NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2021

On the eve of the free-agent market, the Avalanche re-sign Gabriel Landeskog, the Lightning trade Tyler Johnson to the Blackhawks and the Canucks ship Nate Schmidt to the Jets. Get the details plus other signings and trades in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed Gabriel Landeskog to an eight-year, $56 million contract. The annual average value is $7 million.

The Colorado Avalanche re-sign captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big name off the market just hours before free agency begins at noon ET today. The cap hit isn’t too bad but the term is lengthy for a forward turning 29 in November. Still, it should be worthwhile during the first half of the deal if Landeskog’s performance doesn’t decline during that period. It could get costly over the latter half of the contract if his skills deteriorate.

Landeskog is the Avs’ captain and their first-line left-winger. They need his skill and leadership to remain a Stanley Cup contender over the next four years. His cap hit, however, leaves the Avs with $12.3 million in cap space for 2021-22. That could make it difficult to re-sign goaltender Philipp Grubauer and to fill out the remaining roster spots.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Tampa Bay Lightning trade winger Tyler Johnson to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Brent Seabrook’s contract and a second-round pick in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning were expected to trade Johnson this summer to free up salary-cap space. By taking on the permanently sidelined Seabrook’s contract, they’ll free up around $5 million in cap space by placing him on long-term injury reserve. That contract is worth an annual average value of $6.875 million through 2023-24.

Johnson’s contract also expires in ’23-’24 and he carries a $5 million annual cap hit. The Blackhawks now have around $2.5 million in cap room, though they can get $3.9 million more if necessary by placing permanently sidelined forward Andrew Shaw on LTIR.

THE PROVINCE/WINNIPEG SUN: The Vancouver Canucks trade defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A salary dump by the Canucks, shedding $5.95 million through 2024-25 from their books. With over $26 million in cap space, they have sufficient room to re-sign young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. It should also allow them to fend off any offer sheet attempts for Pettersson.

The Jets, meanwhile, add their second defenseman in as many days after acquiring Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals. A lack of depth among their top-four blueliners was an area of concern last season. Schmidt and Dillon should help them address that issue.

THE ATHLETIC: The Seattle Kraken are expected to sign winger Jaden Schwartz when the free-agent market opens at noon ET today.

SPORTSNET: Patrik Laine is accepting the Columbus Blue Jackets’ $7.5 million qualifying offer for 2021-22.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new contract for center David Krejci.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins have re-signed defenseman Mike Reilly to a three-year deal worth $3 million per season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed forward Joel Armia to a four-year, $13.6 million contract. The annual average value is $3.4 million.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers are reportedly re-signing defenseman Brandon Montour to a three-year deal worth $3.5 million per season.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers are expected to sign defenseman Keith Yandle to a one-year, $900K contract. Yandle was bought out of his former contract by the Florida Panthers.

NEW YORK POST: The Carolina Hurricanes are expected to sign former Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo.

WGR550.COM: The Buffalo Sabres re-signed forward Drake Caggiula to a one-year, $750K contract.

TSN: The Winnipeg Jets re-signed goaltender Eric Comrie to a one-year, $750K deal.

THE PROVINCE: The Canucks bought out the final season of goaltender Braden Holtby’s contract.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks bought out the remaining three years of goaltender Martin Jones’ contract.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers bought out the remaining two years of winger James Neal’s contract. They’re also believed to be working on a four-year contract extension for defenseman Darnell Nurse.

THE DENVER POST: The Avalanche acquired defenseman Kurtis MacDermid from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a 2023 fourth-rounder.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2021

The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is tonight at 8 pm ET plus the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Phillip Danault, Ryan Ellis, Patrik Laine and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken will finally have a full roster of players as they reveal their selections this evening in the 2021 NHL expansion draft. The names will be announced at Seattle’s Gas Works Park starting at 8 pm ET. Among the notable names available is Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano.

Seattle Kraken expansion draft is July 21. (NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation Price, Tarasenko and Giordano could be selected by the Kraken. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill update. Ovechkin, however, is expected to re-sign with the Capitals following the expansion draft.

THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Tarasenko, Jeremy Rutherford reports the surgeon who conducted the winger’s third shoulder surgery claims his patient’s left shoulder is “rock solid.”

