NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2024

Nikita Kucherov sets a Lightning scoring record and regains the league scoring lead, the Stars set a franchise-record win streak, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov collected three assists to set a single-season franchise record with 130 points in a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots for the 42-26-7 Lightning, who hold the first Eastern Conference wildcard berth with 91 points. Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 63rd goal of the season for the Leafs (43-23-9) as they sit third in the Atlantic Division with 95 points.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have been hot recently, winning eight of their last 10 games. Kucherov holds a three-point lead over Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon in the race for the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s points leader.

TSN recently asked if Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe should let Matthews push for 70 goals or rest him for the playoffs. Given the Leafs’ postseason record, let Matthews go for 70. It could be the high point of their season. I’m kidding, of course…or am I?

The Dallas Stars collected their franchise-record eighth-straight win by blanking the Edmonton Oilers 5-0. Jake Oettinger kicked out 35 shots for his second straight shutout and Wyatt Johnston scored his 30th goal of the season as the Stars improved to 48-19-9 (105 points) to sit one point behind the league-leading New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston joined Brian Bellows as the second player in franchise history to have a 30-goal season before age 21. Teammate Jason Robertson reached the 50-assist plateau for the second straight season, becoming the sixth player in Stars history to achieve that feat.

Oilers captain Connor McDavid remains third in the race for the Art Ross Trophy with 126 points.

Speaking of the Rangers, they blew a 2-0 lead but rallied for a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Chris Kreider broke a 3-3 tie while Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere each had a goal and an assist for the 51-21-4 Rangers. Nico Hischier tallied his 25 goal of the season while Jesper Bratt had two assists to exceed 50 this season for the 36-36-4 Devils (76 points), who remain six points out of the final Eastern wildcard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game began with a line brawl resulting in eight ejections, six fights and 164 PIMs before the dust settled.

The Vancouver Canucks nipped the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. Conor Garland snapped a 1-1 tie late in the third period and Quinn Hughes had a goal and an assist as the Canucks (47-21-8) rose to fourth overall with 102 points. Dylan Guenther replied for the 31-39-5 Coyotes.

Los Angeles Kings wingers Trevor Moore tallied a hat trick in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Pierre-Luc Dubois collected three assists as the Kings improved to 39-25-11. They hold the final Western Conference wildcard spot and sit one point behind the Nashville Predators. The Kraken (31-31-13) were officially eliminated from playoff contention.


PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers head coach John Tortorella addressed his critics and those who doubt his club’s playoff chances during a press conference on Wednesday.

It follows me around, and so be it. If a player is going to quit on me, or players are going to quit on me because I’m trying to make them better people and better athletes, you’ve got the wrong damn coach here, and you’ve got the wrong damn people here,” said Tortorella.

My job is, I’m going to push athletes…I was in control the other night. What I said I meant. And, quite honestly, when I watch the tape now, I’m more concerned than just the second period.”

Tortorella expressed his pride in the underdog Flyers getting where they are this season.

And I guess now that narrative out there is, because I’ve heard from other people, is that they’re young, they’re not supposed to be here…bull***! We’re here! We’re here; face it!”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Tortorella’s proud of his club for exceeding expectations this season when no one considered the Flyers to be a playoff contender when this season began They’ve been in third place in the Metropolitan Division for over three months.

The Flyers have been struggling in recent weeks and are in danger of slipping out of a playoff berth as they try to hold off division rivals like the Washington Capitals, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. Tortorella could be trying to take some of the media heat off his players by putting it onto himself.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Nino Niederreiter has been sidelined for at least a week after suffering a skate cut during Monday’s win over the Winnipeg Jets. Head coach Rick Bowness said the injury would’ve been much worse if Niederreiter wasn’t wearing cut-resistant socks.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and is unavailable for Friday’s game against the New York Rangers.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner and his wife announced their son Dawson was stillborn on March 31. They appreciate everyone respects their privacy through this difficult time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to the Jenners.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 5, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 5, 2023

The Lightning defeat the Stars during a milestone game for Victor Hedman, the Jets re-sign Nino Niederreiter, the latest projection for next season’s salary cap, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrated Victor Hedman’s 1,000th career NHL game with a 4-0 victory over the Dallas Stars. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves for the shutout and Anthony Cirelli scored twice as the Lightning (11-10-5) snapped a four-game losing skid. Jake Oettinger stopped 19 shots for the 14-6-3 Stars.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images).

