Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 25, 2024

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 25, 2024

Teams are calling about Canucks center Elias Pettersson, the latest on the Penguins’ Jake Guentzel and speculation that the Hurricanes could be listening on Martin Necas. Details on these and other trade conjecture on the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

GROWING INTEREST IN PETTERSSON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported a lot of noise has developed over the past couple of weeks regarding Elias Pettersson. Teams are calling the Vancouver Canucks to ask what’s going on regarding the 25-year-old center’s contract situation and if he’s available.

Pettersson is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. He’s completing a three-year contract with an average annual value of $7.35 million.

Friedman said the Canucks don’t want to comment on this. He added that they’re telling teams they are trying to re-sign Pettersson.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Canucks position in the standings (first overall) I’ll be amazed if they were to trade Pettersson by the March 8 trade deadline. It’s rumored they’ve tabled a long-term contract with an AAV of $12 million but he prefers to wait until the offseason to discuss a new deal.

Given Pettersson’s RFA status, the Canucks are under no pressure to trade him by March 8. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement on a long-term extension and it appears he’ll head to market by his UFA eligibility in July 2025 they’ll shop him in June, probably leading up to the opening round of the 2024 draft.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Vegas Golden Knights, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are among the clubs interested in Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having interest is one thing. Having the cap space to absorb the remainder of Guentzel’s $6 million cap hit as well as the tradeable assets to entice the Penguins is another. It could take some creativity on the part of one of these teams to pull it off, perhaps involving another club acting as a third-party broker.

Friedman also reports teams are inquiring about the Penguins goaltenders. They’ve got Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic at the NHL level and a promising prospect in Joel Blomqvist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Jarry wants out, the more likely to move is Nedeljkovic. Jarry is the better of the two, leading the league with six shutouts and among the leaders in goals-against average and save percentage. He’s been among the few bright spots for the Penguins this season.

Jarry would fetch a nice return but if general manager Kyle Dubas is looking at retooling the roster rather than rebuilding he’ll want to hang onto his starting goalie. I don’t see him moving Blomqvist as he’s part of that youth movement that Dubas wants for the future.

Friedman also took time to calm the waters about his musing over the possibility of Erik Karlsson returning to Ottawa. “That’s just me spitballing,” he chuckled. “Let’s not get too crazy about that one at this point in time.”

HURRICANES LISTENING ON NECAS?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports being told that the Carolina Hurricanes could be willing to entertain offers on winger Martin Necas. He also wondered if the Hurricanes would be calling the Calgary Flames about goaltender Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of spitballing, could the Hurricanes package Necas in a deal for Markstrom? Discuss it in the comments section below.

UPDATE ON THE DUCKS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers are seeking some forward depth. He thinks they’re looking at Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick. He’s not sure if they’re after both players or just one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been mentioned that the Oilers would like to add a third-line center and a gritty checking-line forward. Henrique would handle that center role plus he can also play on left wing while Carrick would bring a more physical presence to their checking lines. Of the two, Carrick would be the more affordable to acquire in terms of return and cap hit.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Ducks winger Frank Vatrano remains on the Rangers’ radar.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks also took notice of speculation suggesting the Rangers reacquire Pavel Buchnevich from the St. Louis Blues. However, he believes Vatrano is the better former Ranger to bring back into the fold, citing the strong chemistry he had with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider down the stretch in 2022.

TEAMS CALLING THE FLYERS ABOUT SEELER AND WALKER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes two teams have contacted the Philadelphia Flyers about defensemen Nick Seeler and Sean Walker as a pair. They’ve been a solid defense duo this season and the Flyers have been weighing whether to sign or trade them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk earlier this season that the Toronto Maple Leafs had looked into Seeler and Walker after a failed attempt to acquire Nikita Zadorov and Chris Tanev from the Calgary Flames before Zadorov was traded to Vancouver.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS, STARS, ISLANDERS AND COYOTES

SPORTSNET: Friedman said the Leafs continue to look for a right-shot defenseman. That’s been their focus for most of this season.

The Dallas Stars have been quietly among the more aggressive teams in the trade market. They’re seeking defense and depth.

NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears believes Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello would like to add a more reliable No. 3 goaltender. Of the three they have with their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, only one has a save percentage over .900.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reported Friday that Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is once again in sell mode leading up to the trade deadline. The obvious trade candidates are rental players such as defenseman Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker.

Armstrong could get calls on players with a year left on their contracts like goaltender Karel Vejmelka and Nick Bjugstad. LeBrun said the Coyotes GM doesn’t sound motivated about Vejmelka and deflected when asked about Bjugstad.

