NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2022

What’s the latest on Filip Forsberg and Jeff Petry? Could the Devils attempt to move Jesper Bratt? What will the Capitals do about their goaltending? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL FORSBERG RE-SIGN WITH THE PREDATORS?

TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Nashville Predators would like to bring back Filip Forsberg. However, it’s not clear at this point if they’ll be able to do that. He said there hasn’t been much progress in contract extension talks since March and both sides seem entrenched in their current positions.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan recently examined three options for the Predators to replace Forsberg if he hits the open market on July 13. The bold move could be attempting a major trade to acquire David Pastrnak if he’s reluctant to sign a contract extension with the Boston Bruins.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

They could attempt to sign Valeri Nichushkin if the Colorado Avalanche winger becomes an unrestricted free agent next month. Another option is acquiring Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers as a reclamation project.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of time remains for Forsberg and the Predators to work out a deal. However, if there hasn’t been any progress in talks when the calendar flips to July, the more likely it’ll be that the 27-year-old left winger goes to market.

I don’t anticipate the Bruins shopping Pastrnak as both sides seem open to working out a contract extension starting on July 13. Sure, it’s possible talks could stall and the Bruins could start listening to offers but I’d say the odds of that happening are low right now.

Nichushkin won’t replace Forsberg’s offense or star power. Nevertheless, he’d be a more affordable option and his two-way game could be a good fit in the Predators’ system.

Puljujarvi’s trade value is low right now and he could be available given the Oilers’ limited cap space. It shouldn’t cost very much to acquire him if the Predators are interested.

CANADIENS WORKING ON PETRY TRADE

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Montreal Canadiens are working on trading Jeff Petry though there’s no guarantee a deal will take place. Five or six teams have expressed an interest in the 34-year-old defenseman.

The Dallas Stars are among those clubs, especially if they lose blueliner John Klingberg to free agency next month. LeBrun said it appears Klingberg could test the UFA market as there have been no contract talks of late with the Stars. The Detroit Red Wings are another potential destination.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Petry-to-Dallas speculation has been around since March when there was talk the Stars looked into acquiring him before the trade deadline. As for the Wings, they have plenty of salary-cap space to absorb the Michigan native’s $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and are in need of experienced blueline depth.

A LOOK AT DAILY FACEOFF’S UPDATED TRADE TARGETS LIST

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added five new names to his NHL offseason trade targets list.

New Jersey Devils winger Jesper Bratt is the notable new name, checking in at No. 10. Seravalli noted Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald recently said the 23-year-old winger is a big part of the club’s future. However, sources said Bratt was available at the trade deadline and there’s been no contract extension talks to this point. He also noted Fitzgerald’s pursuit of “hard skill” this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bratt completed a career-best 73-point season and is coming off his second NHL contract. Fitzgerald can take his time negotiating with him though Bratt does have arbitration rights and is in line for a big raise.

I’m skeptical that Bratt will get traded but I don’t rule it out. It will depend on what type of skill player Fitzgerald is pursuing this summer and if Bratt would be a trade chip necessary to acquire that type of player.

Speaking of the Devils, Seravalli has Mackenzie Blackwood at No. 20. There’s a sense they’re losing faith in the 25-year-old goaltender after two seasons of injury and inconsistent play. He could be a bounce-back candidate in tandem with a veteran on a deeper club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Improving the goaltending depth is a must for Fitzgerald this summer. He could shop Blackwood but could also keep him as a backup to be mentored by whoever he brings in as a starter.

New York Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen were also added to the list. Beauvillier came in at No. 15, Martinez at 14 and Kapanen at 18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These three have previously surfaced in trade speculation mostly as cost-cutting candidates.

LATEST CAPITALS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Andrew Gillis recently examined possible goaltending candidates for the Capitals if they part ways with Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek this summer. He suggested monitoring the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov and Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Both have a year remaining on their respective contracts. He also doesn’t anticipate they’ll be among the bidders for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell if he tests the open market in July.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber recently cited Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claiming the Florida Panthers are shopping starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky hard, so much so they’re willing to retain as much as 50 percent of his $10 million annual cap hit.

Silber wondered if the Capitals would be interested. She also suggested the Capitals could prefer keeping their options open with Campbell, Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper and St. Louis’ Ville Husso possibly available via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov might approve a trade back to where his career began but I don’t see the Capitals investing in him unless they can get him signed to a contract extension. The Kings could stick with Quick for his final season before passing the full-time goalie duties to Cal Petersen.

