NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2023

Ivan Provorov cites religious reasons for his refusal to wear Pride Night jersey during warm-ups before the Ducks-Flyers game, Mitch Marner sets a Leafs points record and Evander Kane returns to the Oilers lineup. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers’ 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks was overshadowed by Ivan Provorov citing his religious beliefs for his refusal to participate in pregame warmups when the Flyers were wearing jerseys to commemorate Pride Night in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Kevin Hayes had a hat trick as the Flyers improved to 19-19-7 on the season while the Ducks fell to 12-28-5.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (NHL Images).

Provorov, who is Russian Orthodox, said he respected everyone and their choices during a post-game press conference. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.” Flyers head coach John Tortorella also spoke to reporters following the game. “It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself,” said Tortorella.

The Flyers released a statement following warmups indicating they are committed to inclusivity and proudly support the LGBTQ+ community and would continue to do so. They pointed out that a number of their players support their local LGBTQ+ communities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Provorov’s stand earned him condemnation and support on social media. Meanwhile, Flyers forwards Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk met with around 50 people in the LGBTQ+ community following the game. Laughton said that overall the Flyers had a “great, great night that brings a lot of awareness.” He expects there will be more conversations with Provorov. “I don’t hold anything against anyone,” he said.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner collected two assists to extend his home points streak to a franchise-record 19 games in a 5-4 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers. William Nylander scored the tying and winning goals as the Leafs (27-11-7) sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 61 points. Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist for the 21-20-5 Panthers as they sit three points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 47 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs overcame a 4-1 deficit after replacing starting goalie Matt Murray with Ilya Samsonov. Murray has struggled of late, allowing at least four goals in four of his last seven games.

The Edmonton Oilers extended their wins streak to four games by defeating the Seattle Kraken 5-2. Zach Hyman had a goal and two assists while Connor McDavid tallied his league-leading 38th goal of the season. The Oilers improved to 25-18-3 and hold the first Western Conference wild-card spot with 53 points. The Kraken (26-14-4) remain two points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division with 56 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Evander Kane returned to the Oilers lineup for the first time since suffering a gruesome wrist injury on Nov. 8. He was held scoreless but led all skaters in this game with seven shots on goal. To accommodate Kane’s return, the cap-strapped Oilers placed defenseman Ryan Murray and winger Kailer Yamamoto on long-term injury reserve.

Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon tallied twice as his club doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2. Filip Gustavsson stopped 34 shots for the Wild (25-14-4) as they sit third in the Central Division with 54 points. Alex Ovechkin collected two assists as the Capitals dropped to 24-17-6, holding the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 54 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Capitals announced forward Nic Dowd remains sidelined by a lower-body injury suffered on Monday against the New York Islanders. He’s likely to be listed as day-to-day.

The Montreal Canadiens got two goals from Evgeni Dadonov to upset the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 4-1. Sam Montembeault stopped 25 shots as the Canadiens improved to 19-23-3. Kyle Connor tallied his 200th career NHL goal as the Jets (29-15-1) remain in second place in the Central Division with 59 points. The Dallas Stars have the same number of points but hold first place on the basis of regulation wins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson collected an assist in his first game since being sidelined by a lower-body injury on Dec. 17. Meanwhile, the Habs announced forwards Joel Armia (upper body), Jake Evans (lower body) and Juraj Slavkovsky (lower body) were placed on injured reserve.

Nashville Predators goalie Kevin Lankinen made 39 saves to hold off the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. Cody Glass and Yakov Trenin scored in the second period for the Predators as they boosted their record to 21-17-6. With 48 points, they’re three behind the Calgary Flames for the final Western wild-card berth. Gustav Nyquist replied for the 13-29-2 Blue Jackets, who’ve dropped 14 of their last 17 games.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones scored the tying and winning goals in a 4-3 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres. Philipp Kurashev had a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks (12-26-4). Tage Thompson tallied his 32nd goal of the season for Sabres as they fell to 21-19-3 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Sabres recalled forward Peyton Krebs from their AHL affiliate and loaned goalie Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen to Rochester. Meanwhile, Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock entered concussion protocol on Tuesday following a collision in practice on Monday.

