NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2022

Alex Ovechkin reaches 50 goals for the ninth time, the Golden Knights keep their playoff hopes alive while ending those of the Jets, the date for the 2022 Draft Lottery is revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice, including his 50th goal of the season, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his club from dropping a 4-3 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Shea Theodore tallied the winner in overtime for the Golden Knights (89 points), who moved within two points of the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Ovechkin, meanwhile, reached an important scoring milestone, joining Hall-of-Famers Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy as the only NHL players to score 50 goals in nine seasons. His Capitals are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins with 97 points but the Penguins still hold third place in the Metropolitan Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.

The Golden Knights’ win over the Capitals officially eliminated the Winnipeg Jets from playoff contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer raised eyebrows by replacing starting goaltender Robin Lehner with Logan Thompson following the first period with the score tied at one after he gave up just one goal on 13 shots. DeBoer claimed the move was made to shift the momentum during the game.

Connor McDavid scored and collected two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Dallas Stars 5-2. The Oilers hold a four-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division with 96 points while the Stars failed to widen their lead over the Golden Knights. McDavid regained first place in the NHL scoring race with 113 points, two ahead of Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau.

Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 25 saves as his club held on for a 3-2 upset of his former club, the Colorado Avalanche. Kraken rookie Matty Beniers picked up an assist to extend his points streak to four games. With the loss, the Avalanche drop to second place in the overall standings behind the Florida Panthers. Avs center Nazem Kadri returned to action after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Beniers only has four games of NHL experience but he’s not looking out of place with the Kraken. The second-overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft appears to be on his way toward a bright future in Seattle.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat’s 40th goal of the season was also the game-winner as his club nipped the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. The Coyotes have dropped eight in a row.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on May 10 at 6:30 PM ET, setting the order for the 16 teams that failed to qualify for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Central Scouting’s final rankings will be released on May 5 while the annual Scouting Combine is set for May 29 to June 4 in Buffalo.

TSN: Evander Kane’s grievance hearing over the San Jose Sharks’ termination of his contract will require a second day. The date has yet to be determined.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry’s status remains “week-to-week” with a lower-body injury. His right foot appeared to be in a boot cast during their recent annual team photograph.

The Penguins also announced Amanda Kessel will be joining their executive management program. Kessel, an Olympic gold medalist in women’s hockey, is the sister of former Penguin and current Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark is expected to return to the lineup this weekend. He’s been sidelined since last Thursday with an upper-body injury. The Bruins are still waiting on sidelined winger David Pastrnak and defenseman Hampus Lindholm.

MLIVE.COM: Longtime Detroit Red Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka was reportedly fired because another employee caught him urinating into a drain used for ice runoff at Little Caesars Arena. He’s filed a lawsuit claiming he was discriminated against due to his age and disability.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 10, 2022

A look at five players on non-postseason contenders with something to play for down the stretch in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DAILY FACEOFF: Phil Kessel and Travis Konecny are two of the five players on non-playoff clubs that Matt Larkin believes still have something to play for over the remaining weeks of this regular season.

Kessel sits second on the all-time consecutive games-played list with 971. He won’t catch Keith Yandle’s record of 989 but he could reach 982 by season’s end if he stays in the lineup.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s pursuit of the NHL Ironman record isn’t a rumor, but it could play a part in his efforts to find a new club after this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and the Coyotes aren’t expected to bring him back.

Kessel’s best seasons are behind him but the 34-year-old right winger sits third on the low-scoring Coyotes with 44 points and is their leader with 37 assists. Those are respectable numbers and could make him enticing as an affordable short-term free-agent signing by a playoff contender this summer.

