NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2023

More scoring milestones were reached by Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, a big night for Jets winger Gabriel Vilardi, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored two goals and set up another to rally his club to a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Jansen Harkins netted the winning goal in the 12th round of the shootout as the Penguins improved to 13-12-3 (29 points) to sit two points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Sean Monahan tallied his ninth goal of the season for the 12-13-4 Canadiens, who sit a point back of the Penguins.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby is now tied with Hall-of-Famer (and former teammate) Mark Recchi for 13th on the all-time points list with 1,533. He’s just six points behind Joe Thornton, who sits 12th with 1,539.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 13 games as his club downed the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. MacKinnon collected two assists, Mikko Rantanen had a goal and two assists while Valeri Nichushkin tallied twice for the 18-9-2 Avalanche, who hold a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division with 38 points. Zach Benson scored for the 12-15-3 Sabres, who’ve dropped seven of their last 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon also reached the 800-point milestone, becoming the fifth-fastest active player to do so. Sabres forward Jeff Skinner left this game with an upper-body injury.

Colorado fans gave former Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson a standing ovation in his first game at Ball Arena since signing with the Sabres this summer. He spent nearly 13 seasons with the Avs and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2022.

Speaking of the Jets, they rolled to a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Gabriel Vilardi had a career-high four points (one goal, three assists) against his former club while Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice and collected two assists and Mark Scheifele had two goals and an assist for the 17-9-2 Jets. Anze Kopitar and Alex Laferriere scored for the Kings (16-6-4) as they blew a 2-0 lead and sit third in the Pacific Division with 36 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was reported before this game that Jets winger Kyle Connor is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a lower-body (knee) injury.

An overtime goal by Jack Hughes lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Boston Bruins 2-1. Dawson Mercer tied the game in the third period for the Devils (15-11-1), who sit behind the Washington Capitals for the final Eastern wild-card spot with 31 points. Jeremy Swayman stopped 33 shots while Morgan Geekie had the only goal for the Bruins (18-5-4) as they sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 40 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Devils forward Erik Haula picked up an assist on Mercer’s goal as he was activated off injured reserve for this game. Meanwhile, the Bruins placed defenseman Jakub Zboril on waivers.

The New York Islanders nipped the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on a shorthanded goal by Simon Holmstrom with 1:33 remaining in the third period. Noah Dobson collected two assists for the Islanders (14-7-7) as they sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 35 points. John Gibson made 30 saves for the Ducks (10-18-0) as they’ve lost four in a row and nine of their last 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders activated defenseman Sebastian Aho off injured reserve for this game.


TSN: The St. Louis Blues hired former all-star center Brad Richards as a consultant to work with the club’s power play under interim coach Drew Bannister. Meanwhile, winger Jakub Vrana cleared waivers and was sent to the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Springfield.

SPORTSNET: The Minnesota Wild and assistant general manager Chris O’Hearn have agreed to “mutually part ways”. No reason was given for this move. The Athletic’s Michael Russo pointed out that O’Hearn was general manager Bill Guerin’s right-hand man as well as the club’s chief contract negotiator.

CBS SPORTS: Speaking of the Wild, they placed defenseman Jonas Brodin (upper body) on long-term injury reserve.

THE ATHLETIC: Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis yesterday announced plans to move his club (and the NBA’s Washington Wizards) from downtown Washington to a new arena in Northern Virginia by 2028, pending legislative approval.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted yesterday, the new arena would be 20 minutes away from their current location in the Capital One Arena, which has been home to the Capitals and Wizards since 1997-98.

TSN: The NHL recently announced the skills competition for the 2024 All-Star Game will be modified to showcase 12 players competing for points across eight different events, with the winner receiving a $1 million prize.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2023

The Oilers extended their win streak to seven games, Jonathan Quick emerged victorious in his first meeting with the Kings, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers extended their win streak to seven games with a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to nine games while Evan Bouchard extended his streak to 11 games with a goal as the Oilers reached the .500 mark with a record of 12-12-1 (25 points). Jesper Bratt replied for the 14-11-1 Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid performance by the Oilers in this contest as they effectively contained the Devils’ offense while exploiting their opponent’s defensive breakdowns. The Devils played without forward Erik Haula as he was sidelined by an upper-body injury.

