What Next For the Arizona Coyotes?
The Avalanche clinch a playoff berth, a big night for Jakub Vrana, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are the second team to secure a playoff spot by doubling up the St. Louis Blue 4-2. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists for the Avalanche, who were playing their first game since their schedule was postponed by a COVID-19 outbreak last week. They sit two points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Jaden Schwartz scored both goals for the Blues (44 points), who remain one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jared Bednar surpassed Bob Hartley as the Avalanche’s longest-tenured head coach with his 360th game. He’s now in his fifth season in that role and has done a magnificent job coaching this former bottom-feeding club into a Stanley Cup contender.
Two shorthanded goals by Sebastian Aho carried the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Carolina’s Martin Necas picked up three assists while Florida captain Aleksander Barkov scored twice. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Discover Central Division with 67 points, two up on the second-place Panthers. They also played without defenseman Brady Skjei as he remains sidelined indefinitely by a concussion.
The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 to sit one point back of the Panthers. Blake Coleman scored twice and Ondrej Palat netted the game-winner.
Detroit Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana scored four goals to lead his club over the Dallas Stars 7-3. Thomas Greiss made 43 saves for the win. The Stars (50 points) remain two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Central. The Wings played without captain Dylan Larkin (upper-body injury) and announced Tyler Bertuzzi is done for the season with an upper-body injury.
Auston Matthews tallied his 34th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Winnipeg Jets 5-3. Mitch Marner scored twice and Nick Foligno collected an assist in his debut with the Leafs. Mark Scheifele had two points for the Jets, who lost center Adam Lowry following a headshot from Leafs winger Alex Galchenyuk. The Leafs played without defenseman Zach Bogosian, who’s sidelined for more than a week with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 63 points, the Leafs now hold a six-point lead over the Jets for first place in the Scotia North Division.
Shootout goals by Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Washington Capitals a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders. Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves for his second shutout of the season. The Capitals (64 points) hold a one-point lead over the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the MassMutual East Division.
Speaking of the Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, Kasperi Kapanen and Teddy Blueger each had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, Kapanen returned to action after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury. The Penguins hold second place over the Islanders with 30 wins.
The Boston Bruins picked up their sixth straight win by beating the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist and Jeremy Swayman kicked out 29 shots. The Bruins sit in fourth place in the East Division with 60 points, three behind the Islanders and eight up on the New York Rangers.
Two power-play goals by James van Riemsdyk powered the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Rangers. Brian Elliott made 33 saves for the Flyers (49 points), who sit three points back of the fifth-place Rangers in the East Division.
Matt Murray had a 31-save shutout as the Ottawa Senators blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0. Drake Batherson had a goal and an assist as the Senators have won four of their last five games.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed forward Ryan Hartman to a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.7 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hartman accepted a slight pay cut from his currently $1.9 million AAV for the security of an extra year. Cap Friendly indicates the signing leaves the Wild with $59.6 million invested in 13 players for 2021-22.
TSN: Only four players were on the NHL’s COVID-19 list yesterday. Three of them were the Avalanche’s Joonas Donskoi, Philipp Grubauer and Mikko Rantanen. The fourth was the Devils’ P.K. Subban.
Frank Seravalli reports the NHL and NHLPA have given the International Olympic Committee until the end of May for a financial commitment for the 2022 Winter Olympics because they need to set their schedule for next season.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Seattle Kraken are being sued by Seattle’s Kraken Lounge for $3.5 million. The lawsuit alleges the risk of irreparable harm to their brand name due to the team’s name choice and plans to open the Kraken Bar & Grill at their planned training facility.
The Golden Knights become the first team to clinch a playoff berth, Patrick Marleau reaches another milestone for games played, plus the latest on Jonathan Toews, Conor Garland and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs by downing the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Jonathan Marchessault led the way with two goals and two assists for the Golden Knights, who sit atop the Honda West Division and the overall standings with 68 points. San Jose forward Patrick Marleau reached another milestone, playing in his 900th consecutive NHL game. The Sharks (41 points) remain four points back of the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau recently broke Gordie Howe’s NHL record for most games played with 1,768. His Ironman streak is also impressive, becoming just the fourth player in league history to play 900 consecutive games. The leader is Doug Jarvis (964), followed by Garry Unger (914) and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle (913), with the latter poised to tie Unger in tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Minnesota Wild. Kirill Kaprizov set the Wild record for most goals by a rookie with 19 while Cam Talbot kicked out 39 shots for the win. With 61 points, the Wild sits three points behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche. Coyotes winger Conor Garland missed the game following a lower-body injury suffered in practice earlier in the day.
Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored twice as his club held off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists as the Oilers (56 points) sit one point behind the second-place Winnipeg Jets in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens, meanwhile, sit fourth with 49 points, opening an eight-point lead over the Calgary Flames. Oilers winger Zack Kassian left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury.
