NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2021

Musing over Nick Foligno’s next destination plus a look at some possible offseason moves by the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline expects Nick Foligno is only a rental player this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, pointing out their limited salary-cap space for next season. He said there was talk before the trade deadline of Foligno becoming the latest player to get moved at the deadline only to turn around in the offseason and sign with the club that traded him.

Could Nick Foligno return to the Columbus Blue Jackets this summer? (NHL Images)

The Minnesota Wild, however, could have an emotional pull for Foligno. His brother Marcus plays for the Wild, who were said to have an interest in Nick before the trade deadline. They could attempt to sign him this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foligno could return to Columbus, joins his brother in Minnesota or perhaps sign with a Stanley Cup contender. The Wild could be in a better position to offer him a better contract plus they appear closer to becoming a contender than the Blue Jackets right now.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently examined potential offseason moves by the San Jose Sharks. It’s possible most of their pending unrestricted free agents, including Patrick Marleau, won’t be back next season.

Marleau’s indicated he’d like to continue his NHL career but it might not make sense for the team or the 41-year-old forward, who still wants to chase the Stanley Cup. He could find it difficult signing with a contender. None were interested in his services at the trade deadline.

Most of the Sharks’ restricted free agents, including Ryan Donato, Noah Gregor, Rudolfs Balcers and Dylan Gambrell, could be re-signed.

Kurz believes it’s difficult to predict if the Sharks will protect all of their core high-salaried players in this summer’s expansion draft or if they’ll try to entice the Seattle Kraken to take one of them (Brent Burns? Evander Kane? Marc-Edouard Vlasic? Martin Jones?) off their current roster.

Don’t expect the Sharks to trade their first-round pick at the 2021 NHL Draft. They could, however, attempt to move up and acquire a second-round pick at the expense of moving down in the lower rounds.

It’ll be difficult for the Sharks to add via free agency with $63.6 million already invested in just nine players for 2021-22. Kurz anticipates they could target an established goaltender who can play No. 1 minutes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This NHL season could be Marleau’s last. While he deserves praise for breaking the NHL games-played record, he’s well past his prime. The fact no clubs made inquiries about him at the trade deadline speaks volumes about his value in this summer’s free-agent market.

General manager Doug Wilson could find it difficult enticing the Kraken into selecting one of his overpriced stars. Of those mentioned by Kurz, Vlasic is the only one with a no-movement clause. Kane’s well-documented financial troubles dampen his value as an expansion draft target.

Burns might be appealing if the Kraken wants to inject a bit of star power into their lineup. That’s assuming they’re comfortable with carrying the 36-year-old defenseman’s $8 million cap hit for the next four seasons.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2021

Patrick Marleau sets the league record for most games played, Kirill Kaprizov sets a franchise record, the stars of the week are revealed, Alex Edler is suspended and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: Patrick Marleau played his 1,768th career game to pass Gordie Howe for the most in NHL history as his San Jose Sharks dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Mark Stone scored twice as Vegas overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and the shootout. Alex Tuch scored the game-winner. With 66 points, the Golden Knights move two points up on the Colorado Avalanche into first place in the Honda West Division.

San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Marleau on his remarkable achievement. His record won’t be broken anytime soon. The closest active players are aging stars Joe Thornton (1,669) and Zdeno Chara (1,598).

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov scored to set the single-season franchise record for points (37) by a rookie in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who sit third in the West Division with 59 points. The Coyotes (45 points) hold a one-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for the fourth-and-final playoff spot.

Four unanswered third-period goals powered the Edmonton Oilers over the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Connor McDavid led the way with a goal and two assists. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price left the game after the first period with an upper-body injury suffered following a collision with Oilers forward Alex Chiasson. Edmonton forward Jujhar Khaira also departed in the first following a hit by Montreal defenseman Alexander Romanov. The Oilers (56 points) moved within a point of the second-place Winnipeg Jets in the Scotia North Division while the Canadiens are fourth with 47 points.

The Calgary Flames missed an opportunity to gain ground on the floundering Canadiens as they were upset 4-2 by the Ottawa Senators. Connor Brown scored twice and Matt Murray made 26 saves for the Senators. The Flames remain six points back of the Habs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators did the Canadiens a favor by beating the Flames. The Habs have won just three of their last 10 games and would be out of a playoff spot if the Flames weren’t having their own difficulties. Barring a dramatic turnaround in their fortunes, the Canadiens will likely back into the postseason and become first-round roadkill.

An overtime goal by Yanni Gourde lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Tampa Bay blew a 2-0 lead as the Hurricanes rallied back to force the extra frame. The Hurricanes remain in first place in the Discover Central Division with 63 points, holding two games in hand over the Florida Panthers. The Bolts, meanwhile, remain a point behind both clubs.

