NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2018

Updates on Max Pacioretty, John Tavares, Ryan McDonagh and more in your NHL rumor mill.

Sources close to Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty say he expects to be traded soon (Photo via NHL Images).


SPORTSNET: Appearing on the Jeff Blair Show, TVA Sports Renaud Lavoie reported sources close to Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty say the Habs captain expects to be traded soon, possibly before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Lavoie believes Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin seeks a player who can help them right now and might not be interested in draft picks or prospects. He said a first-round pick they get from a Cup contender would be lower in the round, which isn’t the type of first rounder they need.

Lavoie notes reports that Bergevin is looking for a young top-six centerman but he doesn’t see any teams having that type of available asset right now. He speculates the Habs GM could also seek a left-shot defenseman or perhaps a young scoring left winger with equal or better stats than Pacioretty.

Speaking about Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, Lavoie said he has no value. He claims general managers around the league don’t have a high opinion of the winger. If a team wants him, he’d be an expensive gamble. Perhaps Galchenyuk could be part of a bigger deal but Lavoie doubts he’ll be moved by the deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty could be dealt before the deadline but Lavoie reminds us that Bergevin is willing to wait until the offseason to move his captain if there’s no suitable deal available before the trade deadline. I agree with Lavoie that there currently isn’t any team shopping a good young scoring center. It’s going to take time for the Habs GM to address that glaring need. He might have better luck landing a young scoring winger or a top-four left-side blueliner. Maybe Bergevin might get a promising prospect center as part of a package deal. 

As for Galchenyuk, Lavoie’s assessment is harsh but fair. Despite the 23-year-old winger’s offensive skills and upside, his ongoing inconsistency hurts his value. With an annual cap hit of $4.9 million through 2019-20, moving Galchenyuk for a decent return could prove difficult. 


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow has no intention of moving John Tavares at the trade deadline. The Isles intend to use all the time they have up to July 1 to re-sign Tavares, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only scenario where Tavares moves by the deadline is if he demands a trade. I don’t see that happening. 

LeBrun also said Mike Fisher coming out of retirement doesn’t necessarily mean they’re out of the trade market. He believes they could still seek a top-six scorer. Fisher will likely go into a bottom-six role.

Bob McKenzie believes Edmonton Oilers forwards Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu are likely to become playoff rentals at the trade deadline. Maroon would like to re-sign but the Oilers will only do so at the right price. If a contract cannot be worked out soon, Maroon’s name could become front and center in rumors leading up to deadline day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maroon, 29, is completing a three-year, $6-million contract. If he seeks more than double his current cap hit on a long-term deal, he and the Oilers could part company by Feb. 26.

Maroon and Letestu aren’t the only pending free agents the Oilers might move by the deadline. The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis wonders if winger Ryan Strome’s tenure in Edmonton could be drawing to a close. Strome’s a restricted free agent who hasn’t played up to expectations this season. The Oilers’ limited cap space for next season could make it difficult to re-sign him. 

Meanwhile, Frank Seravalli updated the TSN Trade Bait board, adding Carolina Hurricanes center Derek Ryan and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nikita Soshnikov while dropping Buffalo Sabres goalie Robin Lehner and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Cody Franson


NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh could fit perfectly with the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose roster is bereft of good veteran blueliners. While McDonagh has a 10-team no-trade list, Cyrgalis doubts he would pass up an opportunity to go to Toronto. Noting the Leafs depth in good young forwards, Cyrgalis suggests if Rangers GM Jeff Gorton could “pry away the likes of either a Mitch Marner, William Nylander or Zach Hyman, plus some sort of high draft pick, a deal could be more than worthwhile for both sides.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently shot down talk of McDonagh going to Toronto. He doesn’t see the Leafs parting with a good young forward for a defenseman who turns 29 in July. There’s also McDonagh’s eligibility next summer for UFA status that could also be a concern. 


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey believes we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen returning to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. If the Wild slip further out of playoff contention and decide to become sellers, Mackey feels there’s a chance they could shop Cullen and he feels Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could leap at the chance to bring him back. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild are within one point of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. If they remain in contention they probably won’t be sellers. 

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo speculates Wild defenseman Mike Reilly could hit the trade block by the deadline. Russo notes the Wild have been platooning Reilly and Gustav Olofsson on the third defense pairing and wonders if something could give soon. He reports there’s been chatter for a couple of months that Reilly would welcome an opportunity to play elsewhere and his agent has been given permission to speak with other teams. In December, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher denied he was shopping Reilly, who said he hasn’t asked to be traded. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Reilly is traded he won’t fetch a return that provides immediate help for the Wild. Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s peddled before the 2018 NHL Draft. 


