NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2022

Will the Flames search for a replacement for Johnny Gaudreau? Are the Sharks done dealing? What’s the latest on Patrik Laine, Jeff Petry and Jakob Chychrun? What’s next for the Jets, Islanders, Penguins and Leafs? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE FLAMES FIND A REPLACEMENT FOR GAUDREAU?

CALGARY SUN: In the aftermath of Johnny Gaudreau departing the Flames to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Wes Gilbertson speculated they could be in the bidding for center Nazem Kadri.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane also included Kadri on his list of possible “Plan B” options for the Flames. Others include Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome and Nino Niederreiter.

Could the Calgary Flames pursue Nazem Kadri via free agency? (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Flames have $19.7 million in cap space. It will probably cost them $10 million annually to re-sign Matthew Tkachuk. However, with Sean Monahan (hip surgery, $6.25 million cap hit) likely to go on long-term injury reserve in 2022-23, they should still have room to find a replacement for Gaudreau.

I don’t see Kane waiving his no-movement clause to go to Calgary. Kadri would be their best bet via free agency but he rejected a trade that would’ve sent him from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Flames three years ago. Strome or Niederreiter would be affordable options but won’t replace the offense Gaudreau brought to the club.

POTENTIAL SHARKS TRADE CANDIDATES

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng wondered which Sharks players will be trade candidates after the club shipped defenseman Brent Burns to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. “Need a ride to the airport, Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, or Timo Meier?”

Peng considers Karlsson almost untradeable given his expensive contract. He suggested Couture could draw a taker now if the Sharks retained part of his $8 million average annual value.

Hertl recently re-signed a long-term contract with the Sharks but Peng wonders if he’s having second thoughts following the Burns trade. Meier is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer so his future is wide open.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mike Grier is wasting no time charting a different course for the Sharks since taking over as general manager. I don’t see him peddling Karlsson, Couture or Hertl unless they ask to be moved.

Meier, however, could get shopped this summer if he appears reluctant to sign a long-term extension. He’ll draw plenty of attention if Grier starts gauging his value in the trade market.

LATEST ON LAINE, PETRY AND CHYCHRUN

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen continues working on re-signing left winger Patrik Laine. Having signed winger Johnny Gaudreau on Wednesday, Kekalainen will have to shed salary to make room for Laine’s presumed $8 million-$9 million annual cap hit on his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau and Laine on the same line could give the Blue Jackets a potent scoring punch. With just $3.1 million in cap space, they must dump a contract or two in the trade market to keep Laine in the fold. If not, he could become a trade candidate.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the Canadiens haven’t found a trade partner to take Jeff Petry and his $6.25 million AAV off their hands. GM Kent Hughes said he won’t move the 34-year-old defenseman unless he finds a deal that advances the Canadiens’ interest. The Habs are pressed against the $82.5 million cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy cited reports indicating the Canadiens had discussed Petry with the Dallas Stars. However, a deal has yet to materialize and remains unlikely as long as the Habs are reluctant to retain a portion of Petry’s annual cap hit. Murphy speculated the Seattle Kraken could jump into the bidding as they still have sufficient cap space ($15 million) to acquire him.

GOPHNX.COM: Prior to the start of the free-agent market, Craig Morgan reported he didn’t put much stock into recent buzz linking Jakob Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators. He anticipates the 24-year-old defenseman will start the season with the Arizona Coyotes and could be shopped leading up to the 2023 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators are done making additions this summer as they still have an eye on adding to the top end of their defense chart. However, Chychrun might not be in their sights given the Coyotes’ high asking price.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE JETS, ISLANDERS, PENGUINS AND LEAFS?

THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates reports Pierre-Luc Dubois’ agent Pat Brisson told TVA Sports on Wednesday that Montreal is a place his client would like to play but added the interest in the Canadiens was theoretical.

The Winnipeg Jets center is a restricted free agent who has indicated his desire to test the 2024 UFA market. Ates said he was told the Canadiens had reached out to the Jets about Dubois but their trade proposals were inadequate.

