Patrick Kane says he didn’t know anything about sexual assault allegations against the Blackhawks former video coach, the Canadiens will host the 2022 Draft, James Neal is among the latest PTO signings & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said he has participated in the investigation into allegations the club’s former video coach sexually assaulted two players in 2010. The 32-year-old winger denied having any knowledge about the incidents at the time.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s remarks run counter to those of former teammate Nick Boynton, who claimed everyone knew about the incidents during an interview with the lawyers hired by the Blackhawks to investigate the allegations. “I said talk to Torch (former assistant coach John Torchetti). I called out Brian Campbell, and said talk to Patrick Sharp and talk to Kaner (Patrick Kane),” he told TSN on July 29.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The NHL announced Friday the 2022 Draft will be held in Montreal at the Bell Centre on Thursday, July 7 and Friday, July 8. The 2020 Draft was originally scheduled to be held there but was instead conducted virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The first round will be on Thursday evening and rounds two through seven the following day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Returning to a live venue should significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for teams to make their selections. The recent virtual drafts saw teams take an inordinate amount of time selecting prospects, with each round taking much longer to complete.
NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues announced the signing of wingers James Neal and Michael Frolik to professional tryout contracts.
TORONTO SUN: Nikita Gusev was invited to Maple Leafs training camp on a professional tryout offer.
TSN: The New Jersey Devils inked center Fredrik Gauthier to a PTO.
SPORTSNET: Zack Smith is hanging up his skates after 12 NHL seasons, all but one with the Ottawa Senators from 2008-09 to 2018-19. He spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Smith, 33, tallied 98 goals and 204 points in 662 career regular-season games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Smith and his family in his future endeavors.
PHILLY.COM: Former NHL forward Lou Angotti passed away Thursday at age 83. He spent 10 seasons in the league from 1964-65 to 1973-74 with the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues. Angotti was the Flyers’ first-ever captain. He had 103 goals and 289 points in 653 career NHL contests. He also went on to coach the Blues for two seasons (1973-74 to 1974-75) and the Penguins in 1983-84.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Angotti’s family, friends and former teammates.
Columbus Blue Jackets player Zac Rinaldo gave a short speech against vaccine passports at a PPC party rally this week.
“I’m not anti-vax, I’m not anti-mask. I’m pro choice.”
The Sabres traded Taylor Hall to the Bruins, the Kings ship Jeff Carter to the Penguins, plus recaps of Sunday’s action and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The Buffalo Sabres trade left wing Taylor Hall and center Curtis Lazar to the Boston Bruins in exchange for winger Anders Bjork and a second-round draft pick in 2021. The Sabres also retain 50 percent of Hall’s $8 million cap hit to facilitate the trade.
Buffalo Sabres trade Taylor Hall to the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins hope Hall will regain his offensive form and provide them with much-needed secondary scoring. Lazar should bring some depth to their checking lines.
It’s a disappointing return for the Sabres, who were believed seeking at least a first-round pick for Hall. It’s indicative of perhaps how much the former Hart Trophy winner’s stock has fallen this season. Bjork struggled to play up to expectations in Boston and might benefit from a fresh start in Buffalo.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Los Angeles Kings traded forward Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and a conditional 2023 fourth-rounder. The Kings also retain 50 percent of Carter’s $5.272 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The conditions are based on how long the 36-year-old Carter plays. He has a year remaining on his contract. Carter’s tallied 20 goals 11 times in his career but his offense has declined in recent years. He has just 19 points in 40 games this season. Nevertheless, he should be a solid addition to the Penguins’ injury-depleted bottom-six forward lines.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs acquired goaltender David Rittich from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick. The Flames also retained 50 percent of the pending UFA’s $2.75 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move provides additional experienced goaltending depth for the Leafs behind Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell. It also raises questions over how long Andersen could be sidelined by a lower-body injury.
NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators traded defenseman Mike Reilly to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft. They also shipped blueliner Braydon Coburn to the New York Islanders for a 2022 seventh-rounder.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist as the Avs hold a four-point lead atop the Honda West Division with 60 points and moved into first in the overall standings.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury moved into fourth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list by blanking the Arizona Coyotes 1-0. Fleury now has 484 career victories and also picked up his 66th career shutout. Tomas Nosek tallied the only goal as the Golden Knights remain four points behind the Avalanche in the West. With 43 points, the Coyotes remain one point behind the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
Two-goal performances by T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller and Conor Sheary carried the Washington Capitals to an 8-1 romp over the Boston Bruins. The Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders with 58 points but hold first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of regulation wins with 20. The Bruins, meanwhile, remain in fourth place with 48 points.
Speaking of the Islanders, they edged the New York Rangers 3-2 on an overtime goal by Ryan Pulock. Kyle Palmieri tallied his first goal since joining the Isles in a trade from the New Jersey Devils.
