NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2022

Jonathan Huberdeau sets a league record in Jonathan Toews’ 1,000th game, Auston Matthews is the first player this season to score 50 goals, potential investors are circling the Senators in the wake of Eugene Melnyk’s death, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jonathan Huberdeau set a single-season assist record for left wingers (71) as his Florida Panthers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0, spoiling the 1,000th career NHL game of Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves for the shutout while Aleksander Barkov scored twice. With 98 points, the Panthers are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes but sit in first place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau really doesn’t get the attention he deserves for his playmaking skills. He’s fourth overall in total assists (271) since 2017-18, four behind the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane and nine behind the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin. Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the overall leader during that period with 340.

Toews would’ve reached the 1,000 game mark much sooner had he not missed all of last season to illness. It’s been a difficult campaign for the Blackhawks captain, with 29 points in 57 games.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews became the first player to reach the 50-goal plateau this season in a 7-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. William Nylander scored twice while Mitch Marner and Ilya Mikheyev each collected three points as the Leafs (91 points) move one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning into second place in the Atlantic Division. With 76 points, the Jets are three points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is the fourth player in Leafs history to score 50 goals in a season, joining Rick Vaive, Gary Leeman and Dave Andreychuk. With 15 games remaining in the season, he’s poised to overtake Vaive for the Leafs’ single-season record (54) and has a realistic shot of becoming the first NHL player to reach the 60-goal mark since Lightning captain Steven Stamkos did it in 2011-12.

Third-period goals by Mikko Rantanen and Andre Burakovsky lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Nazem Kadri and Erik Johnson each had two assists for Colorado while teammate Nathan MacKinnon returned to the lineup after missing one game with an injured hand. With 102 points, the Avs hold a four-point lead over the Panthers and Hurricanes atop the overall standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was originally reported that MacKinnon suffered a fractured bone in his hand following a recent fight with Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. While he was declared “good to go” by the Avalanche, it’ll be interesting to see if that injury has any effect on his performance.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen made 32 saves to shut out the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Andrei Svechnikov tallied twice while Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist. Canadiens netminder Jake Allen stopped 40 shots in a losing cause.

Jamie Benn’s overtime goal gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, extending the latter’s winless streak to 11 games. Jake Oettinger kicked out 21 shots for the win as the Stars (79 points) hold a one-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western wild-card spot.

A shootout goal by Lias Andersson lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames. Viktor Arvidsson tied the game with 4:22 remaining in the third period while Cal Petersen picked up the win with a 26-save effort. Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 shots for the Flames, who hold a five-point lead over the Kings for first place in the Pacific Division with 89 points.

Evgeni Malkin’s overtime goal lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Minnesota Wild 4-3, ending the latter’s seven-game winning streak. Rickard Rakell scored two goals for the Penguins (92 points), who sit one point behind the second-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jason Zucker’s return to the Penguins lineup after missing the last 30 games to core-muscle surgery didn’t last long. He was helped from the ice in the second period after suffering what looked like a serious leg injury from crashing awkwardly into the boards. No update was provided on his status.

A six-goal second period powered the Boston Bruins to an 8-1 romp over the New Jersey Devils. Brad Marchand tallied twice while Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak each collected three points as the Bruins (89 points) hold a five-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins honored recently-retired goalie Tuukka Rask in a ceremonial pre-game puck drop.

The New York Islanders defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves while Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist for the Isles.

HEADLINES

OTTAWA SUN/THE ATHLETIC: Michael Traikos and Ian Mendes report that potential investors are already looking into purchasing the Senators only days after owner Eugene Melnyk passed away on Monday. Ownership of the team is expected to pass to Melnyk’s college-age daughters Anne and Olivia. Mendes confirmed there are “multiple groups” who’ve expressed interest in purchasing the Senators with the plan of keeping them in the Ottawa market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Melnyk isn’t even in the ground yet and already the vultures are circling hoping to pick up the Senators. One would think they’d at least allow his family time to grieve before making inquiries about buying the franchise. That’s the cold-blooded business world for you.