The Arizona Coyotes snapped a nine-game losing skid by downing the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on shootout goals by Nick Schmaltz and Nick Bjugstad. Lawson Crouse collected three assists while Connor Ingram picked up the win with a 37-save performance for the Coyotes (14-25-5). The Red Wings slipped to 18-17-8.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2023

The Oilers’ Connor McDavid maintains his points streak, the Flyers’ Travis Konecny enjoys a hat-trick performance, the coaches for the 2023 All-Star Game are announced, plus the latest on Carey Price and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid extended his points streak to 11 games with a goal and an assist to defeat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2. Klim Kostin tallied twice as the Oilers improved to 22-18-3 and hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 47 points. Sam Carrick and Simon Benoit replied for the Ducks as they dropped to 12-26-4.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With a league-leading 35 goals and 79 points in 43 games, McDavid is on pace to become the NHL’s highest-scoring player since Mario Lemieux netted 161 points in 1995-96.

Ducks forward Max Jones returned to action for the first time since Dec. 12. Sidelined forward Isac Lundestrom (fractured finger) could join the club on its next road trip.

A hat-trick performance by Travis Konecny powered the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-3 victory over the Washington Capitals. Scott Laughton had a goal and two assists for the Flyers (17-18-7). T.J. Oshie, Marcus Johansson and Garnet Hathaway tallied for the 23-15-6 Capitals, who hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 52 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny is among the few bright spots for the struggling Flyers this season. He has a team-leading 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games and is currently riding a 10-game points streak.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner snapped a 1-1 tie late in the third period to nip the Nashville Predators 2-1. Matt Murray made 32 saves while John Tavares scored his 20th goal of the season for the Leafs (26-9-7) as they hold a two-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for second place in the Eastern Conference with 59 points. Filip Forsberg replied for the Predators (19-15-6) as they sit three points behind the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs center Auston Matthews missed this game with an undisclosed ailment.

The Los Angeles Kings held off the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on third-period goals by Gabriel Vilardi and Drew Doughty scored 53 seconds apart. Quinton Byfield had a goal and an assist for the 25-14-6 Kings as they sit in second place in the Pacific Division. Timo Meier had a goal and an assist for the Sharks as they fell to 13-22-8 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings and Vegas Golden Knights have the same number of points but the latter holds first place in the Pacific with two more victories and three games in hand.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The head coaches for the 2023 NHL All-Star Game were announced yesterday. The Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour will represent the Metropolitan Division, the Boston Bruins’ Jim Montgomery will be behind the Atlantic Division bench, the Dallas Stars’ Peter DeBoer will coach the Central Division while the Vegas Golden Knights’ Bruce Cassidy will coach the Pacific Division.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price discussed his exposure in the 2021 NHL expansion draft during an episode of the podcast La Poche Bleu with former teammates Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre.

Price said he had no problem with then-Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin asking him to waive his no-movement clause to be exposed in the expansion draft. “I had a feeling they (Seattle Kraken) wouldn’t pick me because of my contract and the stage of my career,” he said. “I felt like we could do a solid here if we exposed me because I really doubt that it was going to happen. So I felt like it was a tactical move to be able to protect another player.”

The long-time Canadiens goaltender also revealed that he entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program to address his alcohol abuse that was tied to dealing with his social anxiety. He was grateful for the help he received in the assistance program.

Price praised former teammate P.K. Subban for the upbeat energy and attitude that he brought to the Canadiens during the defenseman’s tenure in Montreal. He also applauded Shea Weber for his leadership and for holding his teammates accountable. The Canadiens traded Subban in 2016 to the Predators for Weber.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting look behind the scenes regarding how Bergevin approached Price about waiving his NMC in the Kraken draft. Good on him as well for having the courage to seek assistance in dealing with his alcohol abuse. Meanwhile, Price’s playing career remains in limbo due to complications from a knee injury.

Speaking of the Canadiens, winger Brendan Gallagher will be sidelined for at least six weeks with a lower-body injury.

DAILY FACEOFF: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider will miss Thursday’s game against the Dallas Stars with an upper-body injury.

SPORTSNET: The Carolina Hurricanes activated goaltender Frederik Andersen off injured reserve. He’s been out since Nov. 6 with a lower-body injury.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins placed goaltender Tristan Jarry and forward Ryan Poehling on injured reserve and returned defenseman Mark Friedman to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov could return to the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes after suffering an upper-body injury on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Meanwhile, the Jackets placed winger Carson Meyer on IR with an oblique strain.

