NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2021

The league mourns the passing of Tony Esposito, the latest on Robin Lehner and Dylan Larkin, the Wings avoid arbitration with Jakub Vrana, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The hockey world is mourning the loss of Tony Esposito, who passed away yesterday from pancreatic cancer at age 78. The younger brother of Phil Esposito, he carved his own path to the Hockey Hall of Fame during his 16 NHL seasons, with all but one of those with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was a trailblazer, using the butterfly style of goaltending pioneered by Glenn Hall.

Hall of Fame goaltender Tony Esposito (NHL.com).

Tony O” backstopped the Blackhawks to the 1971 and 1973 Stanley Cup Finals. He holds the league’s single-season shutout record with 15 set in 1969-70. He also holds the Blackhawks career record for wins (418), shutouts (74) and games played by a goalie (873), as well as the single-season records for save percentage (.934) and saves (2,119).

Esposito won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 1969-70. He also took home the Vezina Trophy in 1969-70, 1971-72 and 1973-74. He was part of the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup roster in 1968-69 and played in four games for Team Canada in the eight-game 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Esposito was one of my favorite players when I was growing up in the 1970s. In my opinion, he was the greatest goaltender in Blackhawks history. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, former teammates and the Blackhawks organization.

Along with Ken Dryden, Bernie Parent and Rogatien Vachon, Esposito was part of a dominant foursome of NHL goaltenders in the early-1970s. His unique acrobatic style, right-handed trapper and memorable mask made him one of the league’s most recognized netminders.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Robin Lehner said he caught some heat on social media last summer when player agent Allan Walsh tweeted his infamous photoshop of client Marc-Andre Fleury being stabbed in the back by a sword engraved with the name of Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.

Walsh was upset over Fleury’s lack of playing time during the 2020 playoffs. Fleury had the agent delete the image but Lehner said he caught some flak from Fleury’s supporters because of Walsh’s actions.

Lehner and Fleury laughed off the incident and combined last season to win the William M. Jennings Trophy. He also said he’s come to admire Walsh for his willingness to fight for players’ rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When Fleury was traded to Chicago last month Walsh praised Lehner as an “amazing teammate and friend” to his client. He also praised him as “a role model and inspiration deserving of respect” for his work as a mental health advocate.

THE ATHLETIC: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin is back on the ice skating and shooting as he aims to be ready for training camp next month. The 25-year-old center suffered a season-ending injury when Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn cross-checked him in the back of the neck during a game in late April. He’s yet to be cleared for contact drills but said he feels “refreshed and ready to go.” Nevertheless, he intends to be cautious in his preparations.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Speaking of the Red Wings, they avoided salary arbitration with Jakub Vrana, signing the 25-year-old forward to a three-year contract worth $5.25 million annually. He had originally sought $5.75 million while the Wings had offered $3.65 million.

ESPN.COM: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged a final decision on NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be made by the end of August. Negotiations between the league, NHL Players Association, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee are ongoing.

There are concerns over rising COVID-19 numbers and COVID restrictions placed on Olympic athletes that would dwarf those that NHL players experienced in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoff bubbles.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Phil Housley, Cory Stillman and Corey Schwab will all return as Arizona Coyotes assistant coaches this season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Andrew Allen was named goaltending coach for the Kraken. They also hired former NHL coach Dan Bylsma as an assistant coach with its temporary AHL affiliate in Charlotte.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed 2021 first-round pick Brandt Clarke to an entry-level contract.

CHICAGO DAILY HERALD: The Blackhawks signed forward Mike Hardman to a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Andrew Peeke to a two-year, $1.575 million contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2021

What’s the latest on the Jack Eichel trade market? Could the Lightning attempt to trade Steven Stamkos in a cost-cutting move? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski explored the trade market for Jack Eichel amid his impasse with the Buffalo Sabres over treatment for his neck injury as well as the difficulty of moving the 24-year-old center’s hefty contract.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Wyshynski observed more teams seeming to be out of the Eichel Derby than in at the moment. The Los Angeles Kings have moved on, as have the Minnesota Wild because of the Sabres’ high asking price.