The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a 4-1 deficit to drop the Nashville Predators 5-4 on an overtime goal by Brandon Hagel, who also collected two assists. The Predators sit in fourth place in the Discover Central Division with 52 points while the Blackhawks sit three back in sixth.
The NHL extended the West Division schedule to May 13 to accommodate postponed games involving the Avalanche.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL hopes to start the 2021-22 season on Oct. 12, which is one week later than in a normal year. Training camps would open on Sept. 22 if there are no COVID-related delays.
The league cannot say for certain when the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs will begin due to the in-season delays some teams have dealt with this season.
The NHL still intends to participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics provided an agreement is reached with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee.
The 2021 NHL Draft (July 23-24) will be held virtually for the second straight year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means it’ll probably take over seven hours again to complete the second day of the draft unless the league sets a more rigid timetable for each team to make their selections.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner accused the NHL of lying to the players regarding its policies on COVID-19 restrictions and vaccinations. He claimed the league told them restrictions would ease if a certain threshold of vaccinations were achieved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied Lehner’s claim, saying loosened restrictions were previously discussed internally and with the NHL Players Association but no decision was reached or communicated to the players.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is likely done for the remainder of this season as he continues to battle an illness that’s left him drained and lethargic. However, his health is improving and he’s expected to return next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Toews as he continues his recovery.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart will miss his club’s next two games due to a knee sprain.
TSN: A settlement in principle has been reached between the NHL and Kelli Ewen, widow of former player Todd Ewen, over the wrongful death lawsuit she filed against the league in 2019. The suit alleges Todd’s suicide in 2015 was linked to the league allegedly downplaying the potential long-term effects of repeated head trauma and profiting from a culture of on-ice violence.
The latest on Taylor Hall, Jaden Schwartz, and Alex Iafallo, the Panthers could be up to something following a cost-cutting trade, plus updates on the Coyotes, Blackhawks and Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.
UPDATES ON TAYLOR HALL
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is having discussions with multiple teams regarding Taylor Hall. General managers are talking to the 29-year-old left winger’s agent wondering what a contract extension would look like.
Frank Seravalli reports the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t in the mix for Hall, though they’ll continue to monitor what the price could be for the winger leading up to Monday’s deadline. They had an interest in Palmieri and in Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund but it could be a quiet trade deadline for the Leafs.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes it could take a three-team deal or the Sabres taking on a contract or two to make a Hall trade work. That’s because few buyers have sufficient cap space to take on the winger’s contract. A team executive speculates a team could get Hall for a second- or third-round pick plus send the Sabres a contract to make it work if the winger’s still on the market by Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because Hall is willing to consider an extension doesn’t mean he’ll sign one. He was willing to consider an extension with the Coyotes and then signed a one-year deal with the Sabres. As for the Isles, they only have around $3 million in long-term injury reserve cap dollars available. Lamoriello would have to get creative to pull that off.
PANTHERS PLANNING ANOTHER TRADE?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes the Florida Panthers could make another deal or two after shedding salary yesterday in a five-time trade that sent veteran winger Brett Connolly to the Chicago Blackhawks. He feels GM Bill Zito is keeping an eye on the future but also wants to reward his club for the way they’re playing.
Zito could set his sights on potentially a top-four defenseman and a top-six winger. It’s believed he “kicked the tires” on Kyle Palmieri before he was shipped to the Islanders. Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard could be a target given Zito’s previous job as the Jacket’s assistant GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zito’s been busy as he also recently shipping Vinnie Hinostroza to Chicago in another cost-cutting deal with the Blackhawks. I’ll be surprised if the deadline passes and he hasn’t made a significant acquisition.
COULD SCHWARTZ OR IAFALLO BECOME AVAILABLE?
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz has popped up on his radar over the past day or so. Blues GM Doug Armstrong might be willing to move him but only for a significant return. Schwartz has a 15-team no-trade list. Pending UFAs Mike Hoffman and Tyler Bozak are believed to be available.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake is starting to take calls on winger Alex Iafallo. Blake and Iafallo’s representatives are still attempting to negotiate a contract extension but this could go down to the wire. Seravalli speculates the 27-year-old winger could be moved if he’s not signed before Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman or Bozak are more likely to be moved by the Blues than Schwartz unless somebody’s willing to overpay for the latter. As for Iafallo, it sounds like things could go either way. His situation will be worth monitoring over the next couple of days.
LATEST ON THE COYOTES
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculates this could be a quiet trade deadline for the Arizona Coyotes. They’re carrying nine pending UFAs, including such notables as Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Derick Brassard and Antti Raanta. With the Coyotes in playoff contention, however, it seems unlikely they’ll move them unless someone comes up with a meaningful offer for one of them.