TSN: The Rangers claimed forward Jake Leschyshyn off waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights. Meanwhile, defenseman Casey Fitzgerald was plucked off the waiver wire by the Florida Panthers from the Buffalo Sabres.

NHL.COM: The postponed Dec. 27 game between the Blue Jackets and Sabres has been rescheduled for Friday, April 14, 2023, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2023

Could the Flyers and Ivan Provorov part ways? What’s the market value for the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD THE FLYERS TRADE PROVOROV?

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Ariel Melendez cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating that we could start hearing Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov’s name come up in the trade market. He believes things just haven’t worked for Provorov with the Flyers for whatever reason.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (NHL Images).

Friedman said there’s a growing sense that Provorov, who turns 26 on Jan. 13, is frustrated with the situation around him and that the team has an equal amount of frustration. Jeff Marek mentioned that the Flyers haven’t found him the right defense partner. Friedman wondered if Provorov might flourish somewhere else.

Marek suggested the Vegas Golden Knights as a trade destination. Provorov would be reunited with Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon, who coached the Flyers blueliner for two seasons with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings (2014-15 and 2015-16).

Friedman doesn’t think the Golden Knights can make it work. Marek believes Provorov could benefit from playing for Winnipeg Jets coach Rick Bowness, citing how Bowness played a key role in developing defensemen like Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman and Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flyers’ front office remains intent on its plan to aggressively retool its roster, they’ll need Provorov to be part of it. On the other hand, they could consider shopping him if they decide to rebuild. The blueliner could also force the issue by requesting a trade but there’s no indication thus far that he’s gone that route.

Provorov is signed through 2024-25 with an average annual value of $6.75 million. He lacks no-trade protection but that salary will be difficult to move in-season unless the Flyers agree to retain a portion of it, which they could be reluctant to do. The other option would be taking back an equivalent salary. Trading him could be something that occurs in the offseason when teams have more cap space to work with.

LATEST ON EKHOLM

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli recently examined the trade value of defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who reportedly could be shopped before the March 3 trade deadline by the Nashville Predators.

Seravalli considers Ekholm, 32, to be a smart shutdown defenseman who logs big minutes and moves the puck quickly out of the defensive zone. However, there are some concerns over his skating and mobility. Seravalli views him as a reliable 5-on-5 middle-pair defender.

Potential destinations include the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm lacks no-trade protection and would be a good fit with the Oilers, Leafs and Panthers. I believe the Rangers’ bigger priority is addressing their lack of reliable scoring punch on right wing.

Like Provorov, Ekholm’s contract is difficult to move this season. He’s carrying an AAV of $6.25 million through 2025-26, which the Oilers, Leafs and Panthers can’t afford to acquire this season unless Nashville retains a big chunk of it or take back a comparable contract. This sounds like another potential off-season move depending on how this season plays out for the Predators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2023

Hat-trick performances by the Bruins’ David Pastrnak and the Jets’ Kyle Connor, Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson return to the Capitals, the Blackhawks’ Lukas Reichel nets his first three NHL points and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick and collected an assist to crush the Anaheim Ducks 7-1. David Krejci collected three points and Jeremy Swayman stopped 28 shots as the league-leading Bruins (32-4-4, 68 points) extended their points streak to 14 games (11-0-3). Trevor Zegras replied for the Ducks as they dropped to 12-25-4.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

Spurred by Kyle Connor’s hat trick and a four-assist performance by Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Winnipeg Jets rolled to a 7-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Nikolaj Ehlers enjoyed a three-point performance for the Jets (26-13-1) as they remain one point behind the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars with 53 points. J.T. Miller had a goal and two assists for the Canucks as they fell to 17-19-3.

Speaking of the Stars (24-11-6), they dropped the Florida Panthers by a score of 5-1. Jason Robertson scored two goals while Jake Oettinger made 27 saves for the win. Carter Verhaeghe replied for the 18-19-4 Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Stars as center Roope Hintz left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. He is expected to be evaluated on Monday.

Washington Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson made their season debuts in a 1-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Darcy Kuemper kicked out 38 shots for the shutout while Erik Gustafsson tallied the only goal for the Capitals (23-14-6) as they sit one point behind the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan Division with 52 points. Elvis Merzlikins made 18 saves for the 12-25-2 Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals are 13-2-2 in their last 17 games. Backstrom and Wilson were held scoreless in this contest.

