NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 10, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s action, the NHL is reportedly returning to ESPN, plus updates on Jack Eichel, Roman Josi, Nathan MacKinnon, Elias Pettersson and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist and Tristan Jarry made 33 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Before the game, the Penguins announced forward Jared McCann was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. With 31 points, the Pens move one point ahead of the Boston Bruins into third place in the MassMutual East Division.

New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz picked up a win in his 1,700th career NHL game as his club edged the Bruins 2-1 on a shootout goal by Anthony Beauvillier. Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves and Brock Nelson scored in regulation as the Isles (36 points) got their sixth straight victory to maintain a two-point lead over the second-place Washington Capitals in the East Division. Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his 11th goal of the season while struggling teammate Jake DeBrusk was a healthy scratch.

Shootout goals by Sean Couturier and Nolan Patrick lifted the Philadelphia Flyers over the Buffalo Sabres 5-4, extending the latter’s winless skid to eight straight games. The Flyers overcame a 4-2 deficit on third-period goals by Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere. Their comeback began after they pulled starter Carter Hart in favor of backup Brian Elliott. They’re one point behind the fourth-place Bruins. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced captain Jack Eichel is out at least a week with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart gave up three goals on eight shots in the first period. It was the third time this season they’ve pulled the struggling 22-year-old goalie from a game. He is 6-5-3 in 15 starts this season with a bloated 3.61 goals-against average.

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal (NHL Images).

The Washington Capitals blew a 4-1 lead over the New Jersey Devils but emerged with a 5-4 victory following an overtime goal by Jakub Vrana, who finished the game with two goals. Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov each collected two assists while Devils center Travis Zajac picked up three helpers.

Jordan Staal scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Carolina Hurricanes nipped the Nashville Predators 3-2. Sebastian Aho scored and collected an assist for the Hurricanes (37 points), who sit one back of the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division. Predators captain Roman Josi missed the game as he’s listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators were already missing blueliner Ryan Ellis, who’s also week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Losing their two best defensemen within a week of each other could be the death blow to the Preds’ fading playoff hopes.

Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out 38 shots as his club doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2, handing the latter their seventh loss in their last nine contests. With 36 points, the Panthers sit one point behind the second-place Hurricanes in the Central Division while the Jackets (25 points) are six points behind the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks.

Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves as the Winnipeg Jets held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the Leafs their third straight defeat. Jets defenseman Neal Pionk picked up three assists. Leafs center Auston Matthews snapped a five-game scoreless drought by tallying twice to become the first player to reach 20 goals this season. Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu left the game with an upper-body injury. With 33 points, the Jets are five points behind the first-place Leafs in the Scotia North Division.

An overtime goal by Blake Coleman gave the Lightning a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Coleman and Tyler Johnson each had a goal and an assist as the Lightning (38 points) maintain a one-point lead for first place in the Central Division.

The Dallas Stars spoiled Blackhawks’ winger Patrick Kane’s 1000th career NHL game with a lopsided 6-1 victory. Stars winger Jason Robertson collected a career-high four assists while captain Jamie Benn picked up his 700th career point. The Stars, however, are 10 points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports sources claimed the NHL and ESPN have reached an agreement on a seven-year to become one of the league’s media partners starting next season. It’s expected ESPN would split the package with another media company, getting exclusive rights to broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals between 2022 and 2028 plus streaming rights for Disney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN hasn’t aired live NHL games since 2004 so this is a big deal for the league. The current contract with NBC pays $200 million per year so we can expect the new US broadcasting deal will be worth considerably more. This is also an indication of how much the NHL product has grown and improved in the American sports market over the past decade.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is expected to return to action tonight against the Arizona Coyotes after missing the Avs’ last three games with a head injury.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson is expected to miss at least another week with an upper-body injury. His last game was March 2 against the Jets.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes placed goaltender Darcy Kuemper on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. He’s returning to Arizona for further evaluation after getting hurt during Monday’s game against the Avalanche.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy faced no supplemental discipline for his hit to the head of Lightning blueliner Erik Cernak, who returned to action last night against Detroit.

