NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2021

Could a change of agents help Jack Eichel get traded sooner? Could the Bruins or Canadiens become a destination for the Sabres captain? Which head coaches could be on the hot seat this season? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wonders what Jack Eichel’s decision to change agents could mean for the Bruins if they want to trade for the Buffalo Sabres captain. He said the Bruins are among several clubs with an interest in the 24-year-old center. Trade discussions were expected to intensify, with a source telling Murphy that there’s a hope of getting this done within the next couple of weeks.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel’s new agent is Pat Brisson, who also represents high-profile stars such as Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Patrick Kane. He could be hoping Brisson’s cozy relationship with several NHL general managers could prove helpful in the trade market.

Murphy feels that might not help the Bruins as GM Don Sweeney had a good rapport with Eichel’s former agents. Brisson has a close relationship with Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and Eichel was linked to the Habs at one point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out soon enough if Brisson can succeed where his predecessors failed in finding a suitable trade for Eichel. Maybe he can convince Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to reduce his asking price of four assets comparable to first-round picks.

Any club acquiring Eichel will have to wait for his season debut because he’s still dealing with a herniated disc in his neck. Whatever procedure he undergoes to address that issue will determine how long he’s out of action. Disc replacement surgery would apparently sideline him for several weeks while fusion surgery could keep him on the shelf for months. His $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons is also a sticking point.

The question is whether this trade is worth doing. Eichel is very talented when healthy but he’s now facing a procedure that could keep him out of the lineup for perhaps most of this season. There’s also the risk he might not regain his high-scoring form once he returns to play.

The Canadiens could acquire Eichel if they’re prepared to ship out around $10 million annually in the deal to accommodate his hefty contract. They’re currently over $2.2 million into long-term injury reserve territory assuming Shea Weber goes on LTIR as expected. They also have restricted free agent Jesperi Kotkaniemi to sign.

Adams could ask for at least two good young roster players like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alexander Romanov or Kotkaniemi as part of the return. Promising blueliner Kaiden Guhle could also be part of the asking price.

As for the Bruins, they only have $1.089 million in cap space. Landing Eichel means moving out significant cap dollars to free up sufficient space for Eichel’s contract. Maybe Sweeney can convince the Sabres to pick up some of his salary but that seems unlikely. The Bruins also don’t have a Suzuki or Caufield in their lineup to tempt the Sabres and they’re not that deep in tradeable young assets within their system.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau recently looked at five NHL head coaches on the hot seat for the coming season.

The Calgary Flames hired Darryl Sutter midway through last season. The club is at a crossroads right now. If they stumble out of the gate, perhaps general manager Brad Treliving seeks another replacement to save his job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Treliving is going to sink or swim with Sutter. A poor start could cost the GM his job before he even has a chance to consider another coaching change.

Travis Green recently signed a contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks. However, some general managers have no problem firing a coach with term remaining on his contract. The Canucks must quickly show progress or fans will call for Green’s firing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a decisive year for Green and GM Jim Benning. Canucks ownership have been very patient with Benning but that could run out if they’re not a contender this season.

The Chicago Blackhawks made a series of changes this offseason, which include the acquisitions of Marc-Andre Fleury and Seth Jones. Jeremy Colliton’s job could be in jeopardy if the Blackhawks fail to improve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So could Stan Bowman’s job as general manager, especially given the club’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against a former video coach a decade ago.

Jeff Blashill has been coach of the Detroit Red Wings for six seasons. A lack of improvement this season could cost him his job. Meanwhile, San Jose Sharks bench boss Bob Boughner could also get the ax if GM Doug Wilson decides to shake up his mediocre roster.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2021

The Bruins and Avalanche take commanding series leads, the Jets take a 2-0 series lead over the Oilers, the Predators battle back against the Hurricanes, Nazem Kadri gets an 8-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins pushed the Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 of their first-round series. Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 19 saves to set a franchise record for most career playoff wins with 54. Charlie McAvoy had three assists and David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist. Alex Ovechkin tallied the sole Capitals goal. The series heads back to Washington for Game 5 on Sunday with the Bruins up three games to one.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller left the game following a high hit to the head by Capitals blueliner Dmitry Orlov. Miller was sent to a local hospital for tests. Orlov received a double-minor for roughing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Orlov could face supplemental discipline for that hit. Meanwhile, his club played what I consider one of the worst postseason games of the Ovechkin era. After three closely contested contests that could’ve gone either way, the Capitals were listless in Game 4 and find themselves facing elimination on home ice on Sunday.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 31 stops as his club beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in their opening-round series. Colorado defenseman Ryan Graves celebrated his birthday with a goal and two assists. Tyler Bozak replied for the Blues. The Avalanche can close out this series on Sunday.

