NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2024

Three hat-trick performances as the Wild defeat the Canucks, Leafs center Auston Matthews moves closer to the 50-goal plateau, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild overcame 4-1 and 5-2 deficits in a 10-7 upset of the league-leading Vancouver Canucks. Minnesota forwards Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov each scored three goals and three assists with the latter picking up his hat trick during his club’s seven-goal outburst in the third period. Matt Boldy and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and three assists as the Wild improved to 26-23-6 and sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 58 points.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

J.T. Miller collected a hat trick and added an assist for the 37-14-6 Canucks (80 points) as they hold a three-point lead over the Boston Bruins in the overall standings. Pius Suter had three assists while Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes each had two points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild also set a franchise record for most goals in a single game. They capitalized on three 5-on-3 man-advantage scenarios to turn the game in their favor. They nearly blew an 8-5 lead when the Canucks scored twice to move within a goal but two empty-netters sealed the deal. Canucks winger Conor Garland left the game in the second period after blocking a shot but returned to action in the third period.

A shootout goal by Charlie McAvoy lifted the Boston Bruins to a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Jeremy Swayman kicked out 43 shots while David Pastrnak tied the game with his 35th goal of the season late in the third period for the 33-12-11 Bruins, who regained sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with 77 points. Wyatt Johnson, Ryan Suter and Esa Lindell replied for the Stars (34-14-8) as they hold first place in the Central Division with 76 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins honored captain Brad Marchand for recently reaching the 1,000-game milestone in a pregame ceremony. Meanwhile, the Stars played without center Matt Duchene due to a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 49th goal of the season as his club doubled up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Mitch Marner collected three assists and William Nylander netted a shorthanded goal for the Maple Leafs (30-16-8) as they picked up their fourth straight victory and sit third in the Atlantic Division with 68 points. Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the 29-24-2 Blues as they cling to the final Western wild-card spot with 60 points.

A four-goal third period gave the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes, leaving the latter winless in their last 10 games (0-9-1). Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists, Evander Kane tallied twice and Evan Bouchard picked up three assists for the 33-18-1 Oilers as they hold third place in the Pacific Division with 67 points. Nick Bjugstad scored two goals and Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes as they dropped to 23-28-4.

Vegas Golden Knights rookie Mason Morelli had a goal and an assist in his season debut while Logan Thompson made 29 saves to shut out the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alec Martinez collected three assists for the Golden Knights (32-17-6) as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 70 points. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 22 shots for the 15-35-5 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights activated defenseman Shea Theodore off injured reserve but he didn’t play in this game. He’s been sidelined since Nov. 22 with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, the Sharks activated Henry Thrun on injured reserve and placed captain Logan Couture on IR. The Sharks also made winger Alexander Barabanov a healthy scratch.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive with a 6-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Nazem Kadri scored twice and collected an assist while Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrew Mangiapane each had a goal and an assist for the Flames (26-25-5) as they overcame a 3-1 deficit. With 57 points, they’re three back of the Blues for the final Western wild-card berth. Sean Monahan tallied a natural hat trick for the 33-15-5 Jets as they remain in third place in the Central Division with 71 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Rick Bowness was displeased by his club’s performance in this contest after they upset the league-leading Canucks in their previous game. “That’s as soft a five-on-five game as we’ve played all year,” he told reporters in a postgame interview. “That’s not us at all. That didn’t even look like the Winnipeg Jets out there.”

Carolina Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas each had a goal and an assist to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Seth Jarvis picked up two assists as the Hurricanes (33-17-5) sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 71 points. Rookie Connor Bedard had a goal and two assists for the 15-38-3 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is showing no lingering effects from the fractured jaw that recently sidelined him for six weeks. He has six points in three games since returning to action on Feb. 15. Meanwhile, Hurricanes defenseman Jalen Chatfield missed this game with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by Ben Chiarot gave the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken. Lucas Raymond had a goal and an assist while Alex Lyon made 38 saves for the 29-20-6 Red Wings, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 64 points. Jared McCann tallied twice for the Kraken (23-21-11) as they sit three points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 57 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings forward Patrick Kane collected an assist to reach 800 for his career.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Mathieu Joseph scored two goals while Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist for the 23-27-2 Senators. Brayden Point and Mitchell Chaffee replied for the Lightning (30-22-5) as they hold the first Eastern wild-card spot with 65 points.

