NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2022

Some recent predictions for the Flames plus the latest on Jake DeBrusk in the first NHL rumor mill of 2022.

PREDICTIONS FOR THE FLAMES IN 2022

TSN: Salim Valji made six predictions for the Calgary Flames in 2022. Among them was his belief general manager Brad Treliving will be active at the March 21 trade deadline by bringing in at least one significant player.

This season could be the Flames’ best opportunity to stage a deep playoff run before having to deal with the effect upon the salary cap of re-signing free agents such as Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington.

One possibility could be bringing back defenseman Mark Giordano, who was selected by the Seattle Kraken during last summer’s expansion draft. Treliving could attempt to acquire a forward with term on his contract such as Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli.

Given the Flames’ limited salary-cap space, they’ll have to ship out a contract or two to make those additions. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov and winger Dillon Dube could be expendable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving made several significant trade acquisitions in the past, bringing in Dougie Hamilton, Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm and Milan Lucic. However, those moves took place in the offseason. He’s yet to make a major in-season addition via the trade market, preferring depth moves over bigger ones. It’ll be interesting to see if he’ll roll the dice this time around.

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

Sportsnet’s Eric Francis believes the Flames will trade for a top defenseman like Giordano or someone else. He pointed out they’ll have to be prepared to pay a high price to bring back their former captain as a number of playoff contenders will also be interested.

Valji also believes the Flames will part ways with center Sean Monahan by buying him out or trading him. The 27-year-old center hasn’t been the same since undergoing hip surgery in the spring. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $6.375 million and a 10-team no-trade list. They’ll need the cap space to re-sign their key free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Monahan is more likely to occur in the offseason. Even then, it won’t be easy. The decline in his performance over the past couple of seasons hurts his trade value. It could mean retaining half of his cap hit, taking back a toxic contract in return, or attempting to broker a three-team trade to spread around his cap hit at the cost of a quality draft pick or prospect.

A buyout could be the way to go here. Cap Friendly indicates it would cost $2.375 million against the Flames cap in 2022-23 and $2 million the following season.

In other predictions, Valji believes Gaudreau will depart via free agency this summer, Tkachuk signs a three-year deal worth $9.5 million annually and they’ll make a strong pitch via free agency for Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see those predictions for Gaudreau and Tkachuk taking place. However, I don’t think Treliving will convince Kadri to sign with the Flames. Valji observed the center invoked his no-movement clause to block a trade from Toronto to Calgary in 2019. I think Kadri sees his future elsewhere if he hits the open market this summer.

LATEST ON DEBRUSK

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes the return of the taxi squad until February gives the Boston Bruins a better opportunity to honor Jake DeBrusk’s trade request. GM Don Sweeney hasn’t found an offer to his liking, with the 24-year-old winger’s market value said to be a similarly dissatisfied player to a mid-round draft pick.

Shinzawa speculates the Bruins could be forced to accept that draft pick if they hope to move DeBrusk and clear sufficient salary-cap space for Tuukka Rask. It’s believed they intend to bring back the free-agent goaltender later this month as he progresses in his recovery from offseason hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could depend on how much it’ll cost the Bruins to sign Rask to what’s expected to be a low-cost, prorated one-year contract. They currently have around $2 million in projected cap space.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2021

The Panthers tied a winning-streak record, McDavid and Draisaitl reach scoring milestones, Alex Ovechkin tallies his most assists through 20 games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their 11th straight home win to start the season as they downed the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. Aaron Ekblad tallied in overtime as the Panthers tied the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks for the longest season-opening home win streak at 11-0-0. The victory also propelled them into first overall with 31 points.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid each scored two goals and collected two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Zack Kassian also chipped in a goal and two assists while the Coyotes Clayton Keller had a three-point performance. Draisaitl has a league-leading 20 goals and 40 points, joining Wayne Gretzky as the only Oiler to score 20 goals in less than 20 games. McDavid, meanwhile, netted his 400th career assist. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes placed goaltender Carter Hutton in COVID protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl maintains a four-point lead over McDavid in the NHL scoring race.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin collected three assists in a 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Ovechkin (33 points) has 18 assists in 20 games, exceeding his previous best (17) in 2008-09. He joins Mario Lemieux, Johnny Bucyk, Gordie Howe and Martin St. Louis as the only players’ age 36 or older to reach at least 18 assists in their first 20 games of the season. Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz left the game with an upper-body injury. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield potted his first goal of the season.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri had two points to extend his points streak to 10 games to help his club beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Kadri has netted 21 points during that streak. Sonny Milano scored both goals for the Ducks. Earlier in the day, the Ducks listed Adam Henrique as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs netted four goals in the second period on route to a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Auston Matthews and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist while Rasmus Sandin chipped in three helpers. The Leafs have won seven of their last eight. Earlier in the day, the Kings placed forward Andreas Athanasiou in COVID protocol.

