In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: Roope Hintz’s new contract could affect Bo Horvat’s and Dylan Larkin’s contract negotiations, the Stars are in the market for a forward, and the Ducks’ five most tradeable assets.
HINTZ’S NEW CONTRACT COULD AFFECT HORVAT AND LARKIN
Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin (NHL Images).
Horvat and Larkin are both eligible for unrestricted free-agent status next July. LeBrun believes Horvat would’ve signed a deal comparable to Hintz’s during the offseason but he’s not so sure he’d do so now given the shifting marketplace. The expectation of a rising salary cap after three years of a flattened cap could affect next summer’s free-agent market.
VANCOUVER HOCKEY INSIDER: Rob Simpson believes Hintz’s new contract will affect Horvat’s contract negotiations with the Canucks. If they make a similar investment in their captain it could require shedding some salary to fit that new deal under their salary cap.
Simpson pointed out that Brock Boeser lacks no-trade protection in his current deal. Meanwhile, J.T. Miller’s no-movement clause doesn’t go into effect until his contract extension kicks in next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no question that Hintz’s and Barzal’s contract extensions will affect the market value of Horvat and Larkin. Both players could seek between $8.5 million and $9.5 million on their subsequent contracts as Hintz and Barzal have set the market value.
With nearly $40 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 (based on the cap rising by the projected $1 million to $83.5 million), the Red Wings are in a good position to re-sign Larkin to a lucrative long-term deal. The only question is how much general manager Steve Yzerman is willing to invest in his captain, who wants to remain part of the Wings’ rebuilding process.
The Canucks, however, will only have $13.5 million, making it difficult to squeeze Horvat within their limited cap space unless they make a cost-cutting move or two. That could happen if they fail to qualify for the 2023 playoffs. Then again, they could part ways with Horvat and use the savings to invest in stocking up their porous blueline.
STARS SEEK A SCORING FORWARD
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Stars would like to add another scoring forward to their ranks. They want to find someone to play alongside Tyler Seguin and Mason Marchment on their second line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger referred to that as a “top-six luxury item”. In other words, it’s something they’d like to add but it’s not a season-breaker. They have a projected $2.7 million in trade deadline cap space. Perhaps they’ll make a move as the trade deadline draws near and more rental options become available.
Klingberg is on a one-year deal with a 10-team no-trade list as of Jan. 1. He’s the biggest proven blueline commodity next to the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun and Shayne Gostisbehere in the trade market.
Teams could turn to Shattenkirk if they lose out on Klingberg and Chychrun given his Stanley Cup pedigree. Blueliner Dmitry Kulikov, winger Frank Vatrano and center/winger Adam Henrique round out Proteau’s list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks are currently at the bottom of the overall standings and could likely still be there by the March 3 trade deadline. General manager Pat Verbeek was a seller leading up to last season’s deadline and will be again in 2023. Any one of those players on Proteau’s list could be playing elsewhere by the end of March 3.
Alex Ovechkin sets a goal-scoring record, the Kraken and Kings play the highest-scoring game thus far this season, the Stars re-sign Roope Hintz to a lucrative new contract, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice to surpass Wayne Gretzky for the most career road goals (403) in a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves for the Capitals and Anthony Mantha collected two points for the Capitals (10-11-3). Nil Hoglander replied for the Canucks as they fall to 9-11-3.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretzky scored 402 road goals during his career. Ovechkin now has 793 total career goals and needs just nine more to move past Gordie Howe (801) in second place on the all-time list. He currently has 13 goals in 24 games this season.
An overtime goal by Andre Burakovsky lifted the Seattle Kraken over the Los Angeles Kings 9-8 in the highest-scoring game of the season thus far. Burakovsky, Jared McCann and Matty Beniers each scored twice while Jordan Eberle collected four assists for the Kraken (14-5-3) as they picked up their sixth straight win. Kevin Fiala had four assists, Drew Doughty collected three helpers and Gabriel Vilardi tallied twice as the Kings drop to 12-9-4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a record-setting game for the Kraken, winning their franchise-best sixth consecutive game, scoring the most goals in one game and the most combined goals.
Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler collected a hat trick and picked up an assist as his club blanked the Colorado Avalanche 5-0. Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 40-save shutout while Mark Scheifele and Cole Perfetti collected three points each as the Jets improved their record to 14-6-1. Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev gave up five goals on 23 shots as his club fell to 12-7-1.
