NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2021

The Avalanche score seven goals for the third straight game, the Flyers long winless skid is over, plus the latest on the Olympics, the Coyotes, the salary cap and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche scored seven goals for the third straight game on route to beating the Detroit Red Wings 7-3. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Devon Toews had three assists as the Avs won their sixth straight home game. Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated today. The Avalanche are the first team to tally at least seven goals in three straight games since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Colorado Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Penguins, they doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby collected two assists to extend his points streak to seven games while Tristan Jarry made 29 saves. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin also had two assists while teammates Tom Wilson and Martin Fehervary left the game with injuries.

The Philadelphia Flyers snapped a 10-game winless skid by holding off the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. Carter Hart kicked out 41 shots and James van Riemsdyk tallied what proved to be the game-winning goal. Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty netted two goals. It’s the Flyers’ first win under interim coach Mike Yeo.

Elias Pettersson scored in a shootout as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 to pick up their third straight win in as many games under new coach Bruce Boudreau. Nils Hoglander potted two goals and Thatcher Demko got the win with a 34-save effort. Jets’ captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists but left the game in the third period with a possible knee injury. Kyle Connor also had a goal and two assists for the Jets.

Patric Hornqvist and Sam Bennett scored 10 seconds apart in the first period as the Florida Panthers downed the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Phil Kessel replied for the Coyotes, who’ve lost four straight games. The win vaulted the Panthers into first place in the overall standings with 40 points.

Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi had a goal and an assist to lead his club over the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Juuse Saros turned aside 29 shots in his return to action after missing two games with a non-COVID-related illness. The Predators have won four straight.

A 36-save performance by Alexandar Georgiev carried the New York Rangers over the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Mika Zibanejad and Alexis Lafreniere scored for the Rangers as they’ve won eight of their last nine contests. The Sabres have dropped six straight.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with reporters yesterday following the second and final day of the board of governors meetings.

Regarding NHL participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics, Bettman indicated he’s concerned about a host of issues, including COVID-19 testing and potential quarantine in Beijing if a player tests positive. Nevertheless, he said it’s going to be the players’ decision to go unless the league and the NHL Players Association jointly agree to the contrary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports suggest a positive test could lead to a player facing a three-week quarantine in China, raising questions as to when the player can leave the country. Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner is the only player thus far to withdraw from participation, citing mental health concerns.

The NHL is projecting hockey-related revenue will rise to $5.2 billion for this season. The salary cap will rise by $1 million to $82.5 million for 2022-23 and to $83.5 million in 2023-24 based upon last year’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) that extended the collective bargaining agreement. That will allow the players to repay the $1 billion in escrow debt owed to the owners by the end of 2023-24, meaning a significant jump in the salary cap for 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How big a jump will depend on how much HRR rises by ’24-’25. It could reach $6 billion which could see the cap rise by $7 million, sparking a frenzy of lucrative long-term contracts for free agents in the summer of 2024.

Bettman also said there were no concerns about the Arizona Coyotes despite the recent threat of eviction from the Gila River Arena over unpaid bills and taxes. The club released a statement claiming they’ve paid those bills, blaming “human error” for the delay. The Coyotes still reportedly owe an additional $2.7 million in rent and other expenses to the city of Glendale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: “Human error” is the business equivalent of “The dog ate my homework” or “The cheque’s in the mail.” While this raises legitimate questions over the stability of the Coyotes’ ownership, the club won’t be relocating. Put simply, the Coyotes won’t remain in Arizona until Bettman decides it’s no longer feasible.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wondered if Bettman got a contract extension after telling reporters he planned on being in his job for a long time. “So you’re still stuck with me,” he said with a smile.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman’s helped the owners make a boatload of money over the years while bringing the NHLPA to heel. Like it or not, he’ll be the commissioner for as long as he wants.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Evander Kane is expected to make his debut today with the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate. The Sharks assigned the 30-year-old winger to the Barracudas following the recent completion of his 21-game suspension for using a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are believed to be still trying to find a trade partner to take Kane off their hands. There’s no indication when he might be recalled to their lineup.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Ben Bishop gave up eight goals on 34 shots in his first game with the club’s AHL affiliate on Thursday. It was also his first game since undergoing knee surgery in October 2020. He’s with the Texas Stars on a conditioning stint as he inches his way toward a possible return with Dallas.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek is set to play tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. It’ll be his first game since suffering a groin injury in October.

