NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

The Leafs and Hurricanes are on the verge of advancing to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the verge of winning their first playoff series in 17 years after blanking the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Alexander Kerfoot and Alex Galchenyuk each had three points, William Nylander tallied his fourth goal in as many games, Joe Thornton tallied his first playoff goal as a Leaf, and Jack Campbell kicked out 32 shots for his first NHL playoff shutout. The Leafs can wrap things up in Game 5 on Thursday in Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third straight game, the Leafs took control in the second period. They’ve done a fine job nullifying the Canadiens’ popgun offense and they’re getting more production from their secondary scorers as this series goes on.

The Habs have the depth to be a better team than what we’ve seen in this series and most of this season. However, their coaching staff doesn’t seem to know how to get the best out of them. Part of that could be due to pressure they’re getting from their desperate general manager.

Even if the Canadiens were playing better, they still couldn’t match the offensive depth the Leafs bring to bear in this series. While Austin Matthews was kept off the scoreboard in three games and Mitch Marner in two games, William Nylander has proven to be the biggest Hab killer in this series.

An overtime goal by Jordan Staal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of their first-round series. Martin Necas scored two goals for Carolina while Yakov Trenin tallied twice for the Predators. Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin returned to the lineup following a three-game absence and collected an assist. With a 3-2 series lead, the Hurricanes can end this series in Nashville on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will have to become the first team in this series to win a road game if they hope to wrap this up on Thursday.

SPORTSNET: Alex Ovechkin could become an unrestricted free agent this summer but the 35-year-old left winger wants to remain with the Washington Capitals. “I’m confident, we still have time,” said the Capitals captain. “Obviously, I want to finish my career here, I’m pretty sure we will do something.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals owner Ted Leonsis also wants Ovechkin to finish his career in Washington. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of deal they can hammer out and how long it takes to get it done.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said management and Tuukka Rask have agreed to table the goaltender’s contract talks until after the playoffs. The 34-year-old Rask is due to become a UFA this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask understands he’s not getting a long-term extension given his age. The sticking point could be salary. He’s earning an annual average value of $7 million on his current deal. He could point to his performance as justification for maintaining that annual salary. He backstopped the Bruins to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, was a finalist last year for the Vezina Trophy, and helped them advance to the second round of this year’s playoffs.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler joked about taking a Kris Russell slapshot to the groin during Game 4 of his club’s first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers. “I’ve got three beautiful kids, we’re not having anymore, so what the hell,” he joked with reporters following the Jets’ series-clinching 4-3 triple-overtime victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ballsy guy, that Wheeler. The Jets captain left the game briefly in obvious pain after blocking that shot but returned to play in all three overtime periods.

NEW YORK POST: New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom could be sidelined for Game 5 tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered an apparent right-knee injury following a collision with Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson in Game 4.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and defenseman Ryan McDonagh received fines from the NHL department of player safety for their actions during Game 5 against the Florida Panthers. Maroon was fined over $3,800.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct while McDonagh was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Panthers forward Mason Marchment.

NEW YORK POST: Wayne Gretzky has stepped down as vice-chairman of the Edmonton Oilers and is reportedly joining TNT as a lead hockey analyst starting next season.

The New York Rangers interviewed former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet for their vacant head-coaching position. The Blueshirts already interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant, who is considered the leading candidate for the job.










NHL ProteauType: Five NHLers Worth Taking A Chance on In Your Playoff Pool

NHL ProteauType: Five NHLers Worth Taking A Chance on In Your Playoff Pool

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Rangers and Kings make a trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith lifted the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their 17th straight loss. Boston winger Brad Marchand missed the game when he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. With 39 points, the Bruins hold a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres were actually the better team through the first two periods but couldn’t close the deal in the third.

The Flyers ended a four-game losing skid by edging the New York Rangers 2-1. Samuel Morin’s first NHL goal was the game-winner. The Rangers (34 points) sit two points behind the Flyers and five back of the Bruins.

Max Pacioretty’s overtime goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Golden Knights (47 points) hold a one-point lead for first place in the Honda West Division over the Avalanche, who extended their points streak to 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the day’s most entertaining game and perhaps a preview of a playoff series between these two clubs later this spring.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Calvin Pickard made 21 saves for his first win since 2018 by backstopping his club to a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dylan Larkin collected two assists and Robby Fabbri tallied what proved to be the game-winner as the Wings snapped a three-game losing streak. The loss leaves the Blue Jackets (34 points) one point behind the fifth-place Nashville Predators and three back of the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas (NHL Images).

Martin Necas scored twice and added two assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Teammate Dougie Hamilton picked up an assist to extend his team points record to 14 games. Pat Maroon had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. With 49 points, the Hurricanes sit one back of the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.

An overtime goal by Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 4-3. The Leafs overcame a 3-1 deficit on third-period tallies from John Tavares and William Nylander. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for the Oilers while Connor McDavid collected two assists. The win gives the Leafs (46 points) a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Scotia North Division. The Oilers sit one behind the Jets.

A hat trick by Bryan Rust powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders, bringing goalie Ilya Sorokin’s eight-game win streak to an end. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (46 points), who move within two points of the second-place Islanders in the MassMutual East.

The Nashville Predators picked up their fourth straight victory by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. Luke Kunin collected two assists in his first game since being sidelined on Feb. 28 with a lower-body injury. Blackhawks center Kirby Dach was held pointless in his season debut after missing 34 games with a fractured wrist. The win moves the Predators (35 points) just two points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm and forward Mikael Granlund are considered among the players most likely to move by the April 12 trade deadline. That could change, however, if the Predators overtake the Blackhawks.

Aaron Ekblad scored the game-winner as the Florida Panthers edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime. Ekblad tallied earlier in the frame but that goal was overturned on an offside review. Carter Verhaeghe had a hat trick for the Panthers (46 points), who remain three points back of the second-place Hurricanes in the Central. The Stars (31 points) sit six points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks but hold four games in hand.

The Arizona Coyotes got a natural hat trick from Phil Kessel and a 34-save shutout performance from Adin Hill to blank the San Jose Sharks 4-0. The Coyotes have won three straight and move into a tie with the St. Louis Blues with 37 points in the West Division. The Blues, however, hold fourth place with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes were expected to become sellers at the April 12 trade deadline. That will change if they stay in the thick of the West Division playoff race.

Third-period goals by Andrew Mangiapane and Sam Bennett enable the Calgary Flames to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 and snap a four-game losing skid. Calgary winger Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist in his 500th career NHL game. The Flames (35 points) move two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the North Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau showed a lot of energy in this game after being publicly called out by head coach Darryl Sutter before this contest.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: The New York Rangers traded winger Brendan Lemieux to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post reports the Rangers were looking to free up a roster spot, perhaps for promising Vitali Kravtsov after he recently joined the team following a stellar season in the KHL. Lemieux, 25, will bring some grit to the rebuilding Kings’ checking lines.

TSN: Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore will be sidelined five-to-six months after electing to undergo hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22. He appeared in just five games this season.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for boarding San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek on Friday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Brandon Tanev and Mark Jankowski were placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.

CBS SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.

New York Islanders forward Michael Dal Colle will miss the next two games with a lower-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed high-touted US college prospect forward Cole Caufield to a three-year entry-level contract. He will start his pro career with the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval. Caufield is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

A roundup of notable news from the opening day of Phase 3 training camp, including the latest on Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Corey Crawford, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NOTES FROM DAY ONE OF TRAINING CAMP

NHL.COM: The league revealed a total of 30 positive COVID-19 tests from 4,934 tests administered to over 600 players taking part in the Phase 2 voluntary training period (June 8 to July 12). They’re also aware of an additional 13 players who tested positive outside the Phase 2 training. All players who tested positive were/have been self-isolated and followed CDC and Health Canada protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will continue testing players in Phase 3 and will release weekly updates. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean all the players with positive tests remain sidelined. A number of them may have already recovered. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. He said he was asymptomatic during his two weeks of self-quarantine at his Arizona home and is now fully healthy. Matthews indicated he couldn’t really pinpoint how and when he contracted the virus.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews remains the only player to be publicly identified as testing positive for the Coronavirus.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing from the opening day of Bruins’ training camp. Their absence was due to their quarantine period since returning from the Czech Republic. They’re expected to join their teammates within the next couple of days.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford missed practice yesterday and was declared “unfit to play” by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Under the NHL’s return-to-play protocols, the Blackhawks cannot disclose the reason behind Crawford’s absence or how long he’ll be away. Center Zack Smith (back injury) was also absent. 

TSN: Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw opted out of participating in the return-to-play plan to recover from ongoing concussion symptoms. He hopes to return to action for the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for opting out was 5:30 pm ET yesterday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and forward Robert Bortuzzo were absent from practice yesterday. General manager Doug Armstrong said he expects the duo will return soon.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist is among 11 players absent from Penguins practice yesterday The others include forwards Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Sam Poulin, Phil Varone, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Juuso Riikola, goaltenders Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio, and Emil Larmi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nine of the players were reportedly sidelined because of exposure with a person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, though the teams didn’t identify them as per league protocols. They won’t be participating in practices until they’ve passed additional screenings. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colton Sissons weren’t with the main group at practice but skated earlier in the day.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland was listed as unfit to play yesterday. It’s believed linked to post-concussion symptoms related to a head injury suffered nine months ago.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Martin Necas was the notable absence from the Carolina Hurricanes practice yesterday.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arpon Basu updated his story on three Montreal Canadiens reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, indicating two of those players tested were false positives.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: reported Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Josh Brook missed practice yesterday. Max Domi is taking 7-10 days to decide if he’ll rejoin his teammates because he’s a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones was listed unfit to play with the main group yesterday, but would skate with a smaller group working with extra goaltenders.