Ates also reports Jets captain Blake Wheeler remains a trade candidate and there’s interest in defenseman Brenden Dillon. However, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff maintains he likes his current roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff could move Dubois, Wheeler or Dillon if a rival club makes an irresistible offer. However, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for now. It appears the Jets GM wants to gauge how his club performs in 2022-23 under new head coach Rick Bowness.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz wondered what the New York Islanders’ “Plan B” is to address their need for a scoring winger after missing out on the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes. Trade options could include St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko or Vancouver’s J.T. Miller while Nazem Kadri remains available (for now) in the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles reportedly discussed Miller with the Canucks at the draft last week. Maybe GM Lou Lamoriello will revisit that option.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski wondered if Penguins GM Ron Hextall could use the trade market to free up his blueline logjam. He’s got nine defensemen under contract for 2022-23 and needs to free up some cap space as well as pursue a forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins blueliners John Marino, Marcus Pettersson and Brian Dumoulin have surfaced in the rumor mill in recent weeks. As Kingerski pointed out, however, their contracts might not be easy to move.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will turn to the trade market to add depth to their defense corps and forward lines. Alex Kerfoot and Justin Holl could be trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas remains handcuffed by his limited salary-cap space. I don’t expect he’ll get much of a return for Kerfoot or Holl but maybe a deal will appear following the frenzy of signings from the opening day of free agency.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2022

The latest on Kirill Kaprizov, Patrik Laine, Anthony Duclair and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CBS SPORTS: cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting Kirill Kaprizov underwent minor surgery. The 25-year-old Minnesota Wild left winger is expected to be ready “well in advance” of training camp.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reported contract talks are continuing between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the agent for left wing Patrik Laine. Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said the discussions are amicable. However, Portzline wrote that it doesn’t sound as though a deal is close. Kekalainen doesn’t expect it will affect the club’s plans for the upcoming NHL draft in Montreal.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Laine is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He’s coming off a one-year, $7.5 million contract.

ESPN.COM: Anthony Duclair underwent surgery to repair an Achilles tendon injury. The 26-year-old Florida Panthers winger is expected to be sidelined until midway through the 2022-23 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair carries a $3 million annual average value. With the Panthers having just $3 million in salary-cap space for next season and with 17 players under contract, they could place him on long-term injury reserve to garner some cap relief to sign another player. However, they’ll have to be cap compliant when Duclair is ready to return to action.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens can take their time negotiating a new contract with Alexander Romanov. He has only two seasons with 10 or more games played, he falls under the status of a 10.2(c) restricted free agent. That makes him ineligible to sign an offer sheet with another team as Jesperi Kotkaniemi did last summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens management is currently focused on the upcoming NHL draft in Montreal. Once that’s completed, they’re expected to turn their attention toward their RFAs.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Alexei Toropchenko underwent shoulder surgery and will miss the first two months of next season. The 23-year-old is on a one-year, $750K contracts for 2022-23.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: PNC Arena, home of the Carolina Hurricanes, could be getting a major facelift and overhaul over the next several years. Opened in 1999, the venue is expected to undergo renovations that were put off for the past two years by the COVID-19 pandemic.










NHL Morning Coffee Headline – June 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headline – June 7, 2022

The Avalanche sweep the Oilers to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins fire coach Bruce Cassidy and Kyle Connor wins the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are heading to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Artturi Lehkonen scored in overtime as the Avs swept the Oilers, sending them to the Final for the first time since 2001.

2022 Western Conference Champion Colorado Avalanche (NHL.com).

The Avalanche opened the scoring but the Oilers took leads of 3-1 and 4-2 before the Avs regained the lead on third-period goals by Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Zack Kassian scored late in the third to tie the game at five and force the extra frame.

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar finished the night with a goal and four assists while Landeskog and Lehkonen each had a goal and an assist. Leon Draisaitl had four primary assists, Zach Hyman tallied twice and Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was the most exciting of this short series but it also had an air of inevitability about it. Despite the Oilers taking two 2-goal leads they simply lacked the goaltending and defensive depth to hold it.

The Avalanche are a much deeper club, enabling them to overcome those deficits and prevail in overtime. That included adjusting to the absence of center Nazem Kadri, who returned to Denver to repair a broken thumb suffered in Game 3. His return for the remainder of the postseason is questionable.

Injuries to some key players also hurt the Oilers in this series. Despite Draisaitl’s offensive heroics, he was pretty much playing on one leg after suffering an ankle injury during their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings. Defenseman Darnell Nurse revealed he’d played the entire postseason with a torn hip flexor. Winger Kailer Yamamoto missed Game 4 with an upper-body injury suffered in Game 2.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins yesterday announced they fired head coach Bruce Cassidy. During Cassidy’s six-year tenure behind the bench, they reached the playoffs six times, including the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa cited front office unhappiness with Cassidy’s offensive tactics and approach to optimizing player performance (especially those of the younger players) as the reasons behind this move. However, he’s among the pundits who are critical of this move, suggesting the club’s Stanley Cup window is now closed. Some believe Cassidy is taking the fall for management’s missteps over the past six seasons.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Kyle Connor won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. He enjoyed a career-best performance (47 goals, 93 points) while collecting just four penalty minutes in 79 games. That was the fewest among the league’s top-100 scorers with at least 50 games played.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Connor for this well-deserved award. Like all the previous winners, he’s a fine example that this game can be played at a high level without resorting to questionable behavior or taking costly infractions.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point remains sidelined by a lower-body injury and won’t suit up for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.