TSN: New Jersey Devils coach Lindy Ruff said he’s worried and concerned over the long-term health of goalie Jonathan Bernier due to a hip injury. Bernier was placed on injured reserve after dealing with the ailment throughout this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like it could be a career-threatening injury for Bernier. There’s no word if he’ll undergo surgery.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt underwent successful surgery for an upper-body injury. There is no timetable for his return.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets placed defenseman Adam Boqvist (upper body) on injured reserve.

THE PROVINCE: The front office purge of the Vancouver Canucks continued Friday as assistant general manager Chris Gear and senior director of hockey operations and analytics Jonathan Wall were dismissed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 8, 2021

The Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane reaches a milestone, the Ducks’ Troy Terry’s point streak reaches 11 games, the Red Wings’ Lucas Raymond regains the rookie goals lead, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Alex DeBrincat lifted the Chicago Blackhawks (2-9-2) over the Nashville Predators 2-1 to give interim head coach Derek King his first NHL win behind the bench. Patrick Kane set up DeBrincat’s goal to earn his 1,100th career NHL point, becoming the third player in Blackhawks history and the fourth American-born NHL player to reach that plateau. Brandon Hagel also scored for the Hawks while Alexandre Carrier replied for the Predators.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry scored the game-winning goal in a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Terry has a team-leading 14 points in 12 games and extended his points streak to 11 games. Benoit-Olivier Groulx had a goal and an assist while John Gibson picked up the win with 35 saves.

The Detroit Red Wings (6-5-2) picked up their second straight win by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2. Winger Lucas Raymond scored his sixth goal of the season to regain the rookie goal-scoring lead, Thomas Greiss kicked out 38 shots and Tyler Bertuzzi and Pius Suter each had a goal and an assist. Wings captain Dylan Larkin returned to action after missing three games for personal reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raymond also leads the rookie points race with 14 points and sits one back of Bertuzzi for the lead among Red Wings scorers. He and teammate Moritz Seider (10 points) are emerging as the early favorites for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

Four unanswered third-period goals by Ryan Hartman, Brandon Duhaime, Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba rallied the Minnesota Wild over the New York Islander 5-2. Anders Lee scored both Islanders’ goals while Semyon Varlamov gave up three goals on 37 shots in his season debut for the Isles.

J.T. Miller scored twice while Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat each had a goal and two assists to give the Vancouver Canucks (5-6-1) a 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars (4-5-2). Quinn Hughes picked up three assists and Brock Boeser collected two points for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are the only NHL team without a regulation win thus far this season.

HEADLINES

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed goaltender Petr Mrazek on injured reserve with a groin injury retroactive to Nov. 4. He’s expected to be sidelined for four weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs will rely heavily on starter Jack Campbell during that period as they lack a decent third goalie within their system. They’ll be in deep trouble if Campbell should become sidelined.

NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers forward Derick Brassard was fined $2,000.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct during Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators will be without Austin Watson, Nick Holden and associate coach Jack Capuano. They were placed on the COVID protocol list over the weekend. They’ve also reassigned goaltender Filip Gustavsson to their AHL affiliate in Belleville.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers forward Devin Shore will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a lower-body injury.