Bobrovsky’s contract expires in 2026. Even at $5 million annually, that’s a lengthy investment in a 33-year-old goaltender who struggles at times with consistency. I think the Capitals will test their luck in the UFA market and make a cost-cutting deal if necessary to add a goalie.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cites a report out of Russia claiming Alex Ovechkin called Evander Kane earlier this season to encourage him to sign with the Capitals following his contract termination by the San Jose Sharks. Kane ultimately signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m including this one just for fun. And no, I don’t see Kane signing with the Capitals. They already have a first-line left winger (hello there, Ovechkin) and they’ll likely invest their limited cap space in improving their goaltending and perhaps their blueline depth.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2022

Check out the latest roundup of Bruins and Canadiens speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: On Sunday, Kevin Paul Dupont speculated this could be the summer Bruins general manager Don Sweeney takes some bold risks to address his depth at center, especially if it appears captain Patrice Bergeron intends to retire.

Colorado’s Nazem Kadri, Florida’s Claude Giroux and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin could be available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. The best fit would be Kadri as the 31-year-old is coming off a career-best 87 points this season. Dupont felt it almost unfathomable that the fiery ex-Maple Leaf would be considered a fix for the Bruins’ depth at center but he doesn’t dismiss the possibility.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Winger Jake DeBrusk and defenseman Brandon Carlo could be used as trade chips in pursuit of a prime center in his mid-twenties. Dupont also suggested the Bruins look into acquiring promising Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Dupont pointed out the Bruins had an interest in Alec Martinez last summer before the left-shot defenseman signed with the Vega Golden Knights. The 35-year-old Martinez carries a $5.25 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Bruins with $80.1 million invested in 22 players for 2022-23. They’ll have to shed salary to re-sign Bergeron or ink his replacement via free agency.

Packaging DeBrusk and Carlo would free up $8.1 million and could bring in a quality center in his playing prime. Nevertheless, I don’t see any team willing to part with that type of player for that package. This is why I wouldn’t be surprised if Bergeron returns for at least one more season to buy the Bruins time to find a suitable replacement.

As Dupont observed, the Blackhawks haven’t re-signed Dach yet. However, they’re not in any hurry to do so. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. I can see the rebuilding Hawks signing the 21-year-old center to an affordable bridge contract.

The Bruins addressed their need for a top-four left-shot defenseman by acquiring Hampus Lindholm. I don’t see them going after Martinez, especially if they need cap space to address their greater need at center.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of Dach, Jimmy Murphy referenced Dupont’s suggestion that the Bruins should look into acquiring the young Blackhawks center. He felt that’s something the Canadiens should also consider.

While they’re expected to select top prospect Shane Wright with this year’s first-overall pick and recently signed promising Riley Kidney to an entry-level deal, their NHL roster still isn’t that deep at center and they could use someone of Dach’s size and skill. Murphy suggested offering up the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick that they received in February’s Tyler Toffoli trade bundled with a roster player like Jeff Petry, Josh Anderson or Mike Hoffman and a top prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said he’s in the market for a first-round pick as his predecessor traded away this year’s selection as part of last summer’s Seth Jones trade. If the Blackhawks were looking at playoff contention next season, perhaps Davidson would be enticed to acquire a veteran player like one of those mentioned by Murphy. However, the Hawks GM has frequently indicated he’s rebuilding the roster, so I don’t see him parting with Dach for that offer.

Murphy colleague Marco D’Amico points out why the Canadiens don’t need to worry about a rival club attempting to sign away Alexander Romanov this summer with an offer sheet. As per the collective bargaining agreement, he hasn’t accrued three professional seasons, making him ineligible to receive an offer sheet coming out of his entry-level contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2022

Will the Wild re-sign winger Kevin Fiala and who will be their starting goalie next season? What’s next for the Golden Knights? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST ON THE WILD

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani listed Kevin Fiala’s contract situation and sorting out the starting goaltender position among the five things he believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin needs to address this summer. He also expects late-season acquisition Jacob Middleton will be re-signed but the restricted free agent defenseman will require a big raise.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo also considers Fiala’s contract status and choosing between goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot to be among Guerin’s offseason priorities. The 25-year-old Fiala is due for a big raise following his 85-point season but his poor performance against the St. Louis Blues in the first round could affect his negotiations with the Wild GM.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

The Wild’s limited salary-cap space also complicates Fiala’s contract negotiations. If Guerin decides to trade him, Russo noted the Ottawa Senators have long had an interest in the winger while the New Jersey Devils are seeking an impact forward.

Fleury, meanwhile, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Russo pointed out Guerin has a long history with the goaltender going back to 2009 when they were teammates on the Pittsburgh Penguins. He could bring back the Fleury-Talbot tandem for another season or trade Talbot and bring in a more affordable backup.

