Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 16, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 16, 2021

Is there a path for the Bruins to land Jack Eichel? Should the Rangers consider signing Pekka Rinne? What’s the latest on Seth Jones’ contract talks. Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

COULD THE BRUINS LAND EICHEL?

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter examined possible paths for the Boston Bruins to acquire Jack Eichel. The Buffalo Sabres captain raised eyebrows during his exit interview last week expressing unhappiness over his situation, claiming there was a disconnect between himself and the club regarding treatment for his herniated disk in his neck.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Porter believes the Bruins could afford Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit for the next five seasons if they let unrestricted free agents like David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Sean Kuraly depart this summer. He also pointed out Bruins president Cam Neely admitting his club is a little thin at center. Current top-two centers like Patrice Bergeron and Krejci are in their mid-thirties.

The toughest question is whether the Bruins can afford what would be an expensive asking price by the Sabres. Porter feels it could mean parting with winger David Pastrnak. Eichel’s injury could also complicate matters.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will inquire about Eichel if the 24-year-old center and the Sabres fail to smooth over their differences. Sweeney has a recent trade history with the Sabres, having acquired Taylor Hall from them at the trade deadline.

Sweeney got Hall for a song because the veteran winger used his no-movement clause to ensure he’d go to Boston. The Bruins won’t have that advantage with Eichel because his NMC doesn’t kick in until 2022-23.

Sabres GM Kevyn Adam would seek a significant return, perhaps one too expensive for the Bruins. That could involve Pastrnak or defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

SHOULD THE RANGERS SIGN RINNE THIS SUMMER?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks makes the case for the New York Rangers to sign Pekka Rinne if the Nashville Predators goaltender becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. He feels the 38-year-old Rinne would bring much-needed leadership to the Rangers’ dressing room and act as a mentor for starting goalie Igor Shesterkin.

Brooks believes Alexandar Georgiev, the Rangers’ current backup, might benefit from a change of scenery if the Blueshirts move him and his $2.425 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinne could test the free-agent market this summer. However, I suspect he’ll retire as a player and perhaps take on a front-office role with the Predators. I

If Rinne decides to continue his career I don’t think he’d be the right choice for the Rangers. Yes, he’d bring leadership but performance is another matter. His best seasons are behind him and he saw only one start for the Predators over the final month of the regular season.

LATEST ON SETH JONES

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Columbus Blue Jackets have asked Seth Jones if he’ll consider looking at a contract extension at some point during the offseason. The 26-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Johnston said Jones has spoken with his agent and is taking the weekend to think things through. He expects the blueliner will get back to Jackets management over the next several days about whether he’s willing to discuss an extension now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Jackets could attempt to trade Jones this summer if he won’t commit to an extension. However, The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline recently reported the Jackets were willing to keep Jones into next season without an extension. Initial discussions had begun between Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Jones’ agent, Pat Brisson.

Kekalainen also told Portzline he and his staff have looked at whether the return is greater for trading pending UFAs one year away from the expiration of their contracts versus moving them at the trade deadline. He feels competition tends to be more intense at the trade deadline.

The Jackets could take their chances going into next season with Jones if he remains unsigned and try to change his mind. If he doesn’t, they’ll shop him to the highest bidder at the trade deadline.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 1, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s games feature Patrick Kane and Alain Vigneault reaching career milestones plus updates on Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Gabriel Landeskog and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrick Kane scored his 400th career goal as the Chicago Blackhawks thumped the Detroit Red Wings 7-2. He had a three-point performance while Alex DeBrincat collected four points and Kevin Lankinen made 44 saves for the Blackhawks. They’ve won six of their last eight games and sit third in the Discover Central Division.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane tallied career goal 400 in a 7-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers wondered how the Blackhawks would fill the leadership void when team captain Jonathan Toews was sidelined by a mysterious illness. Kane has certainly risen to the occasion. He’s also tied for second with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl (34 points) in the NHL scoring race.

Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault picked up career win 700 as his club blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0. Goalie Carter Hart made 28 saves for the shutout while James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vigneault is tied with Mike Babcock for eighth on the all-time list.

The Boston Bruins got two goals from Charlie Coyle and two assists from David Pastrnak as they defeated the New York Rangers 4-1. Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev played most of the game with a scratched left eye suffered in the first period. He went to the bench for repairs and returned to the game.

A 28-save performance by Juuse Saros helped the Nashville Predators down the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1, sweeping their two-game series and handing the Jackets their fifth straight loss. Columbus coach John Tortorella said he wasn’t concerned about his job security in a post-game press conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Changes could be coming to the Jackets if they don’t snap out of this tailspin soon. They’re now six points behind the fourth-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Central.

