NHL Rumor Mill – May 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 1, 2021

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we take a look at the recent speculation over the futures of several head coaches.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently examined what the future could hold for several NHL coaches on expiring contracts or holding interim roles.

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour (NHL.com).

LeBrun believes the Carolina Hurricanes will sign Rod Brind’Amour to a new contract, citing team owner Tom Dundon’s recent reiteration that a deal will get done. His next contract could be worth over $2 million per season but reaching an agreement isn’t a slam dunk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also reported the negotiations between the Hurricanes and Brind’Amour were more of a grind than expected. Like LeBrun, Friedman doesn’t see Brind’Amour moving on but the talks turned out to be more of a challenge.

I’ll be shocked if the Hurricanes fail to re-sign Brind’Amour. It’s no coincidence they rose to become a league powerhouse during his tenure behind the bench. Letting him walk would be a huge blunder on their part.

LeBrun chided the Vancouver Canucks for allowing head coach Travis Green to enter this season on an expiring contract as it garnered unwanted media attention. He believes they want to bring him back and suggested there could be news on that front sooner rather than later.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also weighed in on Green’s contract status, saying he expects negotiations will get serious soon. Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s most recent comments indicated there was nothing new to report. Perhaps those discussions pick up later this month once the regular season ends.

Turning to the Arizona Coyotes, LeBrun speculates general manager Bill Armstrong could replace Rick Tocchet with his own bench boss. Armstrong inherited Tocchet when he took over last fall as GM.

As for the Detroit Red Wings, LeBrun doesn’t know if Jeff Blashill will return or not. Blashill has earned the opportunity to return but there could also be time for a fresh voice behind the bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tocchet and Blashill did the best they could in difficult situations with rebuilding clubs. They’ve earned the right to return but their respective general managers could see things differently. They shouldn’t have much difficulty finding other NHL coaching gigs if they depart from their current jobs.

Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen didn’t tip his hand as to what’s in store for head coach John Tortorella in a recent interview with LeBrun. This could come down to what Kekalainen feels is right as much as what Tortorella feels like doing. It could be headed for a split.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been some speculation suggesting Tortorella could test the market this summer. I think the Jackets are ready for a change behind the bench. While “Torts” did a good job with them through most of his tenure it seemed like the players were getting weary of his system this year. Wingers Patrik Laine and Max Domi struggled throughout this season, raising more questions about Tortorella’s future in Columbus.

The Seattle Kraken and Buffalo Sabres are searching for a head coach. Gerard Gallant would be an obvious choice for the Kraken. Brind’Amour, Tocchet or Green could also fit the criteria.

If the Montreal Canadiens reach the playoffs, Dominique Ducharme could have his interim tag lifted.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun noted Kraken GM Ron Francis wanted to be patient making his coaching selection to see who might become available after this season. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams seems to be following suit.

I still think Gallant would be the best choice for the Kraken but Brind’Amour could jump to the top of the list if he and the Hurricanes fail to work out a deal. Francis and Brind’Amour were teammates and associated during their days in Carolina.

Making the playoffs might not be enough for Ducharme to become the Canadiens’ full-time bench boss. They’ll have to at least win their opening-round series to make that happen. Getting swept by the Leafs could spell the end of Ducharme’s tenure and perhaps that of Marc Bergevin as the Habs’ GM.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2021

Maple Leafs clinch a playoff spot, Joe Thornton reaches an assists milestone, Connor McDavid has another multi-point game and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs became the first team in the Scotia North Division to clinch a playoff spot by dropping the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Joe Thorton reached a milestone by collecting his 1,100th career NHL assist while Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 35th goal of the season. The Leafs sit atop the division with 67 points while the Canadiens are in fourth place with 51 points. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens announced Jonathan Drouin was taking an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton is just the seventh player in league history to reach 1,100 assists. Paul Coffey sits in sixth place with 1,135. With 1,524 points, Thornton is only seven behind Coffey (1,531) for 13th on the all-time list.

Drouin’s faced criticism from fans and pundits (myself included) for his play this season. We don’t know why he’s taken this leave of absence and it’s none of our business. Here’s hoping he gets whatever assistance is needed to help him cope with his situation and return to action.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected three assists in a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyson Barrie each had a goal and an assist as the Oilers (60 points) sit three points ahead of the Jets for second place in the North. The Jets have lost five straight games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid has a league-leading 84 points with nine games left in the season. He’s scoring at a pace not seen since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. At his current rate of production, he could still reach 100 points. 

The Vegas Golden Knights extended their winning streak to 10 games by downing the Colorado Avalanche 5-2. Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty led the way with three points each for the Golden Knights (72 points), opening a six-point lead over the second-place Avalanche in the Honda West Division.

