NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 29, 2022

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk passes away, the Hurricanes take over first place in the Eastern Conference, Vladimir Tarasenko reaches a scoring milestone, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SENATORS OWNER EUGENE MELNYK DEAD AT 62

OTTAWA SUN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk passed away late Monday following a long illness. His enduring legacy was buying the Senators in 2003 and maintaining the franchise in Ottawa. In 2015, Melnyk underwent a life-saving liver transplant. With his help, the Senators Community Foundation invested over $100 million in local charities and community programs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Melnyk’s family and the Senators’ organization. The hockey world is mourning his passing, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Senators captain Brady Tkachuk among the first to pay tribute.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk dies at age 62 (NHL.com).

The Senators were among the NHL’s top teams during Melnyk’s early years of ownership, reaching the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. After exceeding expectations to reach the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, the club spent the following years rebuilding its roster.

Melnyk often faced criticism from Senators fans over the club’s direction, especially in recent years. He received his share of the blame for the departures of popular stars such as Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson. The outspoken Senators owner also threatened to move the club several years ago if the club’s attendance didn’t improve.

Nevertheless, the Senators would’ve probably relocated to an American city in 2003 if Melnyk hadn’t stepped in to purchase the franchise. It’ll be up to his successor and the club’s current management to ensure the current rebuilding program achieves his dream of turning the Senators into a Stanley Cup contender.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 6-1 to take over first place in the Eastern Conference with 95 points, one ahead of the Florida Panthers. Martin Necas scored two goals and added an assist while Frederik Andersen made 25 saves for the win. The Capitals (84 points) remain three points behind the Boston Bruins, who hold the first Eastern wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes weren’t happy over a hit on forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi by Capitals center Lars Eller late in the game. Kotkaniemi’s left leg appeared to be injured. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour didn’t know the extent of the injury following the game but commented it didn’t look good. No word if Eller will face supplemental discipline.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko reached his 500th career point in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Tarasenko scored twice and chipped in an assist while Ville Husso turned in a 35-save performance. With 81 points, the Blues sit in third place in the Central Division. The Canucks (73 points) remain three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: David Perron also reached a Blues milestone, joining Brett Hull and Scott Young as the third player in franchise history to score at least 12 goals in a calendar month.

The Edmonton Oilers bounced back from a 9-5 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday by thumping the Arizona Coyotes 6-1. Ryan McLeod tallied twice and picked up an assist, Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist and Mikko Koskinen got the win by kicking out 31 shots. The Oilers sit in third place in the Pacific Division, two points back of the second-place Los Angeles Kings.

Speaking of the Kings, they fell 6-1 to the Seattle Kraken. Chris Driedger stopped 36 Kings shots while teammate Vince Dunn collected two assists. It was the 1,000th career NHL game for Kings coach Todd McLellan, who became the seventh active coach to reach that milestone.

The Buffalo Sabres rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 with Tage Thompson netting the game-winner in the final seconds of the third period. Sabres winger Victor Olofsson scored twice and picked up an assist.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot, Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 27, 2022.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld a one-game suspension to Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter for a slashing infraction on March 18.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered from a high hit by the Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno during the Jackets’ 3-2 loss to the Wild on Saturday.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture suffered a bruised lung when he was struck by a shot by teammate Brent Burns during last Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. He missed Saturday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks but will return to the lineup on Wednesday to face the Arizona Coyotes.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Over a week after being traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Colorado Avalanche, Artturi Lehkonen’s immigration paperwork has been processed and he can finally join his new teammates.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 21, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 21, 2021

Will the Rangers go shopping for a forward? Have they started contract talks with Ryan Strome? What moves could be in store for the Sabres after trading Jack Eichel? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup

LATEST RANGERS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple took note of TSN’s Darren Dreger’s recent report claiming the New York Rangers are in the market for a middle-six forward to replace Sammy Blais after he suffered a season-ending knee injury. He also felt they could pursue a defenseman but that could be a move made closer to the March 21 trade deadline.

