NHL Rumor Mill – August 16, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 16, 2023

The Canadiens might not be done making trades after shipping Jeff Petry plus the latest on UFA winger Tomas Tatar in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont recently cited TVA Sports’ Anthony Martineau claiming the Canadiens are “open for business” regarding their goaltending.

The Canadiens currently have Sam Montembeault, Jake Allen and Casey DeSmith on the roster. Martineau claimed they’re listening to offers in the hope of getting the biggest return for their assets.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Casey DeSmith (NHL Images).

Dumont doubted the Canadiens will get more than a very late-round draft pick or future considerations even in this summer’s tepid goalie market. Montembeault, Allen and DeSmith are far from being considered prospects.

Montembeault has put up decent NHL numbers but is far from an established starter. Allen and DeSmith have been relegated to backup roles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize that the impressive trade record of Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes has made some Habs followers believe he’s going to hit a home run on almost every deal.

Hughes is very good but even he’s at the mercy of the market. If you were disappointed in the Petry return without looking at the larger picture, don’t get your hopes up that he’ll get something better for one of his three NHL goalies.

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu noted the Canadiens remain over the $83.5 million salary cap for this season following their recent cost-cutting moves.

During his media availability discussing Tuesday’s Jeff Petry trade, general manager Kent Hughes hinted at more moves to come to clear up cap space without putting permanently sidelined goalie Carey Price on offseason long-term injury reserve.

Trading DeSmith could be one option. “I told Casey to be patient,” said Hughes. “The idea is not to bury him in the AHL, so we’ll continue looking at opportunities to either trade him or maybe changes a few things, but it might take some time because the goalie market doesn’t move very quickly.”

Basu also noted the Canadiens could use their six waiver-exempt players (Juraj Slafkovsky, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Arber Xhekaj, Kaiden Guhle, Justin Barron and Jordan Harris) to send some of them to the AHL as a paper transaction to be cap compliant to start the season, then recall them once Price is placed on LTIR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Basu points out that it’s about garnering salary-cap flexibility. He noted that the Petry trade allows the Canadiens to start the regular season with Price on their books and then place him on LTIR when the roster deadline has passed.

Basu goes on to explain that offseason LTIR means the Canadiens get locked into a cap number leaving them with zero cap space. In-season LTIR means the closer they are to the cap as possible, the more cap flexibility they’ll have once they place Price on it.


TSN: Travis Yost looked at how free agent Tomas Tatar could help an NHL club. He noted that the 32-year-old winger has been a reliable middle-six point producer, including his 20 goals and 48 points last season with the New Jersey Devils.

Yost believes a team that plays a similar up-tempo attacking style like the Devils could benefit from Tatar’s speed and scoring abilities. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets could be possible destinations. It could take training camp to open up more possibilities for Tatar.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari noted the recent rumors linking the Penguins to Tatar. He examined whether he was worth adding to the roster.

Molinari believes the Penguins should pursue Tatar if sidelined winger Jake Guentzel is out longer than anticipated and if he’ll accept a team-friendly contract. The downside, however, is his addition would complicate their salary-cap flexibility, costing them a valuable role player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar recently admitted he’s had talks with the Penguins but didn’t indicate whether they’re close to a deal. Penguins GM Kyle Dubas last week said Guentzel might only miss the opening five games of the regular season. That could alleviate the need to find a short-term replacement for him.

It’s believed Tatar could be seeking a guaranteed contract longer than one season. The Penguins might only be interested in signing him to a PTO deal and see how he performs in training camp and preseason play.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2023

The Flames’ Oliver Kylington opens up about his mental health struggles, Sam Montembeault receives reassurance from Canadiens management, the Hurricanes sign Caleb Jones, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington explained to a Swedish news outlet about why he missed the 2022-23 season, saying he had to prioritize his mental health.

Calgary Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington (NHL Images).

Kylington, 26, said he went through “a challenging year”, dealing with escalating family issues that took a toll mentally and psychologically. “I needed to face these problems we had as a family and today I am incredibly grateful for this journey I started and then had to finish,” he said.

A skilled mobile defenseman, Kylington is training for the coming 2023-24 season. He said that he’s now feeling “absolutely fantastic” and is looking forward to rejoining the Flames. General manager Craig Conroy said that his return would be “a very big thing for us.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mental well-being is every bit as important as one’s physical health. It sounds like Kylington had plenty of support which will continue as he resumes his NHL career.

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens’ acquisition of Casey DeSmith on Sunday raised questions about Sam Montembeault’s role with the club. However, the 26-year-old goaltender said he received assurances through his agent from GM Kent Hughes not to worry. Montembeault was pleased that Hughes took the time to do that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes has yet to meet with the media regarding his role in the Erik Karlsson three-team trade. The acquisition of DeSmith in that deal sparked speculation that the Canadiens could shop Montembeault or Jake Allen or flip him to another team before training camp opens in September.

