Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – July 3, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – July 3, 2022

Check out the latest on Ryan McDonagh, Evgeni Malkin, Vincent Trocheck, Sergei Bobrovsky and more in Part Two of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Minnesota Wild would like to bring back UFA goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for another season. He hasn’t made his decision yet and there will be competition for his services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depends on how much of a pay cut Fleury is willing to accept. Still, he and GM Bill Guerin are old teammates and friends. They could work something out.

Uncertainty over Nicklas Backstrom’s status makes it difficult to determine the Washington Capitals’ cap flexibility. It’s uncertain if they’ll bring back goalies Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. They could pursue Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper if he becomes a UFA next week. They could be in on J.T. Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $8.9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season, the Capitals will have to move Vanecek or Samsonov if they intend to bring in Kuemper. He could prove too expensive to sign. The Canucks’ asking price for Miller could include Connor McMichael or Hendrix Lapierre.

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to negotiate with defenseman Kris Letang. They’re reportedly not close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin but that could change before July 13.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cost of signing Letang will determine how much they’re willing to invest in bringing back Malkin. That could depend on how much of a pay cut he’s willing to accept and whether he’ll accept a three-year deal.

Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be a good destination for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh. He admits it might take multiple moves and could affect their efforts to re-sign UFA winger David Perron. He also wondered if they can retain goalie Ville Husso.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season. McDonagh carries a $6.75 million cap hit and I don’t see the Lightning retaining part of it. They’ll have to shed some salary to fit him in and still have enough for Perron and perhaps Husso.

Friedman is curious whether Darcy Kuemper would consider signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs if Jack Campbell departs next week as a UFA. Re-signing defenseman Rasmus Sandin is trickier than they expected. He also wondered if Max Domi might be a fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the Leafs as a suitor for Kuemper but they’ve got to do something first about Petr Mrazek’s contract. They’ll also likely try to move out Justin Holl and his $2 million cap hit for next season.

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith isn’t expected to play next season while Duncan Keith’s situation could go either way. Trade candidates could include Zack Kassian, Warren Foegele, Jesse Puljujarvi and possibly Tyson Barrie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi has garnered a lot of attention recently in the rumor mill as a trade candidate. Kassian could be a buyout candidate while there could be some trade interest in Barrie.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are working with Ryan McDonagh to find a suitable trade. Winger Alex Killorn could also become a cost-cutting candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s full no-trade clause gives him complete control over potential trade destinations. His $6.75 million annual average value through 2025-26 is also a limiting factor. Killorn carries a more affordable contract at $4.45 million through 2022-23. He carries a 16-team no-trade list.

If the Chicago Blackhawks trade Alex DeBrincat it might spur Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews to request a trade, especially if DeBrincat’s traded for futures. Teams are also inquiring about Kirby Dach.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Kane and Toews have identical $10.5 million cap hits through 2022-23 and full no-movement clauses. Moving either guy will involve retaining a healthy chunk of their annual average salary. One would think the Blackhawks would retain the 21-year-old Dach as part of their rebuilding plans. Then again, a lot of us thought the same thing about Brandon Hagel before they shipped him to Tampa Bay.

The cap-strapped Vegas Golden Knights need to shed salary. They could move Laurent Brossoit for cap reasons. “Trading Nic Hague is not a preferred option”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are over $2 million above the cap with 18 players under contract for next season. Reilly Smith is believed to be signed but it won’t be made official until July 13 for tagging reasons. They’ll have to move more than Brossoit’s $2.325 million cap hit. Maybe they try to shop William Karlsson and his $5.9 million cap hit.

The Los Angeles Kings made their big move by acquiring Kevin Fiala last week. Friedman wondered if Fiala’s arrival might prompt one or two of their forward prospects to seek a trade if they feel he’ll block their efforts to crack the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If so, perhaps they could be packaged to add an experienced defenseman to their blueline.

