NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 18, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 18, 2019

Evgeni Malkin reaches a career milestone, Taylor Hall collects his first point as a Coyote, Ilya Kovalchuk becomes a free agent, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin tallied his 400th career goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Calgary Flames 4-1. He’s the fourth player in Penguins history to reach that milestone. Tristan Jarry made 33 saves as the Penguins picked up their third straight victory. Kris Letang and Bryan Rust also netted two points.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin scored his 400th career NHL goal on Tuesday. (Photo via NHL Images)

Taylor Hall picked up his first point with the Arizona Coyotes in a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Hall picked up a well-earned assist on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s game-winning goal.

Anze Kopitar’s overtime goal lifted the Los Angeles Kings over the Boston Bruins 4-3. The Bruins have dropped six of their last seven games. Earlier in the day, Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk became an unrestricted free agent after clearing unconditional waivers, allowing the Kings to terminate his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Kovalchuk’s struggles with the Kings, there’s plenty of speculation suggesting the 36-year-old winger could end up with another NHL club. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their second straight win by downing the Winnipeg Jets 6-3. Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal each scored twice, Dougie Hamilton collected three assists, and Andrei Svechnikov tallied his second lacrosse-style goal of the season. Meanwhile, the estranged relationship between the Jets and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien took a step toward improvement as the blueliner is rehabbing his injured ankle in consultation with the club. He remains under suspension for failing to report to training camp.

Seven unanswered goals powered the Nashville Predators to an 8-3 drubbing of the New York Islanders. Calle Jarnkork and Craig Smith each had three-point performances for the Predators. Meanwhile, Islanders winger Josh Ho-Sang will report to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport after a two-month absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang was told not to report to Bridgeport by Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello as the latter attempted to honor the winger’s trade request. Ho-Sang needs to play to drum up any interest from rival clubs.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored twice as his club held off the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. Sabres captain Jack Eichel extended his points streak to 17 games with a goal and an assist.

The Columbus Blue Jackets swept their back-to-back series against the Detroit Red Wings with a 5-3 victory. Former Wing Gustav Nyquist picked up two points. Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski returned to action for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on Nov. 30. Jackets blueliner Ryan Murray is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Red Wings rearguard Danny DeKeyser is expected to miss the remainder of the season following back surgery on Tuesday. Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (groin injury) was sent to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart made 40 stops in a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who got a boost from Travis Konecny’s return to the lineup following a three-game absence recovering from a concussion. Ducks winger Troy Terry left the game with a knee injury in the second period.

The Tampa Bay Lightning blew a 3-1 lead but went on to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on a brilliant overtime goal by Anthony Cirelli. Earlier in the day, the Senators placed defenseman Nikita Zaitsev (lower body) on injured reserve.

Carey Price kicked out 38 shots backstopping the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Tomas Tatar and Shea Weber each scored power-play goals. The Habs have won four of their last five and sit one point behind the Sabres for second place in the Atlantic Division.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves as the Vegas Golden Knights edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Earlier in the day, the Wild announced winger Jason Zucker is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.


THE SCORE: Former NHLer and Colorado Eagles player Akim Aliu has accepted “a heartfelt and emotional apology” from Eagles equipment manager Tony Deynzer, who attended a team Halloween party in 2011 in blackface dressed as Aliu. Deynzer will keep his job with the club.

TWINCITIES.COM: Former NHL defenseman Scot Kleinendorst died yesterday of injuries he suffered while on the job at a paper mill in Grand Rapids. He was 59. Kleinendorst spent eight seasons in the NHL from 1982-83 to 1989-90 with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, and Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kleinendorst’s family, friends, and former teammates.


NHL Most Important Players: St. Louis Blues

NHL Most Important Players: St. Louis Blues


NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2019

Latest on the Leafs and Bruins plus updates on Micheal Ferland, Derick Brassard, and Andre Burakovsky in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Michael Hoad lists Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues, Dougie Hamilton of the Carolina Hurricanes, Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Chris Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks as five right-shot defense trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the Blues’ struggles this season they’re still within range of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Even if they fall out of the chase by the Feb. 25 trade deadline, I doubt Pietrangelo and Parayko will be available. Besides, the asking price for either guy will be expensive, probably a first-round pick and a good young player like Kaspari Kapanen. The Leafs could part with the pick but are reportedly unwilling to move Kapanen.

The Hurricanes could shop Hamilton but they want a scoring forward, preferably a center, in return. Maybe the Leafs could offer up Nazem Kadri, who’s been relegated to third-line duty this season.

Gudas and Tanev would be affordable rental options but the former is now seeing third-pairing minutes while the latter has an injury history and a modified no-trade clause. 

BOSTON HERALD: Marisa Ingemi believes there are some realistic and appealing trade options for the Bruins. They included the Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds, St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn, Carolina Hurricanes’ winger Micheal Ferland, and Ottawa Senators’ winger Mark Stone. 

Could the Boston Bruins attempt to acquire Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the players on Ingemi’s list have been linked to the Bruins at one point or another in this season’s rumor mill. GM Don Sweeney is expected to swing a deal to bolster his club’s secondary scoring depth, probably by pursuing a winger for David Krejci’s line. He has a number of promising young assets to offer up as trade bait.

Simmonds and Ferland seem the best options. I still think the Senators can re-sign Stone, who’s publicly expressed his willingness to stay in Ottawa. The Blues’ recent improvement could make them reluctant to part with Schenn, who’s signed through 2019-20. 


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are believed to have inquired about Carolina Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. The Penguins would have to shed salary and LeBrun suggested moving center Derick Brassard. The Hurricanes will want a first-round pick for Ferland but LeBrun wondered if they could acquire Brassard and flip him to another club for a first rounder.  He also speculated the Calgary Flames might look at reacquiring Ferland, who they shipped to the Hurricanes in a multi-player deal last summer. 

Darren Dreger believes Brassard, who’s also a UFA this summer, would be fine with accepting a trade to a playoff club. For whatever reason, things haven’t worked out for him in Pittsburgh. The Winnipeg Jets are thought to have expressed some interest in Brassard. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dreger also noted the Penguins will need a third-line center if they move Brassard. Ferland wouldn’t fit that role as he’s a top-six winger. Acquiring Brassard and subsequently attempting to move him is a possibility for the Hurricanes but could become too complicated to pull off. A more likely scenario is the Penguins shipping Brassard to a Western Conference playoff club like the Jets and then bundling the return into an offer for Ferland. That’s assuming another club doesn’t make the Hurricanes a better offer.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): LeBrun speculates the Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche, and Dallas Stars are among the clubs believed to have contacted the Washington Capitals regarding winger Andre Burakovsky. The 23-year-old has 12 points in 43 games and was a healthy scratch six times. His annual salary-cap hit is $3 million ($3.25 million in actual salary this season) and he’s slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. 

LeBrun’s colleague Sean Shapiro recently tweeted the Stars and Capitals were scouting each other heavily, with Burakovsky on the Stars’ list of trade option. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky has promising offensive skills but he’s struggled to break through with the Capitals. