What Next For the Arizona Coyotes?
Analysis of the latest update to the TSN trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Frank Seravalli considers the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers among his shrinking list of firm buyers as the NHL’s April 12 trade deadline approaches.
Seravalli believes the Leafs seek a versatile left winger who can play throughout the lineup. He suggested the Nashville Predators’ Mikael Granlund, the New Jersey Devils Kyle Palmieri, the Columbus Blue Jackets Nick Foligno and the Vancouver Canucks Tanner Pearson as trade targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ surge into playoff contention could take Granlund out of the trade market. I still don’t believe the Blue Jackets will part ways with Foligno but you never know. Pearson’s been sidelined since March 17 with an ankle injury. With COVID-19 cutting a swath through the Canucks roster he’s probably unavailable.
Palmieri was held out of the Devils’ game on Sunday with the Washington Capitals as a precautionary measure. It’s believed he’ll be moved by the end of the week. Trade rumors link the 30-year-old winger to the Leafs, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche and the Predators.
The Jets could seek a defenseman, preferably a rental. If the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm isn’t available, Seravalli suggested the Blue Jackets’ David Savard, the Dallas Stars’ Jamie Oleksiak, the Anaheim Ducks’ Josh Manson, the Buffalo Sabres’ Brandon Montour or the Chicago Blackhawks’ Nikita Zadorov.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Ekholm’s off the market. The Predators are playoff contenders, their reported asking price of three assets (including a first-round pick and a top prospect) is very expensive, and the extra year on his contract means he’ll have to be protected by the acquiring team in this summer’s expansion draft.
Savard and Montour seem the more likely options here. The Stars are still chasing a playoff berth so I don’t see them moving Oleksiak. The same goes for the Blackhawks and Zadorov.
Sportnet’s Ken Wiebe also included Montour among five under-the-radar targets for the Jets. The others include the Ottawa Senators Mike Reilly, the Detroit Red Wings Patrik Nemeth, the Ducks’ Ben Hutton and the Devils’ Dmitry Kulikov.
The Islanders are expected to use their long-term injury reserve to find a replacement for sidelined winger Anders Lee. They’ve been linked to the Sabres’ Taylor Hall, as well as Palmieri and Foligno.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger reported there’s a sense trade talk involving Hall have escalated though not to the point where a deal could be imminent. Maybe the Isles are part of those talks.
Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell has admitted he’d like to add a right-handed defenseman with term on his contract and a depth forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Manson, Buffalo’s Colin Miller and the New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo are the right-shot blueliners on Seravalli’s list with term on their contracts.
It’s believed the Colorado Avalanche could seek a backup goalie and a little more muscle on defense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rumor mill linked the Avalanche to Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier and the San Jose Sharks’ Devan Dubnyk. The Sharks could be reluctant to part with Dubnyk while they’re fighting to get back into the Honda West playoff chase.
Chris Driedger of the Florida Panthers and Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes are also on Seravalli’s list. I don’t see Kuemper moving when the Coyotes are holding down a playoff spot in the Honda West Division.
Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards believes Driedger’s availability depends on the deal. It’ll also depend on whether they have confidence in promising but inexperienced Spencer Knight filling the backup role as well as Driedger.
Seravalli also listed the clubs he considers secondary, or “soft”, buyers seeking specific needs:
Edmonton Oilers (right-shot depth center), Montreal Canadiens (defensive depth), Pittsburgh Penguins (depth center), Washington Capitals (experience goaltender), Tampa Bay Lightning (defensive depth), Boston Bruins (top-six winger and/or defensive muscle) and Vegas Golden Knights (center depth).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Limited salary-cap space explains why they’re “soft” buyers. In the Canadiens case, however, I wonder how Brendan Gallagher’s fractured thumb could provide some wiggle room to pursue another trade. If he’s out until the playoffs they’ll get $3.75 million in cap relief by placing him on long-term injury reserve.
Seravalli also pointed out the Blackhawks, Red Wings and Sharks are willing to offer up their cap space in return for assets to help facilitate trades.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, those three clubs are willing to take a bad contract off the hands of one of those soft buyers provided it’s packaged with futures like draft picks and/or prospects.
Seravalli also made a few significant changes to his list of players considered trade bait:
The Ducks’ Josh Manson debuts at No. 11,
Red Wings center Luke Glendening rose to sixth while Nashville’s Mattia Ekholm dropped to 10th. Ekholm’s teammate Granlund remains at No.7,
Devils defenseman Ryan Murray debuts at No. 17,
Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson drops from 19th to 25th, and
Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper debuts at 34.
