NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

The Hurricanes clinch first place in the Central Division, the Panthers and Lightning will face each other in the playoffs, the Blues clinch a postseason berth, the Stars stay alive and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. Joe Pavelski led the way with two goals and two assists while Roope Hintz had three points. With 58 points, the Stars sit two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski (NHL Images).

Thanks to the Stars, the Carolina Hurricanes clinched first place in the Discover Central Division. The Lightning will face the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have an opportunity to win their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy. They have 80 points with two games remaining while the Vegas Golden Knights have 78 points with three games left.

The Panthers-Lightning will be facing each other for the first time in postseason competition. I’m looking forward to watching their opening-round series. These rivals are evenly matched, with each team have won three of their six games thus far in their season series. We’ll get a first-round preview as their final two games of the schedule (today and Monday) are against each other with playoff seeding on the line.

The Washington Capitals remain two points out of first place in the MassMutual East Division after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Wade Allison scored two goals for the Flyers. Washington was without Alex Ovechkin (lower-body injury) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID-19 protocol list). With 73 points, the Capitals have a game in hand over the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins (75 points), who play their final game of the schedule today against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins, Sabres, New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks all have one game remaining in their respective schedules.

The St. Louis Blues clinched a playoff spot in the Honda West Division despite falling 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally by the Golden Knights, who hold a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues were in danger of missing the playoffs in early April following a seven-game losing skid. Their current eight-game points streak (including five wins) put them over the top.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 30th goal of the season as his club held off the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon missed the game with a lower-body injury in what appeared to be a precautionary move by head coach Jared Bednar. Earlier in the day, the Kings announced winger Dustin Brown will miss the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Kaprizov has 27 goals on the season as the Wild sits one point back of the Avalanche in third place with 73 points.

Phil Kessel collected his 900th career point as his Arizona Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Kessel had a goal and an assist while teammate Conor Garland collected three points. The Sharks were without captain Logan Couture, who could miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

A three-goal outburst in the second period rallied the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice, Valtteri Filppula collected three assists and Joe Veleno tallied his first NHL goal.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Friday he’s hopeful of returning to action for his club’s postseason opener. Stamkos has been sidelined by a lower-body injury since April 8.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Phillip Danault is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Goaltender Carey Price (concussion) has been working out on the ice at the Habs’ practice facility but there’s no timetable for his return. Shea Weber and Paul Byron are each listed as day-to-day. Brendan Gallagher (broken thumb) has resumed skating while Jonathan Drouin remains on an indefinite leave of absence.

THE PROVINCE: The NHL department of player safety handed a one-game suspension to Vancouver Canucks forward Zack MacEwen for kneeing Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse on Thursday.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Ondrej Kase returned to Bruins practice for the first time in four months after taking a high hit from New Jersey Devils winger Miles Wood back in January. He hasn’t ruled out returning for the Bruins’ final two games of the season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 6, 2021

The Jets clinch a playoff spot, T.J. Oshie get a hat trick the day after his father’s passing, Marc-Andre Fleury and Anze Kopitar reach milestones, the Blues salute David Backes and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets became the third team in the Scotia North Division to clinch a playoff spot by blanking the Calgary Flames 4-0. Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves for the shutout, Blake Wheeler collected his 800th career point and Mark Scheifele got his 500th career point. The win moved the Jets into third place in the division with 59 points, two up on the Montreal Canadiens.

Speaking of the Canadiens, they failed to secure a playoff berth by falling 5-1 to the Ottawa Senators. Erik Brannstrom collected three assists and Shane Pinto tallied his first NHL goal as the Senators have won seven of their last nine games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 57 points, Montreal still holds a 10-point lead over Calgary, though the latter has a game in hand. The Flames playoff hopes, however, are now hanging by a thread.

Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (NHL Images).

T.J. Oshie scored a hat trick the day following his father’s death as the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Oshie’s performance, however, was overshadowed by several brawls between the two clubs in the fallout over Capitals winger Tom Wilson receiving a fine for roughing Pavel Buchnevich and injury Artemi Panarin in the previous game between the two clubs. Wilson left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury while Buchnevich received a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking Capitals winger Anthony Mantha in the face.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Oshie and his family. His hat trick was a fitting honor to his father and a better story than that clown show of a game. With the win, the Capitals regained first place from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division with 73 points and hold a game in hand over the Penguins.

The Dallas Stars playoff hopes suffered another blow as they fell 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Erik Cernak had a goal and two assists for the Lightning, putting them into a tie with the Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division. Both clubs have 75 points but the Lightning holds second place with a game in hand. With 56 points, the Stars remain four back of the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

Meanwhile, the Predators dropped a 4-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice and collected an assist for the Jackets.

Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 490th career victory as the Vegas Golden Knights nipped the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Pietrangelo. Fleury moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list. Kirill Kaprizov scored twice for the Wild. The Golden Knights (76 points) maintained a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Honda West Division.

As for the Avalanche, they blew a 2-0 lead to fall 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks. Tomas Hertl scored twice and Evander Kane collected three assists for the Sharks. With 72 points, the Avs are one point ahead of the third-place Wild.

The St. Louis Blues failed to clinch a playoff spot in the West Division following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Troy Terry tallied the winner in the shootout. During the game’s first timeout, the Blues honored Ducks winger David Backes with a video tribute commemorating his 10 seasons in St. Louis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backes, 37, is in the final season of his contract and is expected to retire.

Anze Kopitar collected his 1000th career NHL point to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Sean Walker collected three points and Gabriel Vilardi tallied twice for the Kings to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have been eliminated from postseason contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kopitar’s been a model of consistency for the Kings throughout his 15 NHL seasons. He has 50 points on the season, marking the 14th time he’s reached that plateau.

HEADLINES

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nick Foligno is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens and likely Saturday’s contest as well.

CBS SPORTS: Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle suffered an undisclosed injury during Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils and should be considered day-to-day.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere received a two-game suspension for boarding Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Mark Friedman.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan is recovering from triceps surgery three weeks ago. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Ryan hopes to remain with the Wings. Meanwhile, teammate Tyler Bertuzzi underwent back surgery last Friday and is expected to be fully recovered in time for next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Anton Forsberg to a one-year, $900K contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks TV analyst Ed Olczyk will become the lead NHL game analyst for Turner Sports. He’ll join Kenny Albert as Turner’s top team on TNT when the network’s seven-year contract begins next season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported if the Seattle Kraken select a player in this summer’s expansion draft who received a bonus on July 1, they will have to re-pay that player’s previous team. The Kraken must also draft at least $48.9 million under the salary cap.

FLYERS ALUMNI: tweeted the passing of former NHL player Jim Johnson at age 78. Johnson spent eight seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Flyers and Los Angeles Kings from 1964-65 to 1971-72. An original member of the Flyers, he spent nearly five seasons with the club. In 302 NHL games, Johnson had 75 goals and 186 points.

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










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 3, 2021

The Lightning edged the Red Wings, Connor McDavid closes in on 100 points, three former Blue Jackets talk about their time with the club, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in Sunday’s only game. Blake Coleman had a goal and an assist while goaltender Christopher Gibson picked up his first NHL win since 2017-18. The Lightning are tied with the Florida Panthers with 73 points but hold second place in the Discover Central Division with a game in hand.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images)

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is just 13 points away from reaching 100 points with seven games left in the club’s regular-season schedule. McDavid, however, isn’t concerned about whether he’ll reach that number by season’s end.

Personally, it’s a number,” said McDavid. “Obviously, it’d be kind of different to be able to do it in a shortened season, but I’m not going to change anything. I’m just going to keep playing my game, and if I get there, I get there. And if not, whatever.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given McDavid’s low-key personality, we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s downplaying this. It’s a milestone for this season that he’d probably like to reach but he’s not going to lose sleep over it if he doesn’t. Nevertheless, it would put a nice exclamation point on this NHL season if he can do it.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline interviewed three former members of the Columbus Blue Jackets over their experiences. The city and the club are getting a worrying reputation as a place no one wants to play for after several high-profile players departed via free agency and trades.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting piece about the team and of the city as a hockey town. The players were mostly positive about their time with the Jackets. However, they felt the club’s hardball approach to contract negotiations with restricted free agents contributed to the recent departures of several former teammates.

Speaking of the Jackets, they signed 2020 first-round pick Yegor Chinakhov to a three-year entry-level contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars face some questions as their playoff math for this season becomes more difficult. They must decide if it’s worthwhile for Tyler Seguin to return to the lineup after missing the entire season thus far recovering from offseason hip surgery. Meanwhile, Roope Hintz is battling a lower-body injury that could require surgery when this season is over.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl will miss tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens after taking a puck to the mouth during Saturday’s win over the Vancouver Canucks.

NEW YORK POST: It appears the Rangers and Islanders played their final game at Nassau Coliseum. The Isles will be moving to their new arena at Belmont Park next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be the final game unless the Rangers somehow manage to overtake the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. With the Bruins (66 points) sitting eight points ahead with two games in hand, I don’t like the Blueshirts’ chances.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators’ 3-2 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday officially eliminated them from playoff contention.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2021

The Penguins and Capitals clinch playoff berths, Ryan Miller to retire at season’s end, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals both clinched playoff berths as the Penguins edged the Capitals 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jake Guentzel. Kasperi Kapanen scored twice for the Penguins while Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected three assists. Both clubs are tied with 69 points but the Capitals hold first place in the MassMutual East Division with a game in hand. Capitals defenseman John Carlson was a late scratch and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

A 25-save shutout by Semyon Varlamov gave the New York Islanders a 4-0 win over the New York Rangers. It was the Isles’ fourth win in their last 10 games, leaving them four points behind the Capitals and Penguins. Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the league fined Islanders center Mathew Barzal $2,000.00 for embellishment during an April 22 game against the Capitals.

