NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2021

Check out the latest on Evander Kane, Jonathan Toews, John Klingberg, John Tortorella and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports several of Evander Kane’s teammates don’t want the San Jose Sharks winger to return to the club next season. That strained relationship was also the reason behind the club’s attempt to trade him earlier this summer.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

One source said the frustration stemmed from Kane’s disrespect for teams rules, including being late for practices and games. He faced no consequences for those actions, which didn’t sit well with younger teammates.

TSN: Kane has taken a voluntary leave of absence from the Hockey Diversity Alliance as the league investigates recent allegations that he bet on NHL games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s troubles appear to be mounting. Earlier this year, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy citing over $26 million in debts with $10.2 million in assets. $1.5 million of those losses were related to gambling.

The Mercury News’ Curtis Pashelka speculated Kane’s gambling issues and the friction with his teammates could force Sharks management to buy out the remainder of his contract in the second buyout window. The club is eligible to use that opportunity because goaltender Adin Hill filed for salary arbitration.

Pashelka indicates a buyout of Kane would leave a total of $13 million in deal cap space on the Sharks payroll over the next four years. That’s in conjunction with the $7.25 million over the next three years from their recent buyout of Martin Jones.

Trading Kane would be the preferred option. As Kurz points out, however, the winger’s aforementioned issues combined with his $7 million annual average value for the next four seasons and a three-team trade list could make that move impossible.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said the club remains without a firm timeline for Jonathan Toews’ return. However, the club remains hopeful their 33-year-old captain will be ready for the start of this season. Toews missed all of last season with chronic immune response syndrome.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars GM Jim Nill said his club has started contract extension talks with John Klingberg. The 29-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He’s earning an annual average value of $4.25 million on his current contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg will get a significant raise on his next deal. I don’t see the Stars paying him more than the $8.45 million AAV they’re paying to Miro Heiskanen, who’s a better all-around defenseman. If he seeks more, this season could be his last in Dallas.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues reached an agreement with forward Jordan Kyrou on a two-year, $5.6 million contract.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed center Travis Boyd to a one-year, $750K contract.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL coach John Tortorella is joining ESPN as a studio analyst.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella worked briefly with TSN in a similar role in 2008. Like him or not, he speaks his mind and that will make for entertaining television.

WGR 550: The Rochester Americans hired former Buffalo Sabres captain Michael Peca as an assistant coach. He spent last season as a development coach with the Washington Capitals.

TORONTO SUN: John Lilley has left his role as Maple Leafs director of amateur scouting to join the New York Rangers as director of player personnel and amateur scouting.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2021

Sidney Crosby set a franchise scoring record and a points-per-game milestone, Zdeno Chara reached a games-played milestone, the Wild clinch a playoff spot, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust each scored their 20th goals of the season as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the New Jersey Devils 4-2. Crosby’s empty-netter late in the game set a franchise record for most 20-goal seasons with 13. He also joined Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe as the only NHL players with 16 point-per-game seasons, sitting fifth on the all-time list in that category. The Penguins sit in second place in the MassMutual East Division with 65 points, one behind the Washington Capitals. The Devils have dropped nine straight games.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara became the fifth defenseman in NHL history to play 1,600 games during his club’s 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders. Daniel Sprong scored twice and Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who played without captain Alex Ovechkin as he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The Islanders (63 points) sit third behind the Penguins.

Aleksander Barkov’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally by the Florida Panthers as they nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar had a goal and three assists while Carolina blueliner Dougie Hamilton scored twice. The Panthers (67 points) sit one point behind the first-place Hurricanes in the Discover Central Division.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive on Jamie Benn’s overtime goal to edge the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 50 saves in a losing cause. With 52 points, Dallas sits just two behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Central. Stars defenseman John Klingberg missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

The league-leading Vegas Golden Knights (70 points) picked up their ninth straight victory by dropping the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Chandler Stephenson scored twice for the Golden Knights, who opened a four-point lead over the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf left the game following the second period with an upper-body injury.