CALGARY SUN: Flames forwards Dillon Dube and Buddy Robinson were absent from yesterday’s practice.

TSN: Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen opted out of the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We better get used to this lack of information regarding the absence of players throughout the return-to-play plan. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues beyond the return-to-play period. It could make one yearn for the days when a player was absent because of an “upper-body” or “lower-body” injury.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the league’s hiatus. He was at training camp yesterday but admitted he’s not fully 100 percent.

TSN: Speaking of the Flyers, Nolan Patrick remains sidelined with a migraine disorder. He’s not expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov signed their entry-level contracts (ELC) yesterday. They’re allowed to practice with their new clubs but cannot participate in the upcoming playoff tournament in Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. They will also burn off the first year of their ELCs.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild removed the interim label from head coach Dean Evason’s title, signing him to a two-year contract extension.

SPORTSNET: Mikhail Grigorenko is returning to the NHL in 2020-21, signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL.

TORONTO SUN: Canadian broadcasters are unhappy over NBC Sports serving as the world feed for all NHL games played in the hub city of Toronto. Sportsnet will provide the world feed for the hub city of Edmonton. The Stanley Cup Final, to be held in Edmonton, will have Canadian and American feeds for the individual rights-holders.

 










Midseason NHL Rookie Watch for 2019-20

Midseason NHL Rookie Watch for 2019-20

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2018

Latest on Patrick Marleau, Jake Gardiner, Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs try moving Patrick Marleau next summer in a cost-cutting deal? (Photo via NHL Images)

MARLEAU AND GARDINER

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons considers Patrick Marleau’s contract “a boondoggle” for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Marleau’s $6.25-million annual average value could contribute to a salary-cap crunch for the Leafs as they attempt to re-sign young superstars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Simmons recommends management ask Marleau to waive his no-movement after this season. He points out $17.5 million of the winger’s bonus-laden $18.75-million contract will be paid out by July 1. “With only $1.25 million left on the deal, he’d be a bargain for teams that don’t spend to the cap,” writes Simmons. 

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel recently noted the Leafs path to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Jake Gardiner is increasingly narrow. In addition to re-signing Matthews and Marner, they’ll also have to re-sign restricted free agents Kaspari Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and re-sign or replace others, such as pending UFA Ron Hainsey. Even if Gardiner were to agree to less than market value, they might have to trade another player, “probably Nikita Zaitsev and/or Connor Brown.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs management faces a delicate balancing act trying to re-sign their key players. Matthews and Marner could cost at least $20 million, pushing the Leafs’ cap payroll for 2019-20 to over $76 million. Yes, they’ll get some cap relief with Nathan Horton on permanent long-term injured reserve, but they’ll still be hard-pressed to come up with sufficient space for Gardiner, Kapanen, Johnsson, and other moves. A cost-cutting trade or two could be necessary.

Simmons suggests trading Marleau would free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Gardiner. A team looking to reach the cap floor next season could be interested in taking on the final year of his contract, but would Marleau be willing to accept that deal? Maybe if the Leafs win the Cup this season, but that’s only speculation on my part. He could be insistent on playing out that final year in Toronto. 

Simmons also suggests another way could be trading someone like Kapanen but insisting that Zaitsev is part of the deal. While that’s possible, clubs with interest in Kapanen might balk at Zaitsev’s $4.5-million annual cap hit through 2023-24, which also includes a modified no-trade clause that kicks in next July. 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like the Carolina Hurricanes have been debating St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He wonders if the Blues would want promising Hurricanes center Martin Necas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blues are entertaining offers for Tarasenko, a top prospect such as Necas would have to be part of the package. It’s also worth wondering if the Hurricanes would be willing to part with him. They need a scoring forward and have depth in good young defencemen to draw upon as trade bait to address that need, but they could be squeezed to include a promising youngster or a first-round pick in the deal. 

Speaking of the Blues, Friedman notes Brayden Schenn played three seasons for Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon in the WHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman notes some of the Golden Knights rivals are wondering if they might have some interest in Schenn. With the Blues apparently willing to field offers for some of their veterans, it wouldn’t be surprising if Schenn might become a trade chip. 

If the Washington Capitals decide to trade winger Andre Burakovsky, Friedman said they’re not interested in futures unless they can be used to add a player who can help them right away. Trading him for a return that doesn’t help them win the Stanley Cup this season doesn’t appeal to them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Canucks were reportedly among the teams “kicking tires” on Burakovsky. I don’t doubt there’s interest in the 23-year-old, who still has plenty of time to reach his full potential, but it appears the Capitals aren’t in a rush to move him. 

Friedman also wonders what the Canucks will do with veteran defensemen Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. Edler is an unrestricted free agent this summer and Tanev has a year remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Have to wonder if they’ll attempt to move either guy near the trade deadline. They’re not a playoff contender and I don’t think these two fit into the club’s long-term plans. Edler will have to agree to waive his no-trade clause.