during this contest. Both are slated for MRIs today. Sabres goalie Carter Hutton didn’t return for the third period following a collision in his crease in the second period. Earlier in the day, the Sabres moved winger Kyle Okposo (undisclosed) on injured reserve. He’s yet to play a game this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big bounce-back win for the injury-depleted Flyers after getting drubbed 6-1 by the Sabres on Monday. The Sabres had plenty of opportunities to score but Elliott held them off the board.

An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano lifted the Florida Panthers over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4. Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves, the most notable stopping Patrick Kane on a penalty shot. Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe each scored twice for the Panthers while Dominik Kubalik tallied twice for the Blackhawks, who still seek their first win of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be a long, painful season for the Blackhawks. They’ve given up five goals in each of their first four games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins swept their two-game series with the Washington Capitals with a 5-4 overtime victory. Sidney Crosby tallied the winner in the extra frame as the Penguins overcame a 4-2 deficit. Tom Wilson scored twice for the Capitals. Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola left the game with undisclosed ailments and will be evaluated today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby collected three points in this contest and is now the Penguins’ leading scorer with five points.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist and Mark Scheifele collected two assists for the Jets. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle missed the game with what’s been called a minor injury but he isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Senators, who out-shot the Jets 41-28 in this game.

Tyler Bertuzzi potted an overtime winner to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wings forward Bobby Ryan scored his fourth goal in his first three games of this season, becoming the first player in franchise history to achieve that feat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned victory for the rebuilding Red Wings over a Blue Jackets team whose best players have been anything but through most of the first week of their season.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists, including his 500th career point, in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar had two helpers for the Kings. The Avs were playing without goaltender Pavel Francouz and winger Andre Burakovsky as both remain sidelined by injuries suffered during practice on Monday.

The Carolina Hurricanes-Nashville Predators game was postponed after five Hurricanes players (Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin) were placed in COVID-19 protocol. The rescheduled game will be played at a later date.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This probably won’t be the last game to be rescheduled during this season. The Dallas Stars had their first four games postponed and rescheduled after several players were placed in COVID-19 protocol during the final days of training camp.

HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Prior to the Colorado Avalanche’s game with the Los Angeles Kings, they shipped defenseman Ian Cole to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for blueliner Greg Pateryn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild made this swap because general manager Bill Guerin was looking for an experienced stay-at-home defenseman. He also knows Cole from their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins and likes what the blueliner could bring to his roster.

The Avs, meanwhile, shed all but $800K of Cole’s $4.25 million annual average value while taking on Pateryn’s $2.25 million AAV. It allows the to put Pateryn on the taxi squad if necessary to create room for promising blueliner Bowen Byram.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson was fined $3,987.07 for slashing Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan during a game on Monday night.

NHL.COM: The league will pause the use of pucks with embedded tracking technology because of performance issues. A new supply of tracking pucks will be received soon and put into service once quality-control testing is completed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 16, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s five games, updates on Henrik Lundqvist and Jordan Staal, the latest notable contract signings, waiver claims and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists and Gabriel Landeskog scored twice as the Colorado Avalanche crushed the St. Louis Blues 8-0. Philipp Grubauer turned in a 20-save shutout and Cale Makar collected three assists.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wednesday’s season-opening 4-1 loss to the Blues seemed to light a fire under the Avs. They were far more energized compared to their rather flat effort in their previous contest. Coach Jared Bednar’s decision to reunite Landeskog with MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the top line for this game paid off.

The Ottawa Senators opened their season with a 5-3 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Winger Brady Tkachuk led the way for Ottawa with a goal and two assists while goalie Matt Murray made 20 saves for his first victory as a Senator. John Tavares had a goal and an assist for the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators exploited the Leafs’ defensive breakdowns for a well-deserved season-opening win. Toronto blueliners TJ Brodie and Zach Bogosian wore the goat horns in this one. The offseason additions haven’t brought much to the Leafs’ defense thus far but there’s still lots of time for them to adjust to their new team.

Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 35 shots to backstop the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat were among four Lightning forwards with a goal and an assist. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat replied for the Blackhawks

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks made it interesting by narrowing the Bolts’ 3-0 lead to 3-2 by the end of the second period but Yanni Gourde and Stamkos put the game out of reach in the third.

The Philadelphia Flyers swept their two-game series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5-2 victory. Travis Konecny tallied a hat trick as the Flyers chased Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry from the game after he gave up three goals on six shots. Sidney Crosby and Brandon Tanev replied for the Penguins. Flyers center Sean Couturier left the game in the first period with a shoulder injury. He’s slated for an MRI today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins’ defensive play has been sloppy and undisciplined thus far. It’s still very early in this season and they have plenty of time to address the problem but it could become their undoing this season if a solution isn’t found soon.

Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals nipped the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek turned aside 30 shots to pick up the win in his first NHL contest. Rasmus Ristolainen replied for the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tough loss for the Sabres. They outplayed the Capitals but couldn’t get more than one goal past Vanecek. They didn’t help their cause by going 0-5 on the power play.

HEADLINES

TSN: Henrik Lundqvist announced yesterday he left hospital after having open-heart surgery last week. He’ll remain in Cleveland for a few more days before returning to New York City.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes in your ongoing journey to a full recovery, King Henrik.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Friday. Staal played in the Hurricanes’ season-opener on Thursday. There’s no indication how long he could be sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sometimes players are placed on this list because of an initial positive test and then come off it if the follow-up test is negative. That could be the case with Staal.

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers placed goaltender Mike Smith on long-term injury reserve. He’ll miss at least 24 days or 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a concern given the Oilers’ lack of goaltending depth, especially after losing Anton Forsberg to Carolina on waivers earlier this week. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Speaking of Forsberg, he was claimed off waivers from the Hurricanes by the Jets.

THE SCORE: The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Ben Hutton to a one-year, $950K contract. He recently joined the Ducks on a professional tryout offer.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins defenseman Zach Trotman underwent surgery on his right knee and will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars will start their season on Jan. 22 after having their first four games postponed and rescheduled following a recent COVID-19 outbreak during training camp.

CBS SPORTS: The New York Islanders loaned forward Joshua Ho-Sang to Orebro of the Swedish Hockey League for the remainder of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could officially signal the end of Ho-Sang’s NHL career. The former first-round pick (28th overall, 2014) last played in the NHL in 2018-19 and spent last season in the AHL. The Isles reportedly tried to trade him but couldn’t find any takers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2021

Recaps of the first games of the season, the Golden Knights and Red Wings name their new captains, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Morgan Rielly scored in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. William Nylander scored twice and collected an assist while John Tavares had a goal and two assists. Josh Anderson scored twice for the Canadiens and teammate Jonathan Drouin had three assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A close, fast-paced contest between these long-time rivals. Some observers credit Wayne Simmonds’ fight with Ben Chiarot as the turning point when the Leafs were down 3-1 in the second period, but it was penalties by Anderson and Nick Suzuki leading to two Toronto goals that changed the course of the game.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled their 2019-20 Stanley Cup championship banner before thumping the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos led the way with a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without defenseman Brent Seabrook, who missed training camp with a back injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos showed no lingering effects from the surgery he underwent in the offseason to address the core muscle injury that sidelined him for all but one game in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Joel Farabee scored and collected three assists to lead the Philadelphia Flyers over the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. Michael Raffl snapped a 3-3 tie with the game-winner in the third period. Flyers forward Nolan Patrick scored in his first game since missing last season to migraines. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied his first goal of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers exploited the Penguins’ sloppy defensive play throughout this game, especially in the third period.

Two third-period goals by Brock Boeser helped the Vancouver Canucks down the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Braden Holtby made 28 saves in his Canucks’ debut as he and his teammates successfully killed four Oilers power-play opportunities.