The Blues played without defensemen Justin Faulk, Robert Bortuzzo and Vince Dunn. Faulk and Bortuzzo were both sidelined in Game 2 by hits to the head.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wants a serious discussion in the offseason about player safety. That could become a front-burner topic within the league this summer following several puzzling decisions handed down this season by the league’s department of player safety and the growing criticism of those rulings.

Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 38-save shutout as his Winnipeg Jets blanked the Edmonton Oilers 1-0 on an overtime goal by Paul Stastny. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held off the score sheet for the second straight game. With the Jets up 2-0, the series shifts to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are doing a good job neutralizing the Oilers’ dynamic duo of McDavid and Draisaitl. Hellebuyck is reminding everyone why he won the Vezina Trophy last year.

Matt Duchene scored in double-overtime as the Nashville Predators nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 for their first win in this series. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis each had a goal and an assist. Sebastian Aho collected a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who still lead the series two games to one. Game Four goes tomorrow in Nashville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game that seesawed back and forth between the two clubs. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour claimed his team was “fighting the refs”, pointing out his club had been whistled for more penalties (14) than the Predators (six) over the last two games. Meanwhile, Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson missed this matchup with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri received an eight-game suspension from the department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk during Game 2 of their opening-round series. The suspension began in Game 3 last night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Kadri’s third suspension for reckless postseason play. If the Avalanche sweeps their series with the Blues, he could return for Game 7 of their next series if it goes that far.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was released from the hospital yesterday but is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion. Tavares was injured during the first period of Game 1 of the Leafs’ opening-round series with the Montreal Canadiens after being accidentally struck in the head by the knee of Canadiens winger Corey Perry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Tavares makes a complete recovery and returns to action soon.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders are mulling a goaltending change after starter Semyon Varlamov’s shaky performance in Game 3 of their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rookie Ilya Sorokin was in goal for the Isles’ Game 1 victory filling in for the sidelined Varlamov, who returned for the next two games.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Chris Tanev spent the final month-and-a-half of the regular season playing with two broken ribs and a torn pectoral muscle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with access to the best medical treatment, that still had to be painful for Tanev. Unreal.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Marcus Johansson suffered a broken left arm during Game 3 of his club’s 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Zach Parise will make his debut in this series. He was a healthy scratch in the first three games.

THE PROVINCE: As expected, the Vancouver Canucks signed head coach Travis Green to a contract extension. It’s believed the new deal will keep him in Vancouver until at least 2023.

WGR 550: Former NHL coaches Bruce Boudreau and Rick Tocchet are among those the Buffalo Sabres will interview for their head coach position. Interim bench boss Don Granato is also in the mix.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 21, 2021

The Canadiens win over the Leafs overshadowed by Tavares injury, the Panthers rally back against the Lightning, the Penguins and Golden Knights take 2-1 leads in their respective series. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A shorthanded goal by Paul Byron late in the third period lifted the Montreal Canadiens to a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of their much-anticipated first-round series. Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 35 stops while Josh Anderson opened the scoring. William Nylander tallied for the Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

The Habs win was overshadowed by a scary injury to Leafs captain John Tavares in the first period. Checked to the ice by Ben Chiarot, Tavares was accidentally struck in the head by the knee of Corey Perry as the latter attempted to avoid the fallen Leaf. He was stretchered from the ice and spent the night in hospital, where he was reportedly conscious, communicative, and passed all tests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tavares’ status for Game 2 on Saturday is unclear. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and returns to this series.

While Perry’s collision with Tavares was accidental, Leafs winger Nick Foligno felt the Habs winger had to answer for his “transgression” by fighting him on the next faceoff. Had Perry deliberately attempt to injury Tavares it would’ve been justified. That wasn’t the case in this instance. Even former NHL enforcer Matthew Barnaby questioned Foligno’s actions.

The Canadiens didn’t emerge entirely unscathed from this game. Center Jake Evans left the game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return.

The Florida Panthers clawed their way back into their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 6-5 overtime victory. Ryan Lomberg tallied the game-winner as his club overcame a 5-3 deficit on third-period goals by Patric Hornqvist and Gustav Forsling. Jonathan Huberdeau collected three assists for the Panthers as did the Lightning’s Victor Hedman. The Lightning holds a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 set for Saturday afternoon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle was a healthy scratch for the first time since 2009. However, this doesn’t affect his consecutive-games streak of 922 as only regular-season games are counted.