Dr. Peter Millett said Tarasenko’s shoulder is “very stable and strong”, adding the winger told him it feels better now than it has for months. Millett is confident that Tarasenko is “100 percent ready for the upcoming season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues spent several weeks attempting to trade Tarasenko before exposing him in the expansion draft. This news could make him more enticing to the Kraken or to clubs that expressed interest in the 29-year-old winger.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels cited sources claiming it’s highly unlikely Phillip Danault returns with the Montreal Canadiens. The 28-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Engels also indicated there’s no truth to a reported deal between Danault and the Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault has put his Montreal-area home up for sale. His solid defensive play during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs should help him land a lucrative long-term deal elsewhere on July 28.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, they named Jean-Francois Houle as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Laval. The son of former Canadien Rejean Houle, he has several years of coaching experience at the university, Junior-A and minor-league levels. In 2011-12, he won the Ron Lapointe Trophy as the QMJHL’s top coach.

TSN: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis denied suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery this season. He said it was an injured knuckle that sidelined him for 20 games with the Nashville Predators. Ellis was traded to the Flyers on Saturday before the expansion draft roster freeze. He said he’s good to go for next season.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Patrik Laine is mulling the $7.5 million qualifying offer he received from the Blue Jackets. If he signs the one-year deal he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. The move could allow time for the Jackets to negotiate a long-term extension with the 23-year-old winger.

TSN: Prospect Logan Mailloux has renounced himself from this weekend’s NHL Draft. He’s asking teams not to select him following a criminal charge while playing in Sweden last year. He was investigated after distributing a photo of himself and a woman engaged in a sexual act. The photo was taken without her consent.

Mailloux received a summary punishment by fine. The NHL responded that he remains draft-eligible.

NHL.COM: Defenseman Yannick Weber has retired from the NHL after 13 seasons. He intends to continue his playing career in Switzerland. Weber amassed 94 points in 499 games with the Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Weber in his future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2021

Shea Weber faces career-threatening injuries, Jeff Skinner waives NMC for the expansion draft, Patrik Laine ties his struggles this season to John Tortorella, and the latest on Gabriel Landeskog, Steven Stamkos, Brandon Carlo and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Various injuries threaten to end Shea Weber’s playing career. The Canadiens captain could miss all of next season, if not more. He’s been hampered by foot, ankle, knee and thumb injuries in recent years. As a result, the Habs might not protect the 35-year-old defenseman in the upcoming expansion draft.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the left ankle and foot injuries are what could derail Weber’s career. He’s been dealing with those issues since 2018. His medical history creates a legitimate case for him to go on long-term injury reserve if he cannot play again. The league will make that determination and the process, which also involves Weber, his agent, the Canadiens and the NHLPA, is underway.

Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a devastating blow for Weber and the Canadiens. Despite his age, he’s been their unquestioned leader and the linchpin of their blueline. He’s played through injuries that would sideline most players but that wear and tear could be catching up with him.

Weber has five years remaining on his contract. He could retire if his ankle/foot injuries prevent him from playing again, but that would result in a huge salary-cap recapture penalty for his former club, the Nashville Predators. They matched the offer sheet Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012. Placing him on permanent LTIR would enable the Predators to avoid that penalty while also providing the Canadiens with over $7.8 million in annual cap relief if needed.

For now, it appears Weber could miss all of next season, including the playoffs. That will push the Canadiens into the trade or free-agent market for a replacement, though finding someone of Weber’s caliber will be a daunting challenge.

Weber’s status makes it unlikely the Seattle Kraken will select him if he’s left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft.

Speaking of the Canadiens, they signed assistant coach Luke Richardson to a three-year contract extension.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner has agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the upcoming expansion draft. It’s extremely unlikely the Kraken will select Skinner, who’s carrying a $9 million annual salary-cap hit over the next six seasons. The move will instead enable the Sabres to protect another player in the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per expansion draft rules, players with NMCs must be protected unless they agree to waive the clause. The deadline to ask players to waive those clauses was two days ago. Players asked to do so must reach a decision by Friday.

Speaking of players and no-movement clauses, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle was not asked to waive theirs for the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pointless to do so when you know the answer is, “Oh hell, no!” Or words to that effect.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine told a Finnish media outlet he laid part of the blame for his disappointing performance this season at the feet of former Jackets coach John Tortorella. Laine said Tortorella didn’t allow him the freedom to be creative offensively because of the coach’s desire for everyone to play a two-way game.