A four-goal first period powered the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and Nick Foligno each collected two points for the Bruins, handing the Sabres their fourth straight loss. Bruins netminder (and former Sabre) Linus Ullmark didn’t start as he’s nursing a minor undisclosed injury but served as a backup in this contest.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala scored in the shootout as his club nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Wild goalie Cam Talbot made 40 saves in regulation and overtime and was perfect in the shootout. The Devils overcame a 2-0 deficit on goals by Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sherangovich with Nico Hischier assisting on both.

A 36-save performance by Tristan Jarry carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. The Penguins have won four straight while the Canucks have dropped seven of their last eight contests.

Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 36 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, spoiling Pierre-Luc Dubois’ return to Columbus for the first time since getting traded to Winnipeg in January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets’ usually reliable offense has dried up of late, managing just four goals in their last four games. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets continue to exceed expectations, winning seven of their last 10 contests.

The Detroit Red Wings got 35 saves from Alex Nedeljkovic to snap a four-game losing streak by doubling up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Adam Erne broke a 2-2 tie while Robby Fabbri had a goal and an assist. Blues center Brayden Schenn returned to action after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed defenseman Danny DeKeyser in COVID protocol.

Chris Kreider and Kevin Rooney each scored twice to lead the New York Rangers to a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders, who had seven players in COVID protocol. The Isles have lost seven straight games. Adding to their misery, defenseman Noah Dobson is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple shot down a rumor claiming Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello asked the league for a postponement. NHL sources said they didn’t believe any such request came from Lamoriello. The league continues to monitor the Isles’ situation closely. Yesterday was the first time in a week the club had no new COVID cases.

Max Pacioretty collected an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2. Pacioretty missed 17 games with a fractured foot. Filip Forsberg scored both Predators’ goals as he returned from a nine-game absence with an upper-body injury.

The Seattle Kraken got 35 saves from Philipp Grubauer and a late goal in the third period by Marcus Johansson to upset the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Jared McCann tallied the tying goal on a power play in the second period for the Kraken (6-12-1), giving them their second straight win. The Hurricanes (14-3-1) sit two points behind the first-overall Panthers.

A three-point effort by Timo Meier (one goal, two assists) gave the San Jose Sharks a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Sharks forward Nick Bonino also scored in what was his 700th career game. Brady Tkachuk had a goal and an assist for the Senators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2021

The Lightning eliminated the Hurricanes, the Golden Knights push the Avalanche to the brink of elimination, the Masterton Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 29-save shutout carried the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 to win their second-round series four games to one. Brayden Point and Ross Colton were the goal scorers. The Lightning awaits the winner of the Boston Bruins-New York Islanders series in the semifinals.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By eliminating the Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers before them, the Lightning are serving notice that they still have the depth in talent to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Vasilevskiy is also showing everyone why he’s a Vezina Trophy finalist for the fourth straight year. He was superb in this series.

The Hurricanes remain a rising force. They’re very close to breaking through as a Stanley Cup contender. Much will depend on how management handles the offseason, particularly the expansion draft and the contract negotiations with defenseman Dougie Hamilton and head coach Rod Brind’Amour.

The Vegas Golden Knights overcame a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 Game 5 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on an overtime goal by Mark Stone. Brandon Saad and Joonas Donskoi scored for the Avalanche but Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault tallied in the third period to set the stage for Stone’s OT heroics. The Golden Knights hold a 3-2 series lead and can wrap things up Thursday night in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs controlled the play through the first and second periods. Turnovers, however, proved costly as the Golden Knights capitalized for all three goals. The winner of this series faces the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom, and San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

An independent arbitrator upheld the eight-game suspension of Avalanche center Nazem Kadri. He’s already served seven games of that suspension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Would the Avalanche be on the verge of elimination if Kadri hadn’t been suspended? Maybe, maybe not, but his reckless hit on St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the previous series hasn’t helped matters.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was fined $25,000 by the league for his post-game criticism of the officiating in Game 5 of this club’s second-round series with the New York Islanders. Bruins winger Nick Ritchie was fined $5,000.00 for elbowing Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield during that contest.