The Coyotes are already well-stocked with draft picks but Armstrong is willing to accept more via trades. He pointed out that some of those picks will be used as trade currency to add established NHL players.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 23, 2024

Teams are expressing interest in Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich, the Canadiens inquired about Ducks forward Trevor Zegras, the Golden Knights could get busy in the trade market if Mark Stone is sidelined long-term, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

BLUES ARE GETTING CALLS ABOUT BUCHNEVICH

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a league source claims the St. Louis Blues are getting calls about Pavel Buchnevich. General manager Doug Armstrong is listening but he’s not shopping the 28-year-old winger, who has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.8 million. Buchnevich also carries a 12-team no-trade clause.

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich (NHL Images)

Rutherford’s source believes it would take a substantial offer for Armstrong to consider moving Buchnevich. Still, teams are operating on the premise that it’s possible to acquire him. With so little high-quality talent in this year’s trade market, Buchnevich could have a much higher value.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson indicates the Oilers have been scouting the Blues. He believes they’re looking at Buchnevich as a second-line winger option. Matheson believes the cost to acquire him could be comparable to what the Oilers gave up in last year’s Mattias Ekholm trade (a first-round pick, a fourth-rounder and a prospect).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are currently battling for a wild-card spot. Armstrong could be reluctant to part with one of his best forwards while his club remains in the playoff chase.

Buchnevich has another year left on his contract which means Armstrong is under no pressure to move him at the deadline. If he doesn’t get any suitable offers, he’ll wait until the offseason.

I think it’ll take more than a couple of draft picks and a prospect to get Buchnevich. The Blues are retooling rather than rebuilding their roster. They’ll want something that helps them now and in the future, and that likely means a good young NHL player as the centerpiece of the return.

CANADIENS CALLED ABOUT ZEGRAS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont cited TSN’s Pierre LeBrun recently reporting that the Anaheim Ducks were casually taking calls about Trevor Zegras. LeBrun also confirmed the Montreal Canadiens were among the callers. He indicated the Ducks haven’t been calling around mentioning Zegras but rather it’s other teams making inquiries.

Dumont doubted that a Zegras trade would come to fruition by the March 8 deadline. However, the young Ducks forward could be a name worth keeping in mind for the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on this report, the Ducks aren’t shopping Zegras and no one’s made an offer for him. Like Dumont, I don’t expect the 22-year-old forward to be on the move by March 8 but this could be something that carries over into the offseason.

Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has mentioned he’d like to add more scoring to his roster. He has the depth in draft picks, prospects and promising youngsters to make a competitive bid for Zegras if he becomes available. The youngster’s dazzling offensive abilities would be a big boost to the Canadiens scoring lines while his age makes him a good fit alongside their other young players.

However, there would be some concerns here. One is Zegras’ poor defensive play, though that can be improved with time and maturity on his part.

Another is whether he can handle the intense pressure of playing in a major hockey market. Zegras hasn’t faced the kind of media and fan scrutiny in Anaheim that he would have to endure in Montreal playing for a storied franchise like the Canadiens. Some players have handled it well while others have wilted under that harsh spotlight.

Finally, there’s the asking price. You’re not getting Zegras for a bunch of mid-range picks, second-tier prospects, and veterans or castoffs. The Ducks will want a significant return such as a first-round pick (Montreal’s 2024 without any top-10 protection), a top prospect (hello there, Lane Hutson) and a good young NHL player. Hughes has a reputation as a tough negotiator but so is Ducks GM Pat Verbeek.

STONE INJURY COULD SEND VEGAS INTO THE TRADE MARKET

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could go shopping for help if captain Mark Stone ends up on long-term injury reserve for the rest of this season. Stone is currently listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury and they’ll reevaluate him near the March 8 trade deadline.

Dreger said losing a heart-and-soul player like Stone hurts the Golden Knights. However, they’ll do everything they can to backfill on the trade front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights did the same thing last season when Stone went on long-term injury reserve following back surgery. He carries an average annual value of $9.5 million, so placing him on LTIR will give them considerable cap relief. It could make them a major player in the trade market leading up to March 8.

DEVILS REJECTED OFFERS FOR MERCER

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying some teams that have been speaking with the Devils have asked about the availability of Dawson Mercer. However, they told those clubs that the 22-year-old forward is not available.

