NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2022

Are the Penguins in danger of losing Malkin and Letang to free agency? What’s the latest on the Lightning? Could a couple of Golden Knights become offer sheet targets?

ARE MALKIN AND LETANG EDGING CLOSER TO FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cites The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reporting sources claiming the Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t had regular contract talks with Evgeni Malkin since mid-May. A number of agents and several people within the Penguins organization believe the 35-year-old center won’t be returning. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Yohe also reported the Penguins offered Kris Letang a three-year deal. However, the 35-year-old defenseman wants a five-year contract worth over $8 million annually. Like Malkin, he’s due to become a UFA on July 13.

Malkin was reportedly willing to accept a pay cut from his current $9.5 million annual average value. Letang, meanwhile, seeks a raise over his current $7.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A recent report indicated management intends to turn its focus toward Malkin once they’ve sorted out Letang’s situation. That could explain the lack of discussions.

Letang could be pricing himself out of Pittsburgh. What he’s asking for is two years too long for the annual salary he’s seeking. Perhaps the Penguins would agree to $8 million annually for three years. If that’s not acceptable to Letang he could test the market but I don’t see many teams lining up to meet his asking price.

Re-signing both players will bite deeply into the Penguins’ $23.2 million in salary-cap space for 2022-23. Yohe indicated a defenseman such as Marcus Pettersson, John Marino or Brian Dumoulin could become a cost-cutting candidate. One assumes they’d move one of them after signing Malkin and Letang. No sense doing so if one or both end up departing via free agency.

LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois indicated during his post-Stanley Cup Final press conference that he’s hopeful of re-signing Ondrej Palat, Nick Paul and Jan Rutta. The trio is slated to become UFAs on July 13.

The Lightning, however, once again has limited salary-cap space. To retain at least Palat and Paul would mean shopping a salaried player to free up sufficient dollars.

Smith believes they have several players with value in the trade market. One of them is Alex Killorn, who has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.45 million and a 16-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The one advantage the Lightning have, apart from their championship pedigree, is the lack of a state tax in Florida. That makes it possible for them to sign players for less than market value because their dollars will go further in that state.

Paul was traded by the Senators because he reportedly spurned a four-year, $10 million contract offer. He could seek something between $3.5 and $4 million annually. Palat was earning $5.3 million annually on his current contract. He could get as much if not more on the open market, but maybe the 31-year-old winger will accept a little less to stay put.

Killorn was a frequent subject of trade speculation whenever the issue of the Lightning needing to free up cap room comes up. This time, however, it could become a reality. The 32-year-old winger only managed four points in the postseason but enjoyed a career-high 25 goals and 59 points in the regular season.

COULD TWO GOLDEN KNIGHTS BECOME OFFER SHEET TARGETS?

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger speculated over whether Nicolas Roy or Nicolas Hague will be targeted for offer sheets by rival clubs. Both players are restricted free agents with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Roy is coming off a career-best 15 goals and 39 points in 2021-22. The 25-year-old forward was on a two-year deal earning $750k annually. Hague, 23, had 14 points in 52 games. The defenseman is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

The Golden Knights lack salary-cap space at this time to sign both players after shipping out Evgenii Dadonov to Montreal earlier this month. Another cost-cutting move could be on the horizon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy recently reported at least two Eastern Conference clubs had “serious interest” in Hague. That could force the Golden Knights to make that cost-cutting move before he becomes eligible to receive an offer sheet on July 13.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2022

What next for the Avalanche and Lightning following the Stanley Cup Final? What’s the latest on the Islanders and Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE AND LIGHTNING?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Kristen Shilton looked at what the offseason could hold for the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning following the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has some notable free agents to deal with, starting with forwards Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 13 and are coming off strong regular-season and playoff performances.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper, winger Andre Burakovsky and defenseman Josh Manson could receive lucrative offers from other clubs in the upcoming free-agent market. Trade deadline acquisition Artturi Lehkonen is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

Hanging over all of his is the knowledge that superstar center Nathan MacKinnon is a year away from UFA eligibility. Sakic must manage his future cap space carefully and might have to get creative if they hope to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche have a solid core next season in MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Samuel Girard and Bowen Byram. However, maintaining their supporting cast could be challenging.

