The Canadiens tied their semifinal series with the Golden Knights, the Leafs re-sign Jason Spezza, the Blue Jackets made some organizational changes, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Carey Price made 29 saves as the Montreal Canadiens held off the Vegas Golden Knights for a 3-2 victory in Game 2 of their semifinal series. The Canadiens took a 3-0 lead on goals by Joel Armia, Tyler Toffoli and Paul Byron while Alex Pietrangelo tallied both Golden Knights goals. Habs defenseman Jeff Petry returned to the lineup for the first time since being sidelined by a hand injury in Game 3 of their second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets. The series shifts to Montreal for Game 3 on Friday evening tied at a game apiece.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid effort by Montreal following their usual template of taking a lead and relying on Carey Price to help them maintain it. The Canadiens enjoyed a strong first period and got to Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with two first-period goals. Byron gave them breathing room with the eventual game-winner late in the second.
Price was outstanding after the first period as Vegas outshot the Habs 27-11, including robbing Alec Martinez of what looked like a certain goal in the second period. His teammates maintained their physical style, outhitting the Golden Knights 53-45. They also blocked more shots (26-18) and were strong in the faceoff circle, winning 58 percent of the draws.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed Jason Spezza to a one-year, one-way contract worth the league-minimum $750K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good depth signing by the Leafs. The 38-year-old Spezza played well this season with 30 points plus five in the postseason skating mostly in a fourth-line role. He could’ve gotten more on the open market but wanted to stay in Toronto. Spezza indicated he would’ve taken less if he could. Having earned over $88 million in his career, he really doesn’t need the cash at this stage of his career.
Speaking of the Leafs, Martin Marincin’s NHL career appears to be over as he signed a contract with Czech club HC Ocelari Trinec. The 29-year-old defenseman spent most of this season on the Leafs’ taxi squad, appearing in just nine games. He played five seasons with the Leafs and two with the Edmonton Oilers before that, netting 34 points in 227 career games.
CBS SPORTS: Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook underwent surgery on his right knee this week. He’s expected to be fully recovered for the start of next season in October.
TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets promoted former captain Rick Nash to director of player development and hired former Jackets players Derek Dorsett and Mark Letestu as development coaches. Former minor-league goalie Brad Thiessen replaces Jim Corsi as their goaltending development coach.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks have filed a motion to dismiss a former player’s lawsuit alleging he was sexually harassed by Bradley Aldrich, the club’s former video coach.
Game recaps, injury updates, latest additions to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Jared McCann lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 decision over the Colorado Avalanche. Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist, tying Jaromir Jagr for the third-most assists (640) in franchise history. Teammate Dominik Kahun collected three assists.
Evgeni Malkin ties Jaromir Jagr for third in assists among the Pittsburgh Penguins all-time leaders. (Photo via NHL Images)
Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek kicked out 32 shots to shut out the Arizona Coyotes 3-0. Warren Foegele, Lucas Wallmark, and Martin Necas were the goal scorers. Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return. He recently returned from a lower-body injury suffered on Jan. 4 against Philadelphia.
Dylan Larkin tallied the only goal in the shootout as the Detroit Red Wings edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Winger forward Tyler Bertuzzi scored and collected an assist, as did Senators forward Colin White. The Sens are winless in their last six games (0-4-2).
TSN: Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall avoided supplemental discipline for his knee-on-knee hit on Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat on Thursday. Palat is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
SPORTSNET: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl and Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty will replace Logan Couture and Jakub Silfverberg at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Couture recently fractured an ankle while Silfverberg is anticipating the birth of his first child during the All-Star break.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher is consulting a physician after experiencing headaches following Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. He recently returned after missing four games with a concussion. Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot will miss tonight’s game against the Senators with a lower-body injury.
TORONTO SUN: Friday’s AHL game between the Toronto Marlies and Texas Stars was forfeited to the Stars after Marlies assistant coach Rob Davison experienced a medical emergency in the dressing room before game time. Davison was immediately transported to a local hospital and was evaluated while remaining under medical supervision. The episode left the Marlies’ players in such a state of shock that they couldn’t participate in the game. The Marlies are the primary farm club of the Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Davison will be all right and make a swift recovery. No word yet as to what the medical emergency was.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they re-signed defenseman Martin Marincin to a one-year contract extension worth $700K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chris Johnston first reported Marincin’s re-signing on Twitter. The reactions of some Leafs followers in Johnston’s Twitter thread were, shall we say, less than enthusiastic.
CBS SPORTS: The Anaheim Ducks sent forward Troy Tery to their AHL affliliate in San Diego for a conditioning stint.
SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva interviewed the founders of Cap Friendly on how the site came about and its rapid rise as an invaluable site for tracking NHL salaries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The good folks at Cap Friendly did a fine job replacing the seminal CapGeek.com after that site’s founder, the late Matthew Wuest, was forced to suspend operations in early 2015 due to health reasons. Since then, they’ve been my go-to site for all things related to the NHL’s salary cap, providing invaluable insight on individual player contract details, team salary-cap information, and much more.
The Devils fire head coach John Hynes, the Canadiens snap a lengthy losing skid, changes could be coming for NHL coaches, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Hours before their game against the Vegas Golden Knights, the New Jersey Devils fired head coach John Hynes, replacing him on an interim basis with Alain Nasreddine. The move, however, could prevent the Devils from dropping a 4-3 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault tallied a natural hat trick in the third period for the win.
The New Jersey Devils yesterday fired head coach John Hynes (Photo via NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Devils’ poor performance thus far, it’s not surprising Hynes was fired. He deserves his fair share of the blame, but can’t be faulted for the lousy goaltending, weak secondary scoring, and lack of defensive depth. Nevertheless, the club’s lack of effort in his final two games was indicative that he’d lost the players.
The Montreal Canadiens snapped their eight-game winless skid by doubling up the New York Islanders 4-2. Brendan Gallagher and Shea Weber each had a goal and an assist for the Habs, who commemorated their 110th anniversary by honoring 11 former captains in a pre-game ceremony. Among the notables were Hall-of-Famers Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, and Guy Carbonneau. Saku Koivu, the captain from 1999 to 2009, received the biggest cheer.
Four first-period goals powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Antoine Roussel scored on his first shift in his season debut after being sidelined eight months by a knee injury. Before the game, former Canucks winger Alex Burrows’ name was added to the club’s ring of honor.
Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak turned in a 24-save shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Charlie Coyle and David Krejci tallied both goals in the third period. The Bruins have won eight straight games.
Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen kicked out 44 shots in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Wild are unbeaten in their last 10 games (7-0-3).
Five third-period goals powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1. Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers collected three assists while Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere each had a goal and an assist. Before the game, the Leafs placed Nick Shore on waivers, recalled defenseman Martin Marincin, and announced Trevor Moore (shoulder injury) is weeks away from returning to the lineup.
A three-point performance by Carl Soderberg helped the Arizona Coyotes defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves for the win.
Nikita Kucherov scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Nashville Predators 3-2. Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each had two points on the night. Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist for the Predators. Nashville center Ryan Johansen was ejected from a game for elbowing Lightning center Brayden Point in the face.
The Winnipeg Jets picked up their seventh win in their last nine contests by downing the Dallas Stars 5-1. Jets winger Kyle Connor had a goal and two assists. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Dmitry Kulikov will be sidelined for two months with an upper-body injury.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson collected three points while teammates Jakub Vrana and Garnet Hathaway each scored twice in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
TSN: Former NHL player Akim Aliu believes big changes are coming to the NHL after meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman and other officials at the league’s office in Toronto yesterday. Aliu’s claims that Bill Peters made racist remarks to him a decade ago led to the latter’s stepping down last week as Calgary Flames head coach.
Frank Seravalli reports some of the topics discussed at the meeting include “comprehensive harassment and discrimination policy, whistleblower and retaliation protection for players, encouraging more diversity and inclusion and breaking the culture of silence.”
The NHL Coaches’ Association released a statement yesterday affirming there is no room for abusive behavior by coaches at any level. They are working with the league and the NHL Players Association to ensure respectful working environments for everyone.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Sean Avery spoke out in support of Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford, who was placed on leave as the club investigates allegations of abuse against him. Avery recently said Crawford kicked him during a game but defended the coach’s actions. “He had every right in the world to kick me in the ass. He should have spanked my ass a little bit more. I deserved it. I loved Crow.” He went on to call Crawford his second-favorite NHL coach.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators players Dylan DeMelo and Mark Borowiecki claim they had a good relationship with Crawford during his tenure with the club. Former Senator and Canucks Alex Burrows praised Crawford for helping him become an NHL player.
Another former Canuck, Harold Druken, accused Crawford of physical and verbal abuse when he broke into the league. “I can’t believe he’s still coaching, I wouldn’t let him coach my dog,” said Druken.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings coach Todd McLellan believes players and coaches do their best not to cross the line between right and wrong. However, he acknowledged the changes in the game and society means that line has also changed. He believes it’s important to build trust and treat his players with respect, and expecting it in return.
