NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2024

The Devils could shop their first-rounder and remain in the market for a goaltender, the latest Martin Necas speculation, plus updates on the Rangers and Ducks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NHL.COM: Mike G. Morreale reports New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald is willing to part with his first-round pick (10th overall) in this year’s draft for the right price. He said he would listen if the offer helped the Devils now and in the foreseeable future.

Fitzgerald also indicated he’s still in the market for a goaltender. However, he also wants to build up his forward lines and defense corps.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports adding a No. 1 goalie tops Fitzgerald’s offseason wish list. The Devils GM admitted there were “a few guys that I’m in on”, but declined to say who they were.

League sources indicate Fitzgerald remains interested in Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames, whom he tried to acquire before the March 8 trade deadline. He’s also looking at Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins.

LeBrun believes Markstrom would waive his no-movement clause for New Jersey but several other teams are also interested in the Flames netminder.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Andrew Fantucchio believes the pieces are in place for a deal between the Bruins and Devils that would send Ullmark to New Jersey. He believes such a trade would make sense for both clubs. The Bruins have no picks in the first three rounds of this year’s draft. That could use that 10th overall selection to restock their shallow prospect pool.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald would have an easier time landing an experienced starter like Markstrom or Ullmark if he included his first-rounder in his offer. However, he seems to be hoping to use it as a trade chip to address other roster needs.

The Score’s Josh Gold-Smith pointed out Fitzgerald was reportedly interested in Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros. However, LeBrun reported Predators GM Barry Trotz plans to meet with Saros’ agent this week to lay the groundwork for a contract extension.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Carolina Hurricanes traded Martin Necas by Saturday. He anticipated a flurry of activity this week leading up to the Stanley Cup Final as teams are keen to get their hands on the 25-year-old forward.

Seravalli believes the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and Columbus Blue Jackets are at least three of the club interested in Necas.

CHEK TV’s DONNIE & DHALI: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was asked about Necas. He doesn’t believe the preferred choice for the winger and the Hurricanes is to trade him.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas (NHL Images).

Friedman noted the discussions between the Hurricanes and Canucks in January regarding a deal that would’ve sent Elias Pettersson to Carolina with Necas as part of the return going to Vancouver. With Pettersson out of the deal after signing an extension, it would be harder for the Canucks to acquire Necas.

According to Friedman, the Hurricanes’ asking price is big, and would involve the Canucks parting with some of their top prospects. He doesn’t believe offering up restricted free-agent defenseman Filip Hronek would get it done.

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson believes the Flames would be interested in Necas. However, there would be concerns about the Hurricanes’ asking price and the cost of re-signing the restricted free agent to a new contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers are among half of the teams in the league believed to have contacted the Hurricanes about Necas.

LeBrun isn’t sure Necas is a fit with the Flyers considering the type of “apple-for-apple type trade” the Hurricanes would want.

Earlier this week, LeBrun’s colleague Kevin Kurz examined whether there was a trade fit between the two teams involving Necas. He believes the cost could be too expensive for the Flyers. Kurz thinks a one-for-one swap involving Flyers winger Travis Konecny would fit within the Hurricanes long-term salary cap structure when they’re trying to re-sign Jake Guentzel. He also pointed out the Hurricanes’ biggest need is a proven No. 1 goalie, which the Flyers also need.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie noted the recent conjecture linking the Canadiens to Necas. He believes the Habs would have to offer up defenseman Arber Xhekaj plus either the 26th overall pick received from Winnipeg or their own second-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have a prized trade asset in Necas that many teams are interested in. The question is, which one is willing to overpay to get him? They’ll be paying for potential, banking on Necas blossoming into a reliable scorer when given a full-time top-six role.

Potential trade partners will want assurances that Necas will sign a contract extension to avoid the arbitration process.

The pundits can’t agree on the Hurricanes’ asking price. Friedman said they’ll want at least one top prospect as part of a big return. LeBrun suggests they could prefer a one-for-one swap. Others believe at least a first or a high second-round pick will have to be packaged with a promising young player.

