NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2022

Check out the latest speculation on the Hurricanes and Blues offseason plans in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE HURRICANES?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski noted the Carolina Hurricanes have several key free agents to deal with this summer. Forwards Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck and Max Domi and defensemen Ian Cole and Brendan Smith are due to become unrestricted free agents. Forward Martin Necas and blueliners Ethan Bear and Tony DeAngelo are restricted free agents.

Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck (NHL Images).

Wyshynski observed that Trocheck tends to be inconsistent. DeAngelo, meanwhile, led their defensemen with 51 points in 64 games after signing a one-year, $1 million contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander pointed out that Necas’ erratic third NHL season raises questions over where he fits into the Hurricanes’ plans. Bear, meanwhile, was a healthy scratch throughout this postseason.

Luke DeCock also weighed in on the difficult decisions facing Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell, with what to do with DeAngelo and Niederreiter topping the list. He felt Trocheck’s departure via free agency and cutting bait with Necas should be easier. DeCock also noted coach Rod Brind’Amour’s comment about the Hurricanes lacking elite goal scorers.

THE ATHLETIC: Sara Civian suggested Waddell explore the “elite goal scorer” market this summer. She pointed out the Hurricanes lacked a scorer in the top-20 this season despite being among the NHL’s best teams. Their scoring leader was Sebastian Aho, whose 81 points placed him 30th overall in the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes have $19.375 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 14 players under contract. Not everyone among those key free agents will be back, especially if Waddell and team owner Tom Dundon decide to pursue a scoring forward this summer.

Maybe they’ll try to sign Colorado’s Nazem Kadri if they let Trocheck walk. Perhaps they’ll pursue Kevin Fiala if the Minnesota Wild decides to shop the pending RFA winger.

I think they’ll bring DeAngelo back after his bounce-back performance this season. Trading Necas could be a mistake but he could be packaged with a draft pick or prospect to land a more established scorer.

LATEST ON THE BLUES

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong doesn’t believe his roster needs major changes after falling in the second round to the Colorado Avalanche. With a number of key players under contract, he felt his team is in a good position for next season.

Armstrong acknowledged the salary cap will affect efforts to re-sign key UFAs David Perron, Ville Husso and Nick Leddy. Still, he believes there’s sufficient time to work things out. He also said he’s not worried about Vladimir Tarasenko returning next season despite last summer’s reports about a trade request. He praised the winger’s bounce-back performance this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reported Perron said he’d love to be back with the Blues, though he declined to speak about his contract situation publicly. Armstrong also indicated he’d like to bring the 34-year-old winger back, citing his ability to still elevate his play despite his age.

Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly can sign a contract extension this summer. He said he absolutely wants to remain in St. Louis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perron earned $4 million annually on his current contract and could return for the same cap hit on a two- or three-year deal. Leddy was a good fit with the Blues after joining them in a late-season trade. However, the 31-year-old defenseman will have to accept a pay cut from his $5.5 million to stick in St. Louis.

Husso made just $700k this season so he’s going to get a significant raise despite his postseason struggles. He could cash in on the free-agent market if he wants more playing time as a starter.

Tarasenko hasn’t publicly said he’s changed his mind about a trade but I’d say Armstrong’s comments are a strong indication he won’t be shopped this summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2022

The Rangers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, plus the latest on the Lightning, Oilers, Avalanche and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals after eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes with a 6-2 victory in Game 7 of their second-round series. Chris Kreider scored twice, Mika Zibanejad collected three assists and Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves for the Rangers.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).

Vincent Trocheck and Max Domi replied for the Hurricanes, who lost goaltender Antti Raanta and winger Seth Jarvis to injuries. Raanta left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury after stretching out to make a save. Jarvis was sidelined with an upper-body injury in the first period by a hit from Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominant performance by the Rangers, who took an early 2-0 lead and never looked back. They earned this thanks to outstanding goaltending from Shesterkin, solid special teams play, timely offense from their leading scorers and a playoff-leading 236 blocked shots.

The Hurricanes entered this series with starting goaltender Frederik Andersen sidelined since mid-April by a lower-body injury. However, his absence was just one of several reasons why they failed to defeat the Rangers. They couldn’t win on the road, their power-play sputtered and their leading scorers such as Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen failed to deliver.

THE ATHLETIC’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse skated with their Edmonton Oilers teammates in practice on Monday. It was Draisaitl’s first practice since suffering an injury in Game 6 of the first round while Nurse had skipped most recent practices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl is believed to have a high-ankle sprain but you’d never know it by his performance. He set an NHL record in the second round by tallying the most assists (15) in a single playoff round.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of the Oilers, an NHL insider said there was no truth to a report claiming the club had some “COVID-related travel issues” getting to Colorado on Sunday. The Oilers face the Avalanche in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday.

