NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024

The Sabres are rumored to be shopping Casey Mittelstadt, speculation over Max Pacioretty’s future, two Canadian clubs could have an interest in Alexandre Carrier, plus the latest on the Flyers and Sharks in the NHL Rumor Mill.


AFTER THE WHISTLE: Andrew Peters said Friday that he’d heard “from a very reliable source” that Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is “shopping Casey Mittelstadt hard” because he doesn’t want to pay the 25-year-old forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1. He’s in the final season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.5 million. The versatile forward enjoyed a 59-point breakout performance last season and currently leads the Sabres in scoring with 42 points in 50 games.

Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (NHL Images).

Peters’ source didn’t know what Adams’ asking price would be for Mittelstadt but indicated that he’s looking for a goaltender. “They don’t trust the three that they have,” said Peters.

SPORTSNET: On Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman talked about Mittelstadt’s contract situation. He believes Mittelstadt would not be happy not to get a lucrative new contract when several other teammates did. “If you’re not going to pay him, you almost have to move him.”

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited Peters’ claiming the Sabres are shopping Mittelstadt. He believes the Flyers should pursue him and suggested offering up right-shot defenseman Sean Walker as part of the return.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Evan Rawal also noted Peters’ report about Mittelstadt. He believes the Sabres forward would be a good candidate for the Avalanche’s second-line center position. However, a young forward under team control for a few more years would be expensive to acquire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Kevin Weekes last month suggested Mittelstadt could be available if Adams didn’t want to sign him to a long-term extension. He shrugged off the speculation while Adams has not spoken about it.

Mittelstadt will draw plenty of interest in the trade market if Adams is indeed peddling him. Finding a reliable, established starting goaltender, however, won’t be easy as the pickings are slim right now.

Maybe Adams could offer up Mittelstadt to the Calgary Flames for Jacob Markstrom provided the latter would waive his no-movement clause to go to Buffalo. Perhaps a deal could be made with the Nashville Predators for Juuse Saros provided he’s willing to sign a contract extension on July 1. Anaheim Ducks starter John Gibson’s been a fixture in the rumor mill stretching back to last season but the Sabres could be on his 10-team no-trade list.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculated the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they don’t gain ground soon in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Their pending unrestricted free agents include Anthony Mantha, Joel Edmundson and Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty carries a full no-movement clause giving him and his agent complete control over his situation. However, LeBrun believes he could waive it for the right fit and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

LeBrun thinks Mantha could be difficult to move even with retaining some salary. Edmundson’s playoff pedigree, meanwhile, could make him enticing to a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is on a one-year deal with a base salary of $2 million plus another $2 million in performance bonuses. The six-time 30-goal scorer has seven points in 14 games thus far in his comeback with the Capitals.


SPORTSNET: In Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek talked about possible trade-deadline moves for the Philadelphia Flyers.

They believe they are contemplating retaining Sean Walker and moving Rasmus Ristolainen. The latter would be easier to trade in the offseason for financial as well as hockey reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, 29, lacks no-trade protection but carries a $5.1 million AAV through 2026-27. He would be easier to move this summer when teams have more money to absorb that type of cap hit. However, he could still be a difficult sell unless the Flyers are willing to retain some salary.

They also believe Scott Laughton’s time with the Flyers could be drawing to a close. It could happen at the trade deadline or in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laughton, 29, is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. He carries an affordable $3 million AAV through 2025-26 and lacks a no-trade clause. He could attract a fair bit of interest in the trade market.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli suggesting Mikael Granlund might fetch the best return for the San Jose Sharks in the trade market.

Peng noted that the 29-year-old two-way center has bounced back this season with 29 points in 38 games. He carries a $5 million AAV through next season and lacks no-trade protection.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Julian Gaudio cited The Fourth Period recently claiming the Vegas Golden Knights are interested in Anthony Duclair.

The 28-year-old Sharks winger has just 17 points in 46 games this season with San Jose but was a productive middle-six forward for the Florida Panthers during their run to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. He’s in the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $3 million.