It’s unlikely the Flyers will part with Konecny. Philly Hockey Now’s Jonathan Bailey cited a source claiming the 27-year-old winger will sign a contract extension this summer.


NEW YORK POST: Earlier this week, Larry Brooks suggested the Rangers have gone as far as they can with their current core, calling for tough decisions regarding Jacob Trouba, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.

Brooks lauded Trouba’s physicality but noted his lack of discipline in this postseason was striking. He pointed out that the Rangers captain’s no-movement clause reverts to a 15-team no-trade list on July 1. The 30-year-old defenseman could become their third-pairing right-side defenseman behind Adam Fox and Braden Schneider.

Kreider’s NMC also reverts to a 15-team NTC on July 1. He has three years left on his contract with an average annual value of $6.5 million. If the Rangers believe they need a dramatic makeover, Kreider will fetch the biggest return.

Zibanejad’s NMC remains in full effect on a contract with six years remaining at $8.5 million annually. Brooks admits approaching him about a trade wouldn’t be a pleasant conversation and doesn’t know how it would affect the team’s dynamics if Zibanejad rejected a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks is merely making suggestions. This doesn’t appear based on anything that he’s heard.

Trouba has a history of undisciplined play but he brings the most physicality to a team that was lacking in that category. His struggles during this postseason were due mostly to a broken ankle. He’s not going anywhere. Neither are Kreider or Zibanejad.

Brooks believes Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko could use a fresh start with another club after struggling through a disappointing performance this season. However, he doesn’t think they’ll part with him for a second or third-round pick. Kakko could be part of a larger deal if one manifests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Kakko trade seems more likely to happen than any deal involving Trouba, Kreider or Zibanejad. Including the 23-year-old winger in a trade package seems the best route if the Rangers look to upgrade. On his own, Kakko won’t fetch much of a return at this stage of his career.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Anaheim Ducks are listening to offers for forward Trevor Zegras and goaltender John Gibson.

LeBrun indicated that Ducks GM Pat Verbeek would comment on the trade chatter about Zegras. However, other sources believe Verbeek could move him for the right deal. LeBrun believes the Canadiens have revisited their interest in the 22-year-old forward but he isn’t convinced this is a path the Habs will aggressively pursue.

As for Gibson, Verbeek acknowledged a market for goalies this summer. LeBrun believes the Ducks GM will continue to monitor calls for the 31-year-old netminder but would be fine keeping him.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2024

The potential cost of Travis Konecny’s next contract, the recent trade rumors about Tanner Jeannot, and the Avalanche’s need to go bargain-hunting in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC’s Kevin Kurz took to social media on May 26 to speculate over Travis Konecny’s next contract. The 27-year-old Philadelphia Flyers winger has a year left on his current deal with a cap hit of $5.5 million.

Kurz believes the “obvious comparable” is the eight-year, $70.4 million contract Timo Meier signed last year with the New Jersey Devils. “Similar ages, almost identical PPG”, wrote Kurz, adding we can’t ignore how much the Flyers view Konecny as part of their leadership group.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited Kurz’s comparable but expressed concerns about Konecny’s age, pointing out he’ll be 29 when the first season of that extension is complete. He noted that the Flyers would carry that $8.8 million AAV on their books until the winger is through his age 36 season.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny (NHL Images)

Combine that with the rumored $10 million AAV asking price, and the Flyers could find themselves in serious trouble down the line,” wrote Bailey. He also cited the 5’10’, 175-pound Bailey’s size and physical style of play as areas of concern that could adversely affect his performance over time.

Bailey suggests the Flyers signed Konecny to a five or six-year contract. That would enable him to seek one more big payday if he remains healthy and productive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how Flyers management handles Konecny’s contract situation.

If they were a perennial playoff team or a Cup contender, they’d likely sign him to an eight-year extension without any qualms. However, they’re in the middle of a roster retooling as they transition toward younger players.

As Bailey suggests, Konecny might not fit into their long-range plans. If they ink him to a contract comparable to Meier’s, it could become an expensive millstone in the latter half of the deal even with the salary cap projected to be much higher by that point.


