NHL Rumor Mill – May 31, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 31, 2022

More speculation over whether the Oilers can afford to retain Evander Kane, some potential trade destinations for Kevin Fiala and the latest on the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CAN THE OILERS AFFORD TO RE-SIGN EVANDER KANE?

SPORTSNET/THE EDMONTON JOURNAL: Mark Spector and Jim Matheson wonder if the Oilers can afford to re-sign Evander Kane after this season.

Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane (NHL.com).

Signed in January by the Oilers as a free agent to a one-year, $2.1 million contract after the San Jose Sharks terminated his previous deal, the 30-year-old Kane had 22 goals and 39 points in 43 regular-season games and 12 goals in as many postseason contests thus far.

Asked during a recent press conference about re-signing Kane, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said he can sign anybody but someone else would have to go.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Oilers with just $7.1 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 15 players under contract. Restricted free agents Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto need new contracts, UFA goaltender MIkko Koskinen must be replaced and pending UFA defensemen Brett Kulak and Kris Russell must be re-signed or replaced.

As I’ve mentioned before, the outcome of Kane’s grievance with the Sharks over his contract termination could determine how much it could cost the Oilers to keep him. His previous contract was worth $7 million annually. If the arbitrator’s ruling goes in Kane’s favor and he gets, say, $5 million annually, perhaps he’ll give the Oilers a break and agree to a multi-year deal worth between $2 million and $3 million.

Kane’s off-ice financial problems are well-documented and he could seek the biggest contract he can find to pay off his creditors. On the other hand, the chance to ride shotgun on Connor McDavid’s line in Edmonton for the next four years could be a strong incentive to accept a lesser deal.

WHAT’S THE MARKET FOR KEVIN FIALA?

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo and Harman Dayal recently examined the trade market for Kevin Fiala. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $5.1 million contract and due for a big raise following his career-best 85-point performance. However, Wild’s limited cap space for 2022-23 could see him get traded if they can’t afford to keep him.

Looking at recent trades involving comparable players such as Florida’s Sam Reinhart, Russo and Dayal believe the Wild’s asking price would involve a first-round pick and a quality prospect. Clubs with potential interest could include the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild general manager Bill Guerin could attempt to make a cost-cutting trade to free up the necessary cap room to re-sign Fiala. Failing that, he’ll have no choice but to shop the winger, whose production this season significantly boosts his trade value. A first-rounder would likely be the centerpiece of the return along with a top prospect or a good, young (and affordable) NHL-ready player.

Those clubs mentioned by Russo and Dayal are all in need of a top-six scoring winger. The Senators reportedly had a prior interest in Fiala. They could try again if they believe they can get him signed to a reasonable long-term deal.

RECENT LEAFS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle are uncertain over whether Jack Campbell and Jake Muzzin will return with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. Campbell is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July while they recently suggested Muzzin as a possible cost-cutting candidate.

Campbell loves playing in Toronto but the thin market for goaltenders this summer could make it difficult for the cap-strapped Leafs to outbid other clubs, like the New Jersey Devils, for his services. Moving Muzzin, meanwhile, would remove some key elements that he brings to their defense corps.

Justin Holl, Alex Kerfoot, Wayne Simmonds, Colin Blackwell and Ilya Lyubushkin are others the Leafs could part ways with this summer. Simmonds, Holl and Kerfoot are signed through next season while the others are pending UFAs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Campbell and the Leafs will reach an agreement on a new contract. If they don’t, GM Kyle Dubas could try to land Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury or St. Louis’ Ville Husso via free agency.

Muzzin has two more years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.625 million and a full no-trade clause. He could waive it if asked to do so depending on the destinations but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The Leafs will ride it out with him for another season and see how things shake out after that.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2022

The offseason questions facing the Penguins and Stars plus the latest on the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PENGUINS AND STARS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the Pittsburgh Penguins face some big decisions regarding Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust. They are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July and there’s little chance all three will return. Wyshynski predicts only Letang will be back.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Other pending UFAs include Rickard Rakell, Evan Rodrigues and Casey DeSmith. Their restricted free agents include Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel wonders if the Penguins will let Malkin and/or Letang to depart via free agency and what effect that might have on captain Sidney Crosby. He also mused over whether they’ll invest a long-term commitment in the 30-year-old Rust, who missed two chunks of this season to injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap space will determine which UFAs return next season. Cap Friendly indicates they have $54.1 million invested in 15 players for 2022-23. Re-signing Malkin and Letang will eat up a big chunk of their available cap dollars. Rust is due for a significant raise over his current $3.5 million.

