NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2022

The Panthers and Wild romp to lopsided wins, the Avalanche tie a franchise record plus the latest suspensions, COVID updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sam Bennett and Jonathan Huberdeau each had four-point performances as the Florida Panthers crushed the Dallas Stars 7-1. Bennett tallied a hat trick while Huberdeau collected three assists. Anthony Duclair scored and set up two others as the Panthers (55 points) reclaimed first place in the overall standings.

Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Score indicates the Stars have one of the worst road records (4-11-1) in the league, with just one regulation win away from Dallas. Head coach Rick Bowness wasn’t pleased with his club’s performance. “We have some guys who are very comfortable playing at home and very uncomfortable playing on the road,” he said.

The Minnesota Wild tallied four third-period goals (including two within four seconds early in the period) to down the Anaheim Ducks 7-3. Mats Zuccarello scored twice and picked up an assist while Kirill Kaprizov had two helpers. With 46 points, the Wild holds the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Ducks (45 points) remain in second place in the Pacific Division but have just three wins in their last 10 contests.

A shootout goal by Nazem Kadri lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Avs tied a franchise record by picking up their 13th straight home victory as they overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. With 49 points, they’re one point back of the Western Conference-leading Nashville Predators. Coyotes goaltender Ivan Prosvetov made 44 saves.

HEADLINES

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders forward Ross Johnston received a three-game suspension from the NHL department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of New Jersey Devils forward A.J. Greer on Thursday.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan was fined $2,500.00 for a dangerous trip (slew foot) on Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield on Thursday.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Connor Brown is listed as week-to-week with a suspected broken jaw.

SPORTSNET: St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich and Toronto Maple Leafs Justin Holl, Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

TSN: Former Arizona Coyotes star Shane Doan is taking over as the general manager of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey team and former NHL coach Claude Julien takes over as head coach.

NBC SPORTS: Aisha Visram is believed to be the first woman to work on the bench during an NHL game as she filled in for the Los Angeles Kings’ sidelined athletic trainer during their 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Visram is the head trainer of the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Ontario, California.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2022

Tuukka Rask makes a triumphant return to the Bruins, the 2022 All-Star Game rosters and captains are revealed but several notable players are passed over, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tuukka Rask made 25 saves in his season debut as he backstopped the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. David Pastrnak tallied all of the Bruins’ goals, including the game-winner on the power play to snap a 2-2 tie in the second period. Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist for the Flyers while teammate Carter Hart turned aside 33 shots. With 44 points, the Bruins moved to within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Penguins, they fell 6-2 to the Los Angeles Kings as the latter tallied four unanswered third-period goals, including three in a span of 1:23. Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored twice and set up another while Sean Durzi had a three-point performance and Jonathan Quick made 27 saves. The Kings (43 points) move into third place in the Pacific Division.

Nikita Kucherov collected two assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 24 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. The Lightning holds a two-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with 55 points. The Canucks have lost three of their last four contests.

The New York Rangers Rangers got a 37-save shutout from Igor Shesterkin in a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. Chris Kreider scored twice, including his first NHL shorthanded goal. Braden Schneider scored in his first NHL game. The Rangers (52 points) sit atop the Metropolitan Division while the Sharks (41 points) still cling to the final Western Conference wild-card berth with a one-point lead over the Calgary Flames.

Speaking of the Flames, they were upset 4-1 by the Ottawa Senators. Nick Paul tallied twice while Matt Murray made 27 saves for his first win of the season. The Flames have dropped four straight games.

Connor Hellebuyck picked up the shutout with a 33-save performance to blank the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Andrew Copp scored two goals and Kyle Connor scored shorthanded. The Jets (39 points) are two points behind the Sharks and one back of the Flames.

A four-goal third period carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 6-0 thumping of the Carolina Hurricanes. Elvis Merzlikins turned in a 31-save shutout and Yegor Chinakhov scored two goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes two points behind the Rangers in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Third-period goals by Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Seattle Kraken 2-1. The Blues extended their home points streak to 13 games while the Kraken have lost eight straight. With 49 points, the Blues are one point behind the first-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

The Predators, meanwhile, saw their five-game win streak halted in a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Jeff Skinner tallied twice while Aaron Dell made 29 saves for the Sabres.