TAMPA BAY TIMES: Eduardo A. Encina recently took note of the trade rumors swirling around Lightning winger Tanner Jeannot. Some observers suggest the 27-year-old winger could be moved to free up salary cap space to re-sign captain Steven Stamkos.

According to Encina,  no concrete reports indicate the Lightning will trade Jeannot. However, he acknowledged that the winger still needs to provide the complementary scoring management was hoping for when they gave up five draft picks and defenseman Cal Foote to the Nashville Predators last season to get him.

Injuries hampered Jeannot’s performance this season. However, his $2.665 million cap hit for next season could make him a player they move to clear cap space for Stamkos.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depending on how much it costs the Lightning to re-sign Stamkos, Jeannot could be the most likely cost-cutting trade candidate. Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, and Erik Cernak were also mentioned but they’re too invaluable to move. 


THE DENVER POST: Corey Masisak pointed out the Colorado Avalanche could be forced to go bargain-hunting again. They lack salary-cap space and face uncertainty over the futures of Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin.

The Avalance successfully signed Zach Parise and Jonathan Drouin to cost-effective one-year contracts. Both players performed well and gave glowing reviews of their tenure this season in Colorado.

Masisak wondered if New York Rangers forwards Jack Roslovic and Alex Wennberg would be good fits with the Avalanche. San Jose Sharks winger Alexander Barabanov could be another.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2024

Is there a deal that could work for the Flyers and Ducks? Could the Wild trade Filip Gustavsson and Marco Rossi this summer? Who are the potential candidates to become the next head coach of the Senators? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey noted the recent remarks by Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek indicating he’s in the market for a right-shot top-six forward or a right-shot top-four defenseman.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny (NHL Images)

The two clubs made a big move in January when the Ducks sent defenseman Jamie Drysdale to the Flyers in exchange for promising winger Cutter Gauthier. Bailey wondered if the two clubs might swing another move that works for both sides.

Bailey noted the Flyers have plenty of wingers but lack depth at center while it’s the opposite for the Ducks. He suggested Trevor Zegras or Mason McTavish might be available for the Flyers. Meanwhile, Flyers winger Travis Konecny will be due for a big-money extension and is already in his playing prime.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey is just musing about what each club has that could help the other. Still, the two teams have that recent trade history so we can’t rule out another deal between them this summer.

I doubt the Flyers will part with Konecny unless he prices himself out of their comfort zone in contract talks. If they offered him to the Ducks, they’d likely want McTavish in return. He would adapt better under Flyers coach John Tortorella’s system than the free-wheeling Zegras.


THE ATHLETIC: In their recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo and Joe Smith were asked what Filip Gustavsson might fetch for the Minnesota Wild.

The signing of Marc-Andre Fleury to a one-year contract indicated the 25-year-old goaltender could hit the trade block this summer. There’s no guarantee he’ll be moved but the Wild would like to make room for up-and-comer Jesper Wallstedt.

Moving Gustavsson’s $3.75 million cap hit for next season and replacing him with Wallstedt’s $925K would save the cap-strapped Wild $2.825 million. That’s assuming they move him for a high draft pick and/or a prospect.

Gustavsson struggled this season following a fine performance in 2022-23 plus there will be a lot of goaltenders in this summer’s trade market. Still, the volatility of the position around the league suggests a team could bet on unlocking his full potential.

Gustavsson could fetch a second-round pick for the Wild but they could prefer a middle-six winger. They could also use him as a trade chip to move up in the first-round draft order.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gustavsson could be pursued by teams that lose out in the bidding for big-name netminders like Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom or Boston’s Linus Ullmark this summer. He could also be a tempting target for clubs in the market for more affordable goaltending.

Russo and Smith also think there’s a good chance the Wild trade Marco Rossi this summer if they can get the same level of high-end prospect who’s bigger and faster. They were interested in Cutter Gauthier before the Philadelphia Flyers traded him to the Anaheim Ducks in January. That’s the type of player they might consider for Rossi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chosen ninth overall in the 2020 draft, Rossi’s progress was stalled when he contracted COVID-19 in 2020, sidelining him for all but one game with Switzerland’s ZSC Lions the following season. He had one point in 19 games with the Wild in 2022-23 but put up 51 points in 53 games that season with their AHL affiliate in Iowa.