Third-period goals by Charlie Coyle, Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand lifted the Boston Bruins to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. With 64 points, the fourth-place Bruins sit one point back of the Islanders while opening a six-point lead over the Rangers.

Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had two points to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Jakub Vrana replied for the Red Wings. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Discover Central Division with 73 points.

An overtime goal by Sam Bennett gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Florida rookie goalie Spencer Knight picked up his third win in as many games. The Panthers sit two points behind the Hurricanes.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 30th win of the season by shutting out the Dallas Stars 3-0. Ondrej Palat, Blake Coleman and Brayden Points were the goal scorers. The Lightning (70 points) sit one point behind the second-place Panthers. The Stars (54 points) remain two behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as his club nipped the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Kevin Fiala had a three-point game for the Wild as they rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force the extra period. The Blues (52 points) have won four straight games to open a five-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the Honda West Division. The Wild are in third place with 66 points. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Auston Matthews tallied his 36th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist for the Leafs, who sit atop the Scotia North Division with 69 points. The Canucks have dropped four of their last five games. Earlier in the day, the Leafs placed defenseman Zach Bogosian (shoulder) on long-term injury reserve.

The Calgary Flames kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Elias Lindholm scored twice for the Flames (47 points), who’ve won four of their last five contests and sit four points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The Oilers are in second place with 60 points.

A two-goal performance by Yegor Sherangovich powered the New Jersey Devils over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced goaltender Carter Hart will miss the rest of the season with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller has announced his retirement at the end of this season. He’s spent 18 seasons in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and the Ducks. Miller spent nearly 11 seasons with the Sabres, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10. He leads all American-born NHL goalies with 390 wins and sits second with 44 shutouts and 794 games played. He’s 14th on the all-time wins list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller was in his prime during his years with the Sabres, backstopping them to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007. He was also named MVP of the 2010 Winter Olympics as Team USA won the silver medal in Men’s Hockey. Best wishes to Miller and his family in their future endeavors.

TSN: The NHL is expected to reach a decision between June 1-5 as to where the winner of the Scotia North Division will play its home games. Discussions between the league and the Canadian federal government are ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ongoing closure of the Canada-US border to non-essential travel and traffic could mean whoever comes out of the North Division will have to play all their remaining playoff games in the United States. That means the league will have to find a suitable venue to host the Canadian team.

THE AHL: announced the Calder Cup won’t be awarded this season. Instead, the Pacific Division will hold a tournament to decide its division champion. The first-place teams in the other four divisions will be named division champions.

CALGARY SUN: Original Flames co-owner Byron J. Seaman passed away last weekend at age 97. He was among the ownership group that moved the Flames to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980 and held a stake in the franchise for the next three decades.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Seaman’s family, friends and the Flames organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2021

The Panthers and Lightning clinch playoff berths, the new broadcasting deal with Turner Sports is announced, the date for the 2021 draft lottery is revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice and collected three assists as the Florida Panthers defeated the Nashville Predators 7-4. Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett each had three points. With 69 points, the Panthers clinched their first playoff berth since 2015-16 and sit two points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Discover Central Division. Ryan Ellis tallied twice for the Predators, who sit in fourth place with 56 points.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning also secured a postseason spot with a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Brayden Point had a goal and two assists and Alex Killorn scored two goals for the Lightning, who sit one point back of the Panthers in third place. Chicago defenseman Adam Boqvist suffered a broken right wrist in this game and is done for the season. The Blackhawks (49 points) are seven points behind the Predators with two games in hand.

Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal scored twice and picked up an assist as his club beat the Dallas Stars 5-1. Andrei Svechnikov picked up three assists. The Stars remain two points behind the Predators.

A 41-save shutout by Elvis Merzlikins carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 1-0 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings. Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstand tallied in the shootout. Earlier in the day, the Jackets announced goaltender Joonas Korpisalo will miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

The Washington Capitals regained first place in the MassMutual East Division by blanking the New York Islanders 1-0. Vitek Vanecek made 18 saves for the shutout and Daniel Sprong netted the only goal. The Capitals (68 points) sit one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who sit four up on the Islanders.

Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Boston Bruins. David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall were the goalscorers for the Bruins (62 points), who moved within a point of the third-place Islanders.

The New York Rangers remain four points back of the Bruins by downing the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin kicked out 36 shots.

