NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2019

Updates on the Sharks and Capitals plus another list of potential buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman speculates the San Jose Sharks roster could undergo “a dramatic transformation” this summer. He suggests re-signing restricted free agents Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc could cost a combined $10 million. That will put a significant dent into their salary-cap space. 

Does Joe Pavelski still have a future with the San Jose Sharks? (Photo via NHL Images)

Wegman doesn’t think defenseman Erik Karlsson’s recent injury history will prevent him from getting top dollar on the open market in July. He doubts the Sharks can afford to re-sign both Karlsson and captain Joe Pavelski. It’s also unlikely they can afford to re-sign pending UFA forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Donskoi.  Nevertheless, they could keep their championship window open if Pavelski and Joe Thornton don’t return and they find a way to retain Karlsson.

NBC SPORTS: Joey Alfieri also looked at what’s next for pending UFAs Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton. While the 34-year-old Pavelski is a durable all-around player, Alfieri wonders if they can afford to bring him back at any cost. Still, he expects the Sharks will find a way to keep their captain. As for Thornton, he could be an effective third-line center if he’s up to it. 

Karlsson’s recent injury woes make re-signing him to a lengthy, expensive contract a huge risk. It’s uncertain if he wants to return with the Sharks or not. Alfieri believes there’s no certainty Karlsson will accept a discount to stay in San Jose. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The status of Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton will dominate the Sharks’ rumor mill leading up to the start of free agency on July 1. Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $58.2 million invested in 15 players. If the cap reaches $83 million as projected, they’ll have around $24 million in cap space.

Assuming it takes $10 million to re-sign Meier and Labanc (and I agree with Wegman that it could cost that much), they’ll have only $14 million left. That won’t leave much for Karlsson, Pavelski, and Thornton. Of those three, I expect Pavelski will be re-signed. Thornton, too, if he decides he’s got one more season left in the tank.

Of course, general manager Doug Wilson could pull a swerve, cut ties with Pavelski and Thornton, and re-sign Karlsson. But as Wegman and Alfieri noted, the 28-year-old defenseman’s health is now a concern. If Karlsson is intent on a lucrative long-term deal, we’ve probably seen the last of him in a Sharks sweater. 

RECENT CAPITALS TRADE CHATTER

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: In two recent mailbag segments, J.J. Regan addressed questions from Capitals fans regarding the club’s possible offseason moves.  He believes that’ll depend upon the cost of re-signing RFA winger Jakub Vrana.

Regan doesn’t expect GM Brian MacLellan will make an extreme move like trading goalie Braden Holtby to free up salary-cap space. Holtby is slated to become a UFA next summer. He sees defenseman Matt Niskanen as a possible cost-cutting trade candidate. That move could come leading up to next month’s NHL Draft weekend. It could free up space to pursue forward depth in July via free agency. 

Regan doesn’t see the Capitals pursuing big-ticket UFAs like Artemi Panarin or Erik Karlsson. Winger Carl Hagelin is most likely to depart via free agency this summer. Regan wonders if Brett Connolly will consider re-signing him for less than market value. He also suggested the Capitals could decide not to qualify RFA winger Andre Burakovsky’s rights and convince him to accept a lesser deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $72.9 million tied up in 16 players, the Capitals will have around $10 million in cap space. Niskanen, 32, is earning $5.75-million per season and carries a 10-team no-trade list. However, he’s also a skilled defenseman with a right-handed shot with just two seasons remaining on his contract. Those factors could make Niskanen enticing for clubs seeking experienced blueline depth. 

With Niskanen’s salary off their books, the Capitals could have room to re-sign Vrana to perhaps an affordable bridge deal. That could leave enough to retain Connolly and Burakovsky if they’re willing to accept less money to stay put. 

MORE POTENTIAL BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently listed 10 potential buyout candidates, examining the pros and cons for each. Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry, Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic and Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson were the notable names on his list. Carolina’s Scott Darling, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan, Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, Edmonton’s Andrej Sekera, Los Angeles’ Dion Phaneuf, Montreal’s Karl Alzner, and the Rangers’ Brendan Smith also made Fox’s list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox details the cost for each club of these buyouts and whether they’re worthwhile to do. Darling, Phaneuf, and Callahan seem the most likely to be bought out. The Lightning could prefer trading Callahan. If they can’t find any takers they’ll probably go the buyout route to free up cap space to re-sign Brayden Point.

