NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 5, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 5, 2019

Game recaps, Flyers reach a notable milestone, stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers became the second-fastest team in NHL history to reach 2,000 wins by downing the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. Flyers goalie Carter Hart made 41 saves to give his club their eighth straight win, moving them within five points of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler suffered a head injury during a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images).

Canucks defenseman Alex Edler left the game after falling awkwardly and striking his face on the ice. Edler was sent to a hospital for a CT scan on his face and head. Goalie Thatcher Demko also suffered a leg injury during pregame warmups, while Sven Baertschi was sent back to Vancouver earlier in the day for tests potentially related to a concussion suffered five weeks ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Edler for a significant period would be a devastating blow to the Canucks’ playoff hopes. Meanwhile, the Flyers are clawing their way back into the playoff chase after being given up for dead a month ago. 

Jake Muzzin collected his first points (one goal, two assists) with the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 6-1 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson scored twice and set up two others. Ryan Kesler returned to the Ducks lineup after being sidelined for five games. 

Tyler Toffoli scored in overtime as the Los Angeles Kings edged the New York Rangers 4-3. Adrian Kempe scored two goals for the Kings while Mike Zibanejad set a Rangers’ record with a point in 10 straight team goals. 

A four-goal third-period enabled the Dallas Stars to squeak by the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 and pick up their fifth straight win. Tyler Seguin tallied the game-winner. Oliver Ekman-Larsson set a franchise record for Coyotes defenseman by scoring his 109th career goal. Stars forward Brett Ritchie was ejected from the game for a dangerous hit on Coyotes blueliner Alex Goligoski, forcing the latter from the game. 

Winnipeg Jets forward Jack Roslovic, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, and New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 3.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Paul Byron could be sidelined for weeks with an injured left forearm. 

TSN: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrei Sekera has been assigned to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors on a two-week conditioning stint. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday announced the re-signing of backup goalie Pheonix Copley to a three-year, $3.3-million contract extension. 










Kings Send Muzzin to Maple Leafs

Kings Send Muzzin to Maple Leafs

The Los Angeles Kings trade defenseman Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for left wing Carl Gundstrom, the rights to unsigned prospect Sean Durzi, and the Leafs first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. 

Los Angeles Kings ship defenseman Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings appear to be getting an early start on their rebuild while the Leafs pick up an experienced top-four defenseman.

Muzzin, 29, is a skilled all-around defenseman whose performance in 2018-19 was among the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable campaign for the once-mighty Kings. He’s tallied 21 points in 50 games thus far this season, has three 40-plus point seasons on his resume and won a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2014.

The Leafs need depth on the right side of their blueline but Muzzin is a left-shot defenseman who plays on the left side. Perhaps they’ll shift him to the right side or move another left-side rearguard over to the right.

Muzzin is signed through 2019-20 with an affordable $4 million salary-cap hit. His acquisition suggests the Leafs don’t intend to re-sign Jake Gardiner, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Don’t expect to see Grundstrom or Durzi skating with the Kings this season. Both could be part of the club’s long-term plans.

Grundstrom, 21, played with the Leafs AHL affiliate and will likely report to the Kings’ farm team. Scouting reports suggest he has potential as a versatile two-way forward with a good work ethic who can skate on either wing. Durzi, 20, is a defenseman with the OHL’s Guelph Storm who was selected by the Leafs in the second round of the 2018 draft. He’s considered a mobile blueliner.

As for the first-round pick, it could end up in the bottom third of that round, depending upon where the Leafs finish in the standings. The Kings could keep that selection or use it as a trade chip to bring in more immediate help.  










NHL Rumor Mill – January 26, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 26, 2019

Latest on the Canadiens plus updates on Jake Muzzin, Chris Kreider, and Andreas Athanasiou in today’s NHL rumor mill.  

