NHL Rumor Mill – March 26, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – March 26, 2024

The latest on the Flames and debunking a Carter Hart rumor in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Calgary Flames general manager Craig Conroy was a seller in the trade market during this regular season, shipping out Nikita Zadorov, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin between November 30 and the March 8 trade deadline.

However, Frank Seravalli reported Conroy hinted that his club might be a buyer in this summer’s free-agent market. The Flames have almost $19 million in cap space for next season. Conroy won’t target the big-name unrestricted free agents but could pursue one or two mid-tier UFAs.

Calgary Flames general manager Craig Conroy.

Conroy said he wants to let his young players have a chance to perform. However, he’d like to add a couple of veterans on two or three-year contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the trade rumors dogging players like goaltender Jacob Markstrom plus the movement of core players like Lindholm, Tanev and Hanifin, this was a difficult year for the Flames

Nevertheless, the Flames were at times in playoff contention during this season, partly because of young players like Yegor Sharangovich, Connor Zary, and Martin Pospisil. With those players improving, Oliver Kylington back in the fold and youngsters like Dustin Wolf, Matt Coronato and Jakob Pelletier getting their chance, perhaps a turnaround won’t take too long.

Adding a couple of affordable veterans to bolster their depth would ease some of the pressure and workload on those younger players.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Trevor Neufeld recently listed “6 spicey free-agent targets” for the Flames this summer.

Bringing back winger Ryan Lomberg could be an option. Former Flames GM Brad Treliving let Lomberg walk following the 2019-20 season. He’s spent the past four seasons with the Florida Panthers where his rugged play has made him a hit with Panthers fans.

Another physical option could be Arizona Coyotes winger Liam O’Brien. Detroit Red Wings forward David Perron could bring skill and experienced leadership to the Flames.

Neufeld also suggested reuniting Flames playmaking winger Jonathan Huberdeau with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Anthony Duclair. The two played well together with the Florida Panthers.

Other options include Colorado Avalanche winger Jonathan Drouin or Edmonton Oilers defenseman Troy Stecher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if any of Neufeld’s suggested targets end up on Conroy’s offseason wish list.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller reports a rumor from Russian television linking Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart to KHL team AK Bars Kazan has been debunked by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Hart, along with Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube, New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod and defenseman Cal Foote and Ottawa Senators restricted free agent Alex Formenton, were charged in January with sexual assault by London, Ontario police.

The charges stem from an alleged incident in June 2018 while the five were members of Canada’s World Junior hockey team. Hart, Dube, McLeod and Foote are on indefinite leaves of absence from their NHL clubs. They’re awaiting a trial date.

The Russian report claimed the five players will likely continue their playing careers in the KHL as they won’t be accepted into the European leagues. It also claimed the players must receive judicial permission to leave North America to continue their careers.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jon Bailey doesn’t believe the Russian report passes the smell test.

Asking a Canadian court to grant permission for a player facing a serious charge to leave the country for a nation on which Canada has imposed 153 sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine makes the prospect of Hart playing in Russia before his trial wildly unrealistic,” writes Bailey.

Bailey noted that Hart will be a restricted free agent following this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman indicated there is no truth to this rumor. I think Bailey also summed up this nonsense quite well.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2023

Tage Thompson’s new contract already looks like a bargain for the Sabres, an update on the Coyotes’ future, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski recalled how much of the hockey world questioned the Sabres’ signing center Tage Thompson to a seven-year, $50 million contract extension last August following his 38-goal performance in 2021-22.

Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson (NHL Images).

A year later, the 25-year-old Thompson’s deal looks like a bargain after he tallied a team-leading, career-best 47 goals and 94 points last season. Starting this season, he’ll earn an average annual value of $7.142 million, which is lower than 87 other NHL players.

Among them are those who signed new contracts this year, including New Jersey’s Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt, Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, and the New York Islanders’ Bo Horvat. Each has a longer record of success but none possess the same upside as Thompson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I was among those who questioned the Sabres signing Thompson to that contract. It certainly looks like a savvy move now. It will certainly be a steal for the Sabres if he maintains around the same level of production over the life of that deal.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly recently provided an update on the Arizona Coyotes’ search for a new arena. “They’re committed to finding a place in Arizona and making it work,” said Daly. “They continue to be optimistic about their ability to do so.”