Cap Friendly shows the Avalanche with over $25 million in salary cap space with 14 players under contract for 2022-23. They’re enough room to re-sign Kadri, Nichushkin, Kuemper and Manson but it will eat up most of that cap space as well as bite deeply into their available space for 2023-24 when MacKinnon will be due for a big raise on a long-term deal.

Sakic might keep one of those key UFAs. It could be Kadri to ensure their depth at center but he could price himself out of their market. It could be Kuemper to maintain their solid goalie tandem with Pavel Francouz. I don’t think Burakovsky and Manson will be back.

My guess is Nichushkin is the most likely to return. Sakic took a chance on him after the Dallas Stars bought him out and he found his game with the Avs. He’s completing a two-year deal worth $2.5 million per season and should be the more affordable to retain.

The Lightning’s decisions start with pending UFAs Ondrej Palat, Nick Paul and Jan Rutta. They’re up against the salary cap once again with 19 players under contract for next season. That makes a major roster overhaul unlikely.

Like Sakic, GM Julien BriseBois will have to use some creativity to maximize his bargaining power. He’ll need to decide if he’s happy with the club’s current depth, especially on the blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois has proven skillful at finding inventive ways to maintain a championship roster. That ability will once again be put to the test.

The Lightning will get some wiggle room with Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million) on permanent long-term injury reserve. Still, it’s unlikely BriseBois be able to bring back all three of those UFAs. I expect BriseBois will put his efforts into signing Palat.

COULD THE ISLES SHOP BEAUVILLIER FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently pondered the possibility of the New York Islanders shopping Anthony Beauvillier for help on their blueline. While the 25-year-old winger’s development has stalled, he’s still young enough to improve. He also carries a reasonable $4.15 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons and lacks no-trade protection.

Zdeno Chara, Andy Greene, Sebastian Aho and Grant Hutton have likely played their final games for the Islanders. There are questions over whether those in the system, such as Robin Salo and Samuel Bolduc, are ready to move up.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun could be a trade target. Most Isles fans polled by Kurz would be fine with bundling Beauvillier with their first-round pick (13th overall) in this year’s draft for Chychrun, though Kurz believes the Coyotes would want a prospect included in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders aren’t the only team expected to have an interest in Chychrun. However, the Coyotes have set a very high asking price. Beauvillier, a first and a prospect might not be enough to land him. I suspect GM Lou Lamoriello will explore more affordable options if he uses the winger as trade bait for a blueliner.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington doesn’t see the Sabres using their plentiful salary-cap space to pursue a big-ticket UFA like Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang. He also doesn’t see them pursuing Marc-Andre Fleury to bolster their goaltending depth if Craig Anderson decides he’s not returning.

He doesn’t see the Sabres being interested in Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper. Toronto’s Jack Campbell might want a deal of three or four years and the Sabres aren’t interested in that type of term. He also believes St. Louis’ Ville Husso will want dollars and term that the Sabres aren’t interested in handing out.

Harrington advocates pursuing Braden Holtby to share the goalie duties and mentor promising Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen, suggesting they offer up a two-year, $8 million deal. It would also help the Sabres reach the $61 million salary-cap minimum.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see who the Sabres bring in to share the goalie duties with Luukkonen if Anderson hangs up his pads. The focus seems to remain on building up with their younger players, though I do see them adding affordable veterans to provide depth and leadership for next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 26, 2022

An update on Zdeno Chara, Bruins finalize contract extension for GM Don Sweeney, Alex Ovechkin scored in pro soccer debut, the latest on Ondrej Palat and Andre Burakovsky, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Zdeno Chara’s agent said his client intends to make a decision about his NHL future in September. The 45-year-old defenseman is an unrestricted free agent after spending last season with the New York Islanders, setting the league record for most career games by a defenseman with 1,680. He had 14 points and was a plus-8 in 72 games with the Isles.

