NHL Rumor Mill – April 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 5, 2022

The Winnipeg Jets could face some important roster decisions this summer if they fail to qualify for the 2022 playoffs. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre recently compared the current Jets roster to “expensive housecats”, suggesting they boast a “good pedigree, but can’t be coached, can’t be trained.” He points out there’s been little change in their inconsistent ways since Paul Maurice stepped down as head coach earlier this season and Dave Lowry took over behind the bench.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

TSN analyst and former NHL general manager Craig Button recently blamed the Jets’ woes on what he considered “average coaching”, pointing out their poor defensive play. McIntyre, however, believes the fault rests with the players, singling out first-line center Mark Scheifele’s seemingly indifferent commitment to the defensive part of the game.

McIntyre suggests a “full-scale audit” of the franchise will be required if they miss the playoffs. That includes general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who assembled the current roster.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Ken Wiebe also believes the Jets’ performance over the remainder of this season could determine what level of changes will be necessary in the offseason.

Wiebe believes the Jets’ priority will be getting center Pierre-Luc Dubois signed to a long-term extension before giving consideration to any blockbuster deals. He doesn’t expect two-way forward Adam Lowry will be traded given his solid second-half performance.

The Jets need to ship out one or two veteran defensemen to make room for their promising prospects. Asked about whether the Jets should pursue Dallas Stars blueliner John Klingberg via free agency this summer, Wiebe doesn’t believe he’d be a good fit if the Jets attempt to shed salary from the blueline. The savings should be used to bring in a good middle-six forward.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggested Scheifele could be a doable acquisition for the Rangers as a replacement for Ryan Strome or Andrew Copp if one of them departs via free agency this summer. Scheifele is signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $6.125 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have steadily declined since 2017-18 when they finished with a franchise-record of 114 points and reached the Western Conference Finals. Changes could very well be in the offing if they failed to qualify for the postseason or get bounced from the opening round.

Scheifele’s become a lightning rod for criticism this season. Nevertheless, he would draw considerable interest in this summer’s trade market if management decides to shake things up. He has some measure of control with his 10-team no-trade list. His cap hit could also prove a bit of a sticking point.

Aging captain Blake Wheeler has a full no-movement clause. His age (35) and $8.25 million annual cap hit through 2023-24 would make him difficult to move.

Teams would line up for Jets forwards like Dubois, Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. However, they’re likely considered untouchable unless someone is willing to overpay for their services.

Talk of moving one or two high-salaried defensemen would start with Nate Schmidt and Josh Morrissey. Moving either guy in cost-cutting deals will be challenging with the salary cap rising by just $1 million next season.

Schmidt, 30, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.95 million and a 10-team no-trade clause. The 27-year-old Morrissey carries a $6.25 million cap hit through 2027-28.

It might be easier for Jets management to find a head coach who will command the players’ respect and buy into a more responsible two-way system.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 26, 2021

Patrick Roy’s agent dismisses rumors linking him to the Canadiens, Max Domi, Josh Morrissey and Nikita Zaitsev fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TVA SPORTS: Patrick Roy’s agent, Neil Glasberg, dismissed speculation linking his client to the Montreal Canadiens. He shot down a rumor claiming Roy met with Canadiens owner Geoff Molson at a hotel in Quebec City last spring.

Quebec Remparts head coach and general manager Patrick Roy (NHL.com).

Glasberg tied the rumors linking Roy to the Canadiens on the club’s poor play this season. He called them “nonsense, falsehoods,” adding he has never spoken to Molson about his client. He said Roy has given him the mandate to monitor opportunities around the league, not just in Montreal, but also indicated Roy is doing very well in his current positions as head coach and general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The speculation about Roy joining the Canadiens has it basis in the growing concern among Quebec hockey pundits over the club’s current plight. The Habs are rudderless with Molson seemingly in hiding, Marc Bergevin looking like a lame-duck GM, the players confused by Dominique Ducharme’s coaching, and the club’s puzzling unwillingness to name a new captain with Shea Weber sidelined with potentially career-ending injuries.

