NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2021

An early look at possible offseason moves by the Jets, the Sabres are getting calls about Jack Eichel, plus the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE JETS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Winnipeg Jets must focus on addressing their defense in the offseason. They’re expected to protect Josh Morrissey, Dylan DeMelo and Neal Pionk in the expansion draft, meaning they risk losing Logan Stanley to the Seattle Kraken.

He pondered if they’ll finally give more playing time to promising blueliners like Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola or stick with stopgap measures Tucker Poolman, Derek Forbort and Jordie Benn. He also wondered if they’ll use their $14.9 million in cap space to bolster their top-four.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe also weighed in on the Jets’ potential offseason plans. He doubts head coach Paul Maurice or general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be shown the door, but believes the roster requires an upgrade.

Like Wyshynski, Wiebe believes they must enhance the defense corps. He also cited promising youngsters Heinola and Samberg could be ready for full-time duty. Despite the emergence of Stanley this season, the Jets could go shopping for an experienced blueliner via the trade market or free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once their strength, the defense corps has become a weakness for the Jets. It’s been an ongoing issue for the last two years and cannot go unaddressed for a third season.

Heinola and Samberg should help, as could Stanley if he’s not snapped up by the Kraken. Nevertheless, they also need an experienced top-four defenseman, preferably one who skates on the right side.

Teams are reportedly calling the Buffalo Sabres about captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

TEAMS CALLING SABRES ABOUT EICHEL

TSN: Darren Dreger reports teams are contacting the Buffalo Sabres expressing interest in several of their players, including team captain Jack Eichel. Dreger believes those conversations will increase ahead of the NHL draft weekend on July 23-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel raised eyebrows last month suggesting a “disconnect” between himself and management over treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. That generated considerable speculation over whether he’ll be traded this summer.

The report also indicated there’s been speculation about the futures of Sabres center Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Reinhart, a restricted free agent, was noncommittal about his future in Buffalo during his end-of-season press conference. Ristolainen, meanwhile, said he’d be fine with a trade or remaining a Sabre. Blueliner Colin Miller could also draw interest in the trade market.

Buffalo fans would probably love to see their club shed the expensive contracts of Jeff Skinner ($9 million annual average value through 2026-27) and Kyle Okposo ($6 million AAV through 2022-23), but I doubt they’ll be moved in an offseason with a flattened salary cap.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports a well-placed source within the Penguins organization said the club intends to protect goaltender Tristan Jarry and center Evgeni Malkin in next month’s expansion draft. Malkin has a no-movement clause but he’d only waive it to go to Florida, where he and his family reside.

Kingerski also indicated the Penguins seek a veteran goaltender with playoff experience and could have an eye on Toronto’s Frederik Andersen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins don’t seem to want to give up on Jarry. He could benefit from an experienced mentor to help him split the duties for the next year or two. Andersen’s critics will snort with laughter over the thought of him backing up Jarry but he does have a solid resume over most of his tenure in Toronto. He could also benefit from a lighter workload compared to what he endured with the Maple Leafs.

No surprise Malkin has no interest in waiving his NMC to go to Seattle. He’s made no secret of his desire to finish his career with the Penguins. While he might welcome a trade to the Florida Panthers, they have no reason to acquire him when they’re planning to pay captain Aleksander Barkov a lot of money to stay put.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Panthers, the Penguins and Golden Knights tie their respective series, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy nominees are announced, the Red Wings re-sign Jeff Blashill and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves to backstop the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Florida Panthers 3-1. Tampa Bay leads the series 2-0. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde scored for the Lightning while Mason Marchment replied for the Panthers. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vasilevskiy was the difference maker as the Lightning took an early 2-0 lead. The Panthers outshot the Bolts 24-13 over the second and third periods but could only get one shot past the former Vezina Trophy winner.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 37 saves as his club held on for a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders to even their series at a game apiece. The Penguins got first-period goals from Bryan Rust and Jeff Carter while Josh Bailey replied for the Isles in the second period. The series shifts to Long Island for Game 3 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid bounce-back effort for Jarry following his shaky performance in Game 1. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov looked rusty in the early going as he returned to action after missing a week with a lower-body injury.

Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 34 shots and Alex Tuch scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights tamed the Minnesota Wild 3-1 to tie their series 1-1. Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas while the Wild’s Matt Dumba opened the scoring. The series moves to Minnesota for Game 3 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strong goaltending was the theme for the winning teams on Tuesday. Fleury also played well in his club’s 1-0 overtime loss in Game 1.