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit kicked out 42 shots as his club held off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist as the Jets improved their record to 14-8-2 (30 points) to sit one point back of the second-place Stars in the Central Division. Martin Necas replied for the 14-9-1 Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Jets announced the signing of Nino Niederreiter to a three-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $4 million. It’s the same AAV on the 31-year-old winger’s current contract. Acquired from the Nashville Predators last season, Niederreiter quickly fit in well with the Jets. He’s got 14 points in 24 games on their third line.

A five-goal first period carried the Arizona Coyotes to a 6-0 drubbing of the Washington Capitals. Nick Schmaltz tallied two goals, Alex Kerfoot had three assists and Connor Ingram turned aside 26 shots for the shutout as the Coyotes (13-9-2) picked up their fifth straight win. The Capitals made Evgeny Kuznetsov a healthy scratch from this game following a disappointing performance in a 4-1 loss on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 28 points. Meanwhile, their ongoing saga for a new arena could be testing the patience of some of the NHL governors, who are currently meeting in Seattle.

As long as league commissioner Gary Bettman supports the Coyotes’ efforts to remain in the Phoenix area and has the support of the majority of league governors, it won’t matter if a handful of the others are growing weary of this situation.

An overtime goal by Pavel Buchnevich lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 2-1. Jordan Binnington made 33 saves while Alexey Toropchenko also scored for the Blues as they improved to 13-10-1. Jack Eichel scored for the Golden Knights (16-5-5), who remain in first place in the Western Conference with 37 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights played without defenseman Shea Theodore (upper body) as he was placed on long-term injury reserve on Saturday. The earliest he could return to action is Dec. 17.

The Philadelphia Flyers nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on an overtime goal by Sean Couturier. Carter Hart stopped 31 shots, Tyson Foerster also scored and Travis Konecny collected two assists for the 13-10-2 Flyers. Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins as they fell to 11-10-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins played without forward Matt Nieto (lower body) as he was placed on injured reserve on Saturday.

Montreal Canadiens center Sean Monahan scored two goals as his club doubled up the Seattle Kraken 4-2. Sam Montembeault stopped 31 shots while Josh Anderson finally tallied his first goal of the season as the Canadiens boosted their record to 11-11-3. Vince Dunn had a goal and an assist for the 8-12-6 Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Canadiens loaned defenseman Arber Xhekaj to their AHL affiliate in Laval. He’d been sidelined since Nov. 16 with an upper-body injury.


DAILY FACEOFF: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman informed the league Board of Governors yesterday that the salary cap is on track to reach $87.7 million for 2024-25. The cap is currently at $83.5 million and has been flattened since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The $4.2 million increase is in line with the “lag formula” contained in the 2020 Memorandum of Understanding between the NHL and NHL Players Association coming out of the pandemic. The two sides can negotiate for a higher formula, something NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh hinted at during a recent interview with Frank Seravalli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The PA could push to have it increased to between $88 million and $89 million. As Seravalli indicates in his report, however, achieving that goal would mean the PA having to make a concession, something the league isn’t planning on based on their report on Monday to the Board of Governors.

NHL.COM: Arizona Coyotes goaltender Connor Ingram, New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal and New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes are the league’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 3.

CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom left practice yesterday after suffering an injury to his right hand. An update on his condition could be made today.

CBS SPORTS: Anaheim Ducks forward Mason McTavish did not travel with his club for their upcoming two-game road trip. He suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks placed forward Ryan Carpenter and defenseman Ty Emberson on injured reserve.

NHL.COM: The 2024 IIHF World Junior U-20 Championship begins on Dec. 26, 2023, and will end with the gold medal game on Jan. 5, 2024 The tournament opens with the United States facing off against Norway while defending champion Canada meets Finland in preliminary round action. Slovakia will also face Czechia while Sweden takes on Latvia.

Speaking of the IIHF, all players participating in their tournaments will be mandated to wear a neck laceration protector.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 13, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 13, 2023

Catching up on recent speculation about the Penguins’ Rickard Rakell, the Jets’ Nino Niederreiter, and the Predators’ Yaroslav Askarov in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Kingerski was asked if the Penguins might attempt to trade Rickard Rakell. The winger is struggling to score with just three assists in 13 games. He’s in the second season of a six-year contract with an average annual value of $5 million.