The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 to snap the latter’s four-game win streak. John Tavares and Calle Jarnkrok each had a goal and two assists, Auston Matthews scored his 20th goal of the season and Matt Murray made 34 saves for the Leafs (25-9-7), who hold second place in the Atlantic Division with 57 points. Travis Konecny netted his 21st of the season for the 15-18-7 Flyers.

St. Louis Blues goalie Thomas Greiss made 35 saves to shut out the Minnesota Wild 3-0. Brayden Schenn tallied two goals as the Blues improved to 20-18-3 (43 points) to sit two points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Wild (22-14-3) played without winger Jordan Greenway due to a non-COVID illness (flu). They are in third place in the Central Division with 47 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo missed this game to an undisclosed injury suffered on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Pittsburgh Penguins got two goals from Jake Guentzel and two assists from Sidney Crosby en route to a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Penguins (20-13-6) hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 46 points and hold two games in hand over the New York Islanders, who also have 46 points. Barrett Hayton scored for the Coyotes (13-21-6) as they’ve now lost five games in a row.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The win snapped a six-game winless skid (0-4-2) for the Penguins.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie Lukas Reichel scored his first NHL goal and collected two assists (the latter on Max Domi’s game-winner) in a 4-3 overtime upset of the Calgary Flames. Alex Stalock stopped 44 shots for the 10-25-4 Blackhawks. Flames netminder Jacob Markstrom was pulled after giving up three goals on 11 shots as his club’s record dropped to 19-14-8. With 46 points, they hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, the Flames placed forward Brett Ritchie on injured reserve. He last played on Dec. 29.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2023

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin matches a franchise record with five points, the Leafs’ Mitch Marner reaches the 500-point plateau, Jack Hughes sparks a Devils comeback over the Rangers, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin matched a franchise record for most points in a game by a defenseman with five points (two goals, three assists) as his club rallied to defeat the Minnesota Wild 6-5. Dahlin collected an assist on Victor Olofsson’s overtime winner as the Sabres (20-15-2) moved to within four points of the New York Islanders (46 points) for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and an assist for the Wild (22-13-3) as they sit third in the Central Division with 47 points.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Sabres paid tribute to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin as he recovers from cardiac arrest in hospital following a hit on the field during a game last week against the Cincinnati Bengals.

This is the point in the schedule when in recent years the Sabres would usually be in the midst of a free-fall in the standings. It’s a different story this season as they’ve won eight of their last 10 games and have moved into the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be on temporary leave starting Sunday through Tuesday as he journeys to Montreal for personal reasons.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist to reach 500 career points in a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. John Tavares scored two goals for the Leafs (24-9-7), who sit in third place in the Eastern Conference with 55 points. Jake Walman replied for the Red Wings (16-15-7), who sit seven points out of an Eastern wild-card spot with 39 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings’ promising season is being undone by its recent slump. They’ve won only three of their last 10 and are slipping out of the playoff race.

The New Jersey Devils got two goals and an assist from Jack Hughes to overcome a 3-1 deficit and beat the New York Rangers 4-3 on an overtime goal by Damon Severson. The Devils (25-12-3) hold a two-point lead over the Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 53 points. Igor Shesterkin made 39 saves for the 22-12-7 Rangers.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied twice to double up the San Jose Sharks 4-2. The Bruins (31-4-4, 66 points) extended their win streak to three games and hold a nine-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for first overall in the league standings. With a record of 12-21-8, the Sharks (32 points) finished with their worst record for the first half of a season in 27 years.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rookie winger Kirill Marchenko collected his first career NHL hat trick for the Jackets (12-24-2) while Kent Johnson tallied the game-winning goal in the shootout. Max Pacioretty scored his first two goals of the season for the 25-8-7 Hurricanes.

An overtime goal by Cale Makar lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 3-2. Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Hunt scored for the Avalanche (20-15-3) as they overcame a two-goal deficit on goals by Oilers winger Zach Hyman. The Oilers (21-17-3) hold the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 45 points while the Avs are two points behind them.

The Seattle Kraken rolled to an 8-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Jordan Eberle and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and two assists as the Kraken improved to 22-14-4 to sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 48 points. Senators forward Tim Stutzle had a hat trick and collected an assist for the Senators (18-18-3).

