NHL Rumor Mill – June 24, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 24, 2022

Could the Rangers shop Artemi Panarin? What’s the latest on Filip Forsberg, Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

RIFT DEVELOPING BETWEEN PANARIN AND RANGERS GM DRURY?

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple raised some eyebrows in his roundup of offseason decisions facing the New York Rangers. What drew considerable attention was his report citing two league sources claiming general manager Chris Drury was “vocally unhappy” with Artemi Panarin’s performance in the 2022 playoffs.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Panarin had 16 points in 20 playoff games but wasn’t as consistent as hoped for. Despite the 30-year-old winger’s hefty contract Staple speculated he could request a trade if there’s a rift developing with Drury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction will be to this report. Panarin and/or Drury could ignore the story or issue public denials. I’m curious as to what other Rangers and NHL insiders have to say about this story.

A number of NHL clubs would be interested in Panarin if he became available in the trade market. As Staple pointed out, his contract is near impossible to move. He’s signed through 2025-26 with an annual average value of over $11.6 million and a full no-movement clause.

It was Drury’s predecessor who signed Panarin. He doesn’t have to feel any loyalty toward players that were brought in before he took over as general manager.

Drury also clashed last fall with Vitali Kravtsov after the winger declined demotion to the minors. He spent this season in the KHL and become the subject of trade speculation. The two sides seemed to bury the hatchet when Kravtsov agreed to a one-year, $875K contract but that hasn’t kept him out of the rumor mill.

PREDATORS OFFER FORSBERG AN EIGHT-YEAR CONTRACT

NHL.COM: John Glennon reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile confirmed his club offered an eight-year contract to Filip Forsberg. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

Poile indicated Forsberg won’t be signing with the Predators for anything less than eight years. He said the two sides are speaking regularly to bridge the gap and he intends to keep working to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems like the dollars are the issue here. Forsberg will be seeking a substantial raise over the $6 million annual cap hit of his current contract after tallying a career-best 84 points in 69 games this season.

The most Forsberg will get on the open market is seven years. The Predators could be offering up a raise that’s less than market value in the hope that he’ll be tempted by the extra year of contract security if he signs with them before July 13.

LATEST ON WHEELER AND DUBOIS

WINNIPEG SUN/SPORTSNET: Scott Billeck and Ken Wiebe weighed in on recent reports indicating the Jets are gauging Blake Wheeler’s value in the trade market and Pierre-Luc Dubois’ intent to test the 2024 UFA market.

Both believe it will be difficult to move Wheeler’s contract, which carries an $8.25 million annual average value through 2023-24. Though his no-movement clause becomes a five-team trade list on July 1, the number of teams that can afford to take on the full remaining value of his contract could be less than his list of preferred trade destinations.

They believe the Jets will have to retain up to half of Wheeler’s cap hit to facilitate a deal. If they don’t want to do that, they’ll have to offer up significant sweeteners or take back a sizeable contract from one of Wheeler’s suitors.

Wiebe also suggested a three-team deal to spread the cap hit around. A contract buyout is another option though a rarely-used one by the Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I made the same suggestions a couple of days ago. There will be playoff contenders interested in Wheeler. I don’t see many of them taking on his full cap hit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 35-year-old winger is back with the Jets next season.

Dubois’ revelation was more troubling for Billeck and Wiebe. He’s a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. The Jets have two years to convince the 23-year-old center to remain in Winnipeg beyond 2024 and intend to work on doing so.

Billeck suggested dangling the captaincy if Wheeler is traded. He also speculated perhaps the Dubois camp is merely angling for a better deal in their current negotiations.

Wiebe speculated the Jets could trade Dubois before 2024. He also wondered if hiring Barry Trotz as head coach might change his mind. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff met with Trotz this weekend and is awaiting his decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing Trotz as their new head coach could go a long way toward providing some stability and improvement to the Jets roster going forward. As Billeck suggested, he could help to convince Dubois to stick around beyond 2024 if he enjoyed playing for the well-respected bench boss.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2022

The Panthers claim the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Blues and Wild will meet in the first confirmed first-round series, Steven Stamkos, Matthew Tkachuk and Artemi Panarin reach scoring milestones, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their 12th straight win and clinched first place in the Eastern Conference by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists to tie Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid atop the league scoring race with 113 points. With 118 points, the Panthers sit two ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for first overall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers also tallied their 320th non-shootout goal to set a new record for the most goals in a season in the salary-cap era.

