NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s game, the Leafs remember the late George Armstrong and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Morgan Rielly collected three assists and Auston Matthews netted the game-winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs held on for a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Before the game, the Leafs mourned former captain George Armstrong, who passed away yesterday at age 90.

Hall-of-Famer George Armstrong passed away Sunday at age 90. (NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong spent his entire 21-NHL career with the Leafs, 12 of those as captain. He led the Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the 1960s, finishing his career with 296 goals and 713 points in 1,188 games. Armstrong was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975 and went on to work for the Leafs in various front-office roles and was a long-time scout and team ambassador. My condolences to Armstrong’s family, friends, former teammates, and the Leafs organization.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their second win of the season by thumping the Detroit Red Wings 6-2. Blackhawks rookie Pius Suter tallied a hat track, becoming the second player in franchise history to score his first three NHL goals in one game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a well-deserved victory by the Blackhawks. The Red Wings certainly didn’t help their cause, looking every bit as horrible as they did last season.

Jack Eichel’s shootout goal lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-3 decision over the Washington Capitals. Sabres defensemen Colin Miller and Rasmus Ristolainen each had two points, as did Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom and blueliner Justin Schultz.

A controversial goal by William Karlsson late in the third period lifted the Vegas Golden Knights over the Arizona Coyotes 1-0. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 16 saves for his 62nd career shutout, moving into 17th place on the all-time list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet wasn’t pleased by Karlsson’s goal, believing play should’ve been whistled down for icing.

The New Jersey Devils got goals from Jack Hughes and Pavel Zacha to blank the New York Islanders 2-0. Scott Wedgewood kicked out 28 shots for the shutout. Devils blueliner Ty Smith became the sixth rookie defenseman in NHL history to collect points in his first five games.

Jake Guentzel tallied his 100th career NHL goal, breaking a 2-2 tie as the Pittsburgh Penguins nipped the New York Rangers 3-2. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby picked up two assists. Rangers center Filip Chytil left the game with an upper-body injury following a second-period collision with Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues.

The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 thanks to a 32-save performance by goaltender John Gibson.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the St. Louis Blues 6-3. Brayden Schenn scored twice for the Blues.

Brent Burns’ goal late in the third period was the game-winner as the San Jose Sharks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3. Sharks forward Ryan Donato had a goal and an assist, as did Wild winger Zach Parise.

The Dallas Stars tallied three power-play goals to hold off the Nashville Predators 3-2. Stars forwards Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz each tallied a goal and two assists. The Stars were playing without captain Jamie Benn, who’s been sidelined with a lower-body injury since Friday’s season-opener.

Leon Draisaitl scored with one second remaining in the game to give the Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected three assists in this contest.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson has changed agents, moving to Pat Brisson at CAA Hockey. Brisson also represents Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brisson is among the NHL’s most powerful agents. Pettersson and Hughes are in the final seasons of their entry-level contracts. Both will be seeking significant raises this summer.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets placed center Brandon Dubinsky on long-term injury reserve. He’s been sidelined since the 2019 playoffs with a chronic wrist injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubinsky’s playing career is likely over. He’s in the final season of his contract and becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, Capitals fined as four players violate the league’s COVID-19 rules, plus updates on Mika Zibanejad, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl’s third period snapped a 1-1 tie as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Auston Matthews had tied the game earlier in the period before Draisaitl tallied the winning goal. Leafs center Joe Thornton is expected to miss some time after leaving the game early in the third period with an apparent wrist injury.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was hyped as a showdown between Matthews and Oilers star Connor McDavid but it turned out to be a disappointingly dull contest that failed to live up to its billing. Oilers fans will be happy with the win following back-to-back losses to the Montreal Canadiens. Leafs fans will be unhappy over their club’s disorganized performance.

Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli’s hat trick wasn’t enough to defeat his former team as they fell 6-5 to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout. Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each had two goals and an assist, with Horvat also scoring the winner in the shootout frame. It was a costly win for the Canucks as defenseman Alexander Edler left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The return of J.T. Miller (three assists) to the lineup also played a crucial role in the Canucks’ victory. The Canadiens were their own worst enemies as their undisciplined play resulted in three power-play goals on six attempts for the Canucks. There was no post-game update on Edler’s status.

The Vegas Golden Knights rolled to their fourth straight victory by defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. Alex Pietrangelo tallied his first goal with the Golden Knights while teammate Shea Theodore tallied twice and winger Alex Tuch scored and collected two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo has wasted little time adjusting to the Golden Knights after signing with them last October as a free agent. His addition to the lineup is a contributing factor to their strong start to this season.