Injuries have sidelined Bruins forward Curtis Lazar and defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller from Game 6 tonight.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Yannick Weber has signed a three-year contract with ZSC Lions in Switzerland. Weber spent the past 13 NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and the Penguins. He played only two games for the Pens this season, spending most of his time on their taxi squad.

THE SCORE: Toronto’s CN Tower was lit in red, white and blue to honor the Montreal Canadiens as the last Canadian team still standing in the 2021 NHL playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I bet that went down well in the heart of Leafs Nation.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

The Canadiens upset the Maple Leafs in seven games, the Islanders tie their second-round series with the Bruins, Reaves suspended two games, Kadri suspension upheld, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 30 saves while Brendan Gallagher, Corey Perry and Tyler Toffoli were the goal scorers. William Nylander spoiled Price’s shutout bid late in the third. The Canadiens will face the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday for the opening game of that series.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens deserved the win. Down three games to one and seemingly on the ropes, they rebounded to upset the heavily favored Leafs. Price once again reminded everyone why teammates and opponents still consider him the best goaltender in the league. He was outstanding in this series. His teammates were buoyed by his play and his calm leadership and rode it to victory.

The Leafs choked. There’s no sugarcoating this one. They had the Canadiens on the ropes after Game 4 but couldn’t find the knockout punch. Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews was held to one goal. Mitch Marner finished the regular season in fourth place among the league’s point leaders but couldn’t score a goal in this series. There’s plenty of blame to go around for this epic failure. However, Matthews and Marner are the Leafs’ biggest stars and were expected to lead their club to victory in this series. They didn’t, and they’ll carry that burden for a while.

This will be an interesting summer for the Leafs as they evaluate this disappointing finish to what had been a dazzling regular season. I’ll have more later this morning in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

An overtime goal by Casey Cizikas gave the New York Islanders a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Semyon Varlamov got the start for the Isles and made 39 saves for the win while Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist for the Bruins. Game 3 goes Thursday night on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining back-and-forth contest. Boston quickly opened the scoring, the Islanders rebounded to take a 3-1 lead but the Bruins rallied to force overtime. A turnover at the Islanders blueline by Jeremy Lauzon sprung Cizikas for his breakaway winner.

The NHL released its full schedule for the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a two-game suspension for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves in Game 1 of their second-round series on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reported Reaves admitted he yanked out some of Graves’ hair while the Golden Knights admitted the incident was retaliatory due to Graves’ earlier hit on Mattias Janmark. And for that, he gets two games, probably because Graves returned to the game after leaving the ice for repairs.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri’s eight-game suspension after hearing Kadri’s appeal last week. He was suspended for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their first-round series.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes could shuffle their lineup with winger Nino Niederreiter expected to be sidelined for the entirety of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2021

Are offseason changes coming for the Predators? Has Evgeny Kuznetsov played his final game with the Capitals? Are the Senators interested in Flyers captain Claude Giroux? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PREDATORS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes it’s time for the Nashville Predators to start incorporating more young players into their lineup. She also anticipates they’ll prioritize re-signing defenseman Mattias Ekholm if he seeks a long-term extension before his contract expires next summer.

Could the Nashville Predators attempt to trade Matt Duchene this summer? (NHL Images).

Free-agent goaltender Pekka Rinne won’t be back as Juuse Saros has taken over the starter’s job. Kaplan proposed trying to entice the Seattle Kraken into selecting Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene in this summer’s expansion draft.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Rexrode believes the Predators must figure out where they are and how to get to the next level. Assuming long-time general manager David Poile isn’t asked to leave or doesn’t step down, he’ll have to figure out what to do with Johansen, Duchene and pending free agent Mikael Granlund.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Attempting to unload overpaid underachievers Johansen and Duchene won’t be easy. Both have several seasons remaining on their respective contracts with each carrying an $8 million annual average value. They lack no-trade protection but those contracts will be tough to move with the salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million next season.