The New York Rangers remain interested. However, Wyshynski doubts the Sabres will pick up half of Eichel’s $10 million cap hit to facilitate a trade as suggested by some in the New York media.

It’s believed the Vegas Golden Knights are still on the trail. Wyshynski suggested they could free up the necessary cap space by trading Reilly Smith ($5 million) and the sidelined Alex Tuch ($4.75 million). He also believes the Anaheim Ducks are still there but they won’t part with promising prospects like Trevor Zegras or Jamie Drysdale.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are reportedly in the mix. Wyshynski wondered if the Seattle Kraken would get involved given their cap space, though they lack sufficient prospect depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings kicked tires on Eichel around the April trade deadline but it doesn’t seem like they were seriously entertaining the idea. Their recent acquisitions of Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson indicate they’re no longer in the bidding.

Wild GM Bill Guerin has sought a first-line center since taking over the job a couple of years ago. His interest in Eichel appeared genuine but he’s reluctant to deplete his prospect pipeline. As Wyshynski also pointed out, the recent buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would make it difficult to absorb Eichel’s cap hit from 2022-23 to 2024-25.

A recent report claimed Sabres owner Terry Pegula doesn’t want Eichel traded to an Eastern Conference club. That takes the Rangers out of the equation. Even if Pegula changes his mind, I doubt we’ll see him agreeing to Eichel getting traded to a team in the same state. Given Eichel’s cap hit, they’re probably not keen to have any amount of his annual cap hit on their books as dead cap space over the next five years.

Like the Wild, the Golden Knights lack a true No. 1 center. Unlike the Wild, however, I think they’re open to finding a way to acquire Eichel. The sticking point here is cap space but they also have an owner who’s hungry to win the Stanley Cup. If the Golden Knights can figure out a way to do it they’ll take the gamble.

The Ducks make the most sense in terms of location, cap space and depth in young assets to tempt the Sabres. The question remains whether GM Bob Murray sees Eichel as the foundation of his roster rebuild.

In late June The Athletic’s Aaron Portrzline reported the Jacket didn’t appear in hot pursuit of Eichel because of his injured neck. It would be quite the swerve if the Kraken got into the Eichel sweepstakes. GM Ron Francis surprised folks by inking Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz during the opening day of free agency but he doesn’t seem interested in swinging a blockbuster trade.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith was asked if Brayden Point’s recent contract extension increased the likelihood of the Tampa Bay Lightning trading Steven Stamkos at some point.

Smith pointed out Stamkos still has a full no-movement clause and refused to waive it when approached about it by management last fall. If he wants to finish his playing career in Tampa Bay then that’s how it’ll play out.

He doubted any club would be willing to take on the remainder of Stamkos’s contract. The 31-year-old Lightning captain carries an $8.25 million annual cap hit through 2023-24. He also doesn’t see Stamkos retiring before his contract expires.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of things can happen over the remainder of Stamkos’ contract that could determine whether he finishes his career with the Lightning. His nagging core injuries could prematurely end his career, allowing the Bolts to place him on permanent long-term injured reserve. Maybe his role becomes reduced and he decides to move on to a club where he’ll get more playing time.

It’s also possible none of those things happen and Stamkos plays out the remainder of his contract with the Lightning. In that case, they’ll have to find other way to free up cap space.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2021

A look at the teams that could afford to acquire Jack Eichel plus the latest on the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examines which teams can actually afford to trade for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. That means being able to absorb his $10 million annual average value for the next five seasons and possess sufficient young assets to meet the Sabres’ asking price.