Tomas Hertl scored the only goal in a shootout as the San Jose Sharks edged the St. Louis Blues 2-1. The Blues’ Brayden Schenn and the Sharks’ Marcus Sorensen tallied the only goals in regulation. Blues defenseman Marco Scandella missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on a third-period goal by Joel Eriksson Ek. Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves in his first game of the season while Ryan Miller kicked out 29 shots.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The NHL fined the Capitals $100K for a violation of its health and safety protocols by four players. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov recently gathered together in one hotel room without wearing proper facial coverings, which is prohibited by the league’s COVID-19 protocols for this season. Players must each have their own rooms on road trips and are not permitted to gather in each other’s rooms.

The four players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 absence list but it doesn’t mean they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. Players can be added to the list as a precaution from possible exposure. It’s unknown if they’ll miss Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals and Ovechkin released statements acknowledging the incident, with the club expressing disappointment in the players’ actions and Ovechkin saying he regretted what happened and will learn from the incident.

Some observers questioned why the league is cracking down on players gathering in hotel rooms when they’re in close contact in the dressing room and on the ice during practice and games. The difference is the players stand a greater chance of catching COVID-19 away from the arenas, which are under strict health and safety controls to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

The NHL is doing everything it can to stage a 56-game schedule in the midst of a pandemic. Its’ COVID-19 protocols follow federal guidelines in Canada and the United States. They don’t want the possibility of repeated protocol violations potentially putting the season at risk if they fail to adequately prevent or minimize community spread.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes’ next two games against the Florida Panthers have been postponed after five of their players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders winger Josh Bailey was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is expected to return to the lineup for Friday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Zibanejad left Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils with an undisclosed ailment.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) remains doubtful for Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (arm) should be ready to play tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. He skated in practice with his teammates yesterday.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed defenseman Julius Honka on waivers.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2021

The latest on Keith Yandle, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported on what led to the speculation over Keith Yandle’s future with the Florida Panthers. Prior to the start of their season, there was talk the veteran defenseman would be a healthy scratch from their season-opener amid rumors he might be asked to waive his no-movement clause.

Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle (NHL Images).

The club wanted to change its culture, become tougher to play against and hold players to account. New general manager Bill Zito comes from a demanding franchise (Columbus Blue Jackets) and there were rumblings during the offseason that Yandle didn’t fit into the organization’s plans.

The club denied asking Yandle to waive his no-movement clause, which the blueliner confirmed. However, over the past two weeks, the 34-year-old rearguard felt his character was being called into question. Several of his teammates stood up for Yandle and made it clear they wanted him in the lineup.

Friedman doesn’t think this story is over, suggesting perhaps the club wouldn’t mind if the players used this situation as a rallying cry. There’s a rumor suggesting Yandle would waive his NMC for the Boston Bruins but Friedman doesn’t see him as a fit given their avoidance of taking on long-term contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Zito mishandled this situation. Friedman noted some of the Panthers felt Yandle needed to improve his defensive play but none of them questioned his character. It’s one thing to demand accountability for a player’s performance but this quickly blew up into a bigger issue that still has the potential to become an unnecessary distraction for the Panthers unless the air is cleared.

I agree with Friedman’s take regarding Yandle and the Bruins. Taking on an aging blueliner with a questionable defensive game and a $6.35 million AAV through 2022-23 wouldn’t be a wise decision to improve their blueline.

Friedman believes there are several “very, very good teams in the weeds” on Pierre-Luc Dubois waiting to see how the Columbus Blue Jackets handle the situation. He’s curious to find out what the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning think.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche have a superstar centering their first line in Nathan MacKinnon, while Nazem Kadri’s worked out well as their second-line center. Dubois doesn’t seem to be a fit there unless the plan is to knock Kadri down to the third line or ship him out. Ditto the Lightning, who have Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli and Yanni Gourde centering their top-three lines, with captain Steven Stamkos who can slide into the center position when necessary.

Assuming either or both clubs wanted Dubois, they’ll have to part with a center or a forward who can have an immediate positive effect on the Jackets’ forward lines. Kadri, Point or Cirelli fit that description but I don’t see their respective clubs parting with them.

Don’t forget that both teams have limited salary-cap space this season. Any deal for Dubois will have to be as close to dollar-for-dollar as possible to take on his $5 million annual average value. Even if the Avs or Bolts were interested it’s probably too complicated to pull off that trade.