Poile will have to get creative to find a way to move one or both. Getting the Kraken to select one of them will mean offering up a sweetener in the form of a draft pick, a top prospect or a good young player. That still might not be enough to get it done. Maybe Poile finds a club will to be a third-party broker by taking on part of the cap hit in return for a pick or prospect.

HAS KUZNETSOV PLAYED HIS FINAL GAME WITH THE CAPITALS?

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir reported Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan addressed the recent trade rumors about Evgeny Kuznetsov during his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday. “We’re always open to trading people if it makes sense,” he said. “If it’s going to make our team better, we’re open to it. “

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan also said they need Kuznetsov to play at his highest ability. If that wasn’t possible, they wouldn’t be a good team and they’ll have to make some other decisions.

The Capitals GM could entertain trade offers for Kuznetsov this summer. Then again, this could be his public way of reminding the center that his tenure in Washington is in jeopardy unless he cleans up his act on and off the ice.

Kuznetsov’s play has declined over the last couple of years. He received a three-game suspension by the league in 2019 for “inappropriate conduct” less than a month following a four-year ban from international competition following a positive test for cocaine. He tested positive twice this year for COVID-19 and was benched for one game earlier this month after he and goalie Ilya Samsonov missed a team function.

Those factors could impede MacLellan’s efforts to trade Kuznetsov. So could his $7.8 million annual average value over the remaining four years of his contract and his 15-team no-trade clause.

ARE THE SENATORS INTERESTED IN GIROUX?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s speculation among Senators followers over Claude Giroux’s future with the Philadelphia Flyers. He becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. Garrioch considers it doubtful he’ll be traded because of his no-move clause and his desire to stay in Philadelphia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That speculation linking Giroux to the Senators wasn’t generated by media sources. The Athletic’s Ian Mendes recently observed the “Giroux-to-Ottawa” talk that appeared among Senators fans on social media in recent weeks. The Flyers captain spends his offseasons in the Ottawa area but Mendes doubted that would be a factor in his future plans. If Giroux and the Flyers part company, the 33-year-old center will likely want to join a Stanley Cup contender.

Garrioch believes there are other possibilities in the trade and free-agent markets if the Senators decide to bring in an experienced center. His list included Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames, Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche, and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

He also mentioned Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel but doesn’t believe that move makes much sense for the Senators. He also dismissed Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov because of his hefty contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2021

The Hurricanes eliminate the Predators to advance to the second round while the Canadiens stay alive with an overtime win over the Leafs. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of their opening-round series. Sebastian Aho tallied the overtime winner as the Hurricanes rallied from a 3-1 deficit. Aho scored twice and Dougie Hamilton netted the game-tying goal on an assist by Jaccob Slavin. Nick Cousins, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen scored for the Predators.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.

An overtime goal by Nick Suzuki gave the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens had a 3-0 lead at one point but the Leafs battled back thanks to two third-period goals by Jake Muzzin. Joel Armia scored twice the Habs. Game 6 goes Saturday night in Montreal with the Leafs holding a 3-2 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the first game in this series that Montreal looked like the better team despite blowing that three-goal lead. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield’s heads-up play at his blueline picking off a blind pass by the Leafs’ Alex Galchenyuk set the stage for Suzuki’s winner. The Habs will become the first Canadian team in these playoffs to have fans in the stands as 2,500 people will be in attendance for Saturday’s game.

Game 1 of the second-round series between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins is 8 pm ET on Saturday, May 29 in Boston.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek will be in the lineup for Game 7 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Eriksson Ek was banged up in the previous game after crashing into the Golden Knights’ net in Game 6 but said he’s good to go for tonight’s contest.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights go into tonight’s game against the Wild without forwards Ryan Reaves and Peyton Krebs and defenseman Brayden McNabb. The trio was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri awaits his fate after appealing his eight-game suspension before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. A decision could be announced as early as today. Kadri was suspended by the NHL department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the first round.

NHL.COM: The NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings of the prospects eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft. University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power topped the list of North American skaters while winger William Eklund of Djurgarden in the Swedish Hockey League leads all international skaters.

TSN: Sports agency PBI Sports announced it represents former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. The announcement is seen as Rutherford showing interest in returning to NHL management. Rutherford stepped down as Penguins GM in January.