NHL.COM: Rangers center Ryan Strome is expected to play against the Lightning tonight after leaving Game 3 on Sunday with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Speaking of the Rangers, prospect winger Vitali Kravtsov has rejected an extension to his KHL contract and appears to be eyeing a return to the NHL next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time will tell if he’s back with the Rangers or another club. His falling-out with management over his playing time earlier this season prompted considerable trade speculation.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said the lingering effect of COVID-19 took a toll on his performance this season. He had just five goals in 27 games before the Christmas break. His performance improved over the remainder of the campaign, finishing with 21 goals and 58 points, as well as seven goals and 12 points in 12 postseason games.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger tweeted that Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine has fully recovered from the back injury that sidelined him from the final seven games of the season. There’s no update, however, on the status of the restricted free agent’s contract negotiations.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed defenseman Chris Wideman to a two-year, $1.525 million contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Long-time Blackhawks forward Eric Nesterenko passed away Monday at age 88. He spent 21 seasons in the NHL, starting in 1951-52 with the Toronto Maple Leafs before joining the Blackhawks in 1956-57, spending the remaining 16 seasons in Chicago and helping them win the Stanley Cup in 1961. He had 250 goals and 574 points in 1,219 games. Nesterenko appeared in the 1986 movie “Youngblood” and also served as a consultant on the film.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Nesterenko’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2022

The latest on John Klingberg’s contract talks with the Stars, a difficult postmortem could face the Predators if they’re swept by the Avalanche, and the Blue Jackets’ offseason focus in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STARS GM STILL HOPES TO RE-SIGN KLINGBERG

NHL.COM: Tracey Myers reports Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill would love to re-sign John Klingberg. However, he understands the 29-year-old defenseman has to look out for himself as he approaches eligibility for unrestricted free agent status this summer. Nill said he intends to speak with Klingberg’s representatives once the playoffs are over.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

Klingberg felt underappreciated by Stars management and expressed his frustration over the lack of progress in earlier contract discussions during an interview in January. However, he’s now indicated he refocused on his game since the All-Star break and has been happy with his performance. Nill is also happy with Klingberg’s play, claiming he’s had many discussions with the blueliner and the two have “a great relationship.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears the two sides have patched things up from where they were in the first half of the season. However, it will still come down to what Klingberg seeks on his next contract and whether the Stars are willing to meet his expectations.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek last fall indicated Klingberg sought an eight-year deal worth between $62 million and $68 million. That’s between $7.75 million and $8.5 million annually.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes believes the Nashville Predators could face “a tough postmortem” if they’re swept by the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night in Game 4 of their first-round series. They face losing the fifth consecutive postseason series.

The Predators opted not to trade Filip Forsberg in hopes of a playoff run. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Considering how overmatched the club has been against the Avalanche, it should mean more questions for the roster beyond Forsberg.

Head coach John Hynes’ contract expires at the end of this season. Estes suggested he could be retained given the Predators exceeded expectations this season but wondered why it hasn’t been announced yet. He also doubted a healthy Juuse Saros would’ve significantly altered the course of this series with the Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators GM David Poile last summer indicated his club was undergoing a “competitive rebuild”. If he meant remaining in playoff contention while making changes to his roster with a long-term goal of returning to Cup contender status, then it’s mission accomplished for this season.

Whether Forsberg will be part of that process beyond this season remains to be seen. He’s completing a six-year deal with an annual cap hit of $6 million and is coming off a career-best 42-goal, 84-point performance in 69 games. That could push the annual average value of his next contract to well over $8 million per season.

There were reports prior to the March trade deadline that there wasn’t much progress in contract talks between the two sides. Unless that changes, we could be seeing the last of Forsberg in a Predators jersey.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE BLUE JACKETS THIS SUMMER?

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline believes the Columbus Blue Jackets face heightened expectations for next season after overachieving in 2021-22. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen must get restricted free agent winger Patrik Laine under contract and shed some salary to make room for the younger players set to join the lineup next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine is completing a one-year, $7.5 million contract and has arbitration rights this season. Portzline indicated the 24-year-old winger wants to stay with the Jackets. However, Kekalainen will have to pony up some big bucks to keep him in the fold long term.

