New Jersey Devils defenseman Ryan Graves (NHL Images)
Portzline suggested the Boston Bruins’ Dmitry Orlov, New Jersey Devils’ Ryan Graves, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin or Dmitri Kulikov, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ian Cole or even perhaps Gavrikov as potential free-agent targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline listed his pros and cons of each defenseman. In my opinion, Orlov or Graves would be the best options. Gavrikov, too, if he doesn’t find any lucrative offers via free agency. Cole, Dumoulin and Kulikov are aging with the latter two hampered by injuries in recent years.
On Sept. 10, the Kings signed Anderson, 23, to an eight-year contract with an average annual cap hit of $4.125 million. A month later, the Sabres inked the 23-year-old Samuelsson to a seven-year deal with an AAV of $4.285 million.
Maxwell believes these two are examples of how defensive blueliners have evolved over the past decade into better all-around rearguards. He noted that teams often failed to recognize the value of such defensemen until later in their careers.
There is risk involved for the Sabres and Kings investing in Samuelsson and Anderson based on their limited NHL careers thus far. However, they’re confident in their evaluations of both players that they’re willing to invest long-term in them on affordable contracts during their playing prime.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granted, this isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but I think Maxwell’s on to something here. Eyebrows were raised briefly when Anderson and Samuelsson signed those contracts but they’ve since been forgotten as the focus shifted to other free-agent stories over the course of the season.
There is always a risk involved for a team to invest long-term dollars in any promising player who hasn’t yet reached their projected potential. If it works, however, the Sabres and Kings will each have a very good defensive blueliner on a cost-effective contract until they reach their early-30s.
Other general managers could attempt similar moves with comparable defensemen during this summer. It could be worth following York’s contract negotiations with the Flyers to see if they do the same thing.
Another scoring milestone for the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, the date for the draft lottery is announced, an update on a potential increase in next season’s salary cap, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin reached another scoring milestone in a 5-4 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. Ovechkin scored his 402nd career home goal to move into fourth place for the most home goals in NHL history. Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie scored in the shootout for the 33-29-7 Capitals (73 points) as they sit five points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Sabres (33-28-6) sit one point behind the Capitals.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
Speaking of the Islanders, Kyle Palmieri had a goal and three assists as they downed the Anaheim Ducks 6-3. Brock Nelson scored twice and Zach Parise had a goal and an assist for the 35-27-8 Islanders. Kevin Shattenkirk tallied twice for the 22-36-10 Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are tied in points (78) with the Pittsburgh Penguins but the latter holds the first-wild spot with three games in hand.
A shootout goal by Nathan MacKinnon lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mikko Rantanen scored in regulation for the Avalanche while Morgan Reilly tallied for the Leafs. The Avalanche (38-22-6) sit third in the Central Division with 82 points while the 40-18-9 Leafs are second in the Atlantic Division with 89 points.
A five-goal second period powered the Minnesota Wild over the St. Louis Blues 8-5. Ryan Hartman led the way with two goals and an assist for the Wild (39-21-8) as they remain four points ahead of the Avalanche in second place in the Central Division with 86 points. Pavel Buchnevich had a hat trick and Jakub Vrana scored twice for the 29-33-5 Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues goalie Jordan Binnington gave up five goals and earned a match penalty for charging into the Wild’s celebration of their fifth goal to go after Hartman, sparking a melee that saw the linesmen restrain Binnington and Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from fighting each other.
NHL.COM: The 2023 draft lottery will be held on May 8 as the league revealed the remaining critical dates for the 2022-23 season following the completion yesterday of the general managers’ meetings in Florida.
Monday, April 17
Start of 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Monday, May 8
2023 NHL Draft Lottery (7 p.m. ET, ESPN, SN, TVAS)
Saturday, June 3
Tentative start of 2023 Stanley Cup Final (TNT, SN, TVAS)
Sunday, June 4 – Saturday, June 10
2023 NHL Scouting Combine presented by adidas (Buffalo)
Monday, June 26
2023 NHL Awards (Bridgestone Arena)
Wednesday, June 28
Round 1 of 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft (7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPN, SN, TVAS) (Bridgestone Arena)
Thursday, June 29
Rounds 2-7 of 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft (11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT, NHLN, SN, TVAS) (Bridgestone Arena)
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speculated the salary cap could rise higher than the projected $1 million to $83.5 million for 2023-24. He indicated it could go up by $4.5 million if hockey-related revenue for the remainder of this season exceeds expectations. That would allow the remaining escrow debt owed by the players to the team owners to be paid in full.
