New Jersey Devils defenseman Ryan Graves (NHL Images)
Portzline suggested the Boston Bruins’ Dmitry Orlov, New Jersey Devils’ Ryan Graves, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin or Dmitri Kulikov, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ian Cole or even perhaps Gavrikov as potential free-agent targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline listed his pros and cons of each defenseman. In my opinion, Orlov or Graves would be the best options. Gavrikov, too, if he doesn’t find any lucrative offers via free agency. Cole, Dumoulin and Kulikov are aging with the latter two hampered by injuries in recent years.
On Sept. 10, the Kings signed Anderson, 23, to an eight-year contract with an average annual cap hit of $4.125 million. A month later, the Sabres inked the 23-year-old Samuelsson to a seven-year deal with an AAV of $4.285 million.
Maxwell believes these two are examples of how defensive blueliners have evolved over the past decade into better all-around rearguards. He noted that teams often failed to recognize the value of such defensemen until later in their careers.
There is risk involved for the Sabres and Kings investing in Samuelsson and Anderson based on their limited NHL careers thus far. However, they’re confident in their evaluations of both players that they’re willing to invest long-term in them on affordable contracts during their playing prime.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granted, this isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but I think Maxwell’s on to something here. Eyebrows were raised briefly when Anderson and Samuelsson signed those contracts but they’ve since been forgotten as the focus shifted to other free-agent stories over the course of the season.
There is always a risk involved for a team to invest long-term dollars in any promising player who hasn’t yet reached their projected potential. If it works, however, the Sabres and Kings will each have a very good defensive blueliner on a cost-effective contract until they reach their early-30s.
Other general managers could attempt similar moves with comparable defensemen during this summer. It could be worth following York’s contract negotiations with the Flyers to see if they do the same thing.
Penguins star Evgeni Malkin reaches a points milestone, Vladimir Tarasenko scored in his Rangers debut, the latest on Patrick Kane and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin collected two assists to become the third player in franchise history to reach 1,200 career points in a 6-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Pierre-Olivier Joseph scored twice and collected an assist as the Penguins (26-16-9) vaulted over the Washington Capitals into the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 61 points. Mason McTavish had a goal and an assist for the Ducks as they dropped to 17-30-6.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Ducks placed winger Troy Terry (upper body) on injured reserve.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored in his debut with the New York Rangers as they picked up their fourth straight win by down the Seattle Kraken 6-3. Vincent Trocheck, Kaapo Kakko and Ryan Lindgren each had a goal and an assist for the Rangers, who improved to 30-14-8 (68 points) and sit four points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Vince Dunn each had two points for the 29-18-5 Kraken as they dropped their third straight game and slipped to third place in the Pacific Division with 63 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As expected, Tarasenko skated on the Rangers’ top line alongside Mika Zibanejad (who also scored in this contest) and Artemi Panarin (one assist). He indicated that he received no contract offer from the Blues prior to the trade to the Rangers.
Meanwhile, the Kraken and the Edmonton Oilers have identical records. However, the latter moved into second place in the Pacific with 27 regulation wins.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov turned in a 30-save shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. John Tavares scored twice for the 32-13-8 Leafs (72 points) as they widened their lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division by four points. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 38 shots for the Blue Jackets (15-33-4) as they remain mired at the bottom of the overall standings.
An overtime goal by Caleb Jones lifted the Chicago Blackhawks over the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 4-3. Andreas Athanasiou had a goal and two assists for the 16-29-5 Blackhawks. Coyotes forward Clayton Keller also had a goal and two assists as his club dropped to 17-30-6.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane wasn’t pleased when he heard that the Rangers acquired Vladimir Tarasenko on Thursday. “It’s not like the happiest I’ve been to hear about a trade,” he said. Kane indicated the Rangers were a team he was interested in if he was going to be traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s comments are an indication that he’s leaning toward accepting a trade before the March 3 deadline. He and teammate Jonathan Toews are reportedly supposed to make a decision by mid-February whether they’ll waive their no-movement clauses. It sounds like Kane already has a list of preferred trade destinations with the Rangers probably at the top.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond could miss Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks after suffering a lower-body injury during practice on Friday. Defenseman Jake Walman is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ian Cole was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Colorado Avalanche forward Andrew Cogliano during Thursday’s game.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Jordan Harris to a two-year, $2.8 million contract extension. The average annual value is $1.4 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens followers went on social media suggesting this was more than what Harris deserved. Perhaps they initially confused that $2.8 million as his new annual cap hit. On his current two-year contract (entry-level), the 22-year-old blueliner is earning an AAV of $842,500 (not counting performance bonuses). $1.4 million is a reasonable raise.
LA HOCKEY NOW: The Kings signed goalie Pheonix Copley to a one-year, $1.5 million contract extension.
TSN: The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Josh Mahura to a one-year, one-way contract extension. Cap Friendly indicates his new deal is worth $925K.
Game recaps, the league finds no evidence to support anonymous allegations against Ian Cole, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby had his second straight three-point game to lead his Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tristan Jarry got the win with a 34-save performance while Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter each had two points for the Penguins. Lightning forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov each had two points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was also the second straight game that the Penguins scored six goals.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov turned aside 26 shots and Justin Holl snapped a 2-2 tie to nip the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist for the Senators. Samsonov got the start when Matt Murray suffered an adductor injury that will sideline him for four weeks. The Leafs recalled Erik Kallgren as Samsonov’s backup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It didn’t take long for Murray to be sidelined again, bringing into question the decision by general manager Kyle Dubas to acquire the oft-injured netminder this summer. The Leafs had better pray Samsonov remains healthy and plays well given their limited cap space and lack of depth in quality goalies within their system.
The Los Angeles Kings tamed the Minnesota Wild 7-6 on a third-period goal by Adrian Kempe, who finished the night with two goals and an assist. Anze Kopitar collected three assists while Kevin Fiala notched three points against his former team. Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists for the Wild, who pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after he gave up four goals on 14 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild overcame a 3-0 deficit and had tied the game at six before Kempe’s game-winning tally. It was a sloppy defensive contest for both clubs. Zuccarello didn’t mince words about his team’s performance. “Sometimes we play defense like we’re a f**king junior team. It’s the whole team. We have to sharpen up,” he said.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals while Pavel Buchnevich and Brayden Schenn each had two points as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist for the Jackets, who have dropped three straight to start the season.
The Calgary Flames got a three-point performance from defenseman Michael Stone and two points from Nazem Kadri as they held off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Connor McDavid scored a goal and Leon Draisaitl had two assists for the Oilers.
Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic turned aside 37 shots for the win. Devils captain Nico Hischier returned to the lineup after being sidelined by a hamstring injury during preseason play.
The Dallas Stars defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 5-1. Roope Hintz had two goals and an assist, Jason Robertson a goal and two assists while netminder Jake Oettinger kicked out 29 shots.
Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault tallied twice and Adin Hill made 31 saves to beat the Seattle Kraken 5-2. The Golden Knights have won three straight. Andre Burakovsky had two assists for the Kraken.
Boston Bruins winger A.J. Greer scored twice and set up another in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Charlie Coyle, Nick Foligno and Pavel Zacha each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who also lost defenseman Brandon Carlo in the first period to a possible head/concussion injury following a hit by Coyotes forward Liam O’Brien. Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins left the game with an upper-body injury.
Defensemen Robin Salo and Scott Mayfield each scored twice and Anders Lee collected three assists as the New York Islanders crushed the Anaheim Ducks 7-1. Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and Oliver Wahlstrom each had two points. Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck returned from injured reserve but Sebastian Aho went on IR with an upper-body injury.
The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 2-0 deficit to upset the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Travis Konecny scored the game-winner and assisted on Scott Laughton’s game-tying goal while Carter Hart made 28 saves for the win. Canucks defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game following the first period with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers are 2-0-0 while the Canucks have lost their first two games. Canucks star J.T. Miller is frustrated by his performance, acknowledging he’s been on the ice for all eight goals scored against his team thus far. Speaking of the Flyers, they placed winger Owen Tippett on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Three unanswered second-period goals by Conor Sheary, Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie lifted the Washington Capitals over the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. Oshie finished with two points. Nick Suzuki scored for the Canadiens, who remain scoreless in 10 power-play opportunities thus far this season.
The Florida Panthers held off the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist while Aleksander Barkov chipped in two assists. Alex Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.
