NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 12, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, the Blues re-sign Jordan Binnington, the latest injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand collected three assists while Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves as the Boston Bruins shut out the New York Rangers 4-0. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist. The Bruins (32 points) sit one point behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division and one up on the Philadelphia Flyers.

A goal and an assist by Evgeni Malkin helped the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. The Penguins have won four straight while the Sabres have dropped nine consecutive games. Sabres forward Dylan Cozens was injured in the third period by a hit from Zach Aston-Reese. Earlier in the day, the Sabres revealed captain Jack Eichel will be sidelined for at least 7-10 days with a neck-related injury.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

The New York Islanders picked up their seventh straight victory with a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Isles captain Anders Lee left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. The Islanders (38 points) sit in first place in the East Division, two ahead of the Washington Capitals.

Speaking of the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin tallied his 715th career goal and John Carlson reached 500 career points in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Ovechkin is within two points of Phil Esposito for sixth place on the all-time goals list.

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Nashville Predators 5-1. Rookie Morgan Geekie scored his first two goals of the season while James Reimer made 32 saves for the win. The Hurricanes moved ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning into first place in the Discover Central Division with 39 points.

An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano capped a four-goal rally by the Florida Panthers to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine snapped a seven-game points drought with a goal and an assist but played just 14:43 in the game and was benched for the final 6:53 of regulation and for the overtime period. After the game, Laine said, “I thought I was playing good, but I guess I thought wrong.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll just leave this here…

 

Auston Matthews’ league-leading 21st goal of the season came in overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs past the Winnipeg Jets 4-3, snapping the Leafs’ three-game losing skid. Nikolaj Ehlers tallied twice for the Jets (34 points), who remain in second place in the Scotia North Division, six points back of the first-overall Leafs. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (upper body) was placed on injured reserve.

The Detroit Red Wings upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4, picking up their first regulation win over the Bolts since 2015. Anthony Mantha had a goal and two assists for the Red Wings while Ondrej Palat also had a goal and two helpers for the Lightning, who sit one point behind the Hurricanes in the Central Division but ahead of the Panthers because of a game in hand.

Darryl Sutter got his first win in his return behind the Calgary Flames bench as his club beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. Josh Leivo scored twice for the Flames (27 points), who sit four back of the fourth-place Habs in the North Division. Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot returned to Montreal for evaluation of an upper-body injury.

The Chicago Blackhawks scored three second-period goals to double up the Dallas Stars 4-2. Kevin Lankinen kicked out 28 shots while Patrick Kane collected two assists. The Blackhawks (33 points) hold a five-point lead over the Blue Jackets for fourth in the Central Division.

HEADLINES

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues signed Jordan Binnington to a six-year, $36 million contract extension. The 27-year-old goaltender was slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington backstopped the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2019 but he’s struggled at times to regain the dominating form of that remarkable rookie season. Nevertheless, management showed their faith in him as their starter with this long-term commitment.

This new contract represents a big raise for Binnington over the $4.4 million annual average value of his current deal. Cap Friendly indicates the annual salary-cap hit is $6 million and comes with a full no-trade clause for the first three years following by a modified no-trade for the final three.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list and will likely miss at least this weekend’s games against the Blues.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom will undergo shoulder surgery later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klefbom’s missed the entire season receiving treatment for his shoulder. With surgery, he could be sidelined six-to-nine months.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Colin White is listed as day-to-day with an injured left leg.

NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman remains optimistic the NHL will return to business as normal next season. He envisions a full 82-game schedule with no limitations on fan attendance starting in October and a return to the regular divisional alignments. Bettman also indicated the league wants to return to outdoor games with fans in attendance next season and resume playing some early-season games in Europe if possible.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still working to determine whether the playoff semifinalists from the North Division will be allowed to host games given the travel restrictions between Canada and the United States.

