NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2021

The Lightning tie their semifinal series with the Islanders, Oskar Lindblom win the Masterton Trophy, plus the latest on Jeff Petry, Taylor Hall and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov collected three assists as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the New York Islanders 4-2 to tie their semifinal series at a game apiece. Brayden Point tallied his playoff-leading 10th goal and Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson replied for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov was briefly replaced by Ilya Sorokin in the Isles net after being shaken up in a collision with Point but returned to finish the final two periods.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a rough game culminating in a scrum at the end of the third period that saw Anthony Cirelli head directly to the Lightning bench following an altercation with Isles forward Travis Zajac. Bolts coach Jon Cooper said Cirelli should be okay.

The officiating was terrible in this contest. The Isles scored a power-play goal in the first period after Brayden Point was tagged for goaltender interference after being pushed into Varlamov by Isles blueliner Adam Pelech. The Lightning scored their second goal with seven men on the ice that somehow went unnoticed by the officials.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom is this year’s winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance. He overcame a rare form of bone cancer last year to play 50 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Lindblom, who was declared cancer-free during a scan in March. Here’s hoping he has a long, productive and happy life on and off the ice.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry will be a game-day decision for Game 2 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Petry is recovering from a hand injury suffered in the previous series against the Winnipeg Jets. Center Jake Evans (concussion) and defenseman Jon Merrill (undisclosed) are also game-day decisions for the Habs.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The province of Quebec will allow up to 3,500 fans at the Bell Centre for the Canadiens upcoming home games against the Golden Knights. The same ruling also applied to venues hosting shows and other sporting events as pandemic restrictions continue to ease in the province.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney indicated there is mutual interest with Taylor Hall regarding a new contract. The 29-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall proved to be a good fit with the Bruins following his acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. It’s believed the winger is interested in term over dollars.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Joel Hanley underwent core-muscle surgery on Tuesday. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for the 2021-22 season.

TSN: Forward Linus Wallmark has signed with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow. Wallmark split this season between the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks added former Calgary Flames bench boss Geoff Ward to their coaching staff.

CBS SPORTS: Drew Shore announced his retirement yesterday. The center played 98 NHL games with the Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Carolina Hurricanes from 2012-13 to 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Shore in his future endeavors.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets arena is changing its name from Bell MTS Place to the Canada Life Centre.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2021

A look at possible destinations for Dougie Hamilton plus the latest Oilers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHERE COULD HAMILTON LAND?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin examined some potential destinations for Dougie Hamilton if the 27-year-old defenseman departs the Carolina Hurricanes via free agency.

The Carolina Hurricanes will allow Dougie Hamilton to speak with other teams (NHL Images).

Larkin cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting yesterday the Hurricanes will allow Hamilton to speak with other teams before the free-agent market opens on July 28. Friedman suggested that could set the stage for a sign-and-trade but didn’t rule out the blueliner returning to the Hurricanes if he doesn’t receive better offers elsewhere.

The Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets could be aggressive suitors given their need for a top-four right-side defenseman. Other possibilities include the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The latter would have to be willing to swap left-side defender Morgan Rielly for a righty like Hamilton.

Larkin included the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings under the category of too soon in their rebuild for the soon-to-be 28-year-old Hamilton. He also proposed the possibility of a hockey trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones or the New Jersey Devils for P.K. Subban if half of his salary was retained.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Larkin’s take on the Blackhawks, Flyers and Jets among the aggressive suitors. If it’s a sign-and-trade scenario, there would be some salary heading to the Hurricanes in the deal. The Flyers might have to shed more with Cap Friendly showing them carrying $69.2 million invested in 17 players. They could get that if the Seattle Kraken select James van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft.

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples is skeptical of the Oilers’ pursuing Hamilton because they have bigger needs than an offensive right-side blueliner, especially if Evan Bouchard is ready for full-time promotion. The Leafs could shake things up and a Rielly-for-Hamilton trade would certainly do that. However, Hamilton’s new contract for next season will be more expensive than Rielly’s $5 million. The Leafs can’t pull this off if they’re unwilling to move one of their high-salaried forwards.

I’ll be surprised if Hamilton ends up with the Wings or Kings. As Larkin points out, he might not be keen to join a rebuilding club at this stage in his career. The same applies to the Blue Jackets and Devils.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reported contract talks between the Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins agent, Rick Valette. He speculates general manager Ken Holland could be open to more term in exchange for a more affordable annual average value. Leavins suggests something beyond six years would be risky for the Oilers as that would take him up to age 35 or 36 when his skills would be in decline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons suggested the Oilers let Nugent-Hopkins walk and pursue a more affordable center like Montreal’s Phillip Danault. Holland might have to go that route if he can’t get Nugent-Hopkins signed to a contract that fits within his budget. Nevertheless, the fact talks are resumed suggests the Oilers GM would prefer keeping him in the fold.

