NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2019

Game recaps, the Penguins trade Erik Gudbranson to the Ducks, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals overcame a 5-1 deficit to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 on a shootout goal by Nicklas Backstrom. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michal Kempny each scored twice for the Capitals. Tim Schaller tallied two goals while Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each collected two assists for the Canucks.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice to rally the Washington Capitals to a 6-5 win over the Vancouver Canucks (Photo via NHL Images).

​SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals gave the young Canucks an invaluable lesson. Never sit on a big lead against a talented veteran club.

Third-period goals by Barrett Hayton and Clayton Keller lifted the Arizona Coyotes to a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Jason Demers collected three assists while Nick Schmaltz and Oliver Ekman-Larsson each had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who’ve won six of their last eight contests. Devils rookie Jack Hughes scored a goal and set up two others. Devils defenseman Will Butcher returned from injured reserve while Connor Carrick (upper body) was placed on IR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a shaky start the Coyotes are playing well of late. Their once-sputtering offense has significantly improved in recent games.

Speaking of surging teams, the New York Islanders picked up their sixth consecutive victory by doubling up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. Nick Leddy scored twice, including on a penalty shot, and collected an assist. Tyler Ennis tallied twice for the Senators.

Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with two assists in a 6-1 thumping of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former Golden Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare collected three points while Nazem Kadri and Matt Calvert each scored twice for the Avs. Golden Knights starter Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled after giving up four goals on 26 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t Fleury’s fault. He had little defensive support in this contest.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark posted a 41-save performance to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Sam Reinhart and Jake McCabe were the goal scorers. The Wings have dropped seven straight games. Sabres winger Jimmy Vesey and defenseman Marco Scandella were ruled out for this game. Both will be evaluated when the club returns to Buffalo. Wings forward Luke Glendening (upper body) will be sidelined two-to-four weeks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the San Jose Sharks 4-1, spoiling former Leafs winger Patrick Marleau’s return to Toronto. Mitch Marner and Ilya Mikheyev each collected two points while Marleau was held scoreless.


TRIBLIVE.COM/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday traded defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Anaheim Ducks for minor-league forward Andreas Martinsen and a seventh-round pick in 2021. The Penguins also placed blueliner Zach Trotman on waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudbranson was linked to the Ducks in the rumor mill following their failed attempt last month to acquire Justin Faulk. He’ll bring size, toughness and a much-needed right-handed shot to the Ducks blueline. The move is not linked to Josh Manson’s recent injury.

The Penguins, meanwhile, free up invaluable salary-cap space by shedding Gudbranson’s $4 million cap hit. They’ll need that room when sidelined forwards Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, and Bryan Rust return to the lineup.

CBS SPORTS: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body) will miss the club’s next two games. Winger Sammy Blais is listed as day-to-day with an injured thumb.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk returned to practice yesterday showing no ill-efect from a collision in his crease during Tuesday’s contest against the Edmonton Oilers. Dubnyk was shaken up and forced to leave the game. 

TSN: Former Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams has quietly resumed skating but still hasn’t reached a decision regarding his playing career. An unrestricted free agent, Williams is taking some time away from the game to consider his future.

CBS SPORTS: Calgary Flames forward Austin Czarnik is sidelined with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Mason Appleton is listed as week-to-week after breaking his foot in a pickup football game

YARDBARKER: Former Washington Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly could be signing with KHL team Kunlun Red Star.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov is returning to the KHL.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2019

A list of players who could be shopped at the trade deadline in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun recently listed several players who could be shopped at the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The notables include New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall, Los Angeles Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk, Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, and New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider.

Could the New Jersey Devils move Taylor Hall at the Feb. 24 trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun has his reasons for including those players on his list but you’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to read them. I’m going to offer up my take as to why they could or won’t get traded.

Hall is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. General manager Ray Shero could entertain trade offers if he cannot get the winger signed by February.

If Shero shops Hall near the trade deadline, I expect he’ll want at least a good young NHL-ready player, a top prospect, and a first-overall pick. Whether he gets that return, of course, is another matter. As the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples recently observed, Hall will have more value in the trade market if he’s willing to sign a contract extension with his new club.

The 36-year-old Kovalchuk has six points in seven games but was held scoreless in four of them. He managed just 34 points in 64 contests last season. Cap Friendly indicates he’s carrying an annual average value of $6.25 million through 2020-21 with a full no-movement clause this season. Unless Kovalchuk waives that clause and the Kings pick up a sizeable chunk of his salary-cap hit I doubt he’ll be going anywhere.

Turris, 30, is signed through 2023-24 earning $6 million per season. That’s a lot of money for a fourth-line center, which explains why he’s come up in recent trade speculation.