Friedman said he’d heard during the offseason that the Edmonton Oilers were close to a contract extension with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, things have gone quiet for a while.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s talk the Oilers don’t want to go above $7 million per season for Nugent-Hopkins, which could explain the silence of late. Then again, maybe the two sides have decided to just put things on hold while the season is underway.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ interest in Jack Roslovic can’t be tied to their opening two losses. They’ve been interested in the 23-year-old Winnipeg Jets forward for some time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski recently reported second-hand sources told him during the offseason that Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was interested in Roslovic. Kingerski noted the Jets could use some blue-line help. The Penguins have nine defensemen, including Pierre-Olivier Joseph on their taxi squad.

Oilers general manager Ken Holland contacted Jimmy Howard to see if the 36-year-old goaltender was interested in a reunion in Edmonton. Howard played for Holland when the latter was GM of the Detroit Red Wings. Howard, however, declined the offer and intends to announce his retirement soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No offense to Howard, who had a long and mostly productive career with the Red Wings, but this shows how desperate Holland is to improve his goaltending.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2021

A look at some predicted moves for this season involving Patrik Laine, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Duncan Keith and more in the NHL rumor mill.

TSN: In his 31 bold predictions for the new NHL season, Frank Seravalli envisioned the Winnipeg Jets moving winger Patrik Laine before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Two potential destinations: the Columbus Blue Jackets (for Pierre-Luc Dubois?) and the Carolina Hurricanes (for Brett Pesce or Vincent Trocheck?).

Could the Winnipeg Jets move Patrik Laine before the April 12 trade deadline? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve learned never to say never in this business so I don’t rule out Laine hitting the trade block before Apr. 12. However, I don’t see that happening if the Jets are in the thick of the playoff chase.

Seravalli isn’t the only pundit suggesting swapping Laine for Dubois. On paper, it makes sense. The Jets get a reliable second-line center while the Jackets bring in a type of goal scorer they haven’t had since Rick Nash left town almost 11 years ago.

The problem is we don’t know if Jets management wants to swap Laine for a second-line center when blue-line depth is their primary concern. I think they’ll want much more than that for a winger with 50-goal potential. We also don’t know how well Laine will get along with Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. There’s also the concern over whether Laine or Dubois would commit long-term to their new clubs.

Laine would certainly provide a boost to the Hurricanes’ offense but he could end up on the second line if he doesn’t click with first-line center Sebastian Aho. A return of Trocheck and Pesce could tempt the Jets, but not if it’s just one or the other unless something else of significance is included in the deal. Moving Trocheck for Laine would leave the Hurricanes without a suitable second-line center.

Seravalli predicts Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could become the top target on TSN’s top free-agent list for 2021. The 27-year-old center wants to stay with the Edmonton Oilers but the club has no plans of going beyond $7 million annually on a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap for next season could work to the Oilers’ advantage here. Nugent-Hopkins might not find many better offers because a number of teams will have limited cap space to make a competitive bid for his services. We’ll see how things unfold by July.

Speaking of the Oilers, Seravalli believes they’ll trade for another goaltender before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli made that prediction before Smith landed on long-term injury reserve last week. General manager Ken Holland will keep an eye on the waiver wire in the short term but I wouldn’t rule out Holland testing the trade market this season.

Seravalli thinks Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith will seek a trade after this season. The 37-year-old blueliner has two years left on his contract at $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Again, never say never. He’s got a full no-movement clause but could waive it if the right opportunity presents itself. Cap Friendly indicates Keith only has $3.6 million in actual salary remaining on his deal ($2.1 million for next season, $1.5 million for 2022-23). However, the cap hit itself could be difficult to move unless the Blackhawks pick up part of it. His age will also be a factor. He turns 38 this summer and his best seasons are now behind him.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 17, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, Flyers center Sean Couturier sidelined, Penguins forward Jared McCann fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Rookie Yegor Sharangovich’s first NHL goal was also a game-winner in the dying seconds of overtime as the New Jersey Devils nipped the Boston Bruins 2-1. Miles Wood opened the scoring and goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 27 saves for the win. Patrice Bergeron replied for the Bruins, who also lost winger Ondrej Kase (upper-body injury) after being hit by Wood with what appeared to be a high stick in the second period.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up their first win of the season by downing the San Jose Sharks 5-3. Phil Kessel scored twice, Oliver Ekman-Larsson collected three assists and Antti Raanta kicked out 31 shots for the Coyotes. Timo Meier had a goal and two assists for the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It took Kessel six games into 2019-20 to tally his first two goals in what was a disappointing season for the veteran winger. He now has three in his first two games this season.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price turned aside 34 shots to backstop his club over the Edmonton Oilers 5-1. Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry each tallied twice for the Habs, who held Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scoreless in this contest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens blew this game open with three unanswered second-period goals. Habs winger Josh Anderson left the game late in the third after falling awkwardly into the boards. Following the game, coach Claude Julien said Anderson was ok.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

