NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2023

Hat-trick performances by the Sabres’ Tage Thompson and the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk while Auston Matthews sets a Leafs franchise record. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson tallied in overtime for his third hat trick of the season in a 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals. Thompson finished the night with four points while Alex Tuch had a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who improve to 19-15-2. Alex Ovechkin tallied twice for the 21-13-6 Capitals.

Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thompson has 30 goals on the season and sits three back of Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid for the goal-scoring lead. The Sabres, meanwhile, have won seven of their last 10 games. With 40 points, they’re six back of the New York Islanders for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Before the game, the Sabres entered Capital One Center in Washington wearing t-shirts that read, “Love for 3” to honor Buffalo Bill safety Damar Hamlin, who remains hospitalized in critical condition after collapsing during Monday’s NFL game against the Bengals. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams released a statement in support of Hamlin and the Bills’ organization.

Matthew Tkachuk tallied his first hat trick with the Florida Panthers as they downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. Eric Staal also scored twice for the Panthers (17-18-4) while Clayton Keller had two points for the 13-18-5 Coyotes, who’ve lost 10 straight road games.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews collected two points to become the fastest player in franchise history to reach 500 points (445 games) but his club fell 6-5 to the St. Louis Blues. Brayden Schenn tallied the winner in the shootout while Brandon Saad scored two goals for the Blues, who improved to 18-17-3. Michael Bunting scored twice and William Nylander had a three-point performance for the 23-8-7 Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of Bunting, the Leafs have reportedly opened preliminary talks about a contract extension for the winger, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their fourth straight victory by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Former Blackhawk Brandon Hagel had a goal and an assist in the third period against his former club as the Lightning rose to 24-11-1 on the season. Seth Jones replied for the Blackhawks, who dropped to 8-25-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane left this game in the second period with a lower-body injury. An update on his condition is expected on Wednesday.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Artemi Panarin, K’Andre Miller and Filip Chytil gave the New York Rangers a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, snapping the latter’s 11-game win streak. Paul Stastny collected two assists for Carolina (25-7-6) while the Rangers improved to 21-12-6. With 56 points, the Hurricanes remain six back of the league-leading Boston Bruins.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Pheonix Copley stopped 28 shots to backstop his club over the Dallas Stars by a score of 3-2. Adrian Kempe snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Kings (22-13-6) reach the 50-point plateau, sitting four points behind the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Roope Hintz collected two assists for the 23-10-6 Stars as their four-game win streak came to an end. With 52 points, they’re two back of the Golden Knights for first overall in the Western Conference.

The Winnipeg Jets got a 33-save performance from Connor Hellebuyck in a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Sam Gagner tallied the tie-breaker in the third period as the Jets improved to 24-13-1 and sit three points behind the first-place Stars in the Central Division. The Flames’ record fell to 18-14-7 on the season.

Four straight second-period goals carried the Seattle Kraken over the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Jaden Schwartz had a goal and two assists for the Kraken (20-12-4) as they sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 44 points, one up on the Flames and two ahead of the Oilers. Connor McDavid netted his league-leading 33rd goal of the season for the Oilers (20-17-2) as they dropped their fifth straight home game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leon Draisaitl returned to the Oilers lineup after being sidelined for two games with what was believed to be a core muscle strain.

A three-point night by Mathew Barzal carried the New York Islanders to a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored twice for the Isles, who improved to 22-15-2 and hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 46 points. Bo Horvat scored twice for the Canucks as they dropped to 16-18-3.

Ottawa Senators goalie Anton Forsberg turned in a 22-save shutout to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0. Tim Stutzle and Claude Giroux each had two points for the Senators (18-17-3) while the Blue Jackets slide to 11-23-2 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Senators, a source told the Ottawa Sun that it could take until March to determine who the club’s new owner will be. Even then, the paperwork to complete the sale might not be done until June.

The Nashville Predators downed the Montreal Canadiens 6-3, handing the latter their fifth straight loss and leaving them with just one win in their last 10 games. Nino Niederreiter had three assists for the 16-14-6 Predators. Cole Caufield netted his 22nd goal of the season for the 15-20-3 Canadiens.

IN OTHER NEWS…

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings placed winger Jakub Vrana on waivers yesterday. The move comes as the club attempts to create roster space for sidelined players such as Robby Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Zadina slated to return soon to their lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana missed most of this season in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program and is currently with the Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint.