Gaudio’s colleague Max Miller cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting there are teams with an interest in Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. The pending UFA has put up good underlying numbers this season but doesn’t have a resume in high-pressure games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Duclair seems the more likely to move given his cap hit and his performance in last year’s playoffs.

Granlund’s cap hit remains difficult to move unless the Sharks retain part of it. Having used up two of their three salary-retention slots on Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, I doubt they’ll keep any part of Granlund’s cap hit to facilitate a trade.

Kahkonen’s inexperience in playoff action will be an issue for contenders shopping for goaltending depth.


NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if the Edmonton Oilers might be looking at Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier as a trade option. Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Thomas Drance recently mentioned Carrier as a trade target for the Vancouver Canucks.

Gallagher noted that Predators GM Barry Trotz isn’t necessarily shopping Carrier but is willing to listen to trade offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carrier could be an attractive option for contenders with limited cap space looking for an affordable defenseman. He carries a $2.5 million cap hit, lacks a no-trade clause and is slated to become a UFA this summer.

Gallagher also noted the Predators are trying to move blueliner Tyson Barrie following his trade request back in December.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 28, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 28, 2024

The Oilers’ win streak reaches 16, Auston Matthews reaches 40 goals and Nikita Kucherov regains the lead in the scoring race. Get the details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers extended their win streak to 16 games with a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators. Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists while Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for the 29-15-1 Oilers, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 59 points. Colton Sissons replied for the Predators (26-22-1) as they cling to the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 53 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are now one win away from tying the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins for the longest win streak (17 games) in league history. Corey Perry made his debut with the Oilers, logging 12:44 in ice time with two hits and two shots.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews netted his league-leading 40th goal as his club doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly each collected two assists while Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves for the Leafs (25-14-8) as they hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 58 points. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26 shots for the 30-12-5 Jets as they slipped to third place in the Central Division with 65 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews set a franchise record as the fastest player to reach 40 goals (46 games) and extended his team record for most 40-goal seasons with five. He also became the eighth player in Leafs history to reach 600 points and the fastest to reach that plateau. Meanwhile, the club announced that Calle Jarnkrok is sidelined week-to-week with a broken knuckle.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov collected two assists to regain the lead in the NHL scoring race with 85 points in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Brayden Point and Brandon Hagel each scored twice as the 27-18-5 Lightning sit one point ahead of the Leafs in third place in the Atlantic Division. Ondrej Palat and Nico Hischier each had two points for the 24-20-3 Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hischier wasn’t pleased with his club’s performance. “I’m embarrassed, to be honest,” he said in a postgame interview. With the Devils sitting six points out of a wild-card berth, he called on his teammates to play “pissed off.” They’ve won just three of their last 10 games.

The Vancouver Canucks overcame a three-goal deficit to nip the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on an overtime goal by Elias Pettersson, who finished the game with two goals and an assist. Brock Boeser tallied a hat trick while Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller each collected three assists for the Canucks (33-11-5) as they hold first place in the overall standings with 71 points. Alexandre Texier had a goal and an assist for the 15-23-10 Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Blue Jackets announced winger Patrik Laine returned to Columbus after suffering a setback in his recovery from a fractured clavicle. They also placed defenseman Adam Boqvist (upper body) on injured reserve and recalled blueliner Nick Blankenburg from their AHL affiliate in Cleveland.

A four-goal first period powered the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2. David Pastrnak tallied twice and collected an assist while James van Riemsdyk had a goal and two assists for the 31-9-9 Bruins, who sit second in the overall standings with 71 points. Tyson Foerster scored both goals for the slumping Flyers (25-19-6), who’ve lost five straight games but remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 56 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Flyers honored Mark Recchi with induction into their Hall of Fame. Recchi spent 10 seasons with the Flyers, tallying 627 points in 602 games. He also played three seasons with the Bruins, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 during his final season.

Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart scored to extend his points streak to 13 games as his club nipped the New York Islanders 3-2 on an overtime goal by Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist for the 31-14-4 Panthers as they sit in fourth place in the overall standings with 66 points. Semyon Varlamov turned aside 24 shots for the Islanders (20-17-12), who sit five points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 52 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After beating the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Patrick Roy’s first game as their head coach, the Isles are winless in their last three contests (0-2-1). Before this game, Roy indicated that defenseman Adam Pelech is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was sidelined by an illegal hit to the head on Thursday by Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, who received a five-game suspension as a result.

The Dallas Stars moved ahead of the Winnipeg Jets into second place in the Central Division with 66 points by dropping the Washington Capitals 5-4. Thomas Harley scored in overtime after his club blew a 4-2 lead and finished the game with two goals for the 30-13-6 Stars. Alex Ovechkin and Anthony Mantha each had a goal and an assist for the 22-18-7 Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals winger Max Pacioretty left this game in the third period with a lower-body injury unrelated to his surgically repaired Achilles tendon. No word following the game regarding his condition.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin sniped two goals in a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider each had two assists while Alex Lyon stopped 28 shots for the Red Wings (26-18-5) as they hold the final Eastern wild-card berth with 57 points. Alec Martinez had two assists for the 29-15-6 Golden Knights (64 points) as they remain in second place in the Pacific Division.

A five-goal second period rallied the New York Rangers over the Ottawa Senators 7-2. Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists while Jonathan Quick made 29 saves for the Rangers (30-16-3) as they remain in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 63 points. Brady Tkachuk and Jakob Chychrun scored for the 18-25-2 Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers captain Jacob Trouba missed this game as he’s serving a two-game suspension for elbowing Golden Knights forward Pavel Dorofeyev on Friday.

The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 as Dmitry Orlov broke a 1-1 tie with 36 seconds remaining in regulation time. Seth Jarvis collected two assists for the 28-15-5 Hurricanes, who sit two points back of the Rangers in second place in the Metro Division. Logan Cooley tallied for the slumping Coyotes (23-22-3) as they dropped their third straight game and sit four points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 49 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott missed this game with a lower-body injury.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom kicked out 32 shots for a 1-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks. Elias Lindholm scored the only goal as the 22-22-5 Flames (49 points) snapped a four-game losing skid and sit four points out of the final Western wild-card berth. Petr Mrazek made 30 saves for the 14-34-2 Blackhawks, who remain at the bottom of the overall standings with 30 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Flames announced that forward A.J. Greer is out for eight weeks with a fractured foot.

An overtime goal by Marcus Pettersson gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Penguins forward Lars Eller scored in his 1,000th career game as his club improved to 22-17-7 (51 points). Jake Allen made 30 saves for the 20-21-8 Canadiens.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry scored two goals as his club tamed the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Lukas Dostal stopped 35 shots for the 17-30-2 Ducks. Mats Zuccarello collected two assists for the 21-23-5 Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild forward Marcus Foligno missed this game due to illness.

The Buffalo Sabres tallied five unanswered goals in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. JJ Peterka scored twice while Dylan Cozens had a goal and two assists for the Sabres (22-23-4). William Eklund picked up two assists for the 13-32-4 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Sabres as forward Jack Quinn left the game with an injured left leg following a hit by Sharks forward Tomas Hertl. Head coach Don Granato indicated Quinn’s injury should be considered more than day-to-day for recovery.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2024

Game recaps, the Flyers trade prospect Cutter Gauthier to the Ducks for Jamie Drysdale, the three stars of the week are announced and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson scored twice and collected two assists in a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers. Thatcher Demko made 39 saves, Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists and Nils Hoglander tallied two goals for the 26-11-3 Canucks (55 points), who sit one point behind the league-leading Winnipeg Jets in the overall standings. Vincent Trocheck netted two goals for the Rangers (26-11-2) as they sit one point back of the Canucks.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes each have at least 50 points, making the Canucks just the third team in the last 30 years to feature three players with 50 or more points through 40 games. The others were the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2007-08 Ottawa Senators.