Nothing will happen until after Melnyk’s estate has been settled, which could take weeks. That’s when we’ll learn if his daughters will retain or sell the franchise. Based on the reports by Traikos and Mendes, they won’t lack potential bidders keen on keeping the club in Ottawa.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller’s season is over after undergoing surgery for a broken leg suffered during Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. His recovery period is expected to be between four to six months.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek will be sidelined for at least six weeks with a groin injury.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi is expected to miss two weeks with a lower-body injury.

THE ATHLETIC: The Buffalo Sabres will honor long-time broadcaster Rick Jeanneret with a banner prior to tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators. The Hall-of-Fame play-by-play man has covered the Sabres since 1971 and will retire at the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved honor for the long-time voice of the Sabres.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2022

Connor McDavid reaches 100 points again, Leon Draisaitl and Chris Kreider make the race for the Richard Trophy interesting, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid netted his league-leading 100th point of the season and Leon Draisaitl tallied his 49th goal of the campaign as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. Both players also scored in the shootout for the Oilers. Alexander Edler and Carl Grundstrom each had two points for the Kings (82 points), who hold a one-point lead over the Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

An overtime goal by Andrew Copp lifted the New York Rangers over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Chris Kreider’s game-tying goal was his 46th of the season while Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists for the Rangers (93 points) as they sit three points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson made 22 saves for his first NHL shutout to blank the Seattle Kraken 3-0. Shea Theodore, Michael Amadio and Jonathan Marchessault were the goal scorers as the Golden Knights (78 points) regained the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference, sitting one point up on the Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken became the fourth team officially eliminated from playoff contention, joining the Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers.

Blake Wheeler potted the deciding goal in the shootout in the Winnipeg Jets’ 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Connor Hellebuyck got the win with a 35-save performance while Zemgus Girgensons scored twice for the Sabres. The Jets have won seven of their last 10 games and sit two points behind the Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets played without leading scorer Kyle Connor and defenseman Nate Schmidt after both entered COVID protocol yesterday.

The St. Louis Blues regained third place in the Central Division by holding off the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist for the Blues, who sit three points behind the second-place Minnesota Wild with 83 points. With 73 points, the Canucks are five points behind the Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the second straight loss for the Canucks, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy. Earlier in the day, they also learned forward Nils Hoglander may be done for the season after suffering a groin injury during practice on March 16.

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka made 39 saves and Jan Jenik scored two goals in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. It was a costly win for the Coyotes as leading scorer Clayton Keller was stretchered from the game in the third period after falling awkwardly into the boards. Keller was transported to a hospital for further examination.

HEADLINES

OTTAWA SUN: Anthony LeBlanc, the Senators president of business operations, confirmed the club had held talks with Quebec City, but only about entering a joint bid to host the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

A report in La Presse yesterday claimed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had spoken to the Quebec government about the Senators playing five of its home games in Quebec City next season. LeBlanc said the possibility of playing neutral site games there was floated but never really discussed. “The idea that we (Senators) are going to be playing in Quebec City is very disingenuous,” said LeBlanc.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks seem to be jumping to conclusions by taking this story as an indication the Senators could be relocated to Quebec City. Coming two days after the death of Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, the La Presse report stirred unease for a fan base that is, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Ken Warren, insecure over the franchise’s future in Ottawa.

Part of that is uncertainty over what Melnyk’s successors intend to do with the Senators. However, Bettman recently indicated an ownership structure is in place and he anticipated the franchise will continue operating as it has. Part of it could also be tied to the late Melnyk’s attempts to build a new arena in downtown Ottawa.

If the Melnyk family decides to sell the Senators, the priority will be to find a buyer who will keep the team in its current location. Any sale of the franchise has to be approved by the NHL board of governors.

NHL.COM: The NHL department of player safety fined Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall $5,000.00 for roughing Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin on Tuesday. Nashville Predators forward Tanner Jeannot was fined $2,000.00 for kneeing Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk on Tuesday.