A hat trick by Jake Guentzel powered the Pittsburgh Penguins past the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Colton Sceviour also scored twice for the Penguins (56 points), who sit two points back of the Capitals and Islanders.
Three goals late in the third period by Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Asplund and Casey Mittelstadt rallied the Buffalo Sabres over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark finished with 40 saves. The loss moved the Flyers into a tie with the Rangers (44 points) but the latter hold fifth place with 16 regulation wins.
The Nashville Predators edged the Dallas Stars 3-2 on a shootout goal by Ryan Johansen. The Predators sit in fourth place in the Discover Central Division, holding a four-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NEW YORK POST: Washington Capitals goaltender Henrik Lundqvist announced on social media yesterday he will not be returning to play this season. Lundqvist said he’s making progress since undergoing heart surgery in January but it will be a few more months before he’s fully recovered.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks plan to open their practice facility was postponed to Monday after sidelined forward Jay Beagle was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The Canucks are scheduled to return to action on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed winger Nikita Gusev to a prorated one-year, $1 million contract. Gusev became an unrestricted free agent on April 10 after his contract with the New Jersey Devils was terminated.
NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Nashville Predators forward Michael McCarron two games for an illegal hit to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde.
Game recaps, the latest on Zach Werenski, Bobby Ryan and William Nylander, the Avalanche reacquire Patrik Nemeth, the Leafs deal for Riley Nash, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied career goal 727 in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz had a goal and two assists. Ovechkin is four goals shy of Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for fifth on the NHL’s all-time goals list. The Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders with 56 points but hold first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of regulation wins (21).
The Islanders, meanwhile, dropped a 4-1 decision to the New York Rangers. Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves for the win in his first start in 11 games while teammate Adam Fox’s point streak ended at 12 games. Blueshirts winger Artemi Panarin collected two assists.
Sidney Crosby scored and added two helpers to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the New Jersey Devils 6-4. Pittsburgh winger Bryan Rust scored two goals and chipped in an assist while Devils winger Miles Wood tallied twice. The Penguins have won seven of their last nine contests and sit two points behind the second-place Islanders.
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonas Johansson made 28 saves for his first career NHL shutout in a 2-0 blanking of the Anaheim Ducks. Valeri Nichushkin and Mikko Rantanen were the goal scorers as Colorado won their sixth game in their last seven outings. They canceled their practice earlier in the day after Bo Byram was placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list. The Avs sit atop the Honda West Division with 58 points.
A four-goal first period powered the Vegas Golden Knights to a 7-4 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Reilly Smith scored two goals for the Golden Knights, who remain four points back of the Avalanche in second place. Phil Kessel collected three assists for Arizona and took over sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s Ironman list by skating in his 885th consecutive game. The Coyotes are in fourth place with 43 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel is quite durable for someone who is sometimes mocked because his physical appearance isn’t that of a prototypical NHL player. As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.
St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly tallied a hat trick in a 9-1 thumping of the Minnesota Wild. Jaden Schwartz scored twice while Justin Faulk and Sammy Blais each had a goal and two assists. The Blues moved within one point of the Coyotes while the Wild remain in third place with 50 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues made winger Mike Hoffman a healthy scratch for the second straight game. He’s among the top names being bandied about the NHL rumor mill and could be on the move before Monday’s trade deadline.
Brent Burns collected three assists and Martin Jones made 32 saves as the San Jose Sharks downed the Los Angeles Kings 5-2. The surging Sharks sit three back of the Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The race for that final playoff berth in the West is getting interesting. The Coyotes are trying to hang on, the Blues are battling to overcome a recent season-threatening losing skid while the Sharks are trying to keep their postseason hopes alive.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski will undergo season-ending sports hernia surgery next week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A difficult season for the Blue Jackets just got a lot worse with their best puck-moving defenseman on the shelf. This could be the last nail in the coffin for their playoff hopes.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan appears to be done for the season after suffering an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ryan was expected to draw some interest in the trade market leading up to Monday’s deadline. Nagging injuries have plagued the 34-year-old winger throughout this season.
ESPN: The Nashville Predators placed winger Filip Forsberg on injured reserve and announced winger Eeli Tolvanen (lower body) and defenseman Dante Fabbro (upper body) are week-to-week. Right wing Mathieu Olivier will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators surged into playoff contention in recent weeks in the Discover Central Division. This latest rash of injuries could threaten their efforts to clinch a postseason berth.