WILL THE CANADIENS SWING A DEADLINE DEAL?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun noted some NHL clubs are adopting the mindset of Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, who recently said he won’t give up future assets for a rental player at the trade deadline. However, he believes Bergevin is willing to explore a “hockey trade” and could be talking to teams about such a deal.

The high asking price for LA Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin likely takes the Montreal Canadiens out of the bidding for his services (Photo via NHL Images)

LeBrun dismissed the notion of the Canadiens pursuing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin because the Kings’ asking price is a first-round pick and a top prospect. However, he sees Bergevin using the Canadiens’ $9.7-million in salary-cap space to his advantage at the deadline, just like they did last June in acquiring Joel Armia, goalie Steve Mason and two draft selections from the Winnipeg Jets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Armia move was an underrated one by Bergevin, bringing in a versatile checking line forward plus two additional draft picks whilst using his cap space to buy out the final season of Mason’s contract. He might be able to pry another quality player away from a club desperate to shed salary by deadline day.

If the Kings lower their asking price for Muzzin, who’s signed through next season with an affordable $4-million cap hit, perhaps Bergevin would be tempted. The Kings rearguard would be a great fit on the left side of the Habs blueline. 

HIGH COST TO ACQUIRE KREIDER

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently suggested it would take a perfect deal to pry winger Chris Kreider away from the New York Rangers. Noting the 27-year-old Kreider is signed through next season with a below-market $4.625-million cap hit, Brooks suggests the cost for a contending team to acquire the winger should be a younger player of at least equal value. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And as Brooks goes on to point out in detail, that’s unlikely to happen.

WINGS’ ATHANASIOU NOT AVAILABLE

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited Darren Dreger telling Buffalo’s WGR 550 he checked with his Detroit Red Wings’ sources regarding recent speculation regarding teams having interest in Andreas Athanasiou. The sources claimed there’s nothing to it. ” Unless it’s one of those can’t miss opportunities, they see Athanasiou as being part of their future, that development of a younger core.”

There was speculation perhaps Athanasiou might be unhappy playing for coach Jeff Blashill. Based on his sources, Dreger considered that talk to be a bit off-base. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted yesterday, the time for teams to inquire about Athanasiou was during his contract standoff with the Wings in 2017. With that situation long sorted out and Athanasiou under contract through next season, I don’t see the Wings parting with him.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 20, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 20, 2019

Latest on the Maple Leafs, Senators, Islanders, Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL rumor roundup. 

LEAFS SHOPPING FOR A DEFENSEMAN

SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are searching for a right-shot defenseman. He brought up Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, who was first mentioned in trade speculation a couple of months ago.

While it’s debatable if Pietrangelo’s still available, Kypreos speculated they could be a few losing streaks away from making him available. Pursuing a top-four rearguard will be expensive.

Possible trade chips could include their 2019 first-round pick or prospects such as Timothy Liljegren or Calle Rosen. The Leafs aren’t willing to part with winger Kasperi Kapanen or 2018 first-round pick Rasmus Sandin. 

Elliotte Friedman suggested the Leafs consider such options as Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings or Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo becomes available (and that might not happen until June at the earliest), Kapanen and Sandin would probably be the Blues’ asking price. Muzzin is a left-shot defenseman so he can’t address that right-shot need. Gudas shoots right and would provide some grit to their blueline but he’s skating on the Flyers’ third defense pairing. The Leafs could be seeking someone with a better right-side presence than Gudas. 

Ottawa Senators reportedly make an eight-year contract offer to center Matt Duchene (Photo via NHL Images)

SENATORS MAKE OFFER TO DUCHENE

SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the Ottawa Senators made an offer to center Matt Duchene believed to be in the vicinity of $64 million over eight years. The annual average value would be $8 million, which Kypreos deems a fair offer for Duchene. He also speculated there could be a soft deadline to this. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement soon, Kypreos believes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion will need at least two weeks to shop Duchene before the Feb. 25 trade deadline to get the best return possible. 