Failing that, Bettman hinted that he’d be willing to meet with the NHL Players Association to discuss artificially increasing the salary cap for next season. Doing so, however, would mean increasing the six percent escrow rates the players are required to pay under the final three seasons of the current collective bargaining agreement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: How much the players would be willing to increase that rate and for how long will determine whether the cap goes up higher than projected for next season. If they’re unwilling to entertain that option, the cap might only go up by $1 million for 2023-24 if HRR isn’t greater than expected. That means any significant cap increases would have to wait until 2024-25.
TSN: Bettman also said that he anticipates the sale of the Ottawa Senators could take place within a matter of weeks. Phase 2 of the sale process is underway as the number of interested parties is narrowed down.
THE ATHLETIC: Bettman said the league is looking at short- and long-term backup options for dealing with the bankruptcy of the parent company of Bally Sports, which holds regional broadcasting rights for 12 US-based NHL teams. Bally Sports’ coverage is expected to continue for the remainder of this season.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Christian Dvorak is the latest member of the Canadiens to be sidelined for the season. The club announced the 27-year-old center underwent season-ending knee surgery on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As of March 10, the Canadiens led the league in man-games lost to injury with 540. Dvorak joins Carey Price, Paul Byron, Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky, Arber Xhekaj, and Jake Evans who are done for the season. Brendan Gallagher, Sean Monahan, and Kirby Dach remain sidelined indefinitely.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins placed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (lower body) on long-term injury reserve. This will allow the cap-strapped club to recall a player from their AHL affiliate if necessary. Kulikov appeared in four games with the Penguins after being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline.
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies, Montreal Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson, and Arizona Coyotes prospect Logan Cooley are among this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker Award honoring the top college hockey player in the United States. 2023 prospect Adam Fantilli is also among the nominees.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fantilli is considered by most scouts as the second-best prospect in this year’s draft.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Carson Briere, son of Flyers interim general manager Daniel Briere, issued an apology for pushing a disabled student’s wheelchair down a flight of stairs at a bar on Saturday. His father also issued a statement saying he was shocked by Carson’s actions in the video, calling it “inexcusable” and that it ran “completely counter to our family’s values of treating people with respect.”
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet intends to implement an offseason conditioning schedule designed to improve his players’ fitness for next season.
The Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl reaches 100 points on the season, the Penguins’Jake Guentzel reaches a career milestone, plus the latest on the Leafs’ Auston Matthews, the Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored twice to become the second player this season to reach 100 points in a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and an assist as the Oilers improved to 37-23-8 to vault over the Seattle Kraken into third place in the Pacific Division with 82 points. Tim Stutzle tallied twice for the 33-30-4 Senators (70 points), who’ve dropped three straight and remain six points behind the New York Islanders (76 points) for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid now leads all active players for most points in a season with 129. Meanwhile, Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot and winger Mathieu Joseph missed this game due to injuries.
The Montreal Canadiens (27-35-6) snapped a seven-game winless skid by upsetting the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-4 on third-period goals by Anthony Richard and Josh Anderson. Jake Guentzel scored twice and collected an assist to reach 400 career points for the 34-23-10 Penguins (78 points) as they remain two points over the Islanders for the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot. They played without defenseman Dmitry Kulikov as he’s week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.
Speaking of the Islanders, they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Los Angeles Kings, who blew the game open with a four-goal second period. Joonas Korpisalo made 28 saves and Vladislav Gavrikov collected two assists for the Kings (39-20-9) as they sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 87 points. Ryan Pulock had two assists for the 34-27-8 Islanders.
The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 5-3. Mika Zibanejad scored twice and Patrick Kane scored his first goal on home ice as a Ranger. With a record of 38-19-10, the Rangers sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 86 points. Injuries sidelined Alex Ovechkin and Sonny Milano for this game as the Capitals (32-29-7) remain five points behind the Islanders in the chase for the final Eastern wild-card spot.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brandon Hagel had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, who lost their grip on first place in the Metropolitan Division. Despite the absence of sidelined captain Steven Stamkos, the Lightning (40-22-6) moved within two points of the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division with 86 points. Damon Severson replied for the 44-17-6 Devils (94 points) as they fell two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they got two goals and an assist by Jesperi Kotkaniemi as they downed the Winnipeg Jets 5-3. With a record of 44-14-8, the Hurricanes sit in second place in the overall standings with 96 points. The Jets (38-27-3) hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 79 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Hurricanes announced winger Andrei Svechnikov will undergo season-ending surgery on his right ACL on Thursday. His absence will be keenly felt among their top-six scorers over the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey remains sidelined by an injury.
