Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 27, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 27, 2020

Updates on Alex Pietrangelo, Patrik Laine and Dustin Byfuglien plus the latest on the Hurricanes and Sharks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

PIETRANGELO

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with Blues fans, Tom Timmermann said he’s leaning toward Alex Pietrangelo re-signing with the club. He feels the defenseman’s recent comments suggest he wants to stay in St. Louis and is trying to get the Blues to increase their offer. Timmermann believes eight years at $8 million annually is the starting point, but Pietrangelo wants more. He’s unsure if $9 million annually is possible under the current economic conditions in the free-agent market.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (NHL Images).

If Pietrangelo re-signs, Timmermann suggests Tyler Bozak and Alex Steen as the likely players to become cost-cutting casualties, but moving them won’t be easy. He feels teams would be more interested in winger Jaden Schwartz. Moving Schwartz in the offseason would fetch a better return than moving him at next season’s trade deadline.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the Blues atop his list of five potential destinations for Pietrangelo. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers are also on his list.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun believes the Blues would be open to a sign-and-trade scenario if it appears they cannot repair negotiations. The incentive for interested teams is it would allow them to get Pietrangelo under contract for eight years instead of seven at potentially a lower annual average value, while the Blues could get a tangible asset in return instead of losing him for nothing to the free-agent market.

LeBrun doubts teams will part with a first-round pick to get Pietrangelo. Interested parties would also have to be able to negotiate a contract with the blueliner’s agent. He also lists the Leafs, Golden Knights, Flames and Panthers on his list of possible suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sign-and-trade deals rarely occur because they’re difficult to pull off. Sticking points include the losing team’s asking price and how much of a raise the player seeks on his new contract. We can’t rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade but I think it’s a long shot.

As for those interested clubs, the Leafs and Golden Knights have limited cap space so they’ll have to shed salary to make this work. The Golden Knights must also decide whether to re-sign goaltender Robin Lehner and what to do with Marc-Andre Fleury if they get Lehner under contract.

The Flames have the cap space but LeBrun points out they must also address their goaltending and perhaps add a winger. The Panthers are said to be cutting payroll but they must bolster their blueline depth. Whether Pietrangelo would be interested in signing with them is another matter.

LAINE AND BYFUGLIEN

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman acknowledged the recent trade speculation swirling about Patrik Laine. He doesn’t think the 22-year-old Winnipeg Jets winger has requested a trade. Friedman feels the Jets are just looking at this situation to see if using Laine would address their need for a No. 2 center or a right-hand shot defenseman.

Friedman also said it’s unlikely former Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will play next season. Teams have contacted his agent, including the Minnesota Wild because of his ties to the state. Friedman feels the Wild would have the best chance but his agent said it’s doubtful Byfuglien will play again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could Laine get traded? Sure. Will he? That’s not a certainty. As talented as the young winger is and as much upside as he still has, it could be difficult for the Jets to find a return of equal value. It doesn’t hurt for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to explore his options, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to trade Laine

As I mentioned yesterday, Laine’s contract status could be a factor. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer who’ll seek a considerable raise over his current annual cap hit of $6.75 million. Whether the Jets can afford that could determine his future in Winnipeg.

Byfuglien may have reached the point where his body can’t handle the wear-and-tear of a long NHL season. He’s 35, coming off ankle surgery and was hampered by nagging injuries during his last two seasons. Perhaps he’s decided he’s had enough.

HURRICANES

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sara Civian recently listed goaltending trade and free-agent options for the Carolina Hurricanes. Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury and Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray were among her suggested trade targets, while her free-agent choices included Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, and Washington’s Braden Holtby.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock reports the Hurricanes are leaving the door open for winger Justin Williams if he’s willing to return, but they’re also progressing ahead as if their former captain will retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have plenty of options if they seek to upgrade their goaltending. The question is, will they? Affordability works in favor of their current tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, who earn a combined $6.525 million next season.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2020

The Lightning down the Blue Jackets in a five-overtime marathon. Check out the details in the recaps of the opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning needed five overtime periods to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Brayden Point tallied the winner at 10:27 of the fifth-overtime period, marking the fourth-longest game in NHL history, lasting over six hours and 13 minutes. The goal was Point’s second of the game. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.

 

 

     

Tampa Bay Lightning center Braydon Point (NHL Images).