Anaheim Ducks winger Frank Vatrano scored twice as his club nipped the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-3. Troy Terry had a goal and two assists while John Gibson stopped 34 shots for the 20-33-2 Ducks. Dylan Cozens collected two assists for the 24-27-4 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Sabres announced defenseman Owen Power (hand) was placed on injured reserve.


NHL COM: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk are the three stars for the week ending Feb. 18, 2024.

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: The Predators’ poor performance since the All-Star break prompted the club to cancel the team’s plans to journey to Las Vegas following Saturday’s game against St. Louis to watch U2 perform at Sphere. General manager Barry Trotz said the team’s recent standards were “below expectations”, especially during home games, pointing to their 9-2 loss to the Dallas Stars last Thursday. They face the Golden Knights tonight in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, play well and be rewarded.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2024

The Bruins shut out the Canucks in the battle of the league’s top teams, the Hurricanes’ Martin Necas nets a quick hat trick, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Two shorthanded first-period goals by Brad Marchand and Danton Heinen powered the Boston Bruins to a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in the battle of the league’s top-two teams. Linus Ullmark made 17 saves for the shutout while David Pastrnak, Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle each had two points for the 32-10-9 Bruins, who sit first in the Eastern Conference and sit second in the overall standings with 73 points. The Canucks (73 points) maintain first overall with two more victories (34-12-5) than the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet summed it up best following this game when he said the Bruins’ best players turned up to play while those on his club did not. Giving up two shorthanded goals in the first period put the Canucks on the back foot for the rest of the game.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas (NHL Images).

A natural hat trick by Martin Necas in the opening 16:51 carried the Carolina Hurricanes over the Colorado Avalanche 5-2. Teuvo Teravainen collected four assists for the Hurricanes (29-16-5) as they sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 63 points. Zach Parise scored his first goal of the season for the 32-16-4 Avalanche as they remain in second place in the Central Division with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta with a lower-body injury while defenseman Brett Pesce missed this game due to illness. Meanwhile, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was held scoreless and remains in second place in the NHL scoring race with 85 points.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny had a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist and a fight) in a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, leaving the latter winless in five games (0-4-1). Samuel Ersson stopped 28 shots while Ryan Poehling had a goal and an assist for the 27-19-6 Flyers, who remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 60 points. Kyle Connor scored for the Jets (30-14-5) as they sit third in the Central Division with 65 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Less than a month ago, the Jets were jockeying for first place in the overall standings. There’s plenty of time for them to pull out of this current skid but this is reminiscent of last season when the Jets stumbled down the stretch following a strong first half of the season and barely made the playoffs.

The Florida Panthers doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2 on third-period goals by Ryan Lomberg and Eetu Luostarinen. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists for the Panthers (32-15-4), who sit in second place in the Eastern Conference with 68 points. Alex Ovechkin netted his 11th goal of the season for the 22-20-7 Capitals, who are winless in their last six games (0-5-1).

New York Islanders forwards Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal each had a goal and an assist to thump the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Ilya Sorokin turned aside 18 shots for the 22-17-12 Islanders (56 points) as they sit two points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Nikita Kucherov scored for Tampa Bay (27-20-5) as he holds a two-point lead over Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon in the scoring race with 87 points. The Lightning hold the first Eastern wild-card spot with 59 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev could be out for the season after undergoing surgery on Thursday to repair a fractured tibia and fibula in his left leg suffered during Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers.