If promising Calen Addison is ready to play next season, Russo suggested they could shop a defenseman like Matt Dumba or Dmitry Kulikov. Forward Tyson Jost could also be a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanging over the Wild’s offseason plans is the salary-cap crunch they’ll face over the next three seasons because of last summer’s buyout of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. NBC Sports’ James O’Brien has the breakdown of its effect on their cap payroll. It could also force them to part ways with Fiala, Talbot or Dumba.

Following his playoff struggles, Fiala isn’t sure what the future holds. “There’s no other answer other than, ‘We’ll see’,” he said. “I don’t know.” Guerin could reach an agreement with the winger’s camp on a new contract, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he trades him this summer.

As for the goaltenders, Russo recently suggested Guerin must repair the relationship with Talbot after he was benched for all but one playoff game or trade him this summer. Following the Wild’s elimination by the Blues, Mizutani reported Talbot isn’t holding a grudge and wants to stick with the team. He also noted Fleury’s interest in re-signing with the Wild if the price is right.

That limited cap room for next season means someone – Fiala, Fleury, Talbot or Dumba – won’t be returning with the Wild. It’s shaping up to be an interesting summer for the Wild.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Prior to the Golden Knights’ sacking head coach Pete DeBoer, Owen Krepps examined some of the important questions facing the club in the offseason.

He wondered who the starting goaltender will be after Robin Lehner’s inconsistent, injury-riddled performance this season. Late-season call-up Logan Thompson’s solid play raised eyebrows, leading Krepps to wonder if Thompson will back up Leher next season or take over as the starter with Laurent Brossoit or someone else in the backup role.

Krepps also wondered how Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon will free up much-needed salary-cap space for next season. He could attempt to trade Evgenii Dadonov again, or try to peddle Lehner, Alec Martinez or William Karlsson. They also risk losing long-time Golden Knight winger Reilly Smith to unrestricted free agency in July.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger suggested Max Pacioretty could also become a salary-cap casualty. He remains the Golden Knights’ best pure scorer and his trade value could be done following an injury-plagued season. Nevertheless, they’ve shown they’re not shy about unloading expensive contracts for little-to-no value in return, and shedding his $7 million cap hit would free up a lot of room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner, Pacioretty, Karlsson, Dadonov and Martinez each earn $5 million or more per season. Pacioretty, Karlsson and Dadonov each have 10-team no-trade lists, Martinez has a 12-team no-trade list and Lehner has an eight-team no-trade list. It’s going to take considerable skill on McCrimmon’s part to find a suitable trade partner for one of them given the flattened salary cap for next season and the high number of teams with cap issues of their own.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2022

The Flames and Oilers combine for 14 goals, Marc-Andre Fleury gets the win in his debut with the Wild, Jonathan Huberdeau sets a Panthers record and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Johnny Gaudreau collected five assists as his Calgary Flames downed the Edmonton Oilers 9-5. Matthew Tkachuk scored twice and added two assists while Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund each tallied two goals. Leon Draisaitl had a hat trick and an assist and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins netted four points for Edmonton. With 88 points, the Flames hold a seven-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division while the Oilers cling to third place with 77 points.

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin collected two assists as he became the fifth-youngest defenseman in NHL history to play 500 games.

Speaking of the Kings, they doubled up the Seattle Kraken 4-2. Cal Petersen made 23 saves for the win, Adrian Kempe picked up two assists and Jordan Spence scored his first NHL goal, becoming the first Australian-born player to do so.

Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 23 shots in his Minnesota Wild debut as he backstopped them to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jared Spurgeon scored in overtime after Kirill Kaprizov tied the game with his second of the night and 35th of the season. The Wild sit in second place in the Central Division with 82 points.

Jonathan Huberdeau collected an assist in his franchise-record 655th career game with the Florida Panthers in a 4-3 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators. Aleksander Barkov scored the winner and also tallied the game-tying goal. Claude Giroux collected two assists for the second straight game with the Panthers. Anton Forsberg had 46 saves in a losing cause for the Senators. The Panthers sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 94 points.

Carolina Hurricanes forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Seth Jarvis each tallied twice in a 7-2 romp over the St. Louis Blues, handing the latter their fifth loss in their last six games. Pavel Buchnevich netted both goals for the Blues. The win leaves the Hurricanes one point behind the Panthers while the Blues (79 points) are three behind the Wild for third place in the Central Division.

The Boston Bruins picked up their fourth straight win with a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders. Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall each had a goal and two assists for the Bruins, who sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 87 points. Islanders center Brock Nelson reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time.