The two teams combined for a record 151 shots, with the Lightning firing a record 88. Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo set a record with 85 saves while Bolts netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 61. Jackets defenseman Seth Jones also set a record for minutes-played by a skater, logging 65 minutes and six seconds of ice time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most entertaining multiple overtime game I’ve seen since the Buffalo Sabres edged the New Jersey Devils 1-0 in Game 6 of their 1994 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. These types of games usually turn into long, dull defensive slogs with few quality scoring chances. Not this game. Every period was fast-paced and exciting, with the Lightning having the bulk of the offensive opportunities. A tough loss for the Jackets, who’ll have little time to recover before Game 2 tomorrow.

Because of the length of the Lighting-Blue Jackets game, the NHL rescheduled Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes to 11 am ET today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the right call by the league. It reportedly would’ve taken nearly two hours following the end of the Bolts-Jackets game to clean the dressing rooms and players benches and to prepare the ice surface for the Bruins and Hurricanes.

Rasmus Andersson’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Calgary Flames held off the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Dillon Dube scored twice as the Flames jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Stars tied it on goals by Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn nine seconds apart. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns left the game in the second period and is listed as “unfit to play.” Stars center Tyler Seguin was held without a shot.    

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dube had a heck of a game for the Flames, especially with his second goal that looked like a Pavel Bure special. Teammate Milan Lucic is also playing well, picking up his fifth point (1-4-5) in as many games.

Reilly Smith scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Vegas Golden Knights over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele said he doesn’t believe Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk deliberately intended to injure him in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series. Scheifele suffered an injury to the back of his leg following a collision with Tkachuk, who reached out to the Jets center explaining he was skating too fast and lost control as he approached Scheifele along the boards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice had thought otherwise, accusing Tkachuk of a dirty hit and doubling down a day later. It was obvious, however, that the collision was accidental. I think Tkachuk got a bad rap here because of his well-earned reputation for questionable tactics. If it had been Tkachuk’s teammate Johnny Gaudreau colliding with Scheifele, nobody would’ve thought it was dirty.

CBS SPORTS: Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis suffered a fractured leg and ligament damage near his ankle during an Aug. 5 game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s expected to be recovered in time for the 2020-21 season, but it might not be with the Oilers. Ennis is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is expected to rejoin his teammates in Edmonton on Friday after traveling to St. Louis to be with his wife during the birth of his son.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 10, 2020

Reaction to the Maple Leafs’ elimination from the qualifying round in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston believes a seismic change is needed for the Toronto Maple Leafs following their elimination from the qualifying round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Their disappointing loss and a stagnant salary-cap could force management to make some difficult decisions.

Johnston considers the Leafs defense to be second-rate and took a big blow after losing Jake Muzzin in Game 2. Secondary scoring was an issue after Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe put Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner on the same line in Game 5.

Has William Nylander played his last game with the Toronto Maple Leafs? (NHL Images)

Except for Matthews, Johnston expects one of the Leafs core players (Tavares, Marner, William Nylander, Frederik Andersen, Morgan Rielly) will be sacrificed as part of wider changes before next season. “Everything else must be up for consideration, pending the forces at play in the marketplace.”

If the Leafs win tonight’s draft lottery, Johnston suggests selecting left wing Alexis Lafreniere, trade away one of the high-priced, high-impact forwards, and use the savings to address their blueline needs.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos believes it’s time for Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to trade William Nylander for defensive help. He pointed out the Blue Jackets did the same thing several years ago, shipping center Ryan Johansen to Nashville for blueline stud Seth Jones. “Maybe Nylander can get the Leafs a Seth Jones or, at the very least, a Josh Manson or Brett Pesce.”

THE SCORE: John Matisz listed John Tavares, Frederik Andersen, and Kaspari Kapanen among those on the hot seat heading into the off-season.

Matisz wondered how Tavares will be perceived following his inconsistent play against the Jackets, especially carrying an $11 million annual average value for the next five years.

Replacing a goaltender of Andersen’s caliber won’t be easy, as he’s usually top-10 caliber during the regular season. While he’s undoubtedly safe, he will face increasing pressure heading into his contract year

If a shake-up is coming, Matisz believes Kapanen (and perhaps Andreas Johnsson) could become a trade chip. He carries an affordable contract ($3.2 million AAV for the next two years), had a decent scoring touch and skates like the wind.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll see and hear a lot more speculation about the Leafs’ off-season plans in the coming weeks. No one should be surprised. The Leafs are top-heavy offensively and lack sufficient blueline depth. They can get by with that during the regular season, but it’s their undoing in playoff or qualifying-round series.

