NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2021

Could the Capitals shop Evgeny Kuznetsov in the offseason? Is Jets coach Paul Maurice in danger of losing his job? Will the Senators leave Matt Murray exposed in the expansion draft? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals could be willing to listen to trade offers this summer for Evgeny Kuznetsov. The 28-year-old center has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.8 million, plus a modified no-trade clause.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (NHL Images).

LeBrun noted Kuznetsov and teammate Ilya Samsonov were scratched by the Capitals from Monday’s game against the New York Rangers for disciplinary reasons stemming from missing a team function. The center also missed time earlier this season when he ran afoul of COVID-19 protocols. Two years ago, he was suspended by the league for three games for “inappropriate conduct.”

Kuznetsov’s play over the last couple of years has been inconsistent. LeBrun said he’s hearing it’s starting to irritate some members of the Capitals’ organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also the Capitals could be running out of patience with Kuznetsov, pointing to head coach Peter Laviolette saying the club is “working through things inside the room.”

Kuznetsov is a talented player but his stats have tumbled since his career-best 83-point performance in 2017-18. His on-ice inconsistency, recent off-ice issues and a hefty contract could make him difficult to move, especially with the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million next season.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre suggests this season could be Paul Maurice’s last as head coach of the Jets if the club makes another early playoff exit. While the Jets are certain to clinch a postseason berth they’re mired in a seven-game losing skid.

McIntyre doesn’t expect Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will make an immediate move to replace Maurice. Nevertheless, the pundit noted the Jets’ bench boss has made some questionable choices lately.

Maurice keeps playing Tucker Poolman with Josh Morrissey when it’s clear that defense tandem isn’t working while keeping Dylan DeMelo stuck on the third pairing. He has also relied heavily on the struggling first line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler and hasn’t found a way to get Pierre-Luc Dubois going.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen doesn’t see Maurice losing his job before the playoffs. He noted the loyalty Cheveldayoff and team chairman Mark Chipman have toward their head coach. Friesen also pointed out the players aren’t showing any sign of quitting on Maurice. Still, he doesn’t rule out Maurice losing his job if the Jets get bounced from the opening round.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes the Senators won’t protect Matt Murray in this summer’s expansion draft. He doubts the Seattle Kraken will select a goaltender “with a 10-13-1 record, 3.38 average, .893 save percentage, injury question marks and with three years and $21 million remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Even if Murray had better stats this season his injury history and remaining salary should scare off the Kraken.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, more game postponements, plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Petr Mrazek, Blake Wheeler and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins overcame a 3-1 deficit to upset the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on an overtime goal by Patrice Bergeron. David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick, including the Bruins’ final two goals in regulation to force the extra frame. He also had an assist on Bergeron’s winner while the Bruins’ captain also collected three assists.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Pastrnak is quickly returning to game shape following his recovery from offseason hip surgery. That was an impressive performance on his part in the third period. Penalties proved costly for the Flyers as the Bruins’ final three goals all came on the power play.

Three goals within the first five minutes of the first period power the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Victor Hedman and Blake Coleman each had two points. The Red Wings are winless in their last seven contests.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild’s schedule is on pause to at least next Tuesday after five more players were added to their COVID-19 protocol list. Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Johansson and Jared Spurgeon joined Marcus Foligno on the list.

THE DENVER POST: One of the postponed Wild games involved Thursday’s contest with the Colorado Avalanche, who placed forward Tyson Jost on the COVID-19 protocol list.

WGR 550: Tobias Rieder and Brandon Montour have joined Taylor Hall and Rasmus Ristolainen on the Buffalo Sabres COVID-19 protocol list. The Sabres schedule is paused until at least Feb. 8 with four games postponed.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Defenseman John Marino is the first member of the Penguins to be placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist is in good spirits and said he’s feeling well a month after undergoing open-heart surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik in his ongoing recovery.

NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek has undergone surgery on his right thumb. A timetable for his return is expected in the next several days.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice ripped into critics of captain Blake Wheeler’s defensive play. “He’s got f*****g 11 points in 10 games,” said Maurice. While he doesn’t have a problem with criticism of Wheeler’s play, he claims he wants it to be accurate. “You’ll do your deep dives and analytics, and god, they do a horses**t job of telling you what five guys do.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler has been on the ice for more five-on-five goals against the Jets than the rest of his teammates. It’s fair to note that point but Maurice is right to say it doesn’t tell the whole story of his overall performance.