Of those three, Letang could be the most vital given his value as a puck-moving defenseman. Malkin’s injury history and at times erratic performance in recent years could make him a risky investment unless he’s willing to accept a substantial pay cut.

It might be possible to sign Letang and Rust. However, that will still eat up a lot of cap space, especially if Letang insists on at least maintaining his current $7.25 million annual average value.

The Penguins could bring back DeSmith if they don’t see any suitable backup options in the free-agent market. I expect they’ll re-sign Heinen but Kapanen seems a likely trade candidate given his struggles during his tenure in Pittsburgh.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton believes the Dallas Stars’ offseason priority is signing restricted free agent forward Jason Robertson, who’s coming off his entry-level contract. Having tallied 79 points this season, the 22-year-old sophomore is a star in the making. Goaltender Jake Oettinger is also completing his ELC and looks to be their starter going forward. They’ll have to determine who becomes his backup if Braden Holtby departs via free agency.

Shilton also wonders whether pending UFA John Klingberg stays or goes. General manager Jim Nill didn’t move him at the trade deadline given his value on their blueline and now the two sides must see if they can reach an agreement on a new contract. Nill must also address his roster’s scoring depth issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could attempt to lock up Robertson and Oettinger on long-term deals with affordable annual average salaries. Their agents, however, could seek bigger bucks on shorter terms to bring their clients up to their UFA eligibility.

It seemed Klingberg and the Stars were about to part ways in January after he publicly expressed his unhappiness over the pace of his contract negotiations. However, both sides seem to have resolved that rift at least for the remainder of the season.

There was speculation earlier this season that the 29-year-old Klingberg sought a long-term deal worth between $7.75 million and $8.5 million annually. That, however, could prove too expensive for Nill’s liking but we’ll see how things go between now and the start of the free-agent market on July 13.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan doesn’t believe the Maple Leafs should make major changes in the front office, behind the bench or on the roster despite another first-round playoff exit. He points to their 115-point regular season, as well as pushing the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to the limit in that opening-round series as justification for giving them another chance.

General manager Kyle Dubas will have around $8 million in salary-cap space to work with unless he moves some players. Koshan suggested Alex Kerfoot and Justin Holl as trade candidates. Dubas must also find a way to shed backup goalie Petr Mrazek’s $3.8 million cap hit.

Re-signing pending UFA goaltender Jack Campbell is the priority, followed by defenseman Mark Giordano if he’s affordable. There doesn’t seem much chance of bringing back Ilya Mikheyev. If Jason Spezza’s playing career is over, Koshan recommends hiring him for an off-ice role.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens also believes Holl could be shopped this summer. It remains to be seen if they can afford to sign Giordano and pending UFA forward Colin Blackwell. It remains to be seen if the aging Spezza fits into their on-ice plans. Stephens suggests there’s a real possibility Mrazek returns with the Leafs this fall while Campbell ends up signing elsewhere.

THE SCORE: John Matisz believes Mrazek, Kerfoot, Jake Muzzin and Pierre Engvall are four Leafs worth monitoring during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could surprise us by making major changes this summer. Like most observers, however, I don’t see that happening following the season they had.

Re-signing Campbell is their priority because they’ll have a difficult time finding a suitable replacement via this summer’s trade or free agent markets. Doing so, however, will eat up a big chunk of that $8 million in cap space, leaving little for the rest of the roster.

Moving out Mrazek, Kerfoot, Muzzin and Holl would clear over $14.9 million from the Leafs’ books. However, that’s easier said than done. Kerfoot ($3.5 million) would be the easiest to move as his cap hit and two-way skills would be enticing in the trade market. Holl ($2 million) might draw some interest from teams seeking affordable blueline depth.

Mrazek’s injury history and inconsistency are a tough sell. Muzzin’s age (33), injury history, cap hit ($5.625 million) and no-trade clause are significant sticking points.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 15, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 15, 2022

What next for the Leafs, Bruins and Kings following their first-round playoff exits? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

ARE CHANGES COMING FOR THE LEAFS?