TSN: The Carolina Hurricanes signed defenseman Caleb Jones to a one-year, $775K contract. Jones, 26, played 73 games last season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: IndyCar driver Zach Claman DeMelo took to social media accusing Red Wings forward Daniel Sprong of assaulting him in a nightclub during the week of the Detroit Grand Prix.

DeMelo has not indicated if he’ll file criminal charges. Sprong, 26, signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Red Wings after scoring a career-high 21 goals last season with the Seattle Kraken.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres hired former NHL defenseman Zach Redmond as a development coach. He played 133 games over six seasons (2012-13 to 2017-18) with the Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens and the Sabres and spent the past three seasons in Germany with Munich EHC.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) formally announced they will ban fighting from their games starting this season. Players who engaged in a fight will be immediately ejected from the game. An instigator will receive an automatic one-game suspension while an aggressor will automatically receive a two-game suspension. An automatic game suspension is imposed with a player’s second fight of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers believe this will be another step in the path to eradicating fights from the game of hockey. Critics think this will lead to a rise in dirty play like spearing, slashing, slew-footing, blindside hits and butt-ending.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2023

The Canadiens reacquired Jeff Petry from the Penguins but he might not be with them for long. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan noted the return of Jeff Petry to the Canadiens from the Pittsburgh Penguins in yesterday’s three-team trade that saw the San Jose Sharks ship Erik Karlsson to the Penguins. The Habs received Petry with a lower average annual value of $4.687 million through 2024-25 as the Penguins retained over $1.56 million of his $6.25 million AAV.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry in 2021-22 (NHL Images).

The Canadiens traded Petry to the Penguins last summer, along with center Ryan Poehling, for defenseman Mike Matheson and a 2023 fourth-round pick. He had requested a trade during the 2021-22 season for family reasons after his wife, Julie, was upset over the COVID restrictions in Quebec and moved the family back to Michigan.

Cowan wonders how long Petry will be with the Canadiens. He believes general manager Kent Hughes will most likely be looking to trade him again. However, if the 35-year-old blueliner isn’t traded he’ll provide the Habs young blueline with a veteran right-shot presence.

SPORTSNET’s Eric Engels believes the Canadiens will trade Petry. “Not necessarily immediately, but likely before the season starts.” He noted that the Penguins have already paid Petry’s $3 million signing bonus for this season and the Canadiens can retain 50 percent of their share of his AAV ($2.34 million).

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont also speculated the Canadiens could attempt to move Petry either before the season starts or at some point before the regular season trade deadline.

Dumont noted Petry still put up 31 points in 61 games with the Penguins last season despite his age and the decline in his performance. He thinks there would be some teams looking to add a top-four defenseman like Petry at a discounted price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some buzz on social media suggesting Hughes could flip Petry to another club in a matter of hours. That move hasn’t materialized yet but it’s possible the Canadiens GM ships out the veteran defenseman for a return that helps with their current rebuild. Retaining up to half of their share of his AAV would make Petry an affordable short-term option for contenders seeking an experienced right-side rearguard.

TVA SPORTS: Mylene Richard noted the Canadiens’ acquisition of Casey DeSmith from the Penguins leaves them with four goaltenders under one-way NHL contracts for 2023-24. The others included Samuel Montembeault, Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau.

Richard suggested DeSmith could be insurance for the Canadiens if Primeau fails to earn a spot on their roster and ends up on waivers before the start of the season.

TVA Sports analyst Patrick Lalime speculates the Canadiens could attempt to shop one of those goalies, suggesting it could be Allen or DeSmith who end up on the trade block.

SPORTSNET’s Eric Engels suggested it could be Allen who gets moved if Primeau should unseat him in training camp. He also speculated the Canadiens could start the season with three goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes could also move DeSmith if Montembeault, Allen and Primeau outperform him during training camp. One of these four probably won’t be with the Canadiens when the regular season begins in October.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2023

The latest on the Golden Knights and Stars ahead of Game 5 of the Western Conference Final plus updates on Jordan Staal, Frederik Andersen and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights can advance to the Stanley Cup Final with a victory tonight over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. The Golden Knights hold a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights intend to heighten their focus on shutting down Jason Robertson. After scoring just twice through the first two rounders, the 23-year-old Stars winger has four goals in the Conference Final, including two in Game 4 as his club avoided being swept from the series.

Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was the Stars’ best players like Robertson rising to the occasion in Game 4 (other than Jamie Benn, who’s serving a two-game suspension) that sent this series back to Las Vegas for Game 5. They’ll need a similar or better effort to force a Game 6.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars winger Evgenii Dadonov did not travel with his teammates to Las Vegas for Game 5. He suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3 that sidelined him for Game 4. Stars coach Peter DeBoer no longer classified Dadonov as day-to-day but expects that he will return later in the postseason.

TSN: Jordan Staal said he has no plans to play for another NHL club and hopes to return next season with the Carolina Hurricanes. The long-time Hurricanes captain is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 coming off a 10-year, $60 million contract.

NHL.COM Hurricanes reporter Walt Ruff tweeted that Frederik Andersen is also keen to return to Carolina next season. Like Staal, the 33-year-old goaltender is a UFA on July 1. “My priority is to get back here,” said Andersen. “We believe in this group that we can do something special next year.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Hurricanes intend on bringing back Staal and Andersen provided they’re willing to accept pay cuts on short-term deals. We’ll see how things pan out for them in the coming weeks.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the list of potential general manager candidates to be interviewed by the Toronto Maple Leafs is expected to include Jason Botterill, Marc Bergevin, Brad Treliving and Peter Chiarelli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs president Brendan Shanahan recently indicated he’s seeking someone with experience for the job. Some pundits consider Treliving to be the front-runner.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying that Fenway Sports Group (owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins) is giving former Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas this weekend to mull over whether he wants the job of Penguins GM.

Meanwhile, THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Nick Horwat cited TSN’s Chris Johnston saying Dubas is “98 percent he’s going to be taking a job there”, meaning Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the Memorial Day long weekend in the United States. That means Dubas’ answer could come on Tuesday at the earliest.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: A strong performance by Canadiens goaltender Samuel Montembeault has carried Canada into the semi-final against Latvia at the 2023 IIHF World Championship. He’s allowed just six goals on 118 shots in the five games he’s played thus far with a 1.19 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That performance could also help Montembeault’s case if he’s looking for a contract extension from the Habs. He will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2023-24.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2022

The Flames take Matthew Tkachuk to arbitration, the latest noteworthy contract signings, the Ducks aren’t done making off-season moves, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames are taking winger Matthew Tkachuk to arbitration after the 24-year-old winger opted not to file for player-elected arbitration by Sunday’s deadline.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move sets a deadline for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on a new contract. It also prevents Tkachuk from receiving offer sheets from rival clubs.

This decision by the Flames will likely raise concerns among the fanbase that he could end up with just a one-year deal taking him up to unrestricted free agent status next summer. It could also lead to his name popping up in trade rumors.

The arbitration period begins on July 27 and ends on Aug. 11. The schedule for those hearings has yet to be released.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens signed restricted free agent goaltender Samuel Montembeault to a two-year, one-way contract worth an average annual value of $1 million. The signing leaves the Canadiens with $1.2 million in cap space with 22 roster players signed for 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is likely an insurance move by the Canadiens given the ongoing uncertainty over the status of starting goalie Carey Price as he continues to deal with the effects of last summer’s knee surgery. Center Kirby Dach is their sole remaining free agent among their roster players.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed restricted free agent forward Luke Kunin and goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen to two-year contracts with an average annual value of $2.75 million.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek continues to work on his off-season roster makeover. He’d like to sign a free-agent forward and a defenseman but didn’t indicate which players he’s targeted in the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Verbeek made two notable free-agent additions last week, bringing in forwards Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano.

TSN: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins released a statement on Monday indicating he was not involved in an alleged sexual assault involving members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team. His statement comes a week after Hockey Canada announced it was reopening its investigation into the alleged assault.

Timmins joins Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner Victor Mete in publicly declaring their innocence. The agent for Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar said his client wasn’t involved in the incident and had cooperated in the initial investigation.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ed Olczyk is leaving the Blackhawks broadcast teams after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. He’ll be joining the Seattle Kraken broadcast booth and continuing as a hockey analyst for TNT.

TSN: Jake Virtanen’s sexual assault trial is underway in British Columbus. The alleged incident took place in Sept. 2017 when he was a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

NHL.COM: Defenseman Andrej Sekera has retired after 16 NHL seasons. He had 253 points in 842 regular-season games with the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres between 2006-07 to 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Sekera and his family in their future endeavors.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers are reportedly replacing their trainers as well as long-time equipment manager Harry Bricker.

THE PROVINCE: Former Canucks general manager Jack Gordon passed away last month in Minnesota at age 94. He was GM of the clubs from 1985 to 1987, during which he’s remembered for trading a young Cam Neely to the Boston Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Gordon’s family, friends and the Canucks organization.

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


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.


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.