NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2022

John Klingberg’s hope to re-sign with the Stars plus some recent Penguins speculation in today’s NHL rumor roundup.

WILL KLINGBERG & THE STARS REACH AN AGREEMENT ON AN EXTENSION?

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reported John Klingberg and Stars general manager Jim Nill have left the door open for his return with the club. The 29-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

On Tuesday, Klingberg said he’s always wanted to stay in Dallas and his side is trying to come up with ways to get it done. Nill said both sides know where they sit and he intends to remain in touch.

DeFranks observed both sides have been at an impasse this season, prompting Klingberg to publicly express his frustration in January and sparking trade speculation. The Stars are burdened by expensive, long-term contracts for aging stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. They don’t want to get locked into another deal with a long term and a high cap hit. Klingberg, however, seeks the security of a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg turns 30 this summer, meaning the Stars probably aren’t interested in anything over four years. Cap Friendly indicates they also have almost $18 million tied up in three defensemen in Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Ryan Suter.

Last November, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported Klingberg was believed to be seeking between $7.75 million and $8.5 million. Unless he’s willing to accept a four-year deal worth around $6 million per season, he’ll likely hit the open market on July 13.

The Stars also have other contracts to sort out. Goaltender Jake Oettinger and winger Jason Robertson are due for significant raises coming off their entry-level deals. Winger Denis Gurianov is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. They’ll also need a reliable backup for Oettinger with Braden Holtby and Scott Wedgewood due for UFA status this summer.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

TRIBLIVE.COM: Chris Adamski wondered if the Pittsburgh Penguins will bring back Kaspari Kapanen after he struggled throughout this season. The 25-year-old winger is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights.

Adamski also reports Rickard Rakell would be interested in returning with the Penguins. The 29-year-old winger is due to become a UFA in July. He didn’t wow anyone statistically during his brief period with the Penguins following a late-season trade from the Anaheim Ducks. However, he showed enough to suggest he could be a top-six winger capable of establishing chemistry with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen was a speedy, promising (if inconsistent) winger during his two full seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He showed some potential in 2020-21 with 30 points in 40 games but managed just 32 points in 79 games this season. The Penguins could try to trade him as he doesn’t seem a good fit in head coach Mike Sullivan’s system.

The Penguins’ management could have an interest in bringing back Rakell. However, that’s going to depend upon what he’s seeking on his next contract and what happens with franchise stars Malkin and Kris Letang, who are also eligible for UFA status this summer.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski looked at several Penguins who could get shopped this summer if there’s a need to shed salary for other moves or signings. Jason Zucker, Marcus Pettersson and Mike Matheson were among the most notable given their salaries. John Marino, Brian Dumoulin, Teddy Blueger and Brock McGinn were also listed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker, Pettersson and Matheson have frequently surfaced in the Penguins’ rumor mill as cost-cutting candidates. Zucker’s injury history and $5.5 million cap hit will make him tough to move. Pettersson’s inconsistent play and $4.025 million cap hit are also problematic. Matheson’s play improved this season but the four years at $4.875 million per season could be a sticking point.

Injuries have also become an issue for Dumoulin. Marino was seen as a promising top-four defenseman but his stock seemed to tumble this season. Blueger and McGinn each earn less than $3 million.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2022

Jason Robertson makes Dallas Stars history, the Lightning set a franchise record, questionable calls prove costly for the Senators and Sharks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jason Robertson became the first player in Dallas Stars history to tally a hat trick in consecutive games to lead his club over the Minnesota Wild 6-3. Jake Oettinger made 34 saves for the win. The Stars (67 points) have won four straight games and moved ahead of the Nashville Predators into the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Kirill Kaprizov scored two goals for the Wild, who’ve dropped eight of their last 10 and cling to third place in the Central Division with 67 points. They activated defenseman Matt Dumba off injured reserve for this game and placed winger Jordan Greenway on IR.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Robertson is also the second player in franchise history to net back-to-back hat tricks, as Bill Goldsworthy did it with the Minnesota North Stars in 1971. The Stars sophomore is a rising talent, with 100 career points in 101 games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning got a franchise-record three goals in 32 seconds by Victor Hedman, Corey Perry and Mikhail Sergachev in a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Hedman finished the game with two goals and Sergachev with three points. Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome each had a goal and an assist. The Lighting (80 points) sit three points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference.