The Vancouver Canucks doubled up the Calgary Flames 4-2 in their second-to-last regular-season contest. Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko made 38 saves while Brock Boeser, Tyler Myers and Travis Hamonic each had a goal and an assist. The two clubs will play their season finale tonight.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares are among this season’s 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings agreed to a contract extension with head coach Jeff Blashill. Details were not released. Blashill’s current contract was to expire at the end of this season. Meanwhile, the Wings announced captain Dylan Larkin is recovering from an undisclosed injury and is expected to be ready for the start of 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings also revealed assistant coach Dan Bylsma won’t be back. Wings general manager Steve Yzerman believes the club’s improvement this season earned Blashill at least another year behind the bench.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks have informed GM Jim Benning will return next season.

THE PROVINCE: There’s speculation former Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin could return to the club in front-office roles. Meanwhile, there’s still no indication if head coach Travis Green will receive a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The news of Benning’s return won’t please his critics. Meanwhile, uncertainty remains over Green’s future in Vancouver. Benning signaled his intent in January to sign Green to a contract extension but he’s gone quiet in recent weeks about those negotiations.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Young Canadiens Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Alexander Romanov and Cole Caufield will be scratched from Game 1 of their upcoming series-opening game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme wants to go with a more experienced lineup to open the series but benching those kids isn’t sitting well with Habs fans on social media. Their unhappiness will grow if that veteran-laden lineup drops Game 1 to the Leafs.

Speaking of the Canadiens, the province of Quebec will be easing some COVID-19 restrictions later this month. As a result, the Habs could have 2,500 fans at the Bell Centre for Game 6 against the Leafs on May 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming there is a Game 6. The Leafs are the heavy favorites in this series. Most experts predict they’ll eliminate the Habs in four or five games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon will miss Game 3 tonight against the Washington Capitals with an injured hand. He’s listed as day-to-day. Blueliner Kevan Miller suffered a cut in Game 2 but will be in the lineup for tonight’s contest.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have parted ways with Scott Gordon and Kerry Huffman. Gordon was head coach of their AHL affiliate while Huffman was the assistant coach.

THE QMJHL: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced Guy Lafleur’s No. 4 will be retired across the league starting next season. Lafleur wore that number when he starred with the Quebec Remparts from 1969 to 1971 before becoming the first-overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1971 draft.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens defenseman and NHL player agent Gilles Lupien passed away yesterday from cancer at age 67. He won two Stanley Cups with the Habs in 1978 and 1979, playing 226 career NHL games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Lupien’s family, friends, former teammates and clients.










Several NHL Teams Going With Unproven Playoff Goalies

Several NHL Teams Going With Unproven Playoff Goalies

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2021

No April Fooling as the Sabres end a long losing streak, Nathan MacKinnon is ejected during Coyotes-Avalanche game, the Canucks re-sign Thatcher Demko, Connor McDavid fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres snapped an 18-game winless skid by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. It was the longest stretch for a team without a victory in the shootout era. Brandon Montour scored twice, rookie Steven Fogerty tallied his first NHL goal, and Linus Ullmark made 31 saves for the win. The Sabres played without Dylan Cozens, who’s sidelined for about a week with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s good to see the Sabres finally bring that horrible losing streak to an end. Their playoff hopes are dashed but perhaps this can be something they can build on for the remainder of the season. As for the Flyers (38 points), this loss caps what’s been a horrible month as they sit three points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Joonas Donskoi powered the Colorado Avalanche to a 9-3 mauling of the Arizona Coyotes. Colorado forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Andre Burakovsky each tallied two goals, while teammate Nathan MacKinnon was ejected in the final minutes of the third period after throwing a helmet at Coyotes forward Conor Garland following a brief scrum between the two. MacKinnon received a 10-minute misconduct and four minutes for roughing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon, the 2020 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner, picked up more penalities for that incident than he had throughout last season. Meanwhile, the Avalanche vaulted past the Vegas Golden Knights into first place in the Honda West Division with 50 points. The Coyotes remain in fifth place with 37 points, one point back of the St. Louis Blues.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Los Angeles Kings. Cal Petersen kicked out 40 shots while Andreas Athanasiou had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who snapped a three-game losing skid and sit three points back of the Coyotes. Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves was a late scratch with a lower-body injury while Zach Whitecloud left the game in the third period.

The Toronto Maple Leafs strengthed their hold on first place in the Scotia North Division by downing the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 24 goals, Zach Hyman had a goal and an assist and Jack Campbell turned aside 26 shots. Jets captain Blake Wheeler left the game following the second period with an undisclosed injury. With 49 points, the Leafs are three up on the Jets with a game in hand.

The San Jose Sharks doubled up the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Tomas Hertl collected two assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves. The Wild remain in third place in the West with 44 points, five behind the Golden Knights.

Last night’s game between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks was postponed after two Canucks players and a member of their coaching staff were placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.