Alex Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal as the Washington Capitals edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 19 saves in his first game since coming off the COVID-19 protocol list. Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist for the Caps. Devils captain Nico Hischier missed the game and is listed as day-to-day after taking a puck to the face on Saturday.

New York Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin made 20 saves for his second straight shutout in a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Oliver Wahlstrom and Jean-Gabriel Pageau were the goal scorers.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel claimed he didn’t get hurt during pregame warmup before Thursday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils, contradicting what coach Ralph Krueger told reporters that night. Eichel said he got hurt in New Jersey on Tuesday, which also forced him to miss Thursday’s game. Krueger said Sunday he wasn’t trying to mislead anyone with his statement on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This would be at best a minor issue for a normal team. For the floundering Sabres, however, it’s seen by their critics as yet another example of the dysfunction within the club.

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs could face the Edmonton Oilers tonight without center Auston Matthews and goalies Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell. They’re nursing injuries and listed as day-to-day. Michael Hutchinson will get the call if Andersen and Campbell can’t play.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog tied Peter Forsberg for the third-most goals (202) in franchise history during Saturday’s 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes.

NBC SPORTS: Florida Panthers winger Brett Connolly and Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock were placed on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m interested to see if a team in need of goalie depth plucks Stalock off the waiver wire. He had decent numbers last season but has been relegated to third-stringer behind Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen this season.

STLTODAY.COM: Jacob de la Rose became the sixth player on the St. Louis Blues to be placed on injured reserve.

TSN: Four players – Arizona’s John Hayden, Detroit’s Patrik Nemeth, the New York Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko and San Jose’s Tomas Hertl – remain on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were calls from some in the media in mid-February for the NHL to pause or reduce the schedule over the growing number of players on the protocol list and the postponement of games as a result. Those numbers have significantly dropped over the last two weeks, suggesting the league’s updated protocols are working.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s action, the Penguins hire Ron Hextall as GM and Brian Burke as head of hockey ops, Mikko Koivu retires, and more game postponements related to COVID-19 in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on a tie-breaking third-period goal by Patric Hornqvist. Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists for the Panthers. Wings forward Luke Glendening was unavailable due to an upper-body injury and is expected to miss at least one additional game.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen made 40 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held pointless for the first time in 10 games. Earlier in the day, the Oilers revealed winger Zack Kassian is week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. The Senators, meanwhile, announced defenseman Erik Brannstrom was placed on injured reserve for seven-to-10 days.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Steven Stamkos and Mathieu Joseph each scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning extended their win streak to six games by thumping the Nashville Predators 6-1. Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev each collected three assists.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their third straight victory by nipping the Dallas Stars 2-1 in overtime. Kevin Lankinen kicked out 34 shots while Pius Suter tallied the game-winner.

Zach Whitecloud snapped a 4-4 tie in the third period to give the Vegas Golden Knights a 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, who had overcome 3-0 and 4-1 deficits. Following the game, the Golden Knights canceled its virtual post-game press conference citing COVID-19 concerns. The club also canceled today’s practice, adding there would be no media availability to answer questions. The Ducks’ post-game presser was also cut short.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights returned to action on Feb. 5 after having three games postponed when a coach tested positive and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Their next game is slated for Thursday against the Ducks.

The San Jose Sharks nipped the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in a shootout. Evander Kane tied the game late in the third period and Logan Couture netted the winning goal. Sharks forward Patrick Marleau passed Jaromir Jagr for third place on the all-time games played list with 1,734. Dustin Brown scored twice for the Kings, who lost defenseman Drew Doughty to an apparent arm injury after blocking a shot in the third period.

Pierre-Luc Dubois’ debut with the Winnipeg Jets was spoiled as they fell 3-2 to the Calgary Flames. Elias Lindholm got the winner on a power-play goal late in the third period. Dubois was held scoreless while Nikolaj Ehlers tallied twice for the Jets.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins hired Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.

The former GM of the Philadelphia Flyers and an advisor to the Los Angeles Kings hockey ops department, Hextall brought in many of the players currently on the Flyers roster and helped build the Kings into a two-time Stanley Cup champion.

Burke is a former general manager of the Hartford Whalers, Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs, winning a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He was also president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall’s hiring wasn’t a shock as he was considered among the front-runners for the job. Burke’s hiring was surprising as he seemed comfortable in his recent role as an in-studio hockey analyst for Sportsnet.

This will make an interesting mix of personalities. Hextall is patient to a fault when it comes to building a roster. His reluctance to make trades to speed up the Flyers’ rebuild led to his dismissal. Burke, meanwhile, is known for his outspokenness, his love of physical hockey and his willingness to tinker with his rosters. How well they mesh will play a big role in determining the direction of the Penguins.