An overtime goal by Brayden Point lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Steven Stamkos scored the tying goal late in the third period as Tampa Bay sits one point behind the Bruins in third place in the Atlantic. Before the game, the Lightning announced defenseman Ryan McDonagh is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

A 49-save performance by Jake Allen carried the Montreal Canadiens over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Nick Suzuki, Paul Byron and David Savard each had two points for the Canadiens while Auston Matthews potted his 47th goal of the season for the Leafs, who sit one point behind the Lightning in the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Canadiens revealed Jeff Petry (lower body) and Jonathan Drouin (wrist) are sidelined indefinitely while assistant coach Luke Richardson entered COVID protocol.

The Washington Capitals got three third-period goals to hold off the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Alex Ovechkin scored his 42nd of the season while Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist on the night he was honored by his club for reaching 1,000 career points. Washington sits one point back of the Leafs in the final Eastern wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals fans littered the ice with small rubber apples commemorating Backstrom’s 1,000 points in appreciation of his third-period goal.

Evgenii Dadonov was the Vegas Golden Knights’ hero for the second straight game in their 5-4 defeat of the Chicago Blackhawks. Coming off a three-point performance in a win over the Nashville Predators, Dadonov scored the overtime goal in this contest as the Golden Knights cling to the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 76 points. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had two points for the Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez returned to action for the first time since suffering facial injuries on Nov. 11 against the Wild. Golden Knights center Brett Howden didn’t suffer serious injuries after being stretchered out of Thursday’s game against the Predators but will be sidelined indefinitely.

The Vancouver Canucks kept their playoff hopes alive by dropping the Dallas Stars 4-1. Elias Pettersson scored two goals and Thatcher Demko made 35 saves for the win. Vancouver sits three points behind Vegas with 73 points while the Stars remain one back of the Golden Knights. Canuck winger Matt Highmore missed this game as he remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.

San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier picked up a hat trick in a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, handing the latter their ninth straight loss.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 5, 2022

Check out the latest on the Bruins, Golden Knights and Ducks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

ADDRESSING THE BRUINS’ ROSTER NEEDS

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins’ most pressing need is for a second-line center for this season and perhaps beyond. He suggested the Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux could address the former while the Vancouver Canucks’ J.T. Miller would be a good candidate for the latter.

Shinzawa felt center Jack Studnicka could become a trade piece if he can rebuild his game and help the Bruins. Other teams have shown an interest in Studnick and defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, though there are questions about the latter’s ceiling and if he’s playoff ready. If the Bruins believe Vaakanainen is ready, Mike Reilly could be on the move, though Vaakanainen could fetch a better return.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes a lack of defensive depth could be a fatal flaw for the Bruins as it was in recent postseason runs. He suggested targeting the Chicago Blackhawks’ Calvin de Haan, the Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano, the Detroit Red Wings’ Nick Leddy or the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giroux, Miller and Chychrun could prove to be out of the Bruins’ price range unless they’re willing to part with top prospect Fabian Lysell and that’s something they shouldn’t do. Leddy or de Haan could be more affordable options.

Giordano is somewhere in the middle. He probably won’t be as expensive as Giroux, Miller and Chychrun but will cost more than Leddy or de Haan. The Kraken could seek a first-round pick and a prospect.

LATEST ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen was recently asked how the Vegas Golden Knights will clear salary-cap space for Jack Eichel’s contract when he’s finally healthy and ready to join their lineup. They currently have Eichel, defenseman Alec Martinez and forward Adam Brooks on injured reserve.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez (NHL Images)

If all three are activated they’ll have to start trading or waiving some depth players. If they’re still over the $81.5 million cap, they’ll have to move a more impactful player like Evgenii Dadonov or Reilly Smith, who each carry cap hits of $5 million.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: With the Golden Knights’ recent signing of Brayden McNabb to a three-year deal worth $2.85 million per season, Owen Krepps speculates they could look at shedding a defenseman to trim some payroll. He suggested Martinez could be the odd man out. While they re-signed the 34-year-old blueliner last summer, he’s been sidelined for all but 11 games this season. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights have managed well in his absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez carries a $5.25 million annual average value. Moving him would spare them from shipping out Dadonov or Smith. However, his 16-team no-trade list for this season could complicate efforts to move him.

DUCKS POTENTIAL TRADE CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman looked at the “to-do list” of new Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek. He believes winger Rickard Rakell is the most likely of the Anaheim Ducks’ three notable pending UFAs to get traded. The top question is whether Verbeek can allow Hampus Lindholm to walk if he doesn’t think he can re-sign him.