A three-goal first period enabled the Vegas Golden Knights to hold off the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 3-2. Jonathan Marchessault and Nicolas Hague scored 58 seconds apart for the Golden Knights (31-15-6), who sit second in the Pacific Division with 68 points. Connor Ingram got the hook after giving up three goals on six shots for the 23-23-9 Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton returned to action after missing nearly three months with an upper-body injury.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive with a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Jacob Markstrom kicked out 37 shots, Connor Zary and Andrew Mangiapane each had a goal and an assist and Andrei Kuzmenko tallied his second goal in as many games with the Flames (24-22-5) as they sit one point out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 53 points. Ondrej Palat tallied twice and Jesper Bratt had three assists for the 25-21-3 Devils (53 points) as they sit five points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot.


STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Justin Faulk and Scott Perunovich are listed as week-to-week with lower-body injuries.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Mason Marchment was fined $5,000 by the NHL department of player safety for interference against Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake McCabe on Wednesday.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Jake Sanderson is expected to miss Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs with a lower-body injury.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: San Jose Sharks winger Anthony Duclair recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new outdoor synthetic ice surface on the campus of Boyd H. Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida.

USA HOCKEY: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin has been named the GM of Team USA for the NHL’s 2025 4 Nations Face-off tournament and the 2026 Winter Olympics.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former NHL defenseman Janne Niinimaa was recently found guilty by a Helsinki court of tax fraud for failing to report over 300,000 euros in earnings from the United States in 2020. It was determined that he still owes nearly 55,000 euros in income tax in his native Finland. Niinimaa, 48, received a four-month suspended sentence and must pay those back taxes as well as cover the court costs and pay a standard crime victim fee.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2024

The Golden Knights snap the Oilers’ 16-game win streak, Elias Lindholm and Andrei Kuzmenko scored in their first games with their new teams, the Blackhawks will host another Winter Classic game, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights ended the Edmonton Oilers’ win streak at 16 games by defeating the latter 3-1. Chandler Stephenson snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period, William Karlsson scored an empty-netter and Adin Hill made 30 saves for the 30-15-6 Golden Knights as they hold second place in the Pacific Division with 66 points. Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored for the Oilers (29-16-1) as they sit seven points behind Vegas in the Pacific Division with 59 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will add fodder to the growing rivalry between these two clubs. The Golden Knights also eliminated the Oilers from the second round of the 2023 playoffs during their march to the Stanley Cup.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Elias Lindholm had a memorable debut with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. J.T. Miller netted the game-winner in the third period while Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser each collected two assists for the league-leading Canucks (34-11-5, 73 points) as they extended their points streak to 12 games (10-0-2). Jordan Martinook and Sebastian Aho replied for the 28-16-5 Hurricanes as they sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 61 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm was acquired from the Calgary Flames by the Canucks on Jan. 31.

Speaking of the Flames and memorable debuts, Andrei Kuzmenko scored in their 4-1 upset of the Boston Bruins. Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri each collected three points for the 23-22-5 Flames (51 points) as they moved within three points of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Pavel Zacha scored for the Bruins (31-10-9) as they lead the Eastern Conference with 71 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzmenko was part of the return to the Flames in last week’s Lindholm trade with the Canucks. he had good chemistry skating alongside Huberdeau in this game. It’ll be interesting to see if the duo can maintain it over the rest of the regular season. Meanwhile, Flames forward Martin Pospisil received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for cross-checking Bruins captain Brad Marchand in the face during the first period.