Staple believes the Rangers can’t afford to take on players with term remaining on their contracts as new deals will be required next summer for Blais and restricted free agent Kaapo Kakko plus they’ll also require a second-line center and a backup goalie.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Looking at players on expiring contracts, Staple suggested the Seattle Kraken’s Calle Jarnkrok or Marcus Johansson, the Ottawa Senators’ Chris Tierney, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Nino Niederreiter, the Arizona Coyotes’ Phil Kessel, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome, the Montreal Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen and the Los Angeles Kings’ Gabriel Vilardi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Niederreiter will be available. The Hurricanes are among the NHL’s best teams and have little reason to ship him out for a draft pick or prospect. If they were to move Niederreiter, it would be to bring in a player to address a different roster need.

The Los Angeles Kings aren’t a struggling club like the others listed here but they could become a seller should fall out of the playoff chase as the season rolls along. Vilardi was recently demoted to the minors and could become a trade chip at some point. Staple’s colleague, Lisa Dillman, speculated the former first-round pick might be at the point in his career where a trade could help get his career back on track. She proposed the Tampa Bay Lightning and the rebuilding Coyotes as possible destinations for Vilardi.

Kessel would be an expensive addition unless the Coyotes retain part of his $6.8 million cap hit. Teams with an interest in the veteran winger could prefer waiting until the trade deadline to pursue him.

The Blackhawks tried shopping Strome since last season but couldn’t find any takers. The interim management probably won’t have any better luck. He’s been skating on their checking line but is best suited on the second line with better wingers.

As for the Kraken, Senators and Canadiens, they’re going to be among this season’s sellers but they don’t have to dump expiring contracts right now. They’ll likely wait until the second half of the season in order to find the best return possible.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Boston Bruins might try to entice the Rangers into taking winger Jake DeBrusk off their hands. He had a strong preseason but has been inconsistent thus far this season. DeBrusk remains a mainstay in the rumor mill among NHL scouts and executives but there’s no indication the Bruins and Rangers are talking trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk might still be a topic of trade chatter in some NHL circles but there’s doesn’t seem to be much interest in him. The media speculation about the 24-year-old winger’s trade status has died down since the summer.

NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Rangers, Mollie Walker reported there haven’t been any contract extension talks between management and Ryan Strome. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Given their recent signings of Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox plus Kakko due for a new contract, Walker believes the Rangers probably can’t afford to re-sign Strome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with over $70.8 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23. Strome will seek a higher annual average value than his current $4.5 million. He’ll likely hit the open market next summer unless the Rangers shed some salary to re-sign him.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE SABRES?

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked if the Sabres would pursue a starting goaltender via next summer’s free-agent market. He doesn’t see them going that route with promising Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen on the cusp of the NHL.

If Luukkonen is ready for the job next season, the Sabres could bring back Dustin Tokarski or sign a reliable veteran on a short-term deal. Lysowski recommends going the trade route if Luukkonen isn’t ready.

Lysowski was also asked which of the Sabres pending UFAs could be shopped at the trade deadline. He felt Colin Miller’s value as a right-shot defenseman puts him at the top of the list.

Others could include Vinnie Hinostroza, Drake Caggiula, Cody Eakin, Robert Hagg, Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski but he doesn’t expect the Sabres will trade them all. He speculated they could attempt to bring back Mark Pysyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have made their big moves after trading Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen since April. Any major moves between now and March 21 will likely be to move out some pending UFAs for draft picks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2021

The Canadiens sweep the Jets to advance to the semifinals, the Islanders have the Bruins on the brink of elimination, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli’s overtime goal gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 to sweep their second-round series. The Canadiens are the first team to reach the 2021 semifinals. They opened the scoring with first-period goals by Erik Gustafsson and Artturi Lehkonen but the Jets forced the extra frame as Logan Stanley tallied twice in the second period.

Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal dominated the play despite the close score, outshooting Winnipeg 42-16. If not for Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck this would’ve been a lopsided victory. Habs defenseman Jeff Petry missed this game after dislocating two fingers in Game 3 but he’s expected to be ready for the semifinals.

The New York Islanders held off the Boston Bruins for a 5-4 win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in their second-round series. Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 40 saves while Brock Nelson’s early third-period goal held up as the winner. The Isles went three-for-four on the power play. David Pastrnak scored twice for Boston, who pulled goaltender Tuukka Rask after two periods. Bruins forward Curtis Lazar left the game after throwing a big hit on Isles defenseman Ryan Pulock. Game 6 is tomorrow night on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy questioned the officiating during his post-game press conference, saying the penalties called against his club weren’t being called on the Islanders. He also singled out his opponent. “We’re playing a team that have very respected management and coaching staff, they’ve won a Stanley Cup. But I think they sell a narrative over there that it’s more like the New York Saints and not the New York Islanders,” said Cassidy.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter could return to action for Game 5 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He missed the first four games of this series with an undisclosed injury but returned to practice yesterday. The Hurricanes face a must-win situation down three games to one.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers signed forward Anton Lundell to a three-year entry-level contract. He was selected 12th overall by the Panthers in last year’s NHL Draft.