A hat trick by Ryan O’Reilly rallied the St. Louis Blues past the Colorado Avalanche 5-3. O’Reilly also collected an assist as the Blues (46 points) are one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes in the West Division. Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche.

The Minnesota Wild became the third team to secure a berth in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs in a 6-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Kevin Fiala and Jared Spurgeon each had a goal and an assist for the Wild (65 points), who moved one point behind the Avalanche. Before the game, the Sharks honored Patrick Marleau for recently setting the NHL all-time games played record.

Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper had a 26-save shutout to blank the Los Angeles Kings 4-0. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist.

Joe Thornton became the oldest player (41 years, 296 days) in Toronto Maple Leafs’ history to score a goal as his club beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. Toronto sits atop the Scotia North Division with 65 points, eight up on second-place Winnipeg. The Jets played without forward Adam Lowry, who remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.

The Calgary Flames moved closer to the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the Scotia North Division by downing the sputtering Habs 5-2. Johnny Gaudreau scored twice as Calgary sits just four points (45 points) sit just four behind Montreal. Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. Canadiens forwards Tomas Tatar and Paul Byron missed the game with lower-body injuries while goaltender Carey Price returned to Montreal for further treatment for a concussion suffered earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames season seemed over three weeks ago after winning just once in nine games. They’ve since won five of their last seven to keep their playoff hopes alive while the floundering Canadiens have won just three of their last 11.

Third-period goals by Tanner Pearson and J.T. Miller lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa goaltender Matt Murray left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Canucks center Elias Pettersson is reportedly doubtful to return this season as he remains sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered on March 2.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 14, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 14, 2021

The latest on Mattias Ekholm, Rickard Rakell and Elvis Merzlikins plus updates on the Stars, Islanders and more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun on Friday suggested some trade fits for six playoff contenders. Among his proposals were Nashville Predators defenseman Mattia Ekholm to the Boston Bruins or Winnipeg Jets, Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames backup David Rittich to the Washington Capitals if the Flames fall out of playoff contention by the April 12 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm would be a good fit with the Bruins as they need an experienced left-side defenseman but their anemic secondary scoring is their priority. LeBrun’s colleague Murat Ates believes Columbus’ David Savard would be the ideal addition in Winnipeg but Ekholm would do if Savard isn’t obtainable.

Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell (NHL Images).

Rakell has a year left on his contract with a $3.79 million cap hit. LeBrun suggests he’d be a worthwhile replacement for Zach Hyman if the Leafs fail to re-sign him. I agree with LeBrun that he’d be a step up talent-wise over the Predators Mikael Granlund, who’s been linked to Toronto for some time. Granlund wouldn’t cost as many assets as Rakell but the latter would be a better option if the Leafs are all-in this year.

Rittich is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. If the Flames falter then he could become expendable at the deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple believes the New York Islanders could seek a top-six forward such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall or New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri if captain Anders Lee remains sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Placing Lee ($7 million annual average value) on long-term injury reserve would provide some salary-cap relief to make a significant addition if they wish. More affordable rental options could include Mikael Granlund, Columbus’ Nick Foligno or Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know how long Lee will be out or which players the notoriously secretive Lou Lamoriello might pursue. Nevertheless, the Isles GM could be active in the trade market if Lee is out until the playoffs.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks speculated the Stars would become sellers if they don’t improve over the next two-to-three weeks. The most obvious trade candidates are players on expiring contracts such as Andrew Cogliano, Blake Comeau and Jamie Oleksiak. He doubts they’ll fetch much, “maybe a mid-round pick”.