It’s believed the Boston Bruins have an interest in Vincent Trocheck if the Carolina Hurricanes center hits the free-agent market next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also mentions Patrice Bergeron and perhaps David Krejci could return but that’s not a long-term plan at center. Trocheck could help at least fill the second-line center spot beyond next season. They have $2.3 million in cap space with 22 players signed for next season. Not a lot of room there.

The Calgary Flames are believed to have offered an eight-year deal to Johnny Gaudreau worth $9.5 million annually. They’re still waiting for a decision from the left winger, who feels loyalty toward Calgary but this is as much a family decision as it is a hockey one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gaudreau departs I can see the Flames pursuing Filip Forsberg if he doesn’t re-sign with the Nashville Predators.

Friedman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes might make a pitch to Evgeni Malkin if he doesn’t sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t put anything past Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon.

The New York Rangers probably can’t afford to sign Andrew Copp or Ryan Strome so they’re testing the trade market for centers. Potential trade partners could ask for Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko or even Braden Schneider in return. Friedman wondered if they might look at Adam Henrique if the Ducks absorbed part of his salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported the Rangers have spoken to the Winnipeg Jets about Pierre-Luc Dubois. They’re also believed interested in Mark Scheifele. He also mentioned Vancouver’s J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, though those three have just one year each remaining on their contracts. Brooks mentioned Chicago’s Kirby Dach as an intriguing possibility.

The Florida Panthers denied they were trying to lay the groundwork to trade goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a full no-movement clause for two more seasons. UFA winger Mason Marchment is probably priced out of their market now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have $3 million in cap space with 17 players under contract for 2022-23. They can get some cap relief by placing sidelined winger Anthony Duclair (Achilles tendon surgery) on LTIR but they’ll have to be compliant when he returns at midseason.

Coming off their Stanley Cup win, the Colorado Avalanche face big decisions regarding UFAs Darcy Kuemper, Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Nichushkin seems the most likely to be retained. Kuemper and Kadri will be expensive and they’ve got to keep an eye on their long-term cap space with Nathan MacKinnon due for a big raise next summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2022

The latest on Kirill Kaprizov, Patrik Laine, Anthony Duclair and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CBS SPORTS: cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting Kirill Kaprizov underwent minor surgery. The 25-year-old Minnesota Wild left winger is expected to be ready “well in advance” of training camp.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reported contract talks are continuing between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the agent for left wing Patrik Laine. Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said the discussions are amicable. However, Portzline wrote that it doesn’t sound as though a deal is close. Kekalainen doesn’t expect it will affect the club’s plans for the upcoming NHL draft in Montreal.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Laine is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He’s coming off a one-year, $7.5 million contract.

ESPN.COM: Anthony Duclair underwent surgery to repair an Achilles tendon injury. The 26-year-old Florida Panthers winger is expected to be sidelined until midway through the 2022-23 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair carries a $3 million annual average value. With the Panthers having just $3 million in salary-cap space for next season and with 17 players under contract, they could place him on long-term injury reserve to garner some cap relief to sign another player. However, they’ll have to be cap compliant when Duclair is ready to return to action.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens can take their time negotiating a new contract with Alexander Romanov. He has only two seasons with 10 or more games played, he falls under the status of a 10.2(c) restricted free agent. That makes him ineligible to sign an offer sheet with another team as Jesperi Kotkaniemi did last summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens management is currently focused on the upcoming NHL draft in Montreal. Once that’s completed, they’re expected to turn their attention toward their RFAs.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Alexei Toropchenko underwent shoulder surgery and will miss the first two months of next season. The 23-year-old is on a one-year, $750K contracts for 2022-23.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: PNC Arena, home of the Carolina Hurricanes, could be getting a major facelift and overhaul over the next several years. Opened in 1999, the venue is expected to undergo renovations that were put off for the past two years by the COVID-19 pandemic.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2022

The Avalanche are one win away from becoming Stanley Cup champions, the Panthers name Paul Maurice as head coach, Ben Bishop is interested in joining Stars management, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche is one win away from winning hockey’s greatest prize following a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Nazem Kadri scored in overtime to give the Avalanche a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Kadri’s goal was controversial as the Avalanche appeared to have too many men on the ice. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper indicated his belief that the goal shouldn’t have counted during his brief post-game press conference.

