NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2017

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac sidelined four-to-six months.

Updates on Travis Zajac, Mike Fisher, Zemgus Girgensons & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle and will be sidelined four-to-six months. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Devils’ offense. I’ll have more on how they could address Zajac’s absence later this morning in the Rumors section. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Now-retired Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher will be honored for his community work. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday signed restricted free agent forward Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year, $3.2 million contract. The annual average value is $1.6 million.

WGR 550: Speaking of the Sabres, they also announced their pricing for single-game tickets for the upcoming season, which go on sale on Sept. 16. Mini-packs go on sale on Aug.23. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: During a recent meeting with season-ticket holders, Kings executives Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille expressed confidence that  their club will improve under a new offensive plan this season. Blake also cited a lack of affordable young talent as a reason why the club didn’t make a big splash in this summer’s free-agent market. He also said winger Marian Gaborik is progressing with a non-surgical procedure on his knee but isn’t sure when he’ll return to the lineup. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake also alluded the club’s salary-cap limitations – a hangover from the previous management – as a factor that hampered efforts to bolster their offense. Oft-injured winger Mike Cammalleri and backup goalie Darcy Kuemper were their only notable UFA signings. They have little choice but to look to within and hope a change in their system can improve their production. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger J.T. Brown donated $1,500.00 to remove a Confederate statue in downtown Tampa Bay. The Lightning, along with MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, raised the necessary $140K in private donations within 24 hours to have the statue removed. 

 











Expansion Speculation on the Bruins, Sabres & Stars – March 21, 2017

Expansion Speculation on the Bruins, Sabres & Stars – March 21, 2017

Could the Boston Bruins leave defenseman Adam McQuaid exposed in the June expansion draft?

 A look at the players who could be protected or exposed in the June expansion draft by the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars.

BOSTON HERALD: Stephen Harris speculates the Boston Bruins could opt to protect seven forwards (“Patrice Bergeron (no-movement clause), David Krejci (NM), David Backes (NM), Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey”), three defenseman ( “Zdeno Chara (NM), Torey Krug and Colin Miller”) and a goaltender (Tuukka Rask) in the June expansion draft.

Harris suggests the Bruins could still expose Beleskey. Colin Miller’s improvement, meanwhile, could leave Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller exposed. Either guy could prove attractive to the Vegas Golden Knights. Harris also mused over the possibility of the Bruins asking Chara to waive his no-movement clause, but believes it “questionable at best” that he’ll agree to do so. The Bruins could also be unwilling to risk losing Chara. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl recently did up his list of players the Buffalo Sabres could protect in the expansion draft. His protected forwards include Kyle Okposo, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, Marcus Foligno, Johan Larsson, Ennis and William Carrier. That leaves Zemgus Girgensons, Matt Moulson, Nicholas Deslauriers and Justin Kea available in the draft.

On defense, he’d protect Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe and Zach Bogosian, leaving Josh Gorges, Justin Falk and Brady Austin. In goal, Vogl anticipated the Sabres will protect Robin Lehner and expose Linus Ullmark. He also speculated the Golden Knights could choose Girgensons or Ullmark. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika recently looked at the players the Dallas Stars could protect in the expansion draft. Forwards Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza have no-movement clauses, while Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa are “locks’ to be protected. He anticipated the Stars will protect Valeri Nichushkin, who’s currently playing in Russia. He guessed they’ll also protect Brett Ritchie and Antoine Roussel and speculated they could trade Cody Eakin or leave him unprotected.

On defense, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell will be protected, as could either Stephen Johns or Jamie Oleksiak. Dan Hamhuis would be left unprotected. Given his age (34) and with only a year left on his contract, the Golden Knights could pass on him. As for goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, Heika doubts the Golden Knights have interest in either guy. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As more clubs drop out of playoff contention in the coming weeks, expect the speculation over which players they will expose in the expansion draft to increase in the coming weeks. If the Bruins leave McQuaid unprotected, I expect the Golden Knights will be very interested in him. Same goes for Girgensons if the Sabres make him available in the draft. Johns and Oleksiak are big, young blueliners and either one could be tempting targets for the Golden Knights. 












NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2016



NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2016

Buffalo Sabres won't sell low on center Zemgus Girgensons.

Buffalo Sabres won’t sell low on center Zemgus Girgensons.

Updates on Zemgus Girgensons, Jarome iginla & Ryan Spooner, plus the latest on the Lightning & Blues in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET:  Elliotte Friedman thinks the Anaheim Ducks had some interest last summer in Buffalo Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons, but the Sabres’ asking price was one of the Ducks’ talented young defensemen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Last weekend, Friedman reported some teams noticed the decline in Girgensons’ playing time this season and inquired into his status, but the Sabres aren’t willing to sell low because they still believe in him. The 22-year-old center must improve, however, if the Sabres hope to land a quality return. 

Noting Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome iginla’s recent comments that he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause this season to join a contender, Friedman wonders if the Edmonton Oilers would think about pursuing him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I went over this in yesterday’s rumor mill. Long story short, given the decline in Iginla’s speed and skills, I don’t think he’s a fit for the Oilers. Still, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli did sign Iginla back when he was GM of the Boston Bruins and Iggy put up some decent numbers with them, so I suppose we can’t completely dismiss the possibility. 

