NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2023

The Oilers’ Connor McDavid reaches 40 goals on the season while Canucks fans bid farewell to Bruce Boudreau during Hockey Day in Canada, Canadiens winger Cole Caufield to undergo season-ending surgery, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid tallied his league-leading 40th goal of the season to double up the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. Zach Hyman had a goal and three assists while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected three points for the Oilers (27-18-3), as they vaulted over the Los Angeles Kings into third place in the Pacific Division with 57 points.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid becomes the fastest player to reach 40 goals in a season (48 games) since Jaromir Jagr did it in 46 games in 1995-96.

The Canucks (18-25-3) have lost 10 of their last 12 games. Before the game, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported they’re expected to announce the hiring of Rick Tocchet as their new head coach on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news prompted an outpouring of support for embattled head coach Bruce Boudreau on social media and from Canucks fans during this game. Boudreau was touched by the cheers from the fans, bidding them a tearful farewell at the end of the game.

As I said before, the Canucks’ front office handled this situation very badly. They could’ve just fired Boudreau and named one of their assistant coaches to replace him on an interim basis until a full-time bench boss was found. Instead, they left him to twist in the wind as rumors ramped up over his future, forcing him to answer questions from the media day after day over his impending fate. It reflects poorly on the Canucks as a franchise, raising concerns over the direction of the club.

An overtime goal by Rem Pitlick lifted the injury-depleted Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pitlick finished the night with two points while Sam Montembeault stopped 36 shots as the Canadiens (20-24-3) overcame a 2-0 deficit to win three of their last four games. The 28-11-8 Leafs sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 64 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens announced that Cole Caufield will undergo season-ending surgery to repair his injured right shoulder. Caufield’s agent revealed his client had played with the injury over the past two-three months and was willing to continue but team doctors decided he would risk worsening the damage. The 22-year-old winger is the 11th Hab currently sidelined, joining such notables as Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, Sean Monahan, Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin, Kaiden Guhle, Jake Allen and Juraj Slafkovsky.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho tallied a hat trick to lead his club over the New York Islanders by a score of 5-2, handing the latter their eighth loss in their last nine games. The Hurricanes (29-9-8) hold a four-point lead over the New Jersey Devils for first place in the Metropolitan Division with 66 points. With 51 points, the Islanders (23-20-5) remain two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Islanders recalled forward Aatu Raty to replace Cal Clutterbuck, who is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin missed this game with a lower-body injury.

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made 33 saves for his fourth shutout of the season to blank the Arizona Coyotes 4-0. Radek Faksa tallied twice for the Stars (28-13-7) as they hold a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Western Conference with 63 points. The Coyotes dropped to 14-27-5.

Speaking of the Jets (61 points), they improved to 30-16-1 with a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists to reach his 900th career point while Mark Scheifele scored twice and collected an assist. Josh Norris replied for the Senators as they slipped to 20-23-3.

The Vegas Golden Knights remain one point behind the Jets for third overall in the Western Conference by downing the Washington Capitals 6-2. Paul Cotter tallied twice while Nicolas Roy had a goal and two assists for the 29-16-2 Golden Knights while T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson replied for the 25-18-6 Capitals, who remain three points ahead of the Penguins in the first Eastern wild-card spot with 56 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed this game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

A shootout goal by Nathan MacKinnon lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-1 win over the Seattle Kraken. Alex Newhook scored in regulation for the Avalanche (25-17-3) as they’ve won five straight and vaulted over the Calgary Flames into the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 53 points. Ryan Donato replied for the Kraken, who’ve dropped three of their last four contests. At 27-14-5 (59 points), they sit one point behind the first-place Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

The Flames, meanwhile, defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 as Rasmus Andersson had a goal and two assists while Tyler Toffoli and Dillon Dube each had a goal and an assist. Steven Stamkos, Anthony Cirelli and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for the Lightning (29-15-1) as they sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 59 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames (22-16-9) have the same number of points as the Avalanche (53), but the latter has three more wins and holds two games in hand.