CAPITALS COULD BECOME TRADE-DEADLINE SELLERS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they haven’t made any progress in the standings by the trade deadline. Trade candidates would include pending free agents such as Anthony Mantha, Max Pacioretty and Joel Edmundson.

FLYERS IN CONTRACT EXTENSION TALKS WITH SEELER

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers are engaged in contract extension talks with Nick Seeler. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and was a frequent fixture in trade rumors this season involving the Flyers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2024

The Leafs’ Auston Matthews set a record as he reached 50 goals, Houston Rocket owner interested in an NHL franchise, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored his 50th and 51st goals of the season in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Matthews became the fastest American-born player to reach 50 goals in a season (54 games) and the fastest NHL player to do so since Mario Lemieux tallied 50 in 50 games in 1995-96.

William Nylander scored twice while Mitch Marner collected three assists for the 31-16-8 Leafs as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 70 points. Mattias Maccelli, Barrett Hayton and Dylan Guenther replied for the Coyotes (23-29-4), who’ve dropped six in a row and are winless in their last 11 games (0-10-1).

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is well on his way to winning his third Richard Trophy in four years as the NHL’s top goal scorer. His league-leading 51 goals puts him 12 ahead of Florida’s Sam Reinhart, who sits second with 39 goals.

This is the second time Matthews has reached the 50-goal plateau and he’s within range of reaching 60 goals for the second time in three years. At his current pace, he could become the first player to score 70 goals in a season since Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne in 1992-93.

The Boston Bruins blew a 4-1 lead but recovered to nip the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 on an overtime goal by Charlie McAvoy. Mason Lohrei collected three assists while McAvoy, David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins (34-12-11) as they reclaimed first place in the Eastern Conference with 79 points, one behind the league-leading Vancouver Canucks. Warren Foegele scored two goals while Connor McDavid extended his home points streak to 20 games with two assists for the 33-18-2 Oilers, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left this game in the first period with a lower-body injury. The Bruins were already down a blueliner as Hampus Lindholm is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed this contest due to illness.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny scored to extend his points streak to seven games in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Travis Sanheim and Garnet Hathaway also scored for the 30-20-7 Flyers as they continue to hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 67 points. Colin Blackwell replied for the 15-39-3 Blackhawks.

A shorthanded goal by Alex Tuch late in the second period held up as the winner as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2, handing the latter their third straight loss. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 29 shots for the Sabres (25-27-4). Arber Xhekaj and Jayden Struble replied for the Canadiens (22-26-8) as Nick Suzuki’s 10-game points streak and Juraj Slafkovsky’s seven-game points streak came to an end.

Columbus Blue Jackets forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Boone Jenner each had a goal and two assists in a 7-4 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks. Zach Werenkski and Sean Kuraly each tallied twice for the 18-27-10 Blue Jackets while Mason McTavish scored two goals for the 20-34-2 Ducks.

HEADLINES

BLOOMBERG: Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is said to be in talks with the NHL about bringing a franchise to the Texas city. He’s been looking into it since 2017 but discussions have recently ramped up. He sees a professional hockey franchise being the next building block for the economy of downtown Houston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ferttita’s increased interest in an NHL team comes weeks after the ownership group of the Utah Jazz requested the league initiate an expansion process to bring a team to Salt Lake City.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the league had no formal plans to expand from its current 32 teams but was willing to talk to cities interested in adding NHL clubs. With the expansion fee for a team said to be $2 billion, which is split among the existing NHL team owners and is not considered hockey-related revenue, don’t be surprised if there are two new NHL teams within the next 10 years.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said team captain Mark Stone is expected to be sidelined “for a while” with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, he said that Jack Eichel is doing well with his rehab and should return “in the not-too-distant future.” Eichel (knee) is currently on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Stone is placed on LTIR and is out for the rest of the regular season it will allow the Golden Knights to exceed the salary cap if necessary to add a player or two by the March 8 trade deadline.

DAILY FACEOFF: New York Rangers forwards Artemi Panarin and Jimmy Vesey are listed as day-to-day with lower-body injuries as they missed practice yesterday.

NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Rangers, they signed forward Jonny Brodzinski to a two-year, one-way contract extension worth an average annual value of $785, 500.

ESPN: Kevin Weekes reports Los Angeles Kings forward Viktor Arvidsson could be sidelined week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg was fined $2,083.33 by the NHL department of player safety for elbowing Ottawa Senators defenseman Jakob Chychrun during Tuesday’s game between the two clubs.

CBS SPORTS: The Vancouver Canucks placed forward Dakota Joshua (upper body) on injured reserve.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins placed forward Colin White on waivers.