DeFranks also wondered if the Stars would trade Anton Khudobin rather than risk losing the goaltender to the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s expansion draft. He also mused about trading John Klingberg. While the defenseman would fetch “a sizeable package of picks and prospects,” it would also significantly hurt the Stars’ chances of chasing the Stanley Cup in the final (somewhat) productive years of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Joe Pavelski and Ben Bishop.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt the Stars moving Klingberg at the trade deadline but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a Khudobin trade for the right offer. However, they could wait until the offseason and shop him before the expansion draft.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell took note of colleagues Craig Custance and Eric Duhatschek recently adding Elvis Merzlikins to their trade deadline board. He pondered the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers pursuing the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender, suggesting a package involving Mikko Koskinen and defenseman Caleb Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets could consider moving Merzlikins for the right price but I don’t think they’re in any rush to do so. He won’t become eligible for UFA status until next summer so they’ve got plenty of time to field offers if they want to go that route.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman report Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Terry “might be up for a change of scenery.” He said he’s hearing conversations about whether or not he might be moved.










Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season

Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season

 










NHL Rumor Mill – February 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 18, 2021

Check out the latest on the Bruins, Wild and Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE BRUINS PURSUE EKHOLM?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss’ belief the Bruins should make acquiring a defenseman a trade-deadline priority was among his five takeaways of the club’s performance at the quarter-point of the season.

Should the Boston Bruins pursue Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm? (NHL Images)

Goss expressed some concern about the Bruins’ scoring depth but felt they still need more experience and physicality on the blue line. He also pointed out Charlie McAvoy is the only Bruins’ rearguard with more than three points, suggesting they could use a blueliner who can generate some offense.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy took note of TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm could be available. With Matt Grzelcyk in and out of the lineup due to injuries, Murphy wonders if Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will try to fill that second-pairing left slot with Ekholm. Murphy also noted the Bruins’ offseason interest in Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm is a solid all-around defenseman carrying an affordable $3.75 million salary-cap hit through 2021-22. He could be a good addition to the Bruins or any other NHL roster.

The Bruins have over $4 million in projected cap space so there’s room for Ekholm’s cap hit, though it would be a tight squeeze. Depending on the Predators’ asking price, the Bruins could send them a player to free up some cap room. Winger Anders Bjork ($1.6 million annual average value) often comes up in Bruins’ trade chatter. Maybe the Predators would be interested in the 24-year-old winger if they decide to get younger.

SOME RECENT WILD SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked what it would take for the Minnesota Wild to acquire Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett or Ottawa Senators center Derek Stepan.

Russo acknowledged the Wild’s need for depth at center. Stepan’s $6 million cap hit, however, would be a concern, as would Bennett’s arbitration number this summer. The Wild have limited salary-cap space and the Flames or Senators would have to take a contract in return. Bennett’s inconsistency was also a concern for Russo.

Asked about Matt Dumba’s trade status, Russo feels the defenseman’s performance over the remainder of the season will make him more or less likely to be moved. His $6 million cap hit, his play last season and the fact that the acquiring club might have to alter their expansion draft protection list plans could make the 26-year-old blueliner difficult to move. Asked if Dumba might be a fit with the Vancouver Canucks, Russo said he got the impression the Canucks’ interest in him was nil.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with most capped-out NHL teams, the Wild probably won’t make a major move before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. They could swing a minor deal or two if necessary provided they can make the dollars fit. Otherwise, what you see is what you get with the Wild this season. Any significant moves on their part (Dumba?) could take place in the offseason before the July expansion draft.

DON’T EXPECT BIG MOVES BY THE STARS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks was asked if the Dallas Stars should use Esa Lindell or John Klingberg as trade bait for draft picks and prospects to restock their system as they haven’t seemed to develop any real NHL level talent recently. DeFranks disagreed with that premise and doesn’t believe they should shop Lindell or Klingberg. If they were to move either defenseman, he felt the package would be around NHL talent with the Stars championship window currently open.

DeFranks was also asked if the Stars would be a player in this year’s trade market. If they do become active it won’t be a big move. He also pointed out center Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop will be returning to the lineup from offseason surgeries later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have struggled to score and kill penalties in recent weeks. I daresay those would be the areas they would address if they decide to test the trade market.