TSN: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said many of his 21 players who tested positive for COVID-19 are feeling better. He expects his club will be able to complete its 56-game schedule, adding none of his players want to opt-out of the remainder of the season. Benning anticipates most of his players will be back on the ice once the team receives clearance to reopen its practice facility.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield is the 2021 winner of the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in US college hockey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield celebrated by scoring two goals in his pro debut as the Laval Rocket downed the Toronto Marlies 5-3 in AHL action on Friday.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs acquired center Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2022.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash is sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee. However, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas can place him and his $2.75 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve, giving them the flexibility to perhaps make another move before Monday’s trade deadline. A clever move by Dubas, who’s done this sort of thing in the past to provide himself some much-needed cap relief. Nash will also join the Leafs for the playoffs.
TORONTO STAR: Speaking of the Leafs, winger William Nylander will be sidelined for a week on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche reacquired defenseman Patrik Nemeth from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round pick. Nemeth spent two seasons with the Avalanche (2017 to 2019). The Wings are also retaining half of his $3 million salary-cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche also have $5.4 million in cap wiggle room with Erik Johnson and Pavel Francouz on LTIR. GM Joe Sakic might not be done dealing as concern remains over the Avs’ goaltending depth.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed winger Nikita Gusev on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent if he clears at noon ET today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gusev had a promising NHL debut with 44 points in 66 games last season but struggled under head coach Lindy Ruff this season and has just five points in 20 games. The 27-year-old winger might regain his scoring touch with another club.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres claimed forward Drake Caggiula off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes.
Check out the latest on David Pastrnak, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NOTES
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely doesn’t expect wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the ice before the club flies to Toronto on Sunday for the upcoming playoff tournament under Phase 4 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. Pastrnak’s been quarantined after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Kase, meanwhile, has been deemed unfit to play with no explanation as per league health protocols.
Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (Photo via NHL Images).
Both players were seen together socially in Boston’s North End and skating together locally before their disappearance from Bruins’ training camp. Neely said he wished both players had returned to Boston from the Czech Republic a little earlier but noted the club had no control over that. The previous phase of the return-to-play plan didn’t require players to be in their NHL cities until the days leading up to the July 13 start of Phase 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak and Kase are expected to travel with their teammates to Toronto for Phase 4. Fortunately for the Bruins, both players will have roughly two weeks to get back into game shape. That because they’re already assured of a playoff berth and will be taking part in the round-robin seeding round during the qualifying round.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins fans can breathe a little easier. Captain Sidney Crosby returned to practice yesterday for the first time since leaving the ice during a scrimmage on Saturday. He skated on his own but didn’t take part in team practice. As per league protocols, coach Mike Sullivan did not explain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby’s absence was not COVID-related. He appears to be nursing what could be a minor injury.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jonathan Toews was reportedly one of two NHLPA player reps to vote against the return-to-play plan and CBA extension. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Blackhawks captain was among the most vocal of the player reps, asking relevant questions and challenging whether it was safe enough to return to play. Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook was the other PA rep to vote against it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews’ questioning shouldn’t be surprising. He also took an active interest in CBA negotiations during the 2012-13 lockout. By the sound of things, his position was well-intentioned. He now has more pressing concerns as he was listed as “unable to participate” since leaving practice on Monday.
CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty has missed his club’s last three practices. Coach Pete DeBoer indicated Pacioretty was dealing with a minor issue and could resume skating soon.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar missed his third straight practice since leaving the ice on Saturday. Coach Jared Bednar provided no update as per league protocols.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Oskar Lindblom’s comeback from a rare bone cancer continued yesterday as the Flyers re-signed him to a three-year, $9-million contract. The annual average value is $3 million. Management also isn’t ruling anything out if the winger travels to Toronto with his teammates for the upcoming playoff tournament.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be the feel-good story of the postseason if Lindblom returns to action during the upcoming tournament. The Flyers will leave that decision up to him.
SPORTSNET: Andreas Johnsson will be joining his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates inside the team bubble for Phase 4. He intends to continue his recovery from knee surgery with the team and hopes to return to the lineup during the playoffs if the Leafs get that far.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise is expected to reveal their team name later today. A live-streamed news conference is slated for 9 AM PT today for a “significant” event. The club teased the event on Twitter yesterday.
WINGING IT IN MOTOWN: The Detroit Red Wings are open to loaning winger Filip Zadina to the Czech League’s HC Ocelari. The Wings could be waiting until December at the earliest for the start of the next NHL season. Loaning out Zadina would allow the youngster to get in some meaningful gameplay before then.
NEW YORK POST: Swiss investment bank UBS has secured the naming rights for the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park. The arena is expected to be ready for the 2021-22 season.
IIHF.COM: Former Soviet defenseman Alexander Gusev passed away at age 73. Gusev was part of two World Championship clubs in 1973 and 1974, won gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics, and was part of two Summit Series with Canadian NHL stars in 1972 and WHA stars in 1974.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Gusev’s family, friends, and former teammates.