DAILY FACEOFF: Former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Gerry James passed away at age 89. James spent five seasons with the Leafs from 1954-55 to 1959-60. At the same time, he had a 13-year career as a running back in the Canadian Football League and holds the distinction of being the only person to appear in a Stanley Cup Final and a Grey Cup Final in the same season (1959-60). He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to James’ family, friends and former teammates in both sports.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 21, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 21, 2024

The latest on Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, the Penguins are listening to offers for non-core players and the Rangers are interested in Kraken forward Alex Wennberg. Get the details on these and rumors involving several other teams in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON HANIFIN

TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Calgary Flames might make another push to sign Noah Hanifin to a contract extension. However, it seems likely that the 27-year-old defenseman will be traded. He’s got an eight-team no-trade clause and they’re not all Canadian teams.

Nevertheless, Johnston believes Hanifin will end up with a US-based team because it’s believed his preference is to sign with an American club. He singled out the Tampa Bay Lightning as a possible destination.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have the cap space to pursue Hanifin with Mikhail Sergachev on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) for the remainder of the regular season. The Flames’ asking price for Hanifin will likely start with a first-round pick but the Lightning don’t have any first-rounders in this year’s or next year’s drafts. Their prospect pool is also shallow, ranked 29th by The Athletic.

PENGUINS LISTENING TO OFFERS FOR NON-CORE PLAYERS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas is entertaining offers on pretty much everyone except his core players. One of them is winger Reilly Smith, who has a year remaining on his contract with a $5 million cap hit. He won a Stanley Cup last season with the Vegas Golden Knights and that experience could intrigue a few contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sidelined winger Jake Guentzel is among the Penguins’ core. He’s been dogged by trade rumors for weeks amid speculation that Dubas could also re-sign him. Perhaps this report means Dubas still intends on re-signing him? Stay tuned…

RANGERS INTERESTED IN WENNBERG

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports sources claim the Rangers are looking at Seattle Kraken forward Alex Wennberg to fill their third-line center position. The 29-year-old Wennberg is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and carries a $4.5 million cap hit for this season.

Brooks cited Wennberg’s playoff experience, his skating ability and his 200-foot game among the reasons behind the Rangers’ interest in him. He also noted the Boston Bruins have been linked to the Kraken center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken are just three points out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference so they’re probably not sellers right now. That could change if they fail to gain ground in the standings over the next couple of weeks.

UPDATE ON THE BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC: While the Blue Jackets are in the process of finding a new general manager, Aaron Portzline reports interim GM John Davidson is focused on the upcoming NHL trade deadline.

The Jackets won’t trade their prospects nor is team captain Boone Jenner available. Jack Roslovic is their one prominent pending UFA. Portzline estimates his trade value as being worth a late-round draft pick or a distant prospect.

There was speculation defenseman Ivan Provorov could be a trade candidate to make room for promising Denton Mateychuk on their blueline. However, Davidson said Mateychuk must earn a roster spot in training camp. Nevertheless, Portzline believes Provorov could be moved if the right phone call is made.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Provorov could be moved if someone pitches a first-round pick or a high-quality young player. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s still with the Jackets after March 8.

NOTABLE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM TSN’S INSIDERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Ottawa Senators want to do something bigger but must wait for the trade market to establish itself…The Edmonton Oilers would ideally like to add a top-six forward to Leon Draisaitl’s line. However, they’re also eyeing the Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique as a third-line center…The Dallas Stars would like to add a right-shot defenseman as could the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils. Speaking of the Devils, they’re also looking for a goaltender and kicking tires on forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $2.3 million in trade deadline cap space. It could make it difficult to add Henrique even if the Ducks retain half of his $5.8 million cap hit…With Vitek Vanecek on injured reserve, the Devils’ need for help between the pipes should be their priority if they hope to nail down a wild-card spot.

Pierre LeBrun believes the Florida Panthers want to add to their roster before the trade deadline. They’ll have around $5 million in accrued cap space by deadline day to add a top-nine forward but they lack first-round picks in 2024 and 2025 to use as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They also lack a second-rounder in this year’s draft. The Athletic recently ranked their prospect pool at No. 24 but they’ll likely have to dip into it if they intend to be buyers this year.

Chris Johnston believes the Arizona Coyotes will once again look to load up with draft picks at this year’s trade deadline. They’re looking to move pending UFAs such as Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have 13 picks in this year’s draft, 11 in next year’s draft and 10 in 2026. 10 of those are second-rounders, seven are third-rounders and four are fourth-round picks. However, they only have one first-rounder in each of those drafts.