TSN: Only three players – Edmonton’s Kyle Turris, Nashville’s Erik Haula and San Jose’s Marcus Sorensen – are on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2021

The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plus updates on the Predators, Sabres, Coyotes, Kings, Red Wings and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cited Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley appearing on Andy Strickland and Cam Janssen’s podcast where he said he doesn’t want goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to be traded. “He never came close to be part of a deal,” said Foley. “I would’ve had a big problem with it if that had been presented to me.” Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to reacquire Fleury through another team and they thought they were close to a deal.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman indicated if Foley doesn’t want Fleury traded then that’s the end of it. The 36-year-old goaltender becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Friedman believes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay with the Edmonton Oilers and management wants to keep him. The biggest challenge is the economic landscape is recovering more slowly than expected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the salary cap is likely to remain at $81.5 million for next season, affecting how much the Oilers can comfortably afford to invest in a long-term extension for Nugent-Hopkins.

Following up on his Saturday report regarding the Nashville Predators’ trade speculation, Friedman said their deep respect for aging goaltender Pekka Rinne means they want him to retire in their uniform. They have no desire to move defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. They’re willing to listen to trade offers but it will be difficult to pry away Filip Forsberg and Dante Fabbro.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators most likely to be traded are pending unrestricted free agents like Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula or those on affordable contracts (Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok) that expire at the end of 2021-22. They’ll entertain offers for expensive underachievers such as Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen but I doubt there will be much interest in either guy.

The Buffalo Sabres are making Brandon Montour available. The 26-year-old defenseman is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes are looking for a center. They could also be interested in a rental player like Montour or a winger like the Vancouver Canucks’ Tanner Pearson if he becomes available.

Don’t expect the Los Angeles Kings to become buyers if they remain in playoff contention by the trade deadline. General manager Rob Blake intends to stick with his rebuilding plan.

UPDATES ON THE RED WINGS AND FLAMES

TSN: Frank Seravalli believes three Detroit Red Wings – Bobby Ryan, Luke Glendening and Marc Staal – could draw attention from rival clubs as the Apr. 12 trade deadline approaches. Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, said the Calgary Flames’ recent slump sparked speculation whether GM Brad Treliving was up to something. However, it seems all’s quiet on the Flames front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Ryan, Staal and Glendening could be playing elsewhere by Apr. 12. As for the Flames, Treliving is remaining patient with his roster but his hand could be forced if they don’t show significant improvement. Complicating things, of course, are the COVID protocols and travel restrictions for any players acquired from American teams.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 21, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 21, 2021

More Jack Eichel speculation, almost everyone on the Predators could be available in the trade market, and Ethan Bear’s trade value in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin believes the Jack Eichel era is heading toward a cliff in Buffalo. The Sabres captain was disgruntled over the club’s direction before last year’s front-office purge, the team isn’t scoring and Larkin expects rival clubs could soon start making trade offers for their franchise player.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel remains a hot topic for trade conjecture (NHL Images).

Larkin cites recent comments by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicating Eichel was unhappy over his situation last summer. While he didn’t request a trade, rival teams did make inquiries. Larkin wonders how much more Eichel will endure before he wants out.

Eichel’s no-movement clause doesn’t kick in until after the 2021-22 season, giving the Sabres a window of opportunity to trade him to any team. They would get significant offers because the 24-year-old center is in the prime of his playing career.

Larkin acknowledged the idea of moving Eichel and pending free agent winger Taylor Hall hurts. However, if the Sabres aren’t improving with those two in the lineup it might be best to hit the reset button.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos also wonders if it’s time for the Sabres to trade Eichel. He points to this being the center’s sixth season in the league with a team showing no sign of progress. Traikos pondered the possibility of Eichel following the same path as Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois and ask his agent to request a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Sabres shopping Eichel before the trade deadline if they haven’t climbed into playoff contention by then. However, I expect ownership and management will sit down with their captain to discuss the club’s situation and his future in Buffalo.