New York Rangers goaltender Jonathan Quick (NHL Images).

New York Rangers goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 25 shots to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1. It was Quick’s first game against the Kings since his trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets last season. Vincent Trocheck collected three assists as the Rangers (19-6-1) took over first overall in the Eastern Conference with 39 points. Phillip Danault scored for the Kings (16-5-4)as they dropped their first road game in regulation time this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Boston Bruins also have 39 points but the Rangers hold first place based on wins. Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov left this game with a lower-body injury.

A shootout goal by Jonathan Marchessault lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-4 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Golden Knights held 3-1 and 4-2 leads but the pesky Sharks battled back to force overtime and the shootout. Marchessault also scored twice in regulation as the Golden Knights (19-5-5) remain perched atop the overall standings with 43 points. Mike Hoffman tallied twice for the 8-17-3 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed this game for personal reasons while teammate William Eklund is dealing with a lower-body injury. The Sharks have won five of their last 10 games with their last four contests all decided by one goal.

The Florida Panthers defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. Panthers forward Sam Reinhart collected a career-high four assists while Aleksander Barkov had a three-point game to improve their record to 17-8-2 while the Jackets fell to 9-16-5. Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson received 29 minutes in penalties for retaliating against Panthers forward Nick Cousins hitting him from behind into the boards as well as a subsequent fight between the two instigated by Gudbranson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cousins initially received a five-minute major for his hit on Gudbranson but the officials reduced it to two minutes. That infuriated the Blue Jackets defenseman, prompting the altercation with Cousins later in the game.

This is a consequence of the NHL’s ongoing reluctance to crack down on hits from behind. Cousins skates away with a minor penalty for a dangerous hit while Gudbranson, who was fortunate to escape serious injury, faces a hearing and a likely suspension.

A four-goal third period lifted the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. The Jets improved to 16-8-2 but lost winger Kyle Connor in the second period following a knee-on-knee hit by Ducks forward Ryan Strome. The Ducks dropped to 10-17-0 and have lost three in a row.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Connor could be sidelined for a while. He couldn’t put any weight on his injured right leg and had to be helped off the ice by his teammates. No word yet as to the severity of Connor’s injury. Strome was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct but it remains to be seen if he receives supplemental discipline.

Washington Capitals forward Nic Dowd scored twice to double up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Darcy Kuemper turned aside 34 shots as the Capitals improved their record to 14-8-3. Connor Bedard picked up two assists for the 9-17-1 Blackhawks.

The Nashville Predators got two goals from Colton Sissons and 36 saves from Juuse Saros in a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The Predators 15-13-0 have won 10 of their last 13 games and hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 30 points. Jake Evans scored for the 12-13-3 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens defenseman David Savard was activated from injured reserve for this contest. It was his first game since suffering a fractured hand on Oct. 23.

Minnesota Wild goalie Filip Gustavsson turned in a 24-save shutout performance to blank the Seattle Kraken 3-0. Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi and Joel Eriksson Ek were the goal scorers for the 10-12-4 Wild. Joey Daccord stopped 23 shots for the 8-14-7 Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Kraken announced that starting goalie Philipp Grubauer (lower body) had been placed on injured reserve.


DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: NHL Network analyst Tony Granato announced Sunday he’s stepping away from his duties as he receives treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Granato is also a former NHL player and coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Granato makes a swift and complete recovery.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings offered no update yesterday on the status of captain Dylan Larkin. He was knocked unconscious during Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators and had to be helped from the ice. ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reported all scans for Larkin were negative but there’s no timeframe for his return.

MLIVE.COM: Red Wings forward David Perron faces an in-person hearing today with the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Senators defenseman Artem Zub. His actions were the result of a scrum following Larkin’s injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perron appeared to assume that Zub was responsible for Larkin’s injury, prompting his response. It was Senators forward Mathieu Joseph who struck the Red Wings captain in the back of the head, followed by another blow by Sens forward Parker Kelly. Perron could face at least a five-game suspension.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins yesterday signed Jesse Puljujarvi to a professional tryout offer. The 25-year-old winger underwent double hip surgery in the offseason and hopes to resume his NHL career.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2023

Patrick Marleau returns to the Sharks in a coaching and front-office role, Kyle Dubas outlines his offseason plans for the Penguins, the Devils re-sign Erik Haula and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Patrick Marleau is returning to the Sharks as a player development coach and hockey operations advisor. The club’s all-time leader in games played, goals and points as well as their first jersey retiree, Marleau played 21 of his 23 NHL seasons with the Sharks, announcing his retirement as a player in May 2022.

