NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2020

Is it time for the Jets to rebuild? Should the Oilers trade a top-four defenseman? Are changes coming for the Predators? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE JETS REBUILD?

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has spun his wheels since his club reached the Western Conference Final two years ago, suggesting the club is heading in the wrong direction.

Friesen acknowledged Dustin Byfuglien’s unexpected departure and an injury-ravaged roster contributed to the club’s struggles this season. Nevertheless, the Jets lack depth on defense and the forward lines. He feels it’s time for Cheveldayoff to make a big move for a second-line center and a top-four defenseman.

With several teams affected by the flat salary cap and the Jets carrying additional cap room after Byfuglien’s contract termination, Friesen believes Cheveldayoff has the cap flexibility to address his roster issues.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes Cheveldayoff will feel the pressure during the off-season to reverse the Jets’ fortunes. He wonders how much rope the club’s ownership is willing to give their GM before deciding they need to go in a different direction. McIntyre feels Cheveldayoff will have to make a big move via the off-season trade or free-agent markets.

Could the Winnipeg Jets pursue Alex Pietrangelo in the free-agent market? (NHL Images)

If sidelined center Bryan Little (eardrum surgery, post-concussion symptoms) cannot play next season, they can place him on long-term injury reserve, potentially freeing up his $5.29-million cap hit for next season. Trading or buying out Mathieu Perreault could clear some more salary from their books. McIntyre considers fixing the blueline to be Cheveldayoff’s priority.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe suggests Andrew Copp could be the internal solution to replace Little if the latter remains sidelined. External options could include Montreal’s Max Domi or Philadelphia’s Nolan Patrick as both could use a change of scenery. Wiebe also pondered the possibility of Cheveldayoff pursuing a big-ticket player like St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $65.9 million invested in 13 players. All their core players are under contract, so Cheveldayoff could re-sign his RFAs to affordable, short-term deals. Still, he might need a little more cap space if he intends to land a big-ticket player, especially via the UFA market. He can send some salary the other way if he’s acquiring a player via trade.

Domi’s status has been a hot topic in the Montreal media throughout this season. That chatter recently intensified with Domi currently seeing fourth-line minutes in the postseason. Patrick, however, has been sidelined this season by a migraine disorder, which (as Wiebe also noted) would make him a risky acquisition.

Pietrangelo would be a big catch for the Jets, but that’s assuming the Blues captain wants to play in Winnipeg if he tests the UFA market. If he doesn’t, Cheveldayoff would have to look elsewhere, and the pickings for top defensemen are slim beyond Pietrangelo and Boston’s Torey Krug.

SHOULD THE OILERS SHOP A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Bob Stauffer’s recent interview with Brian Burke in which the Sportsnet analyst suggested the Oilers trade a defenseman like Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, or Oscar Klefbom.

Burke felt the Oilers defense didn’t play well enough, believing one or two of their blueliners might need a change of scenery. He acknowledged such moves might be difficult given the Oilers’ limited cap space for next season.

The former NHL GM agreed with Stauffer’s suggestion the Toronto Maple Leafs might be a trading partner, proposing a swap of Larsson for a winger like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson.

Former NHL GM turned analyst Brian Lawton agreed there could be some changes to the top four. He expressed concern over Klefbom’s injury history. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, meanwhile, believes Larsson could be the likely trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those three Oilers defenseman, Nurse could fetch the best return. The 25-year-old is two years younger than Klefbom and Larsson and his style would make him attractive for clubs seeking a mobile, physical rearguard. Klefbom’s injury history could hurt his trade value, while Larsson’s UFA eligibility next summer could be a deal-breaker for some clubs.

Staples feels the Oilers should try and move out Kris Russell. He’s also a year away from UFA eligibility, but his 15-team no-trade clause could make that difficult.

LATEST ON THE PREDATORS

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile pulled no punches assessing his club’s performance this season. “This is unacceptable”, he said. “This is how we have to view this result is that we have to be better and it’s not acceptable.”

Poile indicated the club’s direction in the last two years made it “clear to me that we need to make some changes.” While the Preds GM said “everything is on the table,” Skrbina doesn’t expect a complete roster overhaul.

