NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2021

COVID-19 outbreak forces postponement of three Flames games, the three stars of the week are revealed plus updates on Blake Wheeler, Aleksander Barkov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY SUN: Three Flames games (including last night’s scheduled match against the Chicago Blackhawks) were postponed after six players (Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka) and one member of the training staff tested positive for COVID-19. Flames general manager Brad Treliving said the players were doing well and asymptomatic but expressed concern for them and their families.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are the third team since mid-November to have games postponed because of COVID-19, joining the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders. Future outbreaks among other clubs resulting in postponements could adversely affect the schedule. That could jeopardize NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February. The league has until Jan. 10 to opt out without suffering financial penalties.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Winter Olympics, several NHL stars have joined Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo expressing concern over the possibility of spending a lengthy period quarantined in Beijing should they test positive for COVID-19 during the Olympics.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

Toronto Maple Leafs captain and potential Team Canada candidate John Tavares said he felt more uneasy about potentially going to Beijing than he did several weeks or months ago. Teammate Auston Matthews, who is already selected for Team USA, shared those concerns. Meanwhile, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said it would be an honor to be selected for Canada’s squad but he’d like more clarity about the COVID protocols for the Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chinese law states those who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for three to five weeks. There’s no word yet as to whether that will also apply to Olympic athletes from other countries. Clarification is expected in the coming weeks and could be a determining factor for some NHL stars selected to participate in the Winter Games.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to make its presence felt with some other NHL teams.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis entered COVID protocol yesterday. Defensemen Brett Pesce and Tony DeAngelo are expected to rejoin the roster today after being sidelined since Nov. 28 by the coronavirus.

SPORTSNET: Christian Jaros joined New Jersey Devils teammates Nico Hischier and Ryan Graves in COVID protocol. Forward Yegor Sherangovich has not entered protocol but was withheld from practice yesterday for precautionary reasons.

THE DETROIT FREE PRESS: Tyler Bertuzzi is rejoining the Red Wings after emerging from a 10-day COVID quarantine. The only unvaccinated player in the league, Bertuzzi isn’t reconsidering his position, saying he now has “natural immunity” from the coronavirus.

The US Centers for Disease Control says unvaccinated people who previously had COVID-19 are 2.34 times more likely to get reinfected than vaccinated people who’ve had it. Food for thought.

Speaking of the Red Wings, they signed Robby Fabbri to a three-year, $12 million contract extension. The annual average value is $4 million. The 25-year-old forward was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko, Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 12.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler will be sidelined for weeks with an apparent right-leg injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov has returned to injured reserve after missing the last two games with an upper-body injury. He returned to the lineup last Tuesday after missing eight games with a knee injury.

The Panthers also claimed goaltender Jonas Johansson off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing in Johansson likely means promising Spencer Knight could be heading to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte. Sergei Bobrovsky’s solid performance has limited Knight to just nine starts this season. There’s no fear of losing him to another club because he’s exempt from waivers.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zach Hyman is listed as day-to-day but hasn’t been ruled out from tonight’s game against his former club, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed goaltender Anton Khudobin on waivers yesterday. If he clears it’s expected he’ll be sent to their AHL affiliate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin struggled this season and was a healthy scratch in several recent games as the club stuck with the tandem of Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger. Teams were reportedly interested in trading for him but wanted to see him play more games first. Sending him to the minors will allow him to get some games in while also clearing room for the Stars to recall another player if needed.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed David Perron, Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn on injured reserve, activated Tyler Bozak and Justin Faulk from COVID protocol, and recalled forward Alexei Toropchenko from their AHL affiliate in Springfield.

The Los Angeles Kings recently placed defenseman Alexander Edler (lower body) on injured reserve










NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 11, 2021

Analysis of Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek’s list of potential trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek recently listed 25 potential trade candidates of interest to watch this season.

Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano (NHL Images).

He starts by wondering if Mark Giordano might be thinking of a shot at the Stanley Cup and if the Seattle Kraken might consider shopping him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule it out. That move could happen near the March 21 trade deadline. On the other hand, I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of the Kraken re-signing him.

The Montreal Canadiens could get a first-round pick for defenseman Ben Chiarot from a team seeking a deep playoff run.

That seems to be the growing consensus among the pundits. We’ll find out at some point this season if that’s the case.

Marek also wondered if Brendan Gallagher and Tyler Toffoli would want to be part of a potential rebuilding in Montreal.

If the Canadiens decide to move Gallagher and/or Toffoli it’ll likely happen in the offseason. It’s difficult to move older players with several years on their contracts during the season, especially with 22 teams carrying less than $3.6 million in cap space. Some will have more cap room by the trade deadline but they must also keep an eye on next season’s payrolls with the cap only rising by $1 million.

The direction of the Nashville Predators depends on what they do with pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.