Elliotte Friedman believes the Senators also made an offer to pending UFA winger Mark Stone. He’s not certain of the salary numbers but assumed they could be higher than Duchene’s. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eight years and $64 million may seem like a fair offer for Duchene but does his camp feel the same way? They could decide he might get more via free agency. 

ISLANDERS COULD BE DEADLINE BUYERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wouldn’t be shocked if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello became a buyer as the Feb. 25 trade deadline approaches. While no one knows what the famously tight-lipped Lamoriello has in store, Brooks noted he has a history of making moves near the deadline when he believes his team is close.

Lamoriello has a collection of young assets he could peddle near the trade deadline. Brooks speculates his rental targets might include Matt Duchene or Mark Stone of the Senators, or maybe a defenseman such as Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez of the Kings. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are the biggest surprise of this season. After losing John Tavares to Toronto via free agency, they were expected to finish near the bottom of the standings. Instead, they begin this week sitting atop the Metropolitan Division.

As Brooks points out, we don’t know what Lamoriello’s plans are or who he might target if he does decide to be active in the trade market. But I think he’ll do what he can to improve his club’s playoff odds. 

COULD AVALANCHE PURSUE HAYES?

DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes the Colorado Avalanche should pursue New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes, suggesting it can be done without mortgaging the future. GM Joe Sakic holds two first-round picks in this year’s draft, one of them a lottery-protected selection from the Ottawa Senators. Kiszla suggests Sakic offer up the Avs first-rounder to the Rangers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would certainly be a bold move by Sakic to pursue Hayes. He has to do something, however, to bolster his club’s secondary scoring depth. Already guaranteed of a high pick in this year’s draft, perhaps even the first-overall selection, Sakic can afford to dangle his own first-rounder to bring in a reliable second-line scorer. 

BLACKHAWKS SELLING?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers reports a league source claims the Chicago Blackhawks are shopping forwards Marcus Kruger, Chris Kunitz, and Andreas Martinsen. Kruger could attract interest from clubs seeking checking-line depth.  Powers also recently examined the pros and cons of trading defenseman Erik Gustafsson. If they move Gustafsson, he could fetch a third-round pick. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kruger, Kunitz, and Martinson are all due for UFA status this summer. Kruger has a seven-team no-trade list while Kunitz has a full no-movement clause. Each could fetch a draft pick but probably nothing higher than a third. 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2019

Latest on the Senators, Hurricanes, Red Wings, Canadiens, Kings, Oilers, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

SENATORS

TSN: Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie report preliminary contract discussions are ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and pending unrestricted free agents Matt Duchene and Mark Stone. With the Feb. 25th NHL trade deadline approaching, a decision will have to be reached soon if they’ll be re-signed or traded. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing yesterday on Edmonton’s TSN 1260, Dreger believes Senators center Ryan Dzingel could be traded. Like Duchene and Stone, Dzingel is due to become a UFA in July. Dreger thinks the Senators can get a decent return and feels teams looking for an upgrade up front, such as the Edmonton Oilers, have to be considering Dzingel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Duchene and/or Stone haven’t’ re-signed by the time the calendar flips to February I believe the Senators will try to move them. If that happens they could push to re-sign Dzingel. I think the Sens prefer to re-sign Dzingel but if Duchene and Stone are re-signed they won’t have enough cap space to keep him. 

HURRICANES

The Carolina Hurricanes could still shop one of their defensemen, such as Dougie Hamilton, for a scoring forward. (Photo via NHL Images)

TSN: Bob McKenzie said the Carolina Hurricanes’ acquisition yesterday of winger Nino Niederreiter won’t prevent them from shopping one of their defensemen for a forward. Dougie Hamilton is frequently mentioned of late as a trade candidate but McKenzie feels any of their right-shot blueliners other than Jaccob Slavin is available for the right price.