The New Jersey Devils downed the Colorado Avalanche 5-3, ending Avs center Nathan MacKinnon’s points streak at 14 games. Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Erik Haula each had two points for the 25-20-3 Devils (53 points) as they sit five points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Jonathan Drouin collected two assists for the Avalanche (32-15-4) as they sit in second place in the Central Division with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils activated forward Tomas Nosek off injured reserve for this game. He’d been sidelined for three months with an injured foot.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 23 shots for his league-leading sixth shutout of the season to blank the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, spoiling Sean Monahan’s debut with the latter following his trade last Friday from the Montreal Canadiens. Kris Letang, Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust were the goal-scorers for the Penguins (23-17-7) as they sit five points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth with 53 points. The Jets are now winless in their last four (0-3-1) and sit third in the Central Division with 65 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for an illegal hit to the head of Penguins forward Noel Acciari in the second period. Acciari left the game with help from his teammates and was undergoing evaluation following the game.

The Dallas Stars got a 47-save performance from Jake Oettinger to nip the Buffalo Sabres 2-1, picking up their fourth straight win. Sam Steel broke a 1-1 tie in the third period for the 31-13-6 Stars as they hold first place in the Central Division with 68 points due to a game in hand over the Avalanche. Tage Thompson scored for the Sabres (22-24-4), who got 28 saves from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Sabres placed defenseman Mattias Samuelsson on injured reserve and activated blueliner Erik Johnson off IR. 

A third-period goal by Noah Cates lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. Travis Konecny also scored and Samuel Ersson stopped 20 shots for the 26-19-6 Flyers as they snapped a five-game losing skid and hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 58 points. Carter Verhaeghe scored for the 31-15-4 Panthers, who sit second overall in the Eastern Conference with 66 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers forward Sam Reinhart was held scoreless as his 13-game points streak came to an end. The Panthers activated forward Nick Cousins off injured reserve while the Flyers activated winger Owen Tippett off IR for this game.

The Montreal Canadiens beat the Washington Capitals 5-2. Nick Suzuki and Juraj Slafkovsky each scored twice, Cole Caufield picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 10 games, and Sam Montembault kicked out 37 shots for the 21-21-8 Canadiens. Alex Ovechkin tallied his 10th goal of the season for the 22-19-7 Capitals.


NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks will host the 2025 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field where they’ll face the St. Louis Blues. It will be the seventh time the Blackhawks have taken part in the Winter Classic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Call it the Connor Bedard effect. The Blackhawks are the worst team in the league but the presence of their talented young rookie resulted in an 18.9 percent increase in home attendance through their first two months of the season, drawing an average of 3,005 more fans per game compared to the same period last season. The league is banking on a promising young Blackhawks team led by a healthy Bedard drawing a huge crowd at Wrigley and big TV ratings as a result.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Columbus Blue Jackets are one of only three NHL teams not to participate in an outdoor game. However, that could change as it’s believed they will host a 2025 NHL Stadium Series game against the Detroit Red Wings at Ohio Stadium on or around March 1, 2025.

TSN: The New York Rangers placed center Nick Bonino on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of contract termination. He’s currently on a one-year, $800K deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chris Johnston reported Bonino might not have to wait long to land with a new NHL team as there have been inquiries. He must sign before the March 8 trade deadline to be eligible to play in the postseason.

NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Rangers, captain Jacob Trouba returns to action on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He served a two-game suspension for elbowing Golden Knights forward Pavel Dorofeyev on Jan. 26.

NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 6, 2024

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: the latest on Flames defensemen Chris Tanev and Hanifin, updates on the Canadiens and Rangers, and a hypothetical trade to send Penguins winger Reilly Smith back to the Golden Knights.


CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports Flames defenseman Chris Tanev has become a top target in the trade market for playoff contenders seeking a missing piece for their respective bluelines.

A pending free agent, the 34-year-old Tanev is a dependable right-shot shutdown defenseman. He could fetch the Flames a couple of meaningful assets like a prospect and a draft pick. The New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks could be among the suitors for Tanev.

Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (NHL Images).

Gilbertson also noted the Flames have made a big-money contract offer to Noah Hanifin. Like Tanev, the 27-year-old blueliner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Gilbertson believes Hanifin is likely a goner if he’s not re-signed soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tanev is the most likely to move of the two. There’s still a chance that Hanifin and the Flames reach an agreement on a contract extension by March 8. However, the longer he remains unsigned, the more likely he will also be on the move by deadline day.