The Laine camp could seek over $9 million annually on a seven- or eight-year deal. They could also prefer a short-term deal to take their client up to UFA eligibility and a shot at a major contract on the open market.

Laine’s new contract will also bite deeply into the Jackets’ cap space. Cap Friendly shows them with over $54 million committed to 15 players.

A likely trade candidate is Gustav Nyquist. The 32-year-old winger has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. He enjoyed a bounce-back performance this season with 53 points. Perhaps a playoff contender seeking offensive depth on the wing would be interested in his services.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2022

The three stars and the rookie of the month for April are announced, the Red Wings fire head coach Jeff Blashill, plus the latest on Carey Price, Ryan Ellis, Patrik Laine, Mathew Barzal and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko are the NHL’s three stars for April 2022. Florida Panthers goalie Spencer Knight was named the rookie of the month.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings yesterday fired head coach Jeff Blashill. They also announced assistant coach Doug Houda and goaltending coach Jeff Salajko were relieved of their duties.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blashill spent seven seasons as the Wings’ bench boss. He wasn’t to blame for the club’s struggles as management tore down and rebuilt the roster during those years. However, the Wings’ failure to meet heightened expectations this season led to his downfall.

Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen reports Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman could seek a head coach who will demand more from his players and develop the club’s young talent. He listed former NHL coaches like John Tortorella, Paul Maurice, Claude Julien, and Jim Montgomery among the possible candidates Yzerman could consider as Blashill’s replacement. It’ll be interesting to see if the Wings GM hires one of those veterans or opts for someone else.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said he didn’t believe the current state of his surgically repaired knee would be sustainable to play an entire season. He indicated he’ll be seeking a second opinion regarding ongoing swelling of the knee after games and didn’t rule out a second procedure.

Price, 34, admitted he approached Friday’s season-closing game against the Florida Panthers as if it could be his last. Nevertheless, he remains determined to resume his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price will have a longer offseason recovery period this time around compared to last year. Still, the uncertainty over his future could affect the Canadien’s offseason plans. I’ll have more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Canadiens, general manager Kent Hughes said he’d like to sign interim head coach Martin St. Louis to a three-year contract. On Friday, St. Louis indicated he would be shedding the interim tag and returning next season behind the Canadiens’ bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens showed noticeable improvement once St. Louis took over in February. It bodes well for what he might be able to achieve with a better, healthier roster.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Sidelined Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis dismissed recent speculation suggesting he was unhappy with the team. He also indicated he and the club have determined the root cause of the pelvic injury that limited him to just four games this season. Ellis indicated they now have a clear rehab plan in place and he’s hoping to be healthy for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis was expected to be the core piece of the Flyers’ defense corps and an important part of what management hoped would be a bounce-back season for the club. His absence played a big part in their downfall. Getting him back healthy for 2022-23 could help the Flyers get back on track.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: On the subject of Flyers defensemen, Keith Yandle played the final game of his NHL career on Saturday as confirmed by teammate Nick Seeler. The 35-year-old reigning NHL Ironman (989 consecutive games) didn’t speak to the media yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yandle’s performance has been in decline over the past three seasons. In 1,109 games with the Flyers and the Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers, he has 103 goals and 516 assists for 619 career regular-season points.

NHL.COM: Patrik Laine doesn’t see any issues that would prevent him from signing a new contract this summer with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He also thanked the club for their support as he coped with injuries and the death of his father in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine had 56 points in as many games to finish third among Jackets scorers. He’s completing a one-year, $7.5 million contract and could seek a lucrative long-term deal.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, goaltender Elvis Merzlikins admitted he found it difficult at times this season to maintain his focus while dealing with the grief of the sudden death last summer of his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks. He said he and goalie coach Manny Legace relied on each other to cope with the emotional trauma. Kivlenieks died during a fireworks accident at Legace’s home last July 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins admitted he was rattled at times earlier this season by the celebratory cannon fired at Blue Jackets home games and from fireworks displays during last New Year’s Eve celebrations. He managed to overcome those issues thanks in part to Legace’s support.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal indicated his willingness to sign a contract extension. The 24-year-old has a year remaining on his current deal with an annual cap hit of $7 million. “This is where I want to be, this is where I want to win,” said Barzal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello would probably love to ink Barzal to a new deal this summer. His reputation as a tough negotiator, however, could make it a slow process. I’m not saying it won’t get done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if talks drag on through the summer.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets chairman Mark Chipman confirmed general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will continue in his role into the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That douses the recent rumors floating around about Cheveldayoff’s future. He has a busy offseason coming up as he must find a new head coach, improve the Jets’ porous defense, and sign restricted free agent center Pierre-Luc Dubois to a new contract.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kurtis MacDermid was fined $2,187.50 by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno on Friday. Avs forward Logan O’Connor was fined $1,812.50 for cross-checking Wild defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in the same game.