New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara is no longer the perennial Norris Trophy candidate he was during his playing prime. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if a club signs him to an affordable one-year contract as a third-pairing blueliner if he decides to return for one more season. His preference would likely be to skate for an Eastern Conference club.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: cites the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald reporting the Bruins have finalized the contract extension for general manager Don Sweeney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m sure the Bruins fans who are regular commenters to this site will have some interesting takes on this news. The deal hasn’t been officially announced yet though that could be coming at some point this week. I’ll post the details when they appear.

Under Sweeney’s management, the Bruins reached the playoffs in each of the last six seasons, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 and winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2020. However, the club has declined over the past two seasons, raising questions about his efforts to maintain a contender. The recent firing of head coach Bruce Cassidy raised eyebrows around the league and the ire of Bruins fans.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: It turns out Alex Ovechkin is also a scorer in professional soccer. Signed to a one-game contract with FC Moscow Dynamo, the Capitals captain scored a goal against FC Amkal in a Russian Premier League friendly.

YAHOO! SPORTS: Ondrej Palat’s performance in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs could help him cash in as an unrestricted free agent next month. Coming off a 49-point performance in 77 regular-season games, Palat leads the Lightning with 11 postseason goals and three game winners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palat is completing a five-year contract with an annual average value of $5.3 million. If he and the Lightning fail to reach an agreement on a new deal, he’s bound to draw plenty of interest from contenders looking for a clutch player like him. He leads all active players with 12 playoff game-winners.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said winger Andre Burakovsky (hand injury) remains day-to-day but didn’t rule him out for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday night in Tampa Bay.

PUCK PEDIA (via KUKLA’s KORNER): listed several upcoming key NHL offseason dates, starting with the first contract buyout window opening on July 1 and closing on July 12. July 11 is the deadline for teams to issue qualifying offers to restricted free agents. July 12 is also the deadline for teams to sign their pending unrestricted free agents to eight-year contracts. July 17 is the deadline for players to file for arbitration, which starts on July 27.

SIRIUSXMNHL host Jonathan Davis reports the Vegas Golden Knights have hired Sean Burke as their director of goaltending. Burke held that position with the Montreal Canadiens.

TWINCITIES.COM: The NHL is experiencing significant growth among female and young fans. 37 percent of its fans are female, a growth of 26 percent in that demographic since 2016. Nearly 40 percent of its fans are under 50.

NHL.COM: The Chicago Wolves defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds 4-0 in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals, winning the series in five games to become champions of the American Hockey League. The Wolves are the affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes while the Falcons are affiliated with the St. Louis Blues. Wolves winger Josh Leivo was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first time the Calder Cup has been awarded since 2019. Congratulations to the Wolves on their championship run this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2022

The Lightning stay alive with a Game 5 win in the Stanley Cup Final, Barry Trotz is in no hurry to return to coaching, the Blackhawks will name Luke Richardson as their new coach, Chris Kreider and Joel Farabee undergo surgery, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat’s third-period goal lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat (NHL Images).

Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the win with a 35-save performance, Jan Rutta and Nikita Kucherov also scored while Corey Perry and Mikhail Sergachev each collected two assists for the Lightning.

Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar replied for the Avalanche, whose lead in the series has been cut to three games to two. Nichushkin tied a franchise record with his fourth goal in a Stanley Cup Final.

The series returns to Tampa Bay on Sunday for Game 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third time in this postseason, the Lightning battled back with a hard-fought victory when facing elimination. Once again, Vasilevskiy was stellar in a must-win game. And once again, it was Palat with a clutch goal, giving him a team-leading three game-winners in this postseason and 12 playoff winners for his career, ranking third in that category among active players.

The breaks went the Lightning’s way in this contest. After the Avalanche got lucky in Game 5 with a missed too-many-men call during Nazem Kadri’s game-winner in overtime, they were tagged this time with 2:43 remaining in regulation, all but snuffing out an opportunity to pull their goalie and push for the equalizing goal. The Bolts also benefited when a tripping call on Makar led to Kucherov’s 4-on-3 power-play goal in the second period.

WINNIPEG SUN: Former New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz turned down the opportunity to coach the Jets, basing his decision on spending more time with his family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report indicated Trotz was impressed by the Jets’ approach in both their patience as he considered their offer and willingness to accommodate his needs if he accepted the job.