Laine said he understood the need for a tight system and he does what coaches tell him to do. However, he also believes they should give players the opportunity to use their strengths. “I do not even want to be like everyone else. I am who I am and do things my way. Everyone should be given the opportunity to be themselves.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what weight Laine’s comments have in his contract negotiations with Jackets’ management. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

The report also noted Laine made a disrespectful comment toward Brad Larsen (then an assistant coach) during a game this season, leading to Tortorella benching the winger. Larsen is now the Jackets’ head coach but the article cited sources saying the incident was quickly resolved with no lingering issues between the two.

THE ATHLETIC: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog is unhappy he doesn’t have a new contract yet with the club. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. “I can’t help but be honest with you that I’m a little bit disappointed that it’s gotten this far and it’s had to come to this point,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talks are reportedly ongoing between the two sides but they’re not yet close to a deal. Salary cap constraints are an issue here. The Avalanche must also re-sign Norris Trophy finalist Cale Makar and Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed defenseman Brandon Carlo to a six-year, $24.6 million contract. The annual average value is $4.1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a reasonable contract for the 24-year-old Carlo, who’s coming off a two-year deal worth $2.85 million annually. The only concern here is his injury history. He played in just 27 games this season. When healthy, however, he’s an effective shutdown defenseman.

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller announced his retirement after seven NHL seasons, citing health issues after battling injuries the past two seasons. He played 352 games for the Bruins, tallying 72 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Miller in his future endeavors.

TSN: It appears the Toronto Maple Leafs could lose two Zachs to free agency on July 28. The Leafs remain far apart in contract talks with winger Zach Hyman while all indications suggest defenseman Zach Bogosian will head to the open market.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Teddy Blueger to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $2.2 million.

THE SCORE: Lightning winger Pat Maroon admitted he was the one who accidentally damaged the bowl of the Stanley Cup during the club’s victory celebration in Tampa on Monday. He was attempting to lift the Cup and slipped on the wet stage and fell backward. It was raining at the time of the incident.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, Dougie Hamilton, Patrik Laine, Rasmus Ristolainen and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said he’s asked around to see if the Buffalo Sabres gave other clubs permission to speak with Jack Eichel but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He added the club and its captain are negotiating the next step in his recovery from a herniated disk in his neck. Sources indicate if the Sabres shop Eichel or Sam Reinhart that we shouldn’t be surprised if they end up with another high pick in the first round of this year’s draft.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski predicted the Sabres will grant permission for interested clubs to speak to Eichel. That will be necessary because of the treatment Eichel requires to treat his injury. If a rival club is willing to allow him to undergo the surgery he seeks and offers the right trade package, Lysowki believes the Sabres will make the deal sooner rather than later.

THE ATHLETIC/BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins will pass on Eichel because of his neck injury. “A $10 million player has to be a sure thing,” he wrote. Joe Haggerty dismissed any talk of the Bruins acquiring Eichel as “fantasy stuff.”

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Seattle Kraken could use the prospect they select with the second-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of a package offer for Eichel. One NHL executive said he was told Kraken general manager Ron Francis checked in on the Sabres captain.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reports hearing the New York Rangers are not likely, or much less likely now, to get into the bidding for Eichel.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s neck injury will determine the number of teams with interest in the Sabres captain. Some could be willing to take a chance on him having surgery on his herniated disk, a procedure that’s never been performed before on an NHL player. However, I think most general managers share Shinzawa’s opinion. If you’re going to invest assets and cap space acquiring an expensive talent like Eichel, you better be sure he’ll be 100 percent healthy.

UPDATE ON HAMILTON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Philadelphia Flyers might not aggressively pursue Dougie Hamilton. The 27-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. The Hurricanes are allowing Hamilton to speak with other teams.

Friedman indicated the Flyers’ interests in addressing their blueline needs appear to be elsewhere, speculating they could target Columbus’ Seth Jones or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. He also suggested the Seattle Kraken and New Jersey Devils could make sense for Hamilton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi believes it would cost the Flyers “multiple high draft picks and either Travis Sanheim or Phil Myers for starters” to acquire Hamilton, and only if they can get him to sign a long-term contract extension. He feels the Flyers would have difficulty fitting him under the cap unless Jakub Voracek headed the other way.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall speculates the Flyers could consider more affordable options if they can’t land Hamilton or Jones. He pointed out they had an interest in Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak before tumbling out of playoff contention by the trade deadline. Hall also mentioned Vegas’ Alec Martinez and Pittsburgh’s Cody Ceci as other UFA options.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Friedman said the Florida Panthers are expected to be aggressively pursuing improvement this offseason. He’s curious if they ask the Columbus Blue Jackets about Patrik Laine. He and Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov have a good relationship.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether the Jackets are going for a full-scale rebuild. A shake-up is probably coming after Seth Jones indicated his intent to test next summer’s free-agent market but it could be a retooling rather than a teardown.