Jeff Carter scored twice, Kris Letang collected three points and Brandon Tanev netted the winning goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins nipped the New York Islanders 5-4 to take a 2-1 lead in their series. Cal Clutterbuck scored twice for the Islanders. Game 4 is on Saturday afternoon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a wild contest that saw the Islanders overcome 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3 deficits before Tanev put the game away. A wild scrum near the Penguins net in the third period resulted in nine roughing minors.

The Vegas Golden Knights overcame a 2-0 deficit to drop the Minnesota Wild 5-2 and take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series. Mark Stone led the way with two goals for the Golden Knights. Game 4 is on Saturday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild were the better team in the first period. They appeared to take a 3-0 lead on a goal by Joel Eriksson Ek but that was overturned as offside on a coach’s challenge. Had that goal stood, perhaps it would’ve changed the outcome of this game. Instead, the Golden Knights rallied with a strong effort over the remaining two periods.

HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri faces a suspension for his hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their first-round series. Kadri was offered an in-person hearing with the league’s department of player safety.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri has two prior postseason suspensions. He could be gone for at least the remainder of this series. His punishment is expected to be handed down today.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time earlier this month. He returned to action for Game 3 of his club’s series against the Boston Bruins. It was his first game since May 1. He had also tested positive in January.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi said he’s feeling well following back surgery on April 30. He was limited to just nine games this season and hopes to be ready for training camp in September.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly close to signing head coach Travis Green to a new contract. His current deal expires at the end of this season. Meanwhile, Canucks center Elias Pettersson said his season was ended on March 1 by a hyperextended wrist. He said it’s almost 100 percent healed and doesn’t expect any issues for next season.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to a two-year contract extension.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said he’d like to build a new arena in Kanata to replace the Canadian Tire Centre. However, he also hinted at moving across the Gatineau River into Quebec, though the team would still be within the Ottawa region.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2021

Check out the latest on the Blue Jackets, Canucks, Hurricanes, and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline recently reported on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski’s recent decision to change agents. He has a year remaining on his contract but changing agents suggests he wants to open contract discussions this summer.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would coincide with the contract talks expected this summer for Seth Jones, Werenski’s defense partner. Jones is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Werenski, meanwhile, will become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’ll cost $7 million just to qualify his rights. The Jackets ownership will have to dig deep for the big bucks to keep their top-two defensemen in Columbus.

Portzline also believes Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen must evaluate his current centermen before going shopping for one via trade or free agency. Max Domi, Jack Roslovic, and Alexandre Texier struggled in that position this season. Portzline doesn’t see Kekalainen adding three centers this summer but wonders how many the GM feels he needs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Portzline pointed out, Kekalainen might be lucky to pry away a prominent center from another team. I expect he’ll try to add one experienced center and hope for improvement from Domi, Roslovic and Texier next season, perhaps with a new coach behind the bench if John Tortorella doesn’t return.

TSN’s Darren Dreger believes Kekalainen will try his best to bring in a top-line center for winger Patrik Laine next season. That would be a costly undertaking during the best of seasons. It could prove more difficult under a flattened salary cap.

Boston’s David Krejci and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are the best centers in this summer’s UFA market. At 35, Krejci is at the tail end of his career and best suited for second-line duty. Nugent-Hopkins is a versatile two-way forward but I don’t see him as a first-line center.

Cap Friendly shows the Jackets have $56.5 million invested in 16 players for 2021-22. Kekalainen could target a cap-strapped club trying to shed salary. However, re-signing Laine (an RFA with arbitration rights this summer) will bite deeply into that cap space, perhaps as much as $8 million. It’ll take $7.5 million to qualify his right.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Vancouver Canucks haven’t put a new offer on the table for head coach Travis Green. He wants to stay and the Canucks want to keep him. Green is earning $1 million per season, which is in the lower third among NHL head coaches. LeBrun speculates it could take around $2.5 million to get it done.

Darren Dreger reports the Carolina Hurricanes hope to get head coach Rod Brind’Amour under contract before the playoffs begin. Management seems confident it will get a deal done soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brind’Amour has turned the Hurricanes into a Stanley Cup contender in just three seasons. They’re on the verge of winning their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy.

Dreger also reports Arizona Coyotes bench boss Rick Tocchet could be moving on at the end of this season. His sources indicated Tocchet is more likely to test the open market this summer.

AFTONBLADET: Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson could return to HV71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Hockey League after 14 NHL seasons. Hjalmarsson, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He spent three seasons with HV71 before starting his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007-08.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report doesn’t rule out Hjalmarsson staying in the NHL if he gets an offer he can’t resist or if the tax situation makes it difficult for him to play in Sweden this autumn.










What Next For the Vancouver Canucks?

What Next For the Vancouver Canucks?

 










Canucks On The Brink Of Collapse

Canucks On The Brink Of Collapse