Renee Hess (founder of the Black Girl Hockey Club), Kevin Hodgson (executive director of HEROS), and Howard Smith (co-founder of Pittsburgh I.C.E.) are the three finalists for the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

The Canadiens upset the Maple Leafs in seven games, the Islanders tie their second-round series with the Bruins, Reaves suspended two games, Kadri suspension upheld, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 30 saves while Brendan Gallagher, Corey Perry and Tyler Toffoli were the goal scorers. William Nylander spoiled Price’s shutout bid late in the third. The Canadiens will face the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday for the opening game of that series.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens deserved the win. Down three games to one and seemingly on the ropes, they rebounded to upset the heavily favored Leafs. Price once again reminded everyone why teammates and opponents still consider him the best goaltender in the league. He was outstanding in this series. His teammates were buoyed by his play and his calm leadership and rode it to victory.

The Leafs choked. There’s no sugarcoating this one. They had the Canadiens on the ropes after Game 4 but couldn’t find the knockout punch. Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews was held to one goal. Mitch Marner finished the regular season in fourth place among the league’s point leaders but couldn’t score a goal in this series. There’s plenty of blame to go around for this epic failure. However, Matthews and Marner are the Leafs’ biggest stars and were expected to lead their club to victory in this series. They didn’t, and they’ll carry that burden for a while.

This will be an interesting summer for the Leafs as they evaluate this disappointing finish to what had been a dazzling regular season. I’ll have more later this morning in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

An overtime goal by Casey Cizikas gave the New York Islanders a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Semyon Varlamov got the start for the Isles and made 39 saves for the win while Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist for the Bruins. Game 3 goes Thursday night on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining back-and-forth contest. Boston quickly opened the scoring, the Islanders rebounded to take a 3-1 lead but the Bruins rallied to force overtime. A turnover at the Islanders blueline by Jeremy Lauzon sprung Cizikas for his breakaway winner.

The NHL released its full schedule for the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a two-game suspension for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves in Game 1 of their second-round series on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reported Reaves admitted he yanked out some of Graves’ hair while the Golden Knights admitted the incident was retaliatory due to Graves’ earlier hit on Mattias Janmark. And for that, he gets two games, probably because Graves returned to the game after leaving the ice for repairs.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri’s eight-game suspension after hearing Kadri’s appeal last week. He was suspended for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their first-round series.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes could shuffle their lineup with winger Nino Niederreiter expected to be sidelined for the entirety of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2021

The Avalanche and Lightning win the opening games of their respective second-round series, an update on Jake Muzzin, the Islanders consider a goalie change, commemorating a notable anniversary in Jets history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had two goals and an assist while Cale Makar collected four points as the Colorado Avalanche thumped the Vegas Golden Knights 7-1 in the opening game of their second-round series. Game 2 goes Wednesday in Denver.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Tempers flared after Vegas forward Mattias Janmark left the game in the second period with an apparent head injury following a hit by Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves. Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a match penalty in the third period for punching Graves in the back of the head, throwing him to the ice and attacking him while he was down. The Avs defenseman was down for several minutes before skating to the dressing room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche took control of this game in the opening minutes and never let up. Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner looked a little rusty in his first appearance of this postseason. I daresay we’ll see Marc-Andre Fleury return to the Vegas net for Game 2. Lehner wasn’t solely to blame for this lopsided loss. His teammates were outclassed in this contest.

Reaves’ match penalty means he could receive a suspension by the NHL department of player discipline. Graves received a minor penalty for interference on the Janmark hit. No word on whether he’ll face supplemental discipline.

The Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Barclay Goodrow snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period while Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves for the win. Brayden Point was the other Lightning scorer while Jake Bean replied for the Hurricanes. Game 2 goes Tuesday night in Carolina.