The hiring of Hextall and Burke have given rise to questions over how they’ll run the Penguins. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Mikko Koivu announced his retirement, bringing his 16-season NHL playing career to an end. Koivu signed with the Blue Jackets after 15 seasons with the Minnesota Wild. He was their captain from 2008-09 to 2019-20, becoming their franchise leader in games played (1,028), assists (504) and points (709) while finishing second all-time with 205 goals. He had one goal and one assist in seven appearances with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Koivu and his family in their future endeavors. His retirement, however, leaves the Jackets even thinner at center.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, Patrik Laine’s benching during the club’s 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday was reportedly the result of his being disrespectful to a member of the Jackets’ coaching staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been an interesting week thus far for the Jackets.

NHL.COM: Last night’s game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals was postponed after Flyers’ Claude Giroux and Justin Braun were added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list. Teammate Travis Sanheim was placed on the list Sunday. The league has postponed 32 games thus far due to COVID-19.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Cam Talbot and Jonas Brodin joined the Minnesota Wild’s growing list of players on the protocol list. They now have 12 players on that list.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev declined to elaborate on his altercation with former teammate Tony DeAngelo following a game on Jan. 30. The incident resulted in DeAngelo’s banishment from the Rangers. “Emotions happened and that’s all I can say,” said Georgiev. “I wish Tony the best moving forward.”










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2020

The Senators sign Evgenii Dadonov, the Rangers avoid arbitration with Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev, Joe Thornton will play in Switzerland during the NHL offseason and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday signed Evgenii Dadonov to a three-year, $15 million contract. The annual average value is $5 million. The 31-year-old winger is coming off his third straight 20-goal season.

Ottawa Senators sign winger Evgenii Dadonov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant signing by the rebuilding Senators. Dadonov should bolster their anemic offense.

While it was surprising that the Sens landed one of the notable remaining unrestricted free agents, the signing also raised eyebrows over Dadonov getting less than market value. The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin observed it’s an indication of how much the flat salary cap is affecting mid-tier free-agent talent.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers avoided arbitration with defenseman Tony DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. DeAngelo signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $4.8 million while Georgiev inked a two-year deal worth $2.425 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $70.6 million committed to 21 players with Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux to re-sign. Both have arbitration hearings coming up but the Blueshirts have enough cap space to avoid that route.

TSN: Free-agent center Joe Thornton will play for Switzerland’s HC Davos during the NHL offseason. He previously played for Davos during the 2004-05 and 2012-13 NHL lockouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last time Thornton played an NHL game was on March 11 before the regular season was derailed by COVID-19. It’s a good way for him to get into game shape for whenever the NHL returns to action in the new year.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reported Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella hopes the recent additions of centers Max Domi and Mikko Koivu will allow him to open up his offense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lack of depth at center last season forced the Jackets to play a more defensive-oriented system. Koivu will likely see fourth-line duty while Domi is expected to fill the second-line center role.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox reports the effects of COVID-19 upon NHL revenue could be generating concern among the team owners. He points to Vegas Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley’s recent remarks contradicting the league’s official position of returning next season on Jan. 1 with a full 82-games schedule. Foley noted his peers are getting nervous. “We all thought we’d be out of COVID by now”, he told an interviewer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foley believes the NHL will return on Feb. 1 at the earliest and play a reduced schedule to be completed by the end of June because NBC (which holds the league’s US broadcasting rights) will be televising the Summer Olympics in July. No reaction yet from Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding Foley’s remarks, but the Golden Knights’ owner seems to be saying out loud what’s been discussed quietly behind the scenes.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

More Rangers speculation and what the Penguins will do with their free-agent goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers are in need of a first-pair defenseman. He feels Brendan Smith is not up to logging those minutes alongside Jacob Trouba. Brooks points out Trouba was still trying to adjust to his new club when paired with rookie Libor Hajek earlier this season. Perhaps they might be a better fit next season. Promising K’Andre Miller might be able to fill that role one day, but it would be expecting too much for him to step into that position next season.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have over $68 million invested in 16 players next season, with Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev becoming restricted free agents with arbitration rights in the off-season. They would get some cap relief by trading or buying out Henrik Lundqvist, but that won’t be enough to re-sign those four and acquire a top-pairing blueliner via trade or free agency.

LOHUD.COM: Vincent Z. Mercogliano examined the Rangers’ possible off-season moves. He noted they’ll have about $13.5 million to spend on re-signing their free agents and can’t afford to keep them all.