Daly added he’s been in frequent communication with the International Olympic Committee regarding NHL participation in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing but the IOC’s focus right now is on the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games. He also believes the 2021 NHL Draft will more likely than not still be held as scheduled in July.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 22, 2020

Nikita Kucherov could miss the start of the season, Oscar Klefbom sidelined for 2020-21, the Coyotes sign Drake Caggiula, the latest on Canadian teams playing in Ontario and BC, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports a nagging hip injury could affect Nikita Kucherov’s status for the start of the season. The Tampa Bay Lightning winger received an injection after experiencing discomfort during offseason workouts. He was expected to skate on Monday to see how he felt. The Lightning and Kucherov’s agent declined to comment.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The high-scoring Kucherov’s potential absence would be keenly felt by the Lightning. They could place him on long-term injury reserve if the injury is serious enough, providing salary-cap flexibility to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak. However, the Lightning would have to shed salary to become cap compliant when he returns to the lineup later in the season. It’s still believed they’ll make a trade or two to free up enough cap room for Cirelli and Cernak.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom will miss the entire season to a shoulder injury. He’s looking into surgery and hopes to be ready to return for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was widely reported Klefbom was unlikely to play this season prior to yesterday’s announcement. This leaves a big hole on the Oilers’ blueline. He and his $4.167 million annual average value will be placed on LTIR if the Oilers need the cap room to make any additions, such as perhaps a short-term replacement for Klefbom.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Drake Caggiula to a one-year contract. Cap Friendly indicates it’s worth $700K, leaving the Coyotes above the $81.5 million salary cap by $3.47 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes will get cap relief by placing permanently sidelined Marian Hossa ($5.275 million) on LTIR. Caggiula has dealt with concussion injuries in the past. When healthy, he is an affordable depth forward who’ll bring some additional experience to the Coyotes’ checking lines.

TSN: Despite a province-wide lockdown beginning on Christmas eve, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said no decision has been reached yet regarding the province’s NHL teams hosting games in their own arenas. Discussions are ongoing between the province and the league.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning remains hopeful his club can gain the confidence of British Columbia’s health officials to receive clearance to stage home games in their own arena to start this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports suggest BC could be unlikely to sign off on the NHL’s plan for its Canadian teams to stage games in their home arenas. Ontario and Quebec seem to be leaning toward approval but that’s not a certainty. Plan B for the Canadian teams would be opening this season in a hub city such as Edmonton.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL has a plan to compensate teams that might have to change venues during the season. The San Jose Sharks are one of them, recently announcing they’ll stage training camp and open the season in Arizona.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights will begin this season without fans in attendance but haven’t closed the door on allowing a limited number of fans as the season progresses and health restrictions ease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’ll be the plan for every NHL club. So far, only three teams – Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning – could allow a limited number of fans when the season begins. The rest will make that decision based on restrictions in their areas over the course of the schedule.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports the NHL hopes to raise $15 million this season selling ads on players’ helmets. Rich clubs like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are pursuing $1 million deals while small-market clubs will get much less.

Westhead cites a league executive saying some of that money will be given to sponsors to make good for empty arenas. The executive denies the league is being greedy here. “Do you know how much money we are going to lose without customers in arenas? We are hemorrhaging money and we need to find any possible option for keeping our people employed.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, purists hate the idea but this was inevitable. The pandemic merely hastened this decision. The league is losing a lot of revenue right now and must find whatever new streams it can to offset some of those losses. Fans got used to ads on rink boards and ice surfaces. They’ll get used to this.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2020

NHL still looking at a Jan. 1 start to the 2020-21 season, Brendan Lemieux and MacKenzie Weegar avoid arbitration, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said opening the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1 remains the objective. Pierre LeBrun reports the joint NHL-NHLPA return-to-play committee has yet to meet, though the top leaders of the league and the PA have been in daily contact over the season.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports the NHL hopes to make its return-to-play announcement as soon as possible. “It could take another 7 to 10 days,” tweeted Lavoie. “Lots of works (sic) to be done until then.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL brain trust will likely keep an eye on the NBA’s plans to return to action in December. Both leagues share many of the same arenas. While caution remains the watchword for the NHL, they’ll maintain a close watch on the NBA’s return-to-play for any meaningful information it can apply to its own plans.

I’m skeptical about Lavoie’s timeline for an official start date if the return-to-play committee hasn’t even met yet. It could more than several days to work out an agreement.

NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux avoided salary arbitration with the Rangers, agreeing to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.55 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight bump over the $925K Lemieux earned last season. It puts the 24-year-old checking-line winger in a position for another go at arbitration in two year’s time, where he could push for a more substantial pay raise.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers avoided arbitration with MacKenzie Weegar as the 26-year-old defenseman signed a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar was the subject of some trade speculation but the Panthers obviously value his physical presence on their blue line. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $3.25 million, more than doubling the AAV of his previous contract. He’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agent status at the end of this deal.

The signings of Lemieux and Weegar completes this year’s NHL arbitration schedule. Of the 26 players filing for arbitration, only one (Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi) required a hearing.

