Should the Islanders trade Semyon Varlamov? Is there any help in the trade market for the Oilers? How can the Golden Knights shed salary for Jack Eichel’s return next month? Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner ponders the possibility of the New York Islanders putting Semyon Varlamov on the trade block. It hasn’t been the season the Isles or Varlamov envisioned. The club is well out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference while the 33-year-old goaltender is struggling to regain his form being sidelined through training camp and the opening month of the season.
New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).
Varlamov has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit and a 16-team no-trade clause. Despite his struggles this season, he was among the league’s best goalies in 2020-21 with a 2.04 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and a league-leading seven shutouts.
Moving Varlamov could free up some much-needed cap space for next season. They could then seek a more cost-effective backup for starter Ilya Sorokin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could start quietly gauging Varlamov’s value in the trade market if his club hasn’t gained ground in the standings by March. It will also depend on whether Varlamov’s performance has improved by then.
Lamoriello could wait until the offseason to make that move. Then again, he could keep his tandem intact for next season provided Varlamov has no issue backing up Sorokin.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: With the Oilers winning just three of their last 12 games, Jim Matheson explored the trade market for help if replacing head coach Dave Tippett isn’t an option.
Matheson feels the Oilers need another top-six forward but there currently aren’t many available. Most teams have little cap space or they’re offering struggling players like Chicago’s Dylan Strome or San Jose’s Evander Kane, who has a myriad of issues. Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk could help but it would cost $4.85 million to qualify his rights this summer.
The Oilers also don’t have many tradeable assets. Matheson suggested maybe winger Kailer Yamamoto, prospect Xavier Bourgault or their 2022 first-round pick. He considers Dylan Holloway a non-starter because they don’t have many blue-chip prospects in their farm system.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers also need a reliable starting goaltender and perhaps a physical shutdown defenseman. Nevertheless, Matheson’s right about their limited possible trade assets. It also doesn’t help that obvious sellers (hello there, Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens) aren’t in any hurry to swing deals.
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger is the latest to examine options for the Vegas Golden Knights to shed salary ahead of Jack Eichel’s return from neck surgery next month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Marchessault, Theodore, Karlsson or Martinez going anywhere. Granger considers moving Theodore highly unlikely but an option nonetheless because he’d fetch the best return. It could come down to Dadonov or Smith with the latter the more likely trade candidate given his UFA status this summer.
The Penguins are reportedly on the verge of being sold, Ryan Getzlaf reaches a points milestone, the Panthers extend their home winning streak, Dion Phaneuf retires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Fenway Sports Group LLC is in advanced talks to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are the owners of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, and Liverpool FC.
The cost of the sale could be $850 million. Sources indicate Mario Lemieux would maintain a small stake in the team and continue to have a say in hockey matters. The status of co-owner Ron Burkle remains uncertain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move will ensure long-term stability for the Penguins. This comes at a time when they will be approaching a rebuild as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin head into the home stretch of their long careers.
As The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau points out, this is good news for the Penguins. Fenway Sports Group provides them with deep-pocketed ownership with a well-documented history of building and maintaining competitive sports franchises.
Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf (NHL Images).
NHL.COM: Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf collected an assist to reach his 1,000th career NHL point in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals. Trevor Zegras scored twice, including the game-winning goal while Troy Terry had an assist to extend his points streak to 15 games. The Ducks (10-4-3) have won eight straight games. Capitals center Lars Eller missed this game as he was placed on COVID protocol earlier in the day.
The league-leading Florida Panthers (11-2-3) remain unbeaten at home (8-0-0) after thumping the New York Islanders 6-1. Patric Hornqvist and Brandon Montour each had two points on the night. It was the Panthers’ first win in five games but came at the cost of losing captain Aleksander Barkov, who left the game in the second period following a knee-on-knee hit by Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield. Barkov will be reevaluated today. The Islanders, meanwhile, played without Ryan Pulock (upper-body injury) and Josh Bailey (COVID protocol).
Third-period goals by Seth Jarvis and Vincent Trocheck lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Trocheck and Sebastian Aho each had a goal and an assist as the Hurricanes (12-2-0) sit one point behind the Panthers with 24 points. The Golden Knights played without Jonathan Marchessault as he entered COVID protocol earlier in the day.
The Winnipeg Jets tallied three goals in the second period on route to downing the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Connor Hellebucyk picked up the win with a 32-save performance. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored both Oilers goals to extend his lead in the goals (17) and points race (33) while Connor McDavid (two assists) stretched his season-opening points streak to 15 games.