The Nashville Predators improved to 34-28-9 and moved within four points of the Jets by holding off the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. Juuse Saros made 28 saves while Kiefer Sherwood and Tommy Novak scored for the Predators, who played without sidelined defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Alex Chiasson replied for the 30-28-9 Red Wings.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Jonathan Quick (27 saves) picked up his fourth straight win since joining the club in a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and two assists while Ivan Barbashev tallied twice for the Golden Knights (42-20-6) as they hold first place in the Western Conference with 90 points. The Flyers sank to 24-32-11.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sidelined Flyers Sean Couturier took part in his first morning skate with the club this season after being sidelined by his second back surgery. His plan is to return to action for a handful of games before the end of the season.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Taylor Raddysh scored his first career hat trick to lead his club to a 6-3 upset of the Boston Bruins. Boris Katchouk had a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks as they improved to 23-38-6, though they lost goalie Petr Mrazek in the second period with his third groin injury of the season. Hampus Lindholm had a goal and an assist for the Bruins (50-11-5) as they remain comfortably atop the overall standings with 105 points.
The Vancouver Canucks collected their fifth straight win by upsetting the Dallas Stars 5-2. Brock Boeser had three assists for the 29-32-5 Canucks while Jamie Benn and Miro Heiskanen each had two points for the 37-18-13 Stars, who played without sidelined winger Mason Marchment in this game. The Stars are in first place in the Central Division with 87 points.
An overtime goal by Travis Boyd gave the Arizona Coyotes a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames. Clayton Keller scored twice, including his 31st goal of the season for the 25-31-11 Coyotes. Jonathan Huberdeau scored the tying goal for the 30-24-14 Flames (74 points) as they sit five points out of the final Western wild-card spot.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau scored twice (including the winner in overtime) and collected three assists in a 6-5 victory over the San Jose Sharks to officially eliminate the latter from playoff contention. The Blue Jackets sit at 21-38-7 on the season and sit last in the overall standings. Logan Couture had a goal and two assists for the 19-36-13 Sharks.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE ATHLETIC: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews revealed he’s been nursing a hand injury that has hampered his performance this season. However, he claims it’s feeling a lot better now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for the Leafs as they head down the stretch toward what will be a crucial postseason for this team.
SPORTSNET: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said he’s expecting Ryan O’Reilly to return before the playoffs. He’s been sidelined with a broken finger since March 4 and underwent surgery on March 7 with a recovery timeline of four weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would mean returning by April 7 but it’s possible O’Reilly might not be good to go until the first game of the playoffs.
TSN: Speaking of broken fingers, Colorado Avalanche forward Artturi Lehkonen is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big loss for the Avalanche. Lehkonen is fourth among Avalanche scorers with a career-best performance of 20 goals and 49 points in 62 games.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Diamond Sports Group, which owns the Bally Sports regional network in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday. The company released a statement indicating it expects to continue operations during the bankruptcy process and that the coverage of games would not be affected. That coverage includes 12 NHL teams.
We’ll keep a running tally of today’s notable trades. It will be updated throughout the day.
Anaheim Ducks traded John Klingberg to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Andrej Sustr, a fourth-round pick in 2025 and prospect Nikita Nesterenko. The Ducks are retaining 50 percent of Klingberg’s $7 million salary.
Anaheim Ducks trade John Klingberg to the Minnesota Wild (NHL Images)
Calgary Flames ship Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Troy Stecher and Nick Ritchie.
Nashville Predators acquire Rasmus Aspland from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2025 seventh-round pick.
Los Angeles Kings trade Austin Wagner to the Chicago Blackhawks for future considerations.
Philadelphia Flyers trade Patrick Brown to the Ottawa Senators for a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Minnesota Wild acquire forward Oskar Sundqvist from the Detroit Red Wings in return for a fourth-round pick in 2023.