SPORTSNET: Despite another first-round playoff exit by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Elliotte Friedman didn’t think there needs to be a shakeup in the front office, behind the bench or on the roster. He cited their fourth-overall Eastern Conference finish in the regular season and losing to the defending Stanley Cup champions by one goal in Game 7. He felt there needs to be some tweaks but no one should be fired.

Kelly Hrudey agreed that no one deserves to be fired but there must be changes on the ice. He felt the Tampa Bay Lightning were beatable but the Leafs failed to take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4 and couldn’t finish off the Lightning with a 3-2 series lead. Hrudey isn’t buying excuses such as bad calls.

Jennifer Botterill felt the Leafs did well this season. However, she believes they couldn’t adjust in certain games to find a way to win in the playoffs.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton suggested a lack of killer instinct remains a problem for the Leafs. She thinks there must be changes, likely starting in the front office as team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas have to answer for yet another first-round failure.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Turning to the roster, Shilton points out goaltender Jack Campbell is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s in line for a big payday but the cap-strapped Leafs could have difficulty accommodating him. She also wondered about veteran defenseman Jake Muzzin’s status as the Leafs continue to get younger on the blueline.

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski also pointed out the Leafs have over $77 million invested in their 2022-23 roster with over $40 million going to core forwards such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander. That will complicate efforts to re-sign Campbell, who could seek maybe $12 million over three years. Other UFAs include Mark Giordano, Jason Spezza and Ilya Mikheyev.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel is among those who believe the Leafs only need to tweak their roster for next season. He doesn’t see their core forwards being moved, though it may be time to question Tavares’ role with the club given his line’s defensive struggles. Defensemen Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie aren’t going anywhere.

They’ll have to find a suitable backup goalie if they bring back Campbell as expected. That would mean trying to move oft-injured Petr Mrazek and his $3.8 million cap hit over the next two years. Siegel is also curious about the 33-year-old Muzzin’s future and wondered if the Leafs will try to bring back Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shanahan, Dubas or head coach Sheldon Keefe could lose their jobs over this but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re back next season. Leafs ownership has been very patient with them and their improvement this season could give that trio one more opportunity to turn this club into a Cup contender.

I’ll be shocked if the Leafs peddle any of their core players. Their hefty contracts would make them difficult to move anyway with the salary cap only rising by $1 million for next season. Nylander is the more affordable at $6.9 million but he’s also been their most reliable playoff performer going back to last year.

The Leafs will try to bring back Campbell but I expect he’ll be seeking more than $4 million per season. Try between $5 million and $6 million annually on a five-year deal.

Even if the Leafs convince Campbell to accept $4 million per season, they must shed salary to sign restricted free agents such as Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Pierre Engvall. Moving Mrazek will help but they’ll need to find a suitable backup. They’ll also have to free up more space if they hope to keep Giordano.

WHAT NEXT FOR BERGERON AND THE BRUINS?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reports Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron wasn’t ready to discuss his future during his post-game press conference following his club’s first-round elimination by the Carolina Hurricanes. The 36-year-old center is slated to become a UFA in July but said it was too early to talk about it following a heartbreaking end to the season.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he didn’t know which way Bergeron was leaning regarding his future. He said everyone on the team wants him back.

Goss points out a potential departure by Bergeron would create a huge hole at center for the Bruins, leaving Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula as their top-two centers. There aren’t a plethora of potential replacements via free agency or within the organization while the club lacks sufficient assets to use as trade bait to address that issue.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa considers getting an answer on Bergeron’s future as the club’s top priority. He also believes they must make a decision on Jake DeBrusk’s trade request, which he didn’t withdraw despite signing a two-year contract extension in March. They could also shop a left-shot defenseman like Matt Grzelcyk, who became the odd man out during the playoffs.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton also believes the Bruins need a decision on Bergeron’s fate and DeBrusk’s trade request. She also felt they need to improve their scoring depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron’s status and DeBrusk’s trade request will be the dominant issues for the Bruins. His return will buy some time to start building up their depth at center. Perhaps trading DeBrusk, who’s signed through 2023-24 at $4 million per season, could address that issue.

