NHL Rumor Mill – November 6, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 6, 2023

Some roster shakeup suggestions for the struggling Oilers plus the latest on the Blue Jackets in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SHAKEUP SUGGESTIONS FOR THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Robert Tychowski believes the Oilers need to address the lack of production coming from their bottom-six forwards. “There needs to be movement on this front – trades, demotions, anything to shake some life into the third and fourth lines.”

Tychowski singled out Ryan McLeod, Dylan Holloway, Derek Ryan, Connor Brown, Mattias Janmark and Adam Erne. He pointed out that they’ve combined for 52 man games thus far with a total of two assists. They also appear to be trying to compensate for a lack of production by not being physical.

Any member of that group would’ve been healthy scratches from the lineup by now. However, the Oilers salary-cap constraints mean there’s not enough room to bring in substitutes.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem with trying to make trades right now is there are a high number of clubs in the same boat as the Oilers in terms of cap space. It will require some creativity by management to swing a deal that shakes up the bottom six forwards. They could be forced to address the issue internally or consider a coaching change.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Caleb Kerney suggested the Oilers consider buying out a contract if they can’t make any trades before the American Thanksgiving later this month.

Kerney noted the Oilers have “a few high-priced contracts that could be bought out to create some cap flexibility.” He suggested they start with goaltender Jack Campbell, whose performance has left much to be desired. Buying him out would free up over $3.4 million in cap space for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract buyouts only occur during the offseason, with the main window opening during the second half of June. See CapFriendly for a detailed explanation. Whether the Oilers go that route with Campbell or anyone else next summer remains to be seen.

LATEST ON THE BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline observed that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kent Johnson’s demotion last Friday to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland along with his recent change of agents raised concern among Jackets fans.

However, Johnson’s future with the Jackets doesn’t appear to be in doubt. He’s handling the demotion well while coach Pascal Vincent felt that the 21-year-old will become an elite NHL player given his progression over time.

Johnson’s new agent is Pat Brisson, who represents former Blue Jackets Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones. Both players asked to be traded out of Columbus. However, Brisson said changing agents had nothing to do with his relationship with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson may get traded but it sounds like the Jackets still see him as an important part of their future. He is a restricted free agent next summer following the completion of his entry-level contract.

Johnson had a promising rookie performance with 40 points last season but struggled through the early going of this season. Sending him to their AHL affiliate is to get him more playing time and try to bolster his confidence. Don’t be surprised if he returns to their lineup soon.

Portzline also reported that Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has been working the phones for months trying to reduce his roster glut. He noted that Winnipeg Jets assistant GM Larry Simmons was in Columbus last Thursday as was Philadelphia Flyers head pro scout Dave Brown and senior advisor Bob Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been reported for weeks that Kekalainen is trying to move a defenseman. Adam Boqvist and Andrew Peeke have been healthy scratches for some time. Perhaps one of them gets peddled later this month.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2023

The Ducks upset the Golden Knights, the Devils defeated the Blackhawks, plus the latest on Jack Hughes, Igor Shesterkin, Mathew Barzal and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks tallied four unanswered third-period goals to upset the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2, ending the latter’s points streak at 12 games. Sam Carrick scored twice while John Gibson made 30 saves as the Ducks improved to 7-4-0. Jack Eichel had a goal and an assist for the Golden Knights (11-1-1), who sit atop the Western Conference with 23 points.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Offseason acquisition Alex Killorn made his season debut with the Ducks but was held scoreless in this contest. He’d been sidelined with a fractured finger through their first 10 games of this season.

New Jersey Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek stopped 32 shots as his club doubled up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Dawson Mercer scored his first goal of the season while Curtis Lazar netted what proved to be the game-winner for the 7-3-1 Devils. Taylor Hall and Ryan Donato replied for the Blackhawks (4-7-0), who got a 36-save effort from Arvid Soderblom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Devils’ first game without leading scorer Jack Hughes. He is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered during Friday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin is reportedly day-to-day with “minor soreness.” He could miss Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

DAILY FACEOFF: New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal was fined $5,000.00 for high-sticking Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo on Saturday.

CALGARY SUN: Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane received a one-game suspension for a “reckless cross-check” on Seattle Kraken forward Jared McCann on Saturday.