Two second-period goals by Sam Lafferty helped the Chicago Blackhawks overcome a 2-0 deficit to down the San Jose Sharks 5-2. The Sharks have dropped four straight games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Sharks honored former general manager Doug Wilson, who stepped away from the role last season for health reasons.
NHL.COM: The league announced Saturday it had concluded its investigation into anonymous allegations of sexual assault on social media made against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole, finding no evidence to substantiate the allegations.
The league conducted two interviews with Cole as well as interviews with NHL club personnel and other individuals with potentially pertinent information. It conducted a detailed review of online and social media, public data, court records and law enforcement checks, as well as attempted to contact the source of the allegations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reaction to this report on social media has been mixed, with some claiming the league didn’t go far enough with its investigation, expressing skepticism over the findings or insisting they turn this over to the police. That’s understandable given Kyle Beach’s allegations that he was sexually assaulted by a former Chicago Blackhawks video coach were so poorly handled.
However, I don’t see this as sweeping it under the table. The league took the allegation seriously and suspended Cole with pay while conducting what appears to have been a thorough investigation.
I’m not saying the anonymous source shouldn’t be listened to or believed but if they’re unwilling to speak to the league or the police then there’s not really much else that can be done. Cole, meanwhile, will be reinstated but this incident has tarnished his personal life and reputation.
THE ATHLETIC’S Peter Baugh reports there’s still no timeline for Gabriel Landeskog’s return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup. He remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets head coach Rick Bowness hopes to return behind the bench on Wednesday. He’s currently sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.
SPORTSNET: The Washington Capitals are reportedly poised to sign free-agent winger Sonny Milano to a one-year, $750K contract.
Recaps of Wednesday’s games, the Sabres sign head coach Don Granato and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to contract extensions, Andy Greene retires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid tallied a hat trick as the Edmonton Oilers overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 5-3. McDavid netted the game-winning and insurance goals, Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists while Darnell Nurse had a goal and an assist. J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist for the Canucks.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers dressed just 17 skaters as wingers Kailer Yamamoto and Warren Foegele missed this game with undisclosed injuries. Salary-cap constraints limited them to 11 forwards and six defensemen.
The Colorado Avalanche celebrated their 2021-22 Stanley Cup banner raising with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Artturi Lehkonen scored twice and collected an assist, Valeri Nichushkin tallied two goals and Mikko Rantanen had four assists. Jonathan Toews and Max Domi replied for the Blackhawks.
Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson’s goal with 19 seconds remaining in the third period lifted his club to a 4-3 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Cole Caufield scored twice and Nick Suzuki picked up two assists. John Tavares and William Nylander each had two points for the Leafs.
David Krejci had a goal and two assists in his first NHL game since 2020-21 as the Bostons Bruins beat the Washington Capitals 5-2. David Pastrnak led the way with a goal and three assists while Linus Ullmark made 33 saves for the win. It was a costly victory as Jake DeBrusk left the game in the second period with what appeared to be an injured right arm.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci looked good in his return to the Bruins after spending last season playing in his native Czechia. However, it was Pastrnak who was the standout in this contest. He was dominant throughout this game and is already making the case for a big raise on his next contract.
The Carolina Hurricanes rolled to a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Martin Necas had a goal and two assists while Frederik Andersen made 31 saves for the win. Patrik Laine scored for the Jackets but left the game in the second period with an injured right arm following a collision with Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet on the severity of Laine’s injury. Jackets starting goalie Elvis Merzlikins missed this game due to a non-COVID-related illness.
Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Terry opened and closed the scoring in his club’s 5-4 overtime victory over the Seattle Kraken. Terry and Ryan Strome finished with three points while Trevor Zegras had two points. Kraken rookie center Matty Beniers had a goal and an assist.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced the signing of head coach Don Granato to a two-year contract extension. They also announced defenseman Mattias Samuelsson agreed to a seven-year, $30 million contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granato’s extension was no surprise given the improvement of the Sabres thus far under his watch. The length of Samuelsson’s deal raised some eyebrows given his limited body of NHL action with just 54 games over the past two seasons.
Sabres management evidently believes Samuelsson’s going to be a key part of their blueline in the coming years. The 22-year-old’s average annual value starting next season will be over $4.285 million starting in 2023-24. If he develops as projected this contract could turn into a bargain for the Sabres.
