NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2022

The opening day of the 2022 NHL Draft saw several established players change teams. Could there be more on the move during Day 2? Read on to find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLUES

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reported a source said Vladimir Tarasenko hadn’t rescinded his trade request from last summer despite his career-best performance in 2021-22 with the St. Louis Blues. This comes despite Blues general manager Doug Armstrong downplaying the notion of moving the 30-year-old winger earlier this spring.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reported yesterday he’d heard that Tarasenko has drawn some interest in the trade market. Rutherford listed the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers as possible trade partners. He believes the Blues will want a defenseman as part of the return.

Rutherford also cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting they were gauging Torey Krug’s value in the trade market. He said a source close to Krug said on Wednesday that the club hasn’t approached the 31-year-old defenseman about waiving his no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko has an annual cap hit of $7.5 million but his actual salary for 2022-23 is $5.5 million, making him more affordable in that department compared to last summer. However, he has a full no-trade clause giving him control over where he could go. Like last year, Armstrong will set a high asking price and is in no hurry to move Tarasenko until someone meets it. He could retain the winger as an “own rental” for next season if he doesn’t get what he wants.

Krug could be harder to move because of his $6.5 million AAV through 2026-27 along with that full no-trade clause. His actual salary jumps to $8 million which will be another sticking point.

NHL GOALIE MARKET COULD HEAT UP

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Edmonton Oilers could be the most interested in Darcy Kuemper when the 32-year-old Colorado Avalanche goaltender hits the free-agent market on July 13. The Avalanche signaled their intent to cut ties with Kuemper by acquiring Alexandar Georgiev yesterday from the New York Rangers. He could seek a multiyear deal in the range of $6 million annually.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports the Toronto Maple Leafs could also be among Kuemper’s suitors if they fail to sign Jack Campbell before next Wednesday. The Leafs freed up $3.8 million per season for the next two years by shipping Petr Mrazek to the Chicago Blackhawks during the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft on Thursday.

Koshan speculated they could still attempt to re-sign Campbell but he expects the 30-year-old netminder will look to double or triple his $1.6 million annual cap hit from his previous contract on a longer-term. The Ottawa Senators’ Matt Murray would be a long shot unless the Senators retain part of his $6.25 million AAV over the remaining two years of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All eyes will be on the Oilers and Leafs regarding how they’ll address their respective goalie situations in the coming days. The Oilers have also been linked to Campbell if he becomes available but could put more of a focus on Kuemper. St. Louis Blues netminder Ville Husso could also be an option for either club.

UPDATES ON THE AVALANCHE, FLYERS, SENATORS AND BLACKHAWKS

THE DENVER POST: With the Colorado Avalanche parting company with Darcy Kuemper, Mark Kiszla believes Nazem Kadri will be next out of town. He believes they would be crazy to pay top dollar for a 31-year-old center coming off an outlier of a career-best performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Joe Sakic didn’t become general manager of the year because he’s fond of overpaying for talent. He’s a tough negotiator who has no problem shipping out players who could be expensive to retain or those due for free agency who prove too costly to sign. Kadri’s a goner unless he accepts a hometown discount.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: With Alex DeBrincat no longer on the market, Sam Carchidi wonders if the Philadelphia Flyers will set their sights on Johnny Gaudreau if the 28-year-old Calgary Flames winger becomes a UFA on July 13. They’ll need to free up cap space to do so. Carchidi indicated they intend to try and move winger James van Riemsdyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could cost over $9.5 million annually on a seven-year deal for the Flyers to sign Gaudreau, who grew up a Flyers fan. Moving van Riemsdyk would clear $7 million from their books. The 33-year-old winger has a year left on his contract and lacks no-trade protection. His actual salary is $4 million after the Flyers paid his signing bonus on July 1.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators have kicked tires on Florida Panthers defenseman (and Ottawa native) MacKenzie Weegar. They also haven’t ruled out pursuing Panthers forward Claude Giroux if he becomes available via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Careful there, Senators GM Pierre Dorion. If the Panthers are entertaining offers for Weegar and his $3.25 million cap hit for next season, it’s probably because they’re trying to shed salary to re-sign Giroux.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2022

The Sedin Twins, Roberto Luongo and Daniel Alfredsson headline the 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, the case for Alexander Mogilny’s induction, Corey Perry sets a playoff record and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Roberto Luongo and Daniel Alfredsson head the 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees. Finnish female star Riikka Sallinen and former minor league and senior league star Herb Carnegie are also among the class of 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Class of 2022 for their well-deserved honors.