Leavins also speculates the Oilers could be interested in Toronto’s Zach Hyman if he goes to market but they’ll face competition from many suitors. Other options could include Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn if the Lightning needs to shed salary, Boston’s Jake DeBrusk or perhaps Taylor Hall if he doesn’t re-sign with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The most realistic of that bunch for the Oilers would be DeBrusk given his affordable $3.675 million contract. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list and the Oilers could be on it.

I may be wrong but I can see Hyman accepting less than market value to stay in his hometown of Toronto. He’s got a good gig with the Leafs so why screw that up? Sure, Hall could return to Edmonton but that doesn’t mean a reunion with the Oilers will happen. I see him staying with the Bruins.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2021

What would be a fair return for Mitch Marner if the Leafs shopped him in the trade market? Should the Jets shop Kyle Connor for a defenseman? What moves should the Oilers make this summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest Toronto Maple Leafs mailbag, Luke Fox was asked if the club could win a Mitch Marner trade. While acknowledging the front office’s belief in the 24-year-old playmaker, Fox believes general manager Kyle Dubas would want a return that fits with his bet-on-young skill vision that helps the club now. He also doesn’t foresee Marner requesting a trade.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

He doubted Dubas would accept someone like Columbus’ Patrik Laine or Seth Jones or Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in return. However, he could listen if the Buffalo Sabres offered up center Jack Eichel.

John Tavares’ injury highlights the Leafs lack of center depth. Fox suggests shifting Tavares to the wing as he ages and his foot speed slows.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox also said Eichel’s neck injury would be a huge caveat, adding they shouldn’t make that move unless certain he’s fully recovered.

Eichel for Marner straight up would work in terms of player value and cap dollars. Nevertheless, I doubt it’s a move we’ll see take place between these two long-standing rivals.

Fox was also asked which players the Leafs should add to address the lack of killer instinct team president Brendan Shanahan felt his club still needs. He wondered if Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf or Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny would accept a Joe Thornton deal, or if Colorado’s Brandon Saad would come more cheaply than Zach Hyman.

His other suggested options include Minnesota’s Nick Bonino, Vegas’ Mattias Janmark and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. He also proposed it would be great to see what a healthy Nick Foligno could do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas will have to engage in more salary-cap gymnastics given his club’s limited cap space to address that need. I think Getzlaf re-signs with Anaheim or retires. Stastny might be a possibility. Saad could cost more than Hyman.

The Wild could re-sign Bonino if he’s willing to accept a pay cut from his current $4.1 million cap hit. If not, he could be a good option for the Leafs. Janmark and Oleksiak could also be worthwhile cost-effective additions.

Foligno could also help if he’s fully healthy but that depends on whether he sees a future in Toronto or if they feel they should look toward younger alternatives.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma wondered if the Vancouver Canucks would be interested in Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs aren’t expected to protect the 26-year-old center in next month’s expansion draft. They need to clear cap space if they hope to re-sign Zach Hyman. The Leafs can’t afford to take back salary but perhaps they’d accept a draft pick or prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma noted the Canucks pursue Kerfoot four years ago as a college free agent before he signed with the Colorado Avalanche. He could be an affordable option to bolster the Canucks’ depth at center.

SHOULD THE JETS SHOP CONNOR FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes it’s time for the Jets to pay the price to acquire some high-end defensive talent if they wish to be more than playoff also-rans. Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot all departed since the Jets marched to the 2018 Western Conference Final.

McIntyre doubts we’ll see any significant off-season activity out of Winnipeg based on their history. However, he wonders at what point general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be forced to consider moving a core player to balance a lineup that isn’t good enough.

Other than goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and perhaps winger Nikolaj Ehlers, McIntyre doesn’t believe there should be an untouchable on the Jets roster. He proposed shopping winger Kyle Connor, who struggled in the Montreal series after center Mark Scheifele was suspended. The Jets’ crop of promising young skaters like Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins and Cole Perfetti could give them the freedom to use Connor as trade bait to address their blueline issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff has occasionally made a big move during his tenure as Jets GM, the latest being his swap of Patrick Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois. For the most part, however, he tends to be patient, sometimes to a fault.

The Jets GM could surprise us with a major offseason move. Like McIntyre, however, I don’t expect him to shop a core player like Connor this summer. He could instead look for affordable options via trade or free agency while preparing to promote promising youngsters like Ville Heinola or Dylan Samberg into the lineup.