The Boston Bruins regained first place in the overall standings with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, extending their league-record season-opening home wins streak to 13 games. Taylor Hall scored two goals while Jeremy Swayman kicked out 27 shots for the win. Steven Stamkos scored to pick up his 999th career point as his Lightning dropped to 13-8-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins (19-3-0) are tied with the New Jersey Devils (38 points) but have a game in hand and have lost one fewer game. Before the game, they activated defenseman Derek Forbort and demoted Anton Swayman to their AHL affiliate.
Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube had a goal and two assists while goalie Dan Vladar stopped 31 shots to defeat the Florida Panthers 6-2 and improve their record to 10-9-3. Sam Reinhart and Nick Cousins replied for the 10-9-4 Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was Matthew Tkachuk’s first game in Calgary since forcing a trade to the Florida Panthers during the offseason. He was honored by the Flames with a video tribute and a standing ovation by most Calgary fans but was booed every time he touched the puck in this contest.
An overtime goal by Brett Pesce gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov also scored for the Hurricanes (12-6-5) while Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel replied for the 11-8-4 Penguins.
The Philadelphia Flyers snapped their 10-game winless skid by downing the New York Islanders 3-1. Kevin Hayes tallied two goals and Carter Hart turned in a 23-save effort for the 8-10-5 Flyers. Noah Dobson replied for the Islanders as they drop to 15-9-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers winger Scott Laughton returned to the lineup following a four-game absence with an upper-body injury.
Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi’s scored in overtime as his club nipped the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 2-1. Colton Sissons also tallied for the Predators as they improved to 10-9-2. John Gibson made 39 saves and Troy Terry scored for the Ducks, who hold the league’s worst record at 6-15-2.
The San Jose Sharks blanked the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Tomas Hertl scored twice and Kaapo Kahkonen made 28 saves for the shutout as the Sharks improve to 8-13-4. The Canadiens went 0-6 on the powerplay and drop to 11-10-1 on the season.
DALLAS HOCKEY NOW: The Stars signed center Roope Hintz to an eight-year, $67.6 million contract extension. The average annual value is $8.45 million and goes into effect for the 2023-24 season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big increase for Hintz over the $3.15 million AAV of his current contract. The 26-year-old was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in July and would’ve also been a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.
Hintz earned that big payday centering the Stars’ top line with wingers Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski since 2020-21. He had 43 points in 41 games despite being hampered by injury during that COVID-shortened season. The Finnish center enjoyed a career-best 72-point performance last season and has 24 points in 22 games thus far in this campaign.
The Stars now have young core players like Hintz, Robertson, defenseman Miro Heiskanen and goaltender Jake Oettinger signed for at least the next two seasons.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Tempe City Council voted 7-0 in favor of the Arizona Coyotes’ proposed 16,000 arena proposal. The next (and potentially final) step will be a referendum by Tempe citizens to be held on May 16, 2023.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the Coyotes are willing to sign a 30-year non-relocation agreement if the arena proposal goes forward. The league will also bring an NHL draft or an all-star game to the new arena.
The Jets down the Leafs in their final regular-season game, Conference championship trophies won’t be awarded this season, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Ondrej Kase and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets ended their regular season on a high note by doubling up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Kyle Connor scored twice to finish the season with a team-leading 26 goals. The Leafs’ Auston Matthews was held pointless, finishing the season with a league-leading 41 goals.
Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs will have several days off before they begin their respective first-round series. The Jets face off against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday while the Leafs meet the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL won’t be handing out the Prince of Wales Trophy or the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to the conference champions this season. The Prince of Wales Trophy is usually awarded to the Eastern Conference champion while the Campbell Bowl is awarded to the Western Conference champion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bright side is we won’t have to listen to any of the superstitious nonsense over whether the winning teams will touch those respective trophies. Because, of course, everyone knows touching those awards could determine the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final (end sarcasm mode).
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The lack of a new contract for Alex Ovechkin isn’t bothering Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. He said he and Ovechkin are focused on the upcoming playoffs.