Mathew Barzal broke a 2-2 tie to lift the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Barzal’s teammates Zach Parise and Josh Bailey each collected two points as the Isles’ played their first game in 11 days.

Philipp Kurashev scored in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2, handing the latter their five straight loss. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane also scored to snap a 13-game goalless drought. The Canadiens played without goalie Jake Allen, who is sidelined for a week with a lower-body injury. Teammate Chris Wideman also missed this game as he’s serving a one-game suspension for head-butting Boston Bruins forward Erik Haula.

HEADLINES

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox and Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar were among the notable first-time selections for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game to be held in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena on Feb. 5.

Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid were named captains of their respective division squads as chosen by fan voting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link to see the full rosters as well as the candidates for the “Last Man In” for each division to be decided by fan voting.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin were among the notables passed over for selection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The exclusion of Markstrom, Rantanen and Ekblad could be a result of being overshadowed by their more well-known teammates. Marchand’s snub is likely tied to his well-earned reputation for questionable play.

Shesterkin still isn’t as well-known as he should be, though his profile should improve if the Rangers remain among the league’s top clubs. It won’t help him become a participant in this year’s All-Star Game but could help him garner recognition for next season’s event.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: A partial tear in a thumb tendon has sidelined Oilers goaltender Mike Smith for at least a week, possibly two. The club has recalled Stuart Skinner from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Signing Evander Kane could help resolve that issue…oh, wait, he’s not a goaltender…never mind…

SPORTSNET: Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere and Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny are among the notable players added to the NHL’s COVID protocol on Jan. 13.

AHL’s Iowa Wild signed Eric Staal to a professional tryout contract.

TSN: The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said individual active NHL players will not be permitted to take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, any player under an NHL contract cannot participate in the Beijing Olympics.

THE SCORE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Quebec finance minister Eric Girard the league isn’t aware of any opportunity at this time that would lead to a franchise returning to Quebec City.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As one observer noted on Twitter, that was Bettman’s polite way of saying, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Oh, and for those of you saying, “What about the Arizona Coyotes?”, should that club be relocated, it’ll likely be to another American city in the Western Conference such as Houston.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2022

A five-point night for Joe Pavelski, a new investigation could halt Evander Kane’s efforts to land a new contract, Tuukka Rask set to return today, the mid-season scouting rankings are released, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Joe Pavelski had a had in every one of the Dallas Stars goals in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken, handing the latter their seventh straight loss. Pavelski scored twice and set up three others while teammate Roope Hintz had a goal and two assists. With 38 points, the Stars sit three back of the San Jose Sharks for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand tallied a hat trick in a 5-1 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens. Marchand has tallied eight goals in his last four games as the Bruins have won six of their last seven contests. Montreal goaltender Jake Allen left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. The loss drops the Canadiens into last place in the overall standing while the Bruins (42 points) opened a five-point lead over the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

The Arizona Coyotes moved into second-last in the overall standings by upsetting the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. Ryan Dzingel snapped a 1-1 tie while Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made 45 saves for the win. Leafs center Auston Matthews set a franchise record by scoring in nine consecutive road games.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL has opened an investigation into how Evander Kane crossed the border from the United States into Canada on Dec. 29. Kane had tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 21 and was still under the AHL’s 10-day COVID protocol when he crossed the border. It was one of the factors that prompted the San Jose Sharks to place the 30-year-old winger on unconditional waivers and terminate his contract last Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman said this will likely prevent Kane from landing a new NHL contract as teams await the results of the league’s findings. Some teams are willing to ignore the winger’s apparent disregard for league rules (including a 21-game suspension for using a fake COVID passport last fall) and other well-documented issues because they feel they can get a productive player on an affordable, prorated one-year contract.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid said he wouldn’t be opposed to Kane joining his club. The Oilers are believed among a handful of clubs in the running to sign the troublesome winner.