THE LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited NHL insider Kevin Allen’s three main offseason proposals for the Oilers. They include pursuing a younger goalie like Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo or the New York Islanders Semyon Varlamov via trade, or Frederik Andersen or Linus Ullmark via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers intend to bring back 39-year-old Mike Smith for another season but could shop Mikko Koskinen. The Islanders aren’t in a hurry in shop Varlamov but inquiring with the Jackets about Merzlikins or Korpisalo makes sense. It wouldn’t hurt to kick tires on Andersen or Ullmark.

Allen also suggested the Oilers try to come up with enough assets to bundle with James Neal to get a rebuilding club with cap space (Detroit Red Wings) to take the winger off their hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Holland will consider that option. The assets in that package, however, could be more than he’s willing to part with. A contract buyout remains possible for Neal if he isn’t moved in a cost-cutting deal.

Allen also recommended re-signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson and then calling the New York Rangers about Tony DeAngelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are working on the first two. DeAngelo’s character issues are a red flag but there could be clubs interested in the puck-moving defenseman. If the Oilers were interested, they could wait until he’s bought out of his current contract and then sign him as a free agent.










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 – June 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2021

The Lightning push the Hurricanes to the brink of elimination, the Islanders tie their series with the Bruins, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning pushed the Carolina Hurricanes on the brink of elimination with a 6-4 victory in Game 4. They hold a commanding 3-1 lead in their second-round series. The teams combined for eight goals in the second period as the Lightning rallied from a 4-2 deficit. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each scored two goals and collected an assist.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That second period was the most entertaining of this year’s playoff thus far. A lack of discipline proved costly for the Hurricanes as the Lightning tallied three power-play goals on six attempts with the man advantage. The series returns to Carolina for Game 5 on Tuesday.

Mathew Barzal broke a 1-1 tie as the New York Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 to even their second-round series at two games apiece. Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves for the win while Casey Cizikas and Jean-Gabriel Pageau padded the lead with empty-net goals. This series moves back to Boston for Game 5 on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo missed this game with an upper-body injury that is suspected to be a concussion. He remains day-to-day.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, and Minnesota Wild blueliner Jared Spurgeon are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets need Pierre-Luc Dubois to make his presence felt if they hope to overcome a 2-0 series deficit against the Montreal Canadiens. He replaced suspended center Mark Scheifele on the Jets’ top line in Game 2 but his impact was minimal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois struggled throughout this season following his trade to Winnipeg from Columbus in January. He missed four games in February with a lower-body injury. Perhaps that’s an ongoing ailment he’s been trying to play through.

TSN: Speaking of the Jets, sidelined center Paul Stastny traveled with the team to Montreal for Game 3 tonight against the Canadiens. He missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury and there’s no indication if he’ll return to the lineup for the next two games.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars center Tyler Seguin is focusing on the last phase of his rehab from last fall’s hip surgery after missing all but the final three games of the regular season. He’s hoping to be fully healthy in time for training camp in September.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild prospect Marco Rossi has resumed skating for the first time since January following complications from COVID-19. He was the ninth overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. It’s expected the 19-year-old center will be ready to report to training camp in September.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2021

The Bruins take a 2-1 series lead over the Islanders, the Hurricanes narrow the Lightning’s series lead, Mark Scheifele is suspended, the Calder Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand’s overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders in Game 3 of their second-round series. Craig Smith opened the scoring for Boston in the first period but the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal tied it in the third. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 28 saves while Semyon Varlamov turned aside 39 for the Isles. The Bruins hold a 2-1 lead in the series. Game 4 goes on Saturday on Long Island.

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal (NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their first win of their second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 3. Jordan Staal tipped in Sebastian Aho’s shot for the winning goal. Aho had a goal and two assists while Petr Mrazek made 35 shots for the win in his first game in this postseason. Tampa Bay rallied back from a 2-0 deficit on goals by Brayden Point and Alex Killorn. The Lightning holds a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 on Saturday in Tampa Bay.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s penalty for holding the stick of Hurricanes winger Martin Necas set the stage for Staal’s game-winner. Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele left the game with an upper-body injury. The Canes played this game without sidelined forwards Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele received a four-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for charging Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans during Game 1 of their series on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a hefty suspension for a star player with no previous suspensions or fines. Coming in the middle of the playoffs, it’s the equivalent of an eight-game suspension in the regular season. Evans suffered a concussion and could miss the rest of this series.

The absence of their top forward is a big loss for the Jets in this series. They also played Game 1 without center Paul Stastny (undisclosed) and lost defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a lower-body injury. There’s a chance Stastny could return for Game 2 tonight in Winnipeg but DeMelo seems unlikely to play.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson are this year’s finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

SPORTSNET: The NHL hopes to have a decision soon regarding US teams crossing the Canadian border for the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said talks with the Canadian government are ongoing.