A shootout goal by Valeri Nichuskin lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the Boston Bruins by a score of 4-3. Nathan MacKinnon collected an assist to extend his home points streak to 22 games as the Avalanche (26-12-3) are one point out of first overall with 55 points. Brad Marchand potted two goals for the 24-8-7 Bruins, who sit ahead of the Canucks and Avalanche in the overall standings with 55 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins sit ahead of the Canucks and Avs due to games in hand. The Canucks hold a game in hand over the Avs.

Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo left this game with an upper-body injury. There was no postgame update on his status.

Dallas Stars goaltender Matt Murray made 23 saves for his first career NHL shutout in a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. Roope Hintz and Tyler Seguin each had a goal and an assist for the Stars (23-11-5) as they sit third in the Central Division with 51 points. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 16 shots for the 17-18-4 Wild as he remains at 551 career victories.

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist while Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 36 shots for the 20-15-4 Penguins, who sit just outside the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 44 points. Owen Tippett scored for the Flyers (20-14-6) as they hold the first Eastern wild-card spot with 46 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have the same amount of points as the New Jersey Devils (who hold that last wild-card berth), Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings. The Devils hold that berth with 21 wins, followed by the Capitals as they hold a game in hand over the Penguins and two games over the Red Wings while the Pens have a game in hand over the Wings.


PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers traded prospect forward Cutter Gauthier to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A surprising move sparked by Gauthier’s unwillingness to sign with the Flyers. Philadelphia general manager Daniel Briere said the 19-year-old winger stopped communicating with the club following his participation in the 2023 World Championships.

That explains why Gauthier didn’t take part in the Flyers’ development camp last summer. The club kept it quiet from the media to protect the youngster. They also had trouble meeting with him during the recent 2024 World Junior Championship, where he tied for most points (12) and was named the tournament’s top forward as he led Team USA to the gold medal.

The Flyers reportedly never got an explanation behind Gauthier’s change of heart. Briere said they decided to move him now while his trade value was high.

There was also speculation that former Flyers center Kevin Hayes may have influenced Gauthier’s decision. Hayes strongly denied that rumor.

Landing the 21-year-old Drysdale gives the Flyers a skillful young puck-moving defenseman albeit one limited to just 18 games over the past two seasons due to injuries. He’s in the first season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.3 million. If Drysdale can stay healthy he could blossom into a solid top-pairing blueliner with the Flyers.

Ducks GM Pat Verbeek said he made this move to add a forward with elite skating ability and an NHL-level shot. With three good young defensemen such as Pavel Mintyukov and Tristan Luneau and Owen Zellweger in their pipeline, they could afford to move Drysdale for Gauthier.

They already have three promising young centers in Trevor Zegras, Mason McTavish and Leo Carlsson but need more scoring punch on the wings. If Gauthier plays up to expectations he’ll provide an invaluable boost to the rebuilding Ducks’ offense.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers reportedly offered Gauthier to the Canadiens for the latter’s first-round pick (fifth overall) in last year’s draft. The Canadiens rejected the offer and used the pick to select David Reinbacher, whom the Flyers were also interested in selecting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers were reportedly attempting to ensure prospect Matvei Michkov would drop to them with the seventh overall pick, which he did even with the Canadiens rejecting the offer.

Some Canadiens fans will probably be upset with their club for turning down this offer. However, the report indicates the Habs were confident Reinbacher was the right choice with their pick and other teams (like the Flyers) were also interested in landing the promising young blueliner.

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Martin Jones and Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 7, 2024

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals winger Max Pacioretty had to make major changes to his skates to accommodate his altered right foot following two back-to-back Achilles tears. His right foot is now larger than his left.

Pacioretty said his new skates still don’t feel perfect but they feel much better. He’ll continue making modifications until he finds the right balance. He no longer feels any fear of another Achilles injury and is fully healthy now.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Tanner Jeannot is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Erik Cernak is expected to rejoin the lineup after missing the last three games The club recently placed blueliner Mikhail Sergachev (lower body) on long-term injury reserve.