Perry may look like a buyout candidate but I wonder if Ducks GM Bob Murray is willing to go that route. The former Hart Trophy winner’s production has declined in recent years but, as Fox points out, injuries took a toll on his performance. Murray could give him one more season before deciding if a buyout is justified. 

I have my doubts the Oilers will buy out Sekera. Injuries sidelined him for long periods over the past two seasons. Still, new GM Ken Holland might prefer keeping him around to buy time for some of their younger blueliners to crack the lineup. 

The contracts of Lucic and Eriksson are structured in such a way that buyouts won’t result in much savings in the short term. I don’t rule out a buyout for either guy but their respective clubs could instead try to trade them. 

The length of a buyout is another sticking point. Lucic and Abdelkader have four years remaining on their respective deals, Eriksson and Alzner each have three. At twice the remaining tenure, their buyouts would be on the books for six or eight years. 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2019

Will James Neal return with the Flames next season? Could the Capitals shop Matt Niskanen and Andre Burakovsky this summer? Should the Canucks pursue Jason Zucker or try to trade Brandon Sutter this summer?  Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE FLAMES MOVE NEAL AND TRADE BRODIE? 

CALGARY SUN: Despite the calls from Flames followers for the club to rid themselves of veteran winger James Neal, Wes Gilbertson recently reported there’s “little doubt” he’ll return with the club next season. He doesn’t believe Flames ownership will approve a contract buyout stretching through 2026-17 burning up nearly $2 million in annual salary-cap space. He also doesn’t see a market for a winger carrying an AAV of $5.75-million through 2022-23. Neal, meanwhile, wants to be a top-six forward and intends to train this summer toward returning to his 20-goal-per-season form. 

Don’t expect the Calgary Flames to trade or buy out James Neal’s contract this summer (Photo via NHL Images)

During a roundtable with Sun writers Danny Austin and Kristen Anderson on the Flames season and offseason plans, Gilbertson agreed with Anderson that GM Brad Treliving is unlikely to make sweeping roster changes. He believes Treliving must find a second-line right winger, suggesting perhaps revisiting the trade for Jason Zucker with the Minnesota Wild that fell through at the trade deadline. He also agreed with Austin that defenseman T.J. Brodie could be traded this summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have over $69 million invested in 20 players, with RFAs Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett to re-sign and goaltenders Mike Smith and David Rittich to re-sign or replace. Tkachuk’s next contract alone could absorb around $9 million of their salary-cap space. If they’re looking to shed salary, Brodie rather than Neal is a more likely trade candidate.

Neal lacks no-trade protection but the sharp decline in his production this season combined with the remaining years and the cap hit of his contract makes him a tough sell. He’ll likely return with the Flames next season. 

If Treliving intends to acquire Zucker ($5.5 million AAV) or another right winger, that move will have to be as close to a dollar-for-dollar swap as possible or doing a separate deal to shed the cap space necessary to take on that incoming winger’s contract. Those moves could involve Brodie or Michael Frolik, who was reportedly offered up to the Wild (along with a draft pick) for Zucker. 

WILL THE CAPITALS TRADE NISKANEN AND BURAKOVSKY THIS SUMMER?

THE WASHINGTON POST: In the wake of the Washington Capitals first-round playoff elimination, Isabelle Khurshudyan recently examined potential offseason moves in store for the roster. She points out the bonuses owed to Brooks Orpik, Jakub Vrana, and Jonas Siegenthaler ($1.15 million total) will count against next season’s salary-cap payroll. 

Khurshudyan speculates the addition of defenseman Nick Jensen in February could make veteran blueliner Matt Niskanen a salary-cap casualty. Trading Niskanen, who’s signed through 2020-21 with a $5.75-million annual salary-cap hit, would create flexibility this summer and next. 

The Capitals must also decide what to do with winger Andre Burakovsky, a restricted free agent who was also the subject of frequent trade speculation. Fellow RFAs Dmitrij Jaskin and Chandler Stephenson also face uncertain futures. Of their unrestricted free agents, Orpik and Devante Smith-Pelly are least likely to return. The Capitals probably want to re-sign forwards Brett Connolly and Carl Hagelin but probably can’t afford to keep both. With 22 goals and 46 points, Connolly has more upside. 