Dubas, with the blessing of Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, approved that hefty contract for Tavares two years ago, bringing in a player they didn’t need. That’s not to disparage Tavares. I don’t blame him for taking the big bucks to play for his hometown club. He didn’t pressure the Leafs to sign him, and he’s played well for them.

However, the Leafs’ defensive shortcomings were obvious two years ago. They were coming off a season where they were among the top-five in scoring but also in shots-against per game. Andersen’s goaltending was the only reason they finished 12th in goals-against per game (2.80).

But the Leafs front office got distracted by a shiny thing in the summer of 2018, and Tavares’ $11 million AAV handcuffed them ever since. That’s why they had their contract standoff last season with Nylander, it’s why Dubas and his capologist engaged in salary-cap gymnastics last summer to free up room to re-sign Marner, and it’s why they failed to suitably address their defensive needs.

I praised Dubas’ efforts last summer because he hadn’t made the team any worse. However, it’s clear he didn’t make them any better. And now, he faces a daunting challenge of addressing those weaknesses with even less cap room.

So who gets moved? I agree it won’t be Matthews. It also won’t be Rielly. Trading their best defenseman for defensive help would be ridiculous.

They could move Andersen, but the cost of a replacement will be expensive via trade or free agency. That’s a move likely to be kicked down the road a year. They could move Marner but that’s unlikely after all those moves last summer to accommodate his new salary. Tavares has a full no-movement clause. Even if he agrees to waive it, good luck trying to move that contract in the current economic environment. 

That leaves Nylander, who Dubas reportedly promised wouldn’t be moved as long as he was the general manager. The youngster could find out that sometimes general managers break their promises for the good of the team.

Nylander had a breakout performance this season, carries a reasonable $6.962 million AAV, and lacks no-trade protection. Teams in the market for a scoring winger will definitely be interested if he becomes available. The Leafs could also move Kapanen, but he won’t fetch the type of return the Leafs need.

Dubas and company could shock us by moving someone else, but I think it’s got to be Nylander.

What do you think, Leafs fans? Let me know in the comments section below.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2020

Vezina Trophy finalists announced, Caleb Jones admits testing positive for COVID-19, plus updates on David Pastrnak, Marc-Andre Fleury, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck, Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy are the finalist for the 2020 Vezina Trophy, awarded to the top goaltender as voted by NHL general managers.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is among the finalists for the 2020 Vezina Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask (2014) and Vasilevskiy (2019) won the Vezina before, while this is Hellebuyck’s second time as a finalist. Rask has the better stats of the three, but Hellebucyk led the league in shutouts (6) while carrying the Jets and their depth-depleted defense into the 2020 playoffs. That could be the determining factor in his favor.

LATEST TRAINING CAMP HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak’s agent said his client is in quarantine after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. The Bruins winger tested negative for the coronavirus. That explains why he was held out of practice Thursday.

Pastrnak and teammate Ondrej Kase were following travel quarantine protocols after recently returning from the Czech Republic to attend training camp. The reason for Kase’s absence remains unknown.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones admitted he tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago when he returned to Edmonton from his off-season home in Dallas. He had no symptoms and self-quarantined for two weeks. He’s fine now and skating in Oilers’ practices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones is the second player known to have had the virus but the first to voluntarily admit it. Last month, the Toronto Sun reported Maple Leafs center Austin Matthews tested positive for COVID-19 over a month ago. He acknowledged it earlier this week.

The NHL is preventing teams from revealing the health status of its players during the return-to-play plan. Absent players are being listed as “unfit to play” or “unfit to participate” with no explanation.

Speaking of the Oilers, they and the mayor of Edmonton issued statements yesterday insisting the storm damage caused to part of Rogers Place arena on Thursday won’t derail plans to host Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament.

NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury participated in training camp on Friday with his Vegas Golden Knights teammates for the first time this week. The club claims Fleury missed the opening days for “maintenance”, while head coach Peter DeBoer said the goaltender’s absence was not related to COVID-19.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Defensemen Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy joined Corey Crawford on the list of Blackhawks players deemed “unfit to play”. Blueliner Calvin de Haan missed his third straight practice dealing with a family emergency.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning forward Cedric Paquette was listed as “unable to practice” on Friday. He was banged-up during practice on Wednesday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Noah Juulsen is battling for a spot on the Canadiens roster after being sidelined since Nov. 19, 2018, with migraines related to head trauma. The 23-year-old defenseman got in some games with the Habs’ AHL farm team in Laval before the schedule was interrupted in March and claims he’s felt great since then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For a while, there was concern Juulsen’s promising career could be over before it began. If he’s healthy he could be a valuable addition to the Canadiens blueline.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson declined to confirm a report by TSN’s Darren Dreger claiming interim coach Bob Boughner signed a contract extension to become their permanent head coach. Dreger also cited a report claiming former AHL coach Rocky Thompson would join the Sharks staff as an assistant coach. Wilson said there’s been no decision yet on the coaching staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Wilson doesn’t like it when a reporter spoils his big reveal.

THE DENVER POST: Some promising news to report on former NHLer Kyle Quincey’s young son Axl. The 1-year-old appears on the road to recovery following his second brain surgery on June 9 to remove a tumor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Axl and his family. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2020

More details on the return-to-play plan and CBA extension, an update on the Blues’ COVID-19 tests, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reported yesterday the NHL and NHLPA were closing in on a tentative memorandum of understanding on an all-encompassing six-year extension on the collective bargaining agreement and a return-to-play plan to complete this season.

Could an agreement between the NHL and NHLPA be announced today? (Image via NHL.com).

It requires ratification by the NHL Board of Governors and the full NHLPA membership. The latter would require 72 hours to vote.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said if an agreement was announced on Saturday the players’ vote could begin electronically on Monday. As of this update, there’s no sign of this agreement, though that delay could be due to yesterday’s American Independence Day holiday. 

Seravalli listed the pertinent details of the proposed agreement, including the critical dates of the return-to-play plan, the term of the CBA (end of 2025-26 with a possible one-year extension), Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026 pending negotiations with the IOC and IIHF, a cap on escrow (20 percent next season and gradually dropping to six percent for the final three seasons), freezing the salary cap at $81.5 million until league revenue returns to $4.8 billion, and outlawing front-loaded contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Further details on those and other issues were revealed from other sources on Friday evening. You can read about them in Saturday’s morning coffee headlines.

Other notable points include the players receiving a post-career health care subsidy of between $3,500.00 and $5,000.00 per player, the opportunity for players to rehab long-term injuries in a city or place of their choice unless the team can prove that rehab isn’t possible there, and no requirement for players who played in Europe to pass through waivers to return to the NHL provided they sign their NHL contract by Dec. 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last one is a significant change. In the past, a player who skated with a European team at the start of the season who subsequently signed an NHL contract could be plucked off the waiver wire by a rival club.

Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, reported the NHL remains focused on a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21 beginning in December or January. That would mean the Stanley Cup Final could be played sometime next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll have to get through this season first. If the return-to-play plan is carried out to its hopeful conclusion, the Stanley Cup will be awarded in the first week of October. The 2020 Draft will be held in mid-to-late October, and the free-agent market would open Nov. 1.

Earlier reports speculated the league would kick off next season on New Year’s Day with the 2021 Winter Classic in Minnesota. That would mean training camps would have to open in early-December, meaning the clubs that reach the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final under the return-to-play plan will have a very short off-season.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports further details were provided on the multiple Blues who tested positive for COVID-19. A source said it was four players and one coach. The problem may have started over a week ago when several members of the team visited a local bar. One player soon tested positive, followed by another player and a coach, and then two more players.

It’s unknown if any of the five displayed symptoms or were asymptomatic. Some of them could miss the start of the training camp period in Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan slated for July 13.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said these and other positive tests weren’t necessarily surprising.

I think it’s fair to say that our experience to this point is consistent with what we expected,” he said via email. “We didn’t go down this road thinking we were not going to see any positives. Of course, we were going to see positives.