Third-period goals by Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene and Cole Smith powered the Nashville Predators to a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Duchene scored twice while teammate Roman Josi collected three assists for the 22-18-6 Predators, who move within three points of the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Kings (25-17-6) have lost three straight games and slipped into the first Western wild-card berth with 56 points.

Florida Panthers goaltender Alex Lyon kicked out 29 shots to win his first start of the season by beating the Minnesota Wild 5-3. Sam Reinhart and Anton Lundell each had a goal and an assist as the Panthers improved to 23-20-5. With 51 points, they’re two points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth. Kirill Kaprizov had three assists for the Wild (25-16-5) as they sit third in the Central Division with 54 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild played without winger Marcus Foligno as he is sidelined by a non-COVID-related illness.

The Chicago Blackhawks got a 29-save performance from Jaxson Stauber in his NHL debut to upset the St. Louis Blues 5-3. Jason Dickinson had a goal and two assists for the 14-26-4 Blackhawks, who’ve won six of their last seven games. Jordan Kyrou and Ivan Barbashev each had a goal and an assist for the Blues (23-21-3), who sit four points out of a wild-card spot in the West.

Buffalo Sabres forwards Victor Olofsson and Peyton Krebs each tallied two goals in a 6-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Ilya Lyubushkin collected three assists for the 23-19-3 Sabres as they moved to within four points of an Eastern wild-card spot with 49 points. Trevor Zegras scored twice and collected an assist for the 13-29-5 Ducks.

The Philadelphia Flyers got goals from Scott Laughton and Noah Cates to hold off the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. Carter Hart turned aside 30 shots for the Flyers (20-20-7) as they’ve won five of their last seven games. Lucas Raymond replied for the Red Wings as they slipped to 19-18-8 on the season.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Patrik Laine, Gustav Nyquist and Sean Kuraly lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Jackets improved to 14-30-2 while the Sharks fell to 14-24-9.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2022

The Red Wings stage a big rally to defeat the Penguins, the Bruins continue their winning ways, the Leafs are fined for violating the CBA and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Detroit Red Wings overcame a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jake Walman. Magnus Hellberg stopped all 19 shots he faced after replacing Ville Husso in the Red Wings net while David Perron scored the tying goal as his club improved to 15-11-7 on the season. Jason Zucker tallied twice for Pittsburgh as they dropped to 19-10-6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang were all held scoreless in this contest as the Penguins were outshot 46-31.

Third-period goals by Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Zacha lifted the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils (22-11-2). Linus Ullmark stopped 30 shots for the 28-4-3 Bruins as they extended their points streak to nine games and sit atop the overall standings with 59 points, seven ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes. The once red-hot Devils, meanwhile, have dropped eight of their last nine contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Devils placed defensemen John Marino (upper body) and Ryan Graves (lower body) on injured reserve. Both are considered week-to-week.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Bruins fourth-line forward Tomas Nosek (undisclosed) was kept out of the lineup for this game. Head coach Jim Montgomery called it nothing serious, preferring Nosek not to play in back-to-back games during his recovery.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made a season-high 49 shots backstopping his club to a 3-2 shootout upset of the Vegas Golden Knights. Adam Henrique scored twice in regulation while Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry tallied in the shootout for the 10-22-4 Ducks. Mark Stone and Ben Hutton replied for the Golden Knights (24-12-2), who hold a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference with 50 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was Gibson’s fifth game this month and his first since Dec. 13 as injuries and illness limited his playing time.

The Calgary Flames nipped the Seattle Kraken 3-2 as Jonathan Huberdeau snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period. Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist for the Flames (17-13-7) while Philipp Grubauer made 41 saves for the 18-11-4 Kraken.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point scored twice to drop the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Victor Hedman collected two assists as the Lightning improved to 21-11-1 while the Canadiens (15-17-3) dropped their third straight game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens also set a franchise record in this game by starting five rookies (Kaiden Guhle, Johnathan Kovacevic, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj and Justin Barron) on their blueline.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs were fined $100,000 by the NHL for violating the collective bargaining agreement. They traveled to St. Louis on Dec. 26 for their game the following day against the Blues. That date was a mandated off-day for all team purposes, including travel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans criticized the league for this action. However, it was the NHL Players Association that mandated off days for players in the CBA. The league is merely enforcing the rules.