A rival club interested in bolstering their scoring could pluck Vrana off waivers today by the noon ET deadline. He’s under contract through next season but also carries a $5.25 million annual average value. Given the high number of teams that Cap Friendly indicates have less than that in cap space, it’ll be interesting to see if he gets plucked off the waiver wire later today.

The Red Wings are carrying three goaltenders. However, they decided against putting Alex Nedeljkovic or the well-traveled Magnus Hellberg on waivers for the purpose of sending one of them to the minors for the time being.

LAS VEGAS SUN’s Danny Webster took to Twitter yesterday to report the Golden Knights have taken center Jack Eichel off injured reserve.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers activated promising winger Bobby Brink off injured reserve and have sent him to their AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins have recalled goalie Dustin Tokarski from the AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. They’ve also placed defenseman Kris Letang on their non-roster list as he’s joined his family in Montreal following the recent death of his father.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 30, 2022

Alex Ovechkin sets a goal-scoring record, the Kraken and Kings play the highest-scoring game thus far this season, the Stars re-sign Roope Hintz to a lucrative new contract, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice to surpass Wayne Gretzky for the most career road goals (403) in a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves for the Capitals and Anthony Mantha collected two points for the Capitals (10-11-3). Nil Hoglander replied for the Canucks as they fall to 9-11-3.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretzky scored 402 road goals during his career. Ovechkin now has 793 total career goals and needs just nine more to move past Gordie Howe (801) in second place on the all-time list. He currently has 13 goals in 24 games this season.

An overtime goal by Andre Burakovsky lifted the Seattle Kraken over the Los Angeles Kings 9-8 in the highest-scoring game of the season thus far. Burakovsky, Jared McCann and Matty Beniers each scored twice while Jordan Eberle collected four assists for the Kraken (14-5-3) as they picked up their sixth straight win. Kevin Fiala had four assists, Drew Doughty collected three helpers and Gabriel Vilardi tallied twice as the Kings drop to 12-9-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a record-setting game for the Kraken, winning their franchise-best sixth consecutive game, scoring the most goals in one game and the most combined goals.

Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler collected a hat trick and picked up an assist as his club blanked the Colorado Avalanche 5-0. Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 40-save shutout while Mark Scheifele and Cole Perfetti collected three points each as the Jets improved their record to 14-6-1. Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev gave up five goals on 23 shots as his club fell to 12-7-1.

The Boston Bruins regained first place in the overall standings with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, extending their league-record season-opening home wins streak to 13 games. Taylor Hall scored two goals while Jeremy Swayman kicked out 27 shots for the win. Steven Stamkos scored to pick up his 999th career point as his Lightning dropped to 13-8-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins (19-3-0) are tied with the New Jersey Devils (38 points) but have a game in hand and have lost one fewer game. Before the game, they activated defenseman Derek Forbort and demoted Anton Swayman to their AHL affiliate.

Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube had a goal and two assists while goalie Dan Vladar stopped 31 shots to defeat the Florida Panthers 6-2 and improve their record to 10-9-3. Sam Reinhart and Nick Cousins replied for the 10-9-4 Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was Matthew Tkachuk’s first game in Calgary since forcing a trade to the Florida Panthers during the offseason. He was honored by the Flames with a video tribute and a standing ovation by most Calgary fans but was booed every time he touched the puck in this contest.

An overtime goal by Brett Pesce gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov also scored for the Hurricanes (12-6-5) while Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel replied for the 11-8-4 Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were furious following the game as an uncalled boarding penalty by Carolina winger Seth Jarvis on Bryan Rust led to Pesce’s goal.

The Philadelphia Flyers snapped their 10-game winless skid by downing the New York Islanders 3-1. Kevin Hayes tallied two goals and Carter Hart turned in a 23-save effort for the 8-10-5 Flyers. Noah Dobson replied for the Islanders as they drop to 15-9-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers winger Scott Laughton returned to the lineup following a four-game absence with an upper-body injury.

Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi’s scored in overtime as his club nipped the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 2-1. Colton Sissons also tallied for the Predators as they improved to 10-9-2. John Gibson made 39 saves and Troy Terry scored for the Ducks, who hold the league’s worst record at 6-15-2.