Friedman reports there’s no truth to a rumor suggesting the Boston Bruins could trade forward Ryan Spooner to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Matt Dumba. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba’s improved this season under Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. Unlikely that they’ll part with him. 

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Tampa Bay Lightning top priority between now and the March 1 trade deadline is a top-four defenseman. He also believes the St. Louis Blues could use a top-four blueliner, but doubts they’ll pursue a rental player. He thinks they’ll want one who can play for them beyond this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Lightning pursue a rental defenseman, Calgary’s Dennis Wideman and Arizona’s Michael Stone could top the list of potentially available notables.

The Blues will find it difficult landing a rearguard who can play with them beyond next season. Perhaps they’ll target clubs that could risk losing a defenseman to next June’s expansion draft. The Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators could face that situation. 

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 11, 2016



Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 11, 2016

Colorado Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla could consider waiving his no-trade clause this season.

Colorado Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla could consider waiving his no-trade clause this season.

Latest on Jarome Iginla, Martin Hanzal, Zemgus Girgensons & more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cites a recent interview by Colorado sportswriter Adrian Dater with Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla in which the future Hall of Famer could consider waiving his no-trade clause this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, is coming to the end of his career and hasn’t won a Stanley Cup. If Iginla wants to go, the Avs could search the trade market to see what options are available for him to chase the Cup one more time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla’s best seasons are well behind him now. Age and 20 years of NHL action have taken its toll. There could be several teams with some interest in his leadership and experience, but he won’t be as attractive a trade chip as he was a few years ago. Iginla’s only got six points in 26 games this season. His production must improve over the next couple of months to making him more enticing to playoff contenders. 

Friedman also reports the Buffalo Sabres are getting calls about forward Zemgus Girgensons, whose playing time has declined of late. The Sabres aren’t selling low as they still believe in him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Girgensons is only 22 and has potential as a good two-way forward. However, his performance has declined since his 30-point performance in an injury-shortened 2014-15 campaign playing on a depleted Sabres roster. At the risk of upsetting Girgensons fans, it appears he’s overrated. The Sabres have a deeper roster now with a better head coach in Dan Bylsma, but Girgensons is struggling. Maybe he needs a fresh start elsewhere to get his NHL career back on track. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Arizona Coyotes pending unrestricted free agents Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata, Ryan White and Michael Stone are already being floated in the NHL trade market because of the club’s woeful record this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Coyotes GM John Chayka makes any significant moves before the trade freeze on Dec. 19. If he Coyotes’ playoff hopes are fully dashed by mid-January, some of those guys could hit the trade block by then. 

With the Tampa Bay Lightning struggling, “the whispers have started about the future of head coach Jon Cooper.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Cooper’s going anywhere. GM Steve Yzerman will point to his injury-depleted lineup as the reason why the Bolts are struggling. 

The solid recent play of New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak has silenced the trade chatter that swirled about him earlier this season.

Garrioch claims he’s been told Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is willing to talk trade about almost everyone on his roster except center Nathan MacKinnon. If Sakic wants to make a move, Garrioch suggests shopping goaltender Semyon Varlamov “because they’ll be able to get young assets in return.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt it. Varlamov’s stock has declined since he was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in 2014. He’s won only five of 18 games this season, with a 3.34 GAA and .897 SP. He’s also got two more years at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million left on his contract. I think the Avs will have to pick up part of that cap hit to drum up interest. 

Garrioch also wonders if there’s any truth to a rumor claiming the San Jose Sharks tried to acquire Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan over the last six or seven NHL trade deadlines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doan’s not going anywhere. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2016



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2016

A knee injury knocks Henrik Zetterberg out of the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

A knee injury knocks Henrik Zetterberg out of the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

 Updates on Henrik Zetterberg, Sidney Crosby, Brad Marchand & more in this morning’s collection of NHL headlines. 

MLIVE.COM: A knee injury has knocked Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg out of the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. Zetterberg suffered the injury during off-ice training, but won’t require surgery. Wings GM Ken Holland said he isn’t sure Zetterberg will be ready for the start of training camp but is confident he’ll be good to go for the start of the season. He will be replaced on Team Sweden by Mikael Backlund. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That Zetterberg won’t require surgery bodes well for his return by the start of the season. 

SI.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby admits he felt self-doubt during his struggles early last season. He credits playing instinctively for regaining his dominant form. He also said winning the Stanley Cup this spring was partly a relief, considering all the club went through last season and what transpired for him since winning the Cup in 2009. 

BOSTON HERALD: Bruins winger Brad Marchand isn’t commenting on contract negotiations, other than expressing his hope that something will get done. Marchand, 28, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand is among the last links to the Bruins 2011 championship club and among their team leaders. I expect Bruins management will re-sign him at some point in the upcoming season. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS:  The Sabres announced forward Zemgus Girgensons signed a one-year, $1.15 million contract. 

NBC SPORTS: Unrestricted free agent center Paul Gaustad is expected to announce his retirement within the next two weeks. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils are in the process of releasing prospect Ben Johnson, who was convicted this week of sexual assault in Windsor, Ontario.