TSN: The Calgary Flames placed forward Kevin Rooney on waivers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2024

Auston Matthews is the first player to score 30 goals this season, Max Pacioretty makes his season debut with the Capitals, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Auston Matthews reached the 30-goal plateau with the game-winner in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. John Tavares scored the tying goal in the third period to set the stage for Matthews’ overtime heroics as the Leafs improved to 19-10-7 and sit third in the Atlantic Division with 45 points. Lukas Dostal kicked out 55 shots for the 13-23-1 Ducks.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is the first player to reach 30 goals this season. He’s only the 10th player in NHL history to reach that plateau in each of his first eight seasons.

Matthews’ teammate Bobby McMann was ejected from this game in the second period for boarding Ducks defenseman Pavel Mintyukov, who was uninjured on the play. The Ducks also played without Ryan Strome (upper-body injury, day-to-day) and Troy Terry (injured reserve).

New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier had a goal and two assists in a 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals. Dawson Mercer and Michael McLeod each tallied twice for the Devils (20-14-2), holding the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Kuznetsov each had two points while Max Pacioretty was held pointless in his season debut with the Capitals (18-12-6), who sit just behind the Devils with 42 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been nearly a year since Pacioretty suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. He was critical of his performance following this game, saying it couldn’t get any worse than it did for him on this night. Pacioretty remains hopeful that he’ll get up to speed as time goes on.

Before this game, the Capitals placed goaltender Charlie Lindgren on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Devils winger Ondrej Palat missed this game with a lower-body injury.


ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes winger Jason Zucker was given a three-game suspension by the NHL’s department of player safety for boarding Florida Panthers forward Nick Cousins during Tuesday’s game. Zucker’s hit was in retaliation for Cousins’ hitting Coyotes defenseman Juuse Valimaki from behind while the latter was on his knees near the boards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker deserved his suspension but Cousins hit was also dangerous. Speaking of the Panthers forward, he was placed in concussion protocol.

TSN/DAILY FACEOFF: The Minnesota Wild placed winger Kirill Kaprizov (upper body) and Jared Spurgeon (undisclosed) on injured reserve.

CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (lower body) is on injured reserve.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Chicago Blackhawks winger Anthony Beauvillier is on IR with an injured left wrist. The club also claimed defenseman Jaycob Megna off waivers yesterday from the Seattle Kraken.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is on IR with an injured right leg.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins placed defenseman John Ludvig on IR with an undisclosed injury.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers recalled winger Brennan Othmann and he’ll make his NHL debut on Thursday against the Blackhawks. He replaced Tyler Pitlick, who is sidelined with a lower-body injury.

Speaking of the Rangers, former Blueshirts winger Artem Anisimov signed a professional tryout contract with their AHL affiliate in Hartford.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A 13-year NHL veteran from 2008-09 to 2020-21, the 35-year-old Anisimov skated in the KHL in 2021-22 and spent last season with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2023

Marc-Andre Fleury ponders his future, sale of the Senators receives league approval, plus the latest on Logan Couture, Robin Lehner, Max Pacioretty and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury is entering his 20th NHL season but hasn’t decided yet if it will be his last. The 38-year-old Minnesota Wild goaltender is in the final season of his contract and said he’ll play out this campaign before evaluating if he’ll continue his playing career.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Fleury has 544 career wins. He needs just eight more victories to pass Patrick Roy for second place on the all-time wins list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s hard to believe sometimes that Fleury’s been in the NHL this long. I told one of my social media followers that it seemed like I was watching him play in the QMJHL with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles yesterday. That was over 20 years ago.

OTTAWA SUN: The sale of the Ottawa Senators to billionaire Michael Andlauer finally received formal approval from the NHL Board of Governors yesterday. At $950 million dollars, it’s the highest price ever paid to purchase an NHL franchise.