The San Jose Sharks blanked the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Tomas Hertl scored twice and Kaapo Kahkonen made 28 saves for the shutout as the Sharks improve to 8-13-4. The Canadiens went 0-6 on the powerplay and drop to 11-10-1 on the season.

NOTABLE NEWS

DALLAS HOCKEY NOW: The Stars signed center Roope Hintz to an eight-year, $67.6 million contract extension. The average annual value is $8.45 million and goes into effect for the 2023-24 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big increase for Hintz over the $3.15 million AAV of his current contract. The 26-year-old was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in July and would’ve also been a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.

Hintz earned that big payday centering the Stars’ top line with wingers Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski since 2020-21. He had 43 points in 41 games despite being hampered by injury during that COVID-shortened season. The Finnish center enjoyed a career-best 72-point performance last season and has 24 points in 22 games thus far in this campaign.

The Stars now have young core players like Hintz, Robertson, defenseman Miro Heiskanen and goaltender Jake Oettinger signed for at least the next two seasons.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Tempe City Council voted 7-0 in favor of the Arizona Coyotes’ proposed 16,000 arena proposal. The next (and potentially final) step will be a referendum by Tempe citizens to be held on May 16, 2023.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the Coyotes are willing to sign a 30-year non-relocation agreement if the arena proposal goes forward. The league will also bring an NHL draft or an all-star game to the new arena.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2022

The Leafs, Red Wings and Panthers emerge the winners in Sunday’s game, the Bruins release Mitchell Miller two days after signing him, and the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk and the Canadiens’ Josh Anderson get suspended. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares’ 399th career goal was a game-winner in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Erik Kallgren made 29 saves for his first career NHL victory while Calle Jarnkrok and William Nylander also scored for the Leafs (7-4-2). Stefan Noesen replied for the 8-3-1 Hurricanes.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have won three straight in early November after stumbling through October with a 4-4-2 record. Earlier in the day, they announced goaltender Ilya Samsonov was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury and could be sidelined for at least a week.

The Detroit Red Wings nipped the New York Rangers 3-2 on an overtime goal by Dominik Kubalik. Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 27 shots for the win as the Wings improved to 7-3-2 while the Rangers fell to 6-4-3. Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko scored for the Blueshirts.

Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour had a goal and three assists to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 5-3. Sam Reinhart scored two goals and Spencer Knight made 32 saves as the Panthers improved to 7-5-1. John Gibson kicked out 43 shots for the Ducks as they fell to 4-8-1.

HEADLINES

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Two days after the Bruins signed Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract, team president Cam Neely yesterday released a statement announcing they were parting ways with the 20-year-old defenseman effective immediately.

The Bruins came under heavy scrutiny for signing Miller, who had pleaded guilty in juvenile court six years ago for racially and physically abusing and bullying a Black classmate with developmental disabilities.

In his statement, Neely indicated the Bruins’ decision to sign Miller was based on “careful consideration” of the facts as they were aware of them. The club believed the incident was an isolated one and that Miller had taken “meaningful action to reform and was committed to ongoing development.” However, Neely claimed the decision to terminate the contract was based “on new information.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins’ front office faced a firestorm of criticism for signing Miller. It came not just from around the league but also from their fans, from local media, and from Bruins veterans like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Nick Foligno. Even league commissioner Gary Bettman expressed his displeasure when asked about the signing on Saturday.

Neely and the rest of the Bruins front office could’ve spared themselves all of this had they properly vetted Miller’s past in the first place. This was not an “isolated incident” as Miller engaged in physical and verbal abuse of his victim for several years A detailed report about his actions by the Arizona Republic prompted the Arizona Coyotes to relinquish his rights just weeks after selecting him in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL draft. He offered no attempt at contrition until about a week before signing with the Bruins.

The fallout from this could leave a stain on the Bruins’ organization for some time.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk for two games for high-sticking Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick on Saturday. Tkachuk jabbed the blade of his stick into the cage on Quick’s mask. The Kings goalie was not injured.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson received a two-game suspension for boarding Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo on Saturday. Pietrangelo was bleeding from the nose following the hit but stayed in the game.