Glasberg didn’t rule out the possibility of speaking with the Canadiens on Roy’s behalf if the club contacted him. Time will tell if that call gets made.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Max Domi was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct during Wednesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Defenseman Josh Morrissey of the Jets was also fined $5,000.00 for slashing Jets forward Alexandre Texier.

Ottawa Senators blueliner Nikita Zaitsev received a $5,000.00 fine for cross-checking San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier on Wednesday.

The New Jersey Devils claimed forward Nathan Bastian off waivers from the Seattle Kraken on Thursday. The Kraken chose Bastian in this summer’s expansion draft after the Devils left him unprotected.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021

Jack Eichel changes agents plus the latest on John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Bo Horvat and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Still in a dispute with the Buffalo Sabres over treatment for his neck injury, center Jack Eichel has changed agents. He will now be represented by Pat Brisson of Creative Artists Agency, who also represents high-profile players such as Sidney Crosby and John Tavares.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s former agents released a statement a month ago that was critical of the Sabres’ handling of their now-former client’s situation. With no end of the stalemate in sight, hiring Brisson has sparked speculation over its effect upon his trade status. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

NHL.COM: Speaking of Tavares, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain said he’s “doing fantastic” in his recovery from a concussion and knee injury suffered during the playoffs. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to hear that Tavares is healthy and gearing up for the start of the new season. He’ll be under considerable pressure this season to lead the Leafs to playoff success after the club’s stunning first-round collapse against the Montreal Canadiens three months ago.

THE SCORE: After signing Sean Couturier to a contract extension on Thursday, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher indicated contract talks with captain Claude Giroux will be held off until the end of 2021-22. Giroux, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher also said both sides are comfortable with that decision. It will allow the Flyers to evaluate their captain’s performance and his future with the club. Giroux will use this season to prove his worth to the Flyers (or other clubs) in his contract year.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is determined to reach the playoffs this season. He believes they have the team to do it. “Enough is enough, we can talk all we want, at the end of the day we have to go out there and prove it on the ice,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expectations were high for the Canucks entering last season after reaching the second round of the 2020 playoffs. A shortened season, an outbreak of COVID-19, the offseason departures Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli, and Elias Pettersson’s season-ending injury were critical factors that scuttled their 2021 postseason hopes.

General manager Jim Benning shook up the roster, bringing in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Jaroslav Halak and Jason Dickinson while shedding Nate Schmidt, Braden Holtby, Loui Eriksson and several others. Time will tell if those moves improve the Canucks, especially their porous blueline.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes some Jets fans are being overly critical of Josh Morrisey. While the 26-year-old defenseman was accused of slacking off last season after landing a big contract, he was in fact dealing with his father’s fight with brain cancer that eventually took his life on Aug. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morrissey didn’t use that as an excuse for his inconsistent play but McIntyre believes it’s a justifiable reason. “How could it NOT have impacted his on-ice performance?”, he asked his readers.

We fans and pundits are quick to criticize players when their performance is not up to their usual standard. Sometimes it’s justified, but more often than not there are genuine reasons behind the decline. Sometimes they’re dealing with a loved one’s life-threatening illness or death. Sometimes they’re trying to play through a serious injury.

Sure, a handful of them can find the physical and mental toughness to overcome those issues and continue playing at a high level of competition. Most, however, will struggle to cope. That doesn’t make them weak. It just makes them normal. We tend to forget that.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed defenseman Jordie Benn to a one-year, $900K contract.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are reportedly close to signing defenseman Libor Hajek.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed center Ryan Poehling to a two-year contract. That leaves Jesperi Kotkaniemi as their only remaining restricted free agent.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2020

Leon Draisaitl tallies four goals against the Predators, the three stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl tallied four goals and Connor McDavid had four assists as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Nashville Predators 8-3. The Oilers broke a 3-3 tie with five unanswered third-period goals. With 78 points, the Oilers moved within two points of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division. The Predators (72 points) cling to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Draisaitl (107 points) holds a big lead in the NHL scoring race. He also moved into fourth place (43 goals) in the goal-scoring race.

Leon Draisaitl had a five-point game in the Edmonton Oilers’ 8-3 win over the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring injury or a significant scoring drought, Draisaitl has the Art Ross Trophy locked up for this season. He’s also put himself into the running for the Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer, and should be a serious contender for the Hart Trophy as MVP. 