NHL Rumor Mill – January 26, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – January 26, 2018

Reviewing the latest additions to the TSN trade-bait list plus updates on the Red Wings, Sharks and more in your NHL rumor mill.

Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart is the latest addition to TSN’s trade-bait board (Photo via NHL Images).


TSN: New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, St. Louis Blues prospect Jordan Kyrou, Buffalo Sabres winger Sam Reinhart, Colorado Avalanche winger Blake Comeau and Winnipeg Jets centre Nic Petan are the latest additions to Frank Seravalli’s list of trade bait heading toward the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline.

Seravalli claims “multiple teams” have expressed interest in McDonagh, though he anticipates the Rangers could wait until the summer to make such a significant move. McDonagh also carries a 10-team “no-trade” clause. While the Blues could be reluctant to part with the promising Kyrou, he could be what’s required to land them a scoring winger such as Buffalo’s Evander Kane at the trade deadline. Seravalli said the Jets seek a center or winger to plug into their top-two lines which is why Petan makes the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Seravalli isn’t saying those players are definitely available or being shopped. Regarding McDonagh, there’s lots of chatter the Rangers could listen to offers but there’s also no guarantee he’s a goner at the deadline.

If the Blues were to part with a quality prospect such as Kyrou, they might prefer landing someone with term remaining on his contract. If they went after a pending UFA like Kane, they could seek assurances he’ll re-sign with them before agreeing to part with a significant prospect. 

Reinhart’s name has occasionally surfaced in the rumor mill amid talk Sabres management are disappointed with his regression this season. However, it might be better to remain patient with him and see if he can rebound next season.

The Jets could wait until Mark Scheifele’s return next month before reaching a decision on potential deadline moves. I expect they’ll be buyers this season.

Not sure the Avs would move Comeau. He’s a pending UFA but with the club playing well of late there’s no reason for them to become sellers. 

TSNPierre LeBrun speculates the San Jose Sharks might get more aggressive searching for a scorer in the trade market after learning center Joe Thornton is sidelined indefinitely following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Before Thornton’s injury, they were in the market for a fourth-line center. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: What the Sharks do will depend upon how they adjust to Thornton’s absence and their position in the standings over the next two-three weeks. Pickings are slim for quality centers potentially available in the trade market. Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec, Edmonton’s Mark Letestu, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the New York Rangers’ David Desharnais are the notables kicking around the rumor mill. Speaking of Letestu and Pageau…

LeBrun also reports it’s believed Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford seeks a bottom-six center and has kicked the tires on Letestu and Pageau. 

Darren Dreger reports former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is interested in returning to the NHL but he faces a lengthy process to do so. His application for reinstatement isn’t expected until the conclusion of the KHL season. It would also coincide with the expiration of his contract with the LA Kings, who hold his NHL rights. There’s also immigration issues to sort out. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voynov returned to Russia with his family in Sep. 2015 as a result of his legal issues stemming from domestic violence charges. That could make it difficult for him to return to the United States. 


THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance reports an NHL source said the Detroit Red Wings have informed potential trade-deadline buyers that they’re ready to sell now. Unrestricted free agent defenseman Mike Green is the obvious trade candidate but there are others they could move.

The Wings came close last fall to trading goaltender Petr Mrazek to Edmonton but the return at that time wasn’t much, believed to be a mid-round pick. His improved play of late may increase his value. Veteran netminder Jimmy Howard, meanwhile, could also be available. The problem with moving Mrazek or Howard is there isn’t much of a market for goaltenders right now.  

Custance speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could be a destination for Green. Golden Knights GM George McPhee knows Green well from their days with the Washington Capitals. If there’s an interest in a Wings’ forward with term remaining on their contract, such as Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist, a trade would be entertained if a deal makes sense now. 

Only the Wings young players, such as Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, are considered untouchable. Detroit’s blueline must also get younger and better. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Green is one for certain. He’s got a full no-trade but I can see him waiving it to go to a playoff contender. The Golden Knights are playing well but they could benefit from a rental addition to their blueline. Green’s puck-moving abilities could make him a good fit there if the price is right. So far, however, the Wings haven’t yet approached him about waiving that clause. 