Pending UFAs Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith might not be back. The Predators could look in-house to address some of their needs, perhaps promoting Eeli Tolvanen and Philip Tomasino. Skrbina also speculates Poile could try again to trade center Kyle Turris or buy him out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72.2 million invested in 17 players, Poile will have to cut some salary if he intends to look to the trade or free-agent markets for help. Trading Turris could mean absorbing part of his $6 million annual salary or packaging him with a top draft pick or prospect. A contract buyout will leave them with $2 million annually in dead cap space to 2028.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 13, 2020

Recaps of yesterday’s playoff games, the Penguins fire their assistant coaches, the Leafs respond to the qualifying-round elimination and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron’s double-overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Bergeron’s linemates David Pastrnak (one goal) and Brad Marchand (two assists) picked up their first points of the postseason. Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton returned to action after missing the qualifying round with an undisclosed injury, but winger Justin Williams and blueliner Sami Vatanen were ruled “unfit to play” for Game 1.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour was fined $25K for his comments disputing the Bruins’ second goal when Anders Bjork appeared to swat the puck out of Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek’s glove on the ice to teammate Charlie Coyle. “This is why the league’s a joke, in my opinion, on these things,” said Brind’Amour following the game. “That one is a crime scene.”

 

  SPECTOR’S NOTE: In my opinion, the officials got the call wrong, but Brind’Amour should know the league takes a dim view of coaches publicly airing their grievances about officiating.   The New York Islanders overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Washington Capitals 4-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Anthony Beauvillier tallied four unanswered goals for the Islanders while T.J. Oshie netted both Capitals goals. The Caps were unhappy with Lee over a late hit on Nicklas Backstrom that sidelined the center for the rest of the game. A further word on Backstrom’s condition could be provided later today.  

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eberle’s goal late in the second period gave the Isles a much-needed lift. They went on to dominate the Capitals in the final frame.

A three-goal outburst within a 1:23 span in the third period powered the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes in the first game of their opening-round series. Nazem Kadri, J.T. Compher, and Mikko Rantanen were the goal scorers while Philipp Grubauer made 14 saves for the shutout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colorado controlled this game from the opening faceoff. Only the play of Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper kept this scoreless until the Avs’ third-period flurry.

Carter Hart made 27 saves as the Philadelphia Flyers held off the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. Joel Farabee tallied the game-winner 16 seconds after the Habs tied it on a second-period power-play goal by Shea Weber. Habs goalie Carey Price made a breathtaking stick save on a second-period Scott Laughton blast, preventing either a sure goal or perhaps serious injury to teammate Nick Suzuki as the youngster attempted to block the shot.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a physical,closely-contested game that could set the tone for the remainder of the series. Both goaltenders were outstanding.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat scored twice in a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Horvat, Troy Stecher (with the game-winner), and J.T. Miller netted three unanswered third-period goals. Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom made 29 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a close game until the Canucks blew it open with three goals on five shots. The Blues played better than they had in the round-robin but seemed to wilt in that final period.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins dismissed assistant coaches Sergei Gonchar, Jacques Martin, and Mark Recchi yesterday. A search for new assistants for head coach Mike Sullivan will begin at once.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford promised changes after his club’s qualifying-round exit. He’ll turn next to his roster, but don’t expect any big changes there other than perhaps trading goalie Matt Murray and letting Justin Schultz depart via free agency. If those moves fail to improve the Pens next season, Sullivan could lose his job while Rutherford looks at maybe a bigger roster move or two.

The Penguins also opted to retain their 2020 first-round pick (15th overall). They will instead send their 2021 first-round pick to the Minnesota Wild to complete February’s Jason Zucker trade.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist’s future with the New York Rangers appears hazy following a recent meeting with team president John Davidson. The long-time Rangers starting goalie lost his job to rookie Igor Shesterkin this season and the club doesn’t intend to carry three goalies next season. Lundqvist has a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $8.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could be trying to convince Lundqvist to retire, removing his full cap hit from their books. They could also buy him out, but that would only save $3 million next season and give them $1.5 million in dead cap space for 2021-22.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan reaffirmed his faith in general manager Kyle Dubas during yesterday’s online end-of-season press conference. Dubas, meanwhile, defended his players and resisted the notion that management misread the club’s potential. Leafs stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and Morgan Rielly acknowledged the disappointment and frustration over yet another early postseason exit but maintain their belief they have the core to develop into a winner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unhappy Leafs followers appear to be running out of patience with “The Shanaplan”, Dubas’ management, and the inconsistent performance of some of the club’s stars. It’ll be interesting to see what off-season moves they make to address their roster deficiencies, especially on the blueline. Another erratic season could cost Dubas his job and perhaps lead to a core player getting traded.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: An undisclosed injury appears to be affecting Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin. He failed to register a shot in the Stars’ Game 1 loss to the Calgary Flames, marking the second time in three games he’s done so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The low-scoring Stars need veterans scorers like Seguin at his best if they hope to stage a run for the Stanley Cup.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Bryan Little is unsure if he’ll play again after suffering a punctured eardrum and concussion when he was struck in the head by a shot during a game last November. He’s been sidelined ever since as he recovered from surgery to repair his eardrum. His symptoms have reduced but brain scans revealed lingering damage that could put his future at risk if he continues playing hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Little intends to take time to heal as he undergoes further tests and seeks different medical opinions. Nevertheless, his playing career appears in jeopardy.