Khurshudyan considers re-signing Vrana the priority, using Vegas Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch ($4.75-million annual average value) as a “conservative comparable,” speculating his representatives could push for a bridge deal as a hedge that his production will continue to climb, ensuring a bigger future payday. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $72.6 million already invested in 17 players for 2019-20. Deduct that $1.15 million bonus overage from the projected $83 million salary cap for next season and they’ll have around $9 million to work with. Even if Vrana’s camp wants a bridge deal, he’s going to get a significant raise coming off his entry-level contract, perhaps around $4 million. Connolly made $1.5 million annually on his current contract and will likely seek around $4 million. That won’t leave much to fill in the rest of the lineup.

Somebody must be moved in a cost-cutting deal. Niskanen had a modified no-trade clause listing 10 teams he cannot be traded to, leaving a 20-team marketplace. Given his experience, puck-moving skills, ability to log big minutes and the market for right-shooting defensemen, the Capitals should be able to find a suitable destination for him and probably won’t have to absorb any of his salary-cap hit. However, they can’t afford to take any salary back so they’ll likely look at draft picks and prospects in return. 

Burakovsky’s days with the Capitals appear in doubt. GM Brian MacLellan resisted the temptation to move the 24-year-old winger this season in hopes he’d improve. While he did play better down the stretch, I don’t think he did enough to ensure a long-term future there. They could decide not to qualify Burakovsky’s rights in hopes of signing him at a lower salary but I think they’ll see what he might fetch in the trade market.

Orpik hasn’t made a decision about his future yet but there’s already speculation he might retire. Hagelin said he’d like to return but they might not have enough cap space to keep him. 

RECENT CANUCKS TRADE SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: During a mailbag segment earlier this month, JD Burke was asked about possible trade targets for the Canucks. He suggested making a pitch for Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker. Pointing to the near-deal that would’ve sent Zucker to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline for Michael Frolik and a draft pick, he proposes the Canucks offer up Jake Virtanen. He also believes they should target the Edmonton Oilers, assuming they’ll once again screw up their GM search.

Asked which team the Canucks could trade center Brandon Sutter to this summer, he doubts there’s much of a market for the 30-year-old center, who’s signed through 2020-21 with a $4.35-million AAV and also carries a no-trade clause. He speculates the Edmonton Oilers might be interested, depending on who becomes their next GM. He also wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets would be willing to swap Alexander Wennberg’s contract (signed through 2022-23, $4.9 million AAV) for Sutter’s, or if the New York Islanders might be interested.  

VANCOUVER SUN: Patrick Johnston recently listed Sutter, Virtanen, Nikolay Goldobin, Loui Eriksson, and Ben Hutton as potential Canucks trade candidates. Goldobin’s a restricted free agent who said he wants to stay in Vancouver but Johnston wondered if he’ll get the chance. Eriksson carries a $6 million AAV and was employed on the fourth line this season. He also carries a 15-team no-trade list but could be appealing to budget clubs looking to become cap compliant. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pundits and fans can make suggestions over what moves the Canucks should attempt to make but GM Jim Benning probably has other ideas. If Zucker’s available, the Wild could attempt to drive up his value by getting teams into a bidding war for his services. If so, forget about prying him out of Minnesota with Virtanen.

There could be a market for Sutter or Eriksson among cost-conscious clubs looking to reach the cap minimum. However, those teams will also want a sweetener included in the deal, like a decent draft pick or a good prospect.

The Canucks might not have to worry about re-signing Goldobin. He’s reportedly considering signing with a KHL team this summer.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2018

Game recaps, Stars CEO rips Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, Dustin Byfuglien, and David Backes fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists and John Tavares scored twice to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s the Leafs fifth consecutive victory. 

