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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2022

The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin tied for third on the all-time scoring list, the Leafs’ Auston Matthews widens his lead in the Richard Trophy race, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to tie Jaromir Jagr for third place on the all-time goal list (766) as his club held off the Calgary Flames 5-4. With 36 goals, Ovechkin sits fourth in this season’s goal-scoring race. The Capitals hold the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 71 points, sitting two behind the Boston Bruins. Flames forward Elias Lindholm also scored two goals as his club remains atop the Pacific Division with 75 points.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Auston Matthews powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-4 win over the Seattle Kraken. The Leafs blew a 3-1 lead and fell behind 4-3 before getting two goals from Matthews and one from Mitch Marner for the win. With 43 goals, Matthews holds a five-goal lead over the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and the New York Rangers Chris Kreider. the Leafs (78 points) are two back of the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is just seven goals from becoming the first Leaf to reach the 50-goal plateau since Dave Andreychuk in 1993-94. With 74 points, he’s just five points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in the race for the Art Ross Trophy.

Patrick Kane netted a career-high six points (one goal and five assists) as his Chicago Blackhawks thumped the Anaheim Ducks 8-3. Dylan Strome had a hat trick plus an assist while Alex DeBrincat had a goal and three assists. Anaheim goalie John Gibson got the hook after giving up five goals in 13 shots in the first period. With 63 points, the Ducks remain four points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

The Arizona Coyotes tallied seven or more goals for the second straight game in a 9-2 dubbing of the Detroit Red Wings. Fresh off a seven-point performance in his previous game, Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz tallied two goals and added two assists in this contest while teammates Jakob Chychrun, Clayton Keller and Nick Ritchie each had three-point nights. The Coyotes have won three straight games for the first time this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes winger Phil Kessel skated in the opening shift to keep his NHL Ironman streak alive at 956 games, then flew back to Arizona on a flight chartered by team owner Alex Meruelo to attend the birth of his child. Meanwhile, Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana scored in his season debut following a long recovery from shoulder surgery.

Florida Panthers winger Anthony Duclair tied his career-high of 23 goals to help his club down the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Aleksander Barkov collected two assists as the Panthers move into a tie with the Carolina Hurricanes with 83 points, though the Hurricanes sit atop the Eastern Conference with a game in hand. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust each had a goal and an assist as the Penguins sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points.

The Colorado Avalanche (87 points) failed to widen their lead over the Hurricanes and Panthers in the overall standings after falling 5-3 to the New Jersey Devils, who overcame a 3-0 deficit for the win. Jesper Bratt collected three assists for the Devils. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar extended his points streak to 13 games with a goal and an assist. Devils head coach Lindy Ruff moved into sixth place on the all-time wins list among NHL bench bosses with 776. He’s 12 wins behind Hall-of-Famer Al Arbour.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele scored and set up three others to lead his club to a 7-4 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Paul Stastny scored twice for the Jets, who had lost six of their last eight games. With 60 points, they’re seven points out of the final Western wild-card berth. The Lightning (80 points) remain three behind the Hurricanes and Panthers in the Eastern Conference.

The Minnesota Wild got two goals by Kevin Fiala and a three-point performance by Marcus Foligno to down the New York Rangers 5-2. Cam Talbot made 23 saves for the win as the Wild (69 points) moved within two points of the second-place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. The Rangers (77 points) hold second place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand over the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild winger Jordan Greenway collected an assist as he returned to the lineup after missing six games with an upper-body injury.

Speaking of the Blues, they suffered their fourth straight loss by falling 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators, who snapped a five-game losing skid. Tim Stutzle and Josh Norris led the way with a goal and two assists each while Brady Tkachuk scored his 19th goal of the season.

