Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 27, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 27, 2020

Updates on Alex Pietrangelo, Patrik Laine and Dustin Byfuglien plus the latest on the Hurricanes and Sharks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

PIETRANGELO

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with Blues fans, Tom Timmermann said he’s leaning toward Alex Pietrangelo re-signing with the club. He feels the defenseman’s recent comments suggest he wants to stay in St. Louis and is trying to get the Blues to increase their offer. Timmermann believes eight years at $8 million annually is the starting point, but Pietrangelo wants more. He’s unsure if $9 million annually is possible under the current economic conditions in the free-agent market.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (NHL Images).

If Pietrangelo re-signs, Timmermann suggests Tyler Bozak and Alex Steen as the likely players to become cost-cutting casualties, but moving them won’t be easy. He feels teams would be more interested in winger Jaden Schwartz. Moving Schwartz in the offseason would fetch a better return than moving him at next season’s trade deadline.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the Blues atop his list of five potential destinations for Pietrangelo. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers are also on his list.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun believes the Blues would be open to a sign-and-trade scenario if it appears they cannot repair negotiations. The incentive for interested teams is it would allow them to get Pietrangelo under contract for eight years instead of seven at potentially a lower annual average value, while the Blues could get a tangible asset in return instead of losing him for nothing to the free-agent market.

LeBrun doubts teams will part with a first-round pick to get Pietrangelo. Interested parties would also have to be able to negotiate a contract with the blueliner’s agent. He also lists the Leafs, Golden Knights, Flames and Panthers on his list of possible suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sign-and-trade deals rarely occur because they’re difficult to pull off. Sticking points include the losing team’s asking price and how much of a raise the player seeks on his new contract. We can’t rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade but I think it’s a long shot.

As for those interested clubs, the Leafs and Golden Knights have limited cap space so they’ll have to shed salary to make this work. The Golden Knights must also decide whether to re-sign goaltender Robin Lehner and what to do with Marc-Andre Fleury if they get Lehner under contract.

The Flames have the cap space but LeBrun points out they must also address their goaltending and perhaps add a winger. The Panthers are said to be cutting payroll but they must bolster their blueline depth. Whether Pietrangelo would be interested in signing with them is another matter.

LAINE AND BYFUGLIEN

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman acknowledged the recent trade speculation swirling about Patrik Laine. He doesn’t think the 22-year-old Winnipeg Jets winger has requested a trade. Friedman feels the Jets are just looking at this situation to see if using Laine would address their need for a No. 2 center or a right-hand shot defenseman.

Friedman also said it’s unlikely former Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will play next season. Teams have contacted his agent, including the Minnesota Wild because of his ties to the state. Friedman feels the Wild would have the best chance but his agent said it’s doubtful Byfuglien will play again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could Laine get traded? Sure. Will he? That’s not a certainty. As talented as the young winger is and as much upside as he still has, it could be difficult for the Jets to find a return of equal value. It doesn’t hurt for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to explore his options, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to trade Laine

As I mentioned yesterday, Laine’s contract status could be a factor. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer who’ll seek a considerable raise over his current annual cap hit of $6.75 million. Whether the Jets can afford that could determine his future in Winnipeg.

Byfuglien may have reached the point where his body can’t handle the wear-and-tear of a long NHL season. He’s 35, coming off ankle surgery and was hampered by nagging injuries during his last two seasons. Perhaps he’s decided he’s had enough.

HURRICANES

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sara Civian recently listed goaltending trade and free-agent options for the Carolina Hurricanes. Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury and Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray were among her suggested trade targets, while her free-agent choices included Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, and Washington’s Braden Holtby.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock reports the Hurricanes are leaving the door open for winger Justin Williams if he’s willing to return, but they’re also progressing ahead as if their former captain will retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have plenty of options if they seek to upgrade their goaltending. The question is, will they? Affordability works in favor of their current tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, who earn a combined $6.525 million next season.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2020

The Lightning take a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the Senators intend to buy out Bobby Ryan, the Canadiens re-sign Jeff Petry, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Kevin Shattenkirk scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Dallas Stars 5-4 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final to take 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Shattenkirk’s goal came on a power play after Stars captain Jamie Benn was whistled off for tripping Lightning forward Tyler Johnson. Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point and Dallas’ Joe Pavelski each scored twice.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (NHL Images).