Konecny, meanwhile, has struggled over the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s difficult to judge the 25-year-old winger’s performance when the entire club has underachieved. Larkin’s colleague Frank Seravalli reported Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher had spoken with other clubs about Konecny. While no deals materialized before the trade deadline, the groundwork may be laid for an offseason move. His performance over the remainder of this season could determine his fate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny’s contract could also become a factor in whether he’s traded this summer. He carries an annual average value of $5.5 million through 2024-25 and lacks no-trade protection. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor recently suggested he could become a trade candidate if Fletcher decides to shake up the roster core this summer.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic’s inconsistent play this season saw him become the subject of trade rumors. A restricted free agent this summer, the final weeks of this season could give him an opportunity to show the Jackets that he’s worth retaining. Larkin speculates he could accept the Jackets’ qualifying offer in the hope of improving his value next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic had six points in 10 games leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. He had a four-point performance Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings (including a hat trick) but that’s accounted for most of the six points he’s had in the 10 games since deadline day.

Dylan Strome’s erratic production frequently surfaced in trade chatter this season. However, the 25-year-old center has 22 points in his last 17 games since being moved to the top line alongside Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat at the start of March. If he continues playing well with those two it could earn him a multi-year extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rebuilding Blackhawks could also try to trade Strome this summer while his value is up.

Larkin also wondered what the future could hold for Erik Brannstrom as the 22-year-old Ottawa Senators defenseman attempts to establish himself as a full-time NHLer. A solid effort down the stretch could earn him a bridge deal with the Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin observed Thomas Chabot’s season-ending hand injury has opened the door for Brannstrom. He’s been paired with Artem Zub and is seeing regular top-four minutes. However, the addition of top prospect Jake Sanderson could make Brannstrom’s future in Ottawa an uncertain one.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 1, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 1, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at some potential offseason trade candidates for the Flyers plus the latest on Phil Kessel and Craig Anderson.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Charlie O’Connor was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers could attempt to offload James van Riemsdyk in order to shed some salary this summer. He noted the club needs to free up cap space to make additions in the offseason, pointing out the 32-year-old winger is a $7 million player whose production has regressed.

Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).

Finding takers for van Riemsdyk won’t be easy. The Flyers could be forced to add a sweetener to make him more enticing in the trade market. It might be easier if they retain half of his salary though it means only saving $3.5 million. A contract buyout won’t clear the full $7 million from their books next season.

Cam Atkinson could be a sell-high trade option given his bounce-back performance this season. However, O’Connor senses the Flyers could prefer retaining him. Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim could also be cost-cutting options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: van Riemsdyk has one year left on his contract. So does the 26-year-old Sanheim at $4.675 million. Konecny, 25, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.5 million while the 25-year-old Provorov carries a $6.75 million AAV for three more seasons.

As O’Connor observed, those younger players would have more trade value than van Riemsdyk. Depending on this summer’s trade market, those guys probably won’t have to be packaged with someone else or have salary retained to move them.

That’s not to suggest van Riemsdyk can’t be moved this summer. He lacks no-trade protection and will carry an actual salary of $4 million next season after the Flyers pay his $1 million signing bonus. A club seeking to reach the cap floor next season could have an interest in him, provided the Flyers include a draft pick or a prospect in the deal.

SPORTSNET: In his recent “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported the Nashville Predators were among the teams interested in Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Predators will revisit their interest in Kessel this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent? The 34-year-old winger should prove to be an affordable signing at this stage in his career.

Friedman also reported the Buffalo Sabres would like to bring back 40-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson for 2022-23. The club is willing to wait on his timetable and see how he feels after this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2022

The Penguins score 11 goals to crush the Red Wings, Roman Josi reached a scoring milestone, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin returned from illness to tally a hat trick in a four-point performance as the Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the Detroit Red Wings 11-2. Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust, Rickard Rakell and Teddy Blueger each had three points in this contest as the Penguins became the first team in the salary-cap era to score 11 goals in a game. Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was pulled during the second period but returned in the third after Calvin Pickard was injured in a collision with Rust. The Penguins sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 90 points.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This lopsided loss caps a two-month slide for the Wings, undoing what had been promising improvement by the rebuilding club during the first half of the season. It’s generating speculation suggesting head coach Jeff Blashill could be replaced in the offseason.

Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi collected two assists to reach the 80-point plateau for the first time in a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Yakov Trenin scored twice and Tanner Jeannot had a goal and two assists for the Predators, who move into third place in the Central Division with 80 points. James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist for the Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Josi has become a solid contender for the Norris Trophy with his play over the second half of this season. He leads all NHL scorers with 81 points and became just the fifth defenseman in NHL history to reach 80 points in fewer than 65 games. The last blueliner to achieve that feat was Al MacInnis in 1990-91.