The Sedin Twins and Roberto Luongo are among the 2022 inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame (NHL.com).

The Sedins were the two greatest players in Vancouver Canucks history, becoming their franchise leaders in several offensive categories. Henrik won the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2009-10 while Daniel won the Art Ross and the Ted Lindsay Award in 2010-11. Luongo is second all-time among NHL goaltenders in games played (1,044) while his 489 career wins rank fourth overall.

Luongo and the Sedins helped turn the Canucks into a Western Conference powerhouse from 2006-07 to 2012-13. The club finished atop the Northwest Division six times and won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2011 and 2012. They also advanced to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

Alfredsson spent all but one of his 18 NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators. He’s their franchise leader with 426 career goals, 682 assists and 1108 points. He’s also their longest-serving captain (1999-2000 to 2012-13) and led them to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. Under Alfredsson’s leadership, the Senators topped the Northeast Division three times and won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2003.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith points out the Hall of Fame has snubbed former NHL star Alexander Mogilny for the 13th straight year since he became eligible for induction. He makes a convincing case for Mogilny’s induction, noting that he was the first player ever to defect from the Soviet Union directly to the NHL.

Mogilny amassed 473 goals and 559 assists for 1,032 points, including a 76-goal performance in 1992-93, and continued to produce solid numbers over the final years of his career despite chronic hip issues. Gold-Smith observed that his goal rate and goal total is higher than several of his contemporaries already in the Hall, including Steve Yzerman, Teemu Selanne, Joe Sakic, Pat Lafontaine, Peter Stastny and Pavel Bure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gold-Smith suggests one reason for Mogilny’s exclusion could be his potential reluctance to engage in the induction festivities. However, that’s not a reason for the Hall not to honor his career and accomplishments. In my opinion, he belongs there.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Former Stars winger Corey Perry became the first player in NHL history to lose three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals with three different teams. He skated for the Cup Finalist Stars in 2020, the Montreal Canadiens in 2021 and the Tampa Bay Lightning this year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry will have to console himself with the Stanley Cup he won with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins officially confirmed signing general manager Don Sweeney to a multi-year contract extension.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed Timothy Liljegren to a two-year contract worth $1.4 million per season. The 23-year-old defenseman was slated to become a restricted free agent on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Liljegren signing leaves the Leafs with $6.4 million salary-cap space for 2022-23 with 18 players under contract. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

TSN: Maxim Mamin is reportedly returning to the KHL after spending a season with the Florida Panthers. The pending unrestricted free agent forward had 14 points in 40 games.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have been awarded the Colorado Avalanche’s third-round pick in the 2024 draft. It was part of the conditions of the trade that sent goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Avalanche last summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2022

What next for the Avalanche and Lightning following the Stanley Cup Final? What’s the latest on the Islanders and Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE AND LIGHTNING?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Kristen Shilton looked at what the offseason could hold for the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning following the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has some notable free agents to deal with, starting with forwards Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 13 and are coming off strong regular-season and playoff performances.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper, winger Andre Burakovsky and defenseman Josh Manson could receive lucrative offers from other clubs in the upcoming free-agent market. Trade deadline acquisition Artturi Lehkonen is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

Hanging over all of his is the knowledge that superstar center Nathan MacKinnon is a year away from UFA eligibility. Sakic must manage his future cap space carefully and might have to get creative if they hope to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche have a solid core next season in MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Samuel Girard and Bowen Byram. However, maintaining their supporting cast could be challenging.

Cap Friendly shows the Avalanche with over $25 million in salary cap space with 14 players under contract for 2022-23. They’re enough room to re-sign Kadri, Nichushkin, Kuemper and Manson but it will eat up most of that cap space as well as bite deeply into their available space for 2023-24 when MacKinnon will be due for a big raise on a long-term deal.