Carolina winger Nino Niederreiter missed the game with an undisclosed injury suffered during practice on Saturday. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Niederreiter is “very, very doubtful” to play in this series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series will be closely contested between two talented clubs if Game 1 was any indication. Vasilevskiy made the difference in this contest. Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic played well for most of this contest but looked off-balance on the Goodrow goal.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs aren’t ruling out defenseman Jake Muzzin from Game 7 tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. He left Game 6 with a lower-body injury and was receiving further tests yesterday. If Muzzin can’t play, Rasmus Sandin is expected to replace him.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders coach Barry Trotz is mulling whether to replace rookie Ilya Sorokin with veteran Semyon Varlamov for Game 2 against the Boston Bruins tonight. Sorokin gave up four goals on 39 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Bruins.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith status for Game 2 is uncertain following a lower-body injury suffered in the first game.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers’ front-office purge continues as director of European scout Nick Bobrov was dismissed by new general manager Chris Drury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: On this date in 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg and become the second edition of the Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling in Atlanta, moving to the NHL’s smallest market improved the franchise’s fortunes. They’ve become a perennial playoff contender and are well-supported by Winnipeg fans. The Jets upset the Edmonton Oilers last week to advance to the second round of the 2021 playoffs. They currently await the winner of the Toronto-Montreal series.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Edmonton Oilers 6-1 to sweep their three-game series. Jimmy Vesey scored two goals, Jason Spezza collected three assists and Fredrik Andersen made 26 saves in his return to action after missing four games with a lower-body injury. Auston Matthews also returned after missing two games with a wrist injury but was held scoreless.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs outscored the Oilers 13-1 in their three games, including back-to-back shutouts. They held Oilers captain Connor McDavid scoreless while Leon Draisaitl managed just one assist.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fourth straight victory by taming the Minnesota Wild 5-1. Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves while Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch and Colin Stephenson each had a goal and an assist. Wild winger Zach Parise was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career with the club owing to an overextended shift during Monday’s overtime loss to Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has bounced back well from last season’s inconsistent performance. He’s among the league leaders with 11 wins, a .939 save percentage, 1.71 goals-against average and three shutouts. The 36-year-old netminder could become a Vezina Trophy finalist if he can maintain that level of play.

Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each had four-point performances as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves for the shutout. It was a costly win for the Avs as center Nathan MacKinnon left the game in the third period after a hit to the head from Sharks winger Joachim Blichfield, who received a match penalty and could face supplemental discipline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avs coach Jared Bednar said MacKinnon seemed to be doing okay following the game. We should find out today or tomorrow if he avoided serious injury.

A shootout goal by Jakub Vrana lifted the Washington Capitals over the Boston Bruins 2-1. David Pastrnak scored for the Bruins while Lars Eller replied for the Capitals. The Bruins honored former captain Zdeno Chara with a video tribute as he returned to Boston for the first time since signing with the Capitals in the offseason. Before the game, the Bruins announced center Charlie Coyle was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 list.

The St. Louis Blues got power-play goals from Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sandford to hold the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington kicked out 27 shots. The Ducks have dropped eight straight games.

Arizona Coyotes netminder Antti Raanta stopped 40 shots as his club nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Two goals 40 seconds apart in the second period by Nick Schmaltz and Johan Larsson gave the Coyotes the win. The Kings have dropped three straight.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said his decision to fire goalie coach Stephane Waite during Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Ottawa. He said he consulted interim head coach Dominique Ducharme beforehand but not with netminder Carey Price, who learned of the move following the game. The Habs hired Sean Burke as their new director of goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin said the move was made to help Price improve his performance, which has fallen off over the past four seasons. The Habs GM is not expected to make any further organizational changes this season after firing coaches Claude Julien and Kirk Muller last week. However, Bergevin could face losing his job if his moves fail to improve the Canadiens,

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter was fined $5,000.00 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros on Tuesday. Saros is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker (lower body) was placed on long-term injury reserve yesterday.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said league revenue for 2021-22 could be affected by Canada’s slow vaccine rollout. While admitting it is premature to make predictions, Daly hinted it could affect everything from revenue to competition, including division alignment, travel and trades. He also said the league remains optimistic that its trajectory remains on pace toward a normal work environment for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadian government maintains the COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all its citizens who want one by September. Recent reports suggest the distribution of those vaccines could speed up in the coming months. Nevertheless, we won’t know for certain until the start of next season what the effect will be on Canadian teams and league revenue.