NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2020

The latest on the Penguins, Coyotes, and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe believes Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is going to make significant moves in the coming weeks, though the pressure from team executives may have relented a bit since their qualifying-round elimination over a month ago.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

It’s only a matter of time until goaltender Matt Murray is moved. They’d love to get a first-round pick in return but so far there are no takers. Given their cap issues, they could be fine with a return of draft picks and prospects for Murray. Yohe also expects another salaried player could be moved.

Yohe would be surprised if defenseman Kris Letang is traded. He doesn’t rule out recently re-signed Jared McCann getting traded but feels they’d like to keep him as a third-line center. He also said adding a right-hand defenseman is high on the Penguins’ wish list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yohe recently suggested Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey and Philadelphia’s Justin Braun as possible right-shot free-agent defense targets for the Penguins. Depending on how much cap space Rutherford frees up, Hainsey or Braun would be his most affordable options.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mark Madden wouldn’t be surprised if McCann gets traded. He points out the center’s new two-year contract ($2.94 million AAV) could make him easier to move.

COYOTES

TSN: Travis Yost believes teams interested in acquiring Oliver Ekman-Larsson should be aware of the decline in his production since 2015-16. While he feels the Arizona Coyotes captain is still a good player who could be very good in the right situation, the 29-year-old defenseman is on the wrong side of the aging curve carrying a big contract ($8.25 million AAV) through 2026-27.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER.COM: Craig Morgan cites league sources say Arizona Coyotes blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson will not waive his no-movement clause for the final year of his contract. He wants to spend the season in Arizona for family reasons that likely center around his two sons. Morgan doubts the Coyotes will buy him out because the savings would be nominal and he’s already received half of his $4 million in actual salary in signing bonus money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ekman-Larsson trade chatter emerged weeks before their recent hiring of Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. He could prefer hanging onto Ekman-Larsson in hopes his performance improves as the roster does. If ownership insists on dumping salary, Armstrong could see what the trade market is like for his captain. The decline in his stats plus his hefty contract (with a full no-movement clause) could dampen his trade value.

PREDATORS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Adam Vingan recently listed Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo, New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Pat Maroon and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as bargain free-agent options for the Nashville Predators. He also suggested they could re-sign winger Craig Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Predators have $73.3 million invested in 18 players for 2020-21. Unless GM David Poile sheds some salary, they won’t be major players in the UFA market. The best they’ll get is bargain signings like those suggested by Vingan. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring back Smith.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020

Contract talks break off between the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo, the Wild won’t re-sign captain Mikko Koivu, an update on Steven Stamkos, the Penguins re-sign Jared McCann, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported contract talks between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo have broken off, with the Blues advising the 30-year-old defenseman to pursue unrestricted free agency.

Pietrangelo told Dreger contract discussions haven’t gone the way both sides were hoping. Unless something changes, it’s in the best interest of both sides for him to test the market.

Dreger colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if the Blues would be willing to trade Pietrangelo’s rights before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9. “If so, what is the draft pick that gets it done?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports sources said a recent Blues offer to Pietrangelo had an annual average value of $7.7 million, though it’s now believed to be $8 million. He’s willing to accept less than market value (believed to be $9 million AAV) but is concerned over the structure of the deal, such as term, no-movement clause, and a signing bonus in the final year of a long-term deal, guaranteeing Pietrangelo a cash payout in the event of a buyout.

While there’s still time for the two sides to work things out, it appears the Blues are willing to let Pietrangelo walk if he gets a better offer via the open market. The door could be open to both sides resuming discussions if he doesn’t find anything to his liking. Nevertheless, if I were a Blues fan, I’d be resigned to Pietrangelo playing with another club next season.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild won’t be re-signing long-time captain Mikko Koivu. The 37-year-old center spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Wild. It’s unclear if he’ll sign with another club. He’s previously indicated he’s not interested in playing for a different NHL team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears retirement beckons for Koivu. The wear and tear of his long career caught up with him over the last two seasons as he slid down the Wild depth chart, skating on the fourth line. I think we expected the Wild would part ways with Koivu, but it’s still a little sad to see the end of an era and the potential end of a long, productive career.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains hopeful Steven Stamkos could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Lightning captain won’t suit up for Game 1 tonight against the Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos has been sidelined with what’s believed to be a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training in July. He’s resumed skating but there’s still no timetable for his return.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed center Jared McCann to a two-year contract worth an annual average salary of $2.94 million. McCann was the subject of recent trade rumors but this new contract turns down the heat on that speculation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann could still be traded now that he’s carrying an affordable contract for the next two years. Nevertheless, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford re-signed him with the intent of keeping him in the lineup for at least next season.