STLTODAY.COM: The NHL will not be providing salary-cap relief for teams dealing with COVID-related absences. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said it is no different than dealing with players sidelined by short-term injuries. The St. Louis Blues were among the clubs hit hard with COVID-related absences this season with as many as six players at one point on the protocol list.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2021

Game recaps include hat tricks by Connor McDavid and Sam Bennett, a record-setting night for Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid tallied his 10th career hat trick to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Calgary Flames by a score of 5-2. Three of those hat tricks have come against the Flames. Leon Draisaitl collected three assists while Jesse Puljujarvi had a goal and two assists. The Oilers also welcomed back Zack Kassian from concussion protocol. The Flames set a dubious NHL record by losing 12 straight season-opening games.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Sam Bennett powered the Florida Panthers to a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Aleksander Barkov and Anthony Duclair also tallied for the Panthers while Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for the win.

Mike Sullivan became the all-time wins leader among Pittsburgh Penguins head coaches with 253 as his club rolled over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Chicago goalie Marc-Andre Fleury got the hook in the first period after giving up four goals on 10 shots. Drew O’Connor and Brock McGinn each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Penguins activated Zach Aston-Reese from COVID protocol and placed winger Bryan Rust (upper body) on injured reserve.

Steven Stamkos’ overtime goal lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Washington Capitals 2-1. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring in the second period with his 733rd career goal while Mikhail Sergachev tied it in the third. The Lightning’s win was overshadowed by the departure of first-line winger Nikita Kucherov midway through the third period with an apparent lower-body injury.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand joined Mats Sundin and Chris Kelly as the third player in NHL history to record a team’s season-opening goal on a penalty shot in a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. He also scored the insurance goal late in the third period. Stars goalie Braden Holtby made 37 saves in a losing effort.

Chris Kreider scored in his third straight game as the New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. Alexis Lafreniere picked up the game-winner by snapping a 1-1 tie in the third period. Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. The Canadiens have dropped three straight and scored just three goals with Jonathan Drouin accounting for two of them.

St. Louis Blues winger David Perron scored twice as his club held off a late rally by the Colorado Avalanche for a 5-3 victory. The Avalanche came back from 4-1 to within a goal before Ryan O’Reilly put the game out of reach. Colorado defenseman Jack Johnson missed this contest as he was placed in COVID protocol. Before the game, the Avs honored former general manager Pierre Lacroix, who passed away in December from a COVID-related illness at age 72.

The San Jose Sharks overcame a 2-0 deficit with a shorthanded goal and two power-play markers to beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3. Tomas Hertl and rookie Jasper Weatherby led the way for the Sharks as they each had a goal and an assist.

A 40-save effort by Thomas Greiss carried the Detroit Red Wings over the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 3-1. Greiss made 23 saves in the third period. Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina and Sam Gagner scored for the Wings.

Frederik Andersen kicked out 38 shots as the Carolina Hurricanes held off the Nashville Predators 3-2. Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen scored in the third period to give the Hurricanes the win.

The Toronto Maple Leafs got a 20-save performance from Jack Campbell to beat the Ottawa Senators 3-1. Alex Kerfoot led the way with a goal and an assist. With Petr Mrazek sidelined for two weeks with a groin injury, the Leafs had to sign University of Toronto goalie Alex Bishop to a one-day contract as an emergency backup for Campbell due to salary-cap constraints. They’ll be able to call up Michael Hutchinson on Monday.

Cam Talbot made 29 saves as the Minnesota Wild held on for a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The Wild got second-period goals from Frederick Gaudreau, Victor Rask and Ryan Hartman. Anze Kopitar got the Kings within one in the third period.

An overtime goal by Patrik Laine gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Branden Tanev opened the scoring for the Kraken but Eric Robinson’s goal midway through the third period set the stage for Laine’s game-winner. The Kraken played without Vince Dunn as the defenseman was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed ailment.

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their second-straight win by downing the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on a shootout goal by Arttu Ruotsalainen. Andrew Ladd opened the scoring for the Coyotes in the first period while Cody Eakin replied in the second for the Sabres. Earlier in the day, the Sabres placed defenseman Henri Jokiharju (lower body) on injured reserve and claimed blueliner Christian Wolanin off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.