TSN: Andy Greene retires as a member of the New Jersey Devils after signing a one-day contract with them. Greene spent 14 seasons with the Devils and was their captain from 2015 to 2020 before getting traded to the New York Islanders. The 39-year-old defenseman finishes with 264 points in 1,057 career games over 16 NHL seasons. He was part of the Devils’ run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Greene in his future endeavors.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Tampa Bay Lighting defenseman Ian Cole met with NHL security yesterday but there was no formal announcement or resolution in the aftermath. The league and the NHL Players Association declined to comment. Cole was suspended with pay pending an investigation following a social media post accusing him of sexual assault and grooming.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov will miss the club’s current two-game road trip with an upper-body injury. It’s hoped he’ll rejoin his teammates next week but there is no definitive timeline for his return.
TSN: The Colorado Avalanche reclaimed goaltender Jonas Johansson off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed winger Brad Lambert to a three-year entry-level contract. The 30th overall pick in this year’s draft, he will start the season with their AHL affiliate.
CAP FRIENDLY: The New York Islanders loaned forward Richard Panik to Swiss League team Lausanne HC for the season. His contract will still count against the Isles’ salary-cap payroll at the amount for players demoted to the minors.
THE MERCURY NEWS: Former San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will attend a pregame ceremony in his honor before the club’s game on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Wilson stepped down from his post for medical reasons last year.
NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins named Kerry Huffman as their director of professional scouting.
The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their AHL affiliation with the Syracuse Crunch through the 2026-27 season.
Lightning suspends Ian Cole pending an investigation into sexual abuse allegations, Wayne Simmonds and Mike Reilly are among those on the waiver wire, the Blues trade Klim Kostin to the Oilers, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning suspended Ian Cole pending the result of a league investigation into allegations against him of sexual abuse.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole (NHL Images).
A woman using the alias “Emily Smith” recently took to social media accusing the 33-year-old defenseman of engaging in a sexual relationship with her that started when she was a minor. She claimed Cole had manipulated her over a four-year period.
Cole denied the allegations in a statement on Sunday. He and the Lightning indicated they would fully cooperate with the league’s investigation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No timetable has been given by the league as to when it will complete its investigation. As the report indicates, this is the latest black eye for the sport as it reels from numerous reports of sexual abuse claims.
Former Chicago Blackhawks forward Kyle Beach came forward last year as the player suing the club for mishandling his allegations he’d been sexually assaulted by their former video coach in 2010.
Hockey Canada is being grilled by a Canadian parliamentary committee over its handling of sexual assault allegations against members of Canada’s 2003 and 2018 World Junior teams. Some of those players may have gone on to NHL careers.
Meanwhile, the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors fired head athletic trainer Chad Drown after he was charged with “contacting a minor to commit a sexual offense”. The Condors are the affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, who released a statement supporting the decision to fire Drown.
DAILY FACEOFF: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds, Boston Bruins forward Nick Foligno and defenseman Mike Reilly are among the notable players placed on waivers Sunday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs also let it be known that Simmonds was available for a trade. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update. Foligno isn’t likely to be claimed given his declining performance and $3.8 million cap hit for this season.
Reilly’s puck-moving skills could see him end up with a different team later today. He hits the waiver wire because sidelined defenseman Matt Grzelcyk is expected to return to action much sooner than expected.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: The Blues traded forward Klim Kostin to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Dmitri Samorukov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former first-round pick (2017), Kostin struggled to crack the Blues lineup. Perhaps he’ll have better luck with the Oilers as they’re in need of depth on right wing. They also made this move because Kostin carries a slightly more affordable contract. The Blues, meanwhile, are expected to send Samorukov to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs yesterday signed winger Zach Aston-Reese to a one-year deal worth over $840K.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed winger Jimmy Vesey to a one-year, $750K contract. It’s his second tenure with the Blueshirts as he spent the first three seasons of his NHL career with them.
TSN: The NHL department of player safety fined New York Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov $5,000.00 for charging Rangers center Vincent Trocheck during a preseason game on Saturday.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes claimed defenseman Juuso Valimaki off waivers yesterday from the Calgary Flames.
GOPHNX.COM‘s Craig Morgan reports the Coyotes are expected to release forward Alex Chiasson from his professional tryout offer.