Predators GM David Poile said in July he was engaging in a “competitive rebuild”. That could continue with Forsberg’s departure. If they’re still in playoff contention by the deadline they’ll keep him as an “own rental” and let him walk this summer if they can’t reach an agreement on an extension.

The Dallas Stars are shopping Anton Khudobin. Marek suspects they’re after a forward. Teams like the Carolina Hurricanes have called about John Klingberg but the Stars could keep him for the playoffs if unable to re-sign the pending UFA defenseman.

Concur on both counts.

The Boston Bruins will remain patient in their efforts to move winger Jake DeBrusk until they get the best possible player or players in return.

Interested clubs could also be unwilling to meet the Bruins’ asking price. Marek’s colleague Elliotte Friedman reported GM Don Sweeney was seeking a defenseman or forward of equal value.

The Vegas Golden Knights could move Reilly Smith to free up cap space when Jack Eichel is ready to return to action.

Smith seems the most likely trade candidate. He carries a $5 million cap hit, lacks no-trade protection and is slated to become a UFA this summer.

The Vancouver Canucks are looking to change direction and could surprise us by moving J.T. Miller.

Not if they manage to climb back into playoff contention. Otherwise, I wouldn’t rule out the Canucks testing the trade market for Miller.

Marek doesn’t envision any scenario where Evander Kane returns to the San Jose Sharks lineup. He believes they’ll have to absorb some of his salary to move him.

He’s not the only pundit who believes that.  Kane’s off-ice woes, his reputation as a divisive player in the dressing room and his $7 million annual salary cap hit make him difficult to move.

Perhaps a team in Alberta would have an interest in Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Marek is referring to the Edmonton Oilers. However, that depends on the health of Oiler goalie Mike Smith, whether Fleury would accept a trade to Edmonton and if the Blackhawks are willing to pick up part of his cap hit.

Marek suggested Detroit Red Wings forward Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Nick Leddy could become trade candidates.

Only if the Wings drop out of playoff contention again. Otherwise, they’ll keep both in hope of securing their first postseason berth since 2016.

Ditto Ottawa Senators center Chris Tierney and blueliners Erik Brannstrom and Nick Holden.

I agree regarding Tierney and Holden but I can see them giving Brannstrom another season to crack their roster.

The Columbus Blue Jackets could trade Joonas Korpisalo by the trade deadline. Elvis Merzlikins is their starter and Daniil Tarasov shows promise.

Concur.

Marek wonders if the St. Louis Blues might try to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It’s clear things are frosty between Taraseno and Blues coach Craig Berube.

Tarasenko hasn’t rescinded his trade request and is fully recovered from his shoulder surgeries. However, his $7.5 million annual average value through 2022-23 remains a sticking point as it was this past summer. The fact he’s owed $9.5 million in actual salary this season and I believe the earliest he gets moved is next summer.

New York Rangers GM Chris Drury won’t budge on honoring Vitali Kravtsov’s trade request unless he gets something of quality in return. Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev’s name has also been in the rumor mill.

Kravtsov is on loan to KHL club Chelyabinsk and can’t return to the NHL until the KHL season is over. Georgiev’s solid effort filling in for sidelined starter Igor Shesterkin could improve his trade value but the Blueshirts could be reluctant to move him unless they’ve got a reliable backup to replace him.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is available and so is pretty much anyone not named Jakub Chychrun.

I anticipate Kessel gets moved by deadline day. It’ll be interesting to see how many other Coyotes veterans hit the trade block by then.

Marek also wonders what the Pittsburgh Penguins will do with pending UFAs Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust. What happens with Malkin will depend on his health.

I doubt the Penguins shop any of those three if they’re holding a playoff berth by deadline day. Rust is the only one lacking any kind of no-trade protection and carries the most affordable cap hit ($3.5 million).

Marek wondered if Oilers GM Ken Holland will use his first-round pick as trade bait to bring in immediate help for his roster. He also mused over whether the Buffalo Sabres would use one of their three 2022 first-round picks to address an organizational need.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2021

Analysis of TSN’s first Trade Bait Board of 2021-22 in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot tops Chris Johnston’s first NHL trade bait board of 2021-22.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A pending unrestricted free agent, Chiarot has frequently surfaced in trade speculation while the Canadiens flounder in the standings. Some observers believe the 30-year-old blueliner could fetch a first-round pick. The Habs aren’t believed to be shopping him but that could happen closer to the March 21 trade deadline.

Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin sits second while Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk is third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Ben Bishop inching closer to returning to action, Khudobin is seen as the odd man out in the Stars’ crowded crease. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported last Saturday the Stars talked to the Buffalo Sabres about the 35-year-old netminder. However, their recent acquisition of Malcolm Subban and call-up of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen probably take them out of the trade market for now.