Kingerski believes Rakell could end up on the trade block, not because of his slow start but due to his contract and style of play. He thinks the 30-year-old winger could have some value in the trade market.

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Rickard Rakell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Rakell’s slow start, he would have value in the trade market. He had 28 goals and 60 points last season.

Trading Rakell’s contract probably won’t happen during a season where so many clubs are pressed for cap space. With the salary cap projected to rise by at least $4 million for 2024-25, a better time to shop him would be next summer when teams have more cap space.


WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck recently reported sources said Jets winger Nino Niederreiter seeks a three-to-four-year contract extension beginning in 2024-25. His salary asking price is said to be between $4 million and $5 million annually.

Nieddereiter, 31, is in the final season of a two-year with an average annual value of $4 million. Rather than becoming an unrestricted free agent next July, he’d prefer re-signing with the Jets.

Billeck suggested Niederreiter’s former Minnesota Wild teammate Marcus Foligno as a comparable. Foligno recently signed a four-year, $16 million deal with the Wild. The Penguins’ Reilly Smith (three years, $15 million) is another.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having recently signed Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele to expensive long-term contracts, the Jets signaled that they are in “win-now” mode. Given Niederreiter’s desire to stay in Winnipeg, it wouldn’t surprise me if they ink him to a deal comparable to Foligno.


NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher responded to recent speculation by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug suggesting the Edmonton Oilers attempt to acquire Yaroslav Askarov from the Nashville Predators.

Askarov, 21, is playing very well for the Predators AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. Rishaug acknowledged his lack of NHL experience and the high cost of acquiring the promising goaltender. Nevertheless, he felt it could be worthwhile for the Oilers to dig into their assets to fix their goaltending.

Gallagher noted that Predators general manager Barry Trotz prefers to retain Askarov and starting netminder Juuse Saros. However, a source believes Trotz could move the youngster for the right offer, noting that he shopped Askarov leading up to this year’s draft in the hope of landing a top-five draft pick. Gallagher also noted that Trotz hopes to re-sign Saros to a long-term extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trotz acknowledged he was willing to peddle Askarov to move up into the top five of this year’s draft. The reason was this draft was loaded with quality centers and that was an area he felt they had to address.

I don’t see Trotz moving Askarov until he gets Saros’ future sorted out. The Predators will have to start preparing Askarov as Saros’ heir apparent if the latter decides to test the 2025 free-agent market. Trade him away now and they’ll be left scrambling to find Saros’ replacement.

Askarov has plenty of potential but I don’t think he’ll fix the Oilers’ goaltending woes. They need an established NHL starter who has the experience to handle the workload and pressure.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 5, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 5, 2023

Changes could be in store for the Oilers, an update on Patrick Kane, Nino Niederreiter hopes to stay with the Jets, and the Hurricanes are looking to move a defenseman. Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


SPORTSNET: Mark Spector believes “everything is on the table in Edmonton” as the Oilers slumped to 2-7-1 on the season. They face the real possibility of missing the playoffs if they fail to reverse their fortunes.

Spector suggests a coaching change could end up being under consideration. He noted that current bench boss Jay Woodcroft’s “non-competitive, lackadaisical team” looks exactly like the one that cost former head coaches Dave Tippett and Todd McLellan their jobs.

Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft (NHL.com).

Spector’s colleague Elliotte Friedman reported everything was quiet in Edmonton following the Oilers’ 5-2 loss on Saturday to the Nashville Predators. He said we’ll see how everything goes over the next couple of days as the club looks to address things internally. Friedman wondered if Stuart Skinner would get a run in goal after another poor performance by Jack Campbell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are a better team than the one we’ve seen thus far. Their current woes not only reflect badly on Woodcroft but also on team leaders like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Firing Woodcroft could snap the Oilers out of their doldrums but at some point, the players have to take responsibility. A trade could shake things up but that won’t be easy to pull off at this stage during a season where so many teams are pressed for cap space. For now, they seem to have little choice but to seek answers from within.

The good news for the Oilers is there is still plenty of time to turn things around. The bad news is another month like this could put them into such a deep hole in the standings that they risk being unable to climb out of it.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes this week could be an important one for unrestricted free agent Patrick Kane. The 34-year-old winger is still a few weeks away from playing but he could be getting closer to narrowing down his list of potential destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t indicate which teams could be interested in signing Kane. It’s rumored they could include the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights.


WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck reports sources claim that Nino Niederreiter hopes to remain with the Jets beyond this season.

The 31-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He’s in the final season of a two-year contract with an average annual value of $4 million.

Billeck’s source said that Niederreiter’s agent, Andre Rufener, will be in Winnipeg this week. The winger is fond of Winnipeg and has praised the fans and the way the club handles its players. Management has been made aware that he’s interested in signing an extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Billeck believes the Jets should re-sign Niederreiter, pointing to his five goals and nine points in the club’s 11 games thus far this season. Given the “win-now” mentality of the club’s front office (highlighted by their recent extensions of Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele), they’ll give serious consideration toward keeping Niederreiter in the fold.

Niederreiter’s previous contract was a five-year deal with an average annual value of $5.25 million. If he seeks something similar on his next contract the Jets could be willing to listen.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Carolina Hurricanes are looking to move a defenseman. Tony DeAngelo is the name that’s out there but Friedman said there are other things that the Hurricanes could potentially consider.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo, 28, is on a one-year deal with an affordable $1.675 million cap hit. His defensive play leaves something to be desired. Nevertheless, he could draw interest from teams in need of a cost-effective offensive boost from the blueline, especially on the power play.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2023

The Golden Knights regain their series lead over the Oilers while the Blackhawks win the draft lottery. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights regained the lead in their second-round series over the Edmonton Oilers with a 5-1 victory on Monday evening. Jonathan Marchessault scored twice while Jack Eichel had a goal and an assist. Adin Hill made 24 saves for the win relief of Laurent Brossoit, who suffered what appeared to be an injured right leg in the first period. Warren Foegele replied for the Oilers while Stuart Skinner got the hook after giving up four goals on 23 shots.

Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet regarding the severity of Brossoit’s injury. An update is expected sometime today. Hill did a fine job covering off for his sidelined teammate while the Golden Knights limited their trips to the penalty box, silencing the Oilers’ vaunted power play. They also effectively neutralized their opponents at even strength.

This was the worst performance by the Oilers in this postseason. They scored the first goal but spent the rest of the game on their heels, struggling to generate quality scoring chances while making costly mistakes in their own zone. They’ll need a much better effort in Game 4 on Wednesday or face returning to Las Vegas on the brink of elimination.


The Chicago Blackhawks won the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery, earning the right to select top prospect Connor Bedard in the first round of the draft on June 28. The Blackhawks had the third-best odds (11.5) of winning the lottery.

The Anaheim Ducks had the best odds (18.5) but slipped to second overall while the Columbus Blue Jackets (13.5) will pick third.

The Ottawa Senators’ first-round pick was 12th overall. As per the conditions of the Jakob Chychrun trade on March 1, that pick belongs to the Arizona Coyotes (stick tap to Cap Friendly).

1. Chicago Blackhawks

2. Anaheim Ducks

3. Columbus Blue Jackets

4. San Jose Sharks

5. Montreal Canadiens

6. Arizona Coyotes

7. Philadelphia Flyers

8. Washington Capitals

9. Detroit Red Wings

10. St. Louis Blues

11. Vancouver Canucks

12. Arizona Coyotes (via Ottawa Senators)

13. Buffalo Sabres

14. Pittsburgh Penguins

15. Nashville Predators

16. Calgary Flames

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Choosing Connor Bedard will positively affect the Blackhawks on and off the ice. He’ll help to improve the on-ice product while giving their fans a watchable star as the club continues its rebuilding program.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard on his own won’t turn the Blackhawks back into Stanley Cup contenders again. Management still faces the daunting task of surrounding him with a strong supporting cast via the draft, trades and free agency over the next several years. Nevertheless, Bedard gives them a solid foundation on which to base their rebuild.

There was a negative reaction on social media over the Blackhawks winning this lottery. The conspiracy-minded believe it was rigged to help the Hawks, though these are the type of people who would claim the lottery is on the level if their team had won.

Many were angry that the Blackhawks hadn’t had their 2023 pick stripped away as part of their punishment after an investigation two years ago revealed the club covered up Kyle Beach’s allegations that he was sexually assaulted in 2010 by the team’s video coach. General manager Stan Bowman was forced to step down for his role in the cover-up as did former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville from his job as Florida Panthers head coach.