Sakic might keep one of those key UFAs. It could be Kadri to ensure their depth at center but he could price himself out of their market. It could be Kuemper to maintain their solid goalie tandem with Pavel Francouz. I don’t think Burakovsky and Manson will be back.

My guess is Nichushkin is the most likely to return. Sakic took a chance on him after the Dallas Stars bought him out and he found his game with the Avs. He’s completing a two-year deal worth $2.5 million per season and should be the more affordable to retain.

The Lightning’s decisions start with pending UFAs Ondrej Palat, Nick Paul and Jan Rutta. They’re up against the salary cap once again with 19 players under contract for next season. That makes a major roster overhaul unlikely.

Like Sakic, GM Julien BriseBois will have to use some creativity to maximize his bargaining power. He’ll need to decide if he’s happy with the club’s current depth, especially on the blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois has proven skillful at finding inventive ways to maintain a championship roster. That ability will once again be put to the test.

The Lightning will get some wiggle room with Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million) on permanent long-term injury reserve. Still, it’s unlikely BriseBois be able to bring back all three of those UFAs. I expect BriseBois will put his efforts into signing Palat.

COULD THE ISLES SHOP BEAUVILLIER FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently pondered the possibility of the New York Islanders shopping Anthony Beauvillier for help on their blueline. While the 25-year-old winger’s development has stalled, he’s still young enough to improve. He also carries a reasonable $4.15 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons and lacks no-trade protection.

Zdeno Chara, Andy Greene, Sebastian Aho and Grant Hutton have likely played their final games for the Islanders. There are questions over whether those in the system, such as Robin Salo and Samuel Bolduc, are ready to move up.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun could be a trade target. Most Isles fans polled by Kurz would be fine with bundling Beauvillier with their first-round pick (13th overall) in this year’s draft for Chychrun, though Kurz believes the Coyotes would want a prospect included in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders aren’t the only team expected to have an interest in Chychrun. However, the Coyotes have set a very high asking price. Beauvillier, a first and a prospect might not be enough to land him. I suspect GM Lou Lamoriello will explore more affordable options if he uses the winger as trade bait for a blueliner.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington doesn’t see the Sabres using their plentiful salary-cap space to pursue a big-ticket UFA like Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang. He also doesn’t see them pursuing Marc-Andre Fleury to bolster their goaltending depth if Craig Anderson decides he’s not returning.

He doesn’t see the Sabres being interested in Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper. Toronto’s Jack Campbell might want a deal of three or four years and the Sabres aren’t interested in that type of term. He also believes St. Louis’ Ville Husso will want dollars and term that the Sabres aren’t interested in handing out.

Harrington advocates pursuing Braden Holtby to share the goalie duties and mentor promising Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen, suggesting they offer up a two-year, $8 million deal. It would also help the Sabres reach the $61 million salary-cap minimum.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see who the Sabres bring in to share the goalie duties with Luukkonen if Anderson hangs up his pads. The focus seems to remain on building up with their younger players, though I do see them adding affordable veterans to provide depth and leadership for next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2022

Patrice Bergeron reportedly returning with the Bruins, the Golden Knights close in on a new contract for Reilly Smith, the Senators win a bid to construct a new arena in downtown Ottawa, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Patrice Bergeron is returning for another season with the Bruins. Longtime Bruins beat reporter Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette tweeted last night that the 36-year-old Bruins captain is set to sign a one-year, incentive-laden contract worth a potential total of $6.8 million.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

Earlier this month, Bergeron won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward for a record-setting fifth time. He’s spent his entire 18-season NHL career with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron’s re-signing is good news for the Bruins, ensuring they’ll have their best center back for one more season. It also buys management time to find his potential replacement as well as add a second-line center.

We won’t know until Bergeron’s new contract is officially announced what the potential cap hit will be. The estimated $6.8 million would be roughly what he earned as the annual average value of his expiring contract. Whatever the amount, it could force management to make a cost-cutting trade or two. Cap Friendly shows them with just $2.83 million in cap space with 22 players under contract for 2022-23.

Teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when the regular season begins on Oct. 11. The Bruins can remain over the cap ceiling by placing sidelined stars such as Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy on long-term injury reserve but they must be under the cap when those players are ready to return to action.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the Vegas Golden Knights are closing in on a three-year contract extension for Reilly Smith. Seravalli said it’s a verbal agreement for now and won’t be officially announced until the Golden Knights address their salary-cap issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet on the annual cap hit of Smith’s new contract. The Golden Knights are currently above the $82.5 million cap by over $2.6 million with 16 players signed for 2022-23.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators’ hope of building a new arena in downtown Ottawa is closer to becoming a reality. The club and its partners have a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission to construct an arena complex on LeBreton Flats. Construction on the project could begin in late 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the culmination of several years of stalled negotiations and lawsuits for the Senators. A downtown arena will make it easier for fans to attend their games, providing a big boost to their hockey-related revenue.

There’s still more work to be done before this becomes a reality. Nevertheless, it’s a big, positive step in the right direction.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning hope to extend the 2022 Stanley Cup Final with a win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 on Friday in Denver. The back-to-back defending champions hope to overcome a 3-1 series deficit and win the Cup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The odds are against the Lightning. Teams that are down 3-1 in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final are 1-35. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to accomplish that feat and they were down 3-0 in their series with the Detroit Red Wings.

THE DENVER POST: A solid bounce-back performance by goaltender Darcy Kuemper in Game 4 was a crucial factor in the Avalanche winning that contest.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars are working toward a contract extension with general manager Jim Nill.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers signed goaltender Felix Sandstrom to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $775K.

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets have extended their affiliate agreement with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 12, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 12, 2022

In this installment of the Sunday NHL rumor roundup, a look ahead to the Rangers offseason plus the latest Oilers speculation.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE RANGERS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski examines the keys to the offseason for the New York Rangers following their elimination from the Eastern Conference Finals. They have some intriguing free agents heading into this summer.

Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 13. Copp is a more versatile forward but Strome has better chemistry with winger Artemi Panarin. They’ll need to find a creative way to free up cap space to retain both on multi-year contracts.

New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp (NHL Images).

One way could be signing restricted free agent winger Kaapo Kakko to a low-cost bridge deal. Another could be bringing in a backup goalie making less than what RFA netminder Alexandar Georgiev will make this summer.

Late-season pickup Frank Vatrano played well enough to earn an affordable extension. Fellow UFAs Tyler Motte and Justin Braun could depart this summer. Wyshynski also recommends adding a veteran defensive blueliner if they have sufficient cap space.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks acknowledged there will be questions hanging over the Rangers’ roster this summer, namely that of Strome’s contract status. However, he considers the performance of their young players may have changed that puzzle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $13.5 million in salary cap space with 14 players under contract for 2022-23. Sammy Blais is another of their noteworthy free agents. The RFA winger spent most of this season sidelined by a knee injury.

Acquiring Copp cost the Rangers their first-round pick in this year’s draft. That could be an incentive to re-sign him over Strome if they can’t free up sufficient cap room for both players. It could cost over $5 million annually to re-sign Copp while Strome will seek a significant raise over his current $4.5 million AAV.

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant raised some eyebrows by making Kakko a healthy scratch for Game 6 of the Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. That could prompt some speculation over his future with the Rangers, perhaps even generate talk of him becoming a cost-cutting casualty.

However, Kakko’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. As Wyshynski speculates, they could simply sign him to a low-cost bridge deal to give them some wiggle room for another signing or roster addition.

LATEST OILERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports the Edmonton Oilers have asked Mike Smith and Duncan Keith to inform them by July 1 if they intend to return next season or retire. Smith was banged-up during the postseason while Keith didn’t say much.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes Smith and Keith can still help the Oilers next season. Based on what he’s been told, Leavins would be very surprised if Keith hangs up his skates, adding the veteran blueliner might try to extend his playing career beyond 2022-23.