WHAT IN STORE FOR THE KINGS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered if Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake will be aggressive in adding to his roster this summer as he was when he brought in Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson last summer. He mused over whether Blake will revisit his interest in Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

The Kings will have over $20 million in salary-cap space with Dustin Brown’s contract coming off their books. However, they only have 14 players under contract for next season with Adrian Kempe, Gabe Vilardi, Carl Grundstrom and Sean Durzi among their restricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake must give priority to his key RFAs as well as re-sign or replace UFAs like Andreas Athanasiou and Alex Edler. Depending on how those negotiations go, he might have enough room to make another significant veteran acquisition.

Chychrun and his $4.6 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 would be an affordable pickup cap-wise. However, the Coyotes seek a significant return including high draft picks and top prospects.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

Auston Matthews tallies his 60th goal of the season, Steven Stamkos reached 100 points, the Hurricanes clinch the Metropolitan Division, the Predators and Kings secure playoff berths, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice to reach the 60-goal plateau as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Matthews is the first player to score 60 goals in a season since Steven Stamkos in 2011-12. He’s also the first American-born player to reach that mark. John Tavares also scored and Jack Campbell made 20 saves for the shutout. Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin returned to the lineup after missing six games with an undisclosed injury. With the win, the Leafs (113 points) secure second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage for the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Speaking of Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning captain reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Stamkos scored twice and collected two assists while Nikita Kucherov also had a four-point performance. The Lightning have won four straight games and sit in third place in the Atlantic with 108 points. Before the game, the Blue Jackets confirmed Boone Jenner and Sean Kuraly will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the season ended today, the Leafs and Lightning would face each other in the first round. We’ll find out for sure by week’s end.

The Carolina Hurricanes (114 points) clinched first place in the Metropolitan Division by holding off the New York Rangers 4-3. Sebastian Aho scored to reach his 400th career point, Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei each collected two points and rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov got the win with a 31-save performance. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied his 52nd goal of the season. His teammate, Andrew Copp, returned to action from a lower-body injury but left the game in the second period. So did winger Artemi Panarin but it appears both were held out of this contest for precautionary reasons. The Rangers sit second in the Metro with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes were hopeful that sidelined starting goalie Frederik Andersen would be ready to return to action for the opening game of the playoffs next week. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports the current expectation is he’ll miss the Hurricanes’ first few games of the first round.

An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm gave the Calgary Flames a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators, but the latter still secured a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 95 points. Matthew Tkachuk scored in the final second of regulation to tie the game and set the stage for Lindholm’s winner. Both players have 41 goals on the season. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators to reach 42 goals while teammates Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund each had three points. The Flames (110 points) recently clinched first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators goaltender Juuse Saros left the game in the third period with what appeared to be an injured left leg. An update on his condition could come on Wednesday.

The Dallas Stars moved closer to clinching the final playoff berth in the Western Conference after downing the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on a shootout goal by Miro Heiskanen. Jason Robertson scored twice to reach 40 goals on the season while Jake Oettinger kicked out 33 shots. The Stars hold the final wild-card spot with 95 points. With 91 points, the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes now hang by a thread while the Stars’ victory means the idle Los Angeles Kings have clinched a postseason berth with 96 points. They will face the Edmonton Oilers in the first round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights still have a slim chance if they win their final two games and the Stars lose their last two in regulation, thus ensuring they’d take the wild-card berth on the basis of regulation wins. The Stars, however, need just one to qualify for the postseason.

Speaking of the Oilers, they secured second place in the Pacific Division with 100 points by dropping the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists to reach a career-high 122, widening his lead in the scoring race by seven points over the Florida Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau. Mike Smith kicked out 33 shots for his 10th straight win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins winger Jason Zucker left the game in the first period with an undisclosed ailment. The Penguins (101 points) have already secured a playoff berth but hold a one-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

As for the Capitals, they failed to overtake the Penguins after falling 4-1 to the New York Islanders. Ilya Sorokin made 32 stops for the Islanders. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche gained ground on the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues, snapping the latter’s 16-game points streak. Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for the win while Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche (118 points) moved within two points of the Panthers. Blues center Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and collected an assist. The Blues remain in third place in the Central Division with 109 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews returned to the lineup after sitting out the last four games dealing with undisclosed minor injuries. Sidelined teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen are both expected to return in time for the playoffs next week.

Meanwhile, the Panthers dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. Brad Marchand, Tayler Hall and David Pastrnak each collected two points as the Bruins (105 points) sit three points behind the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers sit first overall with 120 points.