Third-period goals by Mike Hoffman, Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas rallied the St. Louis Blues over the Minnesota Wild 4-3. Hoffman scored twice for the Blues (50 points) as they opened a three-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the West. The Wild (65 points) saw their seven-game win streak snapped. They remain one point behind the Avalanche.

Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the San Jose Sharks. Evander Kane tallied his 20th goal of the season.

The Ottawa Senators rode a four-goal second period to a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Brady Tkachuk led the way for the Senators with a “Gordie Howe hat trick”.

Cam Fowler scored the game-winner as the Anaheim Ducks edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. The Ducks, however, are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Kings center Quinton Byfield recorded four shots on goal in his NHL debut.

THE SCORE: Former NHL coach Gerard Gallant was named head coach of Team Canada at the 2021 World Championships.










Sabres Desperately Need Experienced Management and Coaching

Sabres Desperately Need Experienced Management and Coaching

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2020

The Islanders advance to the Eastern Conference Final, the NHL will begin announcing its award winners, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the first time since 1993, the New York Islanders are going to the Conference Finals. They shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in Game 7 of their second-round series and face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final in Edmonton.

Thomas Greiss made 16 saves for the shutout while Brock Nelson led the way offensively with a goal and two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a complete team victory by the Islanders. They stifled the Flyers’ offense with their defensive play and aggressive forecheck. Head coach Barry Trotz’s decision to start Greiss over Semyon Varlamov also paid off.

The lack of consistent production by the Flyers’ top scorers was a problem throughout the playoffs. It came home to roost in Game 7 against the Isles defense.

The NHL will begin revealing some of the winners of its individual awards from Sept. 6 to Sept. 13. Those to be announced include the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (Sept. 6), Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Sept. 7), Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award (Sept. 8), Jack Adams Award (Sept. 9), Frank J. Selke Trophy (Sept. 10), Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Sept. 11), Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award (Sept. 12), and the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award (Sept. 13).

A 30-minute program during the Stanley Cup Final will announce the winners of the Calder Memorial Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy, James Norris Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and the Vezina Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this format and I hope the league sticks with it going forward. Their annual award show in Las Vegas has a cringe factor comparable to “The Dundies” episode of The Office.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals have reportedly interviewed Mike Babcock and Gerard Gallant for their vacant head-coaching position.

SPORTSNET: The Arizona Coyotes have interviewed NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire for their vacant general manager job.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves received a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Juuso Riikola to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.15 million.

SPORTSNET: A resolution has yet to be reached allowing the families of the players on the remaining four NHL clubs to join them in the playoff bubble in Edmonton. Discussions are ongoing between the league, the NHL Players Association, and the Canadian federal government.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2020

Sabres captain Jack Eichel grows weary of constant losing, four regular-season awards are handed out, the latest updates on the league’s return-to-play format, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EICHEL AND RISTOLAINEN TIRED OF LOSING IN BUFFALO.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (Photo via NHL Images).

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are growing weary of missing the playoffs. Eichel, a five-year NHL veteran who has yet to make a post-season appearance, said he’s “fed up with the losing”. Ristolainen, a seven-year veteran, said he’s never been part of a winning culture in Buffalo. Both players, however, praised first-year coach Ralph Krueger and his staff for the improvements the club made this season despite missing the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have been mismanaged for years, and it’s taking a toll on Eichel and Ristolainen. While I don’t believe Eichel will demand a trade in this off-season, his patience probably isn’t limitless. He could decide his NHL future lies elsewhere if the Sabres fail to improve over the next couple of seasons.

Ristolainen, on the other hand, could be playing elsewhere whenever next season begins. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.

FOUR NHL AWARDS WINNERS ANNOUNCED.

NHL.COM: With the regular season over, the NHL released a list of four award winners. Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is the winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s points leader (110). Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak share the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the leading goalscorers (48 each).

Bruins goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak share the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals (174), while the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy for the best overall record with 44 wins.

UPDATES ON NHL’S RETURN-TO-PLAY FORMAT

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL told the NHL Players’ Association that Phase 3 of its return-to-play plan, which includes training camps, won’t begin before July 10. The league hopes to begin Phase 2, which includes small group workouts at team facilities, as early as next week.

TSN: Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top health official, said proposals are being reviewed from sports leagues (including the NHL) to resume play, but the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place for now. Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among 10 cities on the NHL’s shortlist of two host locations for its 24-team playoff tournament. Many NHL players are still in Europe and the United States.