THE SCORE: Top prospect Alexis Lafreniere won’t be returning to Rimouski Oceanic training camp and he won’t be playing in Europe as he prepares for his NHL career. He intends to train at home and report to his NHL team whenever their training camp opens this fall. It’s expected the New York Rangers will select him with the first-overall pick in this year’s draft in October.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2020

More reaction to the draft lottery results, updates on the CBA talks and hub cities, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Bryan Little, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman reports more than a few NHL executives were unhappy over the results of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, in which a yet-to-be-determined team eliminated from the qualifying round of the playoff tournament will win the first-overall pick.

Criticism lingers over the results of Phase 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery (Image via NHL.com).

Some of that reaction came from teams who felt they hadn’t received a definitive answer in advance about what would happen if the season couldn’t be finished. Friedman feels the qualifying round will now have more meaning and there will be a big audience for Phase Two of the draft lottery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conspiracy theorists already believe the NHL rigged the lottery to benefit a big-market club, screw over the Detroit Red Wings after their years of dominance, and to generate big ratings for the draft. These claims are, of course, baseless BS. 

Whatever the outcome of the draft lottery, it wasn’t going to please everyone. For every fan who feels it should’ve gone to one of this season’s bottom-feeders, like Detroit or Ottawa, some believe it shouldn’t reward those clubs for tanking the season.

Some observers, like the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, are delighted with the outcome as it gives a decent NHL team a shot at winning the first-overall pick instead of it going to a poorly-run club. However, that pick could end up going to a lesser-followed NHL market like Arizona or Florida, or a smaller market like Edmonton or Winnipeg, or a team that doesn’t need it, like Pittsburgh or Toronto. So there’s something for everyone to bitch about.

If the season can’t be completed, the eight non-playoff clubs when the regular season was paused will each have an equal shot (12.5 percent) of winning the first-overall pick. The rest of the order will be determined in inverse order by points percentage.

Friedman believes if Toronto and Vegas are named the two host cities, the Eastern teams will play in Toronto and the Western clubs in Vegas. “We’re overthinking this one.”

Regarding CBA negotiations, Friedman doesn’t expect a vote by the NHLPA membership will take place before June 30, pointing out it could take 48-to-72 hours. Some players and agents believe there should be separate votes on the CBA and the health protocols for Phase 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan.

Friedman’s also awaiting clarity on what the one-time 10-percent salary deferral will mean for the salary cap. Some sources believe it will give teams extra room, while another said it would be counted in the year earned. He also believes the NHLPA vote will pass but will be interested to see which players opt-out of the tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We already know Dallas Stars defenseman Roman Polak won’t be taking part. It remains to be seen how many others follow his lead.

The league is holding firm against non-NHL players signed during the pause (Montreal’s Alexander Romanov, Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin) taking part in the tournament.

Friedman also suggested the July 10 start date for training camp could be moved back by three-to-five days to allow time to get everything done. It won’t affect the start date (July 30) for the playoff tournament.

There’s some talk of the seven non-playoff teams having “games” sometime in the fall. Details are sketchy and it’s not a priority, but those clubs don’t want to be waiting until December or January to play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: New Jersey Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald floated that proposal earlier this month. He indicated the team presidents and general managers of those respective clubs have discussed a pitch to the league to address their situation. Exhibition games among those seven teams are one option they’re looking at.

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said his club is more interested in a deep playoff run than the possibility of winning the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland’s attitude will be shared by the other clubs in the qualifying round. The opportunity to win that pick will be a nice consolation prize for failing to advance, but those clubs will be playing to win. Nobody’s tanking it just for a 12.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league will fairly evaluate every relevant consideration before deciding on the hub cities. The recent rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the United States has some observers wondering what effect it’ll have on the league’s choices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Las Vegas reportedly remains a lock as one of the hub cities despite the spike in COVID-19 cases in that city and the state of Nevada. That’s prompted some observers to wonder if the league might look elsewhere. It’s expected we’ll find out sometime this week.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skated at the club’s training facility yesterday for the first time since the schedule was paused in mid-March.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Bryan Little won’t be taking part in the playoff tournament with his teammates. He’s still recovering from a perforated eardrum and concussion after being struck by a slap shot last November. He underwent surgery on his ear in March and said he’s feeling “pretty good” these days.