THE SCORE: cited Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland telling The Edmonton Journal he expects defenseman Oscar Klefbom to be sidelined by a nagging shoulder injury for the entire 2020-21 campaign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been widely assumed Klefbom could miss most or all of the coming season. The Oilers can place him on long-term injury reserve if necessary to get some salary-cap wiggle room for a potential replacement.

NHL.COM: Former NHL defenseman Jim Neilson has passed away at age 79. Neilson spent 12 of his 16 NHL seasons (1962-63 to 1977-78) with the New York Rangers, followed by two seasons with the California Golden Seals and two with the Cleveland Barons. A solid stay-at-home defender, Neilson played 1, 024 games, amassing 368 points. He also spent one season in the WHA with the Edmonton Oilers before retiring in 1979.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Neilson’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2020

Ratings were down for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Lightning celebrated their championship in Tampa Bay plus the latest on Corey Crawford, Oscar Klefbom, Jesse Puljujarvi and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: Michael Traikos reports ratings were down in Canada and the United States for the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Rogers Sportsnet report 1.081 million Canadian tuned in for Game 1 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars, dropping to just 841K for Game 2. Traikos cites sources indicated Sportsnet drew 1.3 million viewers for Game 6 and never came close to eclipsing an average of 2 million viewers in the entire playoffs. The most-watched series was the qualifying round between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, averaging 1.8 million viewers.

The timing of the playoffs (summer), an absence of fans in the arenas, the elimination of Canadian teams and of big-market clubs, the absence of well-known players such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, and competition from the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays (whose ratings rose compared to last year) account for the low ratings.

The ratings in the United States weren’t any better. Only eight percent of the Tampa Bay market followed the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final with the Stars as their opponent compared to 15 percent in 2015 when they played the Chicago Blackhawks.

Overall ratings for this year’s Stanley Cup Final dropped 61 percent compared to last year’s Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues. Competition from the NBA, MLB and NFL, as well as the absence of big market clubs and household name players contributed to the overall US ratings decline. It was the least-watched Final since the Anaheim Ducks-Ottawa Senators Final in 2007 and only the second time in 13 years viewership dropped below 3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given those factors, it’s not surprising the ratings were down. There just wasn’t that much buzz for a Stanley Cup Final between two Sun Belt teams. The ratings in Canada would’ve been much higher had a Canadian team reached the Final, and higher in the States had one of the big-market clubs got that far.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (NHL Images).

  TAMPA BAY TIMES: Speaking of the Lightning, they celebrated their championship with their fans with a flotilla parade up the Hillborough River through downtown Tampa and concluding with a celebration at Raymond James Stadium.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope reports Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman remains optimistic about re-signing Corey Crawford. The 35-year-old goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. All accounts suggest the two sides remain significantly divided on salary. The Blackhawks prefer something between $3.5 million to $4 million, while the Crawford camp prefers something between $4.5 million to $5.5 million. He made an annual cap hit of $6 million on his previous deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Blackhawks could be forced to make a cost-cutting move or two to re-sign Crawford. Maybe the two sides can come down to $4.25 million. Failing that, Bowman will have to go shopping for a goaltender via trade or free agency.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom is reportedly considering surgery to address nagging injuries that could sideline him for months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That might explain recent rumors linking the Oilers to Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, though that would be a very expensive long-term move to address Klefbom’s absence. The Journal’s Jim Matheson suggests Oilers GM Ken Holland could be in the market for a one-year replacement for a cap hit comparable to Klefbom’s $4.167 million.

Speaking of the Oilers, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports of possible progress in contract talks with winger Jesse Puljujarvi. He speculates it could be a one-year deal within a $1.25 million to $1.5 million range.

RDS.CA: Former NHL player Simon Gagne will appear in a Quebec City courthouse today facing impaired driving charges.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has agreed to stiffer penalties for fighting in exchange for $20 million in pandemic relief from the Quebec government.

Players who fight will receive a 10-minute misconduct along with a five-minute major, while the instigator will also be slapped with an additional two-minute penalty. Players who accumulate three fights will receive a one-game suspension, with an additional game for each fight thereafter.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2020

The latest on the Canadiens, Oilers, and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANADIENS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin examined how the Montreal Canadiens could use their cap space and their stockpile of draft picks and prospects to acquire players who otherwise wouldn’t be available at bargain prices.