CBS SPORTS: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Walker is expected to be sidelined two-to-four weeks after undergoing surgery on his nose. He took a slapshot to the face during a recent game against the Minnesota Wild.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators placed defenseman Braydon Coburn on waivers.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury has taken himself out of the running for the vacant position of Pittsburgh Penguins GM.

TSN: Hockey Canada announced St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has been named GM of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey Team at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Joining him will be Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland, Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis, Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney and Florida Panthers executive Roberto Luongo.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators will make a limited number of tickets available for six February home games beginning Friday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 13, 2020

The Canucks retire the numbers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, David Pastrnak regains the lead in the NHL goal-scoring race, an update on Jay Bouwmeester, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks retired the numbers of future Hall-of-Famers Daniel and Henrik Sedin in a pre-game ceremony before going on to blank the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0. Jacob Markstrom turned in a 49-save shutout while Brandon Sutter had a goal and two assists. With the win, the Canucks (69 points) widened their lead over the Edmonton Oilers atop the Pacific Division by three points. The Blackhawks (58 points) remain six points away from the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

The Vancouver Canucks retired the numbers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin on Wednesday (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cermony was a fitting tribute to the two greatest players in Canucks history.

David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick as the Boston Bruins rolled to a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. With 41 goals, Pastrnak regained the lead in the league goal-scoring race. The Bruins (82 points) opened a three-point lead atop the overall standings over the surging Tampa Bay Lightning, while the fading Canadiens remain seven points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division. Earlier in the day, the Habs also learned defenseman Shea Weber will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lengthy absence of their captain and top defenseman could be the final nail in the coffin for the Canadiens’ playoff hopes.

The Los Angeles Kings snapped a five-game losing skid by upsetting the Calgary Flames 5-3. Cal Petersen kicked out 35 shots while Anze Kopitar collected two assists. The Flames (64 points) cling to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is doing well after suffering a cardiac incident during Tuesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. He’s undergoing a battery of tests, but Armstrong said things are looking “very positive.” Medical staff used a defibrillator to revive Bouwmeester after he collapsed on the bench during the first period. The game was subsequently postponed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bouwmeester for a speedy recovery.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets agreed to a multi-year contract extension with head coach Paul Maurice. Contract terms weren’t disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maurice’s future with the Jets was in doubt after the club’s early exit from the 2019 playoffs and their slow start to this season. However, his efforts to keep the club competitive with a depleted defense corps convinced ownership he remains the right man for the job.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are unsure of the timeline for goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s return. He was scheduled to return to action from a lower-body injury on Monday but reaggravated it during the morning skate.

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers placed winger James Neal on injured reserve and recalled Tyler Benson from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders forward Casey Cizikas will miss three-to-four weeks with a leg laceration.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for slashing Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves on Tuesday.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed forward Pierre Engvall to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1.25 million.

SPORTING NEWS: NBC Sports confirmed Jeremy Roenick will not return as their hockey analyst. Roenick was suspended in December for making inappropriate remarks about his co-workers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2020

Auston Matthews sets an NHL record for American-born players, Logan Couture sidelined, the Flames re-sign Rasmus Andersson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews became the first American-born player to score 30 goals in each of his first four NHL seasons in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Matthews reached the milestone by scoring twice against the Jets, who took the game on Blake Wheeler’s game-winner. With the win, the Jets hold the first wild-card berth (52 points) in the Western Conference. Before the game, Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly admitted he’s been playing through a lower-body injury this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is the first American-born player to score 30 goals in each of his first four NHL seasons (Photo via NHL Images).

Kevin Hayes’ shorthanded second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Philadelphia Flyers held off the Washington Capitals 3-2, snapping a four-game losing skid.

The Dallas Stars picked up their fifth straight win by edging the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Anton Khudobin made 30 saves while Jamie Benn and Blake Comeau scored within 37 seconds in the second period.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture reportedly fractured an ankle during his club’s 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. He’s listed as week-to-week and could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their leading scorer could be the death blow to the Sharks’ fading playoff hopes.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner is ready to return from a knee injury, but center Dylan Strome will miss at least one game with a sprained ankle.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Despite Corey Perry’s suspension, the Anaheim Ducks still intend to honor his tenure with the club during tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars. Perry spent 14 seasons with the Ducks, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2007 and winning Hart and Maurice Richard trophies in 2011. He signed with the Stars last summer after the Ducks bought out his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry’s chippy style of play aside, he was one of the best players in Ducks’ history. He sits second in games-played (988) and goals (372) and third in assists (404) and points (776). For a time, he was also among the league’s elite scorers.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba donated $11.2K to help with Australia’s wildfire relief. He spent over two weeks last spring touring the country’s east coast and credits the experience with helping him mentally overcome a pectoral injury that cost him half of last season.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames re-signed defenseman Rasmus Andersson to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $4.55 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson, 23, has quickly established himself as a key member of the Flames’ defense corps. This is a good move by management, locking him into a long-term deal that could become a bargain as he continues his development as a top-pairing rearguard.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens forward Nick Cousins was fined over $2,600.00 for boarding Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green.

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren won’t face supplemental discipline for his hit on Colorado Avalanche winger Joonas Donskoi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the department of player safety decided he suffered enough punishment after getting his butt kicked by Nazem Kadri following that hit.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed Joseph Blandisi on waivers.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington has agreed to a shootout challenge with pop star Justin Bieber with the proceeds going to a charity of the winner’s choice. It appears the challenge will take place during the offseason.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings fans sang “O Canada” prior to Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens after the anthem singer’s microphone malfunctioned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Classy move by Wings fans.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 5, 2020

Game recaps, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Mikko Rantanen tallied his second career NHL hat trick as the Colorado Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Linemate Nathan MacKinnon picked up two assists.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen picked up his second career NHL hat trick in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils (Photo via NHL Images).

The Buffalo Sabres took a 3-0 lead over the Florida Panthers and held on for a 3-2 victory. Sam Reinhart and Marcus Johansson each picked up two points for the Sabres. Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up three goals on seven shots, further highlighting what’s been a miserable performance this season by the former two-time Vezina Trophy winner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky’s stats are truly horrid, sporting the second-worst goals-against average (3.33) and seventh-worst save percentage (.895) among NHL goalies with at least 15 games-played this season. To say this is not what the Panthers expected from Bob when they signed him last summer to a seven-year, $70-million contract is an understatement.

A three-goal third period carried the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Victor Hedman picked up two assists for the Lightning, who’ve won six straight and moved into third place in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was only a matter of time until the talent-laden Lightning overcame their slow start to the season and surged back among the playoff contenders.

An overtime goal by Eric Staal gave the Minnesota Wild a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Staal’s teammate Zach Parise made contact with Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck in the crease but it was ruled he was shoved into Hellebuyck. Jets coach Paul Maurice disagreed with the call but withheld further criticism of the officiating. “It’s goalie interference all day long for me and there’s not a lot of gray area on that one, but I’m not giving them any money. Not one dime,” he said in his postgame press conference, referring to recent fines levied at Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella for his tirade last week against officials.

Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller scored two goals in a 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a costly victory for the Coyotes as goaltender Antti Raanta left the game with a lower-body injury following the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes starter Darcy Kuemper is still sidelined with a lower-body injury. They’ll be hoping Raanta won’t be sidelined for long.

The Vancouver Canucks extended their winning streak to seven games by nipping the New York Rangers 2-1. Jacob Markstrom made 38 saves for the win as Tyler Myers tallied the game-winner late in the third period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have recovered nicely from what appeared to be another season-threatening swoon a month ago. They’re now third in the Pacific Division with 50 points.

Mike Smith’s 35-save performance carried the Edmonton Oilers over the slumping Boston Bruins 4-1. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers while Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 31st goal. The Bruins have won just four of their last 15 games (4-5-6).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Bruins lack of secondary scoring is coming back to haunt them. Expect general manager Don Sweeney to try and address that issue in the coming weeks.

The Vegas Golden Knights overcame a 3-0 deficit to edge the St. Louis Blues 5-4 on an overtime goal by Chandler Stephenson. Vegas has won four straight. Blues winger David Perron had a three-point performance.

Toronto Maple Leafs backup Michael Hutchinson turned in a 33-save shutout in a 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner each had two points.

Brandon Tanev’s overtime goal lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. The Penguins have won eight of their last 10 while the Canadiens are winless in their last five (0-4-1). Artturi Lehkonen tallied twice for the fading Habs.

The San Jose Sharks held off the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2, ending the latter’s 12-game points streak. Kevin Labanc potted the game-winner while Zach Werenski scored both Blue Jackets goals.

The Nashville Predators snapped a three-game losing skid by downing the Los Angeles Kings 4-1. Predators captain Roman Josi extended his points streak to nine games by collecting two assists. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez returned to action for the first time since having his wrist slashed by a skate blade on Nov. 25.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner is day-to-day with lower-body injury suffered during Thursday’s loss to the Canucks.

CBS SPORTS: Anaheim Ducks winger Ondrej Kase missed practice yesterday tending to a bone bruise.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2019

The fallout from the Devils trading Taylor Hall to Arizona, possible destinations for Ilya Kovalchuk, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FALLOUT FROM THE HALL TRADE

NJ.COM: After the New Jersey Devils traded Taylor Hall yesterday to the Arizona Coyotes, Chris Ryan examines where they go from here. He believes the move isn’t a sign the Devils are entering another full-fledged rebuild, but a sign general manager Ray Shero’s plan needs an adjustment.

Ryan feels they’re in a better position now compared to when they acquired Hall three years ago. Two first-round picks, Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes serve as their foundation, supported by “talented young players in Jesper Bratt, Jesper Boqvist, Pavel Zacha, Mackenzie Blackwood and more.”

THE ATHLETIC: Prior to the Hall trade, Corey Masisak suggested pending unrestricted free agents Sami Vatanen and Wayne Simmonds were also likely trade candidates.

Could the New Jersey Devils entertain trade offers for Kyle Palmieri? (Photo via NHL Images)

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins were wise not to go all-in on Taylor Hall. He feels they’re better served pursuing more affordable rental assets like Ilya Kovalchuk, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson and others who could become available by the trade deadline.

Nick Goss, meanwhile, speculates the Devils might not be done selling. He suggests Vatanen and Kyle Palmieri as possible trade options. LIke Hall, they’re due to become UFAs next July.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers GM Ken Holland acknowledged speaking with Shero several times. However, he was unwilling to part with a first-round pick for Hall.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports the Stars had the cap space to acquire Hall but lacks sufficient capital to acquire him. They’d already traded away their second- and third-round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft and were unwilling to part with their first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers might be reluctant to say the Devils are still rebuilding, but that return they received from the Coyotes looks like something a rebuilding club would do. Those assets provide no immediate help. It will take several years to determine if the return was worthwhile.

Entering this season, the Devils were projected to be a playoff contender. With those hopes now dashed, and with other moves likely before the trade deadline, they’re now rebuilding around younger talent. They must bolster their goaltending, improve their scoring punch, and bolster their blueline.

I expect Vatanen and Simmonds could be shopped before the Feb. 24 deadline. Palmieri, 28, has one season remaining on his contract with an affordable annual average value of $4.65 million. He’s also got an eight-team no-trade list. Given Palmieri’s age and his UFA eligibility in 2021, Shero could be willing to listen to offers, but he’s under no pressure to move the winger before this season’s trade deadline.

I also wonder if Shero will consider moving P.K. Subban. The 30-year-old defenseman has struggled this season. While he lacks no-trade protection, his $9-million AAV through 2021-22 is a significant sticking point.

WHERE WILL KOVALCHUK GO?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if an NHL team will pursue Ilya Kovalchuk once he’s officially an unrestricted free agent. The Kings yesterday placed him on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract. The Kings attempted to trade Kovalchuk but couldn’t find any takers for his contract, which carried an annual salary-cap hit of $6.25 million through 2020-21.

LeBrun noted the Boston Bruins pursued him in 2018 before the Kings signed him. He wonders if they’ll revisit their interest if they can get him for next to nothing for the remainder of the season. He also points out the connection between Kovalchuk and Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell from their time with the Atlanta Thrashers.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton suggests the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, and New York Islanders as possible destinations for Kovalchuk. He feels the Blue Jackets could use him as a power-play specialist. Adding Kovalchuk might help fine-tune the Stars’ offense. The Panthers only have around $900K in salary-cap space and might have to shuffle some salary to the minors to free up cap space. Kovalchuk also has a connection with Isles GM Lou Lamoriello from their days with the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk isn’t an elite player anymore. Now that he’s about to become a UFA, however, an NHL club could take a chance on him with a one-year deal worth under $1 million. He’ll have to accept a secondary role, but he could become a decent addition to a club’s power-play unit.

MAURICE HOPES TO STAY IN WINNIPEG

SPORTSNET: Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice has heard his name connected to the NHL’s expansion franchise in Seattle. His contract with the Jets expires at the end of this season, but he’s hoping to stay in Winnipeg.

“I’m here as long as Mark [Chipman] and Kevin [Cheveldayoff] want me to be here,” Maurice told reporters Monday when asked about the Seattle rumors. “This is home for me. I love this place. I’m not looking to go anywhere.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maurice’s future in Winnipeg will depend upon the club’s performance this season. He’s adjusted well to the off-season departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot, plus the ongoing absence of Dustin Byfuglien. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s stellar play has helped ease the pain, but Maurice should be commended for how he’s handled the defense corps thus far.