Several milestones were reached in this game by four Stars. Pavelski tied Joe Mullen’s NHL record for most playoff goals by an American-born player with 60. He also holds the record for most goals scored in one postseason (12) by a player 36-or-older.

Meanwhile, teammates Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg are only the second pair of defensemen on the same team to each reach 20 points in one postseason. Paul Coffey and Charlie Huddy were the first to do so with the 1985 Edmonton Oilers.

Corey Perry also scored in this game, making him the third player in NHL history to go at least 13 years between Stanley Cup Final goals, joining Mark Recchi (15 years) and Dino Ciccarelli (14).

The Lightning were without captain Steven Stamkos. After scoring a goal during a brief appearance in Game 3, Stamkos was unfit to play in Game 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of this series. The Stars took 2-0 and 3-2 leads only to see the Lightning battled back to tie the game. The Bolts took their first lead when Alex Killorn made it 4-3 in the third period but Pavelski tied it with his second of the game.

Benn’s penalty sparked criticism from the Stars but it was an obvious infraction the officials couldn’t ignore. Besides, the Stars had a great opportunity earlier in the extra frame with the man advantage after Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was called for holding Tyler Seguin but they failed to capitalize.

Both clubs have little time to dwell on this one. Game 5 goes tonight at 8 pm ET with the Lightning just one win away from becoming Stanley Cup champions and the Stars desperate to keep their Cup hopes alive.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday placed winger Bobby Ryan on waivers with the intention of buying out the final two years of his contract. Cap Friendly indicates the Senators will be tagged with a $3.58 million salary-cap hit for the next two seasons, followed by about $1.83 million annually for the last two seasons. Ryan won the Masterton Trophy this season for perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a bit of a surprise but one the Senators made for business reasons. The 33-year-old Ryan is not the scorer he used to be and his $7.25 million annual average value was more than the rebuilding Sens were willing to keep paying. This move allows Ryan an opportunity to have a fresh start with a playoff contender at a more affordable price.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are considering a contract buyout of center Alexander Wennberg. The move would save the Jackets over $10 million over the next three years. Wennberg is 26, but because he was 25 in June, as per the CBA the buyout will be at one-third the remaining value, rather than two-thirds.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline reports neither Wennberg or his agent have heard anything about a buyout from the Jackets, while GM Jarmo Kekalainen declined to comment. His annual average value is $4.9 million for the next three seasons.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers won’t be buying out James Neal or any other players this year.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday re-signed defenseman Jeff Petry to a four-year, $25 million contract extension. The annual average value is $6.25 million. His new deal also includes a no-movement clause and a 15-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal provides Petry a slight raise over his current $5.5 million AAV, but otherwise isn’t much different from the final three years of his present contract in terms of movement and no-trade clauses. It’s a good move by the Habs to ensure veteran stability on the right side of their blueline. Petry’s been a reliable, sometimes underrated member of the Canadiens core. The move won’t affect their 2020-21 salary-cap payroll.

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers re-signed goaltender Alex Lyon to a one-year, one-way contract worth $700K.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs added Paul MacLean to their coaching staff.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2020

Some potential destinations for Alex Pietrangelo plus the latest on the Penguins and Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD LEAFS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS OR FLAMES TARGET PIETRANGELO?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the St. Louis Blues will consider trading Alex Pietrangelo’s rights if they don’t re-sign the pending free-agent defenseman before Oct. 9. The acquiring team could sign him to an eight-year deal, lowering the annual average value, Pietrangelo would get more money under that scenario, while the Blues could get a good asset in return. LeBrun suggests the Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Calgary Flames as possible destinations if Pietrangelo hits the open market.

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski acknowledged the Leafs need for a top-shelf blueliner like Pietrangelo, but finding the cap space to sign him will be challenging for general manager Kyle Dubas. They have over $6 million in cap space and would have to shed salary to make it work.

Zwolinski suggests Alexander Kerfoot and Andreas Johnsson as trade candidates, and also felt William Nylander would have to be considered. The risks of acquiring another high-priced player would be high under a flattened salary cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Leafs will inquire if Pietrangelo becomes available. As per Cap Friendly, they’ve already handcuffed themselves with over $40.4 million tied up in just four players: Nylander ($6.9 million), Mitch Marner ($10.8 million), John Tavares ($11 million) and Auston Matthews ($11.8 million). Adding Pietrangelo could push that figure to almost $50 million, leaving little room to bolster their depth as needed throughout the rest of the roster. Unless they’re moving out Nylander, they should consider more affordable blueline options.