Meanwhile, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was fined $25,000 by the league for what it called “demeaning conduct directed at the officials” during the Leafs 5-4 overtime win against the Blues. Keefe was upset over what he considered two uncalled infractions by Blues players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The second infraction was Leafs forward Zach Aston-Reese getting cut by a high stick from Blues winger Brandon Saad. I don’t think Keefe was unjustified in his anger at the officials over that missed call.

Speaking of the Leafs, Morgan Rielly is set to return to the lineup in Thursday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. The 28-year-old defenseman has been sidelined since Nov. 21 by a knee injury. During his absence, the Leafs went 12-2-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not to imply that the Leafs are a better team without Rielly but rather an indication of how well they adjusted during his absence. Having their best defenseman back in the lineup should only make them better.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers placed goaltender Carter Hart on injured reserve despite the fact he practiced with the club earlier this week. He is expected to play in the final two games of their upcoming road trip against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks provided he clears concussion protocol.

THE SCORE: Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin has reinjured his surgically repaired left ankle. There is no timetable for his return. Nichuskin underwent the procedure in early November and returned to the lineup on Dec. 9.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday against the Canadiens. He’s been sidelined since Dec. 3 by a concussion.

YARDBARKER: The Minnesota Wild placed winger Marcus Foligno (lower body) on injured reserve.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

Auston Matthews tallies his 60th goal of the season, Steven Stamkos reached 100 points, the Hurricanes clinch the Metropolitan Division, the Predators and Kings secure playoff berths, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice to reach the 60-goal plateau as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Matthews is the first player to score 60 goals in a season since Steven Stamkos in 2011-12. He’s also the first American-born player to reach that mark. John Tavares also scored and Jack Campbell made 20 saves for the shutout. Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin returned to the lineup after missing six games with an undisclosed injury. With the win, the Leafs (113 points) secure second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage for the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Speaking of Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning captain reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Stamkos scored twice and collected two assists while Nikita Kucherov also had a four-point performance. The Lightning have won four straight games and sit in third place in the Atlantic with 108 points. Before the game, the Blue Jackets confirmed Boone Jenner and Sean Kuraly will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the season ended today, the Leafs and Lightning would face each other in the first round. We’ll find out for sure by week’s end.

The Carolina Hurricanes (114 points) clinched first place in the Metropolitan Division by holding off the New York Rangers 4-3. Sebastian Aho scored to reach his 400th career point, Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei each collected two points and rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov got the win with a 31-save performance. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied his 52nd goal of the season. His teammate, Andrew Copp, returned to action from a lower-body injury but left the game in the second period. So did winger Artemi Panarin but it appears both were held out of this contest for precautionary reasons. The Rangers sit second in the Metro with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes were hopeful that sidelined starting goalie Frederik Andersen would be ready to return to action for the opening game of the playoffs next week. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports the current expectation is he’ll miss the Hurricanes’ first few games of the first round.

An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm gave the Calgary Flames a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators, but the latter still secured a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 95 points. Matthew Tkachuk scored in the final second of regulation to tie the game and set the stage for Lindholm’s winner. Both players have 41 goals on the season. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators to reach 42 goals while teammates Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund each had three points. The Flames (110 points) recently clinched first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators goaltender Juuse Saros left the game in the third period with what appeared to be an injured left leg. An update on his condition could come on Wednesday.