TVA SPORTS: Maxim Lapierre believes the Montreal Canadiens have the assets to use as trade bait to make a significant addition to their lineup.

The Canadiens got a 2024 first-round pick from the Winnipeg Jets in last Friday’s Sean Monahan trade. They also have an additional first-rounder in the 2025 draft. Lapierre thinks that gives general manager Kent Hughes the tools to make a big trade to bolster the roster.

Lapierre noted that some Canadiens fans would like to see Hughes acquire center Trevor Zegras from the Anaheim Ducks. However, he’d like to see the Habs GM bring in “a playoff player” comparable to Boston captain Brad Marchand or former Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes has noted that he has sufficient assets in draft picks and prospects that he could use some of them as trade bait to add an established talent. He’ll likely keep a close eye on the trade market leading up to the March 8 deadline but also in the offseason, especially around the draft in June.

I understand why some Canadiens followers want Hughes to acquire Zegras. He’s young, possesses dazzling offensive skills and carries a reasonable short-term bridge contract. However, I agree with Lapierre that Zegras hasn’t reached the stage where he’s proven he can help a team win the Stanley Cup. So far, he’s all flash but little substance.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers will be buyers leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. He believes they need to bring in a third-line center, a right winger for the Mika Zibanejad-Chris Kreider line, and a physical left-side third-pairing defenseman.

Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique would address that third-line need. Brooks considers it unlikely that Rangers GM Chris Drury would part with a first-round draft pick or a young player like Kaapo Kakko for a rental player like Henrique.

If Ducks right winger Frank Vatrano became part of the equation, Brooks believes it would become “a more nuanced conversation.” Unlike Henrique, Vatrano has a year remaining on his contract at a more affordable cap hit ($3.65 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple and Eric Stephens recently reported the Rangers were interested in Henrique and Vatrano. Landing one or the other won’t be easy largely because Ducks GM Pat Verbeek has a reputation as a tough negotiator. Acquiring both will likely involve parting with a first-rounder or someone like Kakko as part of the return. Verbeek won’t just give


THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger believes the Vegas Golden Knights would look for a winger if they become buyers at the trade deadline. He suggested they reacquire Reilly Smith, who was traded last summer to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a cost-cutting move.

Smith has the third-most goals and points in Golden Knights history. He hasn’t clicked with the Penguins this season and could become a trade candidate if they become sellers leading up to March 8. He’d likely welcome a return to Las Vegas. However, it would require some salary-cap gymnastics to fit his $5 million average annual value within their cap payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is merely a suggestion on Granger’s part. He isn’t saying the Golden Knights and Penguins have discussed a trade involving Smith. Still, it would be an interesting move by both clubs if it did come to pass. Smith wouldn’t be the first player in NHL history to struggle on a new club only to regain his form once traded back to his old team.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 27, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 27, 2024

What trade targets could put the Canucks or Jets over the top? Could the Golden Knights make a big splash at the trade deadline? What’s the latest on the Blackhawks? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Harman Dayal recently looked at what the Vancouver Canucks should add if they hope to stage a Stanley Cup run this season.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Adding a top-six center such as the Calgary Flames’ two-way center Elias Lindholm would be a primary trade target. Failing that, acquiring a productive, play-driving winger would be a good consolation prize.

A depth puck-mover would be another good addition. They suggested someone such as the Anaheim Ducks Gustav Lindstrom, the Arizona Coyotes’ Travis Dermott or the Ottawa Senators’ Erik Brannstrom if the Senators retained half of his salary. The Canucks could also use one more solid penalty-killing forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have been linked to Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel. He would address that need for a top-six winger if they couldn’t land a top-six center.