An overtime goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild over the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. Cam Talbot made 40 saves for the win and Mats Zuccarello collected three assists as the Wild have won six straight to sit in second place with 84 points in the Central Division. Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who remain atop the overall standings with 98 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kirill Kaprizov (81 points) also scored for the Wild to become the second player in franchise history to reach 80 points. He’s just two behind Marian Gaborik’s franchise record of 83.

John Tavares scored twice and Auston Matthews netted his 48th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly each collected three points and Petr Mrazek made 34 saves as the Leafs (87 points) sit one point behind the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers, meanwhile, hold a one-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for first overall in the Eastern Conference with 94 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid bounce-back win by the Leafs following Saturday’s disappointing 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Speaking of the Lightning, they dropped the New York Islanders 4-1. Steven Stamkos picked up an assist to collect his 70th point of the season while Mikhail Sergachev had a goal and an assist. Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller scored in overtime in a 5-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Frank Vatrano scored two goals for the Rangers, who remain one point behind the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division. It was a costly win for the Rangers as center Ryan Strome left the game with a lower-body injury in the first period. Sabres defenseman Colin Miller missed the game as he was placed in COVID protocol.

The Winnipeg Jets squeaked past the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on an overtime goal by Mark Scheifele, who also opened the scoring. With 74 points, the Jets are two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes winger Phil Kessel extended his NHL Ironman streak to 965 games, sitting second to the Flyers’ Keith Yandle and his 988 games.

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes scored twice as his club blew a 2-0 lead before downing the Montreal Canadiens on a shootout goal by Yegor Sherangovich. Rem Pitlick scored for the Canadiens with 46 seconds remaining in regulation.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2022

Could Claude Giroux join the Senators in the offseason? Why didn’t the Coyotes trade Jakob Chychrun and Phil Kessel at the deadline? What other interesting tidbits emerged from the recent trade deadline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD GIROUX JOIN THE SENATORS THIS SUMMER?

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman said he believes Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux “is doing his research” on the Ottawa Senators. He adds there’s no guarantee it happens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t the first time speculation has surfaced linking Giroux, an Ottawa native, to the Senators. It’s easy to dismiss the notion of the 34-year-old joining the Senators at this stage in his career given the club’s difficulties emerging from its much-ballyhooed rebuild. Still, never say never.

WHY DIDN’T THE COYOTES MOVE CHYCHRUN OR KESSEL ON DEADLINE DAY?

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports no team will willing to meet the high asking price Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong set for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Armstrong hinted some of the teams he was dealing with had the pieces to make the deal but they didn’t want to break apart their rosters. He anticipates greater trade opportunities for the 23-year-old blueliner this summer, expressing his willingness to listen to offers.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported Armstrong’s price tag for Chychrun kept changing, settling on three first-round picks and a high-end prospect. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claimed the return the Montreal Canadiens received from the Florida Panthers for Ben Chiarot drove up the Coyotes’ asking price.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned the Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins among the suitors. The latter might not be among those calling about Chychrun this summer given their acquisition and signing of Hampus Lindholm on Sunday.

Morgan reports Phil Kessel wanted a trade to a playoff contender since the start of this season and his camp wasn’t happy that a deal failed to materialize. The Coyotes’ $6.8 million share of his $8 million annual average value was the sticking point, as retaining half of it would’ve left an acquiring team picking up $3.4 million. Teams weren’t willing to acquire that hit. The Coyotes weren’t able to retain any more salary after doing so to ship Johan Larsson to the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Morgan observes, Kessel’s next chance to join a playoff contender will be this summer as an unrestricted free agent. He’ll have to accept a significant pay cut to do so.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Regarding the possibility of the Vegas Golden Knights trading Evgenii Dadonov to a non-playoff club following the deadline, league bylaws prevent him from playing for the remainder of the season. Friedman speculates the Arizona Coyotes could be a trade partner if they’re not blocked by the league. The Seattle Kraken could be another given their cap room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Dadonov wouldn’t be a rental player. He’s signed through next season with an annual cap hit of $5 million.