TSN: Tuukka Rask is expected to make his season debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. The 34-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with the Boston Bruins earlier this week.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports recurring concussion symptoms are behind Bowen Byram’s departure from the Avalanche for personal reasons. His father said his son told him he can’t continue playing feeling the way he does. The 20-year-old defenseman has already suffered three concussions in his young NHL career. There’s no word when he’ll return to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Byram can find the treatment he needs to regain his health and hopefully return to the Avalanche. It would be a shame for his promising career to come to a premature end.

SPORTSNET: Dallas Stars winger Alexander Radulov and Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Turris are among the noteworthy players added to the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars recalled goaltender Anton Khudobin with Braden Holtby recently being added to COVID protocol.

ESPN.COM: The Buffalo Sabres signed minor-league goaltender Michael Hauser to a one-year, $750K contract and recalled Aaron Dell from the minors to shore up their injury-depleted goaltending. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Michael Subban were recently sidelined while Craig Anderson remains out indefinitely with an upper-body injury while Dustin Tokarski is still recovering from COVID-19.

TSN: The Canadiens yesterday claimed Rem Pitlick off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.

NHL.COM: Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright tops Central Scouting’s mid-term ranking of the top North American skaters. Winger Joakim Kemell of JYP in Liiga (Finland’s top professional league) is the leader among International skaters.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wright is expected to be the top prospect in the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal with the first round on July 7. The young center had a slow start to this season but his production has picked up with four multi-point games in his last five contests. TSN’s Craig Button has compared his style of play to that of Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron.

SPORTSNET: Two former NHL off-ice officials have filed a lawsuit against the league alleging they were fired for “pretextual reasons” after calling out two former supervisors for racist behavior.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 11, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 11, 2022

Recaps of Monday’s game, the three stars of the week are revealed, Evander Kane is free to sign with another team while NHLPA files a grievance on his behalf, the latest COVID updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins overcame a 2-0 deficit to thump the Washington Capitals 7-3. Matt Grzelcyk scored and picked up four assists while Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each scored twice and collected an assist. The Bruins (40 points) opened a four-point lead over the Detroit Red Wings for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth while the Capitals (49 points) are winless in their last four contests

Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (NHL Images).

A third-period goal by Nazem Kadri lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the Seattle Kraken 4-3 to extend their home winning streak to 12 games. Nicolas Aube-Kubel tallied twice for the Avalanche while Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves against his former club. The Avs (46 points) sit one point behind the second-place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their fourth win in their last five games by dropping the New York Rangers 3-1. Kings goalie Cal Petersen turned aside 22 shots while teammate Trevor Moore collected two assists. Mika Zibanejad scored for the Rangers. With the win, the Kings (41 points) moved into third place in the Pacific Division.

HEADLINES

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros and San Jose Shark center Tomas Hertl are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 9.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: As expected, the NHL Players Association filed a grievance on behalf of Evander Kane when the San Jose Sharks terminated his contract Sunday after the 30-year-old winger cleared unconditional waivers. The process will now go before arbitration but there’s no date set yet for a hearing with an independent arbiter.

For the moment, the Sharks are free and clear of the remainder of Kane’s seven-year, $49 million contract signed in May 2018. The winger is now an unrestricted free agent and can sign with another NHL club. If the NHLPA wins the grievance, he would have two valid NHL contracts, so there will have to be contingencies in place to prevent that.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng spoke with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who indicated Kane is free to sign and play with another NHL team right away, with details and contingencies to be worked out later.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s rather unusual that a player could sign a contract with another NHL club while awaiting the outcome of his grievance over the termination of his former contract. If the PA grievance is successful, the Sharks would have to pay Kane the remainder of his contract. It might have to count against their cap hit or perhaps it would be “off-the-books” payments. We won’t know until an arbiter makes their ruling and that could be weeks away.