Salary-cap space, however, is an issue as the Canucks have little to worth with. They’ll have to shed a contract to make it happen as part of the return or in a separate deal. Andrei Kuzmenko and his $5.5 million average annual value through 2024-25 could be a prime candidate.


WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck recently listed 10 trade targets that could put the Winnipeg Jets over the top this season. They need a second-line center who can help them improve in the faceoff circle, scoring depth and a middle-pairing defenseman.

Calgary’s Elias Lindholm, the Montreal Canadiens’ Sean Monahan, and Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique could address that second-line center issue. Calgary’s Chris Tanev, the Philadelphia Flyers’ Sean Walker or Nick Seeler and the Ottawa Senators’ Jakob Chychrun could be blueline options. Billeck’s dark-horse candidates include Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz, Anaheim’s Frank Vatrano, and Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny.

The Jets have depth in draft picks and prospects to use as trade bait. Their lofty position in the standings could offer a player a chance to skate with a winner, which could make Winnipeg a more tempting destination.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have around $5.4 million in projected trade deadline cap space so they’ve got some flexibility to make a substantial move or two leading up to March 8.

I think high-ticket guys like Lindholm will be out of the Jets’ price range. They could have a realistic shot at Monahan, Henrique, Tanev, Walker or Seeler.

Senators general manager Steve Staios recently poured cold water on the notion of trading Chychrun. The Coyotes aren’t moving Schmaltz and the Flyers aren’t peddling Konecny. As Billeck pointed out, Vatrano could prove expensive to acquire given his 21 goals and 34 points in 48 games with the low-scoring Ducks.


ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan asked one Eastern Conference general manager which team could make a big splash at this year’s trade deadline. He believes it’ll be the Vegas Golden Knights.

She noted the Golden Knights have been aggressive in the trade market during their short NHL existence. They made an impressive pitch to Patrick Kane before he signed with the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have over $7 million in trade deadline cap space with players such as Shea Theodore and William Karlsson on LTIR. If they remain sidelined for the rest of the regular season, it would provide them with the cap room to make a significant addition.

It could cost them their first and second-round picks for this year and the next two given their rather shallow prospect pool. Nevertheless, they’ve had no hesitation in using futures to bring in immediate help to their roster. It wouldn’t be shocking if the defending Stanley Cup champions make a major move by deadline day.


THE ATHLETIC: With the Chicago Blackhawks having re-signed Nick Foligno, Jason Dickinson and Petr Mrazek, Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers wondered what awaits the club’s remaining free agents.

They anticipate that Joey Anderson, Lukas Reichel and Cole Guttman will be re-signed. Forwards Colin Blackwell and Tyler Johnson could be shopped by the trade deadline. MacKenzie Entwhistle, Nikita Zaitsev and Anthony Beauvillier will be among those allowed to depart this summer as free agents.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2024

Nathan MacKinnon regains the lead in the scoring race, Jonathan Marchessault sets a Golden Knights record, Zach Parise signs with the Avalanche, Brendan Gallagher receives a five-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist to regain the NHL scoring lead (84 points) in a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Logan O’Connor scored two goals and Alexandar Georgiev made 26 saves for the 32-14-3 Avalanche, who hold first place in the Central Division with 67 points and sit third in the overall standings. Kevin Fiala scored for the struggling Kings (22-15-9), who’ve won just twice in their last 15 games and cling to the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 53 points.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon also extended his home points streak to 25 games, tying Bobby Orr for the second-longest home points streak to start a season. Wayne Gretzky holds the record with 40 games.

Speaking of the Avalanche, they signed free-agent winger Zach Parise to a one-year, prorated contract worth $825K with no performance bonuses. The 39-year-old Parise spent the last two seasons with the New York Islanders, tallying 21 goals in 2022-23. He’s considered an affordable short-term replacement for Tomas Tatar, who was traded last month to the Seattle Kraken after struggling offensively with the Avs.

Kings center Quinton Byfield missed the game due to an illness.