AZ COYOTES INSIDER: In a recent interview with Craig Morgan, Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said the trade rumors regarding winger Conor Garland were the result of another club calling about him. Armstrong said it leaked out but didn’t come from him. He spoke with Garland about the other club’s interest in the winger. He praised Garland as one of his core players, saying he was impressed with his play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ recent surge into the fourth and final playoff spot in the Honda West probably takes them off the trade-deadline sellers’ list. I don’t see Armstrong shopping Garland. The 25-year-old winger is his club’s leading scorer and a restricted free agent this summer so there’s no pressure to move him at the trade deadline.
UPDATES ON THE BLACKHAWKS, DEVILS AND WINGS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman remains willing to leverage his salary cap space if cap-strapped teams need help making a trade. He’s spoken to the Leafs about that several times in recent weeks as they could use a third-party broker to get a trade done. The San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings are willing to do the same.
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan reports the New Jersey Devils might not be done dealing after shipping Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the Islanders on Wednesday. They could also shop pending UFAs Ryan Murray, Dmitry Kulikov, Sami Vatanen and Nikita Gusev.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan thinks there could be a market for lower-salaried, pending UFAs such as Bobby Ryan, Sam Gagner and Jon Merrill while higher-salaried free agents such as Marc Staal, Darren Helm, Patrik Nemeth and Jonathan Bernier could be more difficult to move. Injuries to Ryan, Bernier, Nemeth and Gagner will also be a factor.
A look at several noteworthy names on TSN’s updated trade bait list plus updates on the Penguins and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ANALYSIS OF TSN’S UPDATED TRADE-BAIT LIST
TSN: Mattias Ekholm remains atop the updated trade-bait list. Pierre LeBrun recently reported the Nashville Predators seek three assets (including a first-round pick and a top prospect) for the 30-year-old defenseman.
Meanwhile, winger Mikael Granlund rises to No. 3 as Frank Seravalli reported he’s the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primary target ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. Seravalli also pointed out the Predators’ recent surge in the standings have them in wait-and-see mode.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No mention of Nashville blueliner Ryan Ellis on TSN’s list. The Athletic’s Adam Vingan observed Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if Ellis might be available. Vingan weighed the pros and cons of trading either defenseman. He also pointed out the Preds are under no obligation to do so given their recent improvement in the standings and the term remaining on both rearguard’s contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No mention of Coyotes winger Conor Garland on this list. A recent report by Elliotte Freidman speculating over Garland’s availability has BostonHockeyNow’s Joe Haggerty and NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss suggesting the winger would be a good trade target for the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pierre LeBrun, in his column for The Athletic, suggested Foligno or Palmieri could be targeted by New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello if they become available. He and Elliotte Friedman both reported the Bue Jackets could be reluctant to part with Foligno. With the Jackets back in the playoff race they could also retain Savard. It remains to be seen, meanwhile, whether the Devils will trade or re-sign Palmieri.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Washington listed Bernier and Dubnyk among possible goalie trade targets for the Washington Capitals. Others include Buffalo’s Carter Hutton, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Calgary’s David Rittich.
Given the Capitals’ limited cap space, any deal they make will be dollar-in, dollar-out. I rule out Rinne because of his no-movement clause and desire to finish his career with the Predators. I don’t see the Flames moving Rittich as long as they have a shot at a playoff spot.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch considers it doubtful Dzingel will get traded. He feels teams will be more interested in getting blueline help before the deadline, suggesting Braydon Coburn, Mike Reilly and Erik Gudbranson could be targeted by playoff clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal carries a 10-team no-trade list but it’s believed he could be willing to waive it to go to a contender. However, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski recently reported Sabres GM Kevyn Adams hasn’t asked Staal about it. Maybe Adams is waiting until the deadline draws closer. Then again, maybe no one’s called the Sabres about the 36-year-old center.
UPDATES ON THE PENGUINS AND FLYERS
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Brian Burke, the Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations, dismisses speculation this year’s trade deadline could be a quiet one around the league, suggesting business could soon pick up. He said general manager Ron Hextall is working the phones as they’ll try to add at the trade deadline if they can. Burke indicated he and Hextall would like to bring some size to their roster.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher took accountability for his club’s struggles this season. He cited his inability to replace retired defenseman Matt Niskanen as a significant factor. Fletcher said he’s not looking at selling right now, adding the trade market is very quiet. He indicated he’s willing to upgrade his team if a deal makes sense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are rising in the standings, emboldening their front office to try to augment their lineup at the trade deadline. The Flyers, meanwhile, could go either way, which explains Fletcher’s position. They’re still in the playoff chase but must gain ground over the next couple of weeks for their GM to consider investing futures for immediate help.