NHL Hockey Operations released a statement following the game claiming the on-ice officials didn’t see a too-many-men situation on the ice at the time of Kadri’s goal. The call is not subject to video review.

It wasn’t the only goal that emerged from questionable circumstances for some fans. The Lightning’s Anthony Cirelli opened the scoring but the mask of Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper was knocked off prior to the goal. However, NHL Rule 9.6 (helmets) states that when a goaltender loses his facemask and/or helmet and the opposing team has control of the puck, play is stopped only when there is no immediate or impending scoring opportunity.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a shame that such a well-played game would end in controversy. I don’t fault the on-ice officials as the rulebook leaves it up to their judgment to determine what constitutes a too-many-men situation. Calls can also sometimes get missed in the heat of the action and it’s not easy to see everything even with four officials on the ice. 

Nevertheless, it’s puzzling that this type of play isn’t reviewable. If it was, perhaps Kadri’s goal wouldn’t have counted.

For NHL fans of a certain age, this will be comparable to Brett Hull’s “skate in the crease” Cup-winning goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final. Should the Avalanche go on to win this series, some will consider their championship to be tainted.

Game 5 is Friday in Denver.

CBS SPORTS: Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak left Game 4 in the second period after blocking a show by Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon. His status is unclear for Game 5.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers officially named Paul Maurice as their new head coach. Interim coach Andrew Brunette, who was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, has been asked to remain with the organization and could join Maurice’s staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get why the Panthers hired Maurice given his 24 years of NHL coaching experience with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. Brunette’s inexperience was apparent when the Panthers were swept from the second round by the Lightning.

Still, Brunette did a good job taking over behind the Panthers bench in difficult circumstances after Joel Quenneville stepped down last October, guiding them to their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history. Unless there were issues among the players over Brunette’s coaching, he should’ve been given the opportunity to return behind their bench next season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Former Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop is interested in joining the club’s management in some capacity. He and the team are currently discussing a potential role for him within their front office.

SPORTICO: The Arizona Coyotes are pitching a $1.7 billion arena complex with the city of Tempe for a 46-acre property on a current landfill site. Earlier this month, the Tempe City council voted to move forward with arena negotiation talks with the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes reportedly hope to secure the go-ahead from the Tempe City Council to begin construction by the end of this year at the earliest. It could take three years before the arena could be ready for use.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks named Meghan Hunter and Mark Eaton as their new assistant general managers.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Connor Dewar to a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils co-owner Michael Rubin is selling his stake in the franchise and his stake in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2022

The Lightning defeated the Avalanche in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the latest details on the Stars’ reported hiring of Pete DeBoer, the Canucks sign KHL star Andrei Kuzmenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning avenged their lopsided Game 2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche with a convincing 6-2 win in Game 3 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

A four-goal second period blew the game open for the Lightning, chasing Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper after he gave up five goals on 22 shots. The Bolts also got a 37-save performance from Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Nick Paul scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the second period after returning from a first-period injury. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Pat Maroon each had a goal and an assist while Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman both collected two assists. Gabriel Landeskog scored both Avalanche goals.

Game 4 is on Wednesday in Tampa Bay with the Avalanche holding a 2-1 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As we’ve come to expect, the Lightning once again rose to the occasion in a must-win contest. They didn’t panic when the Avalanche opened the scoring for the third straight game, pouncing on defensive miscues and playing a much more physical style to neutralize their opponent’s speed. Vasilevskiy was outstanding, shrugging off his poor performance in Game 2 and making several big saves to pick up the win.

This game got chippy as it went on. Several roughing penalties were handed out and there was a fight late in the third period between the Lightning’s Ross Colton and the Avalanche’s Logan O’Connor.