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dustin Tokarski kicked out 45 shots as he backstopped his club to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Colin Miller and Kyle Okposo tallied for the Sabres (7-6-2) while Jake Guentzel replied for the Penguins, who drop to 5-6-4. Sidney Crosby collected his first point of the season assisting on Guentzel’s goal.
Jack Campbell made 24 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Nashville Predators 3-0. He also leads the league among goalies with three or more games played with a 1.68 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. Auston Matthews scored the winning goal and collected an assist as the Leafs record sits at 11-5-1.
The New York Rangers (9-3-3) picked up their fourth straight win by hanging on to nip the Montreal Canadiens 3-2, whose record drops to 4-12-2. Igor Shesterkin turned aside 31 shots for the win while Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher earned a misconduct penalty late in the game for sucker-punching Rangers forward Barclay Goodrow. The Habs played without Mike Hoffman (back injury) and Jake Allen (concussion). Earlier in the day, the Rangers learned winger Sammy Blais will be sidelined for the season with a torn ACL.
An overtime goal by Cam Atkinson lifted the Philadelphia Flyers over the Calgary Flames 2-1. Flyers center Kevin Hayes scored his first of the season and pointed skyward to honor his late brother Jimmy. Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau was held off the score sheet despite tallying 10 shots on goal.
The Arizona Coyotes picked up their second win of the season (2-13-1) by dropping the St. Louis Blues 3-2. Barrett Hayton scored twice, including the game-winner in the third period, while Scott Wedgewood picked up the victory with a 34-save effort.
Jason Robertson scored two goals and collected an assist to power the Dallas Stars over the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Jake Oettinger made 28 saves in his season debut with the Stars. Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin was removed from the game following the second period and placed in COVID protocol.
San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. Logan Couture and Rudolfs Balcers each collected two assists while James Reimer made 26 saves.
IN OTHER NEWS…
ESPN.COM: The Los Angeles Kings arena will be getting a new name. Starting Christmas Day, the Staples Center will become Crypto.com Arena in a $700 million arena naming rights deal.
TORONTO STAR: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired forward Kyle Clifford from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for future considerations. It’s Clifford’s second tenure with the Leafs, playing 16 games for them in the 2019-20 season.
THE ATHLETIC: Former AHL coach Clark Donatelli was indicted on four counts of sexual assault. The charges stem from a November 2018 incident involving the wife of Donatelli’s former assistant coach during their tenure with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the affiliate of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
NHLPA.COM: Dion Phaneuf officially announced his NHL retirement yesterday. Phaneuf last played in 2018-19. He spent 14 seasons in the NHL with the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings, tallying 494 points in 1,048 games. Phaneuf was captain of the Leafs from 2010-11 until his trade to the Senators late in the 2015-16 campaign.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phaneuf’s best seasons were during his first four years with the Flames, netting 47-or-more points in each of those campaigns. He was captain of the Leafs during a difficult time as the club endured a number of management and coaching changes while reaching the playoffs just once. Best wishes to Phaneuf and his family in their future endeavors.
In today’s NHL rumor mill, a look at some of the notable names still in the rumor mill heading into the second day of the NHL draft.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli provided an updated list of trade targets following yesterday’s busy trade market leading up to the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft.
Jack Eichel remains atop the list. The Buffalo Sabres set a “fantastical” asking price seeking multiple draft picks and prospects.
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The chances of an Eichel trade this summer took a hit following the completion of the first round of this year’s draft. Unless the Sabres seek first-round picks in the 2022 draft, they’ll have to lower their asking price or put more emphasis on younger players and prospects.
St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong envisioned the possibility of winger Vladimir Tarasenko returning with the club next season. His shoulder is now 100 percent healthy following his third surgery to address the injury. Despite his no-trade clause, Seravalli said he’s willing to play almost anywhere.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The concern with Tarasenko could be more his $7.5 million cap hit than his shoulder. There are reportedly some teams willing to take it on provided the Blues accept a comparable contract or a return that doesn’t address their roster needs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Avalanche land Kuemper it probably means Philipp Grubauer is hitting the open market. I can see him being shopped before the trade deadline if a suitable deal can’t be found this summer.
