NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2024

Kings captain Anze Kopitar reaches an assist milestone, the three stars of the week are announced, Martin St. Louis returns to the Canadiens’ bench, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist as his club held off the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Kopitar reached the 40-assist mark for the 14th time, tying Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby for the most among active players. Sam Lafferty and Brock Boeser replied for the Canucks, who slipped to 45-19-8 and dropped to second overall with 98 points. The Kings (38-22-11) sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 87 points, one behind the second-place Edmonton Oilers.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks missed an opportunity to become the first team to reach 100 points and clinch a playoff berth this season. Canucks center Elias Lindholm missed this game for what is believed to be a hand or wrist injury. He’s listed as day-to-day.

An overtime goal by Jonathan Marchessault lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Logan Thompson stopped 32 shots for the Golden Knights (39-25-7), who hold a five-point lead over the Blues for the final Western Conference wildcard berth with 85 points. Brandon Saad scored and Jordan Binnington made 32 saves for the 38-30-4 Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist left this game in the second period favoring his right leg following a hit by Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb.


NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are the league’s three stars for the week ending March 24, 2024.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis has returned to the club following a two-week leave of absence to take care of a family-related matter. His son, Mason, suffered complications from an injury sustained while playing hockey in Connecticut requiring hospitalization. His condition has stabilized and he’s now recovering at home.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Anthony Duclair has been on fire since joining the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade from the San Jose Sharks earlier this month. He has points in all seven of his games with the Lightning.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Sharks, winger Mike Hoffman has been sidelined since March 9 recovering from a concussion following a hit from Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk. Meanwhile, rookie defenseman Ty Emberson’s season may be over due to a lower-body laceration suffered on Feb. 29.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes recalled forward Josh Doan from their AHL affiliate. The 22-year-old is the son of former Coyotes star Shane Doan.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Jaromir Jagr bobblehead dolls stolen on their way to Pittsburgh have been recovered. The 18,000 dolls were to be handed out during a game on March 14 at PPG Paints Arena. Fans who received vouchers for the dolls can redeem them during a drive-through event at the arena on Apr. 6.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2023

An update on the Flames’ Chris Tanev, the latest on the Blue Jackets and Sharks, Ethan Bear could sign with the Capitals, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Calgary Flames have told teams they’re not ready yet to trade Chris Tanev. They’ve told them to be patient as they want to see how the trade market plays out. If Tanev’s value right now is a second-round pick, perhaps that could rise to a first-rounder as interest continues to build for the gritty 33-year-old blueliner.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving has Tanev at the top of his list as he seeks help for his injury-depleted blueline. The Vancouver Canucks have also “kicked tires”.

Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tanev is currently listed as day-to-day following an injury suffered on Monday against the Colorado Avalanche. That’s unlikely to hurt his value in the trade market unless he ends up sidelined longer than expected.

Treliving is the former GM of the Flames so he knows how valuable Tanev would be to his defense corps. Whether he can land the rugged rearguard remains to be seen if more clubs start showing interest in him.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the talk around NHL circles is there could be changes coming to the Columbus Blue Jackets front office if things don’t improve soon. It’s believed the heat has been turned up on president of hockey operations John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen as ownership grows impatient over the club’s poor performance this season.

There’s been talk that Patrik Laine could be traded but the struggling Blue Jackets winger hasn’t asked to be moved. He’s signed through 2025-26 with an average annual value of $8.7 million. Unless the Jackets agree to retain part of that cap hit he’s not going anywhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen’s in his 11th season as Jackets general manager. During his tenure, they’ve reached the playoffs five times but things have gone off the rails in recent years. Barring a miraculous turnaround they’re going to miss the postseason for the fourth straight year. As Garrioch observes, it’s only a matter of time until there’s a change in management.

Laine’s contract is difficult to move during a season when most teams have limited cap space. He would draw more interest if he were scoring at the same pace as earlier in his career.

If the Jackets were to shop Laine, it would have to be an offseason trade when clubs have more cap space to work with. Even then, the Jackets could face retaining part of his salary to make it work.

Mike Hoffman could be an attractive option for clubs seeking scorers near the March 8 trade deadline. The San Jose Sharks winger has eight goals and 11 points in 27 games. Other potential Sharks trade bait include forwards Anthony Duclair, Alexander Barabanov and Kevin Labanc.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All four are slated to become unrestricted free agents next July.