Mathew Barzal scored twice in the New York Islanders 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

The New York Islanders tallied five unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Ottawa Senators 6-3. Mathew Barzal scored two of those tallies and collected an assist on Josh Bailey’s goal in the first period. The Isles overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits against the Senators, who lost high-scoring defenseman Thomas Chabot in the second period with an upper-body injury following a high hit from Isles winger Matt Martin. Chabot joins goaltender Craig Anderson and defenseman Justin Falk on the sidelines this weekend. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was a good example of how much the Senators miss Anderson between the pipes. No word if Martin will face supplemental discipline for the hit on Chabot.

Three third-period goals by Tomas Tatar, Artturi Lehkonen, and Jonathan Drouin gave the Montreal Canadiens a 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers. Backup Antti Niemi made 23 saves filling in for the sidelined Carey Price, who’s currently listed as day-to-day with what coach Claude Julien called an “irritation” that’s plagued the former Vezina Trophy winner for several weeks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Would that be irritation from his knee injury of 2015-16 or irritation from last season’s groin injury, Claude? Or is it something new? Whatever it is, Habs fans will be hoping Price makes a swift recovery. 

THE ATHLETIC: Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites had some choice words regarding the play of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who said team owner Tom Gaglardi isn’t pleased with the performance of the club’s two best players. “He’s pissed,” Lites said on Friday afternoon. “And you know what it’s about.”

Referring to the pair’s performance during the Stars’ 2-0 win on Thursday over the Nashville Predators, Lites didn’t mince words. “They are fucking horse-shit, I don’t know how else to put it,” Lites said. “The team was ok. But (Tyler) Seguin and (Jamie) Benn were terrible.”

“We are a stars-driven league, and our stars aren’t getting it done,” Lites said. “It’s embarrassing, and no one writes it. Write it!”

Lites went on to criticize Benn and Seguin over what he considers their lack of accountability and decline of their performance since inking lucrative long-term contracts. Benn has the third-highest salary ($13 million) among NHL players this season, while Seguin’s new eight-year, $78.8-million contract kicks in next season. 

“I don’t give a fuck. I’m a year-to-year guy and I’ll be damned if a guy who has been as good to me as Tom Gaglardi — as good to this franchise — isn’t getting results, and those players aren’t getting it done. I’m telling you, we are gonna run through a GM who does everything he can to make the team better because we aren’t getting results.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If I may be allowed my own expletive-laden reaction, it would be, “What the fucking fuck was that shit?” I mean, there’s calling out your best players and then there’s throwing them under the bus. Indeed, Lites didn’t just throw Benn and Seguin under the bus, he personally drove that bus over them, backed up, and drove over them again for good measure.

All of this is the result of growing frustration within the organization over the club’s sub-par performance this season. They were expected to not just contend for a playoff berth but also challenge for top spot in the Western Conference. Instead, they’re barely clinging to the final wild-card spot in the Conference.

As you can imagine, Lites’ rant caused jaws to collectively hit the floor among observers around the league. I’ll have more on what this might mean for the Stars going forward later today in the Rumor section. 

TSN: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was fined $2,500.00 for slashing Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau late in the third period of the Jets 4-1 loss to the Flames on Thursday. 

NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins forward David Backes received a three-game suspension for a high hit on New Jersey Devils forward Blake Coleman on Thursday. Speaking of the Bruins, defenseman Charlie McAvoy is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury while winger Brad Marchand (upper body) will miss tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. 

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson is listed as day-to-day following an upper-body injury suffered during Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks. 

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen is day-to-day with an upper-body injury after crashing into the boards during Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Alex Chiasson is on injured reserve.

SPORTSNET: Oilers forward Valentin Zykov and Ducks defenseman Jake Dotchin were placed on waivers yesterday. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 7, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 7, 2018

Game recaps plus updates on Sebastian Aho, Jake Muzzin, Jimmy Howard and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron scored four goals for his second career hat trick and Brad Marchand collected four assists as the Boston Bruins extended their points streak to 10 games by crushing the Carolina Hurricanes 7-1. The Hurricanes also lost Sebastian Aho to a leg injury. He’ll be reevaluated today in Raleigh. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After being written off at the start of this season as little more than a marginal playoff contender, the Bruins are among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Their surge in the standings has generated some suggestions that they could be Cup contenders this spring. 