A playoff bubble team in dire need of a goaltending upgrade (hello there, New York Islanders) could express interest in Mrazek or Howard. I think Howard might be more enticing to a playoff club. Yes, Mrazek is playing well this month but his previous inconsistency could hurt his value. 


NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2018

Updates on the Oilers, Canucks, Leafs, Penguins and Kings in your NHL rumor mill.

Edmonton Oilers winger Patrick Maroon could be on the move by the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline (Photo via NHL Images).


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers winger Patrick Maroon knows he’s prime trade bait heading toward the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Maroon would prefer to re-sign with the Oilers but so far there’s nothing on the front-burner in terms of a contract extension.

Matheson notes the Boston Bruins are looking for a top-six winger but preferably one on the right side. Maroon is a left winger. He also wonders if the Anaheim Ducks might want Maroon back. Matheson speculates the asking price could be a younger prospect winger or NHL roster player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Oilers’ playoff hopes all but dashed for this season, Maroon is likely to be moved by the trade deadline. I don’t see the Bruins pursuing him. Indeed, if they’re still chugging along at their current pace, they could stand pat at the deadline. Still, given his big frame and decent scoring skills, he will attract interest from playoff contenders seeking scoring punch. 

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien has several suggestions to improve the Oilers. Among them could be using their first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft to either select a key prospect who could contribute next season, bundling the pick with a bad contract to clear salary-cap room for another acquisition or perhaps use the pick in a package deal to land a “big fish” such as perhaps Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty or Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson if those teams realize they’re going to lose those players to unrestricted free agency. O’Brien also recommends the Oilers pursue a goaltender such as Detroit’s Petr Mrazek or San Jose’s Aaron Dell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than rebuild, I think the Oilers will attempt to retool for next season. That could mean shopping their first rounder in this year’s draft. If they win the draft lottery, that pick could have considerable value in the trade market leading up to the draft in late-June. Whether packaging that pick lands a significant return remains to be seen, but one shouldn’t rule out the possibility. As for goaltenders, Dell is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’d be preferable over Mrazek, but he might prefer joining a club where he might have a chance to become a starter.

VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma reports Daniel and Henrik Sedin haven’t reached a decision yet on whether they’ll return with the Canucks next season. However, they’ve said a lot about their desire to keep playing if they remain production, as well as their love of the team and the city of Vancouver. He speculates they’re trending in the right direction for returning next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as the Sedins seek reasonable contracts (say, $5 million each) on one-year deals, I think we’ll see them back with the Canucks next season. 

Kuzma also reports winger Tomas Vanek’s value is a double-edged sword for Vancouver. On one hand, he’s played well this season, sitting second on the Canucks in points (35) and a mentor for young teammates such as Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. On the other, his trade value could fetch the Canucks a second-round pick if they shop him at the trade deadline. There’s also no certainty he’d re-sign with the Canucks if the Sedins retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could also move Vanek at the trade deadline and attempt to bring him back as a UFA next summer. Of course, it’ll depend upon what he’d seek on a new contract. He’s 34 and they could be reluctant to give him more than a two-year deal for more than $3 million per season. 


TSN: NHL insider Bob McKenzie was asked about the New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggesting the Rangers offer up defenseman Ryan McDonagh in hopes of prying away young forward William Nylander from the Toronto Maple Leafs. While McKenzie believes the Rangers are willing to listen to offers for McDonagh, he doesn’t see the Leafs giving up Nylander for a soon-to-be 29-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also don’t believe the Leafs have any intention of moving Nylander for a veteran d-man such as McDonagh. Now, if a club offered them a good young top-four defenseman, maybe they’d think about it. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Curtis Zupke reports Kings general manager Rob Blake won’t allow his club’s recent struggles to heavily influence his trade deadline strategy. It was thought the Kings could use another top-four defenseman, but of late their offense looks like it needs some help. Center Jeff Carter (leg injury) is a month away from returning to action and it will take him some time to get back to speed. Blake said he’s not frantically working the phones with other GMs. He adds he’s not going to do anything to hurt his team.

POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t listening to offers for one of his young goaltenders such as Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith. Rutherford also admitted the existence of trade talk earlier this season on frequently scratched defenseman Ian Cole, but hasn’t committed to trading him. Mackey also noted Oilers center Mark Letestu could be a good third-line center option for the Penguins.


Latest on the Oilers and Sharks – January 8, 2018

Latest on the Oilers and Sharks – January 8, 2018

Is now the right time for the Edmonton Oilers to trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?