CBS SPORTS: The Maple Leafs placed winger Ondrej Kase on long-term injury reserve. He’s been sidelined by a concussion since March 19.

SPORTSNET: Former NHL player Jake Virtanen will go to trial starting on July 18 for sexual assault charges.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2021

Could the Coyotes shop Phil Kessel, Christian Dvorak or Clayton Keller? Should the Oilers attempt to acquire Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST COYOTES SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes it’s a given the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes will trade Phil Kessel at some point. The 33-year-old winger becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer and a re-signing appears unlikely.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Kessel’s trade status seems to change daily. He felt the club might be content retaining the winger this season with an eye on shopping him near the trade deadline. However, multiple sources claim Kessel’s representatives have approached Coyotes general manager Bob Armstrong requesting a trade before this season begins.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Honoring that request won’t be easy. Kessel would like to play for the Vegas Golden Knights but a source said they’re not interested in acquiring him. The Coyotes might have to remain patient as there isn’t much interest in the veteran winger around the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel also carries a $6.8 million cap hit and an eight-team trade list along with a no-movement clause that prevents him from being demoted to the minors. Unless the Coyotes are willing to pick up half of his cap hit his best chance of getting traded could be the February trade deadline.

Morgan also observed the considerable interest around the league in Christian Dvorak. The 25-year-old has become a hot commodity because of his two-way play and affordable contract. However, it’s not a certainty Armstrong will trade Dvorak. Morgan suggests it would take a significant offer of either a couple of prospects or a prospect and a first-round pick.

The Boston Bruins expressed interest in Dvorak and could use another center after David Krejci’s departure. Other teams linked to the Coyotes center include the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and his hometown Chicago Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dvorak’s situation could be worth monitoring through training camp and leading up to the start of this season in mid-October. That’s when teams will evaluate their rosters and determine if they need to turn to the trade market for help. One of them could make an offer for Dvorak too good for Armstrong to pass up.

Gretz also suggested the Coyotes consider shopping Clayton Keller. Under contract for seven more seasons at $7.15 million annually, the 23-year-old forward is in theory one of the players they should build around. However, if they weren’t going to keep a key player like Conor Garland, what’s the point of holding onto Keller at this point?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretz believes no one should be kept out of trade discussions with the rebuild underway. However, Morgan hasn’t mentioned Keller as a trade candidate. Neither did Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his latest podcast. Perhaps Armstrong sees Keller as one of a small core of players to build around.

COULD THE OILERS PURSUE KHUDOBIN?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples wondered if the Oilers should make a pitch for Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin. The Stars need to move out a goalie and the Oilers need one.

The Stars have a crowded crease with Khudobin, Ben Bishop, Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger. Bishop, however, could be sidelined for the upcoming season with a knee injury. It was assumed they’d start this season with Khudobin and Oettinger but the addition of Holtby raised questions about their intentions in goal and whether one of them could be used as a trade chip.

Staples believes the Oilers would have to find someone to take Mikko Koskinen off their hands before acquiring Khudobin. That could include adding a sweetener in the deal with Koskinen. It also depends on whether the Oilers are on Khudobin’s four-team no-trade list.

The Stars’ plan could be to put Bishop on long-term injury reserve, demote Oettinger to the minors (he’s waiver-exempt this season) and start with Khudobin and Holtby. However, if they can move Khudobin it would free up cap space to sign a forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That seems to be the game Stars GM Jim Nill is playing. Bishop’s career could be in jeopardy but for now, he faces an uncertain future regarding this season. Adding Holtby gives them the opportunity to shop Khudobin and go with a Holtby-Oettinger tandem. If there’s no immediate market for Khudobin, they send Oettinger to the minors until a new home for the 35-year-old veteran netminder and his $3.33 million cap hit is found.