The Colorado Avalanche picked up their fifth consecutive victory with a 7-2 beatdown of the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had three-point nights while Carl Soderberg scored twice. Eric Staal did the scoring for the Wild. Before the game, the Avs honored former winger Milan Hejduk by retiring his No. 23 to the rafters. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the victory, the Avs (47 points) leapfrogged the Wild into the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. They’re on the verge of exceeding last season’s franchise-worst 48 points. 

Claude Giroux collected three points and Sean Couturier scored twice to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues, snapping the latter’s winning streak at three games. 

Alexander Radulov,Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg each had a goal and two assists to lead the Dallas Stars to a 5-1 thrashing of the Edmonton Oilers, chasing Oilers netminder Cam Talbot from the game after he gave up four goals on 19 shots. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another dispiriting defeat for the Oilers, whose playoff hopes are fading with each passing week. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector (no relation) lists six things that have gone wrong with the Oilers’ season thus far. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section, Oilers fans. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in a shootout. Tyler Bozak scored the game-tying and winning goals. Canucks winger Brock Boeser, who leads his club and all NHL rookies in scoring, tallied his 22nd goal of the season. Vancouver defenseman Chris Tanev left the game after a deflected Mitch Marner shot struck him in the mouth. 

Craig Anderson made 45 saves while teammate Ryan Dzingel scored two goals as the Ottawa Senators upset the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3. 

The New York Rangers beat the Arizona Coyotes for the ninth straight game with Mika Zibanejad’s shootout goal giving them a 2-1 victory. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist turned in a 38-save effort, surpassing Tony Esposito for eighth on the all-time wins list with 424. 

Auston Watson scored twice and P.K. Subban collected two assists as the Nashville Predators held off the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. Before the game, the Kings announced defenseman Jake Muzzin was placed on injured reserve .

Dougie Hamilton’s late third-period goal gave the Calgary Flames a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, who had overcome a 2-0 deficit to tie the game. Ducks winger Corey Perry returned to action after missing 11 games with a knee injury. 

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (lower-body injury) will sit out today’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (upper-body injury) and forward Andre Burakovsky (healthy scratch) are expected to be in the lineup for today’s contest against the St. Louis Blues. 

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers goaltender Laurent Brossoit and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Frankie Corrado were placed on waivers yesterday. Meanwhile, defenseman Victor Mete is expected to rejoin the Montreal Canadiens on Friday. He helped Canada win gold at the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2017

Game recaps, analysis of the Kings trading Cammalleri to Oilers, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each scored twice as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Vegas Golden Knights 8-2.

Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Los Angeles Kings 3-2.

Earlier in the day, the Kings traded winger Mike Cammalleri to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Jussi Jokinen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cammalleri was losing ice time with the Kings as younger forwards such as Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe took on more prominent roles on their scoring lines. The Oilers need scoring depth at right wing and that’s where he’ll likely be slotted.  Jokinen, meanwhile, struggled with the Oilers and didn’t have the confidence of head coach Todd McLellan. The Kings hope he’ll provide experienced depth to their checking lines. 

Zach Werenski’s overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Earlier in the day, sidelined Canadiens goaltender Carey Price assured the media his current lower-body injury isn’t related to the season-ending one he suffered in 2015-16, insisting it remains a minor issue. He’s been sidelined nearly two weeks. The Habs also claimed goaltender Antti Niemi off waivers from the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Niemi’s poor performance this season, this move provoked criticism by Habs followers on Twitter. However, GM Marc Bergervin justified the decision, citing Price’s injury and uncertainty over how long backup Al Montoya might be sidelined by a concussion.

Call-up Charlie Lindgren’s playing well but Bergervin wanted a little more experienced behind him. Niemi played under Habs goalie coach Stephane Waite when both were with the Chicago Blackhawks, so perhaps Waite can help Niemi overcome his current difficulties in goal. 

Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves while Adam Lowry scored and set up another to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes, who set a league record by become the first team not to record a regulation win in its first 20 games of the season. Prior to the game, the Jets inducted former star Dale Hawerchuk into their Hall of Fame.

Earlier in the day, the Coyotes traded goaltender Louis Domingue to the Tampa Bay Lightning for goalie Michael Leighton and winger Tye McGinn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The writing was on the wall for Domingue with the Coyotes when he struggled filling in for sidelined starter Antti Raanta, forcing the Coyotes to acquire Scott Wedgewood from the New Jersey Devils. He’ll become the Lightning’s third-string goalie. 