DAILY FACEOFF: Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina is listed as month-to-month after suffering a leg injury blocking a shot against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild placed Jordan Greenway and Ryan Hartman on injured reserve with upper-body injuries. They recalled forwards Adam Beckman and Joseph Cramarossa from their AHL affiliate in Iowa.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Bo Byram is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

GOPHNX.COM: Dylan Guenther will be staying with the Arizona Coyotes this season. The 2021 first-round pick earned his place with two goals and six points in nine games.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks’ rebuilding process is being felt at the gate this season. They’re averaging 14, 788 fans at the United Center thus far. That’s the lowest it’s been since 2007-08.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche broadcaster and former NHL forward Peter McNab has died of cancer at age 70.

Considered “The Father of Colorado Hockey”, McNab was a standout player at Denver University and went on to play 14 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils from 1973-74 to 1986-87, scoring 363 goals and 813 points in 955 career games. He had been calling Avalanche games since their first season in 1995-96 and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2021.

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










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2022

The aftermath of the Matthew Tkachuk trade plus the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports Matthew Tkachuk explained his refusal to sign a long-term contract with the Calgary Flames. At the time, the 24-year-old winger was a restricted free agent who was a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

Calgary Flames traded winger Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers on July 22. (NHL Images).

Tkachuk indicated he knew when he inked his previous contract in 2019 that there was a chance that it would be time to leave when the deal was over. He said there wasn’t any single reason behind his decision.

He explained that he wanted to re-evaluate where he was at that point in his career. The winger stated that he didn’t know what his choice would be until after he spoke with several teams.

His decision forced the club to trade him on Friday night to the Florida Panthers in a multi-player deal that sent winger Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to the Flames. He agreed to an eight-year deal worth $9.5 million per season with the Panthers.

Tkachuk indicated it wasn’t an easy decision, dismissing speculation that he was motivated by the recent departure of former linemate Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He said he was sad to be leaving Calgary, insisting that he enjoyed living and playing there. He explained why he choose the Panthers, saying he was drawn to their competitiveness and their prospects for success in the future.

CALGARY SUN: Flames general manager Brad Treliving said the offer he received from the Florida Panthers for Matthew Tkachuk was the best deal available “by a long shot.”

Treliving made the trade after Tkachuk informed the Flames that he wasn’t interested in signing a long-term contract. Huberdeau and Weegar are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

The Flames GM said it was important for everyone to take a breather after everything that’s happened before moving on to the next round of challenges. That includes attempting to re-sign Huberdeau and Weegar.

Treliving also he was “pissed off” about the media narrative that suggests Calgary isn’t a good place to live and play for NHL players. He praised the community and defended his club, insisting that it will be competing every year to be a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk was a restricted free agent and within his rights under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement to determine where he wanted to play. Informing the Flames that he wouldn’t sign beyond the coming season gave him considerable leverage to force a trade wherever he wanted to go.

Treliving got the best deal he could under the circumstances. In the short term, it should keep the Flames competitive for 2022-23 despite the absence of Gaudreau. Whether it works out over the long term depends on whether Huberdeau and Weegar are willing to sign contract extensions.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed forwards Gabriel Vilardi and Jaret Anderson-Dolan to contract extensions. Vilardi’s is a one-year, one-way deal worth an annual average value of $825K. Anderson-Dolan’s is a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K at the NHL level.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed center Jack Studnicka to a two-year, two-way contract extension with an average annual salary of $762,500 at the NHL level.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed defenseman Will Butcher to a one-year, two-way deal worth an AAV of $750K.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks recently announced new initiatives to help educate the public about the cultures of Native peoples.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2022

The Flames trade Matthew Tkachuk to the Panthers in a blockbuster deal, the Blue Jackets re-sign Patrik Laine and trade Oliver Bjorkstrand to the Kraken and Pierre-Luc Dubois signs a one-year deal with the Jets. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY SUN/FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a blockbuster overnight trade, the Calgary Flames traded winger Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for winger Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, forward Cole Schwindt and a conditional first-round pick in 2025.

Calgary Flames trade winger Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers (NHL Images).

The Panthers also signed Tkachuk to an eight-year contract with an average annual value of $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I must confess to being surprised by this move. I didn’t expect the Panthers to give up Huberdeau nor did I believe the Flames would acquire two players slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

Nevertheless, I admire the willingness of Panthers general manager Bill Zito and Flames GM Brad Treliving for making what’s become a rarity in today’s salary cap world: a major, honest-to-goodness hockey trade.