The Dallas Stars moved closer to clinching the final playoff berth in the Western Conference after downing the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on a shootout goal by Miro Heiskanen. Jason Robertson scored twice to reach 40 goals on the season while Jake Oettinger kicked out 33 shots. The Stars hold the final wild-card spot with 95 points. With 91 points, the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes now hang by a thread while the Stars’ victory means the idle Los Angeles Kings have clinched a postseason berth with 96 points. They will face the Edmonton Oilers in the first round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights still have a slim chance if they win their final two games and the Stars lose their last two in regulation, thus ensuring they’d take the wild-card berth on the basis of regulation wins. The Stars, however, need just one to qualify for the postseason.

Speaking of the Oilers, they secured second place in the Pacific Division with 100 points by dropping the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists to reach a career-high 122, widening his lead in the scoring race by seven points over the Florida Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau. Mike Smith kicked out 33 shots for his 10th straight win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins winger Jason Zucker left the game in the first period with an undisclosed ailment. The Penguins (101 points) have already secured a playoff berth but hold a one-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

As for the Capitals, they failed to overtake the Penguins after falling 4-1 to the New York Islanders. Ilya Sorokin made 32 stops for the Islanders. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche gained ground on the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues, snapping the latter’s 16-game points streak. Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for the win while Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche (118 points) moved within two points of the Panthers. Blues center Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and collected an assist. The Blues remain in third place in the Central Division with 109 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews returned to the lineup after sitting out the last four games dealing with undisclosed minor injuries. Sidelined teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen are both expected to return in time for the playoffs next week.

Meanwhile, the Panthers dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. Brad Marchand, Tayler Hall and David Pastrnak each collected two points as the Bruins (105 points) sit three points behind the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers sit first overall with 120 points.

The Minnesota Wild remains tied with the Blues with 109 points following a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Karel Vejmelka got the win with a 35-save performance while Shayne Gostisbehere collected three assists. Kirill Kaprizov had two assists for Minnesota, who holds second place in the Central over the Blues with a game in hand. Wild forward Marcus Foligno returned to the lineup after missing the past four games due to a bout of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild and Blues will face each other in the opening round of the playoffs. The outcome of their final games will decide which one gets home-ice advantage in their upcoming series.

Quinn Hughes set a single-season record for Vancouver Canucks defensemen by reaching 66 with a goal and two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. The Canucks were officially eliminated from playoff contention by the Stars’ win over the Golden Knights. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an unspecified injury.

Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to down the New Jersey Devils 5-4. Tim Stutzle had two goals and two assists and Brady Tkachuk picked up three helpers for the Senators. Nolan Foote tallied twice for the Devils.

The Anaheim Ducks beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Max Comtois and Sonny Milano each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is traveling with his teammates to New York, where he has a medical appointment concerning his surgically repaired knee. He’s listed as day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s sparked speculation in Montreal over whether Price will play in the Canadiens’ final game of the season on Friday against the Panthers as well as concerns about whether he can continue his playing career. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Price still plans on being in net for Friday’s game and he wants to play next season. Nevertheless, we can expect questions about Price’s future to carry over into the offseason.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

In the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup, Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract negotiations could be worth monitoring and the Wild must find a way to sign Kevin Fiala.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman believes Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets will be worth watching this offseason. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights sitting two years away from unrestricted free agency.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman speculated Dubois’ name could be out there in this summer’s trade market if the 23-year-old center and the Jets fail to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is completing a two-year deal with a $5 million annual cap hit but an actual salary of $6.65 million for this season. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll cost the Jets $6 million to qualify his rights. I daresay he’ll be seeking more than that on his new contract.

The Jets have $66.3 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23 with Dubois as their priority signing. They have the talent to be a better club than they’ve been this season but their defensive game needs improvement while their scorers need more consistency.

Whatever moves they make to address their issues this summer will likely factor into their contract discussions with Dubois. He’ll want assurances the Jets can get back on track and become a perennial playoff contender. He will also want to be paid as a first-line center, a role he took over from Mark Scheifele during this season. He could seek $8 million annually, which could mean shedding a high-salaried player to free up cap space for his new contract.