Devan Dubnyk picked up his third straight shutout and also collected an assist as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0.

Sidney Crosby snapped an 11-game goalless skid and Conor Sheary scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Buffalo Sabres 5-4. Sam Reinhart had a three-point performance for the Sabres.

Kevin Fiala and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist to give the Nashville Predators a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. T.J. Oshie potted two goals for the Capitals. The loss spoiled the return of Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, who missed 13 games with a left hand injury.  Earlier in the day, the Predators learned winger Scott Hartnell and defenseman Yannick Weber will be sidelined several weeks with lower-body injuries.

Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck’s shootout goals gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo made 40 saves and Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice for the Panthers. Jamie Benn tallied twice for the Stars.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman Mirco Mueller fractured his left clavicle during Sunday’s game against Chicago and will be sidelined indefinitely.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Martin Frk could be sidelined for a week with a groin injury. 

TSN: Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion doesn’t expect winger Clarke MacArthur to play this season. MacArthur failed his team medical upon reporting to training camp in September and has since moved with his family to Florida. He’s been hampered by concussions in recent years.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs called up forward Nikita Soshnikov and demoted forward Frederik Gauthier.

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 3, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 3, 2017

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis scores against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series.

Game recaps, injury updates, Lindsay Award finalists revealed & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Ryan Ellis and James Neal scored and Pekka Rinne made 32 saves as the Nashville Predators edged the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in Game 4 of their second-round series. The win gives the Predators a 3-1 series lead and the opportunity to wrap things up in Game 5 on Friday in St. Louis. Ellis currently has a seven-game point streak on the go. 

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves and Mats Zuccarello scored a goal and set up another to give the New York Rangers a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 3 of their second-round series. The Senators now hold a 2-1 lead in the series. Senators forwards Zack Smith and Bobby Ryan left the game with injuries. An update on their status for Game 4 could be revealed today. 

TRIBLIVE.COM/SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary will miss Game 4 of their series against the Washington Capitals with concussions. Both were injured in their club’s Game 3 loss to the Capitals. 

CSN MID-ATLANTIC: Capitals defenseman Matt Niskaken won’t be suspended for his cross check on Crosby that resulted in the latter’s concussion. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league is facing some media criticism over the poor quality of playoff officiating resulting in injuries to stars such as Crosby. While I agree that what qualifies as a penalty in the regular season tends to go uncalled more often than not in the postseason, there’s little pundits and fans can do about it. This has been going on for years and it’s obvious that not even losing someone like Crosby to injury will do anything to change it.

Sure, the league deserves its share of criticism, but the NHL Players Association has seemingly done little to pressure the league into ensuring the players are protected and the rule book is enforced throughout the regular season and playoffs. Don’t expect Crosby’s injury to spur any significant improvement. 

Crosby, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns are finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award honoring the NHL’s most valuable player as voted by the players. 

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs re-signed defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to a seven-year, $31.5 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers are puzzled over why the Leafs invested in such a lengthy deal for a rookie blueliner. The Athletic’s James Mirtle breaks it down, citing the 24-year-old’s arbitration rights and the fact he was only two years away from unrestricted free agent status. To keep the salary reasonable, the Leafs opted for term. Time will tell how well this deal pans out for the Leafs. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson revealed the difficulty he had playing this season while his mother was dying of cancer in Finland. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Too often we forget pro athletes are human beings who must deal with the same real-life personal difficulties and tragedies as the rest of us. My condolences to Ekman-Larsson and his family. 

TWINCITIES.COM:  Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella underwent surgery on his left hip and is expected to be ready to go for next season. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Charges against Sabres left wing Evander Kane stemming from an incident in a Buffalo-area bar last June were dropped as part of a plea agreement approved last October. 

ESPN.COM’S Craig Custance reports the NHL sent a memo to the 30 clubs listing the players considered exempt from the expansion draft. Among the notables are Chris Pronger, Dave Bolland, Johan Franzen, David Clarkson, Nathan Horton, Pascal Dupuis, Ryane Clowe and Mikhail Grabovski.