However, Turris has five points in his first seven games of this season. The Predators could be reluctant to move him if he maintains that production. They could instead try to move him in the off-season when they’ll have to free up cap room for Roman Josi and to fill out the rest of the roster. Even then, GM David Poile could be forced to pick up part of his cap hit.

Like Hall, Kreider is due to become a UFA next summer. He’s not as talented as the Devils winger but his size, speed, and offensive skills will draw interest at the trade deadline. That’s assuming he and the Rangers can’t agree to a new deal by February. If they’re in playoff contention they could be hesitant to move him if he’s playing well.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson, Buffalo Sabres blueliner Marco Scandella, Ottawa Senators center Vladislav Namestnikov, and Columbus Blue Jackets rearguard Ryan Murray round out LeBrun’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Namestnikov was recently acquired by the Senators, I agree with LeBrun that they could flip him at the deadline for a draft pick. Gudbranson and Murray frequently surface in the rumor mill but there might not be much of a market for them.

If Rasmus Ristolainen no longer wants out of Buffalo, the Sabres could be forced to consider trading another defenseman to clear their potential blueline logjam once Zach Bogosian and Brandon Montour return from injuries. Scandella’s a UFA next summer and might not fit into the Sabres’ long-term plans.


NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2019

The latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Pittsburgh Penguins better-than-expected start without sidelined centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad has taken some pressure off general manager Jim Rutherford. Nevertheless, he’s still carrying nine defensemen and sources say he’s still trying to move one of them.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins attempt to shop a defenseman like Erik Gudbranson (Photo via NHL Images).

LeBrun suggests the Winnipeg Jets could be an option, though they’re still waiting for Dustin Byfuglien to reach a decision on his future. He wondered if Erik Gudbranson might be a fit with the Anaheim Ducks.

Despite losing Niklas Hjalmarsson to injury, the Arizona Coyotes appear intent to address his absence from within. There’s no indication the struggling New Jersey Devils are seeking help but they could if they don’t snap out of their early-season funk.

LeBrun also said there’s competition in the trade market. The Dallas Stars are still shopping Julius Honka, plus the Buffalo Sabres could have moves to make once their blueline is fully healthy.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports a source claims the Penguins kicked tires on Joshua Ho-Sang. The New York Islanders winger cleared waivers two weeks ago and has requested a trade. Kingerski said his source claims the discussion was initial contact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets really can’t make a move without Byfuglien’s decision. Their $6.6 million in cap space will evaporate if he decides to return. They’ll have to do a dollar-in, dollar-out deal at this point. The Ducks are seeking a right-shot defenseman but they might prefer a more affordable option that Gudbranson and his $4 million cap hit through 2020-21.

The Coyotes and Devils could be worth monitoring if they haven’t suitably addressed their respective issues soon. Losing Hjalmarsson is a big blow to their blueline but they also need to boost their anemic offense.

Rookie winger Sam Lafferty is playing well thus far for the Penguins. If he keeps this up they’ll have no need for Ho-Sang unless it’s to move out one of those defensemen.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2019

The Oilers set a season-opening record, the Hurricanes winning streak ends, the Wild keep struggling, the Senators upset the Lightning, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers set an NHL record with their fifth straight come-from-behind season-opening victory by beating the New York Rangers 4-1. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another while Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist. Rangers rookie Kaapo Kakko tallied his first NHL goal. The Oilers sit atop the league’s overall standings. Earlier in the day, the Oilers placed center Colby Cave on waivers.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored twice in a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A surprising strong start by the Oilers. I’m interested to see how they do against tougher opposition.

Vladislav Namestnikov tallied twice and added an assist as the Ottawa Senators doubled up the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Senators center Artem Anisimov left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts are blowing hot and cold. They crushed the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 the game before, split a season-opening home-and-home against the Florida Panthers, and dropped an overtime decision to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Los Angeles Kings recovered from blowing a 4-1 lead to down the Nashville Predators 7-4. Alex Iafallo scored the winner with 59 seconds remaining in the game while empty-netters by Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty sealed the deal. In other news, the Kings intend to cover up singer Taylor Swift’s “most soldout performances” banner at the Staples Center during their home games. The banner has been an eyesore for Kings fans, as their club hasn’t won playoff series since it was raised in 2015.

Mark Scheifele’s overtime goal completed a three-goal rally for the Winnipeg Jets as they edged the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets depleted defense remains a cause for concern but their offensive punch has powered them to four wins in their first six games.