Sources told the Sun that Trotz was reluctant to face the grind of another NHL season after 23 straight years of coaching. The Islanders also owe him another season of salary ($4 million), allowing him time to step back, spend more time with his family and ponder his future.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reported the Chicago Blackhawks are expected to name Luke Richardson as their new head coach next week. Richardson has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Chris Kreider underwent surgery to remove a small bone fragment from his wrist. His expected timeline of recovery is two-to-four weeks.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Joel Farabee could miss the start of the 2022-23 season after undergoing disc-replacement surgery in his cervical area on Friday. He’s expected to make a full recovery in three-to-four months.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: The Canucks have hired former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon as a senior advisor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon’s NHL career has now come full circle. He began his playing career with the Canucks in 1970-71.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins named Tom Kostopoulos as director of player development. He replaces Scott Young, who was named the Canucks director of player personnel on Friday.

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators signed forward Cody Glass to a one-year, two-way contract worth over $874K at the NHL level.

TSN: Minnesota Wild prospect Pavel Novak is taking time away from hockey to deal with an oncological disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Novak in his treatments. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and resumes his playing career.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2022

The 2022 Stanley Cup Final schedule is announced, the Stars trade Ben Bishop’s contract to Buffalo, Ryan Miller’s number to be retired by the Sabres, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2022 Stanley Cup Final will begin on June 15 or June 18 depending on the outcome of the Eastern Conference Finals.

If the Tampa Bay Lightning win Game 6 on Saturday, they will face off against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver for Game 1 of the Cup Final on June 15.

If the Rangers win Game 6 and force a seventh and deciding game of the Conference Final on Monday, the winner of that game will meet the Avalanche in Colorado for Game 1 of the Cup Final on June 18.

WGR 550/THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Dallas Stars traded the contract of Ben Bishop along with their 2022 seventh-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for future considerations. A knee injury ended the 35-year-old goaltender’s career but he hasn’t officially retired because he remains under contract through 2022-23.

Dallas Stars trade Ben Bishop’s contract to the Buffalo Sabres (NHL.com).

The Stars clear Bishop’s contract from their books, allowing them to avoid potential bonus overages in 2023-24. It also makes it easier for them to navigate the salary cap in 2022-23 without Bishop on long-term injury reserve.

As for the Sabres, the move allows them to get closer to next season’s $61 million salary-cap minimum by taking on Bishop’s $4.9 million cap hit for next season, though in actual salary they’ll pay him $3.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some readers might wonder why the Stars didn’t just retain Bishop and put him on LTIR to exceed the cap next season. Once they do that, however, they won’t be able to accrue salary-cap space.

That’s why we hear trade rumors of cap-strapped teams trying to peddle the contracts of permanently sidelined players to teams looking to reach the cap floor. What also made Bishop’s contract enticing to the Sabres is that his actual salary is less than his cap hit.

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Sabres, they will retire Ryan Miller’s No. 30 during a ceremony next season. Miller, 41, retired at the end of last season following an 18-season career, 11 of those spent with the Sabres from 2002-03 until traded to the St. Louis Blues before the 2014 trade deadline.

Miller is the Sabres’ all-time leader with 284 wins and sits second to Dominik Hasek with 28 shutouts. He backstopped them to consecutive Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007 and won the Vezina Trophy in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Miller for this well-deserved honor.

SPORTSNET: Carey Price recently had a platelet-rich plasma injection as part of his treatment for the knee injury that still threatens to end his playing career. The 34-year-old Montreal Canadiens goaltender hopes to begin ramping up his training as he intends to start preparing to play. “I don’t think I will actually have an idea of how that’s going to look until later this summer when I’ve taken all the necessary steps to get back on the ice again.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ongoing uncertainty over Price’s status will affect whatever decision they make regarding their goaltending for next season. They could end up shopping for help by placing him on LTIR. They also have Jake Allen under contract for next season and could give Cayden Primeau another try between the pipes if Price can’t play.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: With eight goals, Ondrej Palat has taken over the Lightning goal-scoring lead this postseason. He’s tallied in the last three games, including two game winners.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant could break up his Kid Line of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere for tonight’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The line saw limited ice time during the Rangers’ 3-1 loss in Game 5.