St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist scored two goals and Robert Thomas collected two assists as their club rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues played without offseason acquisition Mike Hoffman as he missed the game due to a work visa issue. They also placed winger Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery) on long-term injury reserve.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: The NHL revealed 22 players on 16 different clubs were unavailable for the start of the season due to COVID-19 protocols. They include Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets center Mikko Koivu, Oilers winger James Neal, Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, Canucks forward J.T. Miller and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 in December. He said he’s feeling fine and has fully recovered from the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reminder that no one is immune from COVID-19. We’re bound to see more instances of positive tests over the course of this season. The best the league can do is take the necessary steps to limit exposure and spread of the coronavirus.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights announced winger Mark Stone was named their first captain in franchise history.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings named center Dylan Larkin as their 37th captain in franchise history and the first since Henrik Zetterberg retired in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a foregone conclusion Larkin would get the Wings’ captaincy but the Golden Knights played coy about naming their first full-time captain. Fine choices by both clubs.

TSN: The Washington Capitals signed goaltender Craig Anderson to a one-year, $700K contract and placed him on waivers yesterday for the purpose of placing him on their taxi squad if he clears.

CBC SPORTS: The Jets signed forward Trevor Lewis to a one-year, $750K contract.

CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers signed Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way deal and placed him on waivers yesterday. He’ll join their taxi squad if he clears.










Dubois and Laine Dominate NHL Training Camp Rumor Mill

Dubois and Laine Dominate NHL Training Camp Rumor Mill

 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 6, 2021

Updates on Patrik Laine, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mathew Barzal, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his first “31 Thoughts” column of 2021, Elliotte Friedman weighed in on the future of Patrik Laine with the Winnipeg Jets. The 22-year-old has been the subject of trade speculation for some time.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Friedman said Laine arrived in Winnipeg with the understanding he could be a Jet for the entire season. If Laine wants a trade his best option is to fill the net with pucks.

The Philadelphia Flyers considered acquiring the winger a few months ago but the cost in assets and salary proved too expensive. Friedman feels the Columbus Blue Jackets could be a suitor if Laine were to commit to staying in Columbus, assuming a trade could be worked out.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, Friedman feels there currently isn’t much optimism in fixing the situation between the organization and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center reportedly seeks a trade despite signing a two-year contract last week.

Several sources tell Friedman not to lay blame for this situation solely at the feet of Jackets head coach John Tortorella. The feeling is Dubois wants to perform on a bigger stage. In other words, a bigger market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks have suggested swapping Laine for Dubois, but getting either player to commit to their new cities could be the big sticking point. Winnipeg wouldn’t fit Dubois’ supposed desire to play in a big market.

As I’ve said before, moving Laine or Dubois seems unlikely during the regular season. Right now, they’re both too important to their respective clubs’ playoff hopes. It could also prove difficult to find suitable returns before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. I’m expecting they’ll get shopped during the offseason.

Friedman feels a long-term deal between the New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal doesn’t seem likely because of the team’s salary-cap situation. He expects the Barzal camp prefers contracts comparable to Toronto’s Mitch Marner or Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen but that’s not possible for the Isles at this point. Friedman speculates Barzal could get a two- or three-year deal worth around $6 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barzal is in camp though he can’t train with his teammates until he’s under contract. The Isles could go as high as $7 million annually for Barzal but I agree it’ll be a short-term deal with the promise of a long, lucrative contract down the road.

The Isles have also tried to move defenseman Thomas Hickey (with a sweetener). Half his $2.5 million cap hit for this season has been paid out in a signing bonus. He’s got one year left on his contract.

The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils are among the clubs interested in free-agent defenseman Ben Hutton.

Every time Friedman sees a commercial starring Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, he wonders if they’ll find a way to play together someday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless it’s as teammates with Team Canada in the Olympics or the World Cup of Hockey, don’t expect to see that happen in the NHL anytime soon.

MacKinnon, 25, is the Colorado Avalanche’s franchise player. While his contract expires in 2023, the Avs will open the vault to keep him in Denver. The 33-year-old Crosby’s best seasons may be behind him but he remains the Penguins’ top player and among the league’s elite. He’s also under contract until 2025 with a full no-movement clause.