Meanwhile, there’s reportedly plenty of interest in Kane around the league despite his off-ice issues and reputation as a troublesome teammate. I’ll have more on that in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Evgeni Malkin could be ready to make his season debut tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. The Penguins superstar has been recovering from offseason knee surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The addition of a healthy and productive Malkin should be a significant boost to the Penguins’ offense. It would be like acquiring a player of his talent via trade, which could make it less likely they’ll be major buyers by the March 21 trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Gabriel Landeskog and New York Rangers forward Barclay Goodrow and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers are among the latest players to enter COVID protocol.

NHL.COM: Tonight’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers has been postponed for COVID-related reasons.

NBC SPORTS: Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness was fined $25,000.00 by the NHL for smashing a stick on the bench in a post-game meltdown over the officiating in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets have suspended forward Gregory Hofmann for refusing to return to the club to complete his one-year contract. The Jackets gave Hofmann permission to return to Switzerland in late December for the birth of his first child. He signed a one-year, $900K contract last summer with the Jackets and had seven points in 24 games.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2022

The Blues defeat the Stars, the Ducks clip the Red Wings, the Coyotes’ Tempe arena proposal could be in trouble, the Kings extend GM Rob Blake & hire Marc Bergevin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Two power-play goals by Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou within the final minute of the third period lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Dallas Stars 2-1. Kyrou’s goal was the result of a controversial penalty call against Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen for slashing Kyrou after he was hauled down by his stick by Blues forward Brayden Schenn.

Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras (NHL Images).

Trevor Zegras’ shootout goal gave the Anaheim Ducks a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Ducks rookie had a goal and an assist in regulation time. Detroit forward Tyler Bertuzzi also had a goal and an assist but left the game in the final seconds of overtime after suffering a wrist laceration but he wasn’t seriously hurt. Wings captain Dylan Larkin was injured in the first period and didn’t return to the game.

HEADLINES

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports the Arizona Coyotes’ Tempe arena proposal is on thin ice as two sources said the club currently doesn’t have the votes on the Tempe City Council to approve the project. There are three yes votes, two no votes and two undecided but leaning toward no after the Coyotes’ recent failure to pay taxes and bills owed to the city of Glendale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan reports the Coyotes’ arena proposal wasn’t rejected during a recent city council executive session in December. If it isn’t approved, Morgan cites a source saying the Coyotes could pursue a deal with nearby Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “It would be right on Tempe’s border so Tempe would get all the problems including the traffic, and get none of the revenue,” the source said.

MAYOR’S MANOR: Multiple sources say it will soon be announced that the Los Angeles Kings have signed general manager Rob Blake to a multi-year contract extension believed to be four-five years in length.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake was hired in April 2017 and the Kings have been rebuilding under his watch for the past three seasons. They are showing improvement this season in part due to players he’s acquired through the draft, via trades and free agency. They’re jockeying with the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Kings, they’ve hired former Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin as a senior advisor to Blake.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not surprised by this news. There was speculation prior to Bergevin’s firing in November that he could join the Kings once his contract with the Habs was completed at the end of this season.

SPORTSNET: Evander Kane cleared unconditional waivers on Sunday. The San Jose Sharks can terminate his contract, making the winger an unrestricted free agent. However, the NHLPA is expected to file a grievance on his behalf.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be several weeks before this situation is sorted out by an arbiter. Until it is, don’t expect a rival club to approach Kane’s agent about a new contract.

New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant, Edmonton Oilers winger Warren Foegele, and New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson are among the latest to be included on the NHL’S COVID protocol list.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers canceled practice yesterday while the NHL postponed the Oilers Jan. 15 game against the Ottawa Senators and tonight’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2022

Marc-Andre Fleury picks up a win in his return to Vegas, the Stars snap the Penguins’ 10-game win streak, the Sharks waive Evander Kane for the purpose of terminating his contract, the latest COVID-19 updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves in a 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights as he faced his former team for the first time since being traded to Chicago last summer. Riley Stillman scored the game-winner in the second period. Fleury was greeted with a video tribute by the Golden Knights and a standing ovation from the Vegas crowd.