THE DENVER POST: On the eve of the Western Conference Finals, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic is earning praise for sticking with center Nazem Kadri and head coach Jared Bednar. Kadri earned suspensions in recent postseasons while Bednar faced criticism for his inability to get his club beyond the second round.

NHL.COM: Brandon Hagel missed his third straight practice on Sunday. However, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper believes the forward will be ready for Game 1 against the Rangers on Wednesday.

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon had core muscle surgery and will be back at full strength in six weeks. Winger Mats Zuccarello is facing similar surgery plus he had a leg fracture that will heal with rest.

CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom denied his struggles against the Oilers in the second round were injury-related.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: The Vancouver Canucks have added Mike Komisarek and Mikael Samuelsson to their player development department. Meanwhile, Henrik and Daniel Sedin will be working daily with the Canucks’ young players in Vancouver and with their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2022

The Hurricanes and Rangers prepare for Game 7 in their second-round series, Jason Spezza retires, plus the latest on the Avalanche, Oilers, Lightning and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers have the heart and fortitude to pick up their first road win in their second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. He also believes the club’s identity stems from goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who has garnered a growing edge over the Hurricanes’ Antti Raanta as this series progresses.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin sees no point in dwelling on his club’s loss in Game 6 when they have a good opportunity in front of them in Game 7. “Looking back at the Boston series, no one really talks about the fact we lost three on the road. You talks about the fact we won the series,” said Slavin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes haven’t won on the road in this postseason but they’ve also never lost on home ice. If that trend continues, they’ll defeat the Rangers tonight and advance to meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza has announced his retirement (NHL Images).

On the other hand, the Rangers’ have ridden Shesterkin’s solid goaltending and a never-say-die attitude to push the favored Hurricanes to a seventh and deciding game in this series. They could pull off the upset if Shesterkin continues to shine and Raanta struggles as he did in Game 6.

TORONTO SUN: Jason Spezza announced his retirement on Sunday after 19 seasons as an NHL player to become a special assistant to Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Duba. Spezza spent the past three seasons with the Leafs. He began his career with the Ottawa Senators in 2002-03, spending 11 seasons with them before moving on to the Dallas Stars for five seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Spezza in his new role. His best seasons were with the Senators, helping them become one of the dominant clubs in the league between 2002-03 to 2007-08, culminating in reaching the 2007 Stanley Cup Final.

Spezza holds the Senators’ single-season record with 71 assists (2005-06) and tallied 87-plus points in three seasons between 2005-06 and 2007-08. He is second all-time among Senators scorers with 251 goals, 436 assists and 687 points.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Leon Draisaitl was a dominant force in the Edmonton Oilers’ second-round victory over the Calgary Flames. He set an NHL record for most assists in a playoff series with 15 and accomplished this while playing with a suspected ankle injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl’s accomplishments have been overshadowed by the scoring of Connor McDavid and Evander Kane. With the focus on those two, he’s been able to thrive with his playmaking skills.

THE DENVER POST: Bo Byram has established himself as the Colorado Avalanche’s No. 3 defenseman in this postseason, filling in for the sidelined Samuel Girard after he suffered a season-ending sternum injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a difficult season for Byram as he’s had to battle back from concussion symptoms that limited him to just 30 games during the regular season. Finally healthy, he’s showing the skills that enticed the Avalanche to select him fourth overall in the 2019 draft.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Still awaiting the winner of the Hurricanes-Rangers series, the Lightning are simulating games in practice in anticipation of the start of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long layoff gives the Lightning’s banged-up players an opportunity to heal and return to action. However, the downside of that layoff is the risk of getting stale from a lack of serious game action. We’ll find out on Wednesday how much of an effect it’ll have on the Lightning’s performance.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Top NHL prospect Shane Wright will meet with the Canadiens at this week’s NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo. After that, he’ll be flown to New Jersey to meet with the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens hold the first-overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft and are expected to select Wright. However, the Devils must be prepared in case the Habs choose someone else.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz interviewed with the Red Wings regarding their vacant bench boss position. He’s also met with the Winnipeg Jets, Philadelphia Flyers and Vegas Golden Knights. Trotz has reportedly told those interested clubs he won’t make his decision until he’s sure it’s the right one for himself and his family.

SPORTSNET: Vegas Golden Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit recently underwent hip surgery. The club is hopeful he’ll be available for the start of next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2022

The Rangers defeated the Hurricanes to force Game 7 of their second-round series, plus the latest on the Oilers, Avalanche, Lightning and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: There will be a seventh and deciding game between the Carolina Hurricane and New York Rangers.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).

Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves and collected two assists to backstop New York to a 5-2 victory over Carolina in Game 6 on Saturday night. Filip Chytil tallied twice and Adam Fox picked up two assists for the Rangers. Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta got the hook after giving up three goals on 13 shots. With the series tied at three games apiece, Game 7 goes Monday, May 30 at 8 pm ET.