“The line between pushing a player — I’m not talking physical — but getting the player to maximize his physical talents and to get a team to pull together and go further into their toolbox than they ever have, is delicate,” McLellan said. “Sometimes feelings are hurt. There’s never an intention behind it, but there are feelings that get hurt.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no place in the league, or anywhere else. for racism, which was what resulted in Peters’ downfall. There’s no place for physical abuse, which is what he was also accused of by two other former NHLers.
Crawford, Mike Babcock, and Darryl Sutter weren’t accused of racism, but emerging stories of alleged physical and verbal abuse toward their players have made headlines in recent days. Those tactics may have been effective but it appears they sometimes went too far. Some players shrugged it off or accepted it as part of the game, but others felt tormented by those actions.
Just because many former players tolerated unnecessary abuse by a few coaches doesn’t mean today’s players have to. A coach can motivate and improve their players without resorting to bullying, humiliation or threats.
CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith could miss at least two more games with a nagging groin injury.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist will be sidelined “longer term” with an undisclosed injury.
SPORTSNET: Former NHL player Matt Stajan announced his retirement. Stajan played 14 seasons and 1,003 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. He spent last season playing in Germany for EHC Red Bull Munchen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s wishing Stajan and his family all the best in his future endeavors.
A review of TSN’s first trade-bait board of the season in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin, and Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi top Frank Seravalli’s first NHL trade-bait board of this season. Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka and Calgary Flames blueliner Travis Hamonic fill out the top-five spots.
New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider tops TSN’s first NHL trade-bait board of this season (Photo via NHL Images).
Kreider is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. With the Rangers still feeling its rebuilding pains, Seravalli wondered if the speedy winger might be a good fit with the St. Louis Blues now that Vladimir Tarasenko’s sidelined for five months.
Marincin could be moved as the Leafs clear salary-cap space for Zach Hyman’s return. Seravalli said Oilers general manager Ken Holland will be in Finland to check on Puljujarvi’s progress. The winger will be taking part in the Karjala Cup next weekend.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Rangers get an enticing offer I believe they’ll hang onto Kreider until February. The trade deadline is Feb. 24 and that means more suitors and better offers. Marincin could end up getting waived.
Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. Holland can take his time and evaluate offers for the 21-year-old winger. If Puljujarvi isn’t re-signed by Dec. 1, he’ll be ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season. Nevertheless, Holland could be content to let him play the season in Finland and try again to re-sign or trade him next summer.
Honka’s status is similar to Puljujarvi’s, except there might not be as much interest in the young blueliner. Seravalli wonders if the Flames uneven start might prompt GM Brad Treliving to shake things up. He also suggests Hamonic, an unrestricted free agent next summer, could finish the season in Calgary if the Flames get back on track.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray, Leafs winger Nic Petan, Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou, New York Islanders winger Josh Ho-Sang and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick fill spots six to 10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s currently sidelined three-to-four weeks with a broken hand. The Leafs are reportedly trying to trade Petan. Given their need to make room for Hyman, they could be forced to put him on waivers if not takers are found in the trade market.
Athanasiou’s slow start and restricted free agent status next summer are behind the chatter about his future with the Wings. However, reports out of Detroit indicate they’re optimistic he’ll snap out of his scoring funk soon. The Islanders are trying to move Ho-Sang but so far there are no takers.
Quick’s poor start has prompted trade conjecture. His hefty contract, declining performance and injury history makes him a tough sell.
Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie, Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Samuel Morin, Winnipeg Jets forward Jack Roslovic, and New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall round out the bottom five.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Hamonic, Brodie’s a UFA next summer. Despite the Flames’ recent struggles, I doubt either blueliner hits the trade block this fall. That could change, however, if they’re still struggling in the New Year.
The Predators reportedly tried moving Turris during the summer. Signed through 2023-24 with a $6-million annual salary, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Morin’s struggled to crack the Flyers lineup. He might benefit from a change of scenery.
Roslovic frequently surfaces in the rumor mill as trade bait for a defenseman. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s shown no interest so far in making that move.
Hall is the biggest name potentially available in next summer’s UFA market. With the Devils stumbling from the gate there are growing questions over his future in New Jersey. As long as he remains unsigned he’ll be a fixture in this season’s rumor mill.
Latest on Alex Pietrangelo, Torey Krug, Chris Kreider, Kevin Fiala and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi’s new eight-year, $72.4-million contract will affect St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo and Boston’s Torey Krug. Pietrangelo and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong are waiting for the other to make the first move. Whatever happens with Krug, Friedman doubts the Bruins will shop him at the trade deadline.
No sign of progress in Alex Pietrangelo’s contract talks with the St. Louis Blues (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Josi’s negotiations reportedly hit a snag entering training camp but was sorted out earlier this week. The same thing could happen to Pietrangelo and Krug. Pietrangelo could seek over $9 million annually but Krug’s is open to a hometown discount.