DeBrusk recently requested a trade from the Bruins. Marek’s colleague Elliotte Friedman indicated they’re seeking a defenseman or forward of equal value in return. He also said they’re not in a hurry to move him right now.

Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano and San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl check in at numbers four and five respectively.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Chiarot, Giordano and Hertl are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July. Naming Giordano their captain suggests the Kraken hope to keep him beyond this season. Hertl’s future with the Sharks remains uncertain given how many expensive veterans are already on their roster. Nevertheless, they’re unlikely to part with him this season as long as they remain in playoff contention.

Detroit Red Wings blueliner Nick Leddy and New York Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov are seventh and eighth on the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy is also due to become a UFA next summer. The Wings, however, are off to a good start and are jockeying for a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. They could retain Leddy for the rest of the season if they remain in playoff contention.

Kravtsov refused to accept a demotion to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate and returned to Russia in October to await a trade. He is on loan to KHL team Chelyabinsk and cannot return to the NHL this season until the KHL season is completed.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala, Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane round out the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala, 25, is on a one-year, $5.1 million contract for this season. He becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. A gifted but streaky scorer, he popped up recently in trade speculation linking the Wild to the Vancouver Canucks’ J.T. Miller. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently dismissed the notion of Wild general manager Bill Guerin shopping Fiala just because he’s in a scoring slump, especially while his club is leading their division. That seems even less likely with the Wild now atop the Western Conference.

Reports out of Arizona earlier this season indicated Kessel would prefer a trade and the Coyotes would like to move him. Finding a suitable trade destination, however, will take time. While he’s earning $1 million this season in actual salary, his $6.8 million cap hit is difficult to move at this point in the season.

Kane’s turbulent year has been well-documented. There was a recent report claiming an Eastern Conference club was interested in the 30-year-old winger while the Sharks are believed trying to trade him. Still, his off-ice issues and $7 million cap hit through 2024-25 are significant stumbling blocks that could prove too big to overcome during the regular season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 5, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 5, 2021

The latest on Jake DeBrusk, the Stars are shopping Anton Khudobin, plus some recent Islanders and Rangers speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Boston Bruins are continuing to shop Jake DeBrusk, who requested a trade last weekend. They’ve informed teams that they’re going to do this on their timeline and seek a defenseman or forward of equal value to the 25-year-old winger.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images)

  VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps wondered if the Golden Knights might be interested in DeBrusk, noting he carries a reasonable $3.675 million cap hit. However, he doubted they have anything the Bruins would be interested in. Krepps also pondered other possible trade targets such as the San Jose Sharks’ Evander Kane, the St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko, New York Rangers’ Vitali Kravtsov and the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski mused over whether DeBrusk would be a fit with the Penguins. While his style of game could be enticing, his consistency and the fact the Penguins are jockeying with the Bruins for a playoff spot makes a trade between those two clubs unlikely. Kingerski also dismissed suggestions the Penguins would be a good destination for Evander Kane.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights will have to shed salary when Jack Eichel comes off long-term injury reserve so I doubt they’ll be a suitor for DeBrusk. The Penguins also face the same situation once Evgeni Malkin comes off LTIR in the coming weeks.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek reported the Dallas Stars are testing the trade market for Anton Khudobin. They appear set in goal now with youngster Jake Oettinger and veteran Braden Holtby. Marek said they spoke to the Buffalo Sabres about the 35-year-old netminder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could be out of the goalie market for now following last week’s acquisition of Malcolm Subban from the Chicago Blackhawks. Khudobin also has a four-team no-trade list and the Sabres could be on it.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Arthur Staple was asked if New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello will make a move to bolster the club’s blueline depth and flagging offense.

Staple suggested Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot or Chicago Blackhawks (and former Isle) Calvin de Haan could help the Islanders blueline. He mentioned the Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk but feels that could cost the Islanders a forward in return.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently reported the Rangers opened contract extension talks with center Ryan Strome. Brooks pointed out the difficulty of re-signing Strome when the Rangers face a salary-cap crunch for the next two seasons with Kaapo Kakka and Alexis Lafreniere due for new contracts.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 25, 2021

A look at possible Canucks trade candidates plus the latest Stars speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: With trade rumors swirling about the Vancouver Canucks, Thomas Drance looked at which players are likely to become trade candidates if management decides to shake things up or being overhauling the roster.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Drance believes J.T. Miller’s competitive style, experience and versatility would interest clubs in “win-now” mode. He said there are teams monitoring the Canucks fortunes with Miller’s short-term future in mind, including the Minnesota Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller, 30, is also signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.25 million and lacking no-trade protection. However, his agent told Drance’s colleague Rick Dhaliwal they haven’t had any conversations with Canucks management about trades.