Could there be moves afoot soon for the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks? Read on to find out in your NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis recently suggested that if the Edmonton Oilers want to sell high on center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, now’s the time while he’s playing well. Willis examines the pros and cons of making this move. He concludes trading Nugent-Hopkins now “is a better idea than trading him a year from now. But that doesn’t mean it’s smarter than just keeping him.”

Willis also recently wondered if Oilers right wing Ryan Strome might become a dark horse trade deadline candidate. “His scoring has picked up markedly after a difficult October and he’s a right-shot centre/wing, all of which make him valuable.” Willis noted Strome, a restricted free agent at season’s end, needs to be qualified at his $3 million base salary this summer, which could prove difficult to peddle him to clubs with salary-cap concerns.

Allan Mitchell weighs in on what the Oilers might do with their free agents. He expects left wing Patrick Maroon, an unrestricted free agent in July, to be dealt. He wonders if the asking price is a younger player who’s already in pro hockey. He suggests the Boston Bruins could be a good fit.

Center Mark Letestu is another UFA who could go. Mitchell noted he has experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets, suggesting he could return to one of those clubs via trade for the right offer.

Veteran Mike Cammalleri might appeal to teams seeking scoring depth but the 35-year-old won’t fetch much of a return. As for Strome, Mitchell suspects he could be an offseason move given what the Oilers gave up to get him last summer. Anton Slephshev, Brandon Davidson and Matt Benning could also attract some interest in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers become sellers, I expect a couple of their pending UFAs, such as Maroon, Cammalleri and Letestu, could hit the trade block in the coming weeks. Given the club’s current trajectory, I think that decision’s coming very soon. Strome could also be moved by the deadline.

Over the past two seasons, Nugent-Hopkins has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill. They could move him to get shed his $6 million annual cap hit but that’s not a certainty. I’ll be very surprised if he’s peddled at the deadline. I believe the Oilers want to keep him but it’ll depend upon how things shake out at the trade deadline, their salary-cap space this summer and what plans the club beyond this season. A change in management could see RNH hit the trade block this summer. 


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White wonders if the San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators might become trade partners. With the Senators in danger of missing the playoffs, winger Mike Hoffman is among the players believed to be available, which should interest the low-scoring Sharks.

Landing Hoffman, however, could prove difficult. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list, while the Sharks lack picks in the second and third rounds of the 2018 draft. They’re also unwilling to part with young forwards Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, and Joakim Ryan ” and they don’t have an exceptional prospect pool.”

THE ATHLETIC: In a Jan. 2 mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz addressed a question regarding the possibility of the Sharks trading veteran defenseman Paul Martin, who’s missed most of this season to an ankle injury and is now the odd man out on the San Jose blueline. Kurz said we can only speculate over Martin’s future with the club but doesn’t believe we should assume he’s on the trade block just yet. 

Regarding the possibility of the Sharks pursuing a high-talent playoff rental such as Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane, Kurz doubts they have the prospect depth available to make that move. He also notes their lack of picks in the second and third rounds of this year’s draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve suggested San Jose as a potential destination for Hoffman or Kane, but I must admit their unwillingness to part with their younger roster players and lack of available prospects and draft picks makes that unlikely now. They could add an affordable depth forward by the deadline but it now seems unlikely they’ll pursue bigger fish.

Martin, who turns 37 in March, isn’t likely to draw much interest. He’s on the downside of his career. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2017

Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scores one of his two goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their second-round series.

Capitals force Game 7 against Penguins plus updates on John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom tallied a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 of their second-round series. The seventh and deciding game will be played on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals dominated the Penguins in this game, breaking up Pittsburgh’s passing game and frustrating their best players. Some believe there’s been a momentum shift since Game 5 of this series, but I believe that shift occurred following captain Sidney Crosby’s concussion in Game 3. While the Penguins won Game 4 in Crosby’s absence, they were outplayed in that game and owed their victory to the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby’s return in Game 5 hasn’t helped. Indeed, he hasn’t looked the same since his injury. His teammates look like they’ve lost the energy they had earlier in this series.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected an assist for his 97th career NHL playoff point, surpassing Mario Lemieux as the club’s all-time playoff points leader. However, that was overshadowed by the loss and a scary incident in which Crosby crashed headfirst into the end boards during the first period. Crosby would continue playing but he and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan offered up conflicting replies post-game regarding concussion evaluation. Crosby said he was evaluated following the first period but Sullivan said he wasn’t. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s surprising the NHL’s concussion spotters didn’t ask to take a look at Crosby following that incident. The conflicting comments by the Penguins captain and Sullivan could raise more questions over how the club and the league evaluates their players for possible concussion symptoms. 