THE ATHLETIC: The Toronto Maple Leafs recently held a team meeting to address what was considered their meek response to Timothy Liljegren suffering an ankle injury after being tripped by Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand on Thursday.

I hated everything about it,” said head coach Sheldon Keefe. He and general manager Brad Treliving addressed the players about the issue before their 6-4 loss on Saturday to the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving added Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and Ryan Reaves during the offseason in the hope they would bring more toughness and character to the Leafs lineup. So far, however, the results have been disappointing.

Bertuzzi and Domi are struggling to score and haven’t had much of a physical impact. Reaves, meanwhile, is a first-class chirper but he hasn’t backed up his words with actions. Indeed, he’s been a non-factor since getting roughed up by Montreal Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj during the season-opener for both clubs last month.

THE SCORE: Kent Johnson is adjusting to his recent demotion from the Columbus Blue Jackets to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland. The fifth-overall pick in the 2021 draft, Johnson had three points in eight games to start the season with the Jackets before his demotion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson is taking his situation in stride and understands that he remains part of the Jackets’ plans. Nevertheless, his demotion and his recent change of agents sparked some speculation about his future. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: A former Chicago Blackhawks player is suing the club alleging former video coach Bradley Aldrich “groomed, harassed, threatened and assaulted him” and the club hushed up his complaint during their 2010 Stanley Cup run.

The player is listed as “John Doe” and was a teammate of Kyle Beach. Both were call-ups from the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford who practiced with the team during their Stanley Cup run in case someone got injured.

A review from an outside law firm hired by the Blackhawks in response to two lawsuits in 2021 found the club mishandled Beach’s allegations that he was assaulted by Aldrich. The club reached a confidential settlement with Beach.

General manager Stan Bowman and former coach Joel Quenneville resigned following the release of the report. Quenneville was the head coach of the Florida Panthers at the time.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 4, 2023

Does Nicklas Backstrom’s ongoing hip injury suggest the Red Wings should avoid Patrick Kane? What’s the latest on the Canadiens and Blue Jackets? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill

SHOULD THE RED WINGS PASS ON PATRICK KANE?

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Bob Duff suggested that Nicklas Backstrom’s decision to step away from the Washington Capitals for health reasons should be taken as a note of caution if the Red Wings are seriously considering the pursuit of Patrick Kane.

Backstrom, 35, underwent a hip resurfacing procedure in 2022 but struggled to regain his form since returning to action in the middle of last season. Earlier this week, he announced that he was stepping away amid ongoing issues related to his hip.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Kane, 34, underwent a similar procedure in June and is expected to be ready to return to action by December. His camp is expected to begin fielding contract offers from interested clubs later this month. The Red Wings are rumored to be among those teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duff raises a good point, one that interested teams could keep in mind. Backstrom isn’t the only NHL player who underwent this procedure. Those who have, like Ed Jovanovski, Ryan Kesler, Carl Hagelin were never the same. Indeed, Kesler never played again.

Kane is hoping for better luck in his return to play. He’ll likely only get one-year offers from clubs as they’ll want to evaluate his performance before committing to anything long-term.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli believes Sean Monahan could be a good trade chip for the Montreal Canadiens if he remains healthy and maintains his current performance.

Seravalli noted Monahan had 17 points in 25 games last season before he was sidelined for the rest of the 2022-23 campaign. He believes a healthy Monahan, who recently turned 29, could have 20 goals by the time the March 8 trade deadline rolls around.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In 10 games this season, Monahan leads the Canadiens with six goals and sits second in points with nine. He also carries a very affordable $1.985 million on a one-year contract and lacks no-trade protection.

If Monahan remains healthy and productive the Canadiens could get a nice return for him by the trade deadline. That’s assuming they’re well out of playoff contention and he prices himself out of their market given his UFA status in July.

TSN: Darren Dreger noted the Canadiens continue to carry three goaltenders with Jake Allen, Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau sharing the duties. They can’t risk trying to send Primeau to their AHL affiliate because they know he won’t clear waivers.

Dreger believes there’s a decision coming. That could include attempting to trade one of their goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Primeau seems the most likely candidate. Despite his struggles to crack the Canadiens lineup, there are reportedly some teams that feel the 24-year-old needs a change of scenery to reach his potential.