TSN: The Washington Capitals re-signed winger Daniel Sprong to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $725K.

Cap Friendly published a list of upcoming important dates on the NHL calendar. Among the noteworthy timings:

The first contract buyout period begins on Sept. 25.

The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is Oct. 5.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held Oct. 6 and 7, with free agency beginning at noon ET on Oct. 9.

No-movement and no-trade clauses for 2020-21 also take effect at noon ET on Oct. 9.

The deadline for player-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Oct. 10.

The second club-elected arbitration window begins 5:01 pm ET on Oct. 10 to 5 pm ET on Oct. 11.

Arbitration hearings will be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 8.

Nov. 12 is the last day for teams to exercise their walkway right and the last day for the second buyout period.

TSN: Rick Westhead cited executives from several NHL sponsors telling him talks for 2020-21 deals presuppose teams will at least play in bubbles of some sort. The NHL and NHLPA hope to avoid this but cross-border travel and crowds at indoor arenas are unlikely for many months. Westhead said NHL team sponsorships in many markets hang in the balance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Money will ultimately decide when the NHL returns to action next season and in what form. The league and the PA might not have much choice but to return under some sort of bubble.

There’s been talk of seeing purely divisional play, or having all the Canadian teams play each other while the American-based clubs would face each other based on regions, followed by more bubble hockey for the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. The league could be closely watching how MLB and the NFL have handled travel during their respective schedules.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2020

Could the Coyotes make some big changes? Are the Hurricanes interested in Frederik Andersen? What’s the latest on Alex Pietrangelo, Jonas Brodin, and Phillip Danault? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Arizona Coyotes’ goal will be to cut payroll and rebuild. They face a tight salary cap for 2020-21 but then it eases. With no picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 NHL Draft and no first- or third-rounder for 2021, they could try to restock that.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images)

Friedman suggests there could be a market for goaltender Darcy Kuemper and they would like to test defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s trade value. Ekman-Larsson has seven years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million and a full no-movement clause, but he could be open to waiving it depending on the destination. They also have four defensemen (Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, Jordan Oesterle and Niklas Hjalmarsson) with a year remaining on their contracts. Friedman claims Hjalmarsson remains much-loved around the league.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER: Craig Morgan considers Kuemper, Ekman-Larsson and Jakob Chychrun as the Coyotes’ most marketable assets if they decide to rebuild. Kuemper has two years left on his contract ($4.5 million AAV) and lacks no-trade protection. Chychrun has five years left ($4.6 million AAV) with a modified no-trade in the final two years. He also considered those other blueliners on one-year deals as tradeable assets, though he thinks they could retain Oesterle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because those names are being bandied about doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be moved in the off-season. The Coyotes still haven’t decided on a full-time general manager and it remains to be seen if they’ll make any drastic moves. Nevertheless, their situation will be worth monitoring.

Friedman said team owner Alex Muerelo’s casino business is getting hammered by COVID-19, resulting in business layoffs and players complaining of late per diem payments. If the goal is to cut payroll and rebuild with affordable players, veterans like Kuemper, Ekman-Larsson and Hjalmarsson could be on the move. It will also mean they won’t be re-signing Taylor Hall, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on Nov. 1.

Friedman reports the Carolina Hurricanes have an interest in Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. However, the Leafs aren’t keen to make a change just for the sake of doing so. Friedman feels if they make that move it’ll be for an upgrade, suggesting they could wait to see how this year’s goaltending free-agent market shakes out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Leafs could pursue someone like Vegas’ Robin Lehner if he hits the open market. Or maybe they make a trade for someone like Darcy Kuemper and then peddle Andersen to the Hurricanes. If they go the UFA route they’ll be paying more than Andersen’s $5 million AAV. The Canes would also have to dump either Petr Mrazek or James Reimer as both have a year left on their contracts.

Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t think William Nylander is going anywhere without a legitimate top-four right-hand shot defenseman coming in return.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: I think they’d prefer that defenseman to be a top-two right-side guy. It would take someone like Nylander to fetch that type of return, especially with John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner considered untouchable.

Friedman also mentioned Alex Pietrangelo met last week with St. Louis Blues management to discuss a new contract. He feels the Blues captain wants to stay in St. Louis but cited a couple of sources suggesting it hasn’t been easy for Pietrangelo to see teammates like Justin Faulk, Marco Scandella and Brayden Schenn get contract extensions while his talks stalled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have $79.4 million invested in 21 players, with defenseman Vince Dunn also to be re-signed. The additions of Faulk and Scandella were likely insurance in case Pietrangelo departs via free agency. If the Blues hope to re-sign him, they must shed two or three contracts to make it work. There’s plenty of time for both sides to get a deal done. The tip-off will be how quickly Blues GM Doug Armstrong sheds salary once the playoffs are over.

The Montreal Canadiens are getting asked about their plans for Phillip Danault, who’s a year away from UFA status. His comments following the Habs’ playoff elimination about his future being a bit unclear drew attention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s role as solely a defensive center against the Penguins and Flyers and the rise of promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi is stoking speculation about his future in Montreal.

As for his comments, Danault said he wasn’t ready to be solely a defensive forward, adding he enjoyed producing offensively and his role as a two-way forward. He acknowledged his role for next season would determine if he re-signs with Montreal. However, he also indicated that by what he’s proven in the last few years, his role shouldn’t change in Montreal.

The Canadiens could move him if they feel Suzuki and Kotkaniemi are now ready as full-time centers on the top two lines. However, I think they prefer keeping Danault around in case one or both struggle to adjust over the course of a long season. 

One of the Minnesota Wild’s priorities is figuring out the cost of extending Jonas Brodin. The 27-year-old defenseman will become an unrestricted free agent next year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo suggested the blueliner could also be used to acquire a starting goaltender like Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or to acquire a center. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets could consider moving a goalie for some scoring. Friedman notes Joonas Korpisalo and Matiss Kivlenieks aren’t exempt from next year’s expansion draft. Meanwhile, he reports the Pittsburgh Penguins is testing the trade market on third-line center Jared McCann.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 26, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 26, 2020

What next for the Leafs and Penguins following yesterday’s Kasperi Kapanen trade? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby singled out the Maple Leafs’ acquisition of a first-round pick (15th overall) and prospect forward Filip Hallander while freeing up salary-cap space from shipping winger Kasperi Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas isn’t ruling out shopping that pick if it would help his team. “If there’s another Jake Muzzin, we’d be interested, to put it mildly,” he said.

Dubas also suggested he might not be done dealing. “I don’t think this will be it for us,” he said. “We need to gain greater (cap) flexibility than what we have.” The Leafs GM pointed out they have to re-sign restricted free agents Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev and he’d like more space to address other needs.

Could Frederik Andersen become the next player traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs? (NHL Images)

Hornby’s colleague Michael Traikos wondered if the Leafs will trade another third-line winger, or replace goaltender Frederik Andersen with a more affordable (but unproven) option, or break up their core. He feels they need a defenseman or two and a scoring forward who plays with a snarl like former Leafs Nazem Kadri is doing with the Colorado Avalanche.

Traikos suggested trading Kapanen opens up cap room to perhaps pursue Boston’s Torey Krug, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic or Vancouver’s Chris Tanev via free agency. They could even pursue St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo if Dubas moves out another player like Andreas Johnsson, Alexander Kerfoot, or even William Nylander.

Signing Pietrangelo, however, could cost between $8 million and $11 million annually. Traikos also warns there’s no certainty those free-agent blueliners will sign with the Leafs. “After all, it’s not like the team has won anything lately.”

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported the Leafs also spoke to the Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and New Jersey Devils before trading Kapanen to the Penguins. The Leafs attempted to reacquire the pick they sent to the Hurricanes last summer but the Canes weren’t interested in parting with the 13th overall selection. The Blackhawks also balked on moving their first-round pick (17th overall).

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): James Mirtle cites sources indicating Kapanen wasn’t the only player dangled by Dubas in the trade market since the Leafs were eliminated from the qualifying round two weeks ago.

Andersen could apparently be had in a salary-dumping deal, leading Mirtle to wonder if the Edmonton Oilers might be interested if they can find the cap room. Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, and Johnsson were also mentioned. The Leafs could free up $17 million if they could move all four.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas is not done making moves after yet another disappointing postseason performance. I concur with Traikos that the Leafs GM must bolster his blueline and bring in a physical scorer. Perhaps he’ll revisit talks with some of those clubs he spoke with regarding Kapanen. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dubas shops that first-round pick. Their core players – Nylander, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and Morgan Rielly – will be between 22 and 29 when next season begins. The Leafs don’t want to waste their playing primes.  They’re in “win-now” mode and could use that pick to bring in a player who can immediately address a roster need. If there are no suitable offers, Dubas can retain that pick and perhaps use the prospect selected as part of a deal in the near future to bring in an impact player.

Signing any of those UFA defensemen listed by Traikos will require freeing up more salary-cap payroll. Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have $73.7 million tied up in 16 players. Signing one of those blueliners will eat up most or all of that cap room, leaving nothing for Dermott and Mikheyev.

Landing Pietrangelo won’t be easy. Indeed, it might not be possible, as the Blues captain already stated his wish is to stay in St. Louis. And no, he’s not going to accept less than whatever the Blues offer to “come home” to Toronto. St. Louis is his home now and it’s where he wants to stay. If that’s not possible, he’ll seek a lucrative deal in the UFA market despite the flattened salary cap for next season. If the Leafs want him, they’ll have to pay a lot to sign him.

Krug will also be expensive, though nowhere near as much as Pietrangelo. Figure it could cost between $6-$7 million annually. Brodie, Hamonic or Tanev won’t cost that much but they’ll still eat up a big chunk of change, perhaps over $5 million annually. Assuming the flat cap hurts their UFA value, they could seek cap hits similar to what they’re making now.

Moving Andersen is dangerous unless Dubas intends to add a better option and that might not be readily available. He could pursue Braden Holtby or Robin Lehner via free agency, but either guy could cost more than Andersen’s current $5 million AAV. In Holtby’s case, it would be ponying up for what appears to be a declining asset.

It’ll be interesting to see what Dubas and his capologist have in mind. They proved capable of salary-cap gymnastics last summer, but those moves failed to improve the Leafs. He must do better this time around and that won’t be easy given the current economic landscape.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Seth Rorabaugh believes the Penguins’ addition of Kapanen rules out re-signing pending UFA winger Conor Sheary. He also suggests it clouds the futures of restricted free agent goalies Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry and forwards Jared McCann and Dominik Simon.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun suggests Murray could be the next Penguin on the move. Rutherford already indicated he needs to trade one of his goalies and sources told LeBrun his focus is on moving Murray. His RFA status (with arbitration rights) is a sticking point. One source said they’re worried the goalie could command $6 million in arbitration, after which he’s eligible for unrestricted free-agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and inconsistent play could also be a concern. Rutherford might have to package him with a draft pick or prospect if teams are worried about his contract for next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2019

Game recaps, the Blues are honored at the White House, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Morgan Rielly assisted on all of the Toronto Maple Leafs goals as they doubled up the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists while Auston Matthews and John Tavares also tallied for the Leafs. Wild winger Kevin Fiala was a healthy scratch.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly collected four assists in a 4-2 win over the MInnesota Wild (Photo via NHL Images).

The Vancouver Canucks picked up their third straight victory by downing the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. J.T Miller tallied two power-play goals while Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Alex Edler each had three-point performances. Earlier in the day, the Wings assigned Evgeny Svechnikov to the minors and activated Frans Nielsen and Trevor Daley from injured reserve.

Four straight goals powered the Nashville Predators to a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Kyle Turris and Ryan Ellias each had a goal and an assist. Predators winger Filip Forsberg left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury while teammate Roman Josi dropped the gloves with Vegas’ Mark Stone. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed forward Daniel Carr on waivers.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning as they scored three unanswered goals.

Darcy Kuemper made 38 saves backstopping the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Christian Dvorak scored twice and Nick Schmaltz collected three points.

Calgary Flames winger Michael Frolik scored in his 800th career game as his club defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. Earlier in the day, the Flyers signed forward Chris Stewart to a one-year, one-way contract worth $750K. Stewart spent last season playing for the Nottingham Panthers in the British Elite Ice Hockey League.

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek had a 31-save shutout performance in a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas were the goal scorers.

HEADLINES

STLTODAY.COM: The 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues were honored yesterday at the White House by President Donald Trump. 

NEW YORK POST: Contract issues and being supplanted by Artemi Panarin from the New York Rangers’ top line could account for winger Chris Kreider’s slow start. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Jared McCann is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. 

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres updated the status of winger Conor Sheary (upper-body injury) from week-to-week to day-to-day as he returned to practice yesterday. Assistant coach Don Granato, meanwhile, is doing much better as he recovers from pneumonia. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Veteran reporter Rick Dhaliwal was among several cuts yesterday at Sportsnet 650. Dhaliwal is well-connected in the NHL world. 

CBC.CA: Former NHL forward Danny Grant passed away Monday at age 73.  He spent 12 seasons in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota North Stars, Detroit Red Wings, and Los Angeles Kings. Career highlights include winning a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1968 and six seasons with 29-or-more goals, including a 50-goal performance with the Wings in 1974-75. The Fredericton native went on to become a college and Junior A coach and was a member of the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. 

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










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2019

Capitals take 2-0 series lead over Hurricanes, Predators, Bruins, and Avalanche tie their respective series, Nikita Kucherov receives a one-game suspension, an update on Connor McDavid, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brooks Orpik’s overtime goal gave the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes and a 2-0 lead in their opening-round series. Orpik became the oldest defenseman in NHL history to score an overtime playoff goal. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and T.J. Oshie each collected two points for the Capitals.

Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland was ejected during the second period for a hit to the head of Capitals forward Nic Dowd. Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s elbow to the head of Kuznetsov will be reviewed by the league’s department of player safety but it’s unclear if it’ll merit a suspension.

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik is the oldest blueliner in NHL history to score a playoff overtime goal (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals haven’t had an easy time of it with the Hurricanes, who overcame an early 2-0 deficit to force the extra period. They lack the Capitals depth in experienced talent but they’re a plucky hardworking bunch with a bright future.

An overtime tally by Craig Smith enabled the Nashville Predators to edge the Dallas Stars 2-1, squaring their series at a game apiece. Rocco Grimaldi also scored for the Predators while Jamie Benn netted the Stars’ only goal. Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop made 40 saves. The Predators skated without center Brian Boyle (illness) and lost winger Wayne Simmonds after he took a shot off his left knee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop was outstanding in this game and deserved a better fate. This performance is but one reason why I believe he should win the Vezina Trophy this season. No word yet on Simmonds’ status for Game 3. 

Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist and Tuukka Rask kicked out 30 shots as the Boston Bruins downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 to tie their series 1-1. The physical contest took a toll on both clubs.

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug left the game in the second period following a hit by Leafs blueliner Jake Muzzin. Leafs center Nazem Kadri, meanwhile, will have a hearing today with the department of player safety and faces a suspension following a match penalty for cross-checking the head of Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk.  Bruins winger Marcus Johansson missed the game with the flu.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins ratcheted up the physical play in this one and effectively neutralized the Leafs speed. Kadri was obviously still angry over a knee-on-knee collision with DeBrusk in the second period and allowed his emotions to once again boil over, just like in last year’s series between these two clubs. That time, he got a three-game suspension. He could get more for his latest infraction. 

The Colorado Avalanche evened their series with the Calgary Flames as Nathan MacKinnon’s overtime goal gave them a 3-2 victory in Game 2. Mikko Rantanen collected two assists while Philipp Grubauer made 35 saves for the Avalanche. The Flames’ Sam Bennett also had two assists.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov received a one-game suspension for boarding Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara in Game 2 of their opening-round series.

Speaking of the Lightning, defenseman Anton Stralman (upper-body injury) is uncertain when he’ll return to the lineup.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Jared McCann (upper-body injury) expects to be in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against the New York Islanders. The Isles hold a 2-0 lead in that series.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers center Connor McDavid has a small ligament tear in his left knee and will begin rehab almost immediately. He’s expected to be good to go for training camp in September.