The first opening-round series of the 2022 Stanley Cup players is confirmed following the Minnesota Wild’s 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Kevin Fiala scored twice and Kirill Kaprizov tallied his 44th goal of the season for Minnesota, who’ll meet the St. Louis Blues in the opening round. Both clubs are tied with 105 points but the Wild holds second place in the Central Division with a game in hand. Elias Pettersson scored two goals for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 87 points, Vancouver remains four points behind the Dallas Stars in the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks, Stars and Vegas Golden Knights (89 points) all have four games remaining, setting the stage for what should be an exciting finish as those three teams jockey for that final postseason berth.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos set the franchise points record during an 8-1 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stamkos had a goal and two assists to surpass Martin St. Louis as Tampa Bay’s all-time points leader with 956. Alex Killorn and Ross Colton scored twice for the Lightning, who hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 102 points. The Leafs sit six points ahead of the Bolts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs playing with two key players missing from their respective lineups. Leafs superstar Auston Matthews missed his third straight game with an undisclosed minor injury while Lightning center Brayden Point is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk set a personal single-season best with his 40th goal and 100th point as his club doubled up the Dallas Stars 4-2. The Flames have clinched the Pacific Division with 106 points while the Stars cling to the final Western wild-card spot with 91 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau are the first Flames teammates to have 100 points in the same season since Al MacInnis and Theo Fleury in 1990-91.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin collected four assists and Andrew Copp tallied a hat trick in a 6-3 victory against the New York Islanders. Panarin set a single-season Rangers record for most assists by a forward with 74 and sits third among their single-season scorers. The Blueshirts are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and associate coaches Lane Lambert and Jim Hiller missed this game as they were placed in COVID-19 protocol. Winger Anthony Beauvillier was also sidelined by an upper-body injury.

Third-period goals by Jaccob Slavin, Seth Jarvis and Jordan Staal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. With 108 points, the Hurricanes maintain their hold on first place in the Metropolitan Division with 44 regulation wins. Jets winger Kyle Connor scored his 44th goal of the season.

Jake Guentzel tallied a hat trick to reach his 40th goal of the season to match a career-high as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the Boston Bruins 4-0. Casey DeSmith kicked out 52 shots for the shutout. The Penguins opened a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 99 points. The Bruins remain in fourth place in the Atlantic with 99 points.

The St. Louis Blues set a franchise-record 14-game points streak with a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist while Robert Thomas netted his 20th goal of the season. Blues defenseman Torey Krug missed this game with an upper-body injury.

Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault extended his goal streak to five games to help his club drop the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Adrian Kempe collected two assists for the Kings (94 points), who opened a five-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for third place in the Pacific Division.

Buffalo Sabres rookie Owen Power scored his first NHL goal in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Victor Olofsson collected three assists and Craig Anderson stopped 29 shots.

The Philadelphia Flyers snapped a six-game losing skid by downing the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. James van Riemsdyk scored twice for the Flyers. The Canadiens have lost seven straight.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2022

Recaps of Saturday’s action, Hurricanes close to re-signing Kotkaniemi, Avs re-sign Francouz, Landeskog and Chychrun injured, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin had a goal and four assists to lead the New York Rangers to a 7-4 victory over the Dallas Stars. Dryden Hunt also collected three assists while Ryan Strome and K’Andre Miller each had two points for the Rangers (79 points), who moved ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into second place in the Metropolitan Division. John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Roope Hintz each had two points for the Stars (67 points), who sit one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes took over first place in the overall standings by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1, extending their home points streak to 13 games. Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen made 28 saves while Jordan Martinook and Sebastian Aho scored unanswered goals in the third period. The Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche each have 87 points but the Canes hold a game in hand.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice to lead his club over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Mikko Koskinen made 31 saves for the win, Tyson Barrie collected two assists in his return from injured reserve while Josh Archibald was activated off long-term injury reserve for the Oilers (68 points), who moved ahead of the Golden Knights into third place in the Pacific Division. The Lightning (80 points) have dropped three straight and hold a one-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid regained first place in the scoring race with 83 points, one up on Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau and two ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 19 saves for his league-leading ninth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Elias Lindholm reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career and Matthew Tkachuk collected two assists. With 79 points, the Flames hold a seven-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington missed this game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

The Kings, meanwhile, were shut out by the San Jose Sharks 5-0. Adin Hill made 29 saves in his first start since Jan. 29 while teammate Timo Meier had a goal and two assists.