BLUE JACKETS’ KENT JOHNSON CHANGES AGENTS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman recently observed that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kent Johnson is now represented by CAA. He also noted that the 21-year-old forward is trying to find his way with the Jackets.

Friedman doesn’t think there’s any reason for Columbus fans to panic but he pointed out that CAA also represented former Blue Jackets Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson was the Jackets’ first-round pick (fifth overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft. He’s in the final season of his entry-level contract and had a 40-point performance in 79 games as a rookie in 2022-23.

I don’t think the Jackets plan to move Johnson as they see him as a key part of their rebuilding process. However, they didn’t want to part ways with Dubois or Jones but Friedman noted that both players wanted out of Columbus. Dubois was traded to Winnipeg in January 2021 while Jones was shipped to Chicago in July.

Johnson won’t have any leverage over the Jackets as he’ll lack arbitration rights next summer. Unless they become disenchanted with his play I expect he’ll get a short-term bridge deal with them.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 9, 2022

The Panthers earn another comeback win, the Avalanche’s Cale Makar downs the Jets in overtime, 2021 first-overall pick Owen Powers signs with Sabres, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers earned their third multi-goal comeback victory for the third time in their last four games by defeating the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Sam Bennett netted the winner in the third period while Aleksander Barkov and Claude Giroux each had two points as Florida overcame a 3-1 deficit to pick up their league-leading 30th home win. With 106 points, the Panthers hold a six-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they failed to pad their lead in the Metropolitan Division after falling 2-1 to the New York Islanders. Kyle Palmieri tallied the game-winner with 15 seconds remaining in regulation after Carolina center Vincent Trocheck tied the game 32 seconds beforehand. The Hurricanes remain two points up on the New York Rangers for first place in the division.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar tied a franchise record with his third overtime goal of the season in a 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Andre Burakovsky and Alex Newhook finished the night with two points each as the Avalanche hold first place in the overall standings with 108 points. Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had two goals and an assist as the Jets (77 points) kept their fading playoff hopes alive to move within seven points of the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets captain Blake Wheeler missed this game after suffering an undisclosed injury during Wednesday’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The St. Louis Blues overcame a 3-1 deficit to tame the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on an overtime goal by Robert Thomas. Ville Husso kicked out 35 shots for the win as the Blues moved into a tie with the Wild with 92 points, though the latter holds second place in the Central Division with a game in hand. Kirill Kaprizov tallied his 41st goal of the season and only needs one more to tie the franchise record.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No sophomore slump for Kaprizov following his Calder Memorial Trophy season. He’s among the league’s top-10 scorers, proving worthy of the $9 million per season cap hit on his contract while breaking the Wild’s single-season points record.

An overtime goal by Charlie Coyle lifted the Boston Bruins over the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Jake DeBrusk opened the scoring and got the primary assist on Coyle’s goal while Linus Ullmark stopped 29 shots for the win. The Bruins moved into third place in the Atlantic Division with 95 points, one ahead of the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins got the win with winger David Pastrnak and defenseman Hampus Lindholm on the sidelines. Speaking of the Bolts, they’ve dropped four straight after four consecutive wins.

HEADLINES

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed top prospect Owen Power to a three-year entry-level contract. Power was the Sabres’ first-round pick (first overall) in the 2021 NHL draft.

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets inked prospect Kent Johnson to an entry-level deal. They selected him with the fifth-overall pick in last year’s draft.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have secured their backup goaltender for next season by signing Spencer Martin to a two-year, one-way contract.

NHL.COM: The NHL department of player safety fined Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane $5,000.00 for kneeing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Durzi during Thursday’s game between the two clubs.

Nashville Predators forward Colton Sissons was fined $2,500.00 for spearing Ottawa Senators center Josh Norris on Thursday.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers forward Tyler Motte is sidelined for the near future with an upper-body injury. He’s expected to return before the end of the regular season on April 29. Forward Filip Chytil is also out with an upper-body injury but is expected to return to action soon.

NHL.COM: Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay is the 2022 winner of the Hobey Baker Award as the top college hockey player in the United States. The undrafted McKay will be free to sign with any team following the national championship game on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McKay is named after Hall-of-Fame goaltender Ken Dryden and wears the same number (29) in his honor.