Following the purchase, Andlauer released an open letter to Senators fans stating that his goal is to bring the Stanley Cup to Ottawa. He also sought to assure them about the club’s future under his ownership. “My partners and I may be the team owners on paper, but this team truly belongs to Ottawa-Gatineau,” he wrote. “I promise to take care of your team with the utmost respect, integrity and care both on and off the ice.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The late Eugene Melnyk deserves credit for rescuing the Senators nearly 20 years ago (with the help of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman) and keeping them in Ottawa at a time when the franchise was bankrupt and on the verge of relocation. Nevertheless, Melnyk’s mercurial style and front-office meddling generated uncertainty and concern among Senators fans over the quality of the on-ice product and the club’s future in Ottawa.

A new era has begun for the Senators. Andlauer was a minority owner of the Montreal Canadiens before purchasing the Sens. He knows the league, understands the business of hockey, and appears determined to bring stability to this franchise and a winning product on the ice. He still has to navigate toward the construction of a new downtown arena but the odds appear better under his stewardship than they were during the final years of Melnyk’s tenure.

Speaking of the Senators, center Josh Norris downplayed concern regarding a minor shoulder ailment that saw him start training camp with a yellow non-contact jersey. “I think they’re looking out for me and I totally get it,” said Norris, who missed all but eight games last season to shoulder surgery. He said he didn’t want to be in that jersey but acknowledged it was probably the best thing to take precautions and be ready for the start of the season.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The rebuilding Sharks got bad news as team captain Logan Couture will miss the start of training camp. He’s listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury that he suffered during offseason training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no timeline for Couture’s return. It’s uncertain if he’ll be ready for the club’s season debut on Oct. 12.

DAILY FACEOFF: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner remains sidelined indefinitely and will start the season on long-term injured reserve. He missed all of last season recovering from hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reports also indicated that some wonder if Lehner will ever play again. He’s signed through 2024-25 with an average annual value of $5 million.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of uncertain injury recovery timelines, Capitals winger Max Pacioretty has “no concrete timetable yet” for when he’ll join his new club. The 34-year-old winger played only five games last season with the Carolina Hurricanes as he was twice sidelined by a torn right Achilles tendon. He signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Capitals this summer as a free agent.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams continues to work on getting young defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power under contract extensions before the start of this season. The two sides appear to be closing in on deals following a week of intense negotiations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dahlin and Power are the linchpins of the rebuilding Sabres’ blueline. It’s not surprising that Adams hopes to sign the two defensemen to long-term contracts with average annual values that could become team-friendly over the course of their playing prime.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of the Sabres, promising forward Matt Savoie is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered during a prospects tournament game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks opened training camp missing three of their young core players. Center Trevor Zegras and defenseman Jamie Drysdale are still without new contracts as negotiations continue with management. Meanwhile, forward Mason MacTavish was dealing with a muscle spasm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacTavish could rejoin his teammates as early as today. It’s uncertain as to when Zegras and Drysdale will be under contract. Reports from earlier this week claimed there’s a “wide gap” between them and management over what their new deals will look like.

THE DENVER POST: Valeri Nichushkin has rejoined his Colorado Avalanche teammates for the first time since taking a leave of absence from the club during their first-round series against the Seattle Kraken in April. The 28-year-old winger was welcomed back by his teammates “with open arms”.

Nichushkin’s departure was the result of an incident in Seattle in which a team doctor found an intoxicated woman in the winger’s hotel room and called an ambulance, according to a police report. He was not disciplined over the incident by the team or the league and faced no charges over the incident.

I know you guys want to find something there, but it’s nothing really interesting,” Nichushkin told the media. “I think we should close it. It’s a new season right now. We have to focus on that.” He said that his extended absence from the Avs was due to a “family reason.”

CALGARY SUN: Oliver Kylington missed the start of Flames training camp without indicating when he’ll return to action. The 26-year-old defenseman missed all of last season to focus on his mental health. It was expected that he would rejoin his teammates this season after arriving in Calgary last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kylington talked about his mental health during an interview this summer. He said he was looking forward to joining his Flames teammates this season. Here’s hoping he continues to get the help he needs to deal with this issue.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sticking with the Flames, Nikita Zadorov has openly opposed his home country’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian defenseman is the sole NHLer among his countrymen to speak out against the invasion. He said he’s aware of the consequences he might face but claimed there are “a lot of people who have the same view as me in Russia.”