Could Taylor Hall be moved in a trade-and-sign scenario? Are moves in store for the Flyers? Could there be several goaltenders on the move? What’s the latest on the Golden Knights and the Kraken? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TRADE-AND-SIGN FOR HALL?
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Taylor Hall’s agent spoken with Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams on Monday. He said they discussed potential trade options for the 29-year-old left-winger. There are some teams interested in a “trade and sign” scenario.
Adams is also determining what the asking price will look like. Dreger said Hall’s contract becomes less of a cap hit closer to the trade deadline so there could be some upside in that for the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger didn’t specify if the trade and sign would mean Hall gets a new contract as soon as the deal is completed or if it depends on his performance with his new club. Adams’ rumored asking price is said to include a first-round draft pick. He’ll have an easier time landing one of those if Hall is willing to re-sign with his new club.
ARE MOVES IN STORE FOR THE FLYERS?
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s his understanding the Philadelphia Flyers have had internal discussions whether to acquire a goaltender and allow struggling Carter Hart a chance to reset and work on his game. The next seven games leading up to the trade deadline could be crucial as to whether they want to add to their roster. LeBrun believes Detroit Red Wings netminder Jonathan Bernier could be on the Flyers’ radar.
Frank Seravalli wonders if the Florida Panthers could put in a waiver claim on Shayne Gostisbehere. The Flyers placed the 27-year-old defenseman on waivers yesterday. The Panthers could be in the market for a defenseman after Aaron Ekblad suffered a fractured left leg earlier this week. Seravalli adds Panthers general manager Bill Zito isn’t interested in trading picks and/or prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher must bolster his goaltending depth for his club to remain in the playoff chase in the MassMutual East Division. Hart’s confidence is shot and they’re relying too much on veteran Brian Elliott to shoulder the load. As LeBrun suggests, the next several games will determine if they become buyers before the deadline.
Acquiring a goaltender or another player means freeing up cap space. Placing Gostisbehere on waivers could be that step. There’s also speculation Fletcher could be gauging Gostisbehere’s value in the trade market. However, his $4.5 million annual average value through 2022-23 will be difficult for most clubs to absorb via waivers or trade.
LATEST GOALTENDING SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun looked at several goaltenders who could be available before the trade deadline. Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell could move James Reimer or Alex Nedeljkovic for the right price. LeBrun wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets might move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo and what the Arizona Coyotes might do with Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta. He doubts Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings or Chris Driedger of the Florida Panthers gets moved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell could also keep Reimer and Nedeljkovic when sidelined Petr Mrazek returns to action. Never a bad idea to keep three goalies if you can during this strange season.
The Jackets could shop one of their netminders but that’s a move more likely to happen in the offseason, especially with the Jackets trying to stay in the playoff race. Raanta seems the more likely of the Coyotes goalies to be moved given his UFA status this summer but that’s not a certainty if they stay in playoff contention.
The rebuilding Kings aren’t in any rush to move Quick and his $5.8 million cap hit through 2022-23 is a big sticking point in any trade. The Panthers need Driedger as they jockey for first place in the Central Division.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined some possible goalie options for the Toronto Maple Leafs if goalies Frederik Andersen or Jack Campbell end up on long-term injured reserve. Both have been hampered by lower-body injuries in recent weeks.
Rental options could include Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark, New Jersey’s Scott Wedgewood, Carolina’s James Reimer, Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Calgary’s David Rittich, and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. Longer-term options could include Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins, the New York Rangers’ Alexander Georgiev, and the Kings’ Jonathan Quick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve already commented on Reimer, Kuemper, Merzlikins and Quick. Ullmark’s the closest thing the Sabres have to a starter so they probably won’t trade him. The Ducks could move Miller as he lacks no-trade protection but I think that happens only if he asks. Rinne’s not waiving his no-movement clause. The Rangers will likely keep Georgiev as Igor Shesterkin’s backup.
That leaves Wedgewood, Bernier and Dubnyk, as well as Rittich if the Flames fall further out of playoff contention by the deadline.
QUIET TRADE DEADLINE FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger reports this year’s trade deadline could be a quiet one for the Vegas Golden Knights. While they’ve been aggressive in previous deadlines, a lack of salary-cap space and the club’s solid performance could lead them to stand pat. Nevertheless, Granger feels they’ll monitor the trade market in case anything interesting comes up.
UPDATE ON THE KRAKEN
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis is getting some calls from rival GMs around the league. He said the calls are from teams “who are trying to feel (Francis) out and say, “Listen, if I make this trade, what would it take from you, that I don’t lose this fourth defenseman, for example”. Francis’ prices, however, are high, in some cases a first-round pick and a prospect. LeBrun said that’s scaring off teams from acquiring another player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would affect players signed beyond this season like Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm. There are teams very interested in acquiring Predators defenseman before the trade deadline but doing so would mean it would mess up their expansion draft protection lists.
LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Nashville Predators could face a decision between trading Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis, who is currently sidelined. The latter was considered among their untouchables but there could be considerable value in the highly-regarded defenseman.
Players with Ellis’ contract (six years remaining with an annual average value of $6.25 million) are difficult to move now but Friedman suggests the Preds blueliner could be an exception. He believes Ellis could be a good long-term fit with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Friedman is also curious about what the Predators might do with Calle Jarnkrok. He has one season remaining on his contract worth $2 million and was last week’s NHL player of the week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Ellis would attract plenty of interest if Predators general manager David Poile is willing to listen to offers. However, I don’t believe they can move him during the trade deadline with so many capped-out clubs seeking affordable rentals. If Ellis is to be traded that move probably happens in the offseason when interested clubs have more cap space.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Mattias Ekholm remains the big name on the trade bait list. Sources tell LeBrun the Predators are seeking three assets in return: a first-round pick, an elite prospect and a third asset that could take on different forms.
Part of the reason behind that asking price is Ekholm’s under contract for another year. They must determine if the best offer they’ll get is at this trade deadline or after this summer’s expansion draft when interested clubs no longer have to worry about protection lists.
Frank Seravalli believes Predators winger Mikael Granlund is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primary target in their search for a top-six forward. However, there are some complicating factors.
The Leafs are awaiting clarity on whether the current 14-day quarantine period for players from American teams joining Canadian clubs will be reduced to seven games. There could also be some hesitation by the Predators to sell as they’re gaining ground on the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile isn’t under pressure to move Ekholm at this trade deadline. Interested clubs could be more willing to pursue him in the offseason following the expansion draft.
Granlund is probably the most affordable forward linked to the Leafs in terms of return and salary. If that quarantine period isn’t reduced they’ll have to acquire him before the end of this month if he’s to be effective for them over the remainder of the season.
TRADE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Leafs have checked around on goalies (“Arizona makes sense”) but doesn’t see a long list of potential healthy options to acquire in a sensible trade. He also dismissed the rumors linking the Leafs to Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Darcy Kuemper is a terrific starter but the Coyotes netminder remains week-to-week with a lower-body injury. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Kuemper’s certain to be back before the trade deadline but there’s no certainty he’ll be moved before the trade deadline. He’s under contract for another season and Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Oft-injured backup Antti Raanta was recently placed on injured reserve.
The speculation about the Leafs acquiring Quick sounds like a desperate fever dream from the more deranged of Frederik Andersen’s critics. The 35-year-old Kings goalie is past his prime, carries a $5.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two years and has a long injury history.
Acquiring Quick would make the Leafs older, eat up valuable cap space for next season that could be better invested in a younger player, and wouldn’t resolve their goaltending concerns.
Following on his report from last Saturday that the Coyotes could consider moving winger Conor Garland, Friedman said they’re not interested in multiple late-round picks. The Boston Bruins need scoring depth and he speculates they could have interest in the former junior Bruin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garland is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could wait until the offseason if he doesn’t find any suitable offers before the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 36-year-old Brown is having a good bounce-back performance from last season’s disappointing effort. He’s got a year remaining on his contract ($5.875 million cap hit) but I don’t think he’s a fit with the Islanders from a contract standpoint.
Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got $75.9 million invested in 15 players next season. Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin are restricted free agents seeking raises on their next contracts.
The Columbus Blue Jackets must decide if they’ll shop pending UFA defenseman David Savard at the trade deadline or hold onto him for the playoffs. The Jackets have risen back into the postseason chase in the Discover Central Division. Friedman also isn’t sure the Jackets want to trade captain (and pending UFA) Nick Foligno.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could move Savard for the right price if his club slides further out of playoff contention. I’ll be surprised if he shops Foligno, who is believed keen to re-sign with the Jackets. Trading their captain at the deadline would be a gut punch to their playoff hopes.
The Vancouver Canucks playoff math isn’t good but they want to compete as long as they can before becoming deadline sellers. They’ve taken calls on pending unrestricted free agent defenders Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic (both have no-move clauses) and Jordie Benn, who has a five-team no-trade clause. There’s been some action on Benn and at least one Eastern American club asked about Hamonic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s assumed Edler could be unwilling to leave Vancouver. The Jets have been linked to Hamonic, who might entertain the opportunity to play in his home province. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Canucks could soon start contract extension talks with Pearson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Flyers are buyers. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor makes the case that the slumping club hasn’t done much to warrant being aggressive shoppers before the trade deadline. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher might even become a seller if his club doesn’t reverse its fortunes soon.
