NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Avalanche acquire goalie Jonas Johansson from the Sabres, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Sean Couturier and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 60 points this season as his Edmonton Oilers overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers (42 points), moving them into a tie with the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division. He’s also tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals with 21.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is making a convincing case for the Hart Memorial Trophy this season.

Jack Campbell returned to the Toronto Maple Leafs net and turned in a 30-save shutout to douse the Calgary Flames 2-0. Campbell had been sidelined three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jason Spezza and Zach Hyman scored for the Leafs, who end a three-game losing skid and remain atop the North Division with 42 points with two games in hand over the second-place Oilers. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was unavailable to back up Campbell because of a lower-body injury, forcing an emergency recall of Michael Hutchinson.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves for his 11th straight victory as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Victor Hedman had three assists while Steven Stamkos tallied a goal and picked up an assist. The Lightning (46 points) have the league’s best record and sit atop the Discover Central Division. The Blackhawks (33 points) find themselves tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After exceeding expectations through the first two months the Blackhawks appear to be crashing back to earth. They’ve dropped four straight games and seven of nine contests in March.

Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 21 saves to shut out the Nashville Predators 2-0. Anthony Duclair had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (44 points), who sit two behind the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.

Sidney Crosby collected two assists and Bryan Rust tallied the game-winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the New Jersey Devils 3-1. The Penguins played without Branden Tanev as he was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. With 39 points, the Penguins hold a three-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

A 31-save shutout by Philipp Grubauer carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists while Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two helpers as the Avalanche (40 points) sit three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Avalanche acquired goaltender Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs also recalled Adam Werner from their AHL affiliate. The Athletic’s Peter Baugh doesn’t believe the Johansson acquisition resolved the Avalanche’s need for a reliable backup for Grubauer. “The moves feel like a stopgap, not a solution,” he said, pointing out neither Johansson nor Werner has a save percentage better than .900 or more than 15 games of NHL experience.

Mika Zibanejad tallied the game-winner as the New York Rangers upset the Washington Capitals 3-1. Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Rangers confirmed Kris Knoblauch will remain acting head coach for at least two more games as head coach David Quinn remains on the COVID-19 protocol list. They also announced defenseman Jack Johnson will be sidelined for the remainder of the season recovering from core-muscle surgery. Meanwhile, the Capitals (44 points) remain atop the Eastern Division.

A four-goal first period carried the New York Islanders over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Casey Cizikas scored twice while defenseman Thomas Hickey picked up two assists in his first game with the Isles in nearly two years after his career was nearly derailed by injuries. Flyers center Sean Couturier was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. The Isles (44 points) have the same amount of points as Washington but sit second in the East as the Capitals hold a game in hand. The Flyers, meanwhile, remain in fifth place with 33 points.

Shootout goals by Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstand gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Seth Jones tied the game for the Jackets with 29 seconds left in regulation while Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Jackets are tied with the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central while the Hurricanes (43 points) are two points back of the second-place Panthers.

The Dallas Stars shut out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 on a 21-save effort by Anton Khudobin. Tanner Kero, Andrej Sekera and Ty Dellandrea were the goal scorers. With 27 points, the Stars move to within five points of the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks for fourth in the Central.

Tomas Tatar tallied the shootout winner as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Vancouver Canucks 5-4, snapping a nine-game losing skid for the Habs in extra time. Tatar also had a goal and an assist in regulation for Montreal. The Canadiens played without Tyler Toffoli, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The win gives the fourth-place Habs (37 points) a two-point lead over the Canucks in the North Division.

Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-2 decision over the San Jose Sharks. Jordan Kyrou scored twice and picked up an assist for the Blues (37 points), who are tied with the Wild in the West Division but remain in fourth place because the Wild have two games in hand. Earlier in the day, they announced forward Oskar Sundqvist is done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

A hat trick by Derick Brassard carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 5, 2021

Sam Bennett becoming a healthy scratch is stoking speculation he could be traded soon. Get the latest plus updates on the Avalanche and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BENNETT ON THE BLOCK?