THE PROVINCE: Speaking of the Canucks, they signed goaltender Thatcher Demko to a five-year, $25 million contract extension. The 25-year-old Demko is in the final year of a two-year, $2.1 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A hefty raise on a long-term deal for Demko but one that could prove worthwhile if his performance in last year’s playoffs and throughout March is any indication of his abilities as a starter. As The Province’s Patrick Johnston observed, Demko has a career .911 save percentage in 62 starts, slightly above the NHL average. He’s also outperforming his predecessor Jacob Markstrom this season.

Cap Friendly indicates Demko’s new deal leaves the Canucks with over $60 million invested in 12 players for 2021-22 with Elias Pettersen and Quinn Hughes coming off entry-level deals and in line for significant raises. They’ll have to shed some salary in the offseason to re-sign those two and fill out the remainder of their roster.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid was fined the league maximum of $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for elbowing Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a dangerous elbow by McDavid. Oilers fans would’ve been justifiably upset had the roles been reversed.

CBS SPORTS: Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. He’s been out of the lineup since Saturday.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry missed practice yesterday and is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was named GM for Team USA’s 2022 Olympic Mens’ hockey team. Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin was named assistant GM.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2021

Patrick Marleau reaches a significant milestone, the Panthers suffer a serious blow with Aaron Ekblad sidelined, the Senators and Kings make a minor deal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Erik Karlsson scored twice in regulation and the winning goal in a shootout as the San Jose Sharks nipped the Minnesota 4-3. Kevin Fiala and Marcus Johansson each had two points for the Wild (44 points), who sit in third place in the West. Sharks winger Patrick Marleau played his 1,757th NHL game to move past Mark Messier into second place on the all-time games list. Marleau is just 10 games behind leader Gordie Howe with 22 games to play.

San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau (NHL.com).

The Vegas Golden Knights maintained their grip on first place in the Honda West Division with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Robin Lehner made 24 saves for the win and Jonathan Marchessault collected two assists as Vegas (49 points) have won eight of their last 10 games. They hold a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche.

Speaking of the Avalanche, Cale Makar had three assists as they downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 20th goal of the season. The Avalanche are 9-0-2 in their last 11 contests.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on an overtime goal by Ivan Provorov. Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Provorov each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers (38 points), who move within one point of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Buffalo’s winless skid is now at 18 games. Sabres forward Dylan Cozens left the game with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those 18 defeats, this one is the cruelest for the Sabres, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

A 19-save performance by Casey DeSmith in relief of Tristan Jarry enabled the Pittsburgh Penguins to hold off the New York Islanders 2-1. DeSmith replaced Jarry after the latter left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. Jared McCann scored what proved to be the winning goal for Pittsburgh (48 points), who moved into a tie with the New York Islanders. The Isles, however, holds second place in the East Division on the basis of regulation wins. Penguins winger Jason Zucker returned to the lineup after missing 18 games with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Darnell Nurse gave the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oilers captain Connor McDavid set up Nurse to extend his points streak to 11 games. Toronto center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 23rd goal while Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist. With 47 points, the Leafs remain atop the Scotia North Division while the Oilers sit two back in third place.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each collected three points as the Winnipeg Jets snuffed out the Calgary Flames 5-1. Scheifele scored twice and Ehlers had three assists. The Jets sit one point behind the Leafs and one ahead of the Oilers in the North Division. The Flames (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dropping five of their last six games, the Flames have missed a golden opportunity to overtake the idle Canadiens. They sit only two points behind the Habs but the latter have six games in hand after having four games postponed last week by COVID-19 protocols.

HEADLINES

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad will be sidelined for 12 weeks following surgery to repair a fractured lower left leg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their top defenseman is crushing news for the Panthers, who are jockeying with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Discover Central Division. It could force general manager Bill Zito into the trade market for help.

CBS BOSTON: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask could be sidelined most of this week with an upper-body injury.

TSN.CA: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi came off the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Teammate Joel Armia remains on the list while new Hab Eric Staal is on the list as part of a seven-day quarantine before joining the club later this week.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators traded defenseman Christian Wolanin to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for minor-league forward Mike Amadio. Wolanin cleared waivers last week and was demoted to the Senators AHL affiliate in Belleville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch explains the reason the Kings didn’t claim Wolanin off waivers was that they wanted the ability to get a contract off their books. They were interested in Wolanin but wanted to be sure the Senators would take Amadio’s contract.

NHL.COM: Former NHL forward Bobby Schmautz passed away at his home in Arizona on Sunday at age 76. He spent 13 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Rockies. He tallied 20-or-more goals nine times, including two 30-plus goal campaigns. Schmautz spent over six seasons with the Bruins. In 764 games, he scored 271 goals and 557 points, along with 61 points in 84 postseason contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Schmautz’s family, friends and former teammates.










Why Don’t More NHL Teams Grow Their Own Goalies?

Why Don’t More NHL Teams Grow Their Own Goalies?