I don’t see the Golden Knights in the market for Pietrangelo. They have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players. If they re-sign Robin Lehner, they’ll have to shed salary by moving out goalie Marc-Andre Fleury or someone else, leaving little room for a big-ticket defenseman.

With $64.5 million committed to 14 players, the Flames have the cap space to sign Pietrangelo, but that move could push them to $73 million invested in 15 players. That won’t leave much to find a possible replacement for Cam Talbot if he’s not re-signed, let alone fill out the rest of the roster.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe report multiple league sources claim Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has received several inquiries about winger Bryan Rust. Rutherford isn’t shopping Rust and prefers keeping the top-six winger, but wouldn’t rule out trading him if the return was significant, such as at least an NHL-ready player and a top-six prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Rust remains a Penguin.

They also cite multiple sources claiming Rutherford is attempting to clear enough salary-cap space to sign Chris Tanev if the Vancouver Canucks defenseman hit the open market on Oct. 9. The Penguins GM isn’t concerned about Tanev’s age (30) and is willing to offer a five-year contract concurrent to the final five years of brother (and Penguins forward) Brandon Tanev. Chris is said to be seeking a raise over the $4.45-million AAV of his current contract. A Penguins source claims they’d prefer keeping the AAV to $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not a good idea. Tanev’s performance has declined over the last couple of years as the wear-and-tear of his style of play are taking a toll on his body. A short-term deal (two years) might be worth the gamble, but five years at $5 million per is too risky. Meanwhile, TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal reports the Canucks have yet to make Tanev a contract offer.

Rossi and Yohe also report the Penguins and Evgeni Malkin’s camp have expressed interest in a three-year contract extension allowing Malkin to retire as a Penguin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But…but…Malkin’s supposed to be unhappy as second fiddle to Crosby. No, wait, he’s getting traded to the Kings. Or was it he’s retiring and returning to Russia at the end of his current contract? Dammit, it’s difficult keeping these Malkin rumors straight!

The Pens aren’t against acquiring a third-line center but are content to keep recently re-signed Jared McCann in that role. It doesn’t appear they’ve approached Patric Hornqvist about waiving his no-trade clause.

BACKUP GOALIE OPTIONS FOR THE CAPITALS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Tarik El-Bashir lists the New York Islanders Thomas Greiss, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and Calgary’s Cam Talbot as free-agent backup goalie options for the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Braden Holtby’s expected departure via free agency, the Capitals will need an experienced backup for promising Ilya Samsonov. Greiss, Khudobin and Talbot would be fine choices, though Khudobin’s playoff heroics could put him outside the Caps’ price range. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got $72.6 million invested in 17 players.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Possible free-agent destinations for Alex Pietrangelo, plus the latest on the Islanders and Canadiens in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WHERE COULD PIETRANGELO GO VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Joel Wegman listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers as possible destinations for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he hits the open market next month. Contract talks between Pietrangelo and the Blues broke off last week as the club advised him to pursue free agency.

Wegman acknowledged the salary-cap constraints of the Leafs and Oilers mean they’d have to shed a salary or two to sign Pietrangelo. The Bruins’ logical need is for a scorer (Wegman suggests Arizona’s Taylor Hall) but he doesn’t rule out general manager Don Sweeney signing Pietrangelo and shopping Brandon Carlo or Connor Clifton for a left-side defenseman.

The Flames would have to overpay but they have $17 million in salary-cap room. The Avalanche have plenty of cap room and Wegman suggests they could shop Ian Cole and Erik Johnson to make room for Pietrangelo and create long-term cap space to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting suggestions from Wegman. The Leafs have been tied to Pietrangelo in the rumor mill for months. Signing him, however, requires some nifty salary-cap gymnastics by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, which could include acquiring a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to spend over the cap ceiling.

The Oilers must improve their goaltending and add a reliable right-wing scorer. I don’t think they’ll get into the Pietrangelo sweepstakes. The Flames could try but GM Brad Treliving could be reluctant to overpay for his services.

Boston and Colorado are the intriguing ones on this list. Perhaps Sweeney gets creative as Wegman suggests, but the Avs’ Joe Sakic seems in prime position to strike. I think he should pursue an experienced starting goalie, but Pietrangelo could be that missing piece of the championship puzzle.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at the roster issues facing the New York Islanders next season. She expects UFA goalie Thomas Greiss will be replaced by promising Ilya Sorokin. UFA defenseman Andy Greene and winger Matt Martin might have to take pay cuts to stay with the Isles. Forward Derick Brassard was a healthy scratch at times during the postseason.

Center Mathew Barzal and defensemen Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock are restricted free agents. GM Lou Lamoriello said earlier this year he’d match any offer sheet for Barzal and it isn’t his intention to allow negotiations to reach that point.

NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross believes the Islanders need a top-six scorer or two who can improve their power play. Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, or Arizona’s Taylor Hall could be good initial targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have $72.5 million invested in 20 players. Barzal’s new contract will eat up most of that remaining $8.9 million even if he agreed to an affordable bridge deal. GM Lou Lamoriello will have to shed salary just to re-sign Barzal, Toews and Pulock, which could mean bidding farewell to Martin, Greene and Brassard.

Lamoriello could get creative to add a scoring forward. However, I don’t see him being able to acquire a sniper such as Laine or sign an expensive UFA winger like Hall or Hoffman.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TVA SPORTS: noted Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently said he’s interested in landing a big forward who can help his club’s offensive attack. The site listed Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Detroit’s Anthony Mantha, Columbus’ Josh Anderson, Carolina’s Nino Niedereitter, Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway and Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi as power forwards who might be enticing to Bergevin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks must shed salary to re-sign RFAs Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome as well as re-sign or replace UFA goalie Corey Crawford. They could move Saad and his $6 million cap hit for next season but could be reluctant to go that route unless they get a more affordable replacement. Some Habs fans might suggest Max Domi, but the Blackhawks are set at center with Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, and might not see Domi as an effective substitution for Saad.

Anderson has potential but his season-ending shoulder injury could be cause for concern. Niederreiter tends to be inconsistent and at $5.25-million annually for the next two seasons would be an expensive gamble.

Puljujarvi has proven nothing yet at the NHL level. Unless the Oilers are willing to dump him for a song, Bergevin should consider more established options. I don’t believe Mantha or Greenway are available.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

The latest on Matt Dumba, Brock Boeser, Darcy Kuemper, Frederik Andersen, Phillip Danault and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin will continue trying to build up his depth at center. There’s interest in defenseman Matt Dumba, a good player signed to a good contract.

Friedman suggested the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames could be among the suitors. The Jets can’t offer up a center but perhaps the Wild might be interested in a skilled winger. Same goes for the Canucks though Friedman isn’t convinced they’d move winger Brock Boeser. He feels the Flames could do it.

He also noted Guerin’s predecessor pursued Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. However, the Leafs weren’t inclined to move him then and Friedman isn’t convinced that’s changed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s media speculation suggesting Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers could be available, but I don’t see the Jets parting with either guy for Dumba. Boeser told The Province he doesn’t want to be traded and doesn’t expect to be. Boeser-for-Dumba seems reasonable, but it wouldn’t address the Wild’s need for a first-line center unless they flip Boeser to another team for a center.

If the Flames are willing to move Sean Monahan, a Dumba-for-Monahan swap would work, but that would leave the Flames in need of a first-line center. Nylander can play center but he’s at his best on the wing. Guerin may be willing to take a chance on Marcus Johansson as a center but I don’t think he’s going to take any chances with his first-line center spot.

Friedman believes players who’ve been paid their bonuses and have low actual salaries for 2020-21 will be attractive trade targets. They include Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan, and New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, though he has an additional year remaining on his contract. Friedman also said Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has reached out twice to Andersen to say teams are interested in him, but he’s not actively shopping him and isn’t interested in any offer he doesn’t consider an improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Credit Dubas for being upfront with Andersen about the trade chatter. If he doesn’t get offered a better goaltender, Andersen won’t be going anywhere. Stepan or Subban could interest clubs looking to reach the cap floor. Both have seen their stock tumble over the last couple of years so there might not be much interest in either guy.

Friedman speculates Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito is going to be asked about Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau. He doesn’t see Barkov going anywhere but expects Zito will move one of the big tickets on his blueline to create flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Ekblad gets moved. Keith Yandle ($6.35 million through 2022-23) has a full no-movement clause while Anton Stralman ($5.5 million through 2021-22) carries a 16-team no-trade list. The most likely candidate is Mike Matheson ($4.875 million through 2025-26). He lacks no-trade protection and has popped up in this season’s rumor mill.

The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks are among the clubs asking about Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. The Boston Bruins, Flames and Oilers have inquired about Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson while the Colorado Avalanche asked about Niklas Hjalmarsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of speculation about the status of those Coyotes in recent weeks, especially given recent reports of the club’s money troubles. However, they’ve hired an experienced executive in Bill Armstrong as their new GM. Depending on what ownership wants, I feel he’s the right guy to navigate this situation.

Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently cast doubt on the idea of the Coyotes trading Kuemper for draft picks and prospects. If they shop Ekman-Larsson and he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause, Morgan suggested the Boston Bruins as a destination if they lose Torey Krug to free agency next month. He thinks cost-controlled young players like defenseman Brandon Carlo and winger Jake DeBrusk could be attractive to the Coyotes.

Speaking of the Oilers’ rumored interest in Kuemper, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples feels they could stick with Mikko Koskinen. Jim Matheson feels the Oilers would be better off acquiring a 1-A like Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk or a promising young goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, though he’s probably out of reach.

Friedman claims Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault’s name is “out there” and there’s definitely interest, but rival general managers aren’t sure what Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin will do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s name may be out there but Friedman doesn’t say if he’s being actively shopped or if clubs are calling to make inquiries. I think the Habs would be foolish to part with Danault and I’m not the only one who shares that view.

The Chicago Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford initially weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the dollar value of a contract extension. Crawford knew there would be a pay cut but the amount was the issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis noted Friedman’s inclusion of the Blackhawks among the clubs making inquiries about Kuemper, who has a two-year deal worth $4.5-million annually. Rather than part with assets to acquire Kuemper, Roumeliotis suggests simply paying Crawford a similar contract.

If the Vegas Golden Knights were willing to buy out Marc-Andre Fleury, Friedman wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he doubts Vegas would go that route in this economy.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2020

The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final, the Coyotes have a new general manager, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015. Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime as the Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final to win the series 4-2 and the Prince of Wales Trophy as the Conference champions.

Islanders defenseman Devon Toews opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it with his ninth goal of the playoffs. Hedman is tied with Bobby Orr and Brad Park for the third-most goals in a single postseason by an NHL defenseman.

The Islanders were playing without defenseman Adam Pelech, who suffered a broken wrist in Game 5 that will require surgery. He was replaced by Noah Dobson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Lightning, whose depth of talent proved the difference in this series. The Isles also deserve praise for their impressive playoff run.

The Lightning will face the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final which begins Saturday with Game 1 at 7:30 pm ET. The league has released the full schedule for the Final. Game 7 (if necessary) would be played on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially named Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. Armstrong is the former assistant GM and director of scouting for the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this move by the Coyotes. Armstrong is an experienced and successful NHL executive, which is what the Coyotes need right now.

Armstrong began as an amateur scout with the Blues in 2004, became their director of scouting in 2010. He’s also a former AHL and ECHL coach. During his tenure, the Blues drafted such notables as Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Binnington, Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes were behind on their payments to the company that manages the Gila River Arena. The club had layoffs and furloughs of employees in mid-August, citing the pandemic. Several players were also late receiving their bonus payments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes are the most noteworthy team that appears to be having financial difficulties tied to the pandemic. It’ll be interesting to see if reports of similar problems emerge for other NHL clubs in the coming weeks and months.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs hired Manny Malhotra as an assistant coach.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel to a two-year, $2.15-million contract extension.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals re-signed forward Brian Pinho to a two-year contract, with the second year being a one-way deal. He’ll earn $700K at the NHL level in the first year and $750K in the second.

WGR550.COM: The Rochester Americans hired Adam Mair and Mike Weber as assistant coaches. The Americans are the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.

IIHF.COM: The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship will be staged as a single-venue format in Edmonton under similar quarantine bubble conditions as the NHL’s return-to-play tournament.