Speaking of the Conference-leading Hurricanes, they extended their home points streak to 11 games by downing the Seattle Kraken 3-2. Carolina winger Teuvo Teravainen scored the game-tying goal in his 500th career NHL game while Martin Necas netted the winner in the third period. Antti Raanta made 28 saves for the win.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin kicked out 45 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. New York winger Chris Kreider scored twice to reach 38 goals and sits one back of Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the goal-scoring lead. The Rangers are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins with 77 points and hold second place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets (58 points) are eight points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jack Eichel scored on a power play with five seconds remaining in the third period as the Vegas Golden Knights squeaked past the Ottawa Senators 2-1. The goal was the result of a questionable tripping call on Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot with 46 seconds remaining in the period. Vegas holds third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points. Robin Lehner made 39 saves for the Golden Knights while the Senators’ Anton Forsberg stopped 40 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg got the call as the Senators placed Matt Murray on injured reserve before yesterday’s game.

The Los Angeles Kings got two goals by Andreas Athanasiou and a 19-save shutout by Cal Petersen to blank the Buffalo Sabres 3-0. The win keeps the Kings one point ahead of the Golden Knights in second place in the Pacific Division. Sabres forward Alex Tuch left the game with an injury in the third period.

An overtime goal by Rickard Rakell gave the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Cam Fowler, Troy Terry and Adam Henrique each had two points for the Ducks (63 points) as they sit three points out of a Western wild-card spot. The Sharks have dropped 11 of their last 13 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks head coach Bob Boughner wasn’t happy over Rakell’s goal, claiming the Ducks had too many men on the ice at the time. “It’s a complete, disastrous blown call,” said Boughner, who also chastised the officiating crew for racing off the ice without coming over to the Sharks bench to explain the call.

The New Jersey Devils upset the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on an overtime goal by Dougie Hamilton. Jordan Kyrou and Vladimir Tarasenko each had two points for the Blues, who sit second in the Central Division with 71 points.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson is pain-free for the first time in four years after undergoing artificial disc replacement surgery (ADR) in December to address ongoing neck pain. It’s the same procedure Jack Eichel underwent last November following his trade to the Vegas Golden Knights from the Buffalo Sabres. Johnson returned to action on March 3.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON/WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger Carl Hagelin underwent surgery last Tuesday after suffering an eye injury during practice. He’ll be sidelined indefinitely amid concern his vision could be affected by the injury. Meanwhile, winger Joe Snively underwent wrist surgery and will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Hagelin makes a full recovery.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker and defenseman Mike Matheson have resumed skating at the club’s practice facility. No timetable is set for the sidelined players to return to action.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: With goalie Mike Smith suffering from stomach flu, the Oilers have recalled Stuart Skinner.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Liam O’Brien to a two-year contract extension. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $775K.

THE SCORE: The Detroit Red Wings claimed defenseman Olli Juolevi off waivers from the Florida Panthers while the New York Islanders claimed forward Austin Czarnik from the Seattle Kraken.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2022

The Hurricanes widen their lead in the Eastern Conference standings, Joe Pavelski reaches a career milestone, more front-office changes for the Blackhawks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes (81 points) opened a three-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning atop the Eastern Conference by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. The Hurricanes overcame a 2-0 deficit on two goals by Jordan Staal, setting the stage for Andrei Svechnikov’s overtime winner. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who are four points behind the Hurricanes.

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed defenseman Mike Matheson on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 24. He’s week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Speaking of the Lightning, Victor Hedman collected three assists in a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov had two assists while Brian Elliott picked up the win with 22 saves. The Bolts hold a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Igor Shesterkin stopped 32 shots to backstop the New York Rangers to a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider each had a goal and an assist, with the latter tallying his 36th goal of the season to sit third in the NHL goal-scoring race. The Rangers (75 points) are two points behind the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.

A hat trick by Jason Robertson (including the winning goal in overtime) carried the Dallas Stars over the Winnipeg Jets 4-3. Stars forward Joe Pavelski picked up an assist to earn his 900th career point while goaltender Braden Holtby made 39 saves for the win. Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers also had an assist as he returned to the lineup following a 19-game absence with a knee injury. The Stars (65 points) moved one point ahead of the Nashville Predators into the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference while the Jets (58 points) are six points behind the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on the Jets over the next couple of weeks. They could become sellers by the March 21 trade deadline if they don’t gain ground in the Western Conference wild-card race. The Stars, meanwhile, are less likely to be sellers if they can maintain their hold on a playoff berth.