Patrick Marleau rejoins the San Jose Sharks (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report indicates that Marleau, who’s lived in Florida since his retirement, will be based in San Jose. He will help develop the on-ice skills of Sharks players and those of the Barracudas, their AHL affiliate.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW/PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Kyle Dubas, the Penguins’ new president of hockey operations, outlined his offseason plans for the club on Friday.

Dubas said he’s not going to get into signing expensive free-agent forwards this summer. However, he hopes to weaponize his $20 million in cap space by targeting cap-strapped teams looking to shed salary to be cap compliant for next season. He could be interested in players currently on short-term contracts with those clubs.

Don’t expect any contract buyouts for aging veterans such as Mikael Granlund. Dubas is also hoping for some of his younger players, such as Pierre-Olivier Joseph, to take on more prominent roles next season.

Dubas indicated that he’s reluctant to part with his 2023 first-round pick (14th overall) unless the return includes an impactful young player. He hopes to remake the Penguins’ bottom-six forwards. He must find a suitable replacement for goaltender Tristan Jarry if the latter departs via free agency on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas is not engaging in a roster rebuild. The plan is to retool around aging core players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dubas signs one or two affordable free-agent forwards to address that need to bolster his checking lines. As for cap-strapped clubs that he might target in the trade market, the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay Lightning are possible candidates.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils signed Erik Haula on Friday to a three-year, $9.4 million contract extension. He’ll have full no-trade protection in the first two seasons followed by a six-team no-trade in the final season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haula’s new contract is worth an average annual value of $3.15 million. The 32-year-old forward was a good fit this season with the Devils, tallying 41 points in 80 games.

SPORTSNET: NHL Players Association executive director Marty Walsh said the overwhelming majority of NHL players support the LGBTQ-plus community. Walsh’s comments followed the NHL’s announcement on Thursday curtailing the wearing of special tribute jerseys during warmups after a handful of players opted out of doing so during this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly was among the first players to express his ongoing support for the LGBTQ-plus community.

With issues like that, and with movements like that, I’ll support them, no matter what, whether we wear jerseys or not,” said Rielly. “That support is not going away.”

THE PROVINCE: Gino Odjick likely suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in his latter years. The popular Vancouver Canucks enforcer passed away in January at age 52. In the weeks before Odjick’s death, doctors performed a series of tests that suggest it was highly likely he suffered from CTE.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only definitive way to determine if someone has CTE is a physical examination of their brain after death.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) has spoken with Virginia officials about moving the Capitals and the NBA’s Wizards to Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood. The discussions were said to be “preliminary and exploratory”.

Both teams have been in the Capital One Arena, located in Washington’s Chinatown neighborhood, since 1997. It is owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2023

The Golden Knights eliminate the Jets, the Lightning stay alive against the Leafs while the Devils are on the verge of eliminating the Rangers. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights are the first team to advance to the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series. Mark Stone had a goal and two assists, Chandler Stephenson scored two goals and former Jets backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit made 29 saves for the win. The Golden Knights await the winner of the Edmonton Oilers-Los Angeles Kings series.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved series win for the Golden Knights, especially over the last two games after defeating the Jets with an overtime victory in Game 3. Vegas forward Phil Kessel was scratched to make room for returning winger William Carrier. It’s the first game Kessel’s missed since 2009 but doesn’t affect his NHL Ironman record as that involves consecutive regular-season games.

Jets head coach Rick Bowness was furious with his club’s performance in this series and during the season. He vented his displeasure during a short press conference following the game, criticizing his players for a lack of pushback and pride. “I’m so disappointed and disgusted right now,” said Bowness.

Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers made his series debut in this contest after being sidelined since Apr. 11 with an upper-body injury but was held scoreless.