Lindell and Klingberg are their top-pairing defense. They’re not going anywhere.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, Pierre-Luc Dubois benched, an update on the four Capitals sidelined under COVID-19 protocols, and a lengthy list of injuries in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 in the second game of their three-game series. With the score tied 2-2 following the first period, the Canadiens blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

Montreal winger Joel Armia also scored twice but suffered a concussion late in the third period from a blindside hit by Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Habs forward Paul Byron also left in the third after being struck in the leg by a shot from teammate Shea Weber. Canucks defensemen Travis Hamonic and Alexander Edler missed the game with upper-body injuries, while blueliner Jalen Chatfield suffered a first-period upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli now has five goals in two games against his former club this season. It’s uncertain if Myers will receive supplemental discipline for his cheap shot on Armia. The Canadiens and Canucks will play the final game of this series on Saturday, with the Habs unbeaten in regulation (3-0-2) thus far.

Jake DeBrusk tallied the only goal in a shootout to give the Boston Bruins a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Nick Ritchie had a goal and an assist while David Krejci collected two assists. James van Riemsdyk tallied twice and Jakub Voracek collected three assists for the Flyers, who gave up 43 shots in this contest. The Flyers played without forward Morgan Frost (dislocated shoulder, injured reserve) and defenseman Philippe Myers (fractured rib, week-to-week).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a big win for the Bruins, who entered this game sitting dead-last in goals for per game (1.00). A porous defense saw the Flyers blow 2-0 and 3-2 leads in this game. The injuries are piling up for the Flyers, who were also playing without Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their third straight win by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brayden Point. Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched for almost the entire game, seeing less than four minutes of ice time in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts victory was overshadowed by Dubois’ benching. This is ramping up speculation over the 22-year-old center’s future with the Blue Jackets and his relationship with head coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle tallied twice in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Isles center Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists. Josh Bailey returned to the Isles lineup after spending one day on the club’s COVID-19 absence list. The Devils were without starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was placed on the club’s COVID list, though that doesn’t mean he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 4-1. The Jets took control of the game with three unanswered second-period goals. Jets winger Patrik Laine missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings got their first win of the season by doubling up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. The Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit with Adrian Kempe netting the game-winner in the third period. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist for the Avs.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19. Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absence list on Wednesday. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov will miss at least four games while Samsonov could be sidelined longer. It remains to be seen if the other three tested positive.

Samsonov’s positive test triggered contact testing within the Capitals dressing room, leading to the NHL discovering the four players spent time socializing in the team hotel without facial coverings on multiple occasions. The league fined the Capitals $100K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits and fans questioned the NHL’s protocols when this story broke on Wednesday. The bottom line is the Capitals, and every other team in the league knew what the protocols were before this season started. The NHLPA voted for them. Every player had the opportunity to opt-out of playing this season. The players involved in this incident broke those rules and must now suffer the consequences.

The NHL’s COVID protocols were based on CDC and Health Canada guidelines enabling the 31 NHL teams to stage this season in their home arenas. They must also follow local guidelines.

Those rules have had an effect upon this season. A ban on non-essential travel at the Canada-US border has limited Canadian teams to playing among themselves during the regular season. The San Jose Sharks started this season on the road because Santa Clara County has prohibited all sports activities due to high local COVID levels.

The NHL has already postponed games involving the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes because of COVID outbreaks. They cannot risk further spread jeopardizing the season because some players won’t adhere to the rules.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola will each be sidelined several weeks with undisclosed injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford shopping for help. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson is sidelined for six weeks with an oblique muscle injury.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (medical reasons) is questionable for his club’s season-opener on Friday against the Nashville Predators.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews left practice early yesterday as he wasn’t feeling great, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe. His status will be updated today. Forward Joe Thornton is expected to miss some games with an upper-body injury.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Dillon Dube is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

WGR550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton will miss at least two games with a head injury. Sabres starter Linus Ullmark revealed he missed Monday’s game against Philadelphia as he was grieving the death of his father in Sweden. Ullmark returned to practice and is slated to travel with the club for their upcoming two-game series against Washington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ullmark during this difficult time.