It was a potentially costly win for the Lightning as Kucherov left the game in the third period following a cross-check by Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews. No update was given on his condition following the game. They were already playing without Brayden Point, who sat out this contest after returning from a lower-body injury to play in the first two games.

The Avalanche were without forwards Nazem Kadri (thumb injury) and Andre Burakovsky (injured hand) for this game. Both are listed as day-to-day.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Dallas Stars and former Vegas Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer are working on a four-year contract expected to be worth over $4 million per season. The deal hasn’t been finalized and signed yet but it’s expected to be done soon.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have signed KHL star Andrei Kuzmenko to a one-year contract. He’ll earn a base salary of $855K along with bonuses that could take him up to $1.95 million. The contract will be officially filed with the NHL on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzmenko is a 26-year-old left wing who tallied 53 points in 45 games this season with SKA St. Petersburg. He’s considered a smart, gifted playmaker. If he plays up to expectations he’ll provide offensive depth among the Canucks’ top-six scorers.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed forwards Brett Leason and Beck Malenstyn to two-year contracts. Leason’s is a one-way deal worth $750K in 2022-23 and $800K in 2023-24. Malenstyn’s is a two-way deal next season and a one-way deal worth $775K.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators will play the Montreal Canadiens in two Kraft Hockeyville training-camp games in Gander, NL on Oct. 6 and Bouctouche, NB on Oct. 8.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers are reportedly interested in adding Finland’s national coach Jukka Jalonen to their coaching search.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2022

The Panthers’ offseason cap crunch, a look at possible moves by the Sabres and the latest Ville Husso speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CAP CRUNCH LEAVES PANTHERS FACING TOUGH DECISIONS

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli and Mike McKenna recently examined the difficulties facing the Florida Panthers as they attempt to navigate their salary-cap crunch. They have just $3 million in cap space for 2022-23 and sacrificed a lot of draft capital acquiring Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot at the trade deadline.

General manager Bill Zito has to pare down some payroll. McKenna suggested winger Patric Hornqvist and his $5.3 million cap hit for next season as a trade candidate.

Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (NHL Images).

Seravalli wondered if Zito would consider trading goaltender Spencer Knight with Sergei Bobrovsky carrying a hefty long-term contract making him difficult to move. McKenna didn’t think so, pointing out no one’s won a Stanley Cup without homegrown talent. He suggested the Panthers GM might have to find a way to get creative with Bobrovsky down the road.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos recently said the Panthers are shopping Bobrovsky aggressively, so much so they’re willing to retain 50 percent of his $10 million annual cap hit. That might not be enough to ship him out if he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause. Zito could be squeezed to add a good young player or a quality prospect into the deal, further depleting his prospect pipeline.

Hornqvist has an eight-team no-trade list but his age (35) and declining performance are the biggest stumbling blocks on the path to a trade. He’s not impossible to move but Zito could be pressed to add a sweetener or take back a player with a comparable salary.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE ATHLETIC: Matthew Fairburn speculated on how the Buffalo Sabres will address their goaltending depth for next season. Craig Anderson was a strong presence on the club’s last season but remains undecided if he’ll return or retire. Promising Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen should be ready to step into a larger role but remains unproven at the NHL level and has been plagued by injuries.

Free-agent goalie candidates could include Marc-Andre Fleury, Darcy Kuemper, Ville Husso, Jack Campbell and Braden Holtby. Trade options could include the Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson or the Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres stand a better chance of signing one of those free-agent goalies than acquiring Gibson or prying Hellebuyck out of Winnipeg. Gibson last week denied reports he’s open to being traded. The Jets still see themselves as a playoff team next season, something they definitely won’t be if they trade Hellebuyck.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski recently reported the Sabres don’t expect some of the higher-tiered UFA goalies will be available to them. Going the cheaper route might be their best option again this summer.