Drance also addressed recent speculation about Canucks winger Brock Boeser. While acknowledging the 24-year-old winger’s talent as a sniper, he felt Boeser’s $7.5 million in actual salary this season is too expensive for most clubs in a flat-cap era. He’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal also reported Boeser’s agent said he doesn’t believe his client will be traded but he’s aware it could happen. He said Brock has faith in the Canucks team and his teammates to get through their struggles.

Players slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer, such as Jaroslav Halak and Tyler Motte, are the most likely to be moved if the Canucks become sellers by the March trade deadline.

Drance also suggested Micheal Ferland’s permanent long-term injury reserve status could have some value for cap-strapped clubs seeking creative solutions. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of moving players like Travis Hamonic, Jason Dickinson and Tanner Pearson who still have term on their contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could surprise by moving one of their talented core players. However, I think Drance’s assessment is spot on and I recommend reading the entire piece if you have a subscription to The Athletic.

A rival club could make an offer for someone like Miller or Boeser before the trade deadline that’s too good for general manager Jim Benning (or his replacement?) to pass up. Still, it could be difficult to put that type of deal together during the season.

COULD THE STARS MOVE A GOALIE SOON?

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently observed promising goaltender Jake Oettinger is giving Stars management something to think about. He’s outplaying veteran Anton Khudobin but there’s a logjam in goal with Braden Holtby (lower-body injury) expected to return soon from a lower-body injury.

With three goalies on the roster, the Stars don’t have enough cap space to call up any extra forwards or defensemen. DeFranks indicated they could trade Holtby ($2 million) or Khudobin ($3.33 million) but that would deplete depth between the pipes as sidelined starter Ben Bishop’s status remains unclear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars signed Holtby not because they lacked confidence in Oettinger but rather they wanted him to get a little more seasoning in the AHL before bringing him into the roster on a full-time basis. His performance this season shows his effort in the shortened 2020-21 campaign was no fluke.

Oettinger remains waiver-exempt so the Stars can send him down to their AHL affiliate once Holtby returns from his lower-body injury. Trading Holtby or Khudobin, however, would be an easier way to address this. The uncertainty over Bishop, however, remains a nagging issue. He’s reportedly eligible to come off LTIR but still isn’t physically ready to play.

The Stars shouldn’t have much difficulty moving Holtby or Khudobin if they go that route later in the season. There are already some clubs (hello there, Buffalo Sabres) in need of experienced goalie depth who could come calling.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2021

A look at some options for the Islanders to replace the sidelined Ryan Pulock, possible goalie targets for the Oilers, and the latest on the Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple examined possible options for the New York Islanders to replace sidelined defenseman Ryan Pulock, who’s out four to six weeks with a lower-body injury.

General manager Lou Lamoriello could look to within his system. He could give younger defensemen like Noah Dobson more playing time, turn to a veteran like Thomas Hickey, or call up Robin Salo.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

If Lamoriello decides to go the trade route, Staple suggested inquiring into the availability of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun or Dallas Stars blueliner John Klingberg. Less expensive options could include the Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano or Vince Dunn, the Montreal Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot or the St. Louis Blues’ Marco Scandella.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out Lamoriello pursuing a deal for a defenseman but I think he’ll look to within for the time being. Staple was merely suggesting possible trade options. There’s no indication any of those defensemen he mentioned are available.

The Coyotes aren’t moving Chychrun unless he requests a trade. They see him as a key piece in their rebuilding process. The Stars are talking contract with Klingberg and I don’t think they’ve reached the point where they’re considering a trade. I doubt the Kraken are planning to move Giordano or Dunn right now. The same goes for the Canadiens with Chiarot and the Blues with Scandella.

Anything’s possible, of course, and if Lamoriello’s willing to overpay maybe he could acquire one of those defensemen. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for one of them to be suiting up with the Isles over the next six weeks.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently observed Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland doesn’t have a history of swinging trades this early in the season. He usually waits until the trade deadline if his club is in contention and his roster has a need to be filled.

Goaltender Mike Smith’s recent injury has given some cause for concern. Mitchell suggested the Detroit Red Wings’ Thomas Greiss, New Jersey Devils’ Jonathan Bernier, Chicago Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury and the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin or Braden Holtby if the Oilers should need help between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks have already started linking Fleury to the Oilers but I’d keep an eye on the Dallas Stars. Ben Bishop has been practicing with the club for several weeks but they’re taking it slow to ensure he’s 100 percent recovered from last year’s knee surgery. They also can’t activate him off long-term injury reserve without clearing some cap space.

NHL.com’s Mike Heika speculated they could move Khudobin or Holtby though doing so could put the Stars in a bind if Bishop got hurt again. They do have promising Jake Oettinger that they could call up but they could prefer letting him spend this season with the farm team before bringing him up full time.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Montreal Canadiens would consider adding a puck-moving defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a move that might not happen until the offseason. The Canadiens are sinking like a sunset in the standings and there’s not much available in the trade market to help them right now.