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom skated with the Islanders for the first time since suffering a season-ending lower-body injury last December. Defenseman Alex Romanov also joined his teammates, dispelling concerns that he might miss the start of training camp rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery.

TSN: Vancouver Canucks winger Ilya Mikheyev left training camp for personal reasons. He’s been sidelined since January with a knee injury and underwent surgery the following month.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Wideman is sidelined indefinitely with a back injury.


NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2023

Some of this summer’s notable short-term free-agent signings could get shopped by this season’s trade deadline. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski recently listed several notable players on short-term contracts who could become bargaining chips by this season’s NHL trade deadline.

Jason Zucker topped Wyshynski’s list. The 31-year-old winger signed a one-year, $5.3 million contract. If he plays well, he could earn a contract extension with the Coyotes. At worst, he plays well enough to get shipped to a contender if the Coyotes retain a bit of salary.

Zucker wasn’t the only Coyote on a short deal this season who could become trade bait. Defenseman Matt Dumba (one-year, $3.9 million) and forward Alex Kerfoot (two years, $3.5 million average annual value) could also interest playoff contenders later this season.

Ottawa Senators winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three could be on the move by the trade deadline if the Coyotes are in their usual spot near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Vladimir Tarasenko could be deadline trade bait if the Ottawa Senators season goes sideways. A six-time 30-plus goal scorer, the 31-year-old winger is on a one-year contract with a reasonable $5 million cap hit. He also carries a full no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A return to form by Tarasenko will make him among the most pursued players in the trade market if the Senators decide to move him by deadline day. His NTC will be a bit of an obstacle.

Corey Perry could also be of interest to playoff-bound clubs. The 38-year-old winger signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. His postseason play since 2020 will make him an enticing option for contenders seeking an agitating veteran leader with a decent scoring touch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Wyshynski observed, the rebuilding Blackhawks can also pick up part of Perry’s cap hit. He lacks no-trade protection so he’ll likely draw lots of interest if he shows he still has something left in the tank this season.

Washington Capitals winger Max Pacioretty is another who could be on the move by the trade deadline. He’s recovering from a twice-torn Achilles tendon that limited him to just five games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season.

Because of his injuries, Pacioretty’s on a one-year deal paying $2 million in base salary plus $2 million in performance bonuses. A return to his 30-plus goal form could fetch a nice return for the Capitals if they drop out of contention by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is expected to miss the start of this season and could be out for at least the first month. He won’t be moved if he helps the Capitals return to playoff contention. However, Wyshynski also observed that he carries a full no-movement clause.

Wyshynski noted the Boston Bruins don’t want to move Jeremy Swayman. The 24-year-old goaltender went through arbitration earlier this summer and was awarded a one-year, $3.475 million contract. He’ll become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. Maybe the Bruins won’t want to commit to an expensive goalie tandem when they’ll have holes in their roster to address.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will depend on how well Swayman and fellow Bruins netminder Linus Ullmark perform this season. Ullmark was mentioned as a trade candidate this summer but the Bruins intend to stick with both goalies for this season. If they fall out of playoff contention, however, they might decide to peddle one of them, especially if they can get a solid return. Swayman could prove to have more value in the trade market.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Marc Staal is another possible trade option. He’s on a one-year, $1.1 million contract. Detroit Red Wings blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere carries a more expensive $4.125 million on a one-year deal with a 10-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers aren’t expected to be a contender this season. It’s a good bet that Staal gets shopped if he plays well for them. Gostisbehere could also be peddled if the Wings fail to make the cut.

The Nashville Predators re-signed defenseman Dante Fabbro to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. His struggles last season generated some trade speculation prior to signing his new deal, including talk of reuniting with college coach Dan Quinn with the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski wondered if new head coach Andrew Brunette and new GM Barry Trotz view the 25-year-old Fabbro differently than the previous regime. A bounce-back performance on his part could help the Predators return to playoff contention or turn him into a trade chip.