The Carolina Hurricanes are among several clubs in the market for a goaltender. It’s also believed the Seattle Kraken, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, and Toronto Maple Leafs have been calling around for help between the pipes. Garrioch suggests they call the Montreal Canadiens as they’re taking calls on Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have been carrying three goalies since the start of the season. They recently re-signed Sam Montembeault so he’s not going anywhere. General manager Kent Hughes has a reputation for being patient in the trade market so it could be a while until he find a suitable offer that prompts him to part with Allen or Primeau.


TSN: Chris Johnston reported that is appears free-agent defenseman Ethan Bear will sign a two-year contract with the Washington Capitals that could be worth around $2 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston said the final details were still being ironed out. Perhaps we’ll get an announcement as early as today.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 3, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 3, 2023

Which clubs might target the Predators’ Tyson Barrie? Could the Oilers look into signing Corey Perry? Are the Leafs trying to land a Flames defenseman? What’s the latest on the Sharks? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the Nashville Predators have given permission Tyson Barrie and his agent permission to speak with other clubs about a possible trade. The 32-year-old defenseman was a healthy scratch from Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers. He is 10 games away from 800 career contests and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher looked at four clubs who might pursue a trade for Barrie. The blueliner’s former club, the Edmonton Oilers, topped the list as Gallagher believes reacquiring Barrie would improve the defense in front of their struggling goalies.

Nashville Predators defenseman Tyson Barrie (NHL Images)

The New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders could use more offense from the blueline. Another of Barrie’s former teams is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who could use a right-hand shot on their injury-ravaged defense corps with John Klingberg on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never but I doubt the Oilers or Leafs are interested in bringing back Barrie. The Oilers need a skilled shutdown defenseman while Barrie struggled to find chemistry with the Leafs during his only season in Toronto.

The Devils could be an option with Dougie Hamilton sidelined but they could continue trying out promising call-up Simon Nemec. While the Isles could use more production from their defense, they might not be enamored with his defensive game.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson assumes Oilers general manager Ken Holland is checking in on Corey Perry, whose contract was terminated last week by the Chicago Blackhawks for unacceptable workplace conduct. He also believes the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers could be doing the same as they need role-player help.

Matheson pointed out that Holland went out on a limb to sign Evander Kane despite his off-ice baggage. That deal turned into a home run for the Oilers.

The Oilers GM will have to wait until Perry’s completed his substance abuse treatment and will fully investigate why the Blackhawks terminated his contract. If it’s not a serious impediment, Matheson thinks Holland could be all-in on signing him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry doesn’t face any criminal charges nor is there any indication he broke the law in what was described as an “alcohol-fueled” situation during a gathering of Blackhawks team employees and corporate partners. He’s also under no suspension by the league and can sign with any club if he wants to return to action.

Perry has a long and productive career, garnering a well-earned reputation as a leader and shift disturber who always elevates his play in the postseason. It wouldn’t be surprising if he lands with another NHL club before the March 8 trade deadline.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs attempted to acquire Nikita Zadorov and Chris Tanev from the Calgary Flames before Zadorov was traded last week to the Vancouver Canucks.

According to Friedman, the potential deal fell apart because the two sides couldn’t agree on what it would cost the Flames to retain up to 50 percent of the salaries of both players. “The two sides couldn’t figure out that compensation, in addition to just the compensation for the players.”

The Leafs are still searching for help on the blueline. Friedman indicated their preference is for a right-handed shot. He believes they could still be in on Tanev but he has a larger cap hit ($4.5 million) than Zadorov.

Earlier yesterday, Friedman’s colleague Luke Fox opined for the Leafs to continue their pursuit of a Toronto homecoming for Tanev, who will likely be more in demand than Zadorov. He’s a right-shot who could skate alongside Morgan Rielly or Jake McCabe and help improve the Leafs’ penalty kill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are still awaiting clarification on John Klingberg’s status regarding his hip ailment. He’s currently on long-term injury reserve but there’s no indication yet how long he’ll be sidelined. If he needs season-ending surgery, it’ll ensure they have the cap space for the remainder of this season to acquire someone like Tanev.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the San Jose Sharks have let it be known that they will consider a lot on the blueline in terms of who might be available and what they’re willing to do. He believes teams will be most interested in Mario Ferraro, who has two more seasons left on his contract with a $3.25 million annual cap hit. Friedman doesn’t think he’s off the table at this time.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Lizz Child recently noted The Athletic has Sharks winger Anthony Duclair, goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and forward Alexander Barabanov among their top-25 trade candidates. She also pointed out that Daily Faceoff has wingers Mike Hoffman and Kevin Labanc among their top 20 trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Other than Ferraro, the rest are eligible for UFA status next summer. The Sharks could retain Ferraro and perhaps even Duclair and Kahkonen if those two are willing to stay if their asking price is reasonable. On the other hand, this is a rebuilding club that’s on the lookout for offers of solid returns that will help them build up their long-term future.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2023