Los Angeles Kings winger Kevin Fiala’s hat trick powered his club over the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1. Gabriel Vilardi collected three assists for the Kings (23-14-6), who hold a four-point lead over the Kraken for second place in the Pacific Division. Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson was pulled following the second period after giving up three goals on 19 shots. His club still sits atop the Pacific with a record of 27-13-2 and 56 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights activated forward Jonathan Marchessault and defenseman Alec Martinez off injured reserve for this contest. They also moved blueliner Shea Theodore (lower body) on IR.

The Montreal Canadiens snapped a seven-game slide by nipping the St. Louis Blues 5-4. Joel Armia tallied two goals and Josh Anderson got the winner to break a 4-4 tie. The Canadiens now sit at 16-21-3 on the season while the Blues (19-18-3) sit four points behind the Oilers for the final Western wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues defenseman Nick Leddy missed this game with an upper-body injury. As yet, there is no timetable for his return.

IN OTHER NEWS…

SPORTSNET: Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom and winger Tom Wilson are scheduled to make their season debuts on Sunday against the Blue Jackets. Both players had been sidelined since the offseason as Backstrom underwent resurfacing surgery on his left hip while Wilson had surgery on his left knee.

CBS SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Ryan Poehling is likely unavailable for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes with an upper-body injury.

Speaking of the Coyotes, they’ve sent Michael Carcone back to their AHL affiliate in Tucson as Dylan Guenther returns to their lineup from his stint with Team Canada in the 2023 World Junior Championship.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 1, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 1, 2023

Start off your New Year with a look at the Leafs’ trade deadline priorities, the future of Max Domi, trade options for the Flyers and more in the first Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup of 2023.

THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” TRADE RUMORS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs could still attempt to take a big swing at landing a defenseman before the March 3 trade deadline. However, the improved performance of their blueline this season has some wondering if they might change their approach. They have limited cap space and don’t have a lot of draft picks but they do possess plenty of prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Young blueliners like Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Conor Timmins stepped up with Jake Muzzin likely done for the season and Morgan Rielly sidelined for 15 games by a knee injury. There could still be some question over whether those rearguards can maintain that level of play in the postseason but their performances over the next couple of months could alleviate that concern. If so, the Leafs could shift their focus toward adding a scoring winger by deadline day.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Max Domi (NHL Images).

Jeff Marek reports Max Domi signing a one-year contract last summer with the Chicago Blackhawks seemed to suggest the 27-year-old forward would be shopped by the trade deadline, However, Domi has fit in well with the rebuilding club. There are ongoing discussions between his agent and Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson. With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews potentially moving on at the trade deadline, a Domi trade no longer seems as certain as it once was.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Davidson could still move Domi if he gets a solid offer like a first-round pick, a high-end prospect or a good young NHL player. As Marek indicated, however, that might not be the done deal everyone thought it was last summer.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, Friedman wondered if defenseman Jake McCabe could end up being a trade target for the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCabe, 29, is in the second season of a four-year deal with an average annual value of $4 million. He also carries a seven-team no-trade list. The Oilers don’t have a lot of projected trade deadline cap space ($1.6 million) so they might need the Blackhawks to retain some salary if they can’t move out enough in this deal or in a separate cost-cutting deal.

LATEST ON THE FLYERS

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Charlie O’Connor was asked if any teams might be interested in Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes or if his contract would be too expensive to move. O’Connor doesn’t rule out a deadline move but thinks it would be more likely to occur in the offseason. Hayes’ $7.1 million cap hit through 2025-26 won’t draw much interest but that could improve if the Flyers retained half of it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All of this arose from recent reports of tension between Hayes and Flyers coach John Tortorella. O’Connor also suggested that teams would be less interested in making a trade for Hayes if there’s a feeling the Flyers will buy him out this summer. That possibility recently arose in the rumor mill but I think it’s premature to make that assumption. It’s also possible that the talk of tension between Hayes and Tortorella is overblown. Nevertheless, their relationship could be worth monitoring over the remainder of the season.

O’Connor was also asked if it would be wise for the Flyers to attempt to move winger Travis Konecny now while his value is high right now. He believes the 25-year-old winger could fetch a first-round pick and a B-level prospect at least. However, O’Connor thinks Konecny is young enough to still deliver for the Flyers as the club turns the corner considering he’s also signed through 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny probably isn’t going anywhere as long as Chuck Fletcher remains the GM and the club’s focus isn’t on rebuilding but retooling around their current core. So far, there’s no indication of any shift in the club’s plans.