Strome and DeAngelo earned the right to seek multi-year contracts, but their play against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying-round series didn’t help their cause. To address their defensive issues. Mercogliano believes general manager Jeff Gorton will explore trade possibilities, with Strome, DeAngelo, and Georgiev as bait.

Regarding Henrik Lundqvist, if he’s unwilling to return as Igor Shesterkin’s backup next season or if the Blueshirt stick with Georgiev, Mercogliano speculates they could buy him out. Retirement is also possible but perhaps a long shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gorton has some big off-season decisions to make. Landing a top-pairing defenseman could involve shopping DeAngelo in a package deal. Still, acquiring that type of rearguard would eat up a lot of their cap room. Perhaps he’ll consider more affordable moves while waiting to see how things shake out next season with their younger players.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Starkey was asked about the long-term implication if the Penguins chose to re-sign goalie Tristan Jarry over Matt Murray regardless of the outcome of this postseason.

Starkey believes the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign both for even more than one season. They’re each slated to become restricted free agents with arbitration rights. It could come down to what each goalie seeks on his next contract. Murray’s performance in this year’s playoffs could also be a determining factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray appeared in the Penguins’ first three games of their qualifying round series against the Montreal Canadiens, but he’s been out-played by the Canadiens’ Carey Price. If the Penguins are eliminated with Murray in net, that could have implications for his hopes of re-signing even a one-year deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2020

The latest Rangers’ speculation involving Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Strome, Alexandar Georgiev, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

NEW YORK POST: With the Rangers’ season over, Larry Brooks believes Henrik Lundqvist’s long goodbye with the Blueshirts is over. He wonders how the goaltender and the club will part ways after 15 seasons as it transitions toward a tandem of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

Has Henrik Lundqvist’s long career with the New York Rangers drawing to a close? (Photo via NHL Images).

Lundqvist has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $8.5 million. Brooks praised his handling of this situation, but he doesn’t know if the former Vezina Trophy winner will accept being a backup with the Rangers or another club.

The Rangers must shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents like Georgiev, Ryan Strome, and Tony DeAngelo. Brooks doesn’t see a legitimate Stanley Cup contender pursuing Lundqvist at this stage in his career, or another club taking him on even if the Rangers absorbed half of his cap hit. The other option is buying out his contract once the playoffs are over. Retirement is also a possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A difficult decision faces Lundqvist and the Rangers. I agree with Brooks’ take regarding his trade value. The 38-year-old netminder has enjoyed a stellar career but he’s no longer the type of starting goaltender a contender would covet. Even if the Rangers absorbed half his cap hit, it would make him an expensive backup.

As Brooks observed, if Lundqvist retires his $8.5 million cap hit won’t count against the Rangers’ cap payroll for next season, but he’d forfeit the $5.5 million he’s owed in actual salary. If they can’t trade him to another club, a buyout would create $3 million in savings but still leave some dead cap space.

Brooks indicates the Rangers received no significant offers for Georgiev before the February trade deadline, nor did management especially dangle him in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev’s name surfaced a lot in this year’s rumor mill, though most of it was pundits dreaming up potential destinations for him. Barring a surprising swerve where the Rangers keep Lundqvist, Georgiev appears destined to be Shesterkin’s backup next season.

Brooks examined other possible off-season moves for the Rangers. Popular check-line winger Jesper Fast is expected to depart via free agency. They must decide whether to sign Ryan Strome to a one-year contract that might be worth $5 million. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Strome didn’t improve his chances for a long-term deal or his trade value with a dismal performance against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome had a couple of assists against the Hurricanes but his overall performance was disappointing. Maybe they consider trading him if they anticipate a difficult contract negotiation. Then again, perhaps the flat cap works in their favor if comparable players on other clubs start accepting less money on one-year deals.

The Rangers now have a shot at winning the upcoming second draft lottery and the right to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere. Brooks, however, suggests the Rangers could instead consider selecting big Sudbury Wolves center Quinton Byfield. He points to a looming top-six opening at center over the next couple of years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks could be talking about Strome if the Rangers ink him to a one-year deal in the off-season. However, I suspect he’s referring to Mika Zibanejad, who becomes eligible for UFA status in 2022 and could seek a pay raise that proves too hefty for the Rangers to carry.

Landing Byfield might be a more sensible pick if the Rangers win the draft lottery. They already have Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider at the left wing, with both guys carrying expensive contracts and full no-movement clauses.

Playing Lafreniere on the third line isn’t a good option, and shifting him to the right side takes him out of his comfort zone. They could move Panarin or Kreider to the right side but could face the same problem.

If the Rangers win the first-overall pick, maybe they trade down with another club to ensure they get Byfield and something else.

What say you, Rangers fans? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.