PROPOSED DESTINATIONS FOR THE CAPITALS’ NIC DOWD

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber recently suggested the New York Rangers could be a good fit for Nic Dowd if the Washington Capitals put him on the trade block. She also cited Jason Gregor of Oilers Nation suggesting the Edmonton Oilers as a fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Part of what makes Dowd enticing in the trade market is his contract. The 33-year-old checking-line center carries an affordable $1.3 million annual average value through next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2024

Three hat-trick performances as the Wild defeat the Canucks, Leafs center Auston Matthews moves closer to the 50-goal plateau, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild overcame 4-1 and 5-2 deficits in a 10-7 upset of the league-leading Vancouver Canucks. Minnesota forwards Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov each scored three goals and three assists with the latter picking up his hat trick during his club’s seven-goal outburst in the third period. Matt Boldy and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and three assists as the Wild improved to 26-23-6 and sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 58 points.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

J.T. Miller collected a hat trick and added an assist for the 37-14-6 Canucks (80 points) as they hold a three-point lead over the Boston Bruins in the overall standings. Pius Suter had three assists while Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes each had two points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild also set a franchise record for most goals in a single game. They capitalized on three 5-on-3 man-advantage scenarios to turn the game in their favor. They nearly blew an 8-5 lead when the Canucks scored twice to move within a goal but two empty-netters sealed the deal. Canucks winger Conor Garland left the game in the second period after blocking a shot but returned to action in the third period.

A shootout goal by Charlie McAvoy lifted the Boston Bruins to a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Jeremy Swayman kicked out 43 shots while David Pastrnak tied the game with his 35th goal of the season late in the third period for the 33-12-11 Bruins, who regained sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with 77 points. Wyatt Johnson, Ryan Suter and Esa Lindell replied for the Stars (34-14-8) as they hold first place in the Central Division with 76 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins honored captain Brad Marchand for recently reaching the 1,000-game milestone in a pregame ceremony. Meanwhile, the Stars played without center Matt Duchene due to a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 49th goal of the season as his club doubled up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Mitch Marner collected three assists and William Nylander netted a shorthanded goal for the Maple Leafs (30-16-8) as they picked up their fourth straight victory and sit third in the Atlantic Division with 68 points. Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the 29-24-2 Blues as they cling to the final Western wild-card spot with 60 points.

A four-goal third period gave the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes, leaving the latter winless in their last 10 games (0-9-1). Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists, Evander Kane tallied twice and Evan Bouchard picked up three assists for the 33-18-1 Oilers as they hold third place in the Pacific Division with 67 points. Nick Bjugstad scored two goals and Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes as they dropped to 23-28-4.

Vegas Golden Knights rookie Mason Morelli had a goal and an assist in his season debut while Logan Thompson made 29 saves to shut out the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alec Martinez collected three assists for the Golden Knights (32-17-6) as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 70 points. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 22 shots for the 15-35-5 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights activated defenseman Shea Theodore off injured reserve but he didn’t play in this game. He’s been sidelined since Nov. 22 with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, the Sharks activated Henry Thrun on injured reserve and placed captain Logan Couture on IR. The Sharks also made winger Alexander Barabanov a healthy scratch.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive with a 6-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Nazem Kadri scored twice and collected an assist while Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrew Mangiapane each had a goal and an assist for the Flames (26-25-5) as they overcame a 3-1 deficit. With 57 points, they’re three back of the Blues for the final Western wild-card berth. Sean Monahan tallied a natural hat trick for the 33-15-5 Jets as they remain in third place in the Central Division with 71 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Rick Bowness was displeased by his club’s performance in this contest after they upset the league-leading Canucks in their previous game. “That’s as soft a five-on-five game as we’ve played all year,” he told reporters in a postgame interview. “That’s not us at all. That didn’t even look like the Winnipeg Jets out there.”

Carolina Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas each had a goal and an assist to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Seth Jarvis picked up two assists as the Hurricanes (33-17-5) sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 71 points. Rookie Connor Bedard had a goal and two assists for the 15-38-3 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is showing no lingering effects from the fractured jaw that recently sidelined him for six weeks. He has six points in three games since returning to action on Feb. 15. Meanwhile, Hurricanes defenseman Jalen Chatfield missed this game with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by Ben Chiarot gave the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken. Lucas Raymond had a goal and an assist while Alex Lyon made 38 saves for the 29-20-6 Red Wings, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 64 points. Jared McCann tallied twice for the Kraken (23-21-11) as they sit three points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 57 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings forward Patrick Kane collected an assist to reach 800 for his career.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Mathieu Joseph scored two goals while Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist for the 23-27-2 Senators. Brayden Point and Mitchell Chaffee replied for the Lightning (30-22-5) as they hold the first Eastern wild-card spot with 65 points.