Viktor Arvidsson completed his hat trick with an overtime goal as the Los Angeles Kings overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Kings sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 67 points.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Michael Amadio had a goal and two assists as his club held off the Anaheim Ducks 5-4, moving into third place in the Pacific Division with 66 points. Nicolas Roy also tallied twice for the Golden Knights. With 61 points, the Ducks are three back of the Predators.

Jeff Skinner scored two goals as the Buffalo Sabres upset the Minnesota Wild 5-4 to hand the latter their seventh loss in their last nine games. Kirill Kaprizov tallied twice for the Wild while linemate Mats Zuccarello missed this game with an undisclosed injury. Minnesota is third in the Central Division with 67 points.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks announced yesterday that vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley and assistant GM of pro evaluation Ryan Stewart have left the team. The pair were part of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup wins in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds will play in his 1,000th career NHL game tonight against the Vancouver Canucks

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The injury bug has bitten the Canadiens again as goaltender Andrew Hammond was placed on injured reserve. Cayden Primeau has been recalled from Laval.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Top Russian prospects such as Danila Yurov and Alexander Perevalov could see their stock plummet in this year’s NHL draft due to their country’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent international sanctions and bans implemented upon Russian hockey as a result.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2022

Two Blackhawks tally hat tricks in a win over the Devils, the Kings’ Jonathan Quick reaches a milestone for US goaltenders, the Avalanche remains dominant in the overall standings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel each tallied a hat trick as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the New Jersey Devils 8-5 to end a seven-game home losing skid. Alex DeBrincat and Seth Jones each collected three assists for the Blackhawks. Jesper Bratt scored twice while Jack Hughes and Jonas Siegenthaler each had a goal and two assists for the Devils.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (NHL Images)

The Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots to become the fourth US-born goaltender to reach the 350 win plateau in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Adrian Kempe tallied two goals and added an assist as the Kings moved into second place in the Pacific Division with 63 points. The Ducks (59 points) remain just outside the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

Speaking of hat tricks, Gabriel Landeskog scored three goals to lead the Colorado Avalanche over the Winnipeg Jets 6-3. Nathan MacKinnon netted two goals and Mikko Rantanen had three assists as the Avalanche opened a four-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings with 80 points. The Jets, meanwhile, remain six points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 59 points.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, moved into first place in the Eastern Conference with 76 points by blanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0, snapping Jackets winger Patrik Laine’s 11-game points streak. Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen made 19 saves for the shutout while Jackets netminder J-F Berube kicked out 46 shots. The Hurricanes sit one point up on the Florida Panthers.

St. Louis Blues winger Jordan Kyrou scored two goals and set up another as his club held off the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. Ivan Barbashev had three helpers and Ville Husso made 35 saves for the Blues as they hold a three-point lead with 68 points over the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.

The Arizona Coyotes got a 43-save performance by goaltender Scott Wedgewood to upset the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1. Nick Schmaltz’s two unanswered third-period goals sealed the deal for the Coyotes. With 62 points, the Golden Knights have dropped four of their last five contests and slide to third in the Pacific Division.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin voiced his concern yesterday over the war in Ukraine during a post-practice meeting with reporters. Referencing his family in Russia and friends in Ukraine, he expressed hope for the war to end soon. “Please, no more war,” said Ovechkin. “It doesn’t matter who is in the war – Russia, Ukraine, different countries – I think we live in a world, like, we have to leave in peace and a great world.

Ovechkin, 36, has been an outspoken supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. When asked if he still supports Putin, the Capitals captain replied he’s not into politics and hoped the situation would end quickly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s previous support of Putin was going to draw questions from the media (and criticism from some) regarding his opinion on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On the other hand, he also has to worry about the well-being of family and close friends back in Russia, a concern likely shared by other Russian NHLers about their own loved ones.