McKenzie also noted the Hurricanes still have to decide what to do with pending UFA winger Micheal Ferland. It’s believed team owner Tom Dundon recently met with Ferland. In an interview earlier in the day with Edmonton’s TSN 1260, Darren Dreger said the Hurricane’s preference is to re-sign the winger but it depends on the cost. There’s speculation Ferland’s seeking $6 million per season but Dreger said he doesn’t believe the winger’s agent has submitted that request. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Slavin is a left-hand shot but it’s believed he’s the sole untouchable on the Hurricanes’ blueline. Hamilton, Brett Pesce, and Justin Faulk have popped up in trade speculation since last summer. One of them seems likely to be deal for a scoring forward. If they can’t get Ferland re-signed, he’ll be shopped before the trade deadline. 

RED WINGS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Detroit Red Wings could have some interesting commodities to dangle in the trade market. Goaltender Jimmy Howard, winger Gustav Nyquist, winger Luke Glendening, and defenseman Niklas Kronwall could be of interest to playoff contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings reportedly seek a first-round pick for Howard or Nyquist. Kronwall, who could retire at season’s end, has a 10-team trade list and I think he prefers finishing his career in Detroit. 

CANADIENS

TSN: Darren Dreger appeared on Montreal’s TSN 690 yesterday discussing possible moves by the Canadiens. While GM Marc Bergevin recently expressed his reluctance to trade draft picks and prospects this season, Dreger wonders if the growing number of quality players in the trade market might change his mind, especially with the Habs jockeying for a playoff spot. He noted players such as Jake Muzzin and Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings and Brayden Schenn of the St. Louis Blues could be tempting targets for the Canadiens or any other club.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Bergevin doesn’t intend to be a buyer or a seller this season. The Habs GM could make a move if it’s a hockey trade for a player with term left on his contract that makes sense for his club. Noting the Canadiens have plenty of salary-cap space, he speculates a team looking to shed salary could come calling.  Speaking of Muzzin, LeBrun reports the Kings’ asking price is a first-round pick and a prospect. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens need help on the left side of their blueline and Muzzin could be a great fit. If Bergevin remains resistant over moving his picks or prospects, however, he’ll have to look elsewhere for a left-side defenseman. 

OILERS

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Darren Dreger told Edmonton’s TSN 1260 his sources say the Oilers are reluctant to move Puljujarvi, who’s seeing limited playing time and doesn’t want to return to the AHL. While there are rumors the Oilers could move their 2019 first-round pick for a top-four defenseman or top-six forward, Dreger said he doesn’t think they’re aggressively shopping that pick. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites a report by a Finnish sportswriter blaming the Oilers for hurting Puljujarvi’s development. The young winger also acknowledged he’s heard the trade speculation but said he’s not thinking about it. The writer, however, believes Puljujarvi would benefit from a trade. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi is only 20 and still has plenty of time to become a scoring winger. I can understand the Oilers’ reluctance to give up on him and risk seeing him blossom elsewhere. However, this situation could reach a point where they’ll have no choice but to move him, especially if they get a decent offer that can help them right away and over the long term. 

SABRES

WGR 550: cited a report by TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie indicating Buffalo Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu is unhappy over the decline in his playing time. He and his agent have requested a trade. Beaulieu said he likes Buffalo but he wants more playing time. 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 5, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 5, 2019

Updates on Jeff Skinner and Jake Muzzin plus the latest on the Flyers’ goaltending needs in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

SUGGESTED TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR JEFF SKINNER

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan Stimson examined some possible trade options for Jeff Skinner if he and the Buffalo Sabres failed to agree to terms on a new contract before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. He acknowledged there’s some confusion around the league over whether the 26-year-old winger’s no-movement clause remains valid after he voided it to accept a trade to Buffalo last summer.

Could the Buffalo Sabres trade Jeff Skinner if he isn’t re-signed before the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

If the Sabres opt to move him, Stimson believes it should be for “younger players who have shown positive results in a wide variety of situations. No one is going to give up an established forward or back for a Skinner rental, so you’re looking in that 20-to-23 age range and then a pick to continue stockpiling.”

