Little Notable Talent Still Available in 2021 NHL Free Agent Market

Little Notable Talent Still Available in 2021 NHL Free Agent Market

Cap Friendly shows slim pickings for talent three weeks after the NHL annual free-agent market opened on July 28. As usual, most of the top players were quickly signed within hours of the market opening, with the remainder snapped up over the next several days.

Several recognizable names remain but almost all are now past their playing prime. With training camps set to open in a little over a month, those still available could end up accepting cheap one-year deals or professional tryout offers in hope of landing a contract.

Still, for teams seeking experienced depth at bargain-bin prices, several noteworthy options remain obtainable.

Tuukka Rask is among several notable players still available in the 2021 NHL free-agent market (NHL Images).

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask is sidelined until the New Year recovering from off-season hip surgery. It’s believed he’s only interested in returning with the Boston Bruins, who could keep a spot open for him. The former Vezina Trophy winner could be worth pursuing later this season if he and the Bruins part ways before the trade deadline.

Devan Dubnyk is still waiting for a contract. The 35-year-old struggled as a backup last season with the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. Still, he could be worth the gamble on a PTO for teams with a young starter seeking an experienced mentor.

Henrik Lundqvist hinted he’d be up to a comeback if he receives medical clearance. Heart surgery sidelined him for all of last season. The 39-year-old “King Henrik” is no longer an elite netminder but could be a worthwhile backup if he gets a clean bill of health.

Defensemen

Zdeno Chara had a good performance last season as a third-pairing defensemen with the Washington Capitals. The 44-year-old future Hall-of-Famer is training in Slovakia and hasn’t made any decisions about this season. He’d bring plenty of experience and leadership to any blueline if he decides to return for one more year.

Jason Demers could be a worthwhile addition for teams seeking an experienced third-pairing right-shot defender. The same goes for Sami Vatanen though his long injury history hurts his value.

Erik Gustafsson’s puck-moving abilities could be useful for teams looking for a power-play specialist on the blue line. Erik Gudbranson’s toughness and leadership keep earning him work despite the decline in his defensive game.

Forwards

Zach Parise, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac and Casey Cizikas are still available but speculation suggests they’ve already been signed by the New York Islanders. It’s believed Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello doesn’t want his rivals to know how much cap space he’s actually got left as rumors persist he’s shopping for a top-six forward.

Assuming those four are off the market, well-known but fading forwards such as Patrick Marleau, Eric Staal, Bobby Ryan and James Neal are available. Other noteworthy forwards among the 30-plus gang include Tyler Bozak, Artem Anisimov, Tyler Ennis, and Alex Chiasson.

Alex Galchenyuk heads the list of younger options in the mid-to-late twenties. There was talk the Toronto Maple Leafs could bring the 27-year-old forward back but it appears he’ll be seeking work elsewhere. Ryan Donato, Dominik Kahun, Riley Sheahan and Jimmy Vesey round out this group.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2021

The Colorado Avalanche clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, the opening-round schedule of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs is released, plus the latest on Nikita Kucherov, John Carlson, Patrick Marleau and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record by defeating the Los Angeles Kings 5-1. Tyson Jost scored twice for the Avalanche, who’ll face the St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the upcoming 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Colorado Avalanche win the 2020-21 NHL Presidents’ Trophy (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Avalanche on winning their first Presidents’ Trophy in 20 years.

Speaking of the Blues, they completed their regular-season schedule by overcoming a 3-0 deficit to thump the Minnesota Wild 7-3. David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou each scored two goals. The Wild will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round.

The Calgary Flames downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Earlier in the day, the Canucks confirmed sidelined center Elias Pettersson (upper-body injury) will miss their remaining games of this season but he’s working hard on a healthy return for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks still aren’t revealing the details of Pettersson’s injury but it’s believed to involve a wrist or hand.

The full schedule for the opening round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was released Thursday.

It kicks off on Saturday, May 15 with the Boston Bruins facing off against the Washington Capitals. Sunday, May 16, sees the New York Islanders squaring off against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning tangle with the Florida Panthers, and the Minnesota Wild squaring off against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Monday, May 17 features the Nashville Predators facing the Carolina Hurricanes while the St. Louis Blues meet the Colorado Avalanche. Wednesday, May 19 sees the start of the Winnipeg Jets-Edmonton Oilers series while Thursday, May 20 features the start of the Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs series.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and winger Nikita Kucherov practiced with their teammates on Thursday and are expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 of their series against the Panthers. Stamkos missed the final 16 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury while Kucherov missed the entire season following hip surgery on Dec. 29.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson said he’ll be ready for his club’s upcoming series against the Boston Bruins. He missed the final two games of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Patrick Marleau plans to return for a 24th NHL season and isn’t ruling out coming back to the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 41-year-old Marleau set the NHL record this season for most career games. This season was also statistically the worst of his career with just nine points in 56 games. If the Sharks don’t bring him back he could end up seeking a training camp tryout with another club.

THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE: Tyler Toffoli has embraced life with the Montreal Canadiens following his tenures with the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks. He cited the Montreal fans and the atmosphere at the Bell Centre among his reasons for signing with the Canadiens last fall and looks forward to when fans can return to the building.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli said he wants what Montreal fans want: winning the Stanley Cup. He praised his teammates, singling out Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. He also revealed he thought he would re-sign with the Canucks last fall but they never made him a contract offer.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have received permission to interview former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant for their vacant head-coaching job. Meanwhile, Brian Leetch resigned as the Rangers’ hockey operations adviser.

Former New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk has taken on a coaching and advisory role with the club. Boychuk’s career was prematurely ended by an eye injury last season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are being sued by a former player for alleged sexual assault in 2010 by their former video coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 13, 2021

The race for the Presidents’ Trophy goes down to the wire, the Jennings Trophy winners are revealed, the Rangers fire head coach David Quinn, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights maintained their lead atop the Honda West Division and the overall standings by blanking the San Jose Sharks 6-0. Marc-Andre Fleury turned in a 19-save shutout and Dylan Sikura scored twice in the Golden Knights’ regular-season finale.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

A hat trick by J.T. Compher carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 romp over the Los Angeles Kings. Phillip Grubauer kicked out 18 shots for his seventh shutout of the season. The Avalanche sits two points behind the Golden Knights with a game in hand. They can take over first place and win the Presidents’ Trophy with a win against the Kings tonight.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso made 31 saves for his first NHL shutout in a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. David Perron had a goal and two assists. The Wild have finished third in the West while the Blues are fourth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs await the outcome of tonight’s Avalanche-Kings game to find out whether they’ll face the Avs or the Golden Knights in the opening round of the upcoming playoffs.

Connor McDavid collected two assists as his Edmonton Oilers nipped the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on an overtime goal by Dominik Kahun. McDavid has 104 points in 55 games. Nick Suzuki scored twice for the Canadiens.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 on an overtime goal by Josh Norris. Toronto’s Auston Matthews tallied his 41st goal of the season. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 24 saves in his first game since March 19 recovering from a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs will face the Canadiens and the Oilers meet the Jets in the opening round. One of those series is expected to begin next Wednesday while the other could begin the following day.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner are this season’s winners of the William M. Jennings Trophy as the primary goalies on the team allowing the fewest goals in the regular season. They gave up 124 goals.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers followed up last week’s front-office purge by firing head coach David Quinn after three seasons. Chris Drury, their new general manager, is expected to hire a more experienced NHL coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post’s Larry Brooks cites sources claiming Gerard Gallant is the favorite. He won the 2017-18 Jack Adams Award for guiding the Golden Knights into the playoffs during their inaugural season.

SPORTSNET: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said captain Jack Eichel has not requested a trade. He said he wants to move ahead with players who want to win and be part of the Sabres’ organization, and that includes Eichel.

Adams admitted the Sabres have little interest in Eichel undergoing cervical disk replacement surgery because it’s never been done on an NHL player before. He said the team’s and Eichel’s doctors have agreed the best option is continuing a conservative rehab approach over surgery. The two sides also agreed to wait until early June to determine how to proceed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s comments on Monday about his medical situation, the state of the Sabres and his future sparked considerable trade speculation. Adams’ remarks won’t put a damper on that chatter.

Eichel’s not the only Sabre expected to be a fixture in the rumor mill.

Winger Sam Reinhart declined to comment about his future entering the offseason as a restricted free agent who’s also one year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Meanwhile, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen admitted he wouldn’t object to getting traded.