Speaking of the Blues, Armstrong will look to within their organization for a short-term replacement for sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He wants to avoid a potential salary-cap crunch once Tarasenko returns to the lineup. Friedman believes New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider would be a good fit with the Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong could jump into the market near the trade deadline if Tarasenko remains out until the playoffs. Kreider is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July and could be available if the Rangers are out of playoff contention by February.
Kevin Fiala could be on shaky ground with the Minnesota Wild. The 23-year-old winger has been a healthy scratch twice this season. His talent and favorable contract should make him a good fit with the Wild but they’re going to see what out there in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala had a 23-goal, 48-point performance in 2017-18. If he can’t find his footing with the aging Wild he could regain his form with a younger club.
A slow start by forward Andreas Athanasiou could raise questions about his future with the Detroit Red Wings. He’s in a contract year and his previous negotiations were difficult.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman won’t be as patient as his predecessor. If Athanasiou doesn’t improve soon he could hit the trade block.
Friedman feels little-used Buffalo Sabres winger Evan Rodrigues could be a good fit with the Ottawa Senators or Toronto Maple Leafs, though he’s not sure the Sabres would want to help the Leafs. Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman said they would move defenseman Martin Marincin, though Jake Muzzin’s health could change that.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to add, it’s just a matter of when GM Jim Rutherford wants to. It’s also believed a contract extension for defenseman Marcus Pettersson is all but done but he can’t sign until Jan. 1 at the earliest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford is a bold wheeler-dealer throughout the season. He’s already made a recent trade and could pull off another well before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
With the Calgary Flames struggling, GM Brad Treliving isn’t afraid of making changes. Friedman doesn’t think anything’s imminent but expects Treliving will see what’s out there.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving nearly moved winger Michael Frolik at last year’s trade deadline to Minnesota for Jason Zucker. I don’t think there’s a chance of revisiting that move now but Frolik could be available. He’s a UFA next summer. They also waived Tobias Reider earlier this week.
Friedman also noted the tense situation with the struggling Chicago Blackhawks. Defenseman Brent Seabrook recently expressed his displeasure over being scratched twice from the lineup. Friedman said things got awkward last season when management wanted to see if he’d be willing to move but Seabrook claimed the request wasn’t specifically made to him. Starting goaltender Corey Crawford has to wonder about his future in Chicago with Robin Leher on a one-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be Crawford’s last season with the Blackhawks if Lehner keeps out-performing him. Seabrook’s hefty contract ($6.875 million annually through 2023-24) and declining play makes him difficult to move.
Some fallout from the Penguins trading Phil Kessel to the Coyotes, Ryan Spooner, and Valeri Nichushkin to be bought out, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE SCORE: cites reports indicating Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and Phil Kessel disagree over the latter’s trade demands. After shipping Kessel last night to the Arizona Coyotes, Rutherford claimed the winger asked to be traded several times. Kessel claims Rutherford is mistaken, adding Rutherford met with him once and told him he would never be a Penguin again.
Phil Kessel disagrees with Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford over his trade requests (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of who said what, the fact remains Kessel is now with the Coyotes and the Penguins got a decent return and freed up some valuable salary-cap space.
VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks yesterday placed forward Ryan Spooner on unconditional waivers to buy out his contract. “By buying Spooner out, the Canucks reduce his cap hit to $1.033 million for each of the next two seasons. The Rangers, who had retained 22.5 percent of his salary when they traded him to the Oilers, will have their cap hit reduced to $300,000.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Canucks are freeing up salary-cap room to make a significant signing when the unrestricted free agent market opens at noon ET tomorrow. It’s assumed they’re pursuing a defenseman like Tyler Myers or Jake Gardiner.
SPORTSDAY: The Dallas Stars placed winger Valeri Nichushkin on unconditional waivers to buy out his contract. The move “allows the Stars to clear $2.25 million in cap space next season while adding $450,000 against the cap in 2020-21.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The once-promising Nichushkin was never the same after suffering a knee injury in his sophomore season in 2014-15. This move will be seen as freeing up cap room to either re-sign pending UFA winger Mats Zuccarello or pursue Joe Pavelski in the free-agent market.
TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs hired former Philadelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol as an assistant coach. They also re-signed defenseman Martin Marincin to a one-year, $700K contract.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames re-signed forward Alan Quine to a one-year, two-way deal worth $735K at the NHL level.
George McPhee confirmed the Golden Knights are close to re-signing UFA defenseman Deryk Engelland and are working out performance bonuses. #VegasBorn