Could the Edmonton Oilers target Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury? (NHL Images)

Third-period goals by Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz lifted the Dallas Stars over the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2, snapping the latter’s 10-game winning streak. With 36 points, the Stars are three points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Tomas Hertl tallied a natural hat trick, including the winner in overtime, to rally the San Jose Sharks over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. James van Riemsdyk tallied both goals for the Flyers. With the win, the Sharks (39) are tied with the Los Angeles Kings but the latter holds the final Western Conference wild-card spot with a game in hand.

Speaking of the Kings, they got a 21-save shutout from Cal Petersen to blank the Detroit Red Wings 4-0. Dustin Brown collected two assists for the Kings while the Red Wings (35 points) are three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

And speaking of the Bruins, David Pastrnak’s two first-period goals powered the Boston Bruins over the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. Brad Marchand also scored twice for the Bruins. The Lightning (51 points) are tied with the Panthers but the latter holds first place in the overall standings due to two games in hand. Bruins forward Nick Foligno left the game with an injury in the first period and won’t play Monday against the Washington Capitals.

Meanwhile, the Panthers regained first place in the overall standings with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Anthony Duclair netted the game-winning goal, Carter Verhaeghe scored twice and Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist. The Hurricanes (50 points) sit in third place.

A three-goal third-period outburst (including two by Ryan Lindgren) carried the New York Rangers over the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. With 50 points, the Rangers are tied with the Hurricanes in the overall standings but the latter has three games in hand.

The Colorado Avalanche overcame 3-0 and 4-1 deficits to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on an overtime goal by Devon Toews. Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen finished the night with four assists. Leafs center Auston Matthews scored twice and Alex Kerfoot had a three-point game against his former club.

Shootout goals by Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau cemented a 3-2 comeback victory by the Minnesota Wild over the Washington Capitals. At one point, the Wild were down 2-0 but an errant pass by Carl Hagelin on a delayed penalty wound up in the Capitals’ empty net proved to be the turning point. Capitals goalie Zach Fucale set an NHL record for the longest sequence (138:31) without allowing a goal to start an NHL career. The Wild entered the game with Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin sidelined by injuries and Alex Goligoski in COVID protocol.

The Nashville Predators picked up their fourth straight win by doubling up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Juuse Saros picked up the win with 38 saves while Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen each collected two points. The Predators (48 points) hold first place in the Central Division.

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Jakub Voracek collected two assists for the Jackets.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks placed Evander Kane on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract over a breach of contract and violation of AHL COVID-19 protocols. Kane reportedly traveled to Vancouver while COVID positive.

Kane’s agent and the NHLPA intend to file a grievance on the winger’s behalf if he clears waivers today.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cites NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is satisfied the Sharks have sufficient grounds to terminate Kane’s contract. Peng also cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting there’s a dispute over whether Kane had medical clearance to travel to Vancouver as well as his return to the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. The Sharks allege he was supposed to return on Dec. 31 but didn’t do so until Jan. 6.

CAP FRIENDLY: Kane will become an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any other NHL club if the Sharks successfully terminate his contract. If he signs before the March 21 trade deadline he will also be allowed to participate in the NHL playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whether Kane can find another NHL club willing to take a chance on him should his contract with the Sharks be terminated is another matter.

There have been rumors in recent weeks linking him to several teams. However, The Athletic’s Corey Masisak and Kevin Kurz cited two NHL executives suggesting Kane’s personal baggage and reputation could have an adverse effect upon his efforts to find another NHL home.

If the Sharks’ efforts are successful, Kane’s $7 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 will come off their books, It will free up valuable salary-cap space that they can put toward bolstering their roster or perhaps re-signing center Tomas Hertl.

SPORTSNET: Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg, New York Rangers winger Ryan Reaves, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust and San Jose Sharks center Nick Bonino were among the latest players placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Bob Edmundson, father of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson, passed away on Friday at age 61 after battling lung cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Edmundson family.