SPORTSNET: The Vegas Golden Knights got some bad news as first-line left winger Max Pacioretty could be sidelined up to six weeks with a lower-body injury. Linemate Mark Stone remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

The Anaheim Ducks placed center Derek Grant and defenseman Greg Pateryn on waivers.

NHL.COM: Former Boston Bruins defenseman Leo Boivin passed away Saturday at age 89. He spent 19 seasons (1952-1970) in the NHL, starting his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Traded to the Bruins early in 1954-55, he spent nearly 12 seasons in Boston and served as their captain from 1963 to 1966. He also played for the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota North Stars, collecting 322 points in 1,150 games. A three-time All-Star, Boivin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.

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










Notable NHL Free Agent Signings and Trades – July 28, 2021

Notable NHL Free Agent Signings and Trades – July 28, 2021

Be sure to check in regularly throughout the day for today’s notable free-agent signings and trades.

SIGNINGS (Updated: 6 pm ET.

New Jersey Devils sign defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year, $63 million contract ($9 million AAV).

Boston Bruins sign goaltender Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract ($5 million AAV).

Montreal Canadiens sign winger Mike Hoffman to a three-year, $13.5 million contract ($4.5 million AAV).

Anaheim Ducks sign center Ryan Getzlaf to a one-year, $4.5 million contract.

Detroit Red Wings sign center Pius Suter to a two-year, $6.5 million contract ($3.25 million AAV).

Boston Bruins sign winger Nick Foligno to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Ottawa Senator sign defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a two-year, $4 million deal ($2 million AAV).

SIGNINGS: (Updated: 4 pm ET)

Tampa Bay Lightning re-sign center Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract ($9.5 million AAV).

Vegas Golden Knights sign forward Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2 million contract.

SIGNINGS (Updated: 2:45 pm ET):

Seattle Kraken sign goaltender Philipp Grubauer to a six-year, $35.4 million contract ($5.9 million AAV).

Seattle Kraken sign winger Jaden Schwartz to a five-year, $27.5 million contract ($5.5 million AAV).

Los Angeles Kings sign center Phillip Danault to a six-year, $33 million contract ($5.5 million AAV).

Los Angeles Kings sign defenseman Alex Edler to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.

Boston Bruins sign forward Erik Haula to a two-year, $4.75 million contract ($2.375 million AAV).

Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Ian Cole to a one-year, $2.9 million contract.

San Jose Sharks sign center Nick Bonino to a two-year, $4.1 million contract ($2.05 million AAV).

SIGNINGS (UPDATED 1:30 PM ET)

Nashville Predators re-sign forward Mikael Granlund to a four-year, $20 million contract ($5 million AAV).

Minnesota Wild sign defenseman Alex Goligoski to a one-year, $5 million contract.

Calgary Flames sign forward Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract ($4.9 million AAV).

Carolina Hurricanes sign goalie Frederik Andersen to a two-year deal worth $4.5 million AAV.

Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Boone Jenner to a four-year $15 million contract ($3.75 million).

New Jersey Devils sign goaltender Jonathan Bernier to a two-year, $8.25 million contract ($4.125 million AAV).

Montreal Canadiens sign David Savard to a four-year, $14 million contract ($3.5 million AAV).

Edmonton Oilers sign defenseman Cody Ceci to a four-year, $13 million contract ($3.25 million AAV).

Vancouver Canucks sign defenseman Travis Hamonic to a two-year, $6 million contract ($3 million AAV).

Columbus Blue Jackets sign forward Sean Kuraly to a four-year, $10 million contract ($2.5 million cap hit)

Vancouver Canucks sign defenseman Tucker Poolman to a four-year, $10 million contract ($2.5 million AAV)

Philadelphia Flyers sign goalie Martin Jones to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Dallas Stars sign Braden Holtby to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Philadelphia Flyers sign defenseman Keith Yandle to a one-year, $950K contract.