One need only recall what happened to New York Rangers’ left winger Artemi Panarin last season for his outspoken criticism of Putin. A former Russian coach (and Putin supporter) accused Panarin of assaulting a young woman over a decade ago during his tenure in the KHL. The allegations were quickly discredited but Panarin had to take time away from the Rangers to deal with the situation.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens provided an update on the status of sidelined goaltender Carey Price. His off-ice workouts are said to be going well but he’s not expected to return to the ice in the upcoming week. The 34-year-old Price has yet to play this season as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Until we hear differently, it appears Price is still hoping to return to action at some point this season. His return won’t save the Canadiens’ season but could help him gauge his performance and the health of his knee for next season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Matheson also carries a $4.875 million cap hit. If he ends up on long-term injury reserve and is out for the season, perhaps the Penguins will use that to bolster their roster leading up to the trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Sean Avery’s attempt at a professional hockey comeback ended yesterday when the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears released the 41-year-old from the contract he signed just two days before. The former NHLer last played pro hockey in 2011-12.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2021

The Oilers and Bruins clinch playoff berths, Connor McDavid gets closer to 100 points, the players of the week are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice and set up two others as the Edmonton Oilers (64 points) clinched a playoff spot in the Scotia Central Division by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-3. McDavid has 31 goals and a league-leading 91 points on the season. The Oilers are eight points behind the division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re the only two Canadian clubs to secure postseason berths thus far. Canucks forwards Brandon Sutter and Marc Michaelis missed the game with upper-body injuries.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid has six games remaining to reach 100 points for the season.

Montreal Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield tallied his second straight overtime goal in a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Nick Suzuki and Jeff Petry each collected three assists as the Canadiens (57 points) moved into a tie with the third-place Winnipeg Jets. Leafs center Auston Matthews netted his league-leading 39th goal of the season while teammate Nick Foligno left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are getting closer to clinching a playoff spot. They’ve opened a 10-point lead over the fifth-place Calgary Flames.

The Jets, meanwhile, suffered their seventh straight defeat by dropping a 2-1 decision to the Ottawa Senators. Nikita Zaitsev tallied the game-winner for the Sens late in the third period. The Jets still hold third place with three more wins than the Canadiens. Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot left the game with an upper-body injury.

A 20-save shutout by Tukka Rask carried the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils to clinch a playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and an assist as the Bruins moved into third place with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins join the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders in clinching the four playoff berths in the East.

The Capitals (71 points) regained first place in the division by dropping the New York Rangers 6-3 to end the latter’s playoffs hopes. A nagging lower-body injury forced Washington captain Alex Ovechkin from the game within the first minute. The Capitals are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins but hold a game in hand.

Capitals winger Tom Wilson could once again face supplemental discipline for punching Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while Buchnevich was face down on the ice. When Blueshirts winger Artemi Panarin jumped on Wilson’s back to restrain him, the Capitals forward pulled Panarin to the ice by the hair, punched him and slammed him to the ice again. Wilson received a double minor and 10-minute misconduct while Panarin suffered a lower-body injury that could sideline him from his club’s remaining three games.

Speaking of the Penguins, they were upset 7-2 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Joel Farabee each collected three points for the Flyers. Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin collected an assist in his first game since suffering a lower-body injury on March 18. Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced defenseman Mike Matheson is week-to-week with a suspected facial injury.

The Buffalo Sabres upset the New York Islanders 4-2. Michael Houser made 34 saves for the win in his NHL debut while teammate Sam Reinhart scored two goals. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov’s shutout streak ended at 248 minutes as his club slipped to fourth place with 67 points.

A hat trick by Sebastian Aho carried the Carolina Hurricanes over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2, eliminating the latter from playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. The Hurricanes extended their points streak to 11 games and sit atop the division with a league-leading 77 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have a good shot at winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history.

Aleksander Barkov’s overtime goal gave the Florida Panthers a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Stars overcame a 4-2 deficit to force the extra frame with Tyler Segun tallying the game-tying goal in his season debut following offseason hip surgery. The Panthers sit two points behind the Hurricanes with 75 points. The Stars playoff hopes took a hit as they sit four points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

As for the Predators (60 points), Roman Josi’s overtime goal lifted them past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Jackets forced the extra frame on a third-period hat trick by Emil Bernstrom.

Two goals within 26 seconds by Kirill Kaprizov and Jonas Brodin late in the third period powered the Minnesota Wild over the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 6-5. Nick Bonino scored twice and set up another for the Wild (70 points), who remain two points behind the Avalanche in the Honda West Division.

An overtime goal by Andre Burakovsky gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Burakovsky, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each had two points while Evander Kane scored twice for the Sharks. The Avalanche (72 points) are two behind the Golden Knights. Avs goalie Devan Dubnyk missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19 and is expected to miss the next two weeks.