Earlier this month, Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo submitted a letter of intent to purchase a parcel of land in northwest Mesa to potentially construct a new arena and entertainment district for the franchise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes will be playing at Arizona State University’s 4,600-seat Mullett Arena for the second straight year. They have a lease there through 2024-25.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov started Friday for CSKA Moscow in their KHL season opener. It’s an apparent violation of the IIHF ruling regarding the contract dispute that also involves the Flyers and the NHL, which stated that he could not play in Russia until Jan. 1, 2024.

The IIHF last month ruled that Fedotov’s contract with the Flyers, which was tolled forward after he spent a year of service with Russia’s military, was valid for this season. However, CSKA Moscow and the KHL dispute the ruling, claiming it “infringes on the constitutional right of a citizen of the Russian Federation to work.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Russia considered a pariah in the international athletic community due to their war with Ukraine, Fedotov’s situation could have consequences for NHL clubs with Russian draft prospects. It creates a potential precedent that could make it very difficult for those players to join their NHL clubs if their KHL teams decide they don’t want to let them go.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the KHL, league president Alexei Morozov said they approached the NHL about hosting interleague exhibition games. Those discussions failed to come to fruition. The last time KHL teams faced off with NHL clubs was in preseason action in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russia has been banned from international competition by the IIHF over its’ war with Ukraine, a ruling that the NHL abides by. It could also complicate the NHL’s plans to stage a World Cup of Hockey tournament in 2025.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sam Bennett will throw out the first pitch on Florida Panthers night prior to the Los Angeles Dodgers-Miami Marlins game on Sept. 6. The Marlins are honoring the Panthers’ 30th anniversary season.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Brian Boucher will replace Keith Jones as TNT Network’s “between the benches” in-game NHL analyst. Jones departed the role earlier this year to become the Flyers’ president of hockey operations.

THE ATHLETIC: Long-time Pittsburgh Penguins color commentator Bob Errey will not be returning to that role this season on Penguins TV broadcasts on SportsNet Pittsburgh. He’s held that job since 1999-2000. Steve Mears, his broadcast partner since 2017, is expected to be replaced in the play-by-play role by Josh Getzoff.

Phil Bourque is expected to remain as an analyst while Colby Armstrong is expected to play a bigger role in Penguins broadcasts.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2023

Check out the latest on William Nylander, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Alex Galchenyuk and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving said his club continues its contract negotiations with William Nylander. “He’s a terrific player and he’s a star,” said Treliving. “You want to keep your good players. We have time.”

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander (NHL Images).

Hornby also reported the two sides remain $1 million apart. The Leafs prefer signing him for around $9 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander recently said that he prefers to continue playing in Toronto. Whether his camp can overcome that $1 million gulf on his next contract remains to be seen. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said Evgeny Kuznetsov remains an important player for the club despite his struggles last season. “What he’s capable of when he’s on his game is world-class and that’s my challenge to help identify parts of his game, things I can help him with, put him in positions to have success.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals reportedly attempted to trade Kuznetsov, who is believed to have requested a trade late last season despite his public denials. His inconsistent play and his $7.8 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 have likely hurt his value in the trade market.

A better performance by Kuznetsov this season could improve his trade stock. On the other hand, it could also ensure he remains with the Capitals if they’re in the playoff hunt this season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken hopes that Andre Burakovsky regains his scoring form following his recovery from a groin injury that prematurely ended his 2022-23 campaign. The 28-year-old winger was leading the Kraken with 39 points in 49 games before he was sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They missed Burakovsky’s offense during their first postseason in their short franchise history. He could help them maintain their place as a playoff club this season.

DAILY FACEOFF: Alex Galchenyuk has signed a two-year contract with KHL club SKA St. Petersburg. The 29-year-old winger had signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes in July but that deal was terminated following his arrest for a run-in with local police.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could signal the end of Galchenyuk’s NHL career after 654 games and 354 points with the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and two stints with the Coyotes. His career was already in decline before the incident in July.