Having given up Patrik Laine to get Dubois last season, it wouldn’t be a good look for this franchise to start peddling him this summer. They might not have much choice if he only wants a two-year deal taking him up to UFA eligibility. However, I believe they’ll get him signed to a long-term deal but it will be expensive.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes the Minnesota Wild must find a way to re-sign Kevin Fiala, who’s formed a dominant scoring duo with rookie Matt Boldy this season. The 25-year-old winger is completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract and is enjoying a career year with 32 goals and 82 points.

Fiala is due for a significant raise on his next contract. The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch over the next three seasons following last summer’s contract buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Gretz suggests they need to shed some salary to free up the cap space needed to keep Fiala in the fold. They could ship out a depth forward such as Marcus Foligno or Jordan Greenway or Tyson Jost, or perhaps a higher-salaried player such as Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala has garnered praise for his improved performance this season. Cynics will suggest he only stepped up his game to land a lucrative long-term deal but I don’t buy into that theory. He’s genuinely worked hard to better all aspects of his game, so much so that parting with him now would be a serious blow to their top-six depth.

As Gretz points out, the Wild must make a cost-cutting deal in order to re-sign Fiala. They have over $74 million invested in 17 players for next season. That includes the $12.7 million buyout hit for Parise and Suter. Moving a higher-salaried player will make it easier to free up sufficient space for Fiala’s next season.

Dumba has frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past couple of seasons. He’s popular among his teammates but is only a year away from UFA status and carries a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be easier to move than Brodin, who has a full no-movement clause. He would also fetch a better return than Greenway or Foligno.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2022

The Canucks keep their slim playoff hopes alive, Cale Makar sets a franchise record, Johnny Gaudreau reaches two scoring milestones, the stars of the week are revealed and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks remained in the chase for the final Western Conference playoff berth with a 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Elias Pettersson scored twice and added an assist, Brock Boeser and Jason Dickson each had three points and Thatcher Demko made 28 saves. Roope Hintz tallied twice for the Stars while Jake Oettinger got the hook after giving up four goals on 19 shots. The Stars hold the final Western wild-card spot with 91 points. Winners of six straight games, the Canucks sit five points back.

Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights’ efforts to gain ground on the Stars and widen their lead over the Canucks took a hit with a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Andrew Hammond kicked out 42 shots while Nathan Bastian had a goal and an assist for the Devils. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the Stars and are now just one point ahead of the Canucks.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 48th goal of the season and Marcus Johansson netted the game-winner as the Washington Capitals defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Ovechkin tied Teemu Selanne for the most goals in a season by a player aged 36-or-older. The Avalanche’s Cale Makar picked up an assist to set a franchise record of 83 points by a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs remain atop the overall standings with 116 points, two points up on the Florida Panthers. Earlier in the day, they announced defenseman Devon Toews will take the next four games off to recover from a couple of minor injuries before the playoffs. Having clinched a playoff berth over the weekend, the Capitals (96 points) are one point behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau scored two goals in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Gaudreau passed the 600-point milestone and became the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 to reach 85 even-strength points in a season. Matthew Tkachuk collected two assists as the Flames (103 points) hold a nine-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.

The Carolina Hurricanes downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3 to take over sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division with 106 points. Max Domi and Nino Niederreiter each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes while Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made 46 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes announced forwards Jordan Staal and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are day-to-day with injuries. Goaltender Frederik Andersen underwent an MRI yesterday for a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated in a week’s time.

Seattle Kraken rookie Matty Beniers scored to collect his third point in his first three NHL games in a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn collected three assists. Senators captain Brady Tkachuk scored his 28th goal of the season.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith are the league’s three stars for the week ending April 17.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm and Linus Ullmark remained sidelined and won’t be traveling with the Bruins on their two-game road trip to St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have clinched a playoff berth so there’s no need to rush those players back into action. They’ll want them healthy for the upcoming playoffs.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin will miss his club’s final six games of this season after undergoing core muscle surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A disappointing end to Larkin’s season. He’s their leading scorer with 31 goals and 69 points, marking his best performance since his career-high 32-goal, 73-point effort in 2018-19.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal was fined $2,500.00 by the department of player safety for making contact with Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner from the bench on Sunday. Barzal grabbed Marner’s jersey and held on to him for a couple of seconds.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno was placed in COVID protocol ahead of tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

NEW YORK POST‘s Mollie Walker yesterday tweeted that Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko (lower body) is listed as week-to-week.