Daly cited factors such as players spread out across the globe, their individual behaviors, locations, conditioning, and modes of travel. He stressed the importance of “conservative approaches and response management” is critical at this point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s approach has always been that isolated cases, especially those involving asymptomatic players, wouldn’t derail the return-to-play plan. That will be put to the test under Phase 3 when the players return to their NHL cities for mandatory training camps. While the teams will be undertaking strict health and self-distancing protocols, the players will be under greater risk of exposure in those cities than they will in the two hub cities for Phase 4.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers reports a source claims Brent Seabrook hopes to rejoin the Chicago Blackhawks if play continues later this summer. The 35-year-old defenseman underwent surgeries on his right shoulder and both hips earlier this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook won’t be the only player sidelined at the time the schedule was interrupted by COVID-19 who could return to action in the proposed playoff tournament. Others include Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Columbus’ Seth Jones, the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider, and Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2020

The Canadian government clears the way for allowing hub cities, a CBA extension could be part of the return-to-play plan, plus updates on Seth Jones, Sean Couturier, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites a Canadian Press report indicating the Canadian government has issued an order-in-council that would allow Edmonton, Toronto, or Vancouver to serve as one of the NHL’s two hub cities for its 24-team playoff tournament later this summer.

Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena could be among one of two host arenas for the NHL’s playoff tournament.

The order, which now awaits the Governor-General’s signature, would allow the NHL to work around Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine protocol for individuals entering the country. The league had to provide a plan that adhered to Canada’s public health requirements before the government went ahead with the order.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those three Canadian cities are among 10 in the running to host the tournament. Las Vegas is reportedly considered the front-runner, but it’s also believed the league prefers placing one of those hosts in Canada.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun cites a source claiming the NHL and NHL Players Association are attempting to negotiate the layers for Phase 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan while also trying to hammer out an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

LeBrun’s source, who’s close to the negotiations, suggested the return-to-play plan and a CBA extension (or a memo of understanding for the latter) could be presented as one package to the players before the end of this month.

LeBrun also reports there are players with questions about such issues such as health concerns in their respective NHL cities, life under quarantine conditions during the tournament, and economic issues such as escrow payments.

Should the playoff tournament go off without a hitch, the Stanley Cup could be awarded in early October, with the draft and free agency beginning later in that month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A CBA extension (perhaps to 2026) would be a silver lining in the COVID cloud hanging over the NHL. Because of the effects of the pandemic upon hockey-related revenue, both sides must work together to ensure labor peace in the coming years. Given the limited timeline and the myriad of issues to be discussed, it remains to be seen if they can work out an agreement by the end of June. 

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports if an NHL  player tests positive for COVID-19 we won’t know what team they belong to. Instead, the league could simply say a player has tested positive. McKenzie speculates it could be part of a weekly report going forward indicating how many players have or haven’t tested positive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will raise questions over which teams those players belong to, how many of them could be sidelined, and the effect upon the proposed playoff tournament. 

McKenzie thinks most of the players understand the need to return to action is an important one but there is a vocal minority raising concerns. He feels a player could be allowed to opt-out of returning if he had strong objections of doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the league and the PA are believed to be working on opt-out language in the plan for players who don’t want to return. Friedman also said part of the pitch will be the quarantine bubble the teams will be under will be safer than in some parts of North America.

McKenzie also said a decision on the two host cities could come next week. The league’s preference is a home team doesn’t play in its own hub. In other words, if Las Vegas is selected, the Vegas Golden Knights could play in the other hub city.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the NHL has assured its coaches they won’t face any restrictions preventing them from doing their jobs. Those of a certain age or in an at-risk demographic won’t be prevented from being behind the bench. Health and safety protocols for coaches and their interactions with players are still being discussed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The coaches could be required to wear masks behind the bench and elsewhere in the facility. We’ll learn more details when the league and the PA release their health protocol plans for Phase 3 and 4.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defensemen Seth Jones (right ankle fracture and sprain) and Dean Kukan (knee injury) have been activated off injured reserve.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Luke Kunin knows he’s at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because he’s a type-1 diabetic. Nevertheless, he remains focused on joining his teammates for the playoff tournament. “I don’t think it’s going to stop me from suiting up,” said Kunin.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov are among the Flyers that have taken part in small-group training at the team’s practice facility.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is among several Coyotes skating at Gila River Arena in preparation for the league’s return-to-play tournament.

TSN: Vancouver Canucks forward Nikolay Goldobin signed a two-year contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. He’s slated to become a restricted free agent at the end of this NHL season.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL player Dan Carcillo is one of two former CHL players to file a class-action lawsuit alleging they were routinely hazed, bullied, physically and verbally harassed, and physically and sexually harassed and assaulted during their junior careers. This comes days after a former Kitchener Rangers player claimed he was forced to do cocaine in a team bathroom during his rookie season in 2016.