Third-period goals by Robert Bortuzzo and Ryan O’Reilly gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. St. Louis winger David Perron collected an assist for his 600th career point. The Blues (55 points) opened a five-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the division.

The Coyotes’ playoff hopes grew dimmer as the Los Angeles Kings beat them 3-2. Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist to reach 999 career points. Teammate Jonathan Quick left the game after allowing two goals on 19 shots through two periods with an undisclosed injury.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending May 2.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 14, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 14, 2021

More Penguins speculation, two of the players involved in yesterday’s Hurricanes-Senators trade shouldn’t get too comfortable, and an update on Derek Stepan in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

MORE PENGUINS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi recently examined the big decisions facing the Pittsburgh Penguins following their hiring of Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.

Sources close to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin confirm both players endorsed the Burke-Hextall partnership. Team co-owner Mario Lemieux has long expressed to confidants and previous GMs that he wants both players to retire as Penguins.

Malkin’s contract expires at the end of next season. The Penguins can open contract extension talks this summer. Rossi noted Malkin stated in September 2019 his preference to signing a three-year extension to finish his career in Pittsburgh. He believes the Penguins will keep Malkin as that was the understanding when Burke and Hextall signed on.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits outside of Pittsburgh wondered about Malkin’s future (and Crosby’s) under the Penguins’ new management. It appears neither he nor Crosby will be going anywhere based on Rossi’s report. The situation could change but if ownership wants Malkin and Crosby to retire as Penguins then that’s what’s going to happen.

Kris Letang’s contract also expires at the end of next season. Rossi reports Lemieux is believed to prefer retaining the veteran defenseman. However, Burke and Hextall weren’t told Letang couldn’t be traded, only that any trade “must be done the right way for respect for all he’s done.”

Rossi also cited sources saying former GM Jim Rutherford placed calls to many teams to gauge interest in Letang. However, a deal to move him was never in place and wasn’t the reason behind Rutherford’s decision to step down. It remains to be seen if Letang wants to re-sign or what the Penguins might get in return if they trade him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang has a modified no-trade clause listing 18 preferred trade destinations. It’s difficult to say what his value could be but given his age (34) and UFA status next summer they might not find many takers in the trade market.

The logjam on the left side of the Penguins’ blueline could become Hextall’s priority to address before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Rossi speculates either Mike Matheson or Juuso Riikola will have to go.

Parting with Matheson could require Hextall to package the blueliner with a draft pick, prospect or a player off the current roster. The Penguins cannot afford to carry an extra defenseman with Matheson’s contract ($4.875 million AAV through 2025-26).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson lacks no-trade protection this season but his modified no-trade (eight-team no-trade list) goes into effect next season. Moving him this season is preferable but his cap hit and poor play make him a tough sell.

COULD GALCHENYUK AND DZINGEL BE ON THE MOVE AGAIN?

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Chris Johnston reports anyone involved in yesterday’s trade between the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senator shouldn’t get too comfortable in their new locations.

Johnston doesn’t consider it out of the question that Alex Galchenyuk’s stay with the Hurricanes will be short given he’s bounced around a lot in recent years and could be on the move again in the near future. Meanwhile, the Senators have a decision to make with Ryan Dzingel. He’s in the final year of his contract and could be flipped for a draft pick at the Apr. 12 trade deadline if they decide not to keep him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cedric Paquette was the centerpiece of that deal. The Hurricanes intend to keep him for the playoffs given his gritty style of play and postseason experience. Galchenyuk saw limited action with the Senators while Dzingel wasn’t playing up to expectations with the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes could flip Galchenyuk to another club at some point before the trade deadline. Dzingel could also be moved if he fails to regain the scoring touch he had during his previous tenure with the Sens.

UPDATE ON STEPAN

SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan reported Friday center Derek Stepan could be among the first Senators moved before the trade deadline. He’s among several players eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer who could be useful pieces for a contending team.

Scanlan reported the team and the player seem to regret the trade that brought him to Ottawa. The veteran center is missing his family in Arizona but GM Pierre Dorion insisted Stepan hasn’t requested a trade. Nevertheless, Scanlan feels it’s clear Stepan is hoping the Senators can move him closer to home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid performance by Stepan in the coming weeks could improve his trade value. His annual average value is $6.5 million but he’s earning just $2 million in actual salary after being paid a $3 million signing bonus by the Arizona Coyotes before his acquisition by the Senators. Still, the Sens might have to pick up part of his AAV to make him attractive to cap-strapped contenders.