NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2022

The Avalanche swept the Predators, the Penguins take a commanding series lead over the Rangers, the Flames and Panthers even their series 2-2, the Islanders fire Barry Trotz, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche has marched on to the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They defeated the Nashville Predators 5-3 in Game 4 of their first-round series, sweeping the latter in four straight. Valeri Nichushkin snapped a 3-3 tie in the third period and Nathan MacKinnon added the insurance goal. Cale Makar and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and two assists for the Avs while Yakov Trenin tallied twice and Filip Forsberg scored for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators played the entire series without starting goaltender Juuse Saros, who was sidelined late in the season by a lower-body injury. Even if he’d been healthy, he probably wouldn’t have prevented the sweep. The Predators struggled down the stretch and were no match for the powerful Avalanche, who await the winner of the Minnesota Wild-St. Louis Blues series.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins rode a five-goal second-period outburst to a 7-2 drubbing of the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their best-of-seven opening-round series. Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang each had two points for the Penguins. They hold a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and can wrap things up in Game 5 back in New York on Wednesday night. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin gave up six goals on 30 shots and go the hook following the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have lit up Shesterkin over the past two games, tallying a combined 10 games against the presumptive favorite to win this year’s Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie. However, this was a complete team defeat by the Rangers, who have been neutralized at both ends of the rink by a veteran Penguins club with more in the tank than most observers (like me) believed when this series began.

An overtime goal by Carter Verhaeghe carried the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 victory in Game 4 to tie their first-round series at two games apiece. It was Verhaeghe’s second goal of the game. Sam Reinhart tied the game late in the third for the Panthers. T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov replied for the Capitals while Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers outshot the Capitals 32-16 and seemed on the verge of stealing this one before Reinhart sent the game to overtime. The series returns to Florida for Game 5 on Wednesday. Florida coach Andrew Brunette wasn’t happy with Oshie for what he felt was a targeted hit to the head of Panthers forward Sam Bennett. There was no call on the play. Bennett remained in the game and got the primary assist on the winning goal.

The Calgary Flames burned the Dallas Stars 4-1 in Game 4 of their series. Johnny Gaudreau scored on a penalty shot in a three-goal third-period for the Flames. Stars netminder Jake Oettinger turned in a 50-save performance in a losing cause. The series returns to Calgary for Game 5 on Wednesday tied at two games apiece.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary’s margin of victory would’ve been much wider if not for Oettinger, who did everything he could to give his club a fighting chance. The Flames dominated Dallas in this contest. The Stars made it interesting when Tyler Seguin scored on the power play late in the third to cut the Flames’ lead to 3-1 before Mikael Backlund put the game out of reach.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders fired head coach Barry Trotz yesterday. “I believe this group of players needs a new voice,” said general manager Lou Lamoriello. “This is not negative on Barry Trotz. He is a tremendous human being.” Assistant coaches Lane Lambert and Mitch Korn remain under contract for next season, though Trotz’s replacement will have a say over whether they’ll return for 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a stunning move by Lamoriello. Under Trotz, the Islanders went to the Eastern Conference Final in 2020 and the semifinal in 2021. A season-opening five-week road trip while awaiting the opening of their new arena followed by a COVID-19 outbreak contributed to their failure to reach the playoffs this season. Nevertheless, the Isles GM felt his aging club needs a new bench boss going forward.

Changes could also be coming to the Islanders roster. Lamoriello indicated he’s like to bolster his blueline’s offense and he could make a trade involving his forwards. For now, however, whoever replaces Trotz and where the former Isles coach ends up are the hot topics of speculation. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill update.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman, Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi and Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar are the finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as this season’s top NHL defenseman. The winner will be announced later in the postseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprises there. All three are worthy nominees. Hedman won the award in 2018 and Josi in 2020 while Makar was a finalist last season.

The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery will be held at 6:30 PM ET on Tuesday. The Montreal Canadiens have the best odds at 18.5 percent, followed by the Arizona Coyotes (13.5), Seattle Kraken (11.5), Philadelphia Flyers (9.5) and New Jersey Devils (8.5).

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala is struggling to replicate his regular-season production in his club’s first-round series with the St. Louis Blues. The 25-year-old winger had a career-high 33 goals and 85 points this season but has managed only an assist in four games thus far against the Blues.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have parted ways with Pierre McGuire after only nine months in his role as senior vice president of hockey development.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGuire, a long-time TV hockey analyst and a former NHL general manager was hired by late Senators owner Eugene Melnyk last year. He still has two years remaining on his contract. General manager Pierre Dorion had no comment, which probably speaks volumes for his opinion of McGuire’s contributions.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks signed pending unrestricted free agents Alexander Barabanov and Jaycob Megna to two-year contract extensions. As per Cap Friendly, Barabanov’s annual average value is $2.5 million with a 10-team no-trade list while Megna will earn $762,500 annually.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Samuel Montembeault underwent successful surgery on his right wrist last Friday. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp in September.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 14, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor, a look at this summer’s free-agent goaltending market plus a possible conundrum between the pipes for the Canadiens.