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports the Flames made Sam Bennett a healthy scratch in yesterday’s 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. The move comes just days after his agent claimed the 24-year-old forward was seeking a change of scenery, fuelling speculation a trade could be in the works.

Calgary Flames benching Sam Bennett fueled more trade chatter (NHL Images).

Gilbertson noted TSN’s Darren Dreger broke the news of Bennett’s benching. While Dreger acknowledged it would fuel conjecture, he claimed there was “nothing on the front burner related to trade.”

Flames coach Geoff Ward claimed it was his decision to make Bennett a healthy scratch but Gilbertson suggests this feels like a move could be coming soon. Scratching him, however, won’t help the Flames’ depth nor improve his trade value.

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes if Bennett is scratched from Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers it could mean he’s played his final game for the Flames. He also said the front office has received clarity about Bennett’s status from the forward himself. Francis claims he “wants out”, prompting management to sit him.

The Flames aren’t in a rush to move Bennett unless it’s for the right deal. However, the benching could turn his situation into a bigger distraction.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Bennett has been a subject of conversation between the Flames and the New York Rangers. Brooks claims the Flames have conducted due diligence on Tony DeAngelo and have expressed “at least preliminary interest” in the 25-year-old defenseman. Sources tell Brooks the Flames haven’t made a definitive decision whether to trade Bennett.

DeAngelo, meanwhile, is in the first season of a two-year contract carrying an annual average value of $4.8 million. The Rangers don’t want to absorb a significant chunk of the blueliner’s salary or take back a big contract in return. If the Flames were to acquire DeAngelo he’d be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine due to travel restrictions at the US-Canada border.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade talks might not be on the front burner for Bennett but they could heat up quickly. Cap Friendly shows him in the final season of his contract with an affordable $2.55 million cap hit and lacking no-trade protection. There could be clubs willing to take a chance on him filling a top-six role this season, especially considering his strong postseason performances.

DeAngelo’s offensive skills could boost the Flames’ blueline production. However, recent reports out of Calgary suggest they’re not interested in the troubled defenseman, whose temperamental attitude and poor defensive game are big red flags. If the Flames were to acquire DeAngelo they could insist on the Blueshirts picking up part of his cap hit.

COULD AVS’ JOHNSON WAIVE HIS NMC FOR EXPANSION DRAFT?

THE DENVER POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Chambers was asked if he felt Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson would waive his no-movement clause for this summer’s expansion draft. That move would allow the Avalanche to protect another defenseman.

Chambers believes it’s likely, citing Johnson as a player who’d do anything for the Avs’ organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We have no indication if the 32-year-old Johnson will waive his NMC. He is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $6 million. If he does waive it, the Seattle Kraken could balk at selecting an aging defenseman with a long injury history carrying that hefty cap hit.

LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski suggests the arrival of Penguins rookie defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph could turn another blueliner into a possible trade chip for the club’s next general manager.

Once the Penguins’ blueline is healthy they will have five left-shot defensemen. Kingerski feels Marcus Pettersson would be the trade chip that could net the best return. Moving him could fetch a couple of draft picks to replace the second, fifth and sixth-round picks that the Pens lack in the 2021 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski stresses this isn’t a pressing issue for the Penguins nor do they need to rush into a trade. Nevertheless, this could be a situation worth monitoring if Joseph continues his strong play over the course of this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2021

Are the Panthers thinking of pursuing Pierre-Luc Dubois? Should the Sabres target Marc-Andre Fleury? Who could be the odd-man-out on the Avalanche blueline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE PANTHERS PURSUE DUBOIS?

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports there’s a theory that the reason Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito efforts to get Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause was to set up for a deal to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Could the Florida Panthers attempt to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Florida Panthers (NHL Images).

As the former assistant GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Zito helped draft Dubois third overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. Murphy also cites an NHL scout suggesting that’s also the reason behind the recent Aleksander Barkov rumors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Zito was trying to move Yandle I don’t believe the Jackets would’ve been interested even if the Panthers absorbed part of his $6.35 million annual average value. The Jackets’ defense corps is pretty much set, which is why they could send Markus Nutivaara to the Panthers in the offseason in a cost-cutting move. Yandle would have to be moved in a separate deal to another club to free up the cap space for Dubois’ $5 million AAV.