ARIZONA HOCKEY NOW: The Coyotes played their final game at Gila River Arena on Friday. After 19 seasons, they’ll be moving next season to Arizona State’s new hockey arena while awaiting word on a proposed new NHL arena in Tempe.

THE ATHLETIC: Malcolm Subban earned praise from his Buffalo Sabres teammates after singing the National Anthem during the club’s final game of the season on Friday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban sounded pretty good. Maybe there’s a future for him as a singer following his playing career.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2022

The Wild and Capitals clinch playoff berths, the Leafs and Blues set franchise records, the Panthers remain red hot and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild clinched a playoff berth with a 5-4 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks. Jared Spurgeon scored twice, including the game-winner, Kevin Fiala had a goal and three assists and Frederick Gaudreau collected three assists for the Wild, who sit in third place in the Central Division with 101 points. The Sharks have lost 10 straight games.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

William Nylander scored the game-winning goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs doubled up the New York Islanders 4-2. The Leafs set single-season franchise records with 50 wins and 106 points as they sit in second place in the Atlantic Division. They also officially eliminated the Islanders from playoff contention, meaning the Washington Capitals have secured a postseason berth with 94 points as they sit in the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs sat out Auston Matthews from this game as he’s nursing a minor injury. He’s listed as day-to-day but head coach Sheldon Keefe wasn’t concerned his condition might worsen.

The eight Eastern Conference playoff clubs have now been determined. What follows over the remaining games of the regular season will be jockeying for position to determine home-ice advantage in the opening round of the 2022 postseason.

The St. Louis Blues erupted for seven second-period goals to set a club record for most goals in a single period as they crushed the Nashville Predators 8-3. Brayden Schenn, Jordan Kyrou and Calle Rosen each scored twice while Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and two assists for the Blues, who sit one point ahead of the Wild in second place in the Central Division. It was also the most goals the Predators have ever given up in a single period as they drop behind the Dallas Stars into the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators (91 points) are tied with the Stars but the latter holds a game in hand. Earlier in the day, the Predators announced defenseman Jeremy Lauzon would not play as he’s week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Blues coach Craig Berube provided an update on Nick Leddy’s condition after he had been cut under one eye during Saturday’s win over the Wild. He said the defenseman was feeling better and doesn’t think he’ll be sidelined for very long.

Florida Panthers rookie Anton Lundell scored twice and goaltender Spencer Knight made 33 saves in a 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Florida winger Jonathan Huberdeau’s point streak ended at 13 games. The Panthers have won 10 straight games and sit atop the Eastern Conference with 114 points, two behind the first overall Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fun fact: the Panthers have lost only once in the 13 games they’ve played since acquiring Claude Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Anaheim Ducks snapped a 13-game winless skid by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-4. John Gibson made 31 saves for his first victory since March 1 while Troy Terry scored twice and collected an assist. Jackets winger Patrik Laine missed the game with an upper-body injury and Zach Werenski left the game early in the first period with a facial injury.

Buffalo Sabres forwards Victor Olofsson and Tage Thompson each scored twice in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Kevin Hayes and Noah Cates each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers.

HEADLINES

TSN: Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen will undergo an MRI for a lower-body injury suffered during Saturday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

CBS SPORTS: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews is dealing with “some nagging things” and could sit for Monday’s game against the Capitals.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Pezzetta will have a hearing with the NHL’s department of player safety regarding an illegal check to the head of Capitals winger T.J. Oshie on Saturday.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Canadiens, they’ve set an NHL record for the most man-games lost to injury with 700.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Donald Fehr’s tenure as executive director of the NHL Players Association could come to an end before next season.

A report released Friday by the law firm Cozen O’Connor cleared Fehr and the PA of any individual or systemic wrongdoing over their handling of the Kyle Beach investigation. That report, however, has come under criticism, raising speculation about concerns among the PA membership.

LeBrun reports Fehr, 74, was facing pressure to come up with a succession plan prior to the report’s release. That process could be accelerated, especially with another round of collective bargaining with the NHL coming in five years’ time.