Check out the latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Claude Giroux plus Brian Burke addresses the Penguins’ offseason goalie trade speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported on the lack of a contract extension thus far for Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau. He said it wasn’t for lack of trying as both sides talked numerous times during the offseason.
Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).
Gaudreau has publicly stated he wants to sign past this season with the Flames. LeBrun still believes that’s the case and hasn’t found any evidence to suggest the Gaudreau camp has cut contract talks. He felt the two sides will continue discussions but will keep them out of the public eye.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can expect Gaudreau’s name to surface in trade rumors if he’s still unsigned when the calendar flips to January 2022. We’ll likely hear a lot more about him as the March 21 trade deadline approaches of the Flames are out of playoff contention.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps recently reported Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke addressed offseason rumors that his club was shopping for another starting goalie. He said it would be false to say they never looked at another netminder but it wasn’t a priority and not something they went looking for. Burke also shot down offseason rumors linking the Penguins to Marc-Andre Fleury after he was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke believes Penguins starter Tristan Jarry will have a big bounce-back season after his disappointing performance in last spring’s playoffs. If he doesn’t, however, the Penguins could start seriously seeking help between the pipes before the trade deadline.
Philly reporter Al Morganti (@nufced) on @SiriusXMNHL on the possibility of Claude Giroux moving this season: “The only place I could see him willingly go to would be Ottawa.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: By willingly, Morganti is referring to Giroux waiving his no-movement clause to accept a trade to Ottawa. That’s assuming he’s willing to go and the Senators want him. He’s not going anywhere as long as the Flyers are a playoff contender.
Check out the latest on Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Mark Giordano and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tracey Myers reports the Boston Bruins have discussed a contract extension with Patrice Bergeron. The 36-year-old Bruins captain has one year remaining on his current deal with an annual cap hit of $6.875 million.
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron’s eight-year contract turned into a long-term bargain for the Bruins. He won two of his four Selke Trophies during the term of that deal and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. Despite his age, Bergeron remains among the best two-way centers in the league. He won’t get another long-term deal but I expect he’ll sign a short-term extension for perhaps $6 million annually.
Speaking of the Bruins, general manager Don Sweeney said there’s a possibility for David Krejci to return. The 35-year-old center recently announced he intends to finish his playing career in his native Czech Republic “We’ll see if somewhere down the road Krejci opens the door back up,” said Sweeney. He indicated it would be a family decision and there’s no timeline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci could return to the Bruins this season if he signs before the trade deadline. According to Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy, he’d have to sign before Dec. 15 to avoid passing through waivers.
TSN: Salim Valji reports Mark Giordano is adjusting to his new team after being selected by the Seattle Kraken in last month’s expansion draft. The former Flames defenseman said he’s turned the page on his time in Calgary and looks forward to taking on a leadership role with the Kraken.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: How well things go for Giordano with the Kraken will determine how long he plays in Seattle. The 37-year-old blueliner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
THE SCORE: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall has full confidence in his goaltenders heading into next season, especially in Tristan Jarry. He expects the 26-year-old Jarry will bounce back from last season’s inconsistent performance in his first campaign as the Penguins’ full-time starter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was plenty of speculation the Penguins would pursue a more reliable starter via trade or free agency this summer. Perhaps they would’ve if not for salary-cap constraints. A recent change in goalie coaches could help Jarry regain his form. If he struggles again, however, Hextall could end up shopping for help before the trade deadline.
CITYNEWS 1130: Player agent Kevin Epp released a statement on behalf of client Jake Virtanen questioning why the complainant who accused the former Vancouver Canucks winger of sexual assault chose to file a civil lawsuit over criminal charges.
Epp said the way the accusation unfolded was “unusual and troubling.” He added Virtanen learned of the accusation via anonymous social media postings, claiming it led to a negative impact upon his client’s career and family.
Kyla Lee, a criminal lawyer at Acumen Law Corporation, said it’s not unusual for a person claiming to be a victim of sexual assault to file a civil suit without contacting the police. She cites the long process of a criminal charge often boils down to a “he said she said” situation making the pursuit of criminal charges challenging. There’s also the perception allegations won’t be taken seriously which prevents victims from reporting the sexual assault to police.
TSN: Edmonton Oilers signed Brendan Perlini to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level. Perlini last played in the NHL in 2019-20 with the Detroit Red Wings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.