The 22-year-old center finished this season sitting second among NHL rookies with 21 goals and fifth in points with 40. He could draw plenty of interest if the Wild put him on the trade block but they might not get the type of player described by Russo and Smith. Rossi will likely remain with the Wild when next season begins.


TSN: recently cited the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reporting Senators GM Steve Staios has already had meetings or plans to meet with three coaching candidates.

They include former Minnesota Wild bench boss Dean Evason and former St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube. It’s also believed (but unconfirmed) that Staios has spoken with former Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was speculated that Toronto Marlies coach John Gruden and Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach Brad Shaw would also be candidates. However, it appears Staios seeks someone with plenty of NHL head-coaching experience for this job.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2024

The Golden Knights set an NHL record, Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar sets a franchise record, league commissioner Gary Bettman assures Jets fans their team won’t be moved, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights became the fastest franchise in league history to reach 300 wins (514 games) by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2, snapping the latter’s seven-game win streak. Jonathan Marchessault had two goals and an assist for the 33-19-7 Golden Knights as they ended a three-game losing skid and hold second place in the Pacific Division with 73 points. With 74 points, the Leafs (33-17-8) sit in third place in the Atlantic Division.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar collected an assist to become the highest-scoring blueliner in franchise history (308 points) in a 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist to extend his season-opening home points streak to 29 games for the Avalanche (36-19-5) as they sit third in the Central Division with 77 points. Rookie Logan Stankoven scored his NHL goal for the 35-17-9 Stars as they slipped to second place in the Central with 79 points.

The Florida Panthers held off the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 3-2. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist for the 39-16-4 Panthers (82 points) as they sit first in the Eastern Conference and second in the overall standings. The Sabres slipped to 27-28-4.

An overtime goal by Erik Karlsson lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Sidney Crosby had two assists and reached his 1,000th career even-strength point for the 27-21-8 Penguins as they’ve won three straight games. J.T. Miller netted his 30th goal of the season for the Canucks (38-16-7) as they remain first overall with 83 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Penguins announced that winger Bryan Rust is sidelined week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

A five-goal third period carried the Philadelphia Flyers over the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Travis Sanheim and Noah Cates each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers (31-22-7) as they sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 69 points. The 32-24-5 Lightning hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 69 points, four ahead of the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced defensemen Jamie Drysdale and Rasmus Ristolainen are week-to-week with upper-body injuries. Winger Travis Konecny (upper body) is listed as day-to-day.

Speaking of the Devils, they cruised to a 7-2 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks. Nico Hischier had a goal and three assists while Jack Hughes had a goal and two assists for the 30-25-4 Devils while San Jose sank to 15-37-5. They also lost goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood as he left the game with an injury in the first period.

Detroit Red Wings forward Patrick Kane collected two assists to extend his points streak to nine games as his club trounced the Washington Capitals 8-3. Shayne Gostisbehere tallied twice for the surging Red Wings (33-20-6) as they picked up their sixth straight win and hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 72 points.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive by doubling up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 to pick up their fourth straight win. Yegor Sharangovich snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period for the 29-25-5 Flames (63 points) as they sit five points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot. Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist for the Kings (29-19-10) as they cling to the first Western wild-card spot with 68 points

Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators maintained their hold on that final Western wild-card berth by defeating the Ottawa Senators 4-1. Roman Josi and Gustav Nyquist each had three points for the 33-25-2 Predators (68 points) as they picked up their sixth straight win. The Senators dropped to 25-29-3 while center Josh Norris left the game with an apparent shoulder injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to NHL.com, the Senators were outshot 19-0 in the third period.

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal had a goal and an assist to lead his club to a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. The Hurricanes improved to 35-18-6 and sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 76 points. The Wild slipped to 28-15-6 and are six points out of the final Western wild-card berth.

The Montreal Canadiens handed the Arizona Coyotes their 13th straight defeat (0-11-2) by a score of 4-2. Sam Montembeault stopped 36 shots while Joel Armia and Jordan Harris had a goal and an assist for the 23-28-8 Canadiens as they ended a five-game losing skid. The Coyotes dropped to 23-30-5.