NHL.COM: Canadiens forward Michael Pezzetta received a two-game suspension for an illegal check on Capitals winger T.J. Oshie on Saturday.

TSN: Former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch and recording artist Macklemore are joining the Seattle Kraken’s minority investor group.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals will be bringing back their “screaming eagle” logo for 2022-23.

THE ATHLETIC: Long-time Flyers trainers Jim McCrossin and Sal Raffa are suing the club’s ownership claiming they were unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals used in Zambonis at the club’s training facility.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, speculation on how the Wild might make room to re-sign Kevin Fiala plus a look at what might be in store for the Sharks under a new general manager.

DAILY FACEOFF: Chris Gear recently examined ways for the Minnesota Wild to escape their salary cap hell following 2021-22 when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter bite deeply into their payroll for the next three seasons. The most immediate effect will be felt in the club’s efforts to sign winger Kevin Fiala to a new contract.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

Fiala, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. He’s completing a one-year, $5.1 million deal and is enjoying a career-best performance with 61 points in 69 games.

Gear speculates it could cost the Wild $6.5 million to sign Fiala. He wondered if they might part with Jordan Greenway or Marcus Foligno or perhaps consider moving defenseman Matt Dumba or winger Mats Zuccarello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild GM Bill Guerin knew full well he was putting his club into a cap crunch over the next three years when he bought out Parise and Suter. I daresay he’s got several options in mind to address this issue for next season.

Guerin could simply trade Fiala this summer if unable to reach an agreement with the winger on a new contract and use the savings to invest in younger, cheaper talent. Otherwise, he’ll have to make a cost-cutting deal or two to keep Fiala in the fold. Greenway or Foligno would be easiest to move given their affordable contracts and lack of no-trade protection.

Dumba’s been a fixture in the rumor mill over the past two seasons. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While he should draw interest in the trade market, his $6 million cap hit and 10-team no-trade clause are potential stumbling blocks.

Zuccarello also carries a $6 million annual average value and a full no-movement clause. However, the no-trade portion becomes modified after this season to a 10-team no-trade list. Nevertheless, teams could be reluctant to take on a 34-year-old winger with two years remaining on his contract.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks will conduct an extensive external search for a new general manager after Doug Wilson announced yesterday he’s stepping down for health reasons. They intend to take their time as several candidates might not be available until the summer.

Ownership has faith in the current management to handle the draft and free agency until a suitable replacement for Wilson is found. They’re not interested in a full rebuild and that could affect which candidates are interested in the job.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng also noted the Sharks’ unwillingness for a full rebuild, pointing to their recent signing of Tomas Hertl to an eight-year contract extension. He also believes the reason they’re not handing the role to assistant GM Joe Will, noting they’re seeking an infusion of new ideas as well as different types of candidates. Will also didn’t deny interest in the job.

Peng also thinks Bob Boughner’s job as head coach remains safe for now. That could depend on who eventually takes over for Wilson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Will did a good job filling in for Wilson. He re-signed Hertl, terminated Evander Kane’s contract and acquired promising goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen before the trade deadline. If he doesn’t end up with the GM job, he’ll likely remain in the front office as assistant GM.

The Sharks have several aging stars carrying expensive contracts that could prove difficult to move. With ownership uninterested in rebuilding, Wilson’s replacement will have to find suitable players to incorporate with those veterans in order to build a serious playoff contender.

As noted in yesterday’s rumor mill, the Sharks could trim some payroll to make room for younger talent. Kahkonen’s addition means James Reimer or Adin Hill will be shopped this summer. They could attempt to move Kevin Labanc and his $4.75 million cap hit or Radim Simek and $2.25 million annual average value.