St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas scored twice and set up two others in a 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators. The Blues blew a 3-0 lead but recovered on three unanswered third-period goals by Thomas, David Perron and Justin Faulk. Matt Duchene scored twice for the Predators, including his 30th goal of the season. The Blues hold a three-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for second place in the Central Division with 75 points. With 70 points, the Predators hold a two-point lead over the Golden Knights for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Boston Bruins nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on a late goal by Charlie Coyle. Craig Smith scored twice and Jeremy Swayman made 27 saves as the Bruins (77 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun left the game in the second period following a collision with a Bruins player. No update was provided but the club is hopeful he’ll be day-to-day. Chychrun has been a fixture in the trade rumor mill for the past couple of months. Coyotes forward Christian Fischer missed the game with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

Patrick Kane collected three assists while Jonathan Toews and Caleb Jones each scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-3. With 1,156 points, Kane moved in second place among the Blackhawks’ all-time scoring leaders. Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy was stretchered from the game after being hit into the boards in the first period. He wasn’t taken to hospital and remained at the arena under the team’s medical supervision. Murphy is traveling back to Chicago with his teammates.

Shootout goals by Tomas Tatar and Jesper Bratt gave the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Devils goalie Nico Daws made 33 saves in regulation and overtime. The loss leaves the Ducks four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Ducks defenseman Josh Manson returned from injured reserve but forward Sam Steel wound up on IR with a facial injury.

A shootout goal by Marcus Johansson lifted the Seattle Kraken over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. The Canadiens rallied on third-period goals by Alexander Romanov and Nick Suzuki to force overtime and the shootout. Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson made his season debut after being sidelined last summer by a back injury while Kale Clague was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

TSN: The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly close to agreeing to an eight-year contract extension with center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. It’s believed to be worth between $4.25 million and $4.5 million annually. The Hurricanes successfully signed away Kotkaniemi last summer from the Montreal Canadiens with a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Chris Johnston reports the deal cannot be formally completed until after the March 21 trade deadline because it’s an eight-year extension. Kotkaniemi was never a $6 million player but that was the salary needed to sign him away from the Canadiens. It was widely assumed he’d accept a lesser annual cap-hit on a long-term deal after this season.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will be sidelined indefinitely by a knee injury. The club hopes to have him back before the start of the playoffs in late April or early May. Defenseman Samuel Girard will miss approximately four weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog and Girard earn a combined $12 million. If they’re placed on long-term injury reserve it would provide the Avalanche with much-needed salary-cap flexibility to add a player or two before the March 21 trade deadline.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed backup goaltender Pavel Francouz to a two-year, $4 million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if Darcy Kuemper will also get an extension. The Avs starter is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner is listed as week-to-week with a lower-back injury.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Scott Laughton is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion during Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

TSN: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for kneeing Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek on Friday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2021

More COVID cases among NHL teams raise concerns about Olympic participation, the Blackhawks reach a settlement with Kyle Beach, Alex Ovechkin ties an NHL scoring record, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

COVID CASES AMONG NHL CLUBS STILL RISING, CONCERN GROWING OVER OLYMPIC PARTICIPATION

CALGARY SUN: The number of Calgary Flames players and staff testing positive for COVID-19 grew to 27 yesterday. Head coach Darryl Sutter and players Jacob Markstrom, Rasmus Andersson, Erik Gudbranson, Byron Froese, Trevor Lewis and Tyler Pitlick joined the list yesterday. Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets has been postponed. The good news is all the Flames’ cases are reportedly doing well, which is being attributed to the players being fully vaccinated.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron joined teammates Brad Marchand and Craig Smith in COVID protocol yesterday.

THE TENNESSEAN: 11 members of the Nashville Predators were placed in COVID protocol yesterday. They include forwards Mikael Granlund, Matt Luff, Michael McCarron and Philip Tomasino and defenseman Ben Harpur and head coach John Hynes.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Five Panthers players (Ryan Lomberg, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe, Radko Gudas and Brandon Montour) enter COVID protocol on Wednesday.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings placed forwards Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen in COVID protocol Wednesday. Tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes is expected to go ahead as scheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The growing number of cases is alarming but it’s not expected to result in a shutdown of the NHL schedule at the present time. That could change if the cases continue to spread and more games become postponed. However, it’s not expected to result in a season-ending shutdown as we saw in 2019-20. It could instead be a pause of two-to-three weeks.

One reason is all cases are experienced at worst minor symptoms because all but one player is fully vaccinated. Another is a return to enhanced COVID protocols (including daily testing) are expected to be implemented soon.

TSN: The province of Ontario is reducing capacity limits at sporting events to 50 percent starting Saturday. That includes the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL has no control over provincial or state COVID guidelines regarding sporting events. It remains to be seen if others will follow Ontario’s lead. The Leafs and Senators will likely see a return to full capacity once the COVID numbers in Ontario are reduced.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is the latest NHL player to express concern over potential three-to-five week quarantine in China for players taking part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics who test positive for COVID-19 during the tournament. “If that’s the way it’s going to be, I don’t see it being very feasible for guys to take that risk. That’s my personal opinion,” said Karlsson.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin expressed apprehension over the potentially strict COVID guidelines for Olympic participants. “It would be unfortunate for anyone to get stuck in quarantine for that long and a serious unknown of when you’d come home. I think it’s unfortunate for all athletes,” said Larkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is so far leaving it up to the NHLPA members to decide if they’ll participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. No one has definitively said they won’t go because of those restrictions but that could change if there is no loosening of those rules for Olympic athletes.

The opt-out date is Jan. 10. The league can also withdraw if COVID outbreaks reach a point where it cannot complete the remainder of this season on time.

It’s been suggested the NHL would simply run a normal schedule during the Olympic break in February. However, The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reported that would create a logistical nightmare for team owners as they attempt to reschedule events in their arenas during that period.

BLACKHAWKS REACH SETTLEMENT WITH BEACH

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: After eight months of legal battles, the Blackhawks and Kyle Beach have reached a confidential out-of-court settlement during third-party mediation yesterday. Beach alleged former Blackhawks video coach sexually assaulted him in May 2010 and that Blackhawks executives knowingly covered it up. An independent investigation by the Blackhawks supported Beach’s claims.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping this settlement brings Beach the closure and peace of mind he deserves after enduring a decade of hell dealing with what happened to him. It will take a long time for the Blackhawks organization to scrub away the stain on their reputation for the atrocious way they treated Beach and their handling of this situation.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tied the all-time power-play goal record as his club fell 5-4 to the Blackhawks. Ovechkin tallied his 274th PP marker to tied Dave Andreychuk.

Blackhawks defenseman Caleb Jones won it for his club with an overtime goal. Chicago winger Alex DeBrincat scored two goals while Marc-Andre Fleury got his 501st career win with a 42-save performance. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist in his season debut after missing 28 games recovering from a hip injury

New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko scored twice, including the game-winner as his club downed the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Chris Kreider assisted on all three Rangers goals. The Coyotes have lost six straight. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin left the game in the second period with a minor lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry netted his 18th of the season in a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Goalie Anthony Stolarz picked up his sixth straight win for the Ducks this season.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Christian Dvorak is listed as sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Winger Josh Anderson will be out for another six weeks with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, winger Brendan Gallagher and defenseman Sami Niku are expected to rejoin their teammates later this week after emerging from COVID protocol.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Labanc will be sidelined for three months after opting for surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder.

NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Henrik Borgstrom on injured reserve backdated to Dec. 10 with a non-COVID-related illness.

LA KINGS INSIDER: Kings winger Andreas Athanasiou will miss the remainder of his club’s current road trip with a lower-body injury.

NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils acquired goaltender Jon Gillies from the St. Louis Blues for future considerations.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 8, 2021

The Rangers and Wild extend their respective win streaks, the Islanders snap a long winless skid, Jason Spezza suspended for six games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers picked up their seventh straight win by dropping the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. Artemi Panarin reached 500 career points with two goals and two assists as the Blueshirts (37 points) moved within a point of the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. Blackhawks forward Jujhar Khaira was stretchered from the ice in the second period following a hit by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. Khaira was taken to a hospital for further testing but Blackhawks coach Derek King said he was up and responsive and wanted to return to the game before he went to the hospital.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot made 38 saves backstopping his club to their seventh straight victory with a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers, handing the latter their third straight loss. Joel Eriksson Ek had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who sit atop the Western Conference with 37 points.