Winnipeg Jets center Sean Monahan had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Josh Morrissey and Nikolaj Ehlers each collected two assists as the Jets (37-15-5) moved into first place in the Central Division with 79 points. With a record of 30-26-2, the Blues (62 points) are six points behind the Predators for that final Western wild-card spot.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Jets, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in Winnipeg on Tuesday. He dismissed the notion that the club could relocate after team owner Mark Chipman last week expressed concern over their declining season-ticket sales.

The Jets have the second-lowest average attendance this season (13,306), drawing 87.4 percent of Canada Life Centre’s 15, 225 capacity.

At the time, Chipman said the Jets had to get back to a season-ticket base of 13,000 each year after sales dropped to 9,500 for 2023-24. “This place we find ourselves in right now, it’s not going to work over the long haul. It just isn’t,” he said.

Bettman suggested Chipman was referring to the club’s ability to compete and win the Stanley Cup rather than the viability of remaining in Winnipeg. He believes Winnipeg is a strong hockey market and cited the financial commitments that ownership has made to the team, its arena and the downtown area.

If the team is going to have the resources and the ability to compete at the highest level, and to spend at the cap, as they have, it’s important for the building to be full,” said Bettman. He felt their current difficulties are simply part of the growing pains clubs occasionally endure and is confident that they will adjust.

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen noted that Chipman walked back his comments from last week that generated so much emotion and concern over the Jets’ future. The Jets owner acknowledged the club screwed up with its rigid policies, admitting it must win back the fans’ trust.

Friesen also included a sampling of the fans’ complaints, most of which centered on the perception that ownership was out of touch with the fans and took them for granted. High prices for parking and concessions, indifferent customer service from the arena staff and sales department, and last spring’s season-ticket ad campaign referencing the original Jets that came across as a veiled threat were among the issues raised.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Before Bettman’s journey to Winnipeg, Mike McIntyre did a detailed examination of how things reached this point for the Jets. He felt there was no reason to panic about the team relocating but pointed out that economics was behind this situation.

McIntyre noted the decline in the Jets season-ticket sales, including a waitlist of reportedly 8,000 that has dried up. He cites many of the same factors as Friesen, as well as the rising cost of living, economic downturn, and the club’s erratic performance in recent years.

He also pointed out the Jets lack corporate support, with just 15 percent accounting for their season-ticket sales. That’s well below the other six Canadian markets, where businesses make up between 45 and 85 percent of the base.

THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates examined ways the Jets can win back their fans. He believes they must generate more substantial corporate support and prioritize individuals, families and friends of groups that buy tickets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve noted all this because Chipman’s remarks last week raised concerns about the Jets’ future, not just in Winnipeg but around the league. It also drew plenty of comments last Saturday when I reposted my 2011 Soapbox article expressing concerns for the franchise following its relocation.

While the club isn’t in danger of moving to a new city, there’s no question that the attendance issue garnered attention at NHL headquarters. Hence the commissioner’s attempt to reassure the fans while also meeting with the club’s corporate sponsors to drum up more support.

Bettman’s comments about the requirement for a full arena are no different from those he made in 2011 when the Jets relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta. For a decade, that wasn’t an issue. It’s become a problem now, one that the team’s owner took public and the league commissioner had to address.

Playing in the NHL’s smallest market and the second-smallest arena, the Jets continue to face more challenges than other Canadian franchises. Over time, it could prove difficult for individual fans or families to keep up with the increasing fan cost index especially if the cost of living continues to rise. Improved corporate support will be crucial going forward.