After being shut out 4-0 by the New York Islanders in their first meeting of this season, the New York Rangers turned the tables by blanking the Isles 5-0. Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich each scored twice. Ilya Sorokin made his NHL debut in goal for the Islanders after starter Semyon Varlamov was injured during warmups after he was hit in the throat by a puck.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov’s injury reportedly wasn’t serious but it was enough to keep him out of the lineup for this game. Isles coach Barry Trotz refused to blame Sorokin for the loss, pinning it instead on his club’s overall poor performance in this contest.

Robby Fabbri’s goal late in the third period was the game-winner as the Detroit Red Wings doubled up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Dylan Larkin scored twice and Bobby Ryan tallied his first with the Wings. Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A much better effort by the Wings in this contest after getting blanked 3-0 by the Hurricanes in their season opener.

Joe Thornton netted his first goal with the Toronto Maple Leafs as they held on to edge the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Mitch Marner factored in each Leaf goal, tallying once and setting up two others. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle scored his first career NHL goal. Leafs forward Nick Robertson left the game in the first period with an apparent knee injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs improved their defensive play following a sloppy loss 5-3 loss to the Senators on Friday night. They controlled the puck most of the night, out-shooting the Senators 40-19.

A four-goal third-period outburst powered the Nashville Predators to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets to sweep their season-opening two-game series. Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 42 saves while Brad Richardson snapped a 2-2 tie with what proved to be the winning goal. Alexandre Texier had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.

The Minnesota Wild overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Kings for the second straight game for a 4-3 overtime victory. Marcus Johansson tallied the game-winner with Kirill Kaprizov (the overtime hero in the first game) picking up an assist. Ryan Suter had a goal and an assist for the Wild.

Max Pacioretty was the overtime hero as his Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. William Karlsson scored the tying goal late in the third, setting the stage for Pacioretty’s winner. John Gibson made 31 saves for the Ducks.

Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom turned in a 32-save shutout against the Vancouver Canucks to defeat his former club 3-0. The Flames got power-play goals by Sean Monahan, Dillon Dube and Matthew Tkachuk. Former Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev led all blueliners in this game with eight blocked shots.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Sean Couturier will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a costochondral separation, which is when one of the ribs becomes separated from the sternum.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann was fined $10,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for elbowing Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim in the head on Friday. Sanheim seemed to escape injury and finished the game.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets canceled practice on Saturday due to potential exposure to COVID-19. It remains to be seen if they’ll hold practice on Sunday.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday claimed goaltender Troy Grosenick off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings. Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, he’ll have to stay in Edmonton for 14 days, meaning he’ll miss the club’s upcoming four-game road trip to Toronto and Winnipeg.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported goaltender Jimmy Howard will announce his retirement in the coming days. He spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. In 543 games, he had a record of 246 wins, 196 losses and 70 overtime defeats, with a 2.62 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage and 24 shutouts.

CBC.CA: Adam McQuaid has officially announced his retirement. He last played in 2018-19 but was sidelined by a herniated disc in his neck, leading to concussion symptoms and nerve pain in one arm. In 512 NHL games, McQuaid tallied 16 goals and 73 points with a plus-minus of plus-62 with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. He played all but one of his 10 seasons with the Bruins, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2011.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Howard joined the Red Wings at the tail end of their dominance but played well through most of his tenure. McQuaid was a hard-nosed defensive blueliner who was a key part of the Bruins’ defense corps for most of his time in Boston. Best wishes to both players in their future endeavors.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2021

Could the Canadiens acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois? Could the Panthers move Aleksander Barkov? Would they shop Keith Yandle to the Bruins? What’s the latest on the Oilers’ goaltending? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE CANADIENS ACQUIRE DUBOIS?

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens’ rumored pursuit of Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois could be a complex and risky endeavor.

