Sense or Nonsense – Early NHL Rumors of Coaching Changes
The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Kyle Turris, Jake Muzzin and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST TSN “INSIDER TRADING”
TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s a growing sense of optimism that Dustin Byfuglien could return to the Winnipeg Jets. There’s still no guarantee or timeline for the big defenseman’s return. Byfuglien would be a welcome addition to the Jets’ struggling blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will give Byfuglien the time and space he needs to reach a decision. You can bet they’re hoping his return comes sooner rather than later.
Bob McKenzie believes it’s worth watching Kyle Turris’ situation with the Nashville Predators. The 30-year-old center is earning $6 million annually with five seasons remaining on his contract but he’s also seeing fourth-line minutes. McKenzie doesn’t think it’s any secret general manager David Poile was trying to move Turris this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Turris’ reduced ice time he has four points in six games this season. That puts him on a 54-point pace and could make him attractive to clubs in need of depth at center ice. That hefty cap hit, however, could make Turris difficult to move. Poile doesn’t pick up part of a player’s salary to facilitate a deal but he might have to break with that tradition in this case.
Pierre LeBrun believes the Toronto Maple Leafs could find it challenging to re-sign Jake Muzzin. The 30-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
LeBrun said there have been no contract discussions, in part because the Leafs were focused on re-signing their restricted free agents this summer. Blueliners Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci are also slated for UFA status. LeBrun thinks the Leafs want to take some time to evaluate and prioritize those rearguards. They can’t afford to re-sign all three and might not be able to re-sign two of them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have over $65.5 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. Muzzin and Barrie could cost at least a combined $13 million to re-sign. That won’t leave much for the rest of the roster. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas did a good job juggling his limited salary cap space this summer. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pull it off again.
LeBrun and McKenzie reported the struggling Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils will remain patient with their respective head coaches. Speculation arose in recent days over the future of Wild coach Bruce Boudreau and Devils bench boss John Hynes, with false reports yesterday claiming Hynes was fired. Dreger also noted the Dallas Stars have stumbled from the gate but there’s no sense of panic coming from the front office or the coaching staff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hynes could feel the heat much sooner than the others. Expectations were high following the summer’s acquisitions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and promising Jack Hughes. Many observers predicted they would be a playoff contender. If they don’t turn things around soon, calls for Hynes’ firing will grow among Devils followers.
Updates on the Devils, Oilers, and Penguins in today’s NHL Sunday rumor roundup.
FATE OF DEVILS’ HALL AND HYNES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils’ slow start has some observers wondering how patient they’ll be with Taylor Hall. The 27-year-old winger could become the big fish in next summer’s free-agent pond.
Friedman speculates rival general managers could start calling Devils GM Ray Shero about his plans if he can’t re-sign Hall. However, he feels it’s far too early for Shero to consider shopping the winger.
Colleague Chris Johnston said there hasn’t been much contract talk lately between the two sides. He feels it’s an ongoing process but doesn’t dismiss the possibility of an extension being dependent upon the outcome of this season.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests the Devils’ sluggish start could put head coach John Hynes on the hot seat. While Shero is a loyal and patient general manager, there’s a sense of urgency this season. Brooks thinks Scott Stevens might make a good replacement for Hynes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation over Hall’s future has been ongoing since the summer. The longer he goes unsigned the more conjecture will arise over his status with the Devils. I agree with Johnston that this season’s outcome could be a determining factor.
Given the Devils’ big off-season additions and Hall’s pending free-agent status, Hynes must quickly find a way to get his club on the winning side of the ledger or he’ll end up paying the price. A few wins in the Devils’ upcoming games will turn down much of that heat.
LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
Johnston reports Jesse Puljujarvi is comfortable with spending the season in Finland. The 21-year-old restricted free agent winger is waiting for the Edmonton Oilers to honor his trade request. The Oilers have until Dec. 1 to sign him or trade him to a club that will sign him. Otherwise, he’ll be ineligible for the rest of his NHL season.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports there’s some talk the Oilers could have interest in Carolina Hurricanes winger Julien Gauthier, who saw fourth-line duty against Columbus on Saturday. His waiver-exempt status could also make him an attractive trade option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Should the Oilers continue playing well leading up to Dec. 1 they won’t be under any pressure to move Puljujarvi. If a suitable return isn’t found they’ll let him spend the season in Finland and try signing or trading him next summer.