Jets fans are passionate about their team. If the issues they raised are suitably addressed by the club’s ownership, the season-ticket sales should improve and the Jets should regularly sell out their arena once again.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2024

The Rangers match their franchise record win streak, the Canucks regain first overall, the Leafs’ Tyler Bertuzzi nets a birthday hat trick, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers tied a franchise record with their 10th straight win by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. Rookie forward Matt Rempe’s first career NHL goal was the game-winner as he snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period while Igor Shesterkin made 39 saves for the Rangers (39-16-3). With 81 points, they lead the Metropolitan Division and sit in second place in the overall standings. Tyson Foerster scored for the 30-21-7 Flyers as they remain in third place in the Metro with 67 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers winger Travis Konecny missed this game as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He’s not expected to be sidelined for long.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser tallied two goals, including the winner in overtime, to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2 and reclaim first place in the overall standings with 82 points. The Bruins (34-12-13) jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals by Jesper Boqvist and Danton Heinen before the Canucks (38-16-6) staged their rally. The Bruins lead the Atlantic Division with 81 points and sit third in the overall standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins and Rangers have the same number of points but the latter holds a game in hand plus they’ve got more regulation wins.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Tyler Bertuzzi (NHL Images).

The Toronto Maple Leafs picked up their seventh straight win by nipping the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. Tyler Bertuzzi celebrated his 29th birthday with a hat trick while William Nylander collected three assists for the 33-16-8 Leafs as they sit third in the Atlantic Division with 74 points. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon had three assists for the 35-19-5 Avalanche, who sit third in the Central Division with 75 points but have won only three of their last 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon sits second in the NHL scoring race with 96 points, two back of Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov.

Speaking of Kucherov, he had a goal and two assists for the Lightning in a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Victor Hedman picked up three assists while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for the Lightning (31-23-5), who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 67 points. Anders Lee and Brock Nelson replied for the 23-20-14 Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield missed this contest with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

The Dallas Stars downed the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on goals by Jason Robertson and Wyatt Johnston. Joel Oettinger turned aside 20 shots as the Stars improved to 35-16-8 and sit atop the Central Division with 78 points. Sebastian Aho scored for the Hurricanes (34-18-5) as they’re perched in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 73 points.

An overtime goal by Gustav Forsling gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. Aleksander Barkov scored the tying goal late in the third period for the Panthers (38-16-4) as they sit second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the overall standings with 80 points. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin played his 1,400th career NHL game but saw his 10-game points streak come to an end as his club’s record dropped to 26-21-9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk missed this game with an undisclosed injury. Capitals forward Anthony Mantha left this game in the third period with an undisclosed injury.

A four-goal first period carried the Detroit Red Wings over the St. Louis Blues by a score of 6-1. Alex DeBrincat led the way with two goals and an assist while Patrick Kane and Michael Rasmussen each had a goal and an assist for the 31-20-6 Red Wings, who sit one point above the Lightning in the first Eastern wild-card spot with 68 points. Blues rookie Zachary Bolduc scored his first career NHL goal as his club dropped to 30-25-2 (62 points) and sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings are on a roll of late, winning four straight and seven of their last 10 games. They’re looking like a playoff contender for the first time since 2015-16.

Speaking of the final Western wild-card spot, the Nashville Predators took over that spot with a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Kiefer Sherwood tallied twice while Juuse Saros made 23 stops for the 31-25-2 Predators (64 points) as they picked up their fourth straight victory. Mikael Granlund and Filip Zadina replied for the 15-36-5 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic suffered an upper-body injury during practice on Friday and missed this game as a result.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive by dropping the Edmonton Oilers 6-3 in their ongoing Battle of Alberta. Noah Hanifin scored twice and collected an assist while Jonathan Huberdeau and Connor Zary each had two assists for the 28-25-5 Flames (61 points) as they’ve won three straight and sit three points behind the Predators. Zach Hyman scored two goals for the Oilers (33-20-2) as they sit third in the Pacific Division with 68 points but have won just four of their last 10 contests.

A shootout goal by Trevor Moore gave the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Drew Doughty and Kevin Fiala each had a goal and an assist for the Kings (29-17-10) as they hold the first Western wild-card spot with 68 points and have won seven of their last 10 games. Goaltender John Gibson kicked out 48 shots for the 20-34-3 Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Kings placed winger Viktor Arvidsson (lower body) on long-term injury reserve and announced that defenseman Mikey Anderson is week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Another team keeping their postseason chances alive is the Minnesota Wild as they defeated the Seattle Kraken by a score of 5-2. Kirill Kaprizov has two goals and an assist while Mats Zuccarello collected four assists for the 28-24-6 Wild (62 points) as they sit two points behind the Predators. Vince Dunn and Jordan Eberle replied for the Kraken (24-22-11), who are five points back of the Predators.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on a shootout goal by Tim Stutzle. Josh Norris and Thomas Chabot each had a goal and an assist for the 25-27-3 Senators, who are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. Chandler Stephenson scored two goals for the Golden Knights (32-19-7) as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 71 points.