I don’t doubt Zito would love to acquire Dubois but I don’t see him moving Barkov to do so. If anything, I think he would envision Barkov remaining as the Panthers’ first-line center with Dubois centering the second line.

SHOULD THE SABRES TARGET FLEURY?

Murphy also cites an NHL scout suggesting the Buffalo Sabres should target Marc-Andre Fleury. “What the BLEEP are the Sabres waiting for? Get Fleury!”, the scout said. Murphy believes the Vegas Golden Knights are ready to move the 36-year-old goaltender. The Sabres could use an upgrade between the pipes but an NHL management source isn’t sure Sabres GM Kevyn Adams has looked into it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are seven million reasons why the Sabres haven’t acquired Fleury. That’s his annual average value for this season and next. He also has a modified no-trade clause and could be unwilling to accept a trade to Buffalo. Cap Friendly, meanwhile, shows the Sabres only have a projected $1.2 million in cap room right now. Fleury is an expense they can’t afford. 

COULD THE AVALANCHE MOVE A DEFENSEMAN?

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers and Mark Kiszla discussed what the Colorado Avalanche could do to address their blue-line logjam. The Avs already possess considerable depth in talented young defensemen in Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, Ryan Graves, Conor Timmins and Bowen Byram, plus they have veterans Erik Johnson and Ian Cole.

Chambers suspects Cole could sit if the young blueliners continue to impress. Kiszla wonders if GM Joe Sakic could use one of those rearguards as trade bait. Johnson’s contract ($6 million AAV, no-movement and modified no-trade clause) would be difficult to move. Chambers suggests Girard would be the most tradeable. Losing his $5 million AAV over the next seven seasons would free up cap room to add a forward or a goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche GM Joe Sakic might at some point consider using one of his defensemen as trade bait to address a roster issue before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Johnson’s contract all but ensures he won’t be going anywhere. Cale Makar is untouchable and I don’t think Sakic will move Byram or Timmins. Toews is also likely to stay put after signing a four-year deal following his acquisition from the New York Islanders last fall.

Girard, Cole and Graves could become trade candidates. However, there’s no certainty Sakic will shop any of the defensemen this season. We’ll just have to see how things unfold.

Johnson’s no-movement clause means they can’t put him on their taxi squad this season without his permission. I can see them shuttling Byram and Timmins in and out of the taxi squad in the short term. Cole is a UFA this summer but the Avs could prefer hanging onto him for this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

Game recaps plus the latest on Patrik Laine, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, J.T. Miller, Erik Johnson, Jason Spezza and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jake Guentzel tallied the only goal in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their first win over the season by edging the Washington Capitals 4-3. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his first of the season, moving to within one career goal of tying Mike Gartner (708) for seventh place on the all-time goal-scoring list.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

Three unanswered third-period goals by Eetu Luostarinen, Patric Hornqvist and Jonathan Huberdeau lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-2 season-opening victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Huberdeau had a goal and two assists while teammate Keith Yandle tallied his 100th career goal in his 867th consecutive NHL game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade rumors dogged Yandle last week amidst speculation he could become a healthy scratch, snapping his Ironman streak. It remains to be seen how things unfold for the veteran blueliner and the Panthers.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine left practice yesterday with an apparent injury above his left hip. Head coach Paul Maurice shed little light on Laine’s status, adding he’ll see how the winger is doing on Monday. Laine is slated to travel with the team to Toronto.