The Minnesota Wild remains tied with the Blues with 109 points following a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Karel Vejmelka got the win with a 35-save performance while Shayne Gostisbehere collected three assists. Kirill Kaprizov had two assists for Minnesota, who holds second place in the Central over the Blues with a game in hand. Wild forward Marcus Foligno returned to the lineup after missing the past four games due to a bout of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild and Blues will face each other in the opening round of the playoffs. The outcome of their final games will decide which one gets home-ice advantage in their upcoming series.

Quinn Hughes set a single-season record for Vancouver Canucks defensemen by reaching 66 with a goal and two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. The Canucks were officially eliminated from playoff contention by the Stars’ win over the Golden Knights. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an unspecified injury.

Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to down the New Jersey Devils 5-4. Tim Stutzle had two goals and two assists and Brady Tkachuk picked up three helpers for the Senators. Nolan Foote tallied twice for the Devils.

The Anaheim Ducks beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Max Comtois and Sonny Milano each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is traveling with his teammates to New York, where he has a medical appointment concerning his surgically repaired knee. He’s listed as day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s sparked speculation in Montreal over whether Price will play in the Canadiens’ final game of the season on Friday against the Panthers as well as concerns about whether he can continue his playing career. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Price still plans on being in net for Friday’s game and he wants to play next season. Nevertheless, we can expect questions about Price’s future to carry over into the offseason.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 16, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 16, 2022

Remembering the late Mike Bossy, Carey Price returns to action with the Canadiens, an independent report clears NHLPA of wrongdoing in Kyle Beach investigation, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL COMMUNITY HONORS MIKE BOSSY

NHL.com: Hall-of-Fame scorer Mike Bossy passed away yesterday at age 65 of lung cancer. He spent his entire 10-season NHL career with the New York Islanders, helping them win four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983. Bossy also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1982 and was a three-time winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

New York Islanders hall-of-famer Mike Bossy (NHL.com).

Retiring in 1987, Bossy scored 573 goals and 553 assists for 1,126 points in 752 games, along with 85 goals and 160 points in 129 playoff games. He became the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in the first 50 games of a season. Bossy is tied with Wayne Gretzky as the only players to score 50 goals nine times but is the only one to do it in nine consecutive seasons.

Gretzky, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (who has eight 50-goal seasons) and former teammates Denis Potvin, Glenn “Chico” Resch and Bryan Trottier were among those in the NHL community paying tribute to Bossy as a player and a person.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bossy was the purest goal scorer I ever saw. Others may have tallied more career goals but only because a back injury cut short his career. His streak of nine consecutive 50-goal seasons are testament to his greatness.

Along with Potvin, Trottier, Billy Smith, Butch Goring and the late Clark Gillies, Bossy was instrumental in turning the Islanders into the last true Stanley Cup dynasty. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, former teammates, the Islanders organization and his broadcasting colleagues at TVA Sports.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Carey Price returned to action for the first time since the 2021 Stanley Cup Final but he couldn’t prevent his Montreal Canadiens from being blanked 3-0 by the New York Islanders. Price stopped 17 of 19 shots but Isles goaltender Ilya Sorokin stole the show with a 44-save performance. Zach Parise and Noah Dobson beat Price with Brock Nelson getting an empty-net goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens honored Mike Bossy with a video tribute and a moment of silence.

Price didn’t look too bad considering he’d been sidelined for nearly the entire season. He couldn’t be faulted for Parise’s 3-on-0 goal or Dobson’s screened wrister that beat him on the stick side. His teammates dominated much of the play through the first two periods. However, Sorokin was on top of his game in this contest, picking up his seventh shutout to tie a franchise single-season record.

The Florida Panthers picked up their ninth straight win by thumping the Winnipeg Jets 6-1. Jonathan Huberdeau extended his points streak to 13 games with two goals and an assist. Claude Giroux collected three assists and Gustav Forsling scored twice as the Panthers (112 points) moved within two points of the first-overall Colorado Avalanche. Jets captain Blake Wheeler returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau now has 108 points and sits two behind the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid in this season’s scoring race.

This loss could be the dagger in the heart of the Jets’ playoff hopes. They have 81 points with seven games remaining in their schedule, sitting eight points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with the Stars holding a game in hand.