Third-period goals by Yegor Sherangovich and Mikhail Maltsev gave the New Jersey Devils a 6-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers to snap their 10-game losing skid.

The NHL and Turner Sports officially announced their seven-year media rights agreement yesterday. Regular-season, Stanley Cup Playoff and Stanley Cup Final games will be televised on TNT and TBS starting next season and running through 2027-28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Combined with the NHL’s new broadcasting deal with ESPN, this agreement will pour $625 million annually into the league’s coffers. That’s a significant increase over the $200 million annually the league was receiving in their current deal with NBC Sports.

THE SCORE: cites a report by TSN’s Frank Seravalli saying the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery will take place on June 2.

TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs forward Miroslav Frycer passed away in the Czech Republic yesterday at age 61. He’d been battling a series of health problems brought about in part by alcohol abuse earlier in his playing career.

Frycer and his family defected to Canada from communist Czechoslovakia in 1981. He spent nine seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers from 1981-82 to 1988-89, spending seven of those seasons with the Leafs. In 415 games, Frycer scored 147 goals and 183 assists for 330 points.

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










NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2021

A look at several teams that could make side deals this summer with the Kraken in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun and Ryan S. Clark recently listed the Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild and Tampa Bay Lightning as six clubs that could be in play to make side deals with the Seattle Kraken.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (NHL Images)

LeBrun doesn’t expect much to happen with the Hurricanes if defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a pending unrestricted free agent, isn’t signed before the July 21 expansion draft. The Hurricanes would then have a week before the free-agent market opens on July 28 to re-sign Hamilton. However, it’s possible the Kraken could sign Hamilton during their exclusive free-agent interview window (July 18-21), making the blueliner part of their expansion draft selections.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun thinks they’ll hold off on signing Hamilton until after the expansion draft in order to protect Jake Bean as well as Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. He also speculated the Kraken could take Brady Skjei in that scenario but could balk at his $5.25 million cap hit.

Clark pointed out the Avalanche could lose Ryan Graves to the Kraken if they protect just three defensemen or blueliner Jacob MacDonald if they protect eight skaters. It’s expected veteran Erik Johnson will be asked to waive his no-movement clause to be exposed in the draft. The Avs could explore trading one of their forwards if they can get something substantial in return and are open to discussing their needs with the Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson waiving his NMC would give the Avs some flexibility over which defensemen to protect. If they opt to protect eight skaters to hand onto four defensemen, however, they’ll lose a decent forward to the Kraken. Avs general manager Joe Sakic will probably be talking trade with Kraken GM Ron Francis in the days leading up to July 21.

Clark indicated the Oilers’ plans will depend upon the health of sidelined defenseman Oscar Klefbom. A recovering Klefbom could be exposed in the draft because the Kraken won’t select an injured player with a $4.167 million cap hit. However, the Oilers could make a side deal if Klefbom is healthy and they re-sign pending UFAs Tyson Barrie and Adam Larsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports have Klefbom facing an uncertain future following his shoulder surgery. The Oilers could wait until after the expansion draft to sign Barrie and Larsson or they could sign one and take their chances with the other if Klefbom isn’t healthy by then.

LeBrun explored several scenarios if the Kraken were to covet Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger. They could have the Panthers re-sign the pending UFA goalie before the draft and select him as an exposed player, sign him during their free-agent interview period or attempt to sign him in the free-agent market on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun thinks Panthers GM Bill Zito will approach Francis about the sign-and-select option, perhaps offering up an enticement like defenseman Markus Nutivaara in a side deal.

The Wild could have discussions with Jonas Brodin, Zach Parise, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter and Mats Zuccarello about waiving their no-movement clauses. Getting at least two of them to waive their NMCs would make it possible to protect Matt Dumba and Jordan Greenway. Failing that, they risk losing Dumba if they protect three defensemen or Greenway if they protect eight skaters. Protecting Dumba and Greenway could also create a situation where the Kraken could select defenseman Carson Soucy or goaltender Cam Talbot, raising the possibility of a side deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parise and Suter could provide the most flexibility for the Wild if they can be convinced to waive their NMCs. I doubt Francis would want an aging veteran carrying a $7.538 million cap hit on his books for the next four years.

The cap-strapped Lightning could try to sell the Kraken on selecting Spokane native Tyler Johnson but they’ll have to add a sweetener to convince them to take his $5 million cap hit off the Lightning’s books. LeBrun suggested the cost could be trading their 2022 first-round pick to the Kraken or shipping them winger Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat (if he waives his no-trade clause) defenseman Erik Cernak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the Lightning do in this situation. Bolts GM Julien BriseBois tried to waive and trade Johnson before the start of the season but couldn’t find any takers. He’ll have to package him with a good player or that first-round pick to convince Francis to take him.