Montreal Canadiens winger Max Domi (NHL Images)

They believe the Canadiens don’t have to trade winger Max Domi, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Despite his tepid playoffs, they feel he still has value to the Canadiens as a skilled offensive player. However, that could also make Domi valuable to other clubs. The Canadiens could swap him for another RFA like Detroit’s Anthony Mantha or Columbus’ Josh Anderson, package him with a first-round pick in hopes of landing an impact player or swing a hockey trade by shopping him to a club like the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Jonas Brodin.

Basu and Godin wonder whether the Habs would shop the first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s draft for immediate help. The Habs could also use the flattened salary cap to their advantage by re-signing players like Brendan Gallagher, Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, Joel Armia, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi to value deals. They could go the free-agent route to fill minor holes in the lineup, such as their backup goaltending.

They also suggested looking at trade targets on cap-strapped teams, pointing to Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn, Dallas’ Stephen Johns, and Columbus’ Markus Nutivaara. Killorn would bolster their forward lines (provided he waives his no-trade clause), while Johns or Nutivaara are right-side defensemen.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports Danault could face an uncertain future in Montreal with the rise of promising young centers like Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki. The two-way center was employed in a defensive role during the playoffs but indicated he wouldn’t want to limit himself to that specific part. With what he’s contributed in Montreal, Danault doesn’t expect his role will change, pointing out his offensive and defensive contributions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is expected to be busy in the off-season. He has a lot of assets to draw upon. Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $63 million invested in 16 players for next season, giving him plenty of room to take on a salaried player or two. He’s also got 14 picks in this year’s draft, including three in the second and fourth rounds and two in the third and fifth rounds He also holds eight picks through rounds three, four, and five of the 2021 draft.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Domi in the offseason. He’s considered the Habs’ most likely trade chip, but that will depend upon how contract discussions go and his value in the trade market.

Danault’s remarks about playing solely a defensive role prompted some fans and pundits to speculate he could be on his way out of Montreal, but I don’t think that’s the case. Reading his full remarks, he indicated he believes his role won’t change. I agree with him. He remains the Habs’ best two-way forward. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi played well in the postseason, but they still have limited NHL experience. I think Bergevin will stick with Danault centering one of his top-two lines for next season and see how things unfold.

As Basu and Godin point out, Bergevin must be careful not to overspend. He has a lot of cap space to work with for next season, but Danault, Gallagher, Petry, Armia, and Tartar become unrestricted free agents in 2021. The Habs GM can’t take on so much salary this year that it adversely affects efforts to retain most of those pending UFAs next summer.

RED WINGS

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan recently examined the unrestricted free agent goaltending options for the Detroit Red Wings. Among them are Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khan also listed Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott and Edmonton’s Mike Smith, but I don’t believe either guy can help the Wings between the pipes. They need an experienced starter.

With over $47 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21, the Wings have plenty of salary-cap space to go shopping for goalie help in the UFA market. Nevertheless, GM Steve Yzerman will have to sell them on the merits of joining his rebuilding club. Markstrom and Crawford will likely stay with their current clubs. Lehner, too, if Vegas decides to part ways with Marc-Andre Fleury.

THE ATHLETIC: (subscription required) Max Bultman recently examined possible ways the Wings could address their second-line center position. He suggested Toronto’s Alex Kerfoot or Colorado’s Tyson Jost as trade options. Nashville’s Kyle Turris could be a free-agent option if the Predators buy out his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bultman’s article appears before the Leafs traded winger Kasperi Kapanen. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas hinted more changes could come but that doesn’t mean Kerfoot could follow Kapanen out the door.

OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited NHL insider Brian Lawton speculating the Oilers could trade two of their top-four defensemen. Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, and Ethan Bear currently hold those spots.

Staples doesn’t see Bear going anywhere and thinks Nurse’s leadership, skating, physical play, and even-strength scoring should keep him in Edmonton. He took note of the recent speculation suggesting Larsson could be shopped, and also felt Klefbom could be moved if the right offer (No. 1 goal, top-line forward) came along.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell recently listed Florida winger Mike Hoffman, Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner, and Boston defenseman Torey Krug among his suggested free-agent targets for the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $70.4 million committed to 16 players next season. Unless they shed considerable salary, they can’t afford guys like Hoffman, Lehner, or Krug. If GM Ken Holland were to trade Larsson and/or Klefbom in cost-cutting moves, that would free up sufficient cap space for a proven starting goalie or a top-line forward.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2020

Is it time for the Jets to rebuild? Should the Oilers trade a top-four defenseman? Are changes coming for the Predators? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE JETS REBUILD?