Two goals by Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi lifted the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars 2-1. John Klingberg tallied for the Stars to snap his 25-game goal-scoring drought. The Predators (68 points) moved one ahead of the Stars into the first Western wild-card spot.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart made a career-high 47 saves to backstop his club to a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Justin Braun and Oskar Lindblom were the goal scorers for the Flyers while Evgenii Dadonov replied for the Golden Knights, who sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken signed forward Jared McCann to a five-year, $25 million contract extension. McCann, 25, is their leading scorer with 21 goals and 33 points and is the first player in franchise history to re-sign with the club.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin returned to the ice yesterday by taking part in an optional skate. He’s been sidelined by a concussion and there’s still no timetable for his return to action.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Antoine Roussel has been sidelined for six weeks with a lower-body injury.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Justin Danforth to a two-year, $1.95 million contract extension. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks claimed defenseman Andrej Sustr off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 27, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 27, 2022

Check out the latest on the Bruins, Hurricanes and Leafs in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

BRUINS

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont believes the Bruins still look vulnerable on defense, especially on the left side. Jakob Chychrun could address that problem but the cost of acquiring the 23-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman will be expensive.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Dupont wondered if Bruins general manager Don Sweeney could convince Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong to take a flier on winger Jake DeBrusk but it will take much more to pry Chychrun away from the Coyotes. They could ask for top defense prospect Mason Lohrei or Brandon Carlo with his attractive contract with a $4.1 million annual average value.

John Klingberg is a proven offensive blueliner but the 29-year-old Dallas Stars rearguard is older than Chychrun and a right-hand shot. He’s also slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss suggests DeBrusk’s recent improvement could boost his trade value. It’s unlikely he’ll fetch a quality defenseman or middle-six forward on his own but he could be bundled with other assets to make a move for an upgrade.

Goss also wondered if the Bruins should consider bringing back Phil Kessel. The 34-year-old winger began his NHL career in Boston. He’s now a pending UFA and is expected to be shopped by the Coyotes before the March 21 trade deadline. Goss cites an anonymous NHL executive recently telling The Athletic the Coyotes are seeking a third-rounder and are willing to retain half of Kessel’s $6.8 million cap hit. If that’s the case, Goss suggests the Bruins seriously consider that move.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa considers rental players such as Kessel, Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux and Seattle’s Mark Giordano to be “unlikely pickups” for the Bruins. He points out many of Sweeney’s previous trade deadline acquisitions, such as Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle, were either players with terms remaining on their contracts or those willing to sign contract extensions with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have just over $5 million in trade deadline cap space so I anticipate Sweeney will be in the market for that top-four left-side defenseman or middle-six forward. Pursuing someone like Chychrun would fit into his habit of adding players with term remaining on their contracts but, as Dupont observed, the asking price will be steep. It’s believed the Coyotes seek a first-round, a top prospect and a good young NHL player.

DeBrusk could be packaged into a deal for Chychrun but I don’t see the Bruins being able to outbid other clubs with more tradeable assets. Bear in mind the Coyotes aren’t under any pressure to trade Chychurn, who’s signed through 2024-25. They can wait until the offseason if they don’t get any suitable offers by March 21.

HURRICANES

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock suggests the time has come for the Carolina Hurricanes to decide if they’ll bolster their lineup for the playoffs or stand pat at the trade deadline.

DeCock believes the Hurricanes need a top-four defenseman who can skate alongside Jaccob Slavin. While Tony DeAngelo has filled that role and played well this season, that pairing cannot be protected in playoff games on the road against the likes of Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov or Florida’s Aleksander Barkov.

Hurricanes GM Don Waddell acknowledged adding another defenseman would be nice but he also pointed out his club has limited salary-cap space. They’re already above the salary cap by over $1 million but that doesn’t prorate like regular cap space. There’s also the question of return. They don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft and Waddell said the Hurricanes will almost certainly not part with their 2023 first-rounder. He could also be hesitant to part with his top prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out the possibility of Waddell making a move to bolster his blueline. Based on DeCock’s report, however, it’s not going to be easy. He could end up making a depth addition if he’s unwilling to move his 2023 first-rounder, top prospects or anyone from his roster to land an impact player.

LEAFS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t in any position to rush sidelined defenseman Jake Muzzin back into the lineup. They’re telling teams if he’s healthy enough to return before the end of the season, they’re not going to hold him out of the lineup before the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs placed Muzzin (concussion) on long-term injury reserve. That would enable them to exceed the salary cap by the equivalent of his $5.625 million cap hit to bring in a replacement. However, the Leafs would have to become cap compliant if Muzzin returns before the end of the regular season.