Speaking of the Panthers, they got two goals from Frank Vatrano to double up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Sam Bennett tallied his first goal with the Panthers since being acquired from Calgary at the trade deadline. Jackets forward Max Domi was a healthy scratch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The race for first place in the Central could be closely contested for the remainder of the regular season.

The Nashville Predators got a big two points in a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Calle Jarnkrok and Luke Kunin each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who hold fourth place in the Central with 51 points while the Blackhawks sit four points back.

A shootout goal by Denis Gurianov gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. With 48 points, the Stars moved past the Blackhawks into fifth place.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dustin Tokarski, New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin, and Vegas Golden Knights winger Mark Stone are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 18.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler received a two-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman on Sunday.

TORONTO STAR: Hyman will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a sprained knee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are likely breathing a sigh of relief that Hyman’s injury wasn’t more serious than it is. He should be recovered in time for the playoffs in a month’s time.

NJ.COM: The Devils signed 2020 first-round pick Alexander Holtz to a three-year entry-level contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2021

Patrick Marleau ties Gordie Howe’s games-played record, Alex Ovechkin moves closer to another scoring milestone, Connor McDavid hits new scoring heights for this season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Patrick Marleau tied Gordie Howe’s record of 1,767 NHL games played as his San Jose Sharks fell to the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Marleau can break Howe’s record when the Sharks face the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. Minnesota’s Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist while Zach Parise tallied the game-winner as the Wild (57 points) moved to within five points of the second-place Golden Knights in the Honda West Division.

San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a remarkable streak of longevity on Marleau’s part. His NHL career began in October 1997, spending over 20 of his 23 seasons with the Sharks. This season, however, is likely to be his last as the 41-year-old has just 8 points in 44 games. We should take the time to appreciate his career while he’s still playing.

For those of you unhappy over a supposedly “lesser player” breaking the great Howe’s NHL games record, console yourself with the fact that Howe’s record of playing five decades in the NHL remains intact. Factor in Howe’s 419 WHA games, and he remains the all-time leader in professional games played with 2,186.

The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Blues 3-2. Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 20 saves and Michael Bunting netted the game-winner. With the win, the Coyotes (45 points) vault one point over the Blues into fourth in the West.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was an emotional win for the Coyotes as they inducted Leighton Accardo, a Coyotes fan who died last November at age 9 from cancer, into their Ring of Honor. With his team down by two goals, Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson guaranteed a win during a first-intermission interview. He and his teammates delivered on that promise.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and John Carlsson collected four assists to lead the Washington Capitals to a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Ovechkin is now one goal behind Marcel Dionne (731) for fifth place on the all-time goal-scoring list. The Capitals sit in first place in the MassMutual East Division with 62 points while the Flyers (46 points) are eight points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. Flyers goaltender Carter Hart was scratched just prior to the game with a lower-body injury.

The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their points streak to five games by holding off the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves and Bryan Rust netted the game-winning goal as the Penguins (59 points) move one point ahead of the New York Islanders into second place in the East. The Sabres became the first team to be officially eliminated from the playoff race.

Pavel Buchnevich’s hat trick carried the New York Rangers over the New Jersey Devils 6-3. Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists for the Rangers, who sit four points behind the Bruins. 

Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 70 points this season by collecting two assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Mike Smith made 26 saves for the shutout as the Oilers (54 points) moved within three points of the second-place Jets in the Scotia North Division.

The Ottawa Senators ruined Carey Price’s return to the Montreal Canadiens net with a 4-0 victory. Price missed six games with a lower-body injury. Ottawa’s Matt Murray turned in a 23-save shutout performance while Drake Batherson scored twice. The Canadien (47 points) still hold a six-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the North.

Third-period goals by Janne Hakanpaa and Andrei Svechnikov lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Discover Central Division with 62 points, one ahead of the Florida Panthers while the Predators (49 points) hold a two-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks for fourth place.

The Panthers, meanwhile, defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 to hold a one-point lead over the latter. Sam Bennett collected two assists in his Florida debut while teammate Brandon Montour tallied his first goal with the Panthers.