Changes could be coming for the Jets roster this summer. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

The Tampa Bay Lightning stayed alive in their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 4-2 win in Game 5 of their opening-round series. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots, Anthony Cirelli and Michael Eyssimont each had a goal and an assist and Nick Paul scored the game-winner for the Lightning. Morgan Rielly and Auston Matthews tallied for the Maple Leafs, who hold a 3-2 lead in the series as it returns to Tampa Bay for Game 6 on Saturday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eyssimont replaced Tanner Jeannot, who was sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

Leafs fans can be forgiven if a feeling of dread is creeping in right now. After all, their club was in a similar position two years ago against the Montreal Canadiens but went on to lose that series in seven games. I still believe the Leafs will win this one but if they lose Game 6 they could be in big trouble given their recent history.

The Lightning lacks the depth that carried them to three straight Stanley Cup Finals but they served up a reminder in this contest that they still have enough talent and heart to battle back. They’re not going to go quietly and they don’t want to be eliminated on home ice. Game 6 should be a dandy.

New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Akira Schmid turned in a 23-save shutout to blank the New York Rangers 4-0 in Game 5 of their first-round series. Erik Haula netted two goals and an assist while Dawson Mercer had a goal and an assist as the Devils hold a 3-2 series lead and can wrap things up in New York on Saturday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are in trouble as the Devils have seized the momentum by overcoming an 0-2 series deficit to find themselves on the verge of advancing to the second round.

They’ve done it by effectively neutralizing the Rangers’ star-studded offense, especially their power play. Schmid has played a big role in that since taking over as the Devils’ starter in Game 3, allowing just two goals on 82 shots to pick up three straight wins.


THE DENVER POST: A Seattle police department report revealed a woman was found so intoxicated in Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin’s hotel room on Saturday that a team doctor called an ambulance to take her to a hospital.

Nichushkin didn’t play Game 3 of the Avs’ first-round series with the Seattle Kraken later that day and hasn’t been with the team since the incident. A club spokesman declined to comment on whether Nichushkin’s absence to connected to the incident but said the winger is currently not with the team.

The Avalanche previously said Nichushkin was away from the club for “personal reasons.” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said his ongoing absence isn’t disciplinary and not related to legal issues, adding the team has been in contact with him. Bednar offered no timeline as to when Nichushkin might return to the lineup.

A Seattle Police Department spokesperson said there is no criminal investigation stemming from this incident. A Denver Police Department lieutenant who travels with the Avalanche told Seattle police that there were “no reports of any criminal interactions.”

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov is confident he’ll break out of his four-game scoring slump against the Dallas Stars in Game 6 tonight in Minnesota. The Stars lead the series 3-2.

TSN: There’s a chance that Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen could make his debut in this postseason tonight against the New York Islanders. He’d been sidelined from the first five games due to illness and an undisclosed injury. The Hurricanes hold a 3-2 series lead over the Islanders and could wrap things up with a win tonight.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins center David Krejci traveled with his team to Florida and hasn’t been ruled out of playing in Game 6 against the Panthers tonight. The Bruins hold a 3-2 series lead.

LA KINGS INSIDER: Kings forward Blake Lizotte could be ready to return to the lineup for Game 6 of their first-round series with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. He’s been sidelined since Game 2 with a lower-body injury.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2021

Gabriel Landeskog seeks a big payday, Islanders trade Nick Leddy to the Red Wings, plus the latest on Alex Edler, Erik Haula and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

YAHOO! SPORTS: cites St. Louis-based NHL insider Andy Strickland reporting Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog seeks a big raise on his next contract. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28, the 28-year-old left-winger could be asking for an annual average value of $9 million to $10 million on the open market.

Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

Landeskog is willing to give the Avalanche a hometown discount. However, they’ll have to come up from their offer of between $5 million to $6 million on an eight-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strickland reported the Avalanche also made offers of four years ($6.5 million) and five years ($7 million). He indicated Landeskog would be interested in signing with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders if a deal cannot be worked out with the Avs.

As always, I don’t fault any player for seeking the best contract they can get as a free agent. Landeskog is a terrific first-line left-winger and a key part of the Avalanche roster.

However, I doubt Landeskog will find many offers between $9 million and $10 million with the salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million next season. He certainly won’t get it from the clubs listed by Strickland. They’ve all got limited cap space and pending free agents of their own to deal with. They’d have to shed considerable cap space to sign him.