The Oilers’ situation could be more complicated. Koskinen’s $4.5 million cap hit, inconsistent play and 15-team no-trade list make him difficult to move unless the Oilers are willing to retain salary or package him with a quality prospect or draft pick. Even then, there’s no certainty they can land Khudobin or any other suitable replacement at this point. The Oilers could be starting this season with Koskinen backing up Smith again.










What Next For the Arizona Coyotes?

What Next For the Arizona Coyotes?

 










Leafs Will Be Buyers Before the NHL Trade Deadline

Leafs Will Be Buyers Before the NHL Trade Deadline

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2021

The latest on the Bruins plus updates on Clayton Keller, Pavel Buchnevich and Troy Terry in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE BRUINS MAKE A MOVE NOW?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy took note of colleague Joe Haggerty’s piece over the weekend calling upon Bruins general manager Don Sweeney to shake up the roster. “Not at the NHL Trade Deadline when prices will skyrocket but now.”

Boston Bruins forward Charlie Coyle (NHL Images).

Murphy believes the transitional leadership group of Charlie Coyle, Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly aren’t leading by example. He suggests Massachusetts natives Coyle and Wagner could find themselves playing away from home again but point out the former has a modified no-trade clause and a no-movement clause in his contract.

He suggests Sweeney look deeper into the Arizona Coyotes than defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, as well as explore possibilities with the Ottawa Senators. In a separate piece (stick tap to Florida Hockey Now), Murphy noted Oliver Ekman-Larsson was close to becoming a Bruin last fall, adding Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong “is listening again on his captain.”

Murphy also cites a source claiming Senators center (and Boston native) Colin White was “out there” at the trade deadline two years ago. With younger players coming through the Senators pipeline, the source wonders if White could be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney might be able to afford Ekman-Larsson’s annual average value of $8.25 million if he could move Coyle’s $5.25 million as part of the return. That’s assuming, of course, Ekman-Larsson is willing to waive his NMC during this season and if the Coyotes aren’t on Coyle’s 10-team no-trade list. I don’t think that’s going to happen. 

Coyle’s low production and his annual cap hit through 2025-26 won’t attract many suitors unless Sweeney takes a comparable player and contract in return. That’s not going to improve the Bruins before this year’s playoffs.

As for White, the Senators could entertain offers but they might not be in a hurry to move him. He’s got four more years remaining on his deal. They can afford to wait until the offseason if they feel the need to move him out.

KELLER ON THE BLOCK?

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy pondered the possibility of an Arizona Coyotes fire sale at the trade deadline or during the offseason. He wondered if they could consider shopping forward Clayton Keller. A source told Murphy he’d heard Keller’s name “more than you’d expect” before signing his current eight-year contract and is hearing it again, though he stressed GM Bill Armstrong isn’t shopping the 22-year-old forward. The source believes that sort of move would be more likely to happen in the offseason around the NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Coyotes we can’t rule out the possibility of Keller getting traded. However, it’s worth pointing out Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan doesn’t see Keller being that high on the trade board.

WHAT WILL THE RANGERS DO WITH BUCHNEVICH?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers have a big decision to reach with Pavel Buchnevich before the April 12 trade deadline. He wonders if the winger has played well enough to be taken off the trade market or if he’s priced himself off the roster going forward. Buchnevich turns 26 next month, is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer and will be a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

With 22 points in 26 games, Buchnevich has become one of the Rangers’ most reliable forwards this season. Moving him would create a hole on right wing that could take a couple of years to fill. If they’re going to trade him, Brooks feels they should get a young, no-doubt top-six center or a grinding-oriented winger comparable to Toronto’s Zach Hyman but doesn’t envision either scenario happening.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks believes it could cost $5.5 million annually to lock up Buchenevich long-term. The Rangers could entertain offers for Buchnevich at the trade deadline but they don’t have to move him by April 12. They still hold his rights through 2022 so they can address this issue in the offseason when teams have more cap space and willingness to make significant trades.

UPDATE ON TERRY

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens noted Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday he’d heard Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Terry might be looking for a change of scenery. However, Stephens cites a source indicating that’s not the case.