A look at some potential goalie trade bait, the obstacles facing teams in this year’s trade market plus the latest on the Hurricanes, Jets, Islanders, Penguins and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
POTENTIAL GOALIE TRADE BAIT
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin included Florida’s Chris Driedger, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick on his list of 10 goaltenders who could get moved at the NHL trade deadline. Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and Arizona’s Antti Raanta are the others.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger’s a pending unrestricted free agent but I don’t see the Panthers trading him while they’re among the top three clubs in the Discover Central Division. The same goes for Korpisalo and Merzlikins as the Jackets remain in the playoff chase. Besides, they both have a year left on their contracts so there’s no rush to move either guy at the deadline.
If the Coyotes trade Kuemper I believe that happens in the offseason when they could get a better return from a club with cap space. If Miller wanted one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup he would’ve signed with a contender instead of the Ducks. He’s happy in Anaheim and I doubt he has any intention of leaving.
Quick has two more years left on his contract worth $5.8 million. I don’t see much interest in him given the current cap situation. Even if the Kings picked up half of his cap hit he’s still a declining asset with a long injury history.
Bernier, Dubnyk and Raanta are pending UFAs and thus more likely to move. Khudobin could be intriguing to some clubs and he carries an affordable $3.33 million annual average value, but he’s 34 and that contract has two more years on it.
TEAMS FACING OBSTACLES IN TRADE MARKET
NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports most NHL clubs are still trying to navigate through quarantine protocols and a flat salary cap as the April 12 trade deadline approaches. He also adds the cost of top rental players such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall and Eric Staal and New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri could be a high draft pick and a top prospect. Those in the rumor mill with term on their contracts, such as Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, could be more expensive.
Some teams, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders, are in the market to add players before the deadline. The Islanders have additional salary-cap flexibility after placing captain Anders Lee (knee injury) and his $7 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any significant movement by Canadian teams could come by the end of March. If they wait until the deadline any player acquired from American franchises will be unavailable until April 27 after they’ve cleared the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people crossing the US border into Canada. That won’t leave them much time to adjust to their new teams before the playoffs open on May 11.
LATEST ON THE HURRICANES, JETS AND SHARKS
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he and Dougie Hamilton’s camp have agreed to table contract extension talks until the season is over. Hamilton is in the final season of a six-year, $34.5 million contract and is slated for UFA eligibility this summer.
Waddell also said he believes his club is close to a contract extension for head coach Rod Brind’Amour. He could be willing to tinker with his roster before the trade deadline, citing a need for a right-shot defenseman and perhaps a top-nine forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell doesn’t have to make any significant moves with his club battling for first place in the Central Division. However, he alluded to team owner Tom Dundon’s competitive nature and desire to ice the best team possible. The Hurricanes will be worth watching as the trade deadline nears. Dundon’s wish to turn them into a Stanley Cup contender could push Waddell into the market.
SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe reports the expectation remains the Winnipeg Jets will try to add a defenseman to play on one of their top-two pairings. The best trade target remains Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm. Columbus’ David Savard could be out of the picture given the Blue Jackets’ recent rise into playoff contention in the Central Division.
Another option could be Anaheim’s Josh Manson. Like Ekholm, he has a year remaining on his contract. The asking price for Ekholm will be high while injuries have limited Manson to six games this season. Wiebe also suggests keeping an eye on Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets must be careful taking on a defenseman with term on his contract (Ekholm, Manson, Ristolainen) as that could complicate their expansion draft protection list for their blueline. A rental such as Savard or perhaps Vancouver’s Travis Hamonic might be the way to go here unless they work out a deal with the Seattle Kraken before the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: But are playoff contenders open to acquiring a fading winger like the 41-year-old Marleau at the trade deadline? He has just five points in 30 games this season.
UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, PENGUINS AND DUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports acquiring a first-line winger remains the New York Islanders’ priority. He believes Columbus’ Nick Foligno could be off the Isles’ list of targets owing to the Jackets’ recent rise in the Central standings. Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson has been sidelined a month, curtailing the Canucks’ trade options.
Sean Gentille, Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe report the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t shopping defenseman Marcus Pettersson. Despite their left-side blueline depth, they’re reluctant to move a blueliner given the schedule and need for depth to secure a playoff spot. They also rejected a rumor linking the Penguins to Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, citing the club’s lack of cap space and available assets to pry him away from the Sabres.