I don’t see the Panthers being keen to take on the potential headache of Laine’s contract negotiations. It will cost $7.5 million to qualify his rights.

The Jackets could decide not to qualify him and let him depart as an unrestricted free agent. However, that would leave them with little to show for shipping Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg.

He cited Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reporting the New Jersey Devils had an interest in Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He wonders if they might also consider Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere if the Flyers included a sweetener in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski pointed out the Devils have the assets in picks and prospects to make a bid for Ristolainen, who indicated last month he’d be open to a trade. The issue here is he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Devils could acquire him and see how next season plays out or they could insist on him signing a contract extension first.

A scout suggested to Friedman that interest in Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique could pick up following his solid play for Canada at this year’s World Championships.

Friedman doesn’t put much stock into recent rumors suggesting Jared Bednar could lose his job as Colorado Avalanche head coach. Despite the club’s disappointing playoff exit, the team still believes in Bednar.

The San Jose Sharks have given pending UFA forward Kurtis Gabriel permission to speak with other teams.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2021

Should the Ducks make a pitch for Patrik Laine? Could the Coyotes pursue Jack Eichel? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST DUCKS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked if the Ducks might pursue a top-six winger such as Patrik Laine to bolster their offense. After his struggles in Columbus, the 23-year-old winger might not re-sign with the Blue Jackets, though the departure of coach John Tortorella could make him rethink that situation. The high cost of qualifying his rights ($7.5 million) prompted Stephens to speculate the Jackets could trade Laine and leave the headache of signing him to somebody else.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Stephens suggested there could be sufficient cap space for the Ducks to take on Laine but it could be expensive. It could make it difficult to re-sign Rickard Rakell, Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm before they become UFAs next summer. While on board with the idea of adding Laine, Stephens suggested someone like Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart could be more cost-effective.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks must shore up their sagging offense. Laine, however, would be an exorbitant acquisition. He also struggles without a quality set-up centerman, something the Ducks lack with 36-year-old Ryan Getzlaf in the twilight of his career. Laine could develop chemistry with promising Trevor Zegras but the latter has yet to establish himself at the NHL level.

Reinhart would be more affordable in terms of salary and return for the Ducks, assuming he’s available in the trade market. His ability to play center or wing would provide them with more flexibility among their top six.

In an earlier piece, Stephens examined the Ducks’ off-season priorities. In addition to acquiring a scorer, he felt they must determine if Ryan Getzlaf will be back and what role he’d play.

He also advocated trying to move players who are not in the club’s long-term picture. That could include Rakell, Manson and Lindholm if re-signing one of them proves difficult. Center Adam Henrique, who has three years and over $17 million remaining on his contract, could be another trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf is no longer capable of playing a top-six role. If he returns it’ll have to be in a checking line spot.

Rakell, Manson and Lindholm surfaced in trade speculation during the season. The high asking prices for those players were believed why they weren’t moved before the April trade deadline. General manager Bob Murray could entertain trade proposals this summer if contract extension talks stall.

The Ducks could leave Henrique exposed in the expansion draft. If the Seattle Kraken pass him over, however, Murray could have difficulty finding a taker because of his contract, which contains a 10-team no-trade list.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL source claiming the Arizona Coyotes are interested in acquiring Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The source said Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has had extended conversations with Sabres GM Kevyn Adams over what it would cost to land Eichel.

The source told Murphy the Coyotes have the type of young players to interest the Sabres. The ‘Yotes would also fulfill the Sabres’ wish to ship Eichel out west.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those young players Murphy’s source alluded to could include winger Clayton Keller, center Christian Dvorak, defenseman Jakob Chychrun and goaltender Adin Hill. I’m not suggesting the Coyotes would have to give up all of them to land Eichel but one or two would have to be part of the deal.