Never say never, though. A strong effort in the KHL could act as a springboard for an NHL contract in two years times.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets announced a new partnership with the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals. It’s the first time they’ve had an ECHL affiliate since 2020-21.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2022

The NHL and NHLPA release their COVID protocol for 2022-23, Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit, Jets center Mark Scheifele clarifies his end-of-season comments and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA released their COVID-19 protocol for 2022-23. There’s little change from last season’s protocol.

Testing will only happen for asymptomatic players and those crossing the Canada-US border. Those who test positive must isolate for five days if asymptomatic and 10 days if experiencing symptoms. Unvaccinated players remain unable to cross the border.

The NHL can postpone, reschedule or cancel games and events due to a COVD-19 outbreak if it poses a health risk to players and others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi and Edmonton Oilers forward Josh Archibald were the only two unvaccinated NHL players by the end of last season. Archibald, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, received a medical exemption in May. The travel restriction for the coming season would only apply to Bertuzzi unless he gets vaccinated or receives a medical exemption.

NEW YORK POST: cites TMZ reporting Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit accusing him of lying about losing 35 pounds after using a weight-loss gum for two months.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele downplayed speculation about his future based on his end-of-season comments in May. He pointed out that he prefaced those remarks by professing his love of playing in Winnipeg and his desire to remain with the Jets. Scheifele claims his comment about thinking about his career and what was best for him after the club missed the playoffs was misconstrued by the media.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

I was confident I was coming back until I saw all the media headlines and then all of a sudden it’s I’m getting traded and who knows where I’m going and all that stuff,” said Scheifele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff played down Scheifele’s comments last spring. He said the exit interview between the two went well, dismissing Scheifele’s remarks as an emotional reaction to missing the playoffs.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl are progressing well recovering from injuries suffered during the 2022 playoffs. Both are currently working out and Woodcroft expects they’ll be ready for training camp next summer.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed Jack Johnson to a one-year contract worth $950K. The 35-year-old defenseman played for the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche last season, appearing in 74 regular-season games and 13 playoff contests.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHL forward Cedric Paquette has signed a one-year contract with KHL club Dinamo Minsk in Belarus.

CAP FRIENDLY: indicates Derek Stepan has signed a professional tryout offer with the Carolina Hurricanes.

SALTWIRE: One of the two arenas at Summerside’s Credit Union Place was named in honor of New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Gallant for this well-deserved honor by his hometown. Gallant is among the best-known hockey men from Prince Edward Island. He started his playing career in Summerside’s minor hockey program and went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL from 1984-85 to 1994-95.

Since 2014-15, Gallant has become one of the league’s top coaches. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2017-18 and guided the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He took over behind the Rangers’ bench last season.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 8, 2022

Auston Matthews tallies his 40th goal of the season, Cale Makar reaches 20 goals, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines


NHL.COM: Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 40th goal as his Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. It’s the fourth time in six seasons the Leafs center has reached the 40-goal plateau. Matthews, Mitch Marner, Michael Bunting and T.J. Brodie each finished the night with two points. The Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division with 76 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is the defending Richard Trophy winner. He’s in a tight race for this season’s goal-scoring crown with the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider nipping at his heels. Nevertheless, he remains the favorite to take home the Richard Trophy again this season. Since his debut season (2016-17), Matthews is currently tied with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin for the most goals with 239.

The league-leading Colorado Avalanche tallied four goals in the third period, then hung on for a 5-4 win over the New York Islanders. Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar each collected three points for the Avalanche with Makar reaching the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 44 saves while teammate Anders Lee scored twice and added an assist. The Avs (87 points) hold a four-point lead for first overall over the Carolina Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makar is the first defenseman to reach 20 goals since the San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns in 2016-17. He leads all NHL blueliners in goals and points with 63. Meanwhile, teammate Tyson Jost suited up after undergoing several hours of surgery on Saturday and Sunday to repair a fractured jaw and damaged teeth after being struck in the face by a puck during Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

Speaking of the Flames, they remain red-hot by downing the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 to extend their home points streak to 13 games. Tyler Toffoli scored twice, Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist while Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves. The Flames (75 points) hold a four-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division while the Oilers (64 points) remain two points behind the Nashville Predators for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli has scored seven goals in 10 games since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens. Earlier in the day, the Oilers placed defenseman Tyson Barrie on injured reserve.