The New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks top Gretz’s list. While the Kings have less cap space following the acquisitions of Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danault, Gretz feels that’s never stopped a team from dealing for a player it badly wants.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretz points out the Rangers have some short-term raises coming up for Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad but feels they should have sufficient flexibility to make it work. However, Shesterkin is projected to come in at around $5.75 million, Zibanejad could cost $9 million and Fox could hit $10 million annually after winning the Norris Trophy last season. One of them would have to move in a cost-cutting deal for Eichel and it would probably be Zibanejad, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

The Kings have just over $2.8 million in cap space after taking on Arvidsson, Danault and defenseman Alex Edler. If they were serious about Eichel I don’t think they would’ve added those three. They’re probably out of the Eichel sweepstakes.

The Ducks appear the best fit but that depends on whether general manager Bob Murray sees Eichel as a key piece in the club’s rebuild. The ongoing concern over the center’s herniated disc in his neck could also be an issue for the Ducks and the other clubs linked to him.

Gretz believes trading Eichel to either the Vegas Golden Knights or Minnesota Wild would make sense as both teams need a No. 1 center. However, it would take some work to pull off a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres’ asking price from the Golden Knights was said to be winger Reilly Smith, promising center Peyton Krebs, young defenseman Nicolas Hague and a first-round pick. The Sabres would also have to pick up half of Eichel’s cap hit to make this work.

Gretz points out the Wild’s cap constraints for 2022-23 and 2023-24 from the recent buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter could make it difficult to take on Eichel’s full cap hit. Wild GM Bill Guerin is also said to be reluctant to part with most of his club’s top young prospects.

The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators are Gretz’s wild-card teams. Eichel to the Bruins could be a good fit but they lack cap space and depth in tradeable assets. The latter point is also an issue for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks seem to think Eichel to the Bruins is doable. I’ve yet to see anyone come up with a realistic trade scenario that would address the cap issue or the lack of good young assets necessary to meet the Sabres’ asking price.

The Predators, meanwhile, have $16 million tied up in centers Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. Unless they can find a way to get one of those players off their books, I doubt we’ll see Eichel suiting up with Nashville.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman quashing a rumor linking Sharks winger Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils. “Those were flatly denied to me,” said Friedman. “Someone said you’re way off, don’t go down that road.” Peng cited sources saying other clubs aren’t enamored with Meier’s contract. He’s got two years remaining on his deal with an annual average value of $6 million.

Peng also noted Friedman indicated the Sharks are believed to have an interest in Christian Dvorak. The 25-year-old Arizona Coyotes center has four years left on his contract worth $4.45 million annually. However, Friedman doesn’t believe the Sharks are engaged in trade talks with the Coyotes. He also linked the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers among those interested in Dvorak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Sharks GM Doug Wilson believes Meier can regain the 30-goal, 66-point form of 2018-19. As for Dvorak, the rebuilding Coyotes will likely want draft picks plus a quality prospect or a young NHL-ready player in return.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2021

With the expansion draft over, here’s the latest on the Kraken, Oilers, Islanders, Canadiens, Capitals, Senators, Kings and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TIME TO GET KRAKEN IN THE TRADE AND UFA MARKETS?

RDS.CA: Francois Gagnon reports the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural roster is thin on scoring punch. However, that could change once the expansion draft roster freeze lifts at 1 pm ET Thursday.

Francis has approximately $29 million in salary-cap space to put toward adding players to help his club over the short and long term. The Kraken GM could target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary. He could also try his luck in the free-agent market when it opens on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trades involving the Kraken could be announced as early as today following the lifting of the roster freeze. It will be interesting to see how Francis navigates the trade and free-agent markets this summer. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t land one or two quality players before the puck drops in October.

LATEST OILERS RUMORS

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports Zach Hyman was in Edmonton yesterday discussing a possible long-term contract that could be announced as early as Thursday. The 29-year-old winger’s preference is to remain with the Leafs but his asking price of eight years at $5 million annually could be too much for the cap-strapped Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman (NHL Images).

If Hyman agrees to terms with the Oilers, his rights could be traded to Edmonton before the free-agent market opens on July 28. It’s believed the Leafs would want draft picks in return. The winger has drawn interest around the league, with one offer (not from the Oilers) said to be as high as $7 million annually. Hyman is only interested in playing for a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reason for the sign-and-trade is for the Oilers to get an extra year on the contract. Teams can re-sign players to a maximum of eight years. Unrestricted free agents from other teams can be signed for no more than seven years.