AZCENTRAL: The Arizona Coyotes placed captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson on injured reserve. He’s slated to miss their next three games. Ekman-Larsson suffered a lower-body injury during Saturday’s 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks following a hit from Sharks’ winger Evander Kane.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller returns to the lineup after missing the club’s first three games in coronavirus quarantine as a high-risk contact of teammate Jordie Benn.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defensemen Erik Johnson and Bowen Byram will join their teammates after completing COVID-19 quarantine. Johnson missed all of training camp and the Avs’ first test games after testing positive for the coronavirus. Byram was in quarantine after traveling from Canada following the 2021 World Juniors in Edmonton.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed center Jason Spezza and goaltender Aaron Dell on waivers for the purpose of assigning them to their taxi squad. Spezza indicated he’ll retire immediately if claimed by another club. Dell, meanwhile, could be targeted by a club with goalie issues like the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn their fate by noon ET today.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Mike Matheson on injured reserve retroactive to Friday with an undisclosed ailment. Head coach Mike Sullivan said Matheson was injured during Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on injured reserve following a hit to the head suffered during Friday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Bortuzzo was struck by the shoulder of Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase is doubtful for Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. Kase suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.

CBS SPORTS: The Calgary Flames signed forward Brett Ritchie to a one-year, two-way contract. He’d attended Flames’ training camp on a professional tryout offer.










Johnson, Perry, Eriksson Among Notable On The NHL Waiver Wire

Johnson, Perry, Eriksson Among Notable On The NHL Waiver Wire

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2020

The Lightning still needs to make a cost-cutting trade despite Nikita Kucherov heading to LTIR, talk of Coyotes center Derek Stepan possibly heading to the Senators, and the latest on the Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LIGHTNING COULD STILL NEED A COST-CUTTING TRADE

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark reports losing cornerstone winger Nikita Kucherov for the regular season to hip surgery helps the Tampa Bay Lightning address their need to become salary-cap compliant before the start of the season.

The Bolts still have to sign restricted free agent center Anthony Cirelli and were trying to shop winger Tyler Johnson in a cost-cutting deal. Placing Kucherov and his $9.5 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve could free up sufficient space to re-sign Cirelli without having to move Johnson.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were trying to trade Tyler Johnson earlier in the offseason (NHL Images).

However, Lightning general Julien BriseBois said he will seek opportunities to free up more cap room. He indicates he still doesn’t have sufficient maneuverability and is speaking with a couple of teams. BriseBois revealed he had been working with a team after the playoffs on a deal for Johnson that would’ve involved a third club taking on part of the winger’s $5 million cap hit but it proved too expensive to be feasible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Lightning sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $6.89 million. Contract talks continue with the Cirelli camp. Placing Kucherov on LTIR will leave the Lightning with less than $3 million to lock up Cirelli. He has no leverage coming off his entry-level contract but his agent can justifiably argue that his client is worth more than that.

Perhaps BriseBois will still try to move Johnson or maybe Alex Killorn and his $4.45 million cap hit. Maybe he’ll consider another option. Whatever he’s got in mind will have to not only ensure sufficient room to sign Cirelli but also enough for other moves as required over the course of the season.

STEPAN TO THE SENATORS?

TSN 1200’s Shawn Simpson tweeted he’s hearing the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators are discussing a deal involving Coyotes center Derek Stepan. He has one season remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.5 million but his actual salary is $5 million.

The Ottawa Sun’s Ken Warren points out Stepan’s actual salary for this season consists of a $3 million signing bonus. The Coyotes lack picks in the first and third rounds of the 2021 NHL draft. The Senators have three second-round picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan also lacks no-trade protection so the Coyotes can peddle him to any NHL club without his permission. The Senators would only be on the hook for $2 million of his actual salary if this goes through. He’d provide some welcome experience and leadership to their checking lines.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

TSN: Salim Valji reports Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving recently said discussions about player movement have picked up as teams prepare for the start of the season on Jan. 13. He expects we’ll see some trade activity in the weeks leading up to the season opener.

The Flames only have around $223K in salary-cap space. Treliving expects his current roster is the one he’ll go to training camp with but indicated he continues having discussions with other teams looking for opportunities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving will probably evaluate his roster during training camp to determine any pressing needs to be addressed before Jan. 13. Given his limited cap space, he could be looking at dollar-for-dollar moves.