A hat-trick performance by Jonathan Marchessault powered the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers. Marchessault set a franchise record for most hat tricks with four. Adin Hill kicked out 36 shots for the 29-14-6 Golden Knights, who sit second in the Pacific Division with 64 points. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist for the Rangers (29-16-3) as they remain in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 61 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a difficult day for the Rangers. Defenseman Ryan Lindgren left this game with an upper-body injury in the first period. Center Filip Chytil suffered a setback in his recovery from a concussion when he suffered an upper-body injury in practice. Forward Nick Bonino cleared waivers and is expected to be sent to their AHL affiliate in Hartford following the All-Star break.

The Florida Panthers nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on a shootout goal by Sam Reinhart, who also scored in regulation to push his points streak to 12 games. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 35 shots while Evan Rodrigues also scored for the 30-14-4 Panthers, who sit in second place in the Atlantic Division standings. Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin replied for the Penguins (21-17-7), who’ve won just three of their last 10 contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart now has 36 goals on the season. He sits second in the league goal-scoring race, three behind Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews.

An overtime goal by Pavel Buchnevich completed a three-goal comeback by the St. Louis Blues in a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Buchnevich finished the night with two goals and an assist while Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn each collected two points for the 25-20-2 Blues (52 points). They’ve won four straight and sit one point out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot. Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist for the Kraken (28-18-10), who are three points out of that wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken forward Matty Beniers returned to action after missing five games with an upper-body injury.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher received a five-game suspension from the NHL department of player safety for an illegal check to the head of New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like Gallagher’s gritty style of play but that hit on Pelech was such an egregious cheap shot that I was surprised he received a telephone hearing, which guaranteed that he’d receive no more than five games. That should’ve been at least 10 games. There’s been no update on Pelech, who was helped from the ice and didn’t return.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Corey Perry will make his debut with the Oilers tonight against the Nashville Predators. Earlier in the week, he signed a one-year, $775K prorated deal with the Oilers.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele will miss tonight’s game with the Maple Leafs as he’s not ready yet to return to action from a lower-body injury.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers signed winger Owen Tippett to an eight-year, $49.6 million contract extension. They also signed forward Ryan Poehling to a two-year, $3.8 million extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Worthwhile signings by the Flyers. Tippett’s annual average value is $6.2 million while Poehling’s is $1.9 million. Both have fit in well on this rebuilding club that has exceeded expectations this season.

After struggling to earn a roster spot with the Florida Panthers earlier in his career, Tippett is reaching his potential as a top-six forward with the Flyers. The 24-year-old winger is second among the Flyers with 18 goals and tied for third with 30 points in 46 games. He has the potential to become a consistent 30-plus goal scorer.

Poehling, 25, has found a home in Philadelphia as a checking-line forward after failing to stick with the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Carolina Hurricanes activated goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov off injured reserve. He’d been sidelined since Jan. 11 after receiving a blow to the head against the Anaheim Ducks.

CBS SPORTS: Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed forward Bobby McCann (undisclosed) on injured reserve and are awaiting word on the status of forward Calle Jarnkrok, who injured his hand during practice on Friday.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety fined Arizona Coyotes defenseman Michael Kesselring $2,408.85 for cross-checking Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Maxwell Crozier.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Nashville Predator signed defenseman Kevin Gravel to a two-year, two-way contract extension worth $775K per season at the NHL level.

TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds hasn’t officially retired as an NHL player but is moving on with his life. “I had a great career. It was the best time I’ve ever had in my life,” said the 35-year-old Simmonds. “Right now, it’s family time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds played 15 seasons with the Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. In 1,037 games, he scored 263 goals and collected 263 assists for 526 points. He also had 22 points in 53 playoff contests.

A physical two-way winger, Simmonds’ best seasons were the eight he spent with the Flyers, scoring 20-plus goals six times (including two 30-plus goal campaigns) and exceeding 50 points four times.