Whoever the general manager is that’s offering Hyman $7 million should be fired at once. The winger’s a good player but he’s not worth $7 million per season. With some GMs apparently succumbing to auction fever already, Hyman’s going to make a lot of money on his next contract.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports the Oilers are trying to figure out how to replace Adam Larsson following his signing with the Seattle Kraken yesterday. General manager Ken Holland will look at bringing back Tyson Barrie but they still need a shutdown defenseman on the right side. If Barrie is signed, Ethan Bear could become a trade candidate.

Should Holland pass on Barrie, his options in the free-agent market include Tampa Bay’s David Savard or Vancouver’s Travis Hamonic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports yesterday indicated the Oilers were circling back to Barrie. He seeks a long-term deal that could prove more expensive than the four-year, $16 million contract Larsson signed with the Kraken. Savard could cost less than Barrie but perhaps a little more than Larsson.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

THE ATHLETIC: With Jordan Eberle gone, Arthur Staple wondered what the New York Islanders will do with the cap space they’ve freed up. Eberle’s selection by the Kraken in the expansion draft plus the recent trades of Nick Leddy to Detroit and Andrew Ladd to Arizona give the Isles over $17.6 million in cap room.

Restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin need new contracts. Pending UFA Casey Cizikas could also return. It’s believed former Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise is on the Isles radar plus they must find a left-side defenseman to replace Leddy.

The Islanders have also been linked to St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog. Adding one or the other could involve making a cost-cutting move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple also noted the Islanders can put the permanently sidelined Johnny Boychuk ($6 million annual cap hit) on long-term injury reserve if necessary to free up additional cap room. They could go that route depending on what it takes to re-sign those RFAs and Cizikas. Landeskog will cost a fortune as a free agent so I don’t see a fit there. Tarasenko is a possibility in the trade market but making the dollars work will be difficult.

CANADIENS LINKED TO BEAUVILLIER, DVORAK

TVA SPORTS: reports the Montreal Canadiens were linked to New York Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier and Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. The Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Vegas Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins are also said to be interested in Dvorak. The 25-year-old forward carries a $4.45 million annual cap hit through 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens’ rumored pursuit of both players could depend on what the future holds for Shea Weber and Jonathan Drouin. They have over $14 million in cap space but could get more wiggle room if necessary should Weber ($7.85 million) and/or Drouin ($5.5 million) end up on long-term injury reserve.

The Canadiens’ supposed interest in Beauvillier is tied to the small number of Quebec-born players on their roster. Drouin and Phillip Danault were the only two in the lineup this season and Danault is expected to depart via free agency next week. I think Beauvillier will be staying on Long Island. The Coyotes, meanwhile, are rebuilding their roster and believed to be listening to offers for Dvorak.

CAPITALS MUST SHED SALARY

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan reports the Seattle Kraken’s selection of goaltender Vitek Vanecek leaves the Capitals facing a salary-cap crunch. They have just $8.9 million in cap space with captain Alex Ovechkin and goalie Ilya Samsonov to re-sign. They also have to find a replacement for Vanecek.

With eight defensemen under contract, the Capitals could end up moving one of Dmitry Orlov ($5.1 million cap hit), Brenden Dillon ($3.9 million), Justin Schultz ($4 million) or Nick Jensen ($2.5 million). Depending on the cost of re-signing Ovechkin and Samsonov, that still might not be enough. A bolder move could be trying to trade center Evgeny Kuznetsov and his $7.8 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A salary dump or two is in the cards for the Capitals this summer. Kuznetsov’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for weeks but his cap hit and personal baggage could be difficult to move without tossing in a sweetener like a draft pick or prospect.

UPDATES ON THE SENATORS, KINGS AND SHARKS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Chris Tierney may have played his final game with the Senators. He and forward Evgenii Dadonov and defenseman Josh Brown were exposed in the expansion draft.