Josh Manson would also draw interest if they shop him. He’s been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs but Friedman reports the Leafs are one of the teams on his no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Verbeek does as the trade deadline approaches. I think much will depend on where the Ducks in the standings by then. They last reached the playoffs in 2018. Like every club, their revenue has taken a hit by COVID-19 and a chance to get some postseason cash could be tempting. Those three could be retained as own rentals if they’re still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2021

The NHL returns to action from its COVID-extended holiday break while Brad Marchand and Vladimir Tarasenko express their unhappiness over the league’s withdrawal from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Details & more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 8-7 in the highest-scoring game of 2021-22. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl scored in the shootout to give the Sharks the win. Couture, Timo Meier and Alexander Barbanov each had a goal and an assist for the Sharks while teammate Brent Burns was held scoreless in his 1,200th career NHL game. Phil Kessel and Lawson Crouse each had four points for the Coyotes.

Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and added an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Los Angeles Kings 6-3. Both clubs combined for four goals in 76 seconds in the first period with the Golden Knights jumping to a 3-1 lead. Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 4-3 deficit to nip the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 on an overtime goal by Ondrej Palat. Corey Perry scored with 20 seconds remaining in regulation to force the extra frame. Lightning forward Braydon Point finished with two goals and an assist in his first game since being sidelined for 14 games by an upper-body injury. Canadiens defenseman Kale Clague and forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard each tallied their first career NHL goals.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Brad Marchand took to Twitter to once again condemn the NHL’s decision to withdraw from the 2022 Winter Olympics. He noted the recent mutually-agreed change to the collective bargaining agreement allowing NHL teams to use taxi squads to maintain their rosters and not miss any games or lose money due to postponements.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Marchand wondered why taxi squads couldn’t be used to allow players to participate in the Olympics. “please tell me that’s not bullshit,” he tweeted, calling for the league to allow the players to make the choice.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko also expressed his unhappiness over the league’s decision. “I think every Russian has a dream to play for the national team,” he said. “It’s very bad they took it away from us, I think it’s unfair. They give each player a choice, but we don’t have a choice at the end. So I think it’s very bad from them.”

Tarasenko indicated he read Marchand’s interview on Monday and agreed with the Bruins winger. “So with all the restrictions, all the rules, I don’t really understand the point when people are deciding for you.” He added he would’ve participated in the Beijing Games if given the choice. “I think you’d be surprised how many people would choose to go,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the frustration felt by Marchand and Tarasenko and sympathize with having this opportunity to participate in the Winter Olympics taken away from them. Given their ages, this was likely the only opportunity for both players to represent their countries on the Olympic stage.

However, the NHL didn’t arbitrarily decide to screw over the players. The CBA allows the league to withdraw from the Winter Olympics before Jan. 10 if participation would jeopardize the completion of the 2021-22 schedule in a timely manner. This was mutually agreed upon by the league and the PA as per the CBA. The players should know this. If they don’t, that’s the fault of their PA leadership, not the league.

It’s well known NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league board of governors (team owners) don’t like Olympic participation because there’s no money in it for them. Given their choice, they’d never take part in the Winter Games ever again. Nevertheless, they agreed to send players to the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics as part of their concessions to get the players to sign off on the CBA extension last year.

Up until roughly two weeks ago, the NHL was going to leave Olympic participation up to the players. The only reason they took their current action (in conjunction with the PA) was the latest COVID-19 outbreak led to multiple game postponements that threatened to derail the season.

Yes, the league is concerned about hockey-related revenue. So should the players. Another shortened season means the salary cap remains flattened beyond 2024, meaning less money to go around for players in line for new contracts in two years’ time. That also means it will take longer for the players to pay back the debt they owe to the owners because their share of HRR in 2020 exceeded that of the owners’ share.

Speaking of postponed games, the total number yesterday reached 80 with 10 more games put on hold. Nine of them were upcoming games in Canada due to limits on large gatherings in Canadian NHL cities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was media speculation yesterday suggesting the league could soon announce some Canadian teams could end up playing home games scheduled for January on the road until those restrictions are eased or lifted. That’s because playing those games with limited attendance or no fans in the stands will adversely affect HRR for this season.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras, Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson were the latest notable NHL players placed on the COVID protocol list yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild were hoping to avoid an outbreak with their Jan. 1 Winter Classic game against the St. Louis Blues at Target Field fast approaching. Brodin is the only member of the wild (thus far) to test positive.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have recalled goaltender Matt Murray from a month-long stint with their AHL affiliate in Belleville.

CBS SPORTS: The Vegas Golden Knights placed defenseman Alec Martinez (facial injury) on long-term injury reserve. He’s been sidelined since Nov. 11.