Calgary Flames acquire winger Dryden Hunt from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for winger Radim Zahorna.
The Minnesota Wild traded winger Jordan Greenway to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a second-round pick in 2023 (originally from the Vegas Golden Knights) and a 2024 fifth-rounder.
Anaheim Ducks trade Dmitry Kulikov to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Brock McGinn and a third-round draft pick.
Winnipeg Jets acquire Vladislav Namestnikov from the San Jose Sharks for a 2025 fourth-rounder.
Los Angeles Kings trade Brendan Lemieux and a fifth-round pick in 2024 to the Philadelphia Flyers for Zack MacEwen
The New Jersey Devils acquire Curtis Lazar from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2024 fourth-round pick.
The Pittsburgh Penguins re-acquire center Nick Bonino from the San Jose Sharks in a three-team deal involving the Montreal Canadiens. The Sharks received a fifth-rounder in 2024 and a seventh-rounder in 2023 from the Penguins plus a minor-league defenseman Arvid Henrikson from the Canadiens. The Sharks flipped the fifth-rounder to the Canadiens for retaining 50 percent of Bonino’s $2.050 million cap hit. The Habs also received defenseman Tony Sund from the Penguins.
The Detroit Red Wings ship winger Jakub Vrana to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for minor-league center Dylan McLaughlin and a 2025 seven-round pick.
Recaps of Wednesday’s games, the three stars and rookie of the month for February are revealed, the Red Wings re-sign Dylan Larkin, the Penguins acquire Mikael Granlund, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice and collected an assist to down the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2. Zach Hyman had a goal and an assist against his former club as the Oilers improved to 33-21-8 and hold third place in the Pacific Division with 74 points. Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist for the 37-16-8 Maple Leafs as they sit second in the Atlantic Division with 82 points.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid extended his multi-goal streak to five games. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm joined the Oilers for his first game after being acquired from the Nashville Predators the day prior, logging over 20 minutes of ice time and collecting an assist on Hyman’s goals.
New Jersey Devils forward Dawson Mercer scored for the seventh straight game and collected three assists in a 7-5 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Tomas Tatar had a goal and two assists for the Devils (40-15-5) as they sit one point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes with 85 points. Nathan MacKinnon scored twice for the 34-20-5 Avalanche (73 points) as they remain one point back of the second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Avalanche placed defenseman Cale Makar (concussion) on injured reserve.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jack Eichel scored twice while Reilly Smith snapped a 2-2 tie late in the third period as the Golden Knights improved to 36-19-6 and sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 78 points. Martin Necas and Jordan Staal replied for the Hurricanes (39-12-8) as they’ve dropped two straight games.
An overtime goal by Vladimir Tarasenko lifted the New York Rangers over the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 3-2. Tarasenko also collected two assists while Igor Shesterkin kicked out 26 shots for the Rangers (35-17-9) as they sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 79 points. The Flyers have lost eight of their last nine games and dropped to 23-28-11.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Patrick Kane will make his debut with the Rangers on Thursday against the Ottawa Senators. The Rangers acquired the 34-year-old winger from the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin tallied two goals and collected an assist as his club doubled up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. The Stars improved to 32-16-13 and hold first place in the Central Division with 77 points. Coyotes forward Clayton Keller scored his 25th goal of the season as his club fell to 21-31-9.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz left the game in the second period after taking a puck to the left side of his face. Earlier in the day, the Stars placed forward Luke Glendening (undisclosed) on injured reserve.
The Washington Capitals kept their fading playoff hopes alive by nipping the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on an overtime tally by Tom Wilson, who finished the game with two goals. The Capitals (30-27-6) are three points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 66 points. Trevor Zegras had a goal and an assist for the 20-34-8 Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals defensemen Nick Jensen and Martin Fehervary left this game with injuries. Meanwhile, the Ducks withheld blueliners John Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov from this game for trade-related reasons.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark are the NHL’s three stars for February 2023. Ottawa Senators goalie Mads Sogaard was named rookie of the month.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings and Dylan Larkin reached an agreement yesterday on an eight-year, $69.6 million contract extension. Larkin’s average annual value starting next season will be $8.7 million. The deal also comes with a full no-trade clause through the first five seasons and becomes a 10-team trade list for the final three years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin’s lengthy contract negotiations at times made him the subject of trade speculation. However, it was clear the Wings weren’t going to trade him. Doing so would’ve left them without an established first-line center which would’ve significantly set back their development.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins made two trades yesterday. The first saw them ship forward Teddy Blueger to the Vegas Golden Knights in a cost-cutting move, receiving a 2024 third-round pick and minor-league defenseman Peter Diliberatore in return. They followed up by acquiring forward Mikael Granlund from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a second-round pick in 2023.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund is a versatile two-way playmaking forward who can play center or right wing. The 31-year-old carries an AAV of $5 million through 2024-25.