The Florida Panthers regained first place in the Atlantic Divison by thumping the Buffalo Sabres 6-1. Spencer Knight (29 saves) got the win in his first start since Feb. 1 while teammates Aleksander Barkov and Mason Marchment each collected three points. With 81 points, the Panthers sit one ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers rookie Anton Lundell left the game in the first period with an apparent leg injury and is listed as day-to-day.

An overtime goal by Andreas Athanasiou lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Cal Petersen made 29 saves for the win as the Kings (71 points) sit four points behind the first-place Flames in the Pacific Division. Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle each had two points for the Bruins, who hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 73 points. Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk missed the game with an upper-body injury.


TSN: The NHL is suspending its dealings with the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). This decision could make it difficult to sign players from that league. It’s the NHL’s latest move in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move could affect NHL teams trying to bring over their Russian prospects next season. This likely won’t have any effect upon NHL free agents signing with KHL teams this summer, but the increasingly tightened sanctions on Russia could make that league a less-desirable destination for those players.

NHL.COM: Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson, Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 6, 2022.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2021

Elvis Merzlikins talks about his offseason and his plans for the coming season, the Senators re-sign GM Pierre Dorion plus updates on Charlie McAvoy, Gustav Nyquist, Jake Virtanen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: In an interview with Aaron Portzline, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins spoke about the tragic death of teammate and close friend Matiss Kivlinieks and the birth of his son Knox Matiss Merzlikins during the offseason. Kivlinieks’ loss has given Merzlkins motivation to win the Vezina Trophy.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (NHL Images).

I don’t want to make any promise, but I can tell you, Aaron…my plan is to win a Vezina Trophy. I’m gonna win a f*****g Vezina for him.”

Merzlikins credits Kivlinieks with saving the life of his family when his late friend was struck in the chest by a fireworks mortar on July 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins will be jockeying for the starter’s job with Joonas Korpisalo. He said he and Korpisalo have a good relationship and understood the duo could split the playing time this season. A Vezina-worthy performance by Merzlikins, however, will ensure he gets the bulk of the starts and could help the Blue Jackets rebound from a lousy performance last season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed general manager Pierre Dorion to a three-year contract extension through 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dorion has done a good job handling the Senators’ rebuild. He drafted young core talent such as Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson and acquired Josh Norris. Promising prospects such as Jake Sanderson, Tyler Boucher, Shane Pinto and Jacob Bernard-Docker are also in their pipeline.

The Senators showed real signs of improvement last season. They’ll attempt to build on that with those youngsters playing key roles.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and his agent aren’t concerned over the lack of contract extension talks. “I’m just really excited for the year, just worrying about this summer, being in the best spot to be ready for camp,” said McAvoy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McAvoy is a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. Both sides are probably willing to wait and see how this season pans out before engaging in serious contract discussions. Given how much defensemen such as Colorado’s Cale Makar, Chicago’s Seth Jones, and Edmonton’s Darnell got this summer, I daresay McAvoy’s next contract will average over $9 million per season.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Gustav Nyquist is looking forward to the coming season after missing the entire 2020-21 campaign recovering from shoulder surgery.

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen signed a one-year contract with KHL club Spartak Moscow. The Canucks released the 25-year-old forward this summer following an allegation of sexual misconduct against the former first-round pick.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks hired John MacLean as an assistant coach. He replaces Rocky Thompson, who stepped down last week due to medical reasons preventing him from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

THE ATHLETIC: The Seattle Kraken signed defenseman Dennis Cholowski to a one-year, two-way contract worth $900K at the NHL level.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Simon Gagne, Paul Holmgren, Bob Kelly, Lou Nolan, Mark Recchi and Rick Tocchet are the six finalists for inductions into the Flyers Hall of Fame. A voting committee will make the final selection and the induction ceremony will be held during a game this season.