Given the Hawks odds, everyone knew they had a good chance of winning the lottery but no concern was raised before the event. While the outrage is understandable it probably wouldn’t have been on the same level had the Hawks got the second or third-overall pick or if they wound up much lower in the draft order.

NEW YORK POST: ESPN insider Kevin Weekes inadvertently revealed the Blue Jackets had fallen to No. 3 before deputy commissioner Bill Daly officially revealed it. The incident occurred just before the network went to a commercial break.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks on social media saw this as proof that the lottery was rigged. They overlooked the fact that the lottery had been held well beforehand and not in real time on the air as Daly announced each position in the draft order. The network knew the results before the show went on the air and wrote their script accordingly. It was likely a technical error that led to Weekes’ accidentally revealing the Jackets’ position.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen is listed as day-to-day after being struck in the face by a puck during Game 3 of his club’s second-round series with the Seattle Kraken. He is not in concussion protocol but is uncertain for Game 4 tonight in Seattle.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov is feeling better and will undergo tests (including an MRI) to determine his status for Game 4 against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Samsonov suffered an upper-body injury during Game 3 after teammate Luke Schenn accidentally fell on him trying to break up a play near the Leafs net.

New Jersey Devils winger Tomas Tatar was fined $5,000.00 for high-sticking Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho during Game 3 of their second-round series on Sunday.

CBS SPORTS: Speaking of the Hurricanes, goaltender Antti Raanta participated in practice yesterday after missing the last two games due to illness.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed prospect Mackie Samoskevich to a three-year entry-level contract.

ILLEGAL CURVE: Winnipeg Jets winger Nino Niederreiter will play for Switzerland in the upcoming IIHF World Championship

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks were fined $50,000.00 for violating the NHL’s offseason training rules. They reportedly held on-ice sessions with a number of players in mid-April after the season ended, which is a violation of the CBA.

NHL.COM: Former NHL winger Vic Stasiuk passed away over the weekend at age 93. Stasiuak spent 14 seasons in the league from 1949-50 to 1962-63 with the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins. In 745 regular-season games, he scored 183 goals and 437 points along with 34 points in 68 playoff games. Between 1969-70 to 1972-73, he was head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, California Golden Seals and Vancouver Canucks.

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

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2023

Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark scores in his 30th win of the season, the Sharks retire Patrick Marleau’s number, the Jets acquire Nino Niederreiter, the Blues claim Kasperi Kapanen off waivers, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark celebrated his 30th win of the season by scoring an empty-net goal in a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Ullmark had 26 saves while Hampus Lindholm and Brad Marchand also scored for the 45-8-5 Bruins, who opened a nine-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the overall standings with 95 points. Brock Boeser scored for Vancouver as they dropped to 23-31-5 on the season. Canucks defenseman Ethan Bear left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.

Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Canucks acquired winger Vitali Kravtsov from the New York Rangers in exchange for winger Will Lockwood and a seventh-round pick in 2026. The 23-year-old Kravtsov was the ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft but struggled to establish himself with the Rangers. He becomes an affordable reclamation project for the rebuilding Canucks. The Rangers, meanwhile, shed some cap space ($875K) for perhaps another move at the March 3 trade deadline.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, their five-game winning streak ended after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson kicked out 51 shots while Trevor Zegras and Ryan Strome each collected two assists for the 19-34-7 Ducks. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jesper Fast replied for the Hurricanes (39-11-8) as they sit second in the overall standings with 86 points.

As for the Rangers, their winless skid stretched for four games (0-3-1) after falling 6-3 to the Washington Capitals. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice and collected two assists while T.J. Oshie also tallied twice for the 29-26-6 Capitals as they sit one point out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 64 points. Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad each had two points for 33-17-9 Rangers as they sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 75 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren left the game in the first period with an injured left shoulder following a hit into the boards by Oshie. Earlier in the day, they also placed forward Jake Leschyshyn on waivers in what’s expected to be a cost-cutting move for the upcoming trade deadline.