The Sabres will hang onto Eichel if he’s willing to stay put. If one side or the other believes it’s time to move on, an offseason trade makes the most sense. That’s when teams have more cap space and a willingness to make blockbuster moves.

Possible destinations for Eichel could be rebuilding teams with plenty of salary-cap space to absorb his $10 million annual average value and with sufficient assets to help the Sabres rebuild. The Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers fall into that category and could be among the suitors.

FEW UNTOUCHABLES AMONG THE PREDATORS.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports word is there are only three untouchables – Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Pekka Rinne – on the Nashville Predators. He believes they could be willing to listen to trade offers on almost everyone else, including winger Filip Forsberg and defenseman Dante Fabbro.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman points out Rinne is among the untouchables because he’s coming to the end of his contract. I doubt there would be much of a market for the 38-year-old goaltender given his fading performance and $5 million annual average value.

Just because the Preds are willing to listen to offers on guys like Forsberg and Fabbro doesn’t mean those players will be traded. Those two are among their better players and I doubt they’ll be moved unless there’s a mind-blowing offer for either guy.

The most obvious trade candidates are pending UFAs such as Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Brad Richardson. Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Cousins could also be available as they each have a year remaining on their contracts with affordable salary-cap hits.

Ekholm has been often mentioned in recent days as perhaps their most desirable trade chip. That would change, of course, if guys like Forsberg and Fabbro are available.

COULD THE OILERS SHOP ETHAN BEAR?

THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis recently observed the notion of the Edmonton Oilers shopping Ethan Bear has been floating around. Willis doubts they will move the 23-year-old defenseman because they lack a proper replacement for him, weakening their blue line. He feels any assessment of Bear as a trade chip only makes it clear how important he is to the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t argue with Willis’ assessment. Sure, the Oilers could use him as a trade chip to address another roster issue but doing so would then leave a hole to be addressed on the defense.










Some Early NHL Norris Trophy Odds

Some Early NHL Norris Trophy Odds

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2020

The Lightning beat the Stars to tie the Stanley Cup Final at a game apiece, the latest NHL Award winners are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three first-period goals and held on to edge the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, tying the series at a game apiece. Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk tallied for the Lightning, while Joe Pavelski and Mattias Janmark replied for the Stars. Game 3 is Wednesday at 8 pm ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were sloppy and undisciplined in the first period, giving up two power-play goals and getting outshot 14-6. They rallied back with a better effort over the next two periods to make it interesting, but the Lightning got solid goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy for the win. The Stars also lost Blake Comeau to injury in the second period. An update on his condition could be released today.

Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl wins the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award (NHL Images)

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is the winner of the 2020 Hart Memorial Trophy and the 2020 Ted Lindsay Award. Draisaitl was also this season’s winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is the 2020 winner of the Vezina Trophy. He’s the first Jet to win a major award since Teemu Selanne won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1993.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi took home the 2020 James Norris Memorial Trophy. He’s the first Predators blueliner to win the Norris.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is the winner of the 2020 Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. He’s the first Avs player to win that honor since teammate Nathan MacKinnon in 2013-14.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.

The NHL also revealed its 2019-20 First and Second All-Star Teams.

2019-20 NHL First All-Star Team

G: Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets

D: John Carlson, Washington Capitals

D: Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

C: Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers

RW: David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins

LW: Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

2019-20 NHL Second All-Star Team

G: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

D: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

D: Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues

C: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

RW: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

LW: Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

The 2019-20 All-Rookie Team was also revealed:

G: Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ

D: Quinn Hughes, VAN

D: Cale Makar, COL

F: Dominik Kubalik, CHI

F: Victor Olofsson, BUF

F: Nick Suzuki, MTL

CBC SPORTS: Former NHL right wing Bob Nevin passed away at age 82. In 1,182 career games, Nevin scored 307 goals and 726 points from 1958-59 through 1975-76 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and Los Angeles Kings. He won two Stanley Cups with the Leafs in 1962 and 1963, and served as captain of the Rangers from 1965 to 1971.

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

 










2020 NHL Awards: Hart, Norris, and Selke Finalists

2020 NHL Awards: Hart, Norris, and Selke Finalists