“Alex knows that if he plays five more years, 10 more years, whatever it is, we’ve got his back,” Leonsis said, adding the team’s commitment to his captain is to continue to have great teams. “We’ll spend to the cap, we’ll try to win championships. And that’s what he’s focused on because that’ll be his legacy.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is completing a 13-year, $124 million contract. He and Leonsis agreed at the start of this season to put aside contract discussions until after the playoffs are over. Based on Leonsis’ comments, it sounds like Ovechkin won’t be going anywhere.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase won’t be playing in Game 1 of his club’s opening-round series against the Washington Capitals tonight. Kase suffered an upper-body injury unrelated to the suspected concussion that sidelined him for all but three games this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the issue, it sounds like Kase could miss more than just Game 1.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins backup goaltender Casey DeSmith left Friday’s practice early to receive medical treatment after making a routine save. It’s suspected to be a lower-body injury. The Penguins open their first-round series against the New York Islanders on Sunday.
TSN: Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman was fined $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais on Thursday.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed defenseman Artem Zub to a two-year, $5 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zub, 25, joined the Senators as a free agent from the KHL and played well in his first NHL season. He finished with 14 points in 47 games and a plus-minus of plus-4 while logging over 18 minutes of ice time per game.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Senators, team owner Eugene Melnyk declined to comment about lawsuits filed against five defendants by his traveling companions related to his Caribbean vacation last Christmas.
THE SCORE: cites a report by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun indicating Alain Vigneault will return as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers next season.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Speaking of returning coaches, Stars general manager Jim Nill confirmed Rick Bowness will be back behind the bench with his club next season. Nill also said forward Roope Hintz will undergo surgery next week in New York to repair a groin injury.
Recaps of Thursday’s action, Jeff Skinner’s status with the Sabres concerns his agent, updates on Auston Matthews and Henrik Lundqvist, some notable injury news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders tallied five unanswered third-period goals to upset the Boston Bruins 7-2. Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves while teammates Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee and Adam Pelech each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders. The Bruins have dropped three of their last four games.
Three straight third-period goals lifted the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist. Tom Wilson tallied the game-winner and also received a two-minute minor penalty for injuring Penguins forward Mark Jankowski with a late hit in the first period. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed winger Jason Zucker (lower body) on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits but it doesn’t appear as though he’ll receive supplemental discipline for this one.
The Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice in the third period in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Yanni Gourde netted the game-winner as the Lightning won their third straight over the Hurricanes, moving into second place in the Discover Central Division with 27 points.
A three-goal third-period rallied the Florida Panthers over the Dallas Stars 3-2. Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves while Aleksander Barkov, Anton Stralman and Frank Vatrano tallied for the Panthers, who sit atop the Discover Central Division with 28 points. Stars forward Roope Hintz missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is playing his way into the Hart Memorial Trophy conversation (NHL Images).
Patrick Kane tallied his 399th career goal and Malcolm Subban made 26 saves for his first shutout with the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-0 blanking of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carl Soderberg also scored for the Hawks, who sit third in the Central with 26 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks keep finding ways to win thanks in part to Kane’s production and leadership. He’s moved into a tie with Toronto’s Auston Matthews (31 points) for third place in the NHL scoring race and continues to be considered among the early favorites for the Hart Memorial Trophy.
The Ottawa Senators are on their first three-game win streak of the season after upsetting the Calgary Flames 6-1. Matt Murray made 29 saves, Colin White scored twice and Drake Batherson scored for the fourth straight game.
Earlier in the day, the Senators placed center Derek Stepan on injured reserve among reports he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. They also placed little-used forward Filip Chlapik on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. Meanwhile, the Flames placed goaltender Jacob Markstrom (upper body) on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ improvement throughout February is due in part to giving more ice time to their younger players. They still have more rebuilding to do but they’ve served notice in recent weeks that they’re no longer an easy two points. The Flames, meanwhile, have dropped five of their last six.
An overtime goal by Pavel Zacha lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. The Sabres made winger Jeff Skinner a healthy scratch for the third straight game, prompting his agent to contact general manager Kevyn Adams to express his concern over his client’s status. Sabres captain Jack Eichel was a late scratch with a lower-body injury while goalie Linus Ullmark left the game following the first period with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner’s poor production this season is cause for concern for the Sabres but critics question if he’s being properly utilized by head coach Ralph Krueger. It’s yet another issue for a team whose playoff hopes are fading while raising questions about Eichel’s future in Buffalo.