Garrioch also reports the Los Angeles Kings are willing to move their first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft.

THE ATHLETIC’s Kevin Kurz reports the San Jose Sharks are seeking a veteran goaltender to pair with recently acquired Adin Hill. That means Martin Jones has played his final game with the Sharks.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Duncan Keith, Jakub Voracek, Seth Jones, Tyler Bertuzzi and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported several sources denied a story suggesting Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel had backed away from disk replacement surgery and would undergo a fusion instead.

He speculates an Eichel trade could happen after the July 21 expansion draft. Possible destinations could include the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and Vegas Golden Knights, with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and perhaps the Los Angeles Kings on the periphery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks, Rangers and Kings have plenty of promising assets and the cap space to swing a deal for Eichel. Whether they’re willing to pay the hefty price in terms of his expensive contract and the return to the Sabres (an equivalent of four first-rounders) is another story. The ongoing uncertainty over his neck injury remains a serious sticking point for every potential suitor.

The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported last month the Wild had preliminary talks with the Sabres. He indicated general manager Bill Guerin could be reluctant to mortgage his club’s future. Guerin also has to get Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala under contract.

Cap space isn’t an issue for the Bruins but their focus is on adding a top-four, left-side defenseman. They’re in talks with pending UFA winger Taylor Hall and could bring back Tuukka Rask and David Krejci on short-term deals for one more run at the Stanley Cup. They also don’t have enough tradeable assets to meet the Sabres’ high asking price.

Absorbing Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit would be a problem for the Flames and Golden Knights. Like the Bruins, they lack sufficient depth in promising assets to outbid the others on Friedman’s list.

I’m not saying Eichel won’t be traded or won’t end up on one of those teams. I’m merely pointing out that it’s going to take considerable work to pull it off, especially if the Sabres are reluctant to lower their asking price or absorb a portion of his salary.

KEITH TRADE BETWEEN BLACKHAWKS AND OILERS FALLING APART?

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (NHL Images).

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers are reaching a point of “Does it happen or not” regarding a Duncan Keith trade. The Oilers have rejected most of what the Blackhawks sought in return, which may have include Ethan Bear and/or Ryan McLeod.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli said the Blackhawks don’t want to retain any portion of Keith’s $5.53 million annual cap hit. The Oilers’ interest has waned and they’ve pulled back on the assets they were willing to send to Chicago in return. Seravalli believes Caleb Jones was part of it. He also said the Oilers have tabled a “take it or leave it” offer and there’s only a certain price they’ll pay if the Blackhawks won’t retain salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Oilers general manager Ken Holland is taking a firm approach here. He’s under no pressure to acquire Keith. The Oilers could use a second-pairing left-side defenseman but they can find more affordable options if the Hawks won’t retain salary. There’s also no indication the Hawks will take on someone like James Neal or Mikko Koskinen for the purpose of buying them out. If the Blackhawks won’t bend, this deal falls apart.

MORE NOTABLE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST 31 THOUGHTS

The Philadelphia Flyers and Jakub Voracek have discussed that it might be time for a change. The 31-year-old winger was told he’ll be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft.

If the Seattle Kraken doesn’t select him, the Flyers will look elsewhere. Voracek has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million. There’s also a chance they can’t move him via trade and he stays put.

Friedman also reported the Seth Jones-to-Philadelphia trade discussions are off for now. They can’t get the commitment they want from the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voracek’s still an effective top-six winger. He lacks no-trade protection but his cap hit will dampen his trade value unless the Flyers pick up part of it or take back an equivalent salary. Perhaps a three-team deal can be made involving draft picks to spread that cap hit around.

If Jones is unwilling to sign an extension with an acquiring team it could kill his value in the trade market. Teams are definitely interested but they don’t want to part with assets on a player who could depart next summer as a free agent.

Friedman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes will qualify the rights of goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic over concerns of what he might get via arbitration. Same thing with winger Warren Foegele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Hurricanes don’t qualify their rights they become unrestricted free agents on July 28. They would lose both players to other teams for nothing, though they’d probably try to trade them before then. Nedeljkovic was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy and would draw considerable attention in the UFA market.