CALGARY SUN: Flames center Sean Monahan has been shut down for the remainder of their schedule as he will undergo hip surgery in order to be ready for the start of training camp in the fall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Monahan faced criticism from fans and pundits over his performance this season. Perhaps that gets dialed back now that it’s been revealed he was hampered by an injury.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Gordie Howe’s family presented San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau with a stick from Howe’s 1,767th and final NHL game. The stick was in the Hockey Hall of Fame and will be replaced by one of Marleau’s from his record-breaking 1,768th game. The Howe family requested the Hall remove Gordie’s stick and present it to Marleau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A classy gesture by the Howe family.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Luke Henman of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada is the first player ever to be signed by the Seattle Kraken.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2021

Connor McDavid leads the Oilers over the Jets, the Hurricanes clinch a playoff spot, the stars of the week are announced, a new broadcasting deal with Turner, the latest on Patrick Roy and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid tallied a hat trick and added an assist leading the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-1 rout of the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers have 58 points, sitting one up on the Jets for second place in the Scotia North Division while McDavid has a league-leading 81 points. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced winger Zack Kassian was placed on long-term injury reserve. The Jets, meanwhile, announced winger Nikolaj Ehlers will miss the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid leads the NHL with 81 points (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will miss Ehlers’ production. He’s second among their scorers with 46 points.

The Montreal Canadiens (51 points) opened a six-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the Scotia North Division with a 2-1 victory. Tyler Toffoli scored the game-winner while Cole Caufield was held scoreless in his NHL debut. The Flames suffered another blow earlier in the day when they learned defenseman Noah Hanifin will require season-ending shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens control their fate as they hold a game in hand over the Flames.

The Carolina Hurricanes clinched a playoff spot despite dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Dallas Stars. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the game-winner and collected three assists. The Hurricanes sit atop the Discover Central Division with 69 points, securing a third straight postseason berth for the first time since the franchise relocated to North Carolina in 1997. With 54 points, the Stars remain two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

Speaking of the Predators, they got a 39-save performance by Juuse Saros to down the Florida Panthers 4-1 to prevent the latter from clinching a playoff spot. Florida goaltender Chris Driedger left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Panthers sit two points back of the division-leading Hurricanes.

The St. Louis Blues regained fourth place in the Honda West Division with a 4-1 upset of the Colorado Avalanche. David Perron had a goal and two assists as St. Louis (48 points) moved a point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes. Blues defensemen Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn missed the game with upper-body injuries. The Avs played without winger Brandon Saad, who’s sidelined two to four weeks with a lower-body injury. They sit in second place with 66 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Canadiens, the Blues control their fate as they hold three games in hand over the Coyotes.

A four-point performance by Evander Kane (one goal, three assists) gave the San Jose Sharks a 6-4 win over the Coyotes. The Sharks (43 points) sit four back of the Coyotes and five behind the Blues.

A 25-save performance by Marcus Hogberg gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Brady Tkachuk collected two assists while Drake Batherson tallied the winning goal. The Canucks played without goaltender Thatcher Demko as he suffered an undisclosed injury during the morning skate. The Senators, meanwhile, could be without Matt Murray (lower-body injury) for the rest of the season.

Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. The Ducks have dropped five in a row.

HEADLINES

San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot, and Florida Panthers left winger Jonathan Huberdeau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 25, 2021.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed practice yesterday with a lower-body injury and is doubtful for tonight’s game with the New York Islanders. Defenseman Justin Schultz (lower body) is also doubtful though he did skate in yesterday’s practice in a non-contact jersey.

SPORTSNET: The NHL has reportedly reached an agreement with Turner Sports on a seven-year broadcasting deal that includes three Stanley Cup Finals. This deal would give the league two television partners for the first time since 1998-99 as it recently reached an agreement to return to ESPN starting next season. The Turner deal spells the end of NBC Sports’ coverage of NHL games following this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The combined deals will reportedly provide the NHL $625 million annually in broadcasting revenue. That’s a significant increase over the $200 million annually on its current deal with NBC.

SPORTSNET: Hall-of-Fame goaltender Patrick Roy is exploring options for a possible return to the NHL as a coach or general manager. Roy was head coach of the Colorado Avalanche from 2013-14 to 2015-16 but stepped down citing a lack of input in personnel decisions. He’s also the long-time head coach and general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news sparked speculation among Montreal Canadiens fans that Roy could replace Marc Bergevin as general manager. Roy’s new agent, however, claimed they haven’t had any conversations with the Canadiens and no deals are imminent with any other NHL club.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Andrew Shaw yesterday announced his playing career is over after 10 NHL seasons with the Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens. Multiple concussions cut short his career at age 29. Shaw spent seven seasons with the Blackhawks, winning two Stanley Cups and scoring 116 goals and 247 points in 544 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Shaw and his family in his future endeavors.










Marleau Faces Unwarranted Criticism for Breaking Howe’s NHL Games Record

Marleau Faces Unwarranted Criticism for Breaking Howe’s NHL Games Record

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2022

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.

GAME RECAPS

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.

HEADLINES

The NHL extended the West Division schedule to May 13 to accommodate postponed games involving the Avalanche.

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.