However, he can see Smith retiring. While the veteran goaltender’s talent and desire remain clear, age and injuries may be wearing down the 40-year-old.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith’s $2.2 million cap hit would come off the Oilers’ books if he retires. If he can’t physically play, they can place him on LTIR for the season. Keith’s cap hit is over $5.5 million but his actual salary is $1.5 million.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson looked at possible options to upgrade the Oilers’ goaltending next season. St. Louis’ Ville Husso, Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper and Toronto’s Jack Campbell are among the netminders potentially available via this summer’s free agent market. Anaheim’s John Gibson is a possible trade option.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen included Husso among his list of six potential value goalies for the Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs to consider. He also listed Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith, San Jose’s Kaapo Kahkonen, Detroit’s Alex Nedeljkovic, Winnipeg’s Eric Comrie and New Jersey’s Mackenzie Blackwood.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Husso, Kuemper and Campbell all have their strengths and weaknesses. I still expect the Leafs to re-sign Campbell while it’s perhaps 50-50 that Kuemper and Husso remain with their current clubs. The Oilers could face a bidding war for their services given the limited goalie options among this summer’s free-agent class.

Gibson is signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $6.4 million and a 10-team no-trade clause. He could be reluctant to waive it to join a Canadian team. The Sharks recently acquired Kahkonen so he’s not going anywhere. Neither is Nedeljovic after being acquired last summer from Carolina. Blackwood has been battling injuries and inconsistency over the past two seasons. Comrie could be an affordable backup signing.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2022

The Lightning are on the verge of their third straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final plus the latest on Evander Kane, the Avalanche’s injured players, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight year after downing the New York Rangers 3-1 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat (NHL Images).

Ondrej Palat broke a 1-1 tie late in the third by deflecting Mikhail Sergachev’s screened point shot past Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Brandon Hagel added the insurance goal into an empty net. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 24 saves for the win. The Lightning can wrap up the series on home ice in Game 6 on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the tightest-checking game of this series with the outcome in doubt before Palat netted his second straight game-winner. Both goaltenders were outstanding but Shesterkin had no chance on Palat’s goal. It was the Rangers’ first loss on home ice since Game 1 of their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There’s no question the Lightning have shaken off their slow start to this series and now hold the momentum returning to Tampa Bay for Game 6. Their championship experience and disciplined play have made the difference over the last three games. We’ll find out on Saturday if the Rangers can find a way to overcome this deficit and force a seventh and deciding game in New York.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Evander Kane appeared to bid farewell to Edmonton after posting a gracious thank-you to the Oilers and their fans on Instagram yesterday. In his statement, Kane said he was grateful “to have had the opportunity to play with such a committed, hardworking and loyal group of men.” He called the team a “first-class organization” and thanked them “for giving me the opportunity to play for such a historic franchise.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An optimistic will say Kane is leaving the door open for a possible return. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but this looks like he’s saying goodbye. The 30-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche got some good news on some of their sidelined players ahead of the Stanley Cup Final. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper said he’s fully recovered from the upper-body injury that forced him out of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Edmonton Oilers and sidelined him for the remainder of that series.

Forwards Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano suffered broken thumbs during that series. However, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar is optimistic they could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. The Avs are awaiting the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals.

THE SCORE: Bruce Cassidy was as surprised as everyone else when he was recently fired as head coach of the Boston Bruins. Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Cassidy said he was told by management that his job was safe during his end-of-season interview.

Cassidy might not be unemployed for long. He revealed he’s already spoken with a number of teams. “I want to get back to work. Hopefully, it’s a really good fit – best fit possible,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers say that this doesn’t reflect well on Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who visited Cassidy at home to deliver the bad news. I’ve heard it suggested that Sweeney was forced into firing him by team president Cam Neely.

Whatever the reason or whoever was behind it, this story only adds to the sense of offseason upheaval and confusion swirling about the Bruins of late.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs are seeking a new goaltending coach after parting ways with Steve Briere on Thursday. He’d held that role since 2015-16.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: The New York Islanders have relieved assistant coaches Jim Hiller and John Gruden of their duties.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Chicago Blackhawks have reportedly asked the Canadiens for permission to speak with assistant coach Luke Richardson.

THE PROVINCE: The Blackhawks have also asked the Vancouver Canucks for permission to meet with assistant coach Brad Shaw.