Tuukka Rask’s 31-save shutout backstopped the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils, handing the latter their fifth-straight loss. Brad Marchand had the game-winner and set up another.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are struggling despite the presence of a healthy Taylor Hall and the offseason additions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and Jack Hughes. Their lousy special teams haven’t helped. They’ve yet to tally a power-play goal while their penalty-killing percentage (50.0) is the league’s worst.

The Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-2 deficit to upset the St. Louis Blues 6-3. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and two assists while Jonathan Drouin collected two points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin is silencing his critics with his early-season play. He’s tied with Gallagher (six points) for the Habs scoring lead with a five-game points streak.

Ilya Mikheyev had a goal and an assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a three-game losing skid by beating the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Frederik Andersen kicked out 25 shots for the victory. In other Red Wings news, senior vice-president and alternate governor Jimmy Devellano will undergo surgery on Monday to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Devellano on a speedy recovery. As for the Leafs, they can thank their secondary scoring for this victory. John Tavares collected an assist while Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander were held scoreless.

New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov turned aside 35 shots and Brock Nelson tallied the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, handing the latter their third straight loss. Panthers forward Evgenii Dadonov had a goal and an assist. Islanders winger Jordan Eberle left the game with a leg injury.

The Carolina Hurricane’ five-game win streak came to end as they fell 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pierre-Luc Dubois netted the game-winner in the third period. Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes activated defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk from injured reserve.

Tom Wilson and John Carlson each had a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1. The Capitals successfully killed off six penalties to end a three-game losing streak. The Stars have dropped five of their last six games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How long before Stars president Jim Lites publicly dumps on Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin again? Asking for a friend.

The Minnesota Wild are off to their worst start in franchise history, suffering their fourth straight loss in a 7-4 drubbing by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rookie Sam Lafferty had a goal and two assists for the Penguins while Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, and Adam Johnson each had a goal and an assist.

Andre Burakovsky scored in overtime as the Colorado Avalanche nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Michael Grabner and Nick Schmaltz scored for the Coyotes as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame. Coyotes winger Phil Kessel played his 1,000th NHL game.

Shootout goals by Elias Pettersson and Tanner Pearson carried the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves for the win.

Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and William Carrier each had a goal and an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Calgary Flames 6-2. Golden Knights center Cody Eakin made his season debut after suffering a lower-body injury in preseason play. They also called up Oscar Dansk to replace sidelined backup Malcolm Subban.

TSN: Former NHL defenseman and coach Ted Green died on Tuesday at age 79. He spent nearly 11 seasons with the Boston Bruins from 1960-61 to 1971-72, winning the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. He also overcame a gruesome head injury after becoming involved in a stick-swinging incident with Wayne Maki in 1969.

Green finished his playing career with seven seasons in the World Hockey Association. He went on to win five Stanley Cups as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Green’s family, friends and former teammates.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 9, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 9, 2019

The latest on the Pittsburgh Penguins plus updates on Roman Josi, Alex Pietrangelo, Brian Boyle and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Bob McKenzie reports injuries will sideline Pittsburgh Penguins centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad for the next four weeks. While there’s no way they can find a suitable replacement for Malkin, McKenzie wonders if they’ll draw upon their blueline depth to find some short-term help in the trade market.

Jack Johnson was mentioned in recent trade speculation. McKenzie also suggested throwing Erik Gudbranson into the mix. It would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move to allow sufficient cap space when Malkin and Bjugstad return.

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi reports Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said it’s too early to pursue a trade for a center. Rutherford tried to peddle Johnson at the end of training camp. Rossi speculates he could call up a couple of forwards from their AHL affiliate.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins attempt to shop Jack Johnson for a center? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s not much of a market for Johnson and I doubt Rutherford will have much luck floating Gudbranson in the trade market. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggested Juuso Riikola as an option. The Penguins will probably ride it out for the time being while Rutherford keeps an eye on the trade market and the waiver wire.


TSN: Bob McKenzie reports there’s significant interest in Brian Boyle. The free-agent center is talking with several teams. McKenzie claims one of those clubs must either clear some salary-cap space or a roster spot to sign Boyle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wonder if the Penguins might be among those teams?


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Roman Josi’s contract negotiations with the Nashville Predators have hit a snag. There was momentum in those talks during the summer but that’s stopped now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Tennessean’s Paul Skrbina suggests Josi’s asking price could be north of $9 million per season. Josi and Predators GM David Poile have downplayed the situation. I expect he’ll be re-signed but it won’t be for a hometown discount.

The St. Louis Blues could use Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract as a baseline in negotiations with Alex Pietrangelo. Ekman-Larsson is in the first season of an eight-year, $66-million deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Ekman-Larsson’s annual average value is $8.25 million. The Pietrangelo camp could seek over $9 million per season.