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has spun his wheels since his club reached the Western Conference Final two years ago, suggesting the club is heading in the wrong direction.

Friesen acknowledged Dustin Byfuglien’s unexpected departure and an injury-ravaged roster contributed to the club’s struggles this season. Nevertheless, the Jets lack depth on defense and the forward lines. He feels it’s time for Cheveldayoff to make a big move for a second-line center and a top-four defenseman.

With several teams affected by the flat salary cap and the Jets carrying additional cap room after Byfuglien’s contract termination, Friesen believes Cheveldayoff has the cap flexibility to address his roster issues.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes Cheveldayoff will feel the pressure during the off-season to reverse the Jets’ fortunes. He wonders how much rope the club’s ownership is willing to give their GM before deciding they need to go in a different direction. McIntyre feels Cheveldayoff will have to make a big move via the off-season trade or free-agent markets.

Could the Winnipeg Jets pursue Alex Pietrangelo in the free-agent market? (NHL Images)

If sidelined center Bryan Little (eardrum surgery, post-concussion symptoms) cannot play next season, they can place him on long-term injury reserve, potentially freeing up his $5.29-million cap hit for next season. Trading or buying out Mathieu Perreault could clear some more salary from their books. McIntyre considers fixing the blueline to be Cheveldayoff’s priority.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe suggests Andrew Copp could be the internal solution to replace Little if the latter remains sidelined. External options could include Montreal’s Max Domi or Philadelphia’s Nolan Patrick as both could use a change of scenery. Wiebe also pondered the possibility of Cheveldayoff pursuing a big-ticket player like St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $65.9 million invested in 13 players. All their core players are under contract, so Cheveldayoff could re-sign his RFAs to affordable, short-term deals. Still, he might need a little more cap space if he intends to land a big-ticket player, especially via the UFA market. He can send some salary the other way if he’s acquiring a player via trade.

Domi’s status has been a hot topic in the Montreal media throughout this season. That chatter recently intensified with Domi currently seeing fourth-line minutes in the postseason. Patrick, however, has been sidelined this season by a migraine disorder, which (as Wiebe also noted) would make him a risky acquisition.

Pietrangelo would be a big catch for the Jets, but that’s assuming the Blues captain wants to play in Winnipeg if he tests the UFA market. If he doesn’t, Cheveldayoff would have to look elsewhere, and the pickings for top defensemen are slim beyond Pietrangelo and Boston’s Torey Krug.

SHOULD THE OILERS SHOP A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Bob Stauffer’s recent interview with Brian Burke in which the Sportsnet analyst suggested the Oilers trade a defenseman like Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, or Oscar Klefbom.

Burke felt the Oilers defense didn’t play well enough, believing one or two of their blueliners might need a change of scenery. He acknowledged such moves might be difficult given the Oilers’ limited cap space for next season.

The former NHL GM agreed with Stauffer’s suggestion the Toronto Maple Leafs might be a trading partner, proposing a swap of Larsson for a winger like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson.

Former NHL GM turned analyst Brian Lawton agreed there could be some changes to the top four. He expressed concern over Klefbom’s injury history. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, meanwhile, believes Larsson could be the likely trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those three Oilers defenseman, Nurse could fetch the best return. The 25-year-old is two years younger than Klefbom and Larsson and his style would make him attractive for clubs seeking a mobile, physical rearguard. Klefbom’s injury history could hurt his trade value, while Larsson’s UFA eligibility next summer could be a deal-breaker for some clubs.

Staples feels the Oilers should try and move out Kris Russell. He’s also a year away from UFA eligibility, but his 15-team no-trade clause could make that difficult.

LATEST ON THE PREDATORS

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile pulled no punches assessing his club’s performance this season. “This is unacceptable”, he said. “This is how we have to view this result is that we have to be better and it’s not acceptable.”

Poile indicated the club’s direction in the last two years made it “clear to me that we need to make some changes.” While the Preds GM said “everything is on the table,” Skrbina doesn’t expect a complete roster overhaul.

Pending UFAs Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith might not be back. The Predators could look in-house to address some of their needs, perhaps promoting Eeli Tolvanen and Philip Tomasino. Skrbina also speculates Poile could try again to trade center Kyle Turris or buy him out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72.2 million invested in 17 players, Poile will have to cut some salary if he intends to look to the trade or free-agent markets for help. Trading Turris could mean absorbing part of his $6 million annual salary or packaging him with a top draft pick or prospect. A contract buyout will leave them with $2 million annually in dead cap space to 2028.