HEADLINES

TSN: An independent report into the NHLPA’s handling of the Kyle Beach investigation did not find any “individual wrongdoing or institutional failures of policy or procedure”. The Toronto law firm Cozen O’Connor was hired to investigate PA executive director Donald Fehr’s response to concerns raised by two player agents about former Chicago Blackhawks winger Kyle Beach’s allegations he was sexually assaulted by the club’s former video coach Brad Aldrich.

Fehr denied any recollection he’s received a call from one of those agents. However, he didn’t deny the call may have happened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was critical of the report’s findings. He pointed out Dr. Brian Shaw, a program administrator for the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, found Beach’s account to be a credible report of sexual assault. “After reading this passage, I don’t understand how anyone can claim there wasn’t any ‘systemic failure’ here,” writes Friedman.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche can clinch first place in the Western Conference with a win tonight over the Carolina Hurricanes.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames get another chance to secure a playoff berth when they face the Arizona Coyotes. They sit atop the Pacific Division with 99 points.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat has been sidelined for the remainder of the regular season after taking a shot off his left leg on Thursday against the Coyotes. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks when the schedule has ended.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting five points out of a wild-card berth, the Canucks already face an uphill climb to reach the playoffs. Losing Horvat makes that pursuit more difficult.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (upper-body injury) will be sidelined for today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brandon Carlo could be in the lineup after the defenseman returned to practice on Friday after missing Thursday’s game.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: Penguins starting goaltender Tristan Jarry is being evaluated for a lower-body injury and didn’t travel with his teammates to Boston.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin will miss this weekend’s games against the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders due to an undisclosed injury.

CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks center Kirby Dach suffered a sprained right shoulder on Thursday. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed goaltender Brian Elliott to a one-year contract extension worth $900K.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2022

Auston Matthews ties a Leafs’ records, the Flames widen their lead in the Pacific Division, the three stars of the week are revealed, an update on Mike Bossy and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews tallied a hat trick as the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Matthews now has a league-leading 54 goals, tying Rick Vaive’s single-season franchise record. Mitch Marner collected three points and Jack Campbell got the win with a 32-save performance. Leafs forward William Nylander missed the game with a non-COVID-related illness. The Leafs sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 95 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this pace, Matthews will not only set a new franchise goal record but will become the first player to reach the 60-goal plateau since the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos hit that mark in 2011-12.

Johnny Gaudreau scored twice and picked up an assist to give the Calgary Flames a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. With 91 points, the Flames hold a five-point lead over the Kings for first place in the Pacific Division. Adrian Kempe netted both of the Kings’ goals.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk scored twice (including the winner in overtime) to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. With the win, the Bruins have won seven of their last eight games. They are tied with the Lightning with 93 points but the Bruins move into third place in the Atlantic Division with 44 regulation wins.

A four-goal second period carried the St. Louis Blues to a 5-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice while teammate Pavel Buchnevich collected three points for the Blues (88 points), who sit three points behind the second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, and New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov are the three stars for the weekend ending April 3, 2022.

CBC SPORTS: The family of former New York Islanders superstar Mike Bossy said he is resting peacefully at home while continuing his battle with lung cancer. This comes following unconfirmed reports claiming the 65-year-old Hall-of-Famer had entered palliative care.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bossy in his battle with this insidious disease.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took part in a full practice with his teammates on Monday for the first time this season. Price, 34, has been rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. There remains no timeline for his return to game action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price reportedly looked good during yesterday’s practice, which suggests he might return for a handful of games before the end of the Canadiens’ season on April 29.

TSN: Kyle Connor and Nate Schmidt emerged from COVID protocol yesterday and rejoined their Winnipeg Jets teammates after missing the last three games.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin is expected to return to action tonight against the Florida Panthers. He’s been sidelined by a concussion since Feb. 21.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker is still being evaluated since suffering an undisclosed injury last Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. A more complete update on his condition is expected today.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks could decide to shut down winger Kevin Labanc for the remainder of the season to allow more time for his recovery from shoulder surgery.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram has rejoined his teammates after being sidelined for nearly three months with concussion issues. He’s been practicing with his teammates for weeks and was recalled from an AHL conditioning stint.

GOPHNX.COM: The Tempe City Council will discuss the Arizona Coyotes proposed arena and entertainment district in an executive session on Thursday. The proposal is reportedly tightly contested and could come down to one or two swing votes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ future in Arizona could be determined by the outcome of this vote.