Friedman took note of Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin acknowledging how tough the past year was for him mentally and his intention to honor the final year of his contract. He wondered if Bergevin might move into a President of Hockey Operations role with the Canadiens after next season while Scott Mellanby or Martin Lapointe takes over as GM.

Canadiens center Phillip Danault confirmed turning down a long-term extension prior to this season. Friedman believes the two sides were $500K to $750K per season apart. Bergevin indicated he hopes Danault remains with the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The statuses of Bergevin and Danault will be the hot topics for the Montreal media in the coming weeks. Danault is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. It’ll be interesting to see if the Canadiens increase their previous six-year, $30 million offer or if Danault will test the market.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had an interest in Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi until the 26-year-old left winger suffered a season-ending injury. Pending UFA winger Zach Hyman probably won’t be back with the Leafs. The Red Wings could be among Hyman’s suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs will revisit that interest in Bertuzzi if he’s fully recovered from his back surgery. He is a restricted free agent who exceeded 45 points in consecutive seasons prior to this year. He’ll be costly to the Leafs in terms of salary and return to the Wings if the latter intends to part with him.

Teams are showing interest in Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. He’s under contract for four more years with an AAV of $4.45 million.

Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Los Angeles Kings attempted to land a winger such as Colorado’s Brandon Saad or St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings were in the market for two top-six wingers in the trade market, preferably in their late-20s with some term left on their contracts. Saad and Schwartz are in the right age group but they’re due to become UFAs by July 28. The Kings might be interested but perhaps on deals for no more than four years.

The Blues could go after Gabriel Landeskog if he hits the open market and they trade Vladimir Tarasenko. Friedman thinks Landeskog will stay with the Colorado Avalanche.

There will be plenty of interest in Tampa Bay Lightning UFA forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens and Lightning, top prospect Owen Power still leaning toward returning to university, the Kraken announces the hiring of two assistant coaches, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Expect the Canadiens to ice the same lineup in Game 5 as they did in their previous contest. That means Jake Evans will replace Jesperi Kotkaniemi again on the third line while Alexander Romanov and Brett Kulak will replace Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on the third defense pairing.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering those changes contributed to their 3-2 victory in Game 4. Romanov scored an even-strength goal with an assist from Evans.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is enjoying perhaps the best postseason performance of his career. He’s set up several big goals, leads all postseason skaters with a plus-minus of plus-14, and is one of his club’s top shot blockers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s been overshadowed by teammates such as Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Points, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman. Nevertheless, he’s a big reason why the Lightning holds a 3-1 lead in this series over the Canadiens.

ESPN.COM: A league source told Greg Wyshynski there is “zero chance” Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final will be postponed despite Tropical Storm Elsa bearing down on Tampa Bay. That assessment was made based on the forecast, though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated they have “an amount of flexibility.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless the storm’s impact proves far worse than anticipated, it’s game on tonight in Tampa Bay.

WGR 550: University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is still leaning toward returning to university for one more season before making the jump to the NHL. Power is ranked as this year’s top prospect. He is expected to be selected by the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams might prefer a prospect who could be ready to jump to the NHL right away. However, it’s unlikely Power will drop in this year’s draft order. Many highly-touted prospects need another year or two of seasoning before they’re ready for the big time.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced the hirings of Kelly McFarland and Jay Leach as assistant coaches. McFarland will oversee the power-play unit and forwards while Leach will be in charge of the defensemen.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Scott Wedgewood to a one-year, two-way deal worth $825K at the NHL level.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Christian Wolanin to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday signed center Dominic Toninato to a two-year contract worth $750K at the NHL level. It’s a two-way deal in the first season.

CBS SPORTS: Former Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer signed a one-year contract with KHL team AK Bars Kazan.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have hired Alan Hepple as their new director of pro scouting. He’s the former director of amateur scouting with the Colorado Avalanche.