Sam Gagner tallied his third career hat trick as the Detroit Red Wings downed the Nashville Predators 5-2. Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The mounting losses for the Predators continue to stoke speculation they’ll become sellers at the Apr.12 trade deadline. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor section.
Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists while Kyle Connor scored twice as the Winnipeg Jets overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. The Habs dropped their fourth straight, spoiling the debut of interim head coach Dominique Ducharme. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson left the game in the first period after an apparent slew foot by Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo. He’ll undergo more tests but Ducharme said his injury isn’t considered to be too serious.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme declared a clean slate for his players before this game. What he got was a strong start undone by more shaky goaltending from Carey Price, sloppy defensive play and a collapse of confidence as the game rolled along. The Habs (22 points) still hold a playoff spot in the Scotia North Division only because the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are playing worse than they are. Speaking of the Canucks…
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith turned in a 32-save shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Canucks. Alex Chiasson, Jesse Puljujarvi and Connor McDavid were the goal scorers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have only two victories in 13 games this month.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said center Auston Matthews has been dealing with a wrist injury for most of this season. Matthews appeared to aggravate the injury during Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Flames but Keefe feels it hasn’t gotten worse.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews was scoring at a goal-per-game pace prior to Wednesday. He has a shot at becoming the first player since Brett Hull in 1991-92 to score 50 goals in 50 games.
NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist returned to the ice earlier this week after undergoing open-heart surgery seven weeks ago. However, the 39-year-old goaltender said it will be months before he can reach a decision on whether he’ll continue his playing career.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Saturday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues will continue as scheduled after the Sharks announced no new positive COVID-19 tests. Thursday’s game between the two clubs was postponed after Sharks forward Tomas Hertl tested positive. He’s expected to miss some time as he remains on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
TSN: The number of players on the league’s protocol list shrunk to seven players with three of those being members of the Philadelphia Flyers.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets are preparing to increase the number of fans attending their home games after Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced indoor sports and entertainment events in the state to 25 percent capacity. The Jackets currently have a plan approved by the state that allows 10 percent capacity.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins will soon welcome fans back to TD Garden as the state of Massachusetts will allow 12 percent capacity starting on March 22.
The latest on the league’s plans for the 2020-21 season, the Stars re-sign Roope Hintz, the Panthers hire Ulf Samuelsson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the NHL’s board of governors could get a glimpse of the league’s plans for 2020-21 during an expected conference call on Thursday. While the league’s goal remains opening on Jan. 1, there’s speculation the season won’t begin until early February. Ice has been placed back in half of the NHL arenas and players are starting to return to their home cities in anticipation of a new season.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the leadership of the NHL and NHL Players Association have been in “very regular contact” regarding next season. The players he’s spoken to are keen to find out what the dates will be.
Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz (NHL Images).
The idea of starting on Jan. 1 faces several roadblocks, including breaking for the 2020 Christmas holidays.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I weighed in yesterday on the hurdles facing the league regarding a Jan. 1 season opener. They’re starting to run out of time to reach that deadline. Starting up in February seems more realistic depending on the course of the pandemic.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed Roope Hintz to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.15 million. The 23-year-old forward was the last of the Stars’ restricted free agents to sign a new deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hintz enjoyed a solid sophomore campaign in 2019-20, tallying 19 goals and 33 points in 60 games. This is an affordable bridge deal for the Stars. Hintz will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights when this contract expires. Given his development, he’ll be in line for a significant raise on his next deal.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers hired Ulf Samuelsson as an assistant coach. A former NHL defenseman, he was head coach of Leksands IF of the Swedish Hockey League last season, scouted for the expansion Seattle Kraken, and was a former assistant coach with the Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Justin Abdelkader wrote about his love of playing for the Detroit Red Wings in a recent article in the Players Tribune. A second-round pick of the Wings in the 2005 NHL Draft, the 33-year-old winger played spent 13 seasons with the club until he was recently bought out of his contract.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed 2020 first-round pick Cole Perfetti to an entry-level contract. Perfetti was selected 10th overall.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: A sneak peek of the Bruins retro jersey for 2020-21 may have been leaked yesterday.