The Montreal Canadiens could be an offseason destination for Colin White. Canadiens GM Kent Hughes is White’s former agent and negotiated the 25-year-old center’s current contract with the Ottawa Senators. The Habs and Senators had some trade conversations before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: White struggled in the two seasons following his 41-point performance in 2018-19. He was sidelined most of this season with a dislocated shoulder. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him regain his promising form. He’s signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $4.75 million.

Zdeno Chara drew lots of interest at the trade deadline. New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello kept his promise to Chara and Andy Greene that they would finish the season with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 45-year-old Chara is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Perhaps one of those interested clubs will try to sign him if he doesn’t opt for retirement.

Seattle Kraken defenseman Carson Soucy drew a lot of attention but the club resisted all inquiries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Soucy has a year remaining on his contract. The Kraken could attempt to sign him this summer to an extension if they see him as a key part of their future.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – March 20, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – March 20, 2022

Check out the latest on the Avalanche, Hurricanes, Islanders, Coyotes and Rangers in Part Two of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers wonders what Plan B will be for the Colorado Avalanche after failing to acquire Claude Giroux yesterday. He suggested the Anaheim Ducks’ Rickard Rakell, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Max Domi and the Ottawa Senators’ Nick Paul as potential rental options.

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh suggested the Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp, Arizona Coyotes Phil Kessel and Montreal Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen among his list of possible Avalanche trade targets.

Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic could stand pat after acquiring Josh Manson and Nico Sturm last week. However, I don’t think he’s done scouring the market. One of those aforementioned forwards could end up with the Avs by tomorrow’s 3 PM ET deadline.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander mused over whether Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell will be active in the trade market before tomorrow’s deadline, especially when Eastern rivals such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers have already made moves to bolster their rosters. He wondered if they might be interested in a forward like the Ducks’ Rickard Rakell, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dominik Kubalik or the Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes GM Don Waddell has a recent history of making moves at the trade deadline. In 2020, he acquired center Vincent Trocheck and defenseman Brady Skjei. I wouldn’t rule out Waddell swinging a deal before tomorrow’s deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz cites sources suggesting there’s a good possibility the New York Islanders won’t move pending unrestricted free agents such as Zdeno Chara, Zach Parise, Andy Greene and Cal Clutterbuck. Recent speculation also suggests Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov and defenseman Scott Mayfield could stay put.

One source didn’t rule out Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello attempting to acquire Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun either at the deadline or during the offseason. Doing so could mean shipping out a forward such as Andrew Beauvillier or Josh Bailey in a separate deal and using the savings to improve the blue line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello is the most secretive GM in the NHL. He’s been known to cancel potential deals that get leaked to the media. He could stand pat, make a minor move or surprise us all with a blockbuster. Your guess is as good as mine.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan noted recent reports suggesting the Arizona Coyotes could move pending UFA goalie Karel Vejmelka. However, he feels the Coyotes could get him under contract.

The Coyotes still seek a king’s ransom for Jakob Chychrun but there are limited resources and few playoff hopefuls willing to make that move. The Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins were considered among the suitors but the latter is out now that they’ve acquired Hampus Lindholm. With Chychrun signed beyond this season, the Coyotes can revisit this in the offseason.

The Coyotes haven’t found any takers for winger Phil Kessel, who sought a trade to a contender earlier in the season. Morgan also doubts the Coyotes will part with forward Christian Fischer. He wondered if there might be any interest in sidelined pending free agents Johan Larsson and Jay Beagle. Both players are set to return to full practice on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d expect a Chychrun deal to go down in the offseason when teams have more resources and cap space they’re willing to invest in a major move. Kessel could draw some interest provided the Coyotes retain half of his $6.8 million cap hit.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doesn’t see the Rangers trading goaltender Alexandar Georgiev at the trade deadline unless they bring in a suitable backup to replace him. He suggested the Detroit Red Wings’ Thomas Greiss as an option.