However, I doubt the Coyotes could outbid a club like the New York Rangers or Los Angeles Kings if those teams decide to make serious bids for the Sabres captain. The Blueshirts and Kings carry more depth in quality prospects and young NHL players.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 11, 2021

The Canadiens clinch the last postseason spot in the North Division, the opening day of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs is revealed, Jack Eichel talks about his season and the state of the Sabres, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens clinched the final playoff berth in the Scotia North Division in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers. An overtime goal by Connor McDavid gave the Oilers the win after Canadiens winger Artturi Lehkonen forced overtime with the game-tying goal in the third period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are expected to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round. However, they could meet the Oilers if they win their final game of the season and the Winnipeg Jets drop their final two games in regulation. The Jets sit in third place with 59 points, one up on the Canadiens.

Speaking of the Jets, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks. Jonas Hoglander scored twice for Vancouver.

A 36-save performance by Philipp Grubauer carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. J.T. Compher snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period. With 78 points, Colorado sits two behind first-place Vegas in the Honda West Division. The Golden Knights (39 wins) have one game left while the Avs have two.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever tops the West will win the Presidents’ Trophy for this season’s best record.

An overtime goal by Justin Faulk gave the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings The Blues will face the Golden Knights or Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs.

The Carolina Hurricanes chances of winning the Presidents’ Trophy ended in a 5-0 loss to the Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne picked up the shutout with 30 saves while Matt Duchene scored two goals. The Hurricanes finish the season in first place in the Discover Central Division with 36 wins and 80 points while the Predators finish in fourth place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes and Predators will face off against each other in the opening round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs beginning this weekend.

A 30-save shutout performance by Chris Driedger carried the Florida Panthers over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. Keith Yandle had an assist for his 600th career NHL points. Lightning forwards Mathieu Joseph, Gemel Smith and Daniel Walcott played together on what is believed to be the first all-Black forward line in NHL history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the win, the Panthers clinched second place in the Central and home-ice advantage over the Lightning in their first-round series starting this weekend.

Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images)

Taylor Hall’s overtime goal lifted the Boston Bruins past the New York Islanders 3-2. Bruins winger Ondrej Kase left the game with an upper-body injury. The win clinched third place in the MassMutual East Division for the Bruins, who’ll face the second-place Washington Capitals in the opening round of the postseason with Game 1 on Saturday. The Islanders will face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kase was playing in his first game since suffering a concussion in January. An update on his condition could be made today.

The Dallas Stars nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jason Robertson.

Two goals by Joel Farabee gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the North Division playoffs could begin once all the regular-season games in that division are concluded. Several games earlier in the season involving the Vancouver Canucks were postponed due to COVID-19. Their final regular-season game is May 19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would allow those Canadian clubs some extra rest while giving some of their banged-up players more time to recover before the playoffs begin.

WGR 550: Jack Eichel expressed his displeasure over the way the Buffalo Sabres handled the herniated disk in his neck during an end-of-season media conference call on Monday. He suffered that season-ending injury in early March. Asked why he hasn’t yet undergone surgery, he said it’s a contractual issue, saying the club decides what he can or cannot do to treat an injury.

The Sabres captain also revealed he suffered a sprained ankle during the season, fractured a rib several weeks before training camp and had a lingering abdominal injury from last season.

Eichel dodged the question of whether he’ll ask for a trade but admitted he has a lot of thinking to do regarding his future. He said he has to do what best for him and the Sabres must do what’s best for the organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s comments (which you can read in full by following the above link) raised eyebrows around the league. It sounds like he may have played his final game with the Sabres. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said yesterday it’s “self-explanatory” that Patrik Laine remains a key part of the club’s future. The winger is a restricted free agent this summer. However, his rights remain under the Jackets’ contract until 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s contract status prompted speculation suggesting he could be traded if he and the Blue Jackets failed to reach an agreement on a new deal. The winger yesterday confirmed his wish to remain with the Jackets.

THE SCORE: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane said filing for bankruptcy was a big weight off his shoulders. He considers it a relief that he didn’t have to hide his financial troubles anymore, calling it the end of that chapter of his life. Kane said the birth of his daughter 10 months ago helped him mature and accept responsibility for his actions.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: That relief was reflected in Kane’s play this season. He’s the Sharks’ leading scorer with 22 goals and 49 points in 55 games.

NHL.COM: The list of candidates for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy was released yesterday. Among the notables is Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, and Washington Capitals blueliner Zdeno Chara.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending May 9, 2021.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed defenseman Ryan Lindgren to a three-year, $9 million contract extension.

ESPN is reportedly adding Ray Ferraro and Brian Boucher as NHL analysts starting next season. The network declined to comment.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders have renamed AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers as the Bridgeport Islanders.