Speaking of the Rangers, one of their fans was arrested and charged with two counts of assault, two counts of disorderly conduct and two counts of harassment after sucker-punching a Lightning fan in Madison Square Garden following Game 5 and then punching another fan who attempted to stop him from fleeing the arena. Garden officials condemned the incident and banned the fan from all their venues for life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At some point in that guy’s life, somebody probably warned him that his temper would get him into trouble…

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: A source indicates Fenway Sports Group will name Kevin Acklin as the Penguins’ president of business operations.

THE ATHLETIC: Sean McIndoe looked at several theories regarding why Canadian teams haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have two that didn’t appear on McIndoe’s otherwise solid list.

First, Canadian clubs are outnumbered by a much larger margin of American teams than they were during the Stanley Cup glory years of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. That makes it more difficult to build and maintain a Cup contender.

The other is all seven of the current Canadian teams have also suffered the consequences of mismanagement since 1993. Sometimes, those decisions were based on the misguided view that their fans wouldn’t support a rebuild. Others were due to meddling ownership, inexperience or just poor judgment.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2022

The Lightning are on the verge of their third straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final plus the latest on Evander Kane, the Avalanche’s injured players, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight year after downing the New York Rangers 3-1 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat (NHL Images).

Ondrej Palat broke a 1-1 tie late in the third by deflecting Mikhail Sergachev’s screened point shot past Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Brandon Hagel added the insurance goal into an empty net. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 24 saves for the win. The Lightning can wrap up the series on home ice in Game 6 on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the tightest-checking game of this series with the outcome in doubt before Palat netted his second straight game-winner. Both goaltenders were outstanding but Shesterkin had no chance on Palat’s goal. It was the Rangers’ first loss on home ice since Game 1 of their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There’s no question the Lightning have shaken off their slow start to this series and now hold the momentum returning to Tampa Bay for Game 6. Their championship experience and disciplined play have made the difference over the last three games. We’ll find out on Saturday if the Rangers can find a way to overcome this deficit and force a seventh and deciding game in New York.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Evander Kane appeared to bid farewell to Edmonton after posting a gracious thank-you to the Oilers and their fans on Instagram yesterday. In his statement, Kane said he was grateful “to have had the opportunity to play with such a committed, hardworking and loyal group of men.” He called the team a “first-class organization” and thanked them “for giving me the opportunity to play for such a historic franchise.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An optimistic will say Kane is leaving the door open for a possible return. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but this looks like he’s saying goodbye. The 30-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche got some good news on some of their sidelined players ahead of the Stanley Cup Final. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper said he’s fully recovered from the upper-body injury that forced him out of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Edmonton Oilers and sidelined him for the remainder of that series.

Forwards Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano suffered broken thumbs during that series. However, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar is optimistic they could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. The Avs are awaiting the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals.

THE SCORE: Bruce Cassidy was as surprised as everyone else when he was recently fired as head coach of the Boston Bruins. Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Cassidy said he was told by management that his job was safe during his end-of-season interview.

Cassidy might not be unemployed for long. He revealed he’s already spoken with a number of teams. “I want to get back to work. Hopefully, it’s a really good fit – best fit possible,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers say that this doesn’t reflect well on Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who visited Cassidy at home to deliver the bad news. I’ve heard it suggested that Sweeney was forced into firing him by team president Cam Neely.

Whatever the reason or whoever was behind it, this story only adds to the sense of offseason upheaval and confusion swirling about the Bruins of late.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs are seeking a new goaltending coach after parting ways with Steve Briere on Thursday. He’d held that role since 2015-16.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: The New York Islanders have relieved assistant coaches Jim Hiller and John Gruden of their duties.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Chicago Blackhawks have reportedly asked the Canadiens for permission to speak with assistant coach Luke Richardson.

THE PROVINCE: The Blackhawks have also asked the Vancouver Canucks for permission to meet with assistant coach Brad Shaw.