A 29-save shutout by Malcolm Subban carried the Blackhawks over the Detroit Red Wings 4-0. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist while Vinnie Hinostroza collected three helpers.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1, extending the latter’s losing skid to five games. The Stars tallied four second-period goals, including two 20 seconds apart. They sit three points behind the Predators.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo underwent season-ending surgery on Saturday to repair a broken bone in his cheek.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist is officially done for the season. He’s been sidelined since undergoing shoulder surgery in November. He’s expected to be fully recovered for next season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins winger and broadcaster Johnny Peirson passed away at age 95. Peirson spent 11 seasons with the Bruins from 1946-47 to 1957-58. He went on to spend 20 seasons broadcasting Bruins games on WSBK-38 in the 1970s and 1980s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Peirson’s family, friends, colleagues and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2021

Patrick Marleau reaches a significant milestone, the Panthers suffer a serious blow with Aaron Ekblad sidelined, the Senators and Kings make a minor deal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Erik Karlsson scored twice in regulation and the winning goal in a shootout as the San Jose Sharks nipped the Minnesota 4-3. Kevin Fiala and Marcus Johansson each had two points for the Wild (44 points), who sit in third place in the West. Sharks winger Patrick Marleau played his 1,757th NHL game to move past Mark Messier into second place on the all-time games list. Marleau is just 10 games behind leader Gordie Howe with 22 games to play.

San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau (NHL.com).

The Vegas Golden Knights maintained their grip on first place in the Honda West Division with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Robin Lehner made 24 saves for the win and Jonathan Marchessault collected two assists as Vegas (49 points) have won eight of their last 10 games. They hold a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche.

Speaking of the Avalanche, Cale Makar had three assists as they downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 20th goal of the season. The Avalanche are 9-0-2 in their last 11 contests.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on an overtime goal by Ivan Provorov. Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Provorov each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers (38 points), who move within one point of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Buffalo’s winless skid is now at 18 games. Sabres forward Dylan Cozens left the game with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those 18 defeats, this one is the cruelest for the Sabres, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

A 19-save performance by Casey DeSmith in relief of Tristan Jarry enabled the Pittsburgh Penguins to hold off the New York Islanders 2-1. DeSmith replaced Jarry after the latter left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. Jared McCann scored what proved to be the winning goal for Pittsburgh (48 points), who moved into a tie with the New York Islanders. The Isles, however, holds second place in the East Division on the basis of regulation wins. Penguins winger Jason Zucker returned to the lineup after missing 18 games with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Darnell Nurse gave the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oilers captain Connor McDavid set up Nurse to extend his points streak to 11 games. Toronto center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 23rd goal while Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist. With 47 points, the Leafs remain atop the Scotia North Division while the Oilers sit two back in third place.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each collected three points as the Winnipeg Jets snuffed out the Calgary Flames 5-1. Scheifele scored twice and Ehlers had three assists. The Jets sit one point behind the Leafs and one ahead of the Oilers in the North Division. The Flames (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dropping five of their last six games, the Flames have missed a golden opportunity to overtake the idle Canadiens. They sit only two points behind the Habs but the latter have six games in hand after having four games postponed last week by COVID-19 protocols.

HEADLINES

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad will be sidelined for 12 weeks following surgery to repair a fractured lower left leg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their top defenseman is crushing news for the Panthers, who are jockeying with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Discover Central Division. It could force general manager Bill Zito into the trade market for help.

CBS BOSTON: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask could be sidelined most of this week with an upper-body injury.

TSN.CA: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi came off the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Teammate Joel Armia remains on the list while new Hab Eric Staal is on the list as part of a seven-day quarantine before joining the club later this week.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators traded defenseman Christian Wolanin to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for minor-league forward Mike Amadio. Wolanin cleared waivers last week and was demoted to the Senators AHL affiliate in Belleville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch explains the reason the Kings didn’t claim Wolanin off waivers was that they wanted the ability to get a contract off their books. They were interested in Wolanin but wanted to be sure the Senators would take Amadio’s contract.

NHL.COM: Former NHL forward Bobby Schmautz passed away at his home in Arizona on Sunday at age 76. He spent 13 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Rockies. He tallied 20-or-more goals nine times, including two 30-plus goal campaigns. Schmautz spent over six seasons with the Bruins. In 764 games, he scored 271 goals and 557 points, along with 61 points in 84 postseason contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Schmautz’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL ProteauType: Wild Are Turning Corner, But Still Not Stanley Cup Contenders

NHL ProteauType: Wild Are Turning Corner, But Still Not Stanley Cup Contenders

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2021

A look at some potential goalie trade bait, the obstacles facing teams in this year’s trade market plus the latest on the Hurricanes, Jets, Islanders, Penguins and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill. 

POTENTIAL GOALIE TRADE BAIT

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin included Florida’s Chris Driedger, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick on his list of 10 goaltenders who could get moved at the NHL trade deadline. Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and Arizona’s Antti Raanta are the others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger’s a pending unrestricted free agent but I don’t see the Panthers trading him while they’re among the top three clubs in the Discover Central Division. The same goes for Korpisalo and Merzlikins as the Jackets remain in the playoff chase. Besides, they both have a year left on their contracts so there’s no rush to move either guy at the deadline.