The New York Islanders snapped a 12-game winless skid by beating the Ottawa Senators 5-3. Anders Lee tallied twice for the Islanders while Oliver Wahlstrom had a goal and an assist. Alex Formenton had a goal and an assist for the Senators.

Morgan Rielly collected four assists and Auston Matthews scored twice to extend his goal streak to seven games as the Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two goals for the Jackets. The Leafs played without Jason Spezza after he received a six-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk. Winger Mitch Marner (shoulder) and defenseman Rasmus Sandin (knee) also missed this game. Marner is sidelined for three-four weeks. Sandin’s knee suffered no structural damage but will need time for the swelling to subside.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza had no history of fines or suspension in his NHL career. He reportedly intends to appeal his suspension. He deserved punishment for his dangerous retaliatory hit on Pionk but this seemed unduly harsh given his previously unblemished record.

The Carolina Hurricanes blew a 2-0 lead but rallied to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Carolina defenseman Ian Cole was ejected for a knee-on-knee hit on Jets center Mark Scheifele, who was uninjured. The Jets played without defenseman Neal Pionk, who received a two-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin. Pionk is also in concussion protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pionk had no history of fines or suspensions before this. Leafs fans are wondering why he got just two games while Spezza got six. The fact he was sidelined by a concussion from Spezza’s hit probably factored into it though Sandin was injured by Pionk’s hit in the first place.

Pavel Buchnevich’s overtime goal lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Florida Panthers 4-3. It was a costly win for the Blues as goalie Ville Husso left the game with a lower-body injury and defenseman Jake Walman suffered an upper-body injury. The Blues were already playing without starter Jordan Binnington, who is in COVID protocol. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov scored in his first game since being sidelined on Nov. 16 by a knee injury.

The Anaheim Ducks got a 25-save shutout by Anthony Stolarz to blank the Buffalo Sabres 2-0. Ducks forwards Trevor Zegras made a lacrosse-style pass from behind the net to Sonny Milano for the game-winner. The Sabres have lost five straight while the Ducks (33 points) move within two points of the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division.

Speaking of the Flames, they blew a 3-1 lead to fall 5-3 to the San Jose Sharks. Tomas Hertl led the way for the Sharks with a hat trick while Adin Hill made 40 saves for the win. Struggling Sharks forward Kevin Labanc was a healthy scratch from this game.

Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen and Dante Fabbro each had a goal and two assists to power the Nashville Predators over the Detroit Red Wings 5-2, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. The Predators played without goaltender Juuse Saros and defenseman Mattias Ekholm as both are sidelined by a non-COVID illness.

Two late third-period goals by Corey Perry and Ondrej Palat lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. The Lightning has won four straight games. Nick Suzuki had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens did almost everything right in this game except win. That’s the way this season is going for the hapless Habs. They rarely win even when they play well.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals have canceled today’s practice as part of their extra precautions after three players (Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway and Trevor van Riemsdyk) wound up on COVID protocol. No players tested positive yesterday.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers claimed defenseman Kevin Connauton off waivers yesterday from the Florida Panthers.

SPORTSNET: The Tampa Bay Lightning claimed forward Riley Nash off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers placed forward Brendan Perlini on waivers.

Former NHL goaltender Devan Dubnyk has signed a professional tryout offer with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2021

Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby resigns amid reports linking Habs to Jeff Gorton, Artemi Panarin and Andrei Svechnikov fined, Islanders games postpone through Nov. 30, game recaps and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MELLANBY RESIGNS AS HABS ASSISTANT GM, CLUB LINKED TO GORTON

SPORTSNET: Scott Mellanby resigned yesterday as assistant general manager of the Montreal Canadiens amid reports linking the club to former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton.

Former New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton (NHL.com).

Elliotte Friedman reported there’s a widespread belief Marc Bergevin will not return as Canadiens general manager following this season. Friedman felt Bergevin recommended Mellanby as his successor or for a more significant role with the club. There had been recent discussions between team owner Geoff Molson and Mellanby but the latter resigned after being informed the club was going in a different direction.

The Canadiens reportedly sought and received permission from the New York Rangers to speak with former Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton. Friedman said Gorton would not be taking over as the Habs GM but could fill the role of president of hockey operations or another senior front-office role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on the initial reports, it appears Molson has made a mess of this situation by upsetting Mellanby and alienating Bergevin, who is now a lame-duck general manager. TVA Sports’ Louis Jean reports Bergevin was hurt by how this went down, that he was kept in the dark and only learned about this situation through the media.