The Rangers also got an unexpected boost as versatile checking-line forward Barclay Goodrow returned to the lineup. He’s missed the last 11 games with a suspected ankle fracture.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shesterkin also received a minor penalty for interference. With the win and the assists, he had what one pundit called a “Tom Barrasso hat trick.” He’s been outstanding for the Rangers in this series, frustrating the Hurricanes’ leading scorers.

The Hurricanes’ road woes in this postseason continued in Game 6. While they’ve been unbeaten on home ice in these playoffs, there’s a good chance that streak could end on Monday if Raanta has another shaky performance and Shesterkin remains on top of his game.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: As Connor McDavid prepares for his first-ever Conference Finals, the Oilers’ captain acknowledged the need for everyone on his club to step up. “It takes everybody. Everybody up and down the lineup and all the people behind the scenes. The staff and everybody. It takes an absolute army. That’s the mentality we have,” said McDavid.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche’s roster depth was crucial to the club’s second-round victory over the St. Louis Blues. It could take a bigger role as they face off against the Oilers in the Western Conference Finals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series is being hyped as a showdown between McDavid and Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon. Roster depth, however, will make the difference here. The Avs certainly made the most of theirs to overcome the Blues. The Oilers also got contributions throughout their lineup thus far though they were overshadowed by the offensive exploits of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane.

Goaltending could determine the outcome of this series. The Oilers’ Mike Smith and the Avs’ Darcy Kuemper have given up questionable goals but also rose to the occasion with crucial saves. It’ll be interesting to see whether that trend carries over in this upcoming series.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point is said to be progressing in his recovery from a leg injury suffered in the opening round that sidelined him for the entire second-round series with the Florida Panthers. Head coach Jon Cooper believes Point is closer to playing in round three than he was in the previous round. However, Cooper could offer no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Point’s absence didn’t adversely affect the Lightning in their second-round sweep of the Panthers. However, they could use the proven postseason performer as they face what could be tougher competition in the Hurricanes or Rangers in the next round.

THE SCORE: Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev said he played Games 5 and 6 against the Oilers with a dislocated shoulder. He suffered the injury in Game 6 of their first-round series with the Dallas Stars. Tanev will undergo surgery this week and will require four-to-six months of recovery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what NHL players are prepared to physically endure to skate in the Stanley Cup playoffs boggles the mind.

SPORTSNET’s Eric Francis reported Flames winger Milan Lucic played with a sprained ACL. Nikita Zadorov had two broken ribs, Andrew Mangiapane had a bad wrist and Matthew Tkachuk had an injured hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another reminder that if an NHL player seems to be “underperforming”, it’s sometimes because they’re trying to play through a serious injury that’s hampering their efforts.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson suffered a fractured foot playing for Sweden on May 15 at the IIHF World Championships in Finland. He will require four-to-six weeks of recovery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson missed two games but returned to play against Canada in the quarterfinals. The Canadians eliminated the Swedes in that game.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2022

The Avalanche advance over the Blues to the Western Conference Finals, the latest on the Hurricanes and Rangers, Brad Marchand is sidelined by hip surgery and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 20 years with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of their second-round series. J.T. Compher scored twice and Darren Helm snapped a 2-2 tie with 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation time. Justin Faulk and Jordan Kyrou scored for the Blues.

Colorado Avalanche forward J.T. Compher (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a nail-biting, tight-checking contest that seemed headed to overtime until Helm’s goal in the dying seconds of the third period. The Avalanche are 5-0 on the road in this postseason and will face the Edmonton Oilers in the Conference Finals.

This was a disappointing end to a better-than-anticipated season for the Blues. They finished third overall in the Central Division with 109 points and defeated the Minnesota Wild in the opening round. Their potential offseason moves will be examined in today’s Rumor Mill update.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant expressed confidence in his struggling stars Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider heading into Game 6 tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. “They’re character players, they’ll do it for us. They’ve done it for us all year,” said Gallant.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Speaking of the Hurricanes, they’ll need more from sniper Andrei Svechnikov. He was scoreless in six games until tallying a crucial goal during Game 5 against the Rangers on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers need Panarin and Kreider at their best to avoid elimination on home ice tonight in Game 6. Meanwhile, Svechnikov’s goal-scoring skills will be vital for the Hurricanes to pick up their first road win of the postseason and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

NHL.COM: The Western Conference Finals between the Avalanche and Oilers begin Tuesday, May 31 at 8 pm ET. The Eastern Conference Finals start on Wednesday, June 1 at 8 pm ET between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the winner of the Hurricanes-Rangers series.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Brad Marchand underwent surgery to repair labral tears in both hips and will require six months to recover.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means the Bruins will be without Marchand for the first two months of 2022-23. They’ll also be without defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to start the season as he recently underwent shoulder surgery.