Can the Montreal Canadiens afford to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Columbus Blue Jackets? (NHL Images)

He believes Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen would want Nick Suzuki and something else in return. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin could counter with Jesperi Kotkaniemi as the centerpiece of a package with a top prospect also included.

In order to take on Dubois’ $5 million annual average value, the Canadiens would have to send a roster player earning more than $3 million (such as Paul Byron) to the Jackets.

Engels suggests it’s possible Bergevin could part with Kotkaniemi. However, he’s not sure the Habs GM would also want to include one of his top prospects in the deal. Bergevin could also be outbid by the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators or Anaheim Ducks.

The restrictions on travel between Canada and the United States also complicates things. Engels suggests the Canadiens would be without Dubois for 14 days while he completes mandatory self-quarantine before he could join them. They’d also be without the player or players they’d give up in the deal during that period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Dubois would be a tempting option for the Canadiens, but that deal will be expensive. I don’t see Bergevin parting with Suzuki. Kotkaniemi is possible but he’s got plenty of promising upside. Giving up a prospect such as Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle or Mattias Norlinder could also be tough to swallow.

Even if Bergevin is willing to part with Kotkaniemi and one of his best prospects, making the dollars fit would be difficult. Byron is a former 20-goal scorer but the 31-year-old last hit that mark in 2017-18 and he’s been waylaid by injuries over the last two seasons. The Jackets could also be reluctant to take on a winger who turns 32 in April with two years remaining on his contract.

Bergevin could try to offer up another roster player but he doesn’t have many to spare that would suit the Jackets. Tomas Tatar is a free agent this summer while depth forwards like Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen each earn less than $3 million annually. The Jackets won’t take Jonathan Drouin’s $5.5 million AAV.

Kekalainen is reportedly being patient with Dubois’ situation. Bergevin might be wise to follow the same tactic and see how this season plays out. Perhaps they could revisit this in the offseason. Then again, there might not be any need for the Canadiens to make this deal if Suzuki and Kotkaniemi blossom into stars this season.

UPDATE ON BARKOV AND YANDLE

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Panthers GM Bill Zito told captain Aleksander Barkov there’s no truth to trade rumors suggesting he might be available. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported Thursday that Barkov was drawing interest from rival general managers. The report was based on whether the 25-year-old center would re-sign with the Panthers this summer, and if not, would they consider trading him.

“Bill talked to me right away, he told me they aren’t true,” said Barkov. “So it’s all good and I am concentrating on the start of the season. Thank you for mentioning this is my first time being mentioned in trade rumors.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt there were some general managers calling Zito to find out what changes he had in store for the Panthers this season and if Barkov might be part of them. It should be pointed out that Seravalli noted in his report that Zito intends to re-sign his captain.

Maybe that becomes a problem if the Panthers fail to improve this season. For now, I don’t see Barkov going anywhere.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites sources claiming if and when Zito asks Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause, he will do it for the Bruins. Murphy feels the main question is whether the Bruins would want the 34-year-old defenseman and his $6.35 million AAV through 2022-23.

Murphy cites reports indicating Bruins GM Don Sweeney spoke to Zito about what it would take to acquire Yandle but nothing came of it. He feels the Bruins seem determined to stick with their youth movement on defense and wouldn’t want to risk exposing Brandon Carlo or Matt Grzelcyk to this summer’s expansion draft if they acquired Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Yandle’s cap hit was a key reason why those rumored talks didn’t go far. If the Bruins remain interested in bringing Yandle back to his home state it might be best to do so after the expansion draft, and only if the Panthers agree to pick up part of his cap hit.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Oilers’ goaltending situation has gone from bad to worse this week. First, they lost Anton Forsberg to Carolina via waivers on Tuesday. On Friday, Mike Smith was placed on long-term injury reserve, taking him out of the lineup for at least 10 games.

Given the high number of back-to-back games the Oilers face in this shortened season, Staples wonders what GM Ken Holland will do. “Overpay? Patiently wait for some goalie to pop up on the waiver wire?”

Staples noted some Oilers’ observers are suggesting a trade for someone like Arizona’s Antti Raanta or Toronto’s Michael Hutchinson. Others suggest signing UFA Jimmy Howard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were taking a risk bringing back the 38-year-old Smith for another season. If anything happens to Mikko Koskinen they will be well and truly screwed. There simply aren’t many palatable options available right now. Holland might not have much choice but to be patient and hope a decent netminder becomes available soon.