THE ATHLETIC: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi will take part in training camp after recovering from an injured spleen. He will be available to play in the tournament but it remains to be seen if he’ll be inserted into the lineup.










The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part II)

The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part II)

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2020

The Kings upset the Avalanche in their Stadium Series matchup, Evander Kane blasts the NHL department of player safety, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli’s hat trick power the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche as part of the 2020 NHL Stadium Series before a sellout crowd of 43,574 at Falcon Stadium at the United States Air Force Academy. Toffoli becomes the first player in league history to tally three goals in an NHL outdoor game. Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury. With the loss, the Avalanche (72 points) slipped to third place in the Central Division.

Tyler Toffoli’s hat trick gave the LA Kings a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in their 2020 NHL Stadium Series game (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Long rumored on the trade block, Toffoli’s hat trick performance could boster his value leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

The Boston Bruins picked up their eighth win in their last nine games by beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. David Pastrnak tallied his 42nd goal of the season while Brad Marchand collected two assists for the Bruins (84 points). They remain one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the overall standings.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his franchise-record points streak to 21 games in a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman each collected two points as the Lightning stretched their winning streak to 10 games. The Flyers hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 71 points.

Auston Matthews tallied his 42nd of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. The Leafs (70 points) hold a four-point lead over the Florida Panthers for third in the Atlantic Division. Matthews and Pastrnak are tied for first place in the NHL goal-scoring race.

Mikael Granlund’s third-period goal held up as the game-winner as the Nashville Predators edged the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Kyle Turris had a goal and two assists as the Predators (63 points) remain three points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot. The Blues (74 points) have dropped four straight and hold a one-point lead over the surging Dallas Stars for the top spot in the Conference.

Tyler Seguin scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Dallas Stars overcame a 3-0 deficit to nip the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Habs head coach Claude Julien voiced his displeasure over the poor officiating during a post-game interview, which could earn him disciplinary action from the league. The Canadiens (62 points) have dropped four straight and sit eight points behind the Leafs in the Atlantic Division.

Edmonton Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto scored and set up two others in a 4-1 win over the slumping Florida Panthers. Leon Drasaitl (92 points) picked up two points to extend his lead in the scoring race by 10 over the Bruins’ David Pastrnak. The Oilers (68 points) are one point behind the Pacific Division-leading Vancouver Canucks.

Mark Andre Fleury posted a 19-save shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the New York Islanders 1-0. Reilly Smith was the goal-scorer as the Golden Knights (68 points) hold third place in the Pacific Division. With 72 points, the Isles cling to third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Third-period goals by Phil Kessel and Lawson Crouse gave the Arizona Coyotes a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Antti Raanta picked up the victory with 36 saves for the Coyotes (66 points), who hold the final Western Conference wild-card spot. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin failed to score for the fourth straight game, leaving him two goals shy of 700 for his career.

The Chicago Blackhawks thumped the Calgary Flames 8-4. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews lead the way with each collecting a goal and two assists. Elias Lindholm and Sam Bennett each scored twice for the Flames (66 points), who hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks (60 points) picked up their first win in six games, but remain six points behind the Flames and Coyotes.

San Jose Sharks netminder Martin Jones kicked out 39 shots to shut out the Minnesota Wild 2-0. Dylan Gambrell and Melker Karlsson were the goal scorers. It was the Wild’s first game under interim coach Dean Evason. With 61 points, they’re five behind the Coyotes.

HEADLINES

ESPN.COM: Thousands of fans missed a portion of the Kings-Avalanche Stadium Series game owing to a major traffic jam. Many left before the game’s conclusion. It took some fans over four hours to reach the stadium.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes will host a 2021 NHL Stadium Series game at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Their opponent has yet to be determined.

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane blasted the NHL’s department of player safety over its inconsistencies in handing down supplemental discipline after receiving a three-game suspension for elbowing. Kane released a public statement singling out player safety head George Parros. He also cited examples where similar infractions by others went unpunished or received lighter penalties.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s critics will accuse him of whining, but he’s making a fair point. The department of player safety’s sometimes erratic decisions has left more than a few fans and pundits puzzled and sometimes outraged. It’s also believed many players share Kane’s views, though he’s the first to publicly criticize the department in this manner.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Sharks, their crappy season got worse as defenseman Erik Karlsson is out for the season with a broken thumb.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Brian Little is also finished for the season because of a damaged eardrum he suffered in November. He’ll undergo surgery with an expected three-month recovery period.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian was assigned to his club’s AHL affiliate in Rochester after clearing waivers yesterday.