SIGNINGS AND TRADES PRIOR TO NOON ET. 

Edmonton Oilers sign Zach Hyman to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract ($5.5 million annual average value).

Edmonton Oilers re-sign defenseman Tyson Barrie to a three-year contract worth $4.5 million per season.

Vegas Golden Knights re-sign defenseman Alec Martinez to a three-year deal worth $5.25 million annually.

Seattle Kraken sign forward Alexander Wennberg to a three-yeae contract worth $4.5 million annually.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign goaltender Petr Mrazek to a three-year contract worth $3.8 million.

Dallas Stars sign defenseman Ryan Suter to a four-year contract worth $3.65 million AAV.

Carolina Hurricanes sign goaltender Antti Raanta to a two-year deal worth $2 million annually.

Vancouver Canucks sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million in base salary.

Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Tony DeAngelo to a one-year, $1 million contract.

TRADES

Edmonton Oilers trade defenseman Ethan Bear to the Carolina Hurricanes for winger Warren Foegele.

Ottawa Senators trade winger Evgeni Dadonov to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Nick Holden and a third-round draft pick in 2022.

Chicago Blackhawks trade defenseman Nikita Zadorov to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022. The pick originally belonged to Toronto.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 13, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 13, 2021

Will the Bruins re-sign Taylor Hall? Could the Oilers target Jake DeBrusk? Can the Hurricanes afford to re-sign Dougie Hamilton? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: On Friday, Nick Goss reported Taylor Hall is hoping to return with the Bruins. “I see a fit, and hopefully they feel the same way,” he said during his season-ending press conference.

Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

The 29-year-old left-winger played well after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Hall indicated he’s not looking to maximize his value at this point in his career. That suggests he’s looking more for term than dollars this time around. Goss believes the Bruins must re-sign Hall, pointing to their lack of secondary scoring depth without him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Hall is looking at no more than $6 million annually, the Bruins could re-sign him to perhaps a four or five-year deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wondered if the Oilers should attempt to acquire winger Jake DeBrusk from the Bruins. The 24-year-old winger seems to have lost his way in Boston, spending time on his off-wing shuffling between the second and third lines.

The Bruins need to free up some cap space if they hope to re-sign Hall, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask. DeBrusk and his $3.65 million cap hit for next season could be manageable on the Oilers’ second line.

Matheson also wondered if the Oilers could have their eye on older, most-costly pending UFA left-wingers like Brandon Saad or Zach Hyman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were said to be concerned about giving up on DeBrusk too soon and watch him blossom elsewhere. That could change, however, if they need to clear cap room to retain older veterans. It could also depend upon what type of offers they get for DeBrusk. His status could be worth monitoring this summer.

UPDATE ON THE HURRICANES

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The respective contract statuses of defenseman Dougie Hamilton and head coach Rod Brind’Amour top Chip Alexander’s list of pressing questions facing the Carolina Hurricanes this summer.

Hamilton, 27, is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Coming off a deal with an annual average value of $5.75 million, he could look around and see Washington’s John Carlson earning $8 million annually, Nashville’s Roman Josi making $9 million per, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman checking in at $7.875 million and Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon at $7.57 million.

Brind’Amour is adamant about keeping his coaching staff together before re-signing with the Hurricanes. Alexander wondered if that’s become a snag in the contract talks.

Alexander also wondered if this season was the last for pending UFAs Petr Mrazek, Brock McGinn and Jordan Martinook.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes Hamilton could be the game-changing defenseman the Blackhawks need if he hits the open market next season. While recent rumors tied the Hawks to Columbus’ Seth Jones, Pope noted Jones’ offensive stats have declined in recent years. It would also cost the Blackhawks some young assets to acquire Jones in a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton wants to stay in Carolina and the Hurricanes want to keep him. Unless he’s willing to accept a little less than market value, the Hurricanes will have to pay big bucks to keep him. That could affect efforts to re-sign some of their other UFAs.