New Jersey Devils winger Timo Meier had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Tyler Toffoli collected two assists for the 29-24-4 Devils (62 points), who sit five points behind the Lightning for that final Eastern wild-card berth. Nick Suzuki scored twice for the 22-28-8 Canadiens as their losing streak reached a season-high five games.

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2024

Check out the latest on the Hurricanes, Sharks, Sabres and Canadiens in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Carolina Hurricanes will be buyers by the March 8 trade deadline. However, general manager Don Waddell said he’s not interested in adding players on expiring contracts.

Our first priority, if we’re giving up premium picks or top prospects, we want to make sure that we get a player for more than a few months”, Waddell told LeBrun. He added that they’re aren’t many non-rental players in the market as most trade candidates are slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Contrary to popular belief, Waddell said he’s not looking to add a goaltender. He pointed out that sidelined netminder Frederik Andersen will be returning soon while Pyotr Kochetkov’s performance has been solid this season. He’s also comfortable with his blueline depth.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (NHL.com).

Waddell would like to add a top-nine forward or two. LeBrun speculates it might be a forward with term remaining on their contract whose name hasn’t yet surfaced in the rumor mill. He suspects that the Hurricanes GM has inquired about winger Travis Konecny but doesn’t think the Philadelphia Flyers intend to move him, especially after recently naming him an alternate captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes currently have over $6.6 million in trade deadline cap space so they’ve got the room to add a forward or two. They also have all their picks in this year’s draft along with the Flyers’ second-rounder to draw on for trade bait if necessary.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller noted there is speculation suggesting if the San Jose Sharks are going to trade Logan Couture, it won’t happen until the offseason. Couture, 34, is sidelined week-to-week with a lower-body injury that has plagued him since last summer, limiting him to just six games.

With the Sharks near the bottom of the NHL standings, they are expected to be sellers by the March 8 trade deadline. Couture is signed through 2026-27 with an average annual value of $8 million and a three-team trade list.

Miller cited The Fourth Period’s Dave Pagnotta claiming Couture could be sidelined for the rest of the season. “If a move happens, it’s more likely to occur in the off-season,” he writes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couture would be almost impossible to move in-season under normal circumstances because of his contract. If he’s out for the rest of this season there will be a genuine concern that his condition could end his career. That will make it more difficult to trade Couture during this summer.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked if the Sabres can expect any changes before the upcoming trade deadline. He believed contenders would ask about pending free agents such as Erik Johnson, Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons. Lysowski also felt that Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will try to get a head start on finding players for next season like he did last year by acquiring Jordan Greenway from the Minnesota Wild.

If Johnson is traded, Lysowski speculated Adams will try to add another defenseman who could be part of the roster for next season, preferably a top-four blueliner. He also thinks the Sabres GM will open contract extension talks with Casey Mittelstadt’s agent. Lysowski doesn’t see them trading Mittelstadt or forwards Dylan Cozens, Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka, Tage Thompson or Alex Tuch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt recently surfaced as a trade candidate in the rumor mill. However, Adams was insistent in an interview last week that he wasn’t shopping the 25-year-old center and intends to re-sign him.


THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu noted that Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes recently said he’s not shopping David Savard. However, Basu believes he’s listening to offers. He believes the market for a shot-blocking, right-shot defenseman like Savard will open up once the Calgary Flames trade Chris Tanev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard, 33, is signed through next season with an AAV of $3.5 million. He also lacks no-trade protection.

I don’t doubt that Hughes will listen to trade offers for Savard. As we’ve seen, however, he sets a high price for his players and usually won’t budge until someone meets it. With Savard under contract for next season, he’s under no pressure to trade him now. If no one meets his price, he’ll wait until the summer or next season.