The Pittsburgh Penguins reclaimed that final Eastern wild-card spot with a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on an overtime goal by Bryan Rust to snap their four-game losing skid. Rust, Evgeni Malkin and Marcus Pettersson each had a goal and an assist as the Penguins (65 points) improved to 28-21-9. Jordan Binnington made 45 saves for the Blues as they fell to 26-28-5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Blues claimed winger Kasperi Kapanen off waivers from the Penguins. The 26-year-old winger did not play in this game. The Blues did the Penguins a favor as this move cleared Kapanen’s $3.2 million cap hit through 2023-24 off their books, providing some cap flexibility to perhaps make a move before the trade deadline.

A four-point performance by Connor McDavid couldn’t prevent the Edmonton Oilers from falling 6-5 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. McDavid scored twice and set up two other goals as his Oilers overcame a 4-0 deficit to tie the game but Columbus rallied with two more goals and held on for the win. Jack Roslovic also had two goals and two assists as the Blue Jackets improved to 19-35-5. The Oilers (32-20-8) sit third in the Pacific Division with 72 points.

New Jersey Devils goalie Akira Schmid made 23 saves for his first NHL shutout in a 7-0 drubbing of the Philadelphia Flyers. Jonas Siegenthaler had a goal and two assists while Dawson Mercer scored to extend his goal streak to six games for the Devils (39-15-5) as they sit three points back of the Hurricanes with 83 points. The 23-28-10 Flyers played without winger Travis Konecny (upper body) as he was placed on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk didn’t play in this game. Head coach John Tortorella claimed he was “a little banged-up.” The 33-year-old van Riemsdyk is expected to be moved by the March 3 trade deadline.

The Dallas Stars ended a five-game losing streak by nipping the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on shootout goals by Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz, who also tallied the game-tying goal with 38 seconds remaining in regulation. Jake Oettinger stopped 41 shots for the 31-16-12 Stars as they hold a three-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division with 74 points. Jack Eichel netted his 20th goal of the season for the Golden Knights (35-18-6) as they sit atop the Western Conference standings with 76 points.

Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy made 45 saves to blank the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn were the goal scorers as the Lightning improved to 37-17-4 and sit two points behind the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division with 78 points. Detroit (28-22-8) sits one point out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 64 points. Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche beat the Calgary Flames 4-1. Mikko Rantanen scored for the fourth straight game while Alexandar Georgiev made 28 saves as the Avalanche (33-19-5) moved past the Winnipeg Jets into second place in the Central Division with 71 points. Tyler Toffoli scored his 25th goal of the season as his Flames fell to 27-21-12 and four points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 66 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche also acquired minor-league goaltender Keith Kinkaid from the Bruins in exchange for forward Shane Bowers. Bringing in Kinkaid could be an insurance move as Pavel Francouz remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.

The Ottawa Senators swept their season series with the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 win. Derick Brassard had a goal and an assist while Mads Sogaard stopped 30 shots as the Senators improved to 28-26-4 to sit five points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot with 60 points. Nick Suzuki tallied his 20th goal of the season for the 25-30-4 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens also announced defenseman Arber Xhekaj will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Center Kirby Dach is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury while forward Joel Armia is day-to-day with an upper respiratory infection.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Petr Mrazek turned aside 45 shots in a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on a shootout goal by Philipp Kurashev. The Blackhawks improved to 21-32-5 while San Jose sank to 18-30-12. Before the game, the Sharks retired Patrick Marleau’s No. 12 in a pregame ceremony.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau is the Sharks’ all-time leader with 1,607 games played, 522 goals and 1,111 points. He’s also second in assists with 589. Marleau is the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.


WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets acquired winger Nino Niederreiter from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A nice pickup by the Jets to bolster their scoring depth. The 30-year-old Niederreiter is a big-bodied winger who is on pace (18 goals) to reach the 20-goal plateau for the sixth time in his career. He’s not a rental player as he carries a $4 million annual cap hit through 2023-24. The Jets might not be done making moves as Cap Friendly shows they’ve got over $5.4 million in projected trade deadline cap space.

SPORTSNET: The Buffalo Sabres placed winger Alex Tuch on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a big blow to the Sabres’ playoff hopes. Tuch is second in scoring with 28 goals and 62 points. This could prompt management to shop for a replacement if he’s sidelined for a long period.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs will send a second-round pick in 2025 to the Arizona Coyotes to complete last February’s trade that sent forward Nick Ritchie to the Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin and forward Ryan Dzingel.