WILL THIS SUMMER’S TOP UFA GOALIES STAY PUT OR TEST THE MARKET?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun considers the Minnesota Wild’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Colorado Avalanche’s Darcy Kuemper, St. Louis Blues’ Ville Husso and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell as the top tier of UFA goalies this summer. All four could improve their value with solid performances in the upcoming playoffs.

Sources indicated the Wild would like to keep Fleury despite their limited salary-cap space for 2022-23 but there’ve been no discussions yet. LeBrun said the Blues aren’t giving up on struggling starter Jordan Binnington and believed Husso will be heading to free agency in July.

There haven’t been many contract discussions between Avalanche management and Kuemper’s camp. The Avs offered a one-year extension last summer but it was rejected by his agent.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Campbell had a strong start to this season but struggled and was sidelined in the second half. His agent said it was status quo on the contract front.

Teams that could be in the market for a starter this summer could include the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs and Avs could also seek help in goal if their respective starters hit the open market in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury, Kuemper, Husso and Campbell will draw considerable interest if they hit the UFA market on July 13. It will be interesting to see how their value is affected by their performances in the 2022 playoffs and whether they stay with their current clubs or test the market.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS’ GOALTENDING SITUATION

THE ATHLETIC: LeBrun pondered whether Carey Price wants to continue his playing career and if it would be with the Montreal Canadiens. If he wants to join a Cup contender, the Canadiens would have to absorb part of his $10.5 million cap hit to make it happen.

LeBrun also wondered if clubs come calling for Jake Allen. The Canadiens backup has a year left on his contract with an affordable $2.875 million cap hit. He was playing well until suffering a season-ending groin injury.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico also weighed in on the potential offseason goalie conundrum facing the Canadiens. He cited RDS’ Francois Gagnon indicating it’s a complex question given the 34-year-old Price’s contract, injury history and stated intent to play in Montreal for the long term. He also holds a full no-movement clause.

Should Price agree to accept a trade, D’Amico believes they’ll need to find a long-term replacement. UFA options could include Ville Husso or Darcy Kuemper.

LeBrun’s fellow TSN insider, Darren Dreger, said Allen was a much sought-after asset leading up to last month’s trade deadline. D’Amico pointed to the improved play of Samuel Montembeault, suggesting the Canadiens could opt for a more affordable backup and put Allen on the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price’s age, hefty contract, NMC and his long list of injuries make him seemingly untradeable but it could be folly to assume it won’t happen. That being said, the Canadiens would have to retain between $4 million and $5.25 million of his cap hit to make his contract palatable to interested parties. His movement clause would also complicate matters by limiting potential trade suitors.

Allen would be much easier for the Canadiens to trade. However, that depends on whether management sees the 25-year-old Montembeault as a reliable backup for Price, who has a good working relationship with Allen.

Montembeault is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $750K contract. He would be an affordable re-signing for the Habs at a cap rate lower than Allen’s.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2021

Robin Lehner accuses several teams of medical malpractice plus the latest on Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Drouin, Jack Johnson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ESPN.COM: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner alleged several NHL teams regularly gave players drugs such as benzodiazepines and Ambien without prescriptions. He said the Golden Knights weren’t among those clubs but implied he’d been on teams that had done so.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner can expect a call by NHL HQ if he hasn’t already been contacted. He’ll be in hot water if he can’t substantiate his allegation. If he can, however, it could prompt an investigation by the league.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said his injured hip is improving but there’s no timetable for his return. The ailment doesn’t require surgery and he’s been rehabbing it at an offsite location. His status remains week-to-week, leaving him questionable to start the season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jonathan Drouin is the 2020-21 recipient of the Jean Beliveau Trophy, awarded annually to the Canadiens player who best exemplifies leadership qualifies in the community. Drouin’s been involved in numerous charities, including those helping children and sick people.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin receiving this honor takes on greater significance when one remembers he took a leave of absence from the Canadiens last season to deal with anxiety. Despite that, he still maintained his charitable work.

The Canadiens announced defenseman Sami Niku is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion in Friday’s preseason game against the Ottawa Senators.

TSN: The Canadiens also claimed goaltender Samuel Montembeault off waivers from the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is seen as an insurance move by the Canadiens with starter Carey Price still recuperating from offseason knee injury. His status for the start of the season remains uncertain.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Sources claim the Colorado Avalanche are expected to sign defenseman Jack Johnson, who’s in training camp on a professional tryout offer. With Devon Toews sidelined, he’s likely to fill a spot as the fifth or sixth blueliner to start the season.