SPORTSNET: The Anaheim Ducks re-sign forward Nicolas Deslauriers to a two-year, $2-million contract extension.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 8, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 8, 2019

Penguins snap Islanders 10-game win streak, Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock picks up his 700th NHL victory, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders 10-game winning streak came to an end as they fell 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime. The Penguins rallied from a 3-0 deficit and picked up the win on Bryan Rust’s second goal of the night. Teammate Jared McCann enjoyed a three-point night. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang missed the game with a lower-body injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs gave head coach Mike Babcock his 700th career victory by edging the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 in overtime. John Tavares scored the game-winning goal. Auston Matthews also tallied for the Leafs. Max Pacioretty scored for the Golden Knights. Earlier in the day, the Leafs placed Martin Marincin and Nic Petan on waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock sits eighth on the all-time wins list for NHL coaches. He’s three wins behind Winnipeg’s Paul Maurice. 

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson scored the tying and winning goals in a 5-4 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice and added an assist while John Carlson had a three-point night. Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers. The Capitals (27 points) hold a three-point lead over the Boston Bruins for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon collected four points in a 9-4 win over the Nashville Predators but left the game with an upper-body injury (Photo via NHL Images).

The Colorado Avalanche tallied six goals within eight minutes in the second period to crush the Nashville Predators 9-4, snapping a five-game winless skid. Jonas Donskoi netted a hat trick while Nathan MacKinnon collected four points. MacKinnon left the game in the second period as a precautionary measure after suffering an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Avs revealed starting goalie Philipp Grubauer would miss the next couple of games with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With first-line wingers Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog already sidelined, it’s understandable why the Avs are being cautious with MacKinnon. It could sink their season if they lose him to a lengthy period.  

The Philadelphia Flyers blew a 2-0 lead but downed the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on an overtime tally by Sean Couturier. Goaltender Carey Price made 40 saves to carry the Habs into the extra frame. Earlier in the day, the Flyers learned defenseman Samuel Morin suffered a torn ACL in his right knee for the second time in 19 months during a conditioning stint with their AHL affiliate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  A former first-round pick (11th overall in 2013), Morin has struggled to establish himself as an NHL blueliner. A second consecutive injury to the same knee could jeopardize his playing career. 

The San Jose Sharks took a 6-2 lead and held on to defeat the Minnesota Wild 6-5. Sharks captain Logan Couture had a four-point performance while teammate Tomas Hertl picked up three points. Eric Staal had a three-point game for the Wild.

Patrick Kane scored and set up two others to lead the Chicago Blackhawks over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. Corey Crawford turned aside 36 shots for the win and Dylan Strome collected three assists.

The Calgary Flames netted four unanswered goals to down the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Flames blueliner Noah Hanifin scored a goal and set up two others. Devils rookie Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist.

Henrik Lundqvist kicked out 45 shots as the New York Rangers doubled up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich each collected a goal and an assist for the Blueshirts. The Hurricanes have lost three straight games.

Gustav Nyquist had a three-point performance as the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Joonas Korpisalo made 30 stops for the win.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s overtime goal gave the Ottawa Senators a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

HEADLINES

THE HOCKEY WRITERS: KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko doesn’t see his league being in direct competition with the NHL. He believes there’s enough room for both leagues to thrive.

Chernyshenko also cited the difficult logistics of potential games between NHL and KHL clubs. He points out the KHL season is over 1 1/2 months before the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. KHL players also begin their preseasons earlier than NHL players.

While the NHL has reached an agreement to start broadcasting games in Russia, the KHL broadcasts games to 34 different countries and has teams in six countries. The KHL is also in the process of perfecting puck- and player-tracking technology, giving them a potential edge in sports betting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The KHL has had its ups and downs in its short history. Nevertheless, it has not only survived but is continuing to build its product. 

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets center Bryan Little is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a perforated eardrum and vertigo from being struck in the head by a slapshot from teammate Nikolaj Ehlers during Tuesday’s game against the Devils. Little required 25-30 stitches and spent the night in a neurological ward for examination.

SPORTSNET: The hits keep on coming for the Jets as Gabriel Bourque will be out at least four weeks with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS: Dallas Stars winger Roope Hintz (undisclosed) will be sidelined for the next two weeks. Blueline John Klingberg (lower body) will miss the next two-to-four weeks.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Alex Steen will miss at least a month with a high-ankle sprain.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (lower body) will be sidelined for tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed winger Tomas Jurco on waivers and assigned Colby Cave to their AHL affiliate.