Zito is getting an impact player in Tkachuk. The 24-year-old winger is a big, elite, agitating forward entering the prime of his career and is five years younger than Huberdeau. He’s coming off a career-best 42-goal, 104-point performance last season.

The Panthers GM also ensured that he got Tkachuk under contract throughout his playing prime. This deal signals the Panthers’ intention to remain among the league’s best teams for a long time.

Tkachuk’s new contract leaves the Panthers sitting $4 million over the $82.5 million salary cap. Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards indicates they’ll free up $3 million by placing winger Anthony Duclair on long-term injury reserve as he continues to recover from an offseason Achilles tendon injury.

Richards also noted that the Panthers are still sitting over the cap by $1 million. They’ll have to shed another salary to become cap compliant when the 2022-23 season opens in October.

Tkachuk recently informed Treliving that he wasn’t going to sign a long-term deal with Calgary. Having lost Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets via free agency last week, he couldn’t repeat that mistake with Tkachuk.

The Flames GM got a terrific return from the Panthers. Huberdeau, 29, is coming off a career-best 115-point campaign, tying Gaudreau for second overall among last season’s leading scorers. He’s a gifted playmaker who’s tallied 61-or-more points in each of the last five seasons.

Weegar, 28, has blossomed over the past two years into a mobile top-four defenseman. He had 36 points in 54 games during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season and 44 points in 80 contests last season.

The 21-year-old Schwindt made his NHL debut last season in three games with the Panthers. A physical, two-way forward who can play center or wing, he had 40 points in 72 games with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers last season. Treliving also gets himself a lottery-protected first-round pick in 2025. Not a bad haul for Tkachuk.

Treliving isn’t out of the woods yet. He must get Huberdeau and Weegar re-signed or risk suffering the same fate next summer as he did this year with Gaudreau. Still, he’s got enough time and cap space to get something done.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets agreed to a four-year contract with Patrik Laine. The deal is worth an average annual cap hit of $8.7 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine is a skilled scoring forward with an impressive shot. However, his production suffered following a career-best 44-goal performance with the Winnipeg Jets in 2017-18.

Laine was limited to second-line duty during his final seasons with the Jets. He struggled to adjust following his trade in 2021 to the Blue Jackets and had to deal with injuries and the death of his father last season.

Nevertheless, Laine was a point-per-game player last season, tallying 56 points in as many games. He could regain his 40-goal form if he meshes well with the recently-acquired Johnny Gaudreau on the Jackets’ top line.

This is an expensive gamble by the Blues Jacket but it could pay off handsomely. Laine and Gaudreau could form a dangerous one-two scoring punch that accelerates the club’s rebuild, putting them squarely among next season’s playoff contenders.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH/THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Blues Jackets traded winger Oliver Bjorkstrand to the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick (via the Flames) and a 2023 fourth-rounder (via the Jets).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a cost-cutting measure by the Blue Jackets. They were above the $82.5 million salary cap by over $6 million after signing Laine.

This move sheds Bjorkstrand’s $5.4 million, leaving the Jackets roughly $900K over the cap. Another move will be necessary before the start of the season to become cap compliant but that could be accomplished by demoting a player to the minors.

This was a savvy move by Kraken GM Ron Francis. He bolstered his club’s scoring punch and all it cost him was a couple of extra mid-level draft picks.

Bjorkstrand should be a fine acquisition for the Kraken. A skillful scoring forward, the 27-year-old winger tallied a career-best 28 goals and 57 points in 80 games with the Blue Jackets last season. He will bring some much-needed depth among their top-six forwards and is under contract through 2025-26.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed Pierre-Luc Dubois to a one-year, $6 million contract after he accepted their qualifying offer on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here given the 24-year-old center’s intention to test the UFA market in 2024. Dubois will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. He remains a prime trade candidate this summer and has been linked to the Montreal Canadiens.

TSN: The Anaheim Ducks signed three players to contract extensions, including defenseman Urho Vaakanainen. Cap Friendly indicates it’s a two-year deal worth $850K per season.

SPORTSNET: Halifax police are opening an investigation into an alleged group sexual assault said to have taken place in 2003 involving members of Canada’s world junior hockey team.

News of the investigation emerged after Hockey Canada revealed in a statement that it learned of the allegations after being contacted by TSN reporter Rick Westhead. The organization contacted Halifax police and informed Sports Canada.