By the sound of things, the Leafs don’t intend to approach the trade deadline with the assumption Muzzin won’t return before the playoffs. They’ll have to find another way to create sufficient salary cap space if they intend to make a significant addition by the trade deadline.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 26, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 26, 2022

Check out the latest on the Rangers, Coyotes, Blackhawks and Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RANGERS

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reported a league source said the New York Rangers contacted the Nashville Predators about Filip Forsberg. Sources say the Predators still hope to sign the 27-year-old winger to a contract extension before the March 21 trade deadline. Staple considers Forsberg a high-cost rental who would also be expensive to re-sign.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Staple also recently examined several potential trade targets for the Rangers. Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell and Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp appear the more realistic. He also considered defenseman Andy Greene an intriguing option if New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello waves the white flag on the season.

Staple cites sources saying the Rangers might not be as enamored of Vancouver Canucks forwards Brock Boeser and Conor Garland as they are of former Blueshirt J.T. Miller. Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel has been available for weeks but could be a last resort before the deadline if the Rangers still seek a top-six right winger by that point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Curious the Rangers would look into Forsberg when they’re already deep on the left side. It doesn’t hurt to conduct due diligence. Landing someone like Rakell or Copp seems more realistic if their respective teams fall further out of playoff contention over the next couple of weeks.

The Canucks don’t seem keen on moving Miller but that could change if someone made a substantial pitch. He’d be a good fit with the Rangers because he can play right wing or center, the latter being important for the Blueshirts if they fail to sign pending free-agent center Ryan Strome.

COYOTES

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan recently listed which Arizona Coyotes players he considers potential trade chips. Topping the list is Jakob Chychrun, who’s been the subject of trade chatter for two months.

Morgan said the Coyotes have yet to receive an offer for the 23-year-old defenseman that would improve their roster. He reminds us the Coyotes aren’t looking to move Chychrun and don’t have to move him considering he’s under contract through 2024-25 with an affordable $4.6 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong confirmed other clubs have expressed interest in Chychrun. He said he had to do his job and listen to offers. “But at this point in time, he’s a Coyote and we love him being a Coyote, and I guess that’s all I can say on that,” he said.

In other words, he’s willing to entertain offers but it’ll take a big offer to tempt him into parting with the young blueliner.

Morgan also said the Coyotes’ asking price for Phil Kessel is a second-round pick but that offer hasn’t materialized. They might have to settle for a third-rounder for the pending UFA winger.

Others on Morgan’s list include forwards Johan Larsson (who could return from injury by the trade deadline), Jay Beagle and Christian Fischer and defenseman Anton Stralman.

BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus consider goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and forwards Dominik Kubalik and Ryan Carpenter among their proposed trade chips for the Chicago Blackhawks. Defensemen Calvin de Haan and Erik Gustafsson were also in that group.

Winger Brandon Hagel has come up in trade rumors thanks to his solid play and affordable contract. However, they consider him among their long shots to be traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hagel isn’t untouchable and I’m sure Blackhawks interim GM Kyle Davidson is keeping his options open. Nevertheless, all reports out of Chicago indicate he’s either not going anywhere or it could take a lucrative trade offer to tempt the Blackhawks into moving him.

I believe the Blackhawks will retain Hagel. He’s 23, carries a $1.5 million annual cap hit through 2023-24 and could be a core part of their rebuild/retool going forward.

MAPLE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan weighed in on the Maple Leafs placing defenseman Jake Muzzin on long-term injury reserve and how that could help them bolster their roster leading up to the trade deadline. While the move would allow the Leafs to exceed the salary cap by the equivalent of Muzzin’s $5.625 million cap hit, they must be certain he won’t be back for the remainder of the regular season.

If the Leafs use the LTIR savings to add a player or two and Muzzin returns before the end of the regular season, they’ll have to shed salary to ensure they’re cap compliant.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I know I’ve touched on this earlier this week but I feel it’s worth repeating. With Muzzin sidelined by another suspected concussion, there’s no timeline for determining when he’ll be able to return to the lineup. It could be three days, three weeks or three months.

Trying to shed salary after the trade deadline isn’t impossible but it’s very difficult to do. They must ensure they’re not handcuffing themselves cap-wise between March 21 and the end of the regular season on April 29.