Anaheim Ducks winger Frank Vatrano scored twice as his club nipped the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-3. Troy Terry had a goal and two assists while John Gibson stopped 34 shots for the 20-33-2 Ducks. Dylan Cozens collected two assists for the 24-27-4 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Sabres announced defenseman Owen Power (hand) was placed on injured reserve.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL COM: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk are the three stars for the week ending Feb. 18, 2024.

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: The Predators’ poor performance since the All-Star break prompted the club to cancel the team’s plans to journey to Las Vegas following Saturday’s game against St. Louis to watch U2 perform at Sphere. General manager Barry Trotz said the team’s recent standards were “below expectations”, especially during home games, pointing to their 9-2 loss to the Dallas Stars last Thursday. They face the Golden Knights tonight in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, play well and be rewarded.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 18, 2024

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 18, 2024

Check out the latest on Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Noah Hanifin plus updates on Flyers forward Scott Laughton and Oilers blueliner Philip Broberg in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes that Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom’s situation has reached the point where he’s told management that if they get an offer to bring it to him and he’ll decide if he’ll agree to be traded.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (NHL Images).

Friedman’s colleague Eric Francis noted that Markstrom is trying to ignore the trade speculation swirling about him. However, it can’t be easy for the 34-year-old netminder, especially after being lit up for four goals on 12 shots on home ice during Saturday’s 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

Francis believes Markstrom’s situation could linger through the summer, if not addressed leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. He also believes Markstrom’s teammates Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin will be moved by deadline day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As frequently noted whenever Markstrom comes up in trade chatter, he’s signed through 2025-26 with an average annual value of $6 million plus a full no-movement clause. Even if the Flames can hammer out a potential trade to move his contract, he must give his approval for the deal to go down.

It’s been over a week since Friedman reported the Flames had trade discussions with the New Jersey Devils about Markstrom, which fell through over salary retention. The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs or Carolina Hurricanes might be interested but I daresay his contract would be more cumbersome for those two teams than it would for the Devils.

Friedman also said it appears that Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin intends to head to the free-agent market on July 1. He said he’s had no confirmation from the blueliner’s representatives or the Flames but he believes it’s “pretty clear” that Hanifin is going to market.

Friedman believes there are Canadian teams interested in the 27-year Hanifin but there are American clubs more confident of signing him to a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Hanifin isn’t going to re-sign with the Flames they have no choice but to trade him for the best possible return. He’ll become the top defenseman in the trade market, garnering the Flames a solid return, one that could be even better if Hanifin agrees to a contract extension as part of the deal.

Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy believes the Bruins and Florida Panthers could be among the suitors for Hanifin if he hits the trade block. I daresay we’ll learn about more as the trade deadline approaches.

RANGERS INTERESTED IN LAUGHTON

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple and Kevin Kurz noted there are reports the New York Rangers are interested in Philadelphia Flyers center Scott Laughton. The 29-year-old has two seasons remaining on his contract with an affordable AAV of $3 million.

Staple and Kurz speculate it could cost the Rangers at least their first-round pick to acquire Laughton. With the Blueshirts being a division rival, perhaps the asking price might be higher than for other clubs.

If they prefer offering up a current player or prospect, the Flyers could prefer a young forward with scoring upside. Staple doesn’t see the Rangers sending someone like Kaapo Kakko to Philadelphia where he could haunt them for years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Flyers asking price would be a first-rounder plus a prospect. I agree that it’s unlikely the Rangers would send Kakko to Philadelphia. They could ask for a prospect like Gabe Perreault or Brennan Othmann but both are probably off-limits.

OILERS WON’T PART WITH BROBERG FOR A RENTAL PLAYER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers intend to do something leading up to the trade deadline. Promising defenseman Philip Broberg has come up in trade rumors but they’re not going to part with him for a playoff rental player. He thinks teams have asked but they’ve made that point quite clear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It makes sense to try and add someone who can be part of the lineup beyond this season. This could also be the Oilers’ way of discouraging rival clubs from calling about Broberg. Unless someone is willing to overpay, they’re not going to part with a promising player.