Pierre LeBrun reports Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning suggested holding training camps in the United States because of Canada’s current border guidelines. Many players, such as Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and goalie Frederik Andersen, are working out in the US and won’t be in a big hurry to return to Canada and undergo a 14-day quarantine before they can resume training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The United States deemed professional athletes and their training staff as essential workers, making it easier for players in Canada and Europe to travel into that country for training camps.

Darren Dreger reports the NHL and NHLPA are negotiating to push the June 1 deadline for signing entry-level players to July 1. There’s also a debate between the league and the PA over allowing players recently signed to entry-level contracts (such as Montreal’s Alexander Romanov) to take part in the playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To no one’s surprise, the league is against it while the PA is for it.

Bob McKenzie reports Alexis Lafreniere, considered to be the top prospect in this year’s NHL draft, is considering all his options for next season. That could include perhaps playing in Europe if the NHL, AHL, or CHL 2020-21 seasons haven’t begun by this fall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If he does play in Europe this fall you can bet his contract will contain an out-clause enabling him to return to the NHL whenever the puck drops on the ’20-’21 season.

LeBrun reports the seven teams not eligible to participate in the 24-team playoff format can begin making trades with each other. He points out non-playoff clubs usually wait until closer to the draft to begin dealing, but if there’s a fit among those seven teams for whatever reason, they can go ahead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on this later today in the Rumor section.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers rookie winger Kaapo Kakko might not be able to participate in the playoff tournament. Kakko is a type-1 diabetic and has a higher-than-normal risk of contracting COVID-19. Rangers president John Davidson said they’ll listen to their medical people to determine if Kakko will be able to play.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported collective bargaining talks between the league and the PA are expected to ramp up enough for the latter to form a negotiating committee. Ryan Miller and Ron Hainsey remain active from the 2012-13 version.

Costs for COVID-19 testing during the playoff tournament could cost as much as $3 million.

Friedman thinks there’s a decent chance the tournament could be re-seeded following the qualifying round instead of going to a bracket format.

The New Jersey Devils are believed to be considering at least four candidates for their head coaching job. Current interim coach Alain Nasreddine, along with Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, and John Stevens, are believed to be in the running.

The Chicago Blackhawks could be making some cuts to the professional scouting department.

TSN: Player agent Mike Liut is advising any player who’ll listen to review their disability insurance before they return to the ice.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights announced their new AHL affiliate will be named the Henderson Silver Knights.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect center Josh Norris, 20, was selected as the AHL’s rookie of the year for 2019-20.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2020

Check out the latest on the Detroit Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the Detroit Red Wings season may be over, but general manager Steve Yzerman faces a busy off-season.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman (Photo via NHL.com).

One of his first decisions will be whether to pick up the option year in head coach Jeff Blashill’s contract or find a new bench boss. Gerard Gallant and Lane Lambert (former Yzerman teammates) could be among the candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year for guiding the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup in their expansion season. He could become the front-runner if the job becomes available.

In addition to deciding which of his free agents to re-sign, Khan speculates Yzerman could look to this year’s unrestricted free agent market for affordable second- and third-tier talent on short-term deals as stop-gap measures during the roster rebuild. He believes the Wings need a winger with scoring ability, a pair of defensemen, and a backup goaltender.

Khan also anticipates Yzerman will make low-risk value trades similar to his acquisitions of Robby Fabbri and Brendan Perlini.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Fabbri acquisition worked out well, but Perlini struggled throughout this season and probably won’t be back. Nevertheless, Yzerman will likely keep his eye open for once-promising players struggling with other clubs who could benefit from a fresh start elsewhere.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently posted a three-part series examining potential UFA targets to address the Red Wings’ roster needs.

He doubts Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall or Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will be interested in joining a rebuilding clubs like the Wings. He also expects the St. Louis Blues will re-sign Alex Pietrangelo while Michigan native Torey Krug could be re-signed by the Boston Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits suggested Krug might be willing to return home if he can’t sign with the Bruins. While we shouldn’t rule it out, I think he’d prefer playing for a contender.

Kulfan’s list of proposed forward options includes Colorado’s Vladislav Namestnikov, Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, or Erik Haula, Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, Vegas’ Tomas Nosek, or the New York Rangers’ Jesper Fast.

Blueline possibilities could include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, or the New York Islanders’ Andy Greene.

Goaltending targets could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, but the term and price would have to be worked on). Others include Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and Calgary’s Cam Talbot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players. Once Yzerman re-signs key free agents like Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Anthony Mantha, he’ll have plenty of cap room to bring in a couple of quality veteran free agents on short-term deals.

With the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million and several clubs looking to pinch pennies, that could work in Yzerman’s favor. If he sticks to affordable short-term options, he’ll have plenty to choose from once the notable names are snapped up.