Possible destinations for Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov following his trade request and some recent Sharks speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s the big question following last night’s report that Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov requested a trade through his agent. So, let’s dive in and see…

TSN: Pierre LeBrun confirmed the report by ESPN’s Kevin Weekes that Zadorov requested a trade through his agent Dan Milstein yesterday. His camp is hoping for a quick resolution.

Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov (NHL Images).

Chris Johnston reports the pending unrestricted free-agent defenseman would welcome a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before Weekes’ report of Zadorov’s request broke, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox and The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel included him among three Flames defensemen they felt the Leafs should target in the trade market. The others were Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, who are also slated to become UFAs next summer.

They agree that Hanifin would be the most expensive to acquire. He and Tanev also have modified no-trade clauses with Hanifin having an eight-team no-trade list and Tanev having 10 teams on his.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cited a source saying Zadorov would welcome a trade to the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bidding war! Well, that’s what the Flames will hope for given Zadorov’s lack of no-trade protection and his reasonable $3.75 million cap hit for this season. They’ll ship him to the team that will give them the best return.

THE ATHLETIC: Julian McKenzie wonders what the Flames’ asking price will be for Zadorov. Given the club’s intent to get younger and their need for speed and skill, McKenzie speculates they could obtain draft picks or a young prospect for Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils’ deep prospect pool gives them an advantage over the Leafs in that regard. Cap space, however, will be a sticking point for both clubs.

The Flames might have to retain salary or take back a player with a comparable cap hit to make this work for the Leafs or Devils. It’ll be interesting to see if other clubs get into the bidding here.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently observed that the San Jose Sharks had hoped pending UFAs Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair and Kevin Labanc would be of interest to playoff contenders as trade-deadline rentals. However, they’re off to terrible starts and would have zero value at the moment.

If the Flames felt their season was salvageable, Duhatschek wondered if they might acquire Duclair and reunite him with Jonathan Huberdeau. The duo developed some offensive chemistry during their time with the Florida Panthers.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller reported Sharks general manager Mike Grier wasn’t worried about the trade value of those on expiring contracts. “I think all those guys have a pretty good track record of who they are and producing and things like that,” he said.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli noted that the Sharks need to figure out where high-price forwards like Tomas Hertl and captain Logan Couture fit into the club’s future.

Seravalli noted there will only be room to move one of them if they need to retain salary to facilitate a trade. They only have one salary-retention spot left after using two of them on Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. Servalli speculates that Hertl could generate more interest than Couture.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication Hertl and/or Couture want out of San Jose. However, Grier said back in September that he would listen if they asked to be moved and explore that option if it made sense for the team.

The most likely trade candidates remain those pending free agents. Of those three, Duclair has the most value given his 31-goal season in 2021-22 and his solid performance during the Panthers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2023

An update on the speculation linking Canucks winger Conor Garland to the Predators, pondering the possibility of a contract extension for Devils goalie Akira Schmid, and the latest on the Sharks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher weighed in on a Saturday report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman linking the Predators to Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland.

Friedman said the Predators were among a handful of teams (including the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets) said to be interested in Garland. The Canucks gave permission last week to the 27-year-old winger’s agent to speak with other clubs regarding a trade.

Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland (NHL Images).

Gallagher points out that Garland’s agent Judd Moldaver also represents Predators captain Roman Josi. Friedman also said that the Canucks would want a defenseman in return, prompting Gallagher to suggest that Tyson Barrie, Alex Carrier, Dante Fabbro and Jeremy Lauzon are four NHL-level options who could help the Canucks immediately.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have a pressing need for depth in right-side, right-shot defensemen. Barrie, Carrier and Fabbro could address that issue for them. However, moving one of them could leave the Predators thin on the right side of their blueline unless they’ve got a suitable replacement they can promote from the minors.