NHL.COM: The league released a statement saying it is looking into the allegations and will respond accordingly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many of the players on that 2003 team went on to NHL careers.

This is the second report of group sexual assault involving members of Canada’s world junior team. The first involved the 2018 squad. The investigation into that has been re-opened after it was revealed Hockey Canada used funding from player registration fees as a slush fund for “uninsured liabilities” such as sexual assault.

The 2018 incident wasn’t a one-off by a bunch of bad apples. This latest report suggests there’s a systemic problem within Hockey Canada that’s gone unchecked for years. Change should and must be made immediately at every level right now to address this cancer within its system.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2022

Another list of possible trade destinations for Matthew Tkachuk plus the Blue Jackets are trying to clear cap space for Patrik Laine. Check out the details in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

MORE TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR MATTHEW TKACHUK

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston included the Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators on his list of potential trade destinations for Matthew Tkachuk.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

The 24-year-old restricted free agent winger is expected to be traded soon after informing the Calgary Flames that he wouldn’t sign a long-term contract with them. Meanwhile, the date for the Flames’ club-filed arbitration hearing with Tkachuk is scheduled for Aug. 11.

Johnston noted that Tkachuk reportedly submitted a list of five or six teams with whom he’d be willing to sign a long-term contract. It’s uncertain which teams are on that list. Johnston also included the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I already addressed whether the Blues, Golden Knights, Devils, Predators, Stars, Red Wings and Islanders could acquire Tkachuk in the July 21 rumor mill and with The Hockey News. I’ll add that the Predators signing Nino Niederreiter yesterday to a two-year, $8 million contract suggests general manager David Poile isn’t pursuing a big fish like Tkachuk.

Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen poured cold water on the idea of the Red Wings acquiring Tkachuk. He believes the Flames won’t be interested in Tyler Bertuzzi (a UFA in 2023) as part of the return while Wings GM Steve Yzerman won’t part with promising youngsters like Lucas Raymond and Simon Edvinsson.

Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards believes the Panthers’ limited cap space makes it difficult for them to land Tkachuk. While Richards suggested that could be accomplished by trading Jonathan Huberdeau and perhaps MacKenzie Weegar to the Flames, he doesn’t expect the Flames are interested in players a year away from UFA eligibility.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post shoots down the Rangers as a destination. “They have neither the cap space nor the means to create it,” he writes. “Wishing it so doesn’t make it achievable.”

The Ottawa Senators have the cap space and the depth in young players and prospects to entice the Flames. Matthew might love the idea of playing alongside younger brother Brady in Ottawa through 2028 when the latter becomes an unrestricted free agent.

However, the Senators already acquired a 40-goal scorer in Alex DeBrincat. Their focus now is on adding a top-four defenseman.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins aren’t really in any position to make a blockbuster move to acquire Tkachuk. The only logical scenario would be a one-for-one swap with David Pastrnak going to Calgary but sources say the Flames wouldn’t be interested in that kind of deal unless Pastrnak signed a contract extension. He also pointed out the Bruins already have two top-six left wingers in Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Bruins calling the Flames about Tkachuk. They’re already engaged in extension talks with Pastrnak and reportedly still talking contracts with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy considers it extremely unlikely that the Montreal Canadiens will be among the suitors for Tkachuk. Lack of cap space and the Flames’ anticipated high asking price take them out of the equation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not to mention the Canadiens probably aren’t on Tkachuk’s wish list.

BLUE JACKETS TRYING TO CREATE CAP ROOM FOR LAINE

THE ATHLETIC’S Aaron Portzline tweeted yesterday that Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine has until 5 pm ET on July 22 to accept his qualifying offer. If he does, the Jackets can still sign him to a contract extension but they’d have to wait until Jan. 1 to do so.

The Blue Jackets are actively trying to shed salary to make room for Laine’s new contract in the aftermath of signing Johnny Gaudreau last week. If the winger doesn’t accept the qualifying offer, his agent and the Jackets can continue to negotiate a long-term deal, allowing the club more time to shed salary

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I touched on the Blue Jackets’ need to clear cap space for Laine earlier this week with The Hockey News. My guess is they’ll try moving veteran winger Gustav Nyquist and his $5.5 million cap hit.