This move isn’t sitting well with some Penguins followers. They argue that adding Granlund does nothing to make the club younger, improve their speed or make them a bigger, tougher club.
The Predators, meanwhile, have accumulated nine picks in the four trades they’ve made since Feb. 25. They picked up a first-round pick in this year’s draft as well as a pick in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, two second-rounders and a fourth in 2024 and a first-rounder in 2025.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning traded forward Vladislav Namestnikov to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for forward Michael Eyssimont. That move frees up $500K in cap space for the Lightning.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Patrick Kane’s agent Pat Brisson said a decision by the Chicago Blackhawks winger over whether to waive his no-movement clause could be coming relatively soon. If the 34-year-old Kane opts for a trade, interested clubs will be notified at least seven-to-10 days before the March 3 trade deadline. He could also opt to reject a trade, finish out the season with the Blackhawks, and head to the free-agent market on July 1.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reports we’ll know what Kane and teammate Jonathan Toews intend to do about 10 days out from the deadline. Both players hoped there could be a way to stay with the Blackhawks but the club wants to move on.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane and Toews could ask Blackhawks management to provide a list of teams that have expressed interest in them. They could then narrow down that list to preferred destinations, then wait to see which ones are willing to meet the Hawks’ asking price by March 3 before reaching a decision to accept or reject a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy cited an NHL scout saying acquiring Chychrun will cost the Bruins a roster defenseman. He believes Bruins GM Don Sweeney prefers to add without an impact subtraction.
The Coyotes asking price is believed to be two first-rounders (or a first-rounder and a comparable asset) along with either a top prospect or a good young NHL player. That could prove to be too expensive for Sweeney.
If the Bruins are keen to add to their blueline it’ll likely be more affordable options like Gavrikov and Schenn as they won’t cost a roster player to obtain.
LeBrun also pointed out that the Bruins aren’t the only club with an interest in Chychrun. The Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings are also in the market for left-shot defensemen like the Coyotes blueliner as well as Gavrikov and Montreal Canadiens rearguard Joel Edmundson.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders what effect Bo Horvat’s new contract with the New York Islander will have on Dylan Larkin’s negotiations with the Detroit Red Wings. He believes Larkin’s abilities as a center make him difficult to replace.
Friedman thinks the two sides will reach an agreement on a deal with an average annual value within the $8 million range. He felt if Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman believed he couldn’t re-sign Larkin, he would’ve traded him last summer before his no-trade clause kicked in.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin would be difficult to replace in both skill and leadership that he brings to the Red Wings. He’s also a local boy who wants to stay and help the Wings complete their rebuild.
A trade before the March 3 deadline is possible. Nevertheless, I still think the two sides will reach an agreement on a new contract.
LATEST ON THE LEAFS AND CANUCKS
TORONTO STAR: Chris Johnston reports the Maple Leafs are gauging the trade market for forwards and defensemen. He cited a league source that “strongly suggested” the Leafs’ main focus is improving a blueline weakened by Jake Muzzin’s absence. General manager Kyle Dubas could make multiple additions, just like he’s done leading up to previous trade deadlines.
Johnston noted the Leafs are running thin on tradeable assets. However, they’re not interested in parting with top prospect Matthew Knies or their first-round draft pick for a rental player. They’ll also have to get creative to free up more salary-cap wiggle room.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman doubts the Maple Leafs trade for a goaltender unless it’s for someone better than their current tandem or what they have on their farm tea.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston observed the Leafs have been linked to everyone from Ryan O’Reilly to Timo Meier to Jake McCabe in the rumor mill. However, they’re unlikely to land the bigger fish like O’Reilly and Meier if they’re not giving up Knies or their first-rounder.
Jim Rutherford denies rumors claiming he’s looking at resigning as the Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations.