The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Pierre-Luc Dubois plus the latest notable contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Marc-Andre Fleury admitted he was caught off guard by the recent trade that sent him from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Blackhawks. He needed time to process what was happening, including how this move would affect his family.
Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).
Fleury said he had nothing against Chicago or the Blackhawks. Speaking with current and former Blackhawks helped him with his decision to report to the club, including former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Chris Kunitz, who’s part of the Blackhawks coaching staff. He’s also excited about playing alongside Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury, 36, has a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $7 million. If things work out in Chicago perhaps he’ll sign a short-term contract extension. If not, he could be shopped at the February trade deadline, sign elsewhere next summer as a free agent or retire.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois intends to wear No. 80 to honor the memory of friend and former Columbus Blue Jackets teammate Matiss Kivlinieks. The 24-year-old goaltender was killed in a fireworks accident last month in Michigan.
Speaking of the Jets, they signed defenseman Logan Stanley to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $900K.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks avoided arbitration with Adin Hill, signing the 25-year-old goaltender to a two-year, $4.35 million contract.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues avoided arbitration with forward Zach Sanford by inking him to a one-year, $2 million contract.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided arbitration with Victor Mete by signing the 23-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.
SPORTSNET: The Seattle Kraken signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Connor Carrick to a one-year, $800K deal. They also signed forward Alexander True to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level.
TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens signed assistant coach Alex Burrows to a three-year contract extension.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins fired goaltending coach Mike Buckley and will replace him with Andy Chiodo.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Penguins could attempt to replace starting goaltender Tristan Jarry via trade or free agency. This move likely signals their intention to work with Jarry to improve his game.
Recaps of Monday’s action following the trade deadline, the stars of the week are revealed, the Kings re-sign Alex Iafallo, the Flyers re-up Scott Laughton, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for Colorado as they’ve won 16 of their last 19 contests. With 62 points, the Avalanche sit atop the Honda West Division and the NHL’s overall standings. The Coyotes (43 points) remain one point back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).
Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty netted his 300th career NHL goal as his club scored four unanswered goals to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the first-place Avs in the West Division.
A franchise-record 46-save shutout performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks over the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alexander Volkov scored two goals for the Kings. The loss leaves the Sharks (40 points) four points behind the Blues.
The Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 to snap Leafs goalie Jack Campbell’s 11-game winning streak. Montreal winger Tomas Tatar scored twice while Leafs star Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 32nd of the season. The Canadiens sit in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 45 points, 14 back of the first-place Leafs.
Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk tallied two goals in a 4-2 upset of the Winnipeg Jets. Senators forward Connor Brown extended his goal-scoring streak to eight games. The Jets remain in second place in the North with 53 points.
An overtime goal by Brandon Hagel gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets, who sit eight points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Discover Central Division. The fifth-place Blackhawks, meanwhile, sit just two points back of the Predators.
The Detroit Red Wings spoiled the 1,000th career NHL game of Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal by dropping the Hurricanes 3-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves as his teammates tallied three third-period goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes tied with the Tampa Bay Lighting with 58 points but the latter holds first place in the Central Division on the basis of wins.
The NHL postponed Monday’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. The game is rescheduled for May 12.
NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz are the three stars for the week ending April 11, 2021.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed forward Alex Iafallo to a four-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $4 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract talks between the Kings and Iafallo went through most of Monday before an agreement was reached before the 3 pm ET trade deadline. Having traded long-time veteran forward Jeff Carter to Pittsburgh, the Kings cleared sufficient cap room to keep the 27-year-old Iafallo as they continue their rebuild.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed forward Scott Laughton to a five-year contract extension worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Iafallo, Laughton’s contract talks carried on until close to the trade deadline. Both players were considered potential trade candidates if their respective teams failed to re-sign them before the 3 pm ET deadline. This is an affordable signing by the Flyers, retaining a versatile, energetic 26-year-old player who could help them rebound from this difficult season going forward.
WIVB.COM: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Jack Eichel will remain sidelined for a while. The Sabres captain has been out since March 7 with an upper-body injury. With 15 games remaining, this could be season-ending for Eichel.
THE ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm could miss the remainder of the season with a fractured wrist suffered on Feb. 27 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Branden Tanev could be sidelined for the rest of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators claimed defenseman Victor Mete off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.
NJ.COM: The Dallas Stars claimed blueliner Sami Vatanen off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.
More Evgeni Malkin trade speculation, an update on the Penguins’ efforts to reacquire Marc-Andre Fleury, the Leafs could be eyeing a Predators’ forward and the latest on Victor Mete in today’s NHL rumor mill.
MORE ON MALKIN
TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cited Mark Madden last week claiming he heard Evgeni Malkin would not be traded and an extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins may be looming. Madden has since walked it back a bit, citing a source saying Malkin “is not likely to be traded.” He said team co-owner Mario Lemieux doesn’t want to move the veteran center but “that could be up for review,” adding Sidney Crosby was the only true untouchable on the Penguins.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).
Benz wondered if the Florida Panthers could be a trade partner as Malkin’s wife and child reside in Miami full time. That could be his preference if the Penguins decide to trade him but Madden is sure Crosby doesn’t want Malkin to be traded. “If you made me bet right now, I would bet Geno finishes his career as a Penguin.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin has a full no-movement clause. If, and that’s still a big “IF” at this point, Penguins GM Ron Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke decide to make that move I suspect they’ll quietly make inquiries with potential trade partners before broaching the subject with Malkin.
They’ll want potential partners lined up that they can take to Malkin and say, “We’re thinking of trading you and here are the teams interested in your services. Choose one.”
DID THE PENGUINS MAKE A PITCH FOR FLEURY?
THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie last week saying Patrik Allvin, in his brief tenure as acting Penguins GM before Ron Hextall took over, made an offer to the Vegas Golden Knights for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury “a couple of weeks ago”. McKenzie also said Allvin’s predecessor, Jim Rutherford, had an interest in reacquiring Fleury, who played for the Penguins until selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft.
Rossi confirmed Rutherford’s interest last summer in Fleury but cited team and league sources denying any communication about the goalie between Allvin and the Golden Knights. A source close to Fleury said the netminder has “shut the door…for now” on playing for Pittsburgh again.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rossi goes on to say any trade while Allvin was acting GM would’ve had to be approved first by team CEO David Moorehouse. A club source said Allvin hadn’t discussed a Fleury trade with Moorehouse and was neither near making or known to be working on a potential trade. Fleury also never came up during Hextall’s interviews with the Penguins before taking over as GM.
It’s clear Fleury’s focus is on helping the Golden Knights, who have no interest in moving him this season. The “Fleury back to Pittsburgh” speculation could ramp up again in the offseason but Hextall could have other plans in mind for the Penguins’ goaltending.
LEAFS EYEING GRANLUND?
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle wonders how aggressive Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will be with the Apr. 12 trade deadline just under eight weeks away. He cited Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman’s cryptic comment last week almost guaranteeing the Leafs would add a winger at the trade deadline who could play on the top six with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner or John Tavares and William Nylander.
Friedman didn’t elaborate but the consensus around the league suggests Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund fits the description. He could become available if the Predators continue to struggle. The winger signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Predators. Mirtle indicated the Leafs had an interest in him during the offseason but lacked the cap space to sign him.
Other possible rentals who fit the description include the Buffalo Sabres’ Eric Staal and Los Angeles Kings’ Alex Iafallo. Mirtle doubts the Leafs have the assets or cap space to land Sabres winger Taylor Hall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication yet if Granlund, Staal or Iafallo could be available at the deadline.
Granlund’s a former two-time 60-point winger whose production has suffered in recent years. He’s got decent numbers with the Preds this season (seven points in 12 games) but only one point in his last five contests.
Staal still has a 10-team no-trade list and we don’t know if the Leafs are on it. Iafallo, 27, had a career-high 43 points with the Kings last season and nine in 13 games this season. He could be available if he seeks more on his next contract than the rebuilding Kings are willing to pay.
CANADIENS GM SHOOTS DOWN METE TRADE RUMORS
TSN: Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin once again stated he has no intention of trading Victor Mete. The defenseman’s agent made a public trade request earlier this season after his client was a healthy scratch through the Habs’ first seven games. “We have no intention of moving Victor and I was clear with the agent on that,” he said.
Five players who could use a change of scenery, more Victor Mete trade speculation and some suggested changes for the Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.
FIVE PLAYERS WHO COULD USE A TRADE
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin believes the Calgary Flames’ Sam Bennett, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Travis Dermott, the St. Louis Blues’ Vince Dunn, the Detroit Red Wings’ Anthony Mantha and the Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen need fresh starts on new teams.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn is among several players who could use a change of scenery (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Larkin but there are various reasons why these players might not be moved this season, if at all.
The Flames are reportedly reluctant to move Bennett because of his value as a proven playoff performer. Larkin also noted if they move him they’ll have to protect someone else in this summer’s expansion draft.
Dermott’s having trouble earning a full-time spot this season on Toronto’s blueline. Larkin points out he’s in nearly every Leafs rumor and would be perfect trade bait to add another forward. The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel suggested a Dermott-for-Sam Bennett swap if they can make the dollars work.
Dunn is probably the most likely on this list to get traded. Larkin feels it’s only a matter of time until he’s moved. The Blues reportedly seek a first- or second-round pick in return. There are several clubs that could use him but finding the right fit is the sticking point. The Blues at this point don’t seem in a hurry to trade him.
Mantha’s a big, fast forward with good offensive skills but his inconsistency and injury history hurt his trade value. So does his $5.7 million annual average value.
Virtanen has come up a lot of late in trade rumors but reports out of Vancouver suggest there’s not much of a market for him. He’s brought that on himself with his poor play. Maybe he’ll finally reach his full potential on a different team but there doesn’t appear to be a general manager out there willing to take a chance on him.
Mete’s been a frequent healthy scratch as he’s become the odd man out on the Canadiens’ blueline. However, they haven’t sent him to their taxi squad because another club could scoop him up off waivers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Flames with Bennett, the Canadiens aren’t rushing to ship out Mete. They’d prefer hanging onto him as insurance in case injuries strike their defense corps.
Steven Ellis of SI.com/The Hockey News believes Mete would be a good value pickup for teams seeking blueline depth. Those clubs listed by Johnston could be potential destinations for the 22-year-old rearguard whenever Bergevin decides to honor his trade request. However, that move probably won’t happen until the offseason unless one of those clubs makes an irresistible pitch before the Apr. 12 trade deadline.
LATEST ON THE PREDATORS
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked what the struggling Nashville Predators should do to avoid sliding into years of becoming a bad team with bloated contracts.
Vingan believes the Predators should become sellers by the April trade deadline if they’re still out of the playoff running by then. He advocates moving players on one-year contracts (Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, Brad Richardson) for draft picks. They should also consider moving defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who has one year remaining on his cap-friendly contract.
The next step is trying to unload Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansen in this summer’s Seattle expansion draft. He suggested using some of the draft capital acquired at the trade deadline and/or throw in a player to sweeten the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vingan acknowledged all of this is easier said than done. Nevertheless, I agree with his take. The Predators have been trending downward since winning the President’s Trophy in 2017-18. They’re near the bottom of the Central Division and the overall standings. It’s time for GM David Poile to acknowledge the obvious that his roster needs at least a significant retooling.
The latest on Tony DeAngelo, Sam Bennett, Victor Mete, Travis Dermott, Vince Dunn and Brett Connolly in today’s NHL rumor mill.