Hamilton would draw plenty of suitors on the open market. Whether the Blackhawks would be among them remains to be seen. They could prefer more affordable short-term options while waiting for young defensemen such as Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell to reach their potential.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 27, 2021

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: more moves could be in store for the Sabres, the Canadiens might not be done dealing plus the latest on the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets.

ARE MORE MOVES IN STORE FOR SABRES?

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports the Buffalo Sabres are open for business after shipping Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens yesterday for two draft picks. The Sabres also retained part of Staal’s salary and are allowed to retain salary on two more players this season to facilitate trading pending unrestricted free agents such as Taylor Hall and Brandon Montour.

Will Taylor Hall become the next player traded by the Buffalo Sabres? (NHL Images)

Hall has a full no-movement clause. However, he has indicated his willingness to discuss trade options with general manager Kevyn Adams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Adams has spoken with multiple teams about Hall. His colleague Pierre LeBrun said he’s heard a first-round pick is part of the asking price for Hall but it could be difficult for the Sabres to find that in this buyer’s market.

Hall will draw plenty of interest if the Sabres agree to pick up half of his $8 million annual average value for this season. The same goes for Montour and his $3.85 million AAV. The asking prices for those two will be draft picks and prospects.

It’ll be interesting to see if Adams attempts to move any players carrying term on their contracts or one of his restricted free agents. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen fits into the former category and Sam Reinhart the latter. Both have surfaced in recent trade speculation. Those moves could be made in the offseason if Adams doesn’t receive any decent offers by the April 12 trade deadline.

CANADIENS NOT DONE DEALING?

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin isn’t done dealing after parting with two draft picks for Eric Staal yesterday. Bergevin didn’t meet with the press following the announcement of Staal’s acquisition, sparking speculation he could be trying to free up more salary-cap space.

The Habs don’t have much cap space ($486,095) to add another player, including promising prospect Cole Caufield whose college season ended yesterday. Engels speculates the Habs can wait and accrue more cap space to sign him because he’s on their reserve list and there’s no deadline to put pen to paper.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs could use another skilled left-side defenseman. Cap Friendly indicates he’s got $2.33 million in trade deadline cap space and 12 picks in the 2021 NHL Draft to draw upon as trade bait, including 10 between rounds two and five.

LATEST ON THE HURRICANES AND BLUE JACKETS

NHL.COM: cites Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell telling The Athletic he could consider trading one of his goaltenders. Alex Nedeljkovic and James Reimer have split the goalies duties since Petr Mrazek was sidelined earlier this season with a broken thumb. Mrazek is now close to returning to the lineup.

Waddell pointed out his club has limited salary-cap space, suggesting he could use one of his goalies as a trade chip if he decides to add to his roster before the trade deadline. He also didn’t rule out retaining all three netminders for the playoffs. Waddell suggested he’d like to add a right-shot defenseman to his blueline corps.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams in need of goalie depth with pending UFA right-shot defensemen include the Sabres (Brandon Montour) and Ottawa Senators (Erik Gudbranson). Reimer and Mrazek, however, are also UFAs and could be unwilling to sign with either club.

The Colorado Avalanche could still be in the market for a reliable backup for Philipp Grubauer. Greg Pateryn is a pending UFA right-shot rearguard but might not be what Waddell is looking for. I don’t see the Avs parting with any of their top-six plus they don’t have many right-shot defensemen to spare.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Aaron Portzline said he could see Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen attempting to acquire a center if his club remains in the playoff race. He anticipates it would be a depth center with at most a year left on his contract for a mid-to-late-round draft pick.

Portzline rules out Kekalainen being a big-game hunter at the deadline as he was two years ago. He doubts the Jackets GM will mortgage too much of the future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any efforts to acquire a first- or second-line center will likely take place in the offseason. That could involve shopping one of his goalies.