The Florida Panthers will try to move Mark Pysyk. The veteran defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Friedman noted the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks had an interest during the summer. His AAV ($2.73 million) could be difficult for clubs with limited cap space to absorb.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 18, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 18, 2019

More fallout from the Penguins’ first-round elimination and the latest Nazem Kadri speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi wonders if Phil Kessel’s played his final game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He cites multiple sources claiming the Penguins explored trading the right winger last summer, indicating Kessel was “agreeable” to playing for the Arizona Coyotes. He has a good relationship with Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, who was an assistant coach with the Penguins during their championships in 2016 and 2017. 

Rossi also cited a Penguins source claiming Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the club’s only untouchables and it’s very unlikely they’ll part ways with winger Jake Guentzel and goaltender Matt Murray. 

Should the Pittsburgh Penguins consider trading Kris Letang this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Joe Starkey believes significant changes could be coming for the Penguins this summer. He believes they must find a way to move plodding defenseman Jack Johnson, who’s got four years remaining on his contract. Starkey also suggests they consider moving veterans like Kessel, defenseman Kris Letang and forward Patric Hornqvist. He points out the Penguins won a Cup without Letang when he was sidelined for the entire 2017 playoffs. 

Jason Mackey considers Kessel, defenseman Olli Maatta, center Matt Cullen, and left wing Garrett Wilson as the most likely to be on the move this summer. Hornqvist, Nick Bjugstad, and Erik Gudbranson fall into the “potentially on the move” category. Letang’s playoff performance raises questions but his injury history makes a trade difficult. He doubts the Penguins can find a taker for Johnson. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Kevin Gorman considers Letang part of the Penguins untouchables with Crosby and Malkin and doesn’t believe the veteran blueliner should be made the scapegoat for the club’s early playoff exit. He suggests Justin Schultz could be a prime trade candidate because he has only a year remaining on his contract, though he acknowledged Maatta, Johnson or Gudbranson could be shopped in a cost-cutting deal.

While Kessel’s production makes him a valuable trade commodity, Gorman also believes his offense helps the Penguins. He doesn’t think Kessel should be dealt just for the sake of doing so. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $79 million invested in 18 players for 2019-20, the Penguins have little choice but to shed salary this summer if they intend on getting younger and faster for next season. If Kessel is willing to accept a trade to the Coyotes, who have depth in promising and affordable young talent, they should seriously consider it. They’ll miss his offense in the short term but it’ll be worth it if he fetches a return that helps the Penguins now and in the future. 

Letang’s injury history, age (31) and his annual average value ($7.25 million through 2021-22) could be a tough sell. Those factors also apply to Hornqvist, who’s carrying a $5.3 million annual cap hit through 2022-23. Johnson carries an affordable cap hit ($3.25 million) but I doubt the Penguins can find any takers for him at this stage in his career.

If it appears Schultz could be too expensive to re-sign, perhaps he’ll be shopped this summer. He has a 10-team no-trade list. Maatta appears a more likely trade candidate as it seems head coach Mike Sullivan lacks confidence in him.

Cullen is 42 and will likely retire. Having acquired Bjugstad in February, I don’t think GM Jim Rutherford intends to move him. Gudbranson’s physical play could ensure he gets another season in Pittsburgh. 


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported questions about Nazem Kadri’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs were being asked before his series-long suspension for cross-checking Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk. With the Leafs facing a salary-cap crunch this summer and with Mitch Marner to receive a significant raise, LeBrun said the possibility of moving Kadri as a cost-cutting measure was a possibility before his recent act of recklessness.

Kadri’s second playoff suspension in as many years could force Leafs management to ask themselves if they can trust having him in the lineup beyond this season. He has three years remaining on his contract with an affordable $4.5-million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade list.

LeBrun believes there would be a market for a two-way center like Kadri with a cap-friendly contract. While his suspension history might scare off some GMs, others could consider the edge he brings to his game to be a valuable component. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: If the Leafs can win their current series with the Bruins without Kadri in the lineup, Matt Larkin suggests they consider trading him this summer for a defenseman. He notes the Leafs still need a “right-shot, two-way, top-four presence”, suggesting they’d have to send salary out to bring in a “Brett Pesce-type” blueliner. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have over $75 million invested in 19 players for 2019-20. Forwards Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson are restricted free agents while defensemen Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey are unrestricted free agents.

Assuming the salary cap reaches $83 million as projected and all-but-retired winger Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) is placed on long-term injury reserve at the start of next season, the Leafs will only have around $13 million to re-sign those forwards and re-sign or replace those blueliners. The cost of re-signing Marner alone could exceed $10 million. 

The Leafs have no choice but to shed salary. Kadri’s latest antics could grease the skids for his departure this summer, especially if the Leafs play well without him.