Unless the Oilers are willing to offer up something worthwhile, Hurricanes GM Don Waddell has no reason to trade Gauthier. Like the Oilers, the Canes are off to a great start and Waddell’s not facing pressure to swing a deal right now.
NO SUITABLE DEALS YET FOR THE PENGUINS
Friedman reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is willing to deal from his blueline depth for a forward. However, he hasn’t found anything worthwhile in the trade market. He’s not interested in moving his 2020 first-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford will remain patient while Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad recover from their injuries. If there’s nothing suitable in the trade market he’s got little choice but to wait for his two sidelined centers to return.
Game recaps, Devils re-sign coach John Hynes, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov became the second player in Tampa Bay Lightning history to record seven consecutive multi-point games as he led his club to a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Kucherov (one goal, three assists) joined Vincent Lecavalier, who holds the club record with eight straight multi-point contests. The Lightning also extended their points streak (15-0-1) to 16 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov is on an incredible roll right now. With 69 points, he has a seven-point lead in the NHL scoring race and is on pace for a career-high 138 points.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price returned to action with a 33-save shutout performance in a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Price had missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Canucks rookie star Elias Pettersson left the game with an apparent right leg injury after getting tangled up with Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, were playing without winger Andrew Shaw after placing him on injured reserve with a neck injury. Earlier in the day, the Canucks placed recently acquired goalie Mike McKenna on waivers for the purpose of sending him to their AHL affiliate in Utica.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The good news for Pettersson is he was walking under his own power following the game, suggesting his injury might not be serious. An update on his status could be made later today.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th goal of the season in a 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues, marking the third win in the last five games for the struggling Blues. St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin became just the second player in NHL history to begin his NHL career with 14 consecutive 30-goal seasons. Hall-of-Famer Mike Gartner holds the record with 15 seasons.
The Minnesota Wild overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 on a goal by Zach Parise. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs while teammate William Nylander potted his first goal of the season.
Boston Bruins forwards Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk each scored twice to lead their club to a 6-4 victory over the Calgary Flames, giving the Bruins their third straight win.
New York Islanders rookie Devon Toews’ first NHL goal was a memorable one, netting the winner in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Mathew Barzal also scored twice for the Islanders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Devon Toews is not related to Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Playing without sidelined captain Jack Eichel (day-to-day, upper-body injury), the Buffalo Sabres held off the Florida Panthers 4-3. Jeff Skinner led the way for the Sabres with two goals.
Winger Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and set up another as the Carolina Hurricanes held on for a 5-3 win over the floundering Philadelphia Flyers.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed head coach John Hynes to a multi-year contract extension. General manager Ray Shero cited Hynes’ leadership in rebuilding the club’s culture and development.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby surprised a New York Rangers fan who chirped him throughout his club’s 7-2 loss to the Penguins with an autographed stick and a message, “Good chirps. Take it easy on me next time!”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to one fan sitting nearby, one of the chips was, “Sid, when Gatorade was looking for a spokesman, they wanted someone tough and they considered you but signed Justin Bieber instead.” Now, that is pro-level chirping worthy of an autographed stick.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars captain Jamie Benn is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after a hit from New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood on Wednesday.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz was placed on injured reserve and is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Prior to the injury, Schmaltz had 14 points in 17 games since joining the Coyotes in a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks.
LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Anaheim Ducks prospect Max Comtois was the target of cyberbullying after failing to score on a penalty shot during Canada’s 2-1 tournament-ending loss to Finland in the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championships.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Comtois has received an outpouring of support for the class and dignity he’s shown in the face of those disgusting comments left on his Instagram account, some of which were bigoted slurs calling for the youngster to die. Those few morons were not true hockey fans. They’re sad, pathetic losers who hide behind a keyboard to make themselves feel tough.