Friedman also indicated that the Canucks want to free up between $1 million and $2 million in a Garland trade in order to gain some cap flexibility this season. Barrie’s $4.5 million cap hit it too close to Garland’s $4.95 million. Carrier and Fabbro would be better financial options for the Canucks as they’re each earning $2.5 million on one-year contracts.


NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating on Monday whether New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald is working on a contract extension for Akira Schmid. The 23-year-old goaltender is in the final season of his entry-level contract.

NJ.com’s Ryan Novozinsky reported Schmid’s agent Allain Roy said contract talks have not started yet. Nichols also got the same story when he spoke with Roy

Nichols acknowledged that things could change quickly. He also suggested that a new contract for Schmid could put an end to the recent talk of Fitzgerald monitoring the goalie trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald doesn’t have to rush into signing Schmid, whose rights belong to the Devils after this season. He could be evaluating the young goalie’s performance over the course of this season before initiating those discussions.


THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently listed 10 questions the San Jose Sharks must answer after their season opener. Among them was who GM Mike Grier might move before the March 8 trade deadline.

Stephens noted the Sharks have eight players eligible to become unrestricted free agents next July. They include forwards Alexander Barabanov, Anthony Duclair, Mike Hoffman and Kevin Labanc as well as goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. He believes they could factor into future trade discussions if they perform well this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair and Barabonov would draw the most interest and the best returns for the Sharks. Both indicated their interest in re-signing with the Sharks but they could have more value as trade chips this season.

Hoffman is a one-dimensional 33-year-old scoring forward whose production has been in decline over the last three seasons. Labanc, 27, has struggled since reaching a career-best 56 points in 2018-19 and was a healthy scratch in their first two games of this season.

Once considered a future starting goalie, the 27-year-old Kahkonen has had difficulty filling that role with the Sharks and the Minnesota Wild before them.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2023

A look at questions facing several Pacific Division teams in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently looked at the biggest question facing each team in the Pacific Division.

Among them was whether the Calgary Flames would make any major trades before training camp opens later next month. The expectation is defenseman Noah Hanifin will be dealt at some point. There’s less certainty about center Elias Lindholm but it wouldn’t be a shock if the Flames moved him before summer ends.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanifin, Lindholm and center Mikael Backlund are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

Hanifin has reportedly informed Flames management that he intends to test next summer’s UFA market. There are reports the Flames and Lindholm’s camp are discussing an extension but no word as to whether progress has been made. A new contract for Lindholm could lead to one for Backlund.

Dixon wondered if the Los Angeles Kings might pursue another goaltender. He suspects that move might come during the season if the current tandem of Pheonix Copley and Cam Talbot aren’t up to snuff. Dixon isn’t sure if they could land Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, in part because it would take some salary-cap gymnastics by the Kings to pull it off.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with this assessment. Kings general manager Rob Blake could be forced into the trade market if Copley and Talbot can’t get the job done.

The Kings have plenty of promising young players to draw on for trade bait and a recent trade history with the Jets. However, Blake could ask the Jets to retain half of Hellebuyck’s $6.166 million salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade or try to swing a three-team deal to spread it around.

Turning to the San Jose Sharks, Dixon wondered if offseason acquisitions such as Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund and Jan Rutta end up getting flipped to other clubs.

Duclair, 28, could be part of the Sharks’ future but the others are over 30 and probably won’t figure into their long-range plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of that group, Duclair has the best trade value and would fetch the biggest return. That will depend on whether he wants to re-sign with the rebuilding Sharks or test next summer’s free-agent market. If it’s the latter, he’ll be used as a bargaining chip near the March trade deadline by the Sharks.

Dixon also took note of Elias Pettersson putting contract extension talks on hold with the Vancouver Canucks to focus on preparing for the coming season. He wondered if Pettersson might change his mind once he’s back in North America.

Dixon also wondered if frequent trade-rumor subject Brock Boeser gets moved before training camp begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson’s remarks prompted at least one pundit to suggest the club he covers at least look into whether a trade can be done for the 24-year-old center. Considering his value to the retooling Canucks, I doubt it.

Pettersson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. If a new contract isn’t agreed to by then, the Canucks are under no pressure to move him as they’ll still retain his rights.

As for Boeser, he made it clear at the end of last season that he wants to stay with the Canucks. There’s no indication they intend to move him. That could change over the course of the season but for now, I expect him to be part of their roster when the schedule begins in October.