Pierre LeBrun reports Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray could attempt to trade a few veteran players between now and the start of next season as he transitions his roster toward younger players. However, most of those moves might not come until the offseason. Murray admits things are quiet in the trade market due to the pandemic, the flattened salary cap, and this summer’s expansion draft.
Murray doesn’t have many rental players to shop. The Ducks GM could instead look for a hockey deal, with LeBrun suggesting winger Rickard Rakell making the most sense. Rakell is a good two-way winger with an affordable $3.78 million cap hit through next season.
Recaps of Tuesday’s action, the NHL is reportedly returning to ESPN, plus updates on Jack Eichel, Roman Josi, Nathan MacKinnon, Elias Pettersson and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist and Tristan Jarry made 33 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Before the game, the Penguins announced forward Jared McCann was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. With 31 points, the Pens move one point ahead of the Boston Bruins into third place in the MassMutual East Division.
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz picked up a win in his 1,700th career NHL game as his club edged the Bruins 2-1 on a shootout goal by Anthony Beauvillier. Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves and Brock Nelson scored in regulation as the Isles (36 points) got their sixth straight victory to maintain a two-point lead over the second-place Washington Capitals in the East Division. Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his 11th goal of the season while struggling teammate Jake DeBrusk was a healthy scratch.
Shootout goals by Sean Couturier and Nolan Patrick lifted the Philadelphia Flyers over the Buffalo Sabres 5-4, extending the latter’s winless skid to eight straight games. The Flyers overcame a 4-2 deficit on third-period goals by Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere. Their comeback began after they pulled starter Carter Hart in favor of backup Brian Elliott. They’re one point behind the fourth-place Bruins. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced captain Jack Eichel is out at least a week with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart gave up three goals on eight shots in the first period. It was the third time this season they’ve pulled the struggling 22-year-old goalie from a game. He is 6-5-3 in 15 starts this season with a bloated 3.61 goals-against average.
The Washington Capitals blew a 4-1 lead over the New Jersey Devils but emerged with a 5-4 victory following an overtime goal by Jakub Vrana, who finished the game with two goals. Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov each collected two assists while Devils center Travis Zajac picked up three helpers.
Jordan Staal scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Carolina Hurricanes nipped the Nashville Predators 3-2. Sebastian Aho scored and collected an assist for the Hurricanes (37 points), who sit one back of the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division. Predators captain Roman Josi missed the game as he’s listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators were already missing blueliner Ryan Ellis, who’s also week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Losing their two best defensemen within a week of each other could be the death blow to the Preds’ fading playoff hopes.
Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out 38 shots as his club doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2, handing the latter their seventh loss in their last nine contests. With 36 points, the Panthers sit one point behind the second-place Hurricanes in the Central Division while the Jackets (25 points) are six points behind the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks.
Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves as the Winnipeg Jets held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the Leafs their third straight defeat. Jets defenseman Neal Pionk picked up three assists. Leafs center Auston Matthews snapped a five-game scoreless drought by tallying twice to become the first player to reach 20 goals this season. Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu left the game with an upper-body injury. With 33 points, the Jets are five points behind the first-place Leafs in the Scotia North Division.
An overtime goal by Blake Coleman gave the Lightning a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Coleman and Tyler Johnson each had a goal and an assist as the Lightning (38 points) maintain a one-point lead for first place in the Central Division.
The Dallas Stars spoiled Blackhawks’ winger Patrick Kane’s 1000th career NHL game with a lopsided 6-1 victory. Stars winger Jason Robertson collected a career-high four assists while captain Jamie Benn picked up his 700th career point. The Stars, however, are 10 points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports sources claimed the NHL and ESPN have reached an agreement on a seven-year to become one of the league’s media partners starting next season. It’s expected ESPN would split the package with another media company, getting exclusive rights to broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals between 2022 and 2028 plus streaming rights for Disney.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN hasn’t aired live NHL games since 2004 so this is a big deal for the league. The current contract with NBC pays $200 million per year so we can expect the new US broadcasting deal will be worth considerably more. This is also an indication of how much the NHL product has grown and improved in the American sports market over the past decade.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is expected to return to action tonight against the Arizona Coyotes after missing the Avs’ last three games with a head injury.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson is expected to miss at least another week with an upper-body injury. His last game was March 2 against the Jets.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes placed goaltender Darcy Kuemper on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. He’s returning to Arizona for further evaluation after getting hurt during Monday’s game against the Avalanche.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy faced no supplemental discipline for his hit to the head of Lightning blueliner Erik Cernak, who returned to action last night against Detroit.
TSN: Only three players – Edmonton’s Kyle Turris, Nashville’s Erik Haula and San Jose’s Marcus Sorensen – are on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.