The Anaheim Ducks are listening to offers for Josh Manson, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. They seek a first-round pick as part of the return. Moving him would leave a big gap on their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get the feeling the Ducks are lukewarm toward moving Manson. Sure, they’ll do it if they get a great offer but otherwise, I think they’re fine bringing him back next season and maybe re-signing him if he’s willing to stay.
Wingers Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault could be available as the Vegas Golden Knights attempt to balance their forward lines. Smith can become a UFA next summer while Marchessault has three years left on his deal with an annual average value of $5 million. They could also listen on physical winger Ryan Reaves.
The Philadelphia Flyers are still trying to move Jakub Voracek or James van Riemsdyk. There could be teams interested in Voracek if the Flyers retain $2 million or so of his $8.25 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voracek has three years left on his contract. No surprise teams want the Flyers to pick up part of that hefty cap hit. Based on previous reports, they seem keener to move Voracek than van Riemsdyk.
The Canadiens stun the Golden Knights with a Game 3 OT win, Aleksander Barkov win the Selke Trophy, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored the tying and winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their semifinal series. Anderson made it 2-2 late in the third period when Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury mishandled the puck beside his net, giving Anderson a wide-open net for an easy goal. Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 43 saves for the win. Game 4 goes Sunday night in Montreal.
Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).
The Golden Knights opened the scoring in the second period as Nicolas Roy cashed in on an errant pass by Canadiens center Eric Staal. Cole Caufield quickly tied it with his second goal of the playoffs. Alex Pietrangelo restored the Golden Knights’ lead early in the third period before Fleury’s blunder cost them the game.
Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson made his NHL head-coaching debut filling in for Dominque Ducharme after the Habs bench boss tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day. All of his players tested negative for the coronavirus. Ducharme appears to be asymptomatic but is expected to be sidelined for the next 10 days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hockey gods were smiling on Montreal in this game. Vegas should’ve easily taken it after outshooting the Habs 45-27 and controlling most of the play throughout this contest. It’s becoming repetitive to type this, but Price was the difference once again. Still, the Golden Knights appeared poised to skate away with a narrow victory until Fleury’s costly turnover changed the script.
Questionable officiating continues to plague the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. A prime example was the referees missing Jonathan Marchessault high-sticking Montreal’s Corey Perry in the face during overtime, cutting the Habs forward and forcing him from the game for repairs.
The Golden Knights played without center Chandler Stephenson, who was also a late scratch from Game 2. He’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion-related symptoms.
NEWSDAY: Oliver Wahlstrom could be in the New York Islanders’ lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 4 of their semifinal series. Wahlstrom was sidelined during Game 5 of the Isles’ first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need something to give them an offensive lift after their offense was stifled by the Lightning in the last two games.
WGR 550: Former Buffalo Sabres star Rene Robert is in a Florida hospital after suffering a severe life-threatening heart attack yesterday. Few details have been revealed as Robert’s family has requested privacy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here hoping Robert, 72, makes a full and swift recovery. He was a member of the Sabres’ famed French Connection Line with Gilbert Perreault and the late Richard Martin in the 1970s.
OTTAWA SUN: Goaltender Marcus Hogberg has signed a four-year contract with Linkoping HC in Sweden after the Senators informed him last month that they wouldn’t qualify his rights. He spent three seasons with the Sens from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Liam Kirk to a three-year entry-level contract. He’s the first player born and trained in England to be drafted by an NHL team.
Zach Trotman announced his retirement.
He spent the last four years in the Penguins organization, playing 24 games in Pittsburgh. He was limited to 8 games in WBS this season due to injury. pic.twitter.com/ID02nv33Pu
The Golden Knights become the first team to clinch a playoff berth, Patrick Marleau reaches another milestone for games played, plus the latest on Jonathan Toews, Conor Garland and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs by downing the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Jonathan Marchessault led the way with two goals and two assists for the Golden Knights, who sit atop the Honda West Division and the overall standings with 68 points. San Jose forward Patrick Marleau reached another milestone, playing in his 900th consecutive NHL game. The Sharks (41 points) remain four points back of the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
Jonathan Marchessault’s four-point performance in a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks helped the Vegas Golden Knights clinch a 2021 NHL playoff berth (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau recently broke Gordie Howe’s NHL record for most games played with 1,768. His Ironman streak is also impressive, becoming just the fourth player in league history to play 900 consecutive games. The leader is Doug Jarvis (964), followed by Garry Unger (914) and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle (913), with the latter poised to tie Unger in tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Minnesota Wild. Kirill Kaprizov set the Wild record for most goals by a rookie with 19 while Cam Talbot kicked out 39 shots for the win. With 61 points, the Wild sits three points behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche. Coyotes winger Conor Garland missed the game following a lower-body injury suffered in practice earlier in the day.
Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored twice as his club held off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists as the Oilers (56 points) sit one point behind the second-place Winnipeg Jets in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens, meanwhile, sit fourth with 49 points, opening an eight-point lead over the Calgary Flames. Oilers winger Zack Kassian left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury.
The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a 4-1 deficit to drop the Nashville Predators 5-4 on an overtime goal by Brandon Hagel, who also collected two assists. The Predators sit in fourth place in the Discover Central Division with 52 points while the Blackhawks sit three back in sixth.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL hopes to start the 2021-22 season on Oct. 12, which is one week later than in a normal year. Training camps would open on Sept. 22 if there are no COVID-related delays.
The league cannot say for certain when the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs will begin due to the in-season delays some teams have dealt with this season.
The NHL still intends to participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics provided an agreement is reached with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee.
The 2021 NHL Draft (July 23-24) will be held virtually for the second straight year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means it’ll probably take over seven hours again to complete the second day of the draft unless the league sets a more rigid timetable for each team to make their selections.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner accused the NHL of lying to the players regarding its policies on COVID-19 restrictions and vaccinations. He claimed the league told them restrictions would ease if a certain threshold of vaccinations were achieved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied Lehner’s claim, saying loosened restrictions were previously discussed internally and with the NHL Players Association but no decision was reached or communicated to the players.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is likely done for the remainder of this season as he continues to battle an illness that’s left him drained and lethargic. However, his health is improving and he’s expected to return next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Toews as he continues his recovery.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart will miss his club’s next two games due to a knee sprain.
TSN: A settlement in principle has been reached between the NHL and Kelli Ewen, widow of former player Todd Ewen, over the wrongful death lawsuit she filed against the league in 2019. The suit alleges Todd’s suicide in 2015 was linked to the league allegedly downplaying the potential long-term effects of repeated head trauma and profiting from a culture of on-ice violence.
Check out the latest Max Pacioretty speculation and how the Capitals could find a short-term replacement for Henrik Lundqvist in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jesse Granger was asked about the recent trade rumors about Max Pacioretty. He doubts the Golden Knights will trade the winger, citing how much the Golden Knights gave up to the Montreal Canadiens two years ago to acquire him as one reason.
Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).
Granger cited sources indicating Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon called around the league to gauge interest in Pacioretty, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and winger Jonathan Marchessault. However, those talks didn’t progress as McCrimmon was merely testing the waters to see what might be out there. Granger also dismissed the notion that Pacioretty requested a trade.
If the Golden Knights were to trade Pacioretty or Marchessault, Granger speculates they could attempt to bring back Erik Haula, who could welcome a return to the city where he had his best NHL season.
Granger also doesn’t believe the Boston Bruins would entertain parting with winger Jake DeBrusk in a package deal for Pacioretty. The 24-year-old DeBrusk is younger than the 32-year-old Pacioretty, carries a more affordable contract and is a restricted free agent when it expires in 2022.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pacioretty trade chatter provided welcome grist to the NHL rumor mill. While anything’s possible, it seems unlikely he’ll be moved. In addition to the reasons listed by Granger, the Golden Knights are built to win right now. They have a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with Pacioretty in the lineup this season.
I also agree with Granger’s take regarding Pacioretty to the Bruins. I don’t think they want to acquire a winger approaching his mid-thirties carrying a $7 million annual average value for the next three seasons. While they want to keep their championship window open for this season, they’re at the stage where they must also keep an eye on the future.
THE WASHINGTON POST: In her latest mailbag segment, Samantha Pell was asked if she expects the Capitals to make a trade before the season begins. She believes they could, citing a crowded blue line (“especially on the right side”) and the need to replace Henrik Lundqvist, who’s out for the season receiving treatment for a heart condition.
Pell suggested Nick Jensen as a possible trade candidate but could be retained in case another defenseman is injured.
THE SCORE: Brandon Maron listed several options for the Capitals to replace Lundqvist. One could be signing an unrestricted free agent such as Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson or Jimmy Howard. Another could be trading for a goalie, though he doesn’t see them taking on an expensive netminder such as Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals could surprise us by going the trade route. However, I concur with Maron that they’ll either sign a UFA or promote from within their system.