Stimson suggests peddling Skinner to the Nashville Predators for winger Kevin Fiala, to the Columbus Blue Jackets for right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand, to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a return including one of their young blueline talents such as Travis Dermott, Timothy Liljegren, and Rasmus Sandin, or to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Leon Draisaitl or defenseman Oscar Klefbom. 

Once the Sabres trade away Skinner, Stimson suggests using the salary-cap money that would’ve been invested in the winger into pursuing a big-impact player via free agency.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Stimson is merely spitballing here. He’s not saying the Sabres will trade Skinner before the trade deadline, or that his suggested trade targets are definitely the players the Sabres will pursue if they go that route. There’s a very good chance the two sides hammer out an agreement before Feb. 25, or before July 1 when Skinner becomes eligible for unrestricted free agent status.

Still, one has to wonder if the Sabres are willing to risk losing Skinner for nothing if they can’t re-sign him before the deadline, especially as his trade value is now at its peak. Most of Stimson’s trade proposals aren’t “one-for-one” deals. For example, if they were to swap Skinner to Toronto for Dermott, the Sabres will obviously want other pieces, such as a top draft pick and a quality prospect, as part of the return. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on Skinner’s contract status as we get closer to Feb. 25. 

PROS AND CONS OF TRADING JAKE MUZZIN

THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman and Josh Cooper examined the case for and against the Los Angeles Kings trading defenseman Jake Muzzin. They note the 29-year-old is arguably the Kings’ best blueliner this season, he carries an affordable $4-million salary-cap hit through 2019-20 and would be the missing piece for contending teams seeking defensive help. Muzzin might attract a solid return, perhaps even a first-round pick or a high-end prospect. 

On the other hand, if the Kings see themselves not that far away from getting back into playoff contention, they’ll need Muzzin to be part of the solution. He shouldn’t be too expensive to re-sign, remains in his playing prime and has emerged as a team leader. 

If the Kings decide to move him, the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and perhaps the Minnesota Wild could be worthwhile trade partners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Muzzin hits the trade block before the Feb. 25 deadline he will attract plenty of suitors. In addition to the Oilers, Leafs, and Wild, the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, and Montreal Canadiens could also come calling. He also lacks a no-trade clause, giving the Kings’ plenty of options for possible destinations. 

FLYERS MUST TAKE ACTION TO FIX THEIR GOALTENDING

THE HOCKEY NEWS: With the Philadelphia Flyers season slipping away, Jared Clinton believes it’s time for new general manager Chuck Fletcher to take immediate action to address their goaltending beyond claiming Mike McKenna off waivers from Vancouver. Waiting for sidelined Brian Elliott, who hasn’t played in nearly two months, to return in mid-January won’t come in time to save the season. 

Short of swinging a blockbuster deal to bring back Sergei Bobrovsky from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Clinton feels Fletcher could address the situation without having to touch the stockpile of draft picks and prospects left by his predecessor. He suggests pending UFAs such as Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov might be had for the right price. He points out the Avalanche could use secondary scoring and proposed offering up Wayne Simmonds in the deal. The rebuilding Wings could have some interest in a pick or prospect for Howard. 

Other options could include San Jose’s Aaron Dell, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, Dallas’s Anton Khudobin and Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of Clinton’s proposed options, only Howard might be available, and the rumored asking price is said to be a first-round draft pick. Bobrovsky isn’t going anywhere. I think the Avs will stick with Varlamov, who is often injured and inconsistent.

The Sharks aren’t moving Dell, who’s a solid backup for Martin Jones. Same goes for the Stars with Khudobin as Ben Bishop’s understudy. Anderson is currently sidelined by a concussion and there’s no timetable for his return. With Antti Raanta likely gone for the season, I don’t see the Coyotes peddling Kuemper.