GROWING INTEREST IN DEANGELO
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the New York Rangers have told Tony DeAngelo to wait at home as they work on trading the 25-year-old defenseman. Dreger said there’s “a ton of interest in him all of a sudden,” with a source claiming the blueliner could be moved within the next few days.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Rangers are willing to absorb part of DeAngelo’s annual salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade. Friedman believes it won’t be easy to move the blueliner as any acquiring team knows there will be heat.
The Blueshirts aren’t looking at terminating his contract as it would be unlikely to do so without the player’s agreement. If they decide to buy him out at season’s end it’ll be at one-third the remaining value as he doesn’t turn 26 until October.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes it might be in DeAngelo’s best interests to enter an anger management program before returning to play given his history of outbursts. He also believes the defenseman’s social media activity could also be a red flag for any organization looking at him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger’s report merely confirms my belief that there is always an NHL general manager somewhere willing to give players with maturity or personality issues a chance provided they have a talent that can address a roster weakness.
DeAngelo’s defensive game leaves much to be desired but his offensive skills make him valuable to a team lacking blueline production. The Rangers’ willingness to eat part of his $4.8 million AAV improves his trade value. Now it comes down to what the Blueshirts want in return and how much salary they’re willing to absorb to get this deal done.
FLAMES IN NO RUSH TO MOVE BENNETT
Calgary Flames are in no rush to move Sam Bennett (NHL Images).
TSN: Dreger also reports the Calgary Flames aren’t in any rush to trade forward Sam Bennett after his agent surprised them over the weekend by saying his client would prefer a change of scenery. It has to be a deal that works for the Flames. General manager Brad Treliving is willing to hang onto him as a potentially impactful player for Calgary.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Flames coach Geoff Ward dismissed any talk of Bennett being unhappy with his playing time. Ward indicated he spoke with Bennett before the start of the season to give him the choice of where he wanted to play in the lineup. He started at center and after a couple of games asked to be moved to the wing.
Friedman also expects the Flames to move cautiously on Bennett, in part because of his playoff performance. It’s also possible any frustration between player and organization could pass over time. The Flames have tested his value in the trade market but held onto him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bennett still hasn’t spoken about his agent’s remarks while the official word from management and teammates is this won’t be a distraction. This could settle down over the course of the season but it could resurface if Bennett’s play suffers or the Flames struggle to stay in the playoff chase.
UPDATES ON METE , DERMOTT AND DUNN
SPORTSNET: Friedman reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were among the clubs showing interest in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete. He points out the Canadiens’ limited cap space means it would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out deal but they do like Mete. He also added the Penguins were poking around Toronto for Maple Leafs blueliner Travis Dermott.
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance looked at whether players such as Mete, Dermott, Bennett or St. Louis Blues defenseman Victor Dunn might make sense as trade targets for the struggling Vancouver Canucks.
Drance doesn’t believe Bennett would resolve the Canucks’ long-term need for an established third-line center. He feels Mete would be a poor fit because the Canucks have a surplus of puck-moving left-shot defensemen.
The Blues’ asking price for Dunn (first-round pick) is expensive plus he couldn’t join the Canucks until after a two-week quarantine period due to Canadian border restrictions. Dermott might not be an ideal fit but he’d be more reasonably priced than Dunn and would join the team more quickly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drance offers up a more detailed analysis than my synopsis but I concur with his take. There really isn’t much available that would provide an immediate, affordable improvement to the Canucks’ roster. That doesn’t mean management won’t stop looking but the pickings appear slim right now.
Regarding Dermott, Drance’s colleague Jame Mirtle feels the Leafs will handle the blueliner the same way the Canadiens are handling Mete. They’re leery of moving him because they want to ensure they have sufficient depth over the course of the season. Dermott also won’t fetch a return that provides a swift upgrade to the lineup.
LATEST ON CONNOLLY
Friedman suggests keeping an eye on Florida Panthers winger Brett Connolly, who was a healthy scratch in their last two games. He speculates a contender could show interest in the 28-year-old.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows Connolly is in the second year of a four-year deal with an annual average value of $3.5 million. Teams could be reluctant to take on that cap hit given how tight payrolls are this season.