THE PROVINCE: Duke Boeser, father of Vancouver Canucks star Brock Boeser, passed away Friday at age 61 following a long battle with cancer and dementia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Boeser and his family.

CHEK-TV’s Rick Dhaliwal reports Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev played with a torn labrum, a separated shoulder and a sprained neck in the final two games of his club’s playoff series with the Oilers. He’s slated to undergo surgery next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lengths NHL players will go to play through pain in the postseason never ceases to amaze me. Here’s hoping Tanev makes a full recovery.

MLIVE.COM: Check out the trailer for ESPN’s upcoming documentary on the Avalanche-Red Wings rivalry from 1996 to 2002.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was one of the greatest rivalries in NHL history and certainly among the best I’ve witnessed. The intensity of the games and the hatred between the two teams were off the charts.

SPORTSNET: A change to a Michigan insurance law means Vladimir Konstantinov and thousand of others who suffered serious traffic-related injuries could lose their round-the-clock medical care.

Konstantinov suffered career-ending and life-changing brain injuries from a limousine crash in 1997 and requires constant care at home. The change to the law and the high costs of his home care could force him to be put into an institution where restraints or medication would be required to keep him safe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings and the NHLPA are reportedly looking into ways to maintain Konstantinov’s home care. Here’s hoping they can work something out for him. At least he has a wealthy hockey club and a players’ union to help him. The other Michigan residents facing the same predicament won’t have that option.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2022

The Oilers eliminate the Flames, the Hurricanes push the Rangers to the brink of elimination, updates on the Avalanche and Blues and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers are heading to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 16 years. Connor McDavid’s overtime goal gave the Oilers a 5-4 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 5 to take their best-of-seven second-round series four games to one.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Edmonton overcame a 2-0 deficit and held a 3-2 lead before Calgary battled back to regain the lead 4-3. Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard tied the game 4-4 late in the second period. Flames forward Blake Coleman appeared to score the go-ahead goal late in the third but it was overruled on a controversial video review claiming he kicked the puck into the net.

Leon Drasaitl collected four assists while Zach Hyman had a goal and two assists for the Oilers. Coleman had two assists, Mikael Backlund had a goal and an assist and Johnny Gaudreau scored for the Flames.

The Oilers await the winner of the Colorado Avalanche-St. Louis Blues series. Game 6 of that series is tonight with the Avalanche up three games to two.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t have a dog in this fight but that didn’t look like a kicking motion on Coleman’s part. His skate made contact with the pick but there was incidental contact by an Oilers defenseman as Coleman was heading toward the net. Just my two cents. The league’s video review folks believed differently.

While that disallowed goal cost the Flames this game, their sloppy defensive play and uncharacteristic shaky goaltending from Jacob Markstrom throughout this series led to their postseason demise. They struggled to contain Edmonton’s offense, especially McDavid and Draisaitl. Had they won this game, I doubt they would’ve gone on to take the series.

The Carolina Hurricanes have the New York Rangers on the brink of elimination following a 3-1 victory in Game 5 of their second-round series. Teuvo Teravainen snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period while Andrei Svechnikov’s third-period goal put the game out of reach. The Hurricanes can advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win in Game 6 on Saturday in New York.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have yet to win a road game in this postseason but they’ve been dominating on home ice. They outshot the Rangers 34-17, controlled this game at even strength, scored on the power play and shorthanded, and apart from Mika Zibanejad’s goal overwhelmed the Rangers’ top line. If they can carry over that effort into Game 6, they’ll have a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning starting next week.

HEADLINE

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche hope to avoid a Game 7 when they face off against the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of their second-round series tonight. Head coach Jared Bednar believes his club will put their blown lead in Game 5 behind them and play with confidence in tonight’s contest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche dominated the first 40 minutes of Game 5 but took their foot off the gas and tried to protect their lead in the third period. That enabled the Blues to rally back twice, setting the stage for their dramatic overtime victory.

TSN: Don’t expect St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug to return to action in tonight’s game. He’s been sidelined by a lower-body injury since Game 3 of their first-round series with the Minnesota Wild. Blues coach Craig Berube indicated Krug would also be out for Game 7 if this series goes that far.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin has changed agents, hiring Pat Brisson to negotiate his next contract. Larkin is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. The Wings can sign him to a contract extension on July 13.

SPORTSNET: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Durzi underwent successful shoulder surgery. He’s expected to be ready for the start of the 2022-23 season.

The Geneve-Servette Hockey Club signed former NHL defenseman Sami Vatanen to a two-year contract and former NHL forward Valtteri Filppula to a one-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, don’t expect either guy to be signing with NHL teams this summer as free agents.