Landeskog earned $5.57 annually on a seven-year deal. If the Avs are offering five years at $7 million per he should jump on that. It’s a reasonable raise that keeps him on a potential Cup contender through the remaining years of his playing prime. The Avs also need room to re-sign Cale Makar and Philipp Grubauer.

THE DETROIT NEWS/NEW YORK POST: report the New York Islanders last night traded defenseman Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for winger Richard Panik and a second-round draft pick (originally belonging to the Edmonton Oilers) in this year’s NHL draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings also retained half of Panik’s $2.75 million salary. He’s signed through 2022-23. Leddy has one year remaining on his deal worth $5.5 million.

This move provides some flexibility for the cap-strapped Islanders, freeing up over $4 million in payroll. It also provides the rebuilding Red Wings with an experienced puck-moving defenseman who can log top-four minutes.

The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan speculates the Wings could pair Leddy with promising rookie Moritz Seider. They could also use him as a trade chip if they become sellers at next season’s trade deadline. His addition could also mean they don’t re-sign pending UFA Marc Staal.

THE PROVINCE: Alex Edler’s 15-season NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks could be coming to an end. The veteran defenseman is going to test the free-agent market on July 28. His agent indicated the 35-year-old has never tested the free-agent waters before and he might never get the chance to do so again.

TSN: cited a report by The Athletic’s Adam Vingan indicating the Nashville Predators and pending UFA Erik Haula are discussing a new contract. He’s coming off a one-year, $1.75 million deal.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed restricted free agent forward Morgan Geekie to a one-year, two-way contract with $750K at the NHL level.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed RFA forward Julien Gauthier to a one-year, two-way contract worth $775K at the NHL level.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Laval Rocket coach Joel Bouchard denied any rift or animosity with the Canadiens. Bouchard recently joined the Anaheim Ducks as head coach of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Bouchard insists he made the change because he wanted to try something different elsewhere.

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2021

Analysis of a list of early potential trade-rental candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the potential trade-rental candidates among this year’s NHL cellar-dwelling teams. He considers the pickings slim for those pending unrestricted free agents who could become available at the Apr. 12 trade deadline.

The notable names on the Buffalo Sabres include Taylor Hall, Eric Staal and Brandon Montour. Bobby Ryan and Marc Staal are among the Detroit Red Wings’ pending UFAs. Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Pekka Rinne are the noteworthy Nashville Predators while the Ottawa Senators’ list includes Derek Stepan and Ryan Dzingel.

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

Hall is the standout in this group and Fox is skeptical he’ll sign an extension with the struggling Sabres. He feels Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams must move Hall if he hasn’t re-signed by Apr. 11.

Eric Staal must submit a 10-team no-trade list. Centers are always in demand and he carries a reasonable $3.25 million salary-cap hit. Brother Marc, meanwhile, could help clubs in need of a dependable, stay-at-home defenseman.

Fox feels Stepan and Haula could help a contender seeking a third-line center. Montour, a right-handed shot, is only 26 and should still have better days ahead.

Granlund could be more successful playing sheltered minutes on a good team’s third line than trying to produce on a bad team’s top line. If the Toronto Maple Leafs were willing to take a chance on Alex Galchenyuk then someone should be willing to take a chance on Dzingel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Fox’s assessment of the limited trade options available for contenders seeking quality playoff rental options. Nevertheless, I’d like to add a few points.

Fox published this list of pending UFAs prior to Friedman’s report last Saturday listing Rinne among the Predators’ three untouchables along with Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. It sounds like Nashville GM David Poile wants the 38-year-old to finish his NHL career with the only team he’s ever played for. His age, $5 million cap hit and declining performance would significantly hurt his trade value even if he was available.

Ryan could be an affordable gamble for a club seeking an experienced depth forward. He’s on a $1 million contract and has nine points in 19 games with the rebuilding Red Wings. He turns 34 next month and his best years are behind him. However, a playoff contender could gamble on him rising to the occasion the way Corey Perry did for the Dallas Stars in last year’s postseason.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman last week linked Granlund with the Leafs, noting they tried to sign him last fall but couldn’t make the dollars fit. Perhaps they’ll try to acquire him if they still want to add a top-six forward before the deadline.