Lysowski also speculated that Victor Olofsson could be a trade candidate. He had 20 goals and 49 points this season but is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who needs to produce more. He completed a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $3.050 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have $35 million in cap space and must spend to reach the $61 million cap minimum. Fleury, Kuemper and Campbell could be out of reach but Husso could be a possibility. Holtby is past his prime but could be a good mentor in a backup role to Luukkonen. Olofsson could also be a decent bargaining chip if the Sabres want to pursue a goalie through the trade market.

COULD THE OILERS PURSUE HUSSO VIA FREE AGENCY?

NHL WATCHER: tweeted on June 14 that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was wondering if the Edmonton Oilers might revisit their rumored interest in Ville Husso from earlier this season. He believes they’re planning for a future without starting goalie Mike Smith via retirement or LTIR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Oilers with $7.1 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 15 players under contract. They can get $4.16 million in cap relief if necessary by placing Oscar Klefbom on long-term injury reserve and an additional $2.2 million if Smith retires or also hits LTIR.

That could free up enough to sign Husso if they’re still interested. However, it might not leave enough to suitably fill out the remainder of the roster. They could face parting ways with an RFA like Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi or attempting to move out another salaried player like Zack Kassian.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2022

The latest on the Avalanche and Lightning ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, an update on the Coyotes’ efforts to build a new arena, Gary Bettman addresses Joel Quenneville’s future, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche forwards Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano are each making progress in their recoveries from thumb surgeries. Kadri has been skating on his own and practicing his stickhandling while Cogliano took part in a full team practice on Friday with the fourth line.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche remains hopeful both players will return to action at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, there is no timetable for when that might happen.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning will attempt to generate more traffic in front of Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday. While the Lightning was outshot 38-23 in Game 1, they felt they didn’t create more havoc around the Avalanche net, especially in hunting down rebounds for scoring chances.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, expect the Lightning to try and get more bodies in front of Kuemper for screened shots while attempting to pounce on rebounds he can’t control.

TSN: The Arizona Coyotes have received approval to open negotiations with the city of Tempe to build a new arena closer to downtown Phoenix. The club hopes to have a deal for the 46-acre tract of land worked out by the end of this year, but Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez acknowledged it could take longer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A new NHL-style arena will ensure the Coyotes’ long-term future in Arizona. Until it’s built, they’ll be playing in Arizona State University’s 5,000-seat venue for the next three seasons.

NEW YORK POST: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he doesn’t know if Joel Quenneville will be returning to pro hockey. Quenneville stepped down as head coach of the Florida Panthers last October when an investigation revealed his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, mishandled sexual abuse allegations made by former Blackhawks player Kyle Beach.

Bettman didn’t rule out the possibility of Quenneville one day returning to the NHL coaching ranks. However, it would require the commissioner’s approval. He said Quenneville has indicated he’d like to be part of the game again at the appropriate time. “I don’t think this is the time,” said Bettman. “But we’ll see what happens in the future.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quenneville is among the most successful coaches in NHL history. However, he put the Blackhawks’ pursuit of the 2010 Stanley Cup over the protection, safety and well-being of Beach.

Bettman may have left the door open for Quenneville to come back but his comments indicate it won’t happen anytime soon. The argument can be made that Quenneville deserves a second chance, but one can counter that he hasn’t paid a full enough price for his role in the Blackhawks’ cover-up of Beach’s allegations.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Florida Panthers have interviewed multiple candidates for their head coaching job in recent weeks. They include Barry Trotz, Pete DeBoer, Rick Tocchet, Travis Green and potentially Paul Maurice.

Meanwhile, interim coach Andrew Brunette is still awaiting his fate. He was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, guiding the Panthers to their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can understand the Panthers conducting due diligence given the number of highly-qualified coaching candidates currently available. Nevertheless, it’s an awkward look to be talking to applicants when your interim bench boss was a finalist for coach of the year. Should Brunette win the Adams Award, one has to wonder if they’ll continue interviewing contenders for the job.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed Liam Foudy to a two-year contract extension on Friday. The first year is a two-way deal with a salary worth $725K at the NHL level and the second year is a one-way deal worth $775K. The 22-year-old forward is a former first-round pick (18th overall) in 2018.