The Penguins also played without defenseman Trevor Daley, who missed Game 6 with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

 EDMONTON SUN/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Oilers fourth-liner and first-unit power-play shooter Mark Letestu has more points than superstar teammate Connor McDavid, sitting seventh among all scorers in this postseason. Meanwhile, Ducks forwards Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw remain questionable for Game 7 tomorrow. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s largely due to Ducks center Ryan Kesler’s close checking of McDavid, but the Ducks seem to have no answer for Letestu, who’s really stepped up his game in his series. 

OTTAWA SUN/NEW YORK POST:  Long-time Senators enforcer Chris Neil hopes he’ll see some playing time in Game 6 of his club’s series tonight against the New York Rangers. Neil played just over two minutes in Game 5, but his presence provided a boost to his teammates. However, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault doubts Neil will have much impact if he plays in Game 6. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders captain John Tavares underwent surgery last month on his right hand but is expected to be ready for training camp in September. It’s also believed the Islanders are likely to offer Tavares, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, an eight-year contract extension worth $10 million annually. Meanwhile, sources claim Barclays Center has taken the preliminary step toward a potential opt-out of its 25-year lease with the Islanders. 

STLTODAY.COM: The coach of Russia’s national hockey team said St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko won’t be joining his club at the World Championships because he’s due to undergo surgery. However, there’s no confirmation about this from Tarasenko or Blues management. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Frederik Gauthier underwent surgery for a lower-body injury and is expected to be sidelined for six months. 

COURIER POST’S Dave Isaac reports the Philadelphia Flyers there is interest in bringing back Dean Lombardi, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. No word what his role could be. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Ron Hextall worked with Lombardi as assistant GM with the Kings. I imagine Hextall wants to bring Lombardi in as his right-hand man. 

TSN: If the NHL Players Association opts out of the current CBA in 2019 and there isn’t a new CBA in place by 2020, there won’t be a World Cup of Hockey that fall. 

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Vegas Golden Knights will be able to sign an unprotected restricted free agent as though they’re their own player. No offer sheet required and no compensation for the team. 

BSN DENVER:  The Colorado Avalanche has parted ways with team doctor Andrew Parker and their medical staff. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens owner and president John David Molson passed away at age 88. He was president of the club from 1964 to 1972, during which the Habs won five Stanley Cups. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Canadiens organization and the Molson family. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 22, 2016

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 22, 2016

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason stops Washington Capitals winger Justin Williams’ shootout attempt.

Game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.com: Steve Mason turned in a 36-save performance backstopping the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 shootout win over the Washington Capitals. Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds tallied in the shootout for the Flyers. 

Mark Letestu’s three-point night (one goal, two assists) led the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes, marking their first regulation win over the Coyotes in 26 games. 

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop will be sidelined three-four weeks with a lower-body injury. 

MLIVE.COM:  Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (lower body injury) was placed on injured reserve yesterday and could be sidelined for a while. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is mired in a goal-scoring drought that stretches back to November 6. 

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler could be playing his way into a spot in the 2017 All-Star Game. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE:  Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov (lower-body injury) isn’t expected to play tonight against the Minnesota Wild and could miss tomorrow’s game against the Minnesota Wild. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson (left foot) is questionable for tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

STLTODAY.COM: Blues center Paul Stastny (upper-body injury) will miss tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes have activated goaltender Eddie Lack from injured reserve. 

The New York Islanders signed forward Stephen Gionta to a one-year, two-way NHL contract. 

TSN: Player agent Pat Brisson voiced frustration over the NHL’s reluctance to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Brisson feels the league can only benefit from growing the game in countries such as South Korea and China. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL honchos, such as league commissioner Gary Bettman, always speak of long-range goals in growing the game. However, many of the team owners are more shortsighted. They’re the ones grumbling about Olympic participation. 

SPORTSNET: The Washington Capitals will be flying Fatima Al Ali, star of the United Arab Emirates women’s hockey team, to Washington so she can watch the team and meet her favorite player, Alex Ovechkin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Check out the video included in the piece of Al Ali’s hockey skills. She’s fantastic!

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance profiles Sai Okabayashi, an NHL analytics expert who spent several months working for the New Jersey Devils.