The Colorado Avalanche (87 points) edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to move within one point of the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues. Michael Hutchinson made 17 saves in his debut with the Avs. Colorado rookie defenseman Cale Makar missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Wings, meanwhile, played without winger Adam Erne, who could miss the remainder of the season with a broken hand.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala, Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 1.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson underwent shoulder surgery on Monday and will need four-to-six months to recover.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was considerable interest in Anderson leading up to last Monday’s NHL trade deadline, but uncertainty over the status of his injury likely scared off potential suitors. His status as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from unrestricted free agent status could make him a fixture in this summer’s rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks indicated defenseman Jacob Middleton is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. They’re also believed to have agreed to a four-year, $8-million contract extension with blueline Radim Simek, though this hasn’t been confirmed by general manager Doug Wilson.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Sidelined Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Brian Dumoulin and John Marino are close to returning to the lineup. Both are game-day decision’s for tonight’s contest against the Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And not a moment too soon for the struggling Penguins, who’ve dropped six straight games.

TORONTO SUN: Sidelined Maple Leafs blueliners Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci have returned to practice and could rejoin the lineup sometime next week.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey is expected to return to action tonight against the Buffalo Sabres after being sidelined for four games with an upper-body injuy. Winger Patrik Laine (left foot injury) could also return tonight.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators goalie Marcus Hogberg is returning to Sweden for family reasons. The club hopes to provide a further update shortly.

SPORTSNET: The NHL has no plans to make any changes to its emergency backup goalie rule.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2020

Bobby Ryan scores a hat trick in an emotion return with the Senators, Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik nets his first NHL hat trick and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Bobby Ryan scored a hat trick to lead the Ottawa Senators over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. It was Ryan’s second game since returning from the player assistance program for alcohol abuse. He was overcome with emotion as his teammates and Ottawa fans cheered after he scored his third goal. The loss left the Canucks with 74 points, four behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

Bobby Ryan tallied a hat trick to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well done, Bobby Ryan.

David Pastrnak scored his league-leading 46th goal as the Boston Bruins held off the Dallas Stars 4-3. The league-leading Bruins (92 points) widened their lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning by seven points in the Eastern Conference standings.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik tallied his first NHL hat trick as his club netted five unanswered third-period goals in a 5-2 win over the Lightning, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. Kubalik leads the Blackhawks and all NHL rookies with 29 goals. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed the game with a lower-body injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from a 3-1 deficit to down the Florida Panthers 5-3. Auston Matthews, Zach Hyman, and Justin Holl each had a goal and an assist. With the win, the Leafs (76 points) moved four ahead of the Panthers for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Colton Parayko’s overtime goal lifted the St. Louis Blues over the New York Islanders 3-2. The Blues (86 points) widened their lead atop the Western Conference standings by five points over the Colorado Avalanche. With 78 points, the Islanders cling to the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund scored the tying and winning goals in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames. Ryan Ellis collected three assists for the Predators (72 points), who hold the final Western wild-card berth with three games in hand over the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets (72 points) got a 34-save shutout from Connor Hellebuyck to blank the Washington Capitals 3-0. Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and an assist. The Capitals (84 points) hold a four-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division. Jets winger Patrik Laine left the game with a lower-body injury in the first period. The Jets also played without defenseman Josh Morrissey and Sami Niku. Morrissey is expected back in the lineup on Saturday, but Niku could be sidelined for weeks.

The New York Rangers overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2, picking up their ninth straight road win. Ryan Strome scored two goals and Mika Zibanejad extended his goal streak to six games. Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin missed the game with an injured ankle. The surging Rangers (74 points) have won nine of their last 10 and sit two points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Matt Dumba scored twice as the Minnesota Wild crushed the Detroit Red Wings 7-1, handing Wings goalie Jimmy Howard his 20th straight defeat. Kevin Fiala had a three-point performance for the Wild (69 points), who sit three points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.

Logan Couture scored in overtime as the San Jose Sharks edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights re-signed William Carrier to a four-year contract with an annual average value of $1.4 million.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson (shoulder injury) could be done for the season.

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion hopes to make Mark Borowiecki a “Senators for life”. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.