Nevertheless, this could still work out for the Canadiens if the end result is Gorton taking over as president of hockey operations. It would be a significant step toward returning this floundering franchise to respectability and perhaps a long-overdue rebuild.

Gorton did a fine job building up the Rangers roster. He signed Artemi Panarin, acquired Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba and drafted Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. Before that, he was an assistant general manager for several seasons with the Boston Bruins. During a brief period as their interim GM in 2006, he acquired Tuukka Rask, drafted Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic, and signed Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard.

Molson has indicated the role of Canadiens GM has to be filled by a Francophone or someone who is bilingual. Gorton is neither but he would hold a role of considerable influence within the organization with input on trades, signings, drafting and player development.

Should Gorton get the role of hockey ops president, finding Bergevin’s successor becomes their next priority. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels mused about Patrick Roy, Roberto Luongo, Martin Madden Jr., Vincent Damphousse and Mathieu Darche as possible candidates. Jeff Marek reported the Canadiens have not contacted Patrick Roy about a role in the organization.

It will be interesting to see how the coming week unfolds in Montreal.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Canadiens (6-15-2), they got a rare win by upsetting the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. Jake Allen made a career-high 47 saves for the win while Josh Anderson scored twice and Tyler Toffoli and Christian Dvorak each had a goal and two assists. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby also had a goal and two assists while teammate Bryan Rust remains sidelined by an undisclosed injury. Canadiens defenseman Chris Wideman missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Florida Panthers’ season-opening home winning streak has ended at 11 games after falling 4-1 to the Seattle Kraken. Former Panthers goalie Chris Driedger made 33 saves while teammate Jordan Eberle celebrated his 800th career NHL game with two goals.

Mikko Rantanen’s hat trick powered the Colorado Avalanche over the Nashville Predators 6-2. Cale Makar collected three assists while Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky each had two helpers. Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram returned to the lineup after missing six games with a concussion.

The Edmonton Oilers ran up a 3-0 lead over the Vegas Golden Knights and held on for a 3-2 victory. Mikko Koskinen turned aside 36 shots while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi scored for the Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held off the score sheet by the Golden Knights.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar had three assists and Carl Gundstrom tallied twice to double up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. Kings forward Brendan Lemieux was ejected from the game for biting Senators captain Brady Tkachuk’s hand during a scrum in the third period. Tkachuk wasn’t pleased, calling what Lemieux did “the most gutless thing somebody could ever do” following the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lemieux could also earn supplemental discipline for his antics. He bit Tkachuk’s hand hard enough to draw blood.

An overtime goal by rookie Lucas Raymond gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, handing the latter their fifth loss in six games. The Sabres’ Jeff Skinner sent the game to overtime with the tying goal late in the third period.

The Dallas Stars picked up their fourth straight win by nipping the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Braden Holtby made 25 saves for the Stars, Joe Pavelski had two assists and Roope Hintz scored his seventh goal in his last eight games.

St. Louis Blues forwards Pavel Buchnevich and Ivan Barbashev each scored twice in a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko collected three assists. Jackets defenseman Adam Boqvist scored twice for the Jackets. Before the game, the Blues placed winger James Neal on injured reserve.

The Winnipeg Jets overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Calgary Flames 4-2. Kyle Connor led the way with two goals for the Jets to snap a five-game skid while ending the Flames’ win streak at four games. Flames winger Milan Lucic was ejected in the second period for boarding Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Artemi Panarin was fined $5,000.00 for throwing one of his hockey gloves at Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand on Friday. Panarin said he was incensed over Russia-related insults made toward him by Marchand.

NEWSOBERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov was fined $5,000.00 for kneeing Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton on Friday.

NEW YORK POST: The NHL has postponed the New York Islanders’ next two games through Nov. 30 after Casey Cizikas became the eighth player on the club to test positive for COVID-19.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday placed goaltender Matt Murray on waivers. He’s expected to report to their AHL affiliate in Belleville if he goes unclaimed today. The Senators also claimed forward Adam Gaudette off waivers yesterday from the Chicago Blackhawks.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers forward Nate Thompson missed practice yesterday after suffering a shoulder injury during Friday’s game against the Hurricanes.