If the Coyotes trade Kuemper I believe that happens in the offseason when they could get a better return from a club with cap space. If Miller wanted one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup he would’ve signed with a contender instead of the Ducks. He’s happy in Anaheim and I doubt he has any intention of leaving.

Quick has two more years left on his contract worth $5.8 million. I don’t see much interest in him given the current cap situation. Even if the Kings picked up half of his cap hit he’s still a declining asset with a long injury history.

Bernier, Dubnyk and Raanta are pending UFAs and thus more likely to move. Khudobin could be intriguing to some clubs and he carries an affordable $3.33 million annual average value, but he’s 34 and that contract has two more years on it.

TEAMS FACING OBSTACLES IN TRADE MARKET

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports most NHL clubs are still trying to navigate through quarantine protocols and a flat salary cap as the April 12 trade deadline approaches. He also adds the cost of top rental players such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall and Eric Staal and New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri could be a high draft pick and a top prospect. Those in the rumor mill with term on their contracts, such as Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, could be more expensive.

Asking prices could be expensive for rental players such as New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri (NHL Images)

Some teams, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders, are in the market to add players before the deadline. The Islanders have additional salary-cap flexibility after placing captain Anders Lee (knee injury) and his $7 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any significant movement by Canadian teams could come by the end of March. If they wait until the deadline any player acquired from American franchises will be unavailable until April 27 after they’ve cleared the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people crossing the US border into Canada. That won’t leave them much time to adjust to their new teams before the playoffs open on May 11.

LATEST ON THE HURRICANES, JETS AND SHARKS

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he and Dougie Hamilton’s camp have agreed to table contract extension talks until the season is over. Hamilton is in the final season of a six-year, $34.5 million contract and is slated for UFA eligibility this summer.

Waddell also said he believes his club is close to a contract extension for head coach Rod Brind’Amour. He could be willing to tinker with his roster before the trade deadline, citing a need for a right-shot defenseman and perhaps a top-nine forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell doesn’t have to make any significant moves with his club battling for first place in the Central Division. However, he alluded to team owner Tom Dundon’s competitive nature and desire to ice the best team possible. The Hurricanes will be worth watching as the trade deadline nears. Dundon’s wish to turn them into a Stanley Cup contender could push Waddell into the market.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe reports the expectation remains the Winnipeg Jets will try to add a defenseman to play on one of their top-two pairings. The best trade target remains Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm. Columbus’ David Savard could be out of the picture given the Blue Jackets’ recent rise into playoff contention in the Central Division.

Another option could be Anaheim’s Josh Manson. Like Ekholm, he has a year remaining on his contract. The asking price for Ekholm will be high while injuries have limited Manson to six games this season. Wiebe also suggests keeping an eye on Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets must be careful taking on a defenseman with term on his contract (Ekholm, Manson, Ristolainen) as that could complicate their expansion draft protection list for their blueline. A rental such as Savard or perhaps Vancouver’s Travis Hamonic might be the way to go here unless they work out a deal with the Seattle Kraken before the expansion draft.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Alex Didion cited a report by The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz indicating Patrick Marleau would be open to a trade that sends him to a playoff contender before the April 12 deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But are playoff contenders open to acquiring a fading winger like the 41-year-old Marleau at the trade deadline? He has just five points in 30 games this season.

UPDATES ON THE ISLANDERS, PENGUINS AND DUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports acquiring a first-line winger remains the New York Islanders’ priority. He believes Columbus’ Nick Foligno could be off the Isles’ list of targets owing to the Jackets’ recent rise in the Central standings. Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson has been sidelined a month, curtailing the Canucks’ trade options.

Sean Gentille, Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe report the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t shopping defenseman Marcus Pettersson. Despite their left-side blueline depth, they’re reluctant to move a blueliner given the schedule and need for depth to secure a playoff spot. They also rejected a rumor linking the Penguins to Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, citing the club’s lack of cap space and available assets to pry him away from the Sabres.

Pierre LeBrun reports Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray could attempt to trade a few veteran players between now and the start of next season as he transitions his roster toward younger players. However, most of those moves might not come until the offseason. Murray admits things are quiet in the trade market due to the pandemic, the flattened salary cap, and this summer’s expansion draft.

Murray doesn’t have many rental players to shop. The Ducks GM could instead look for a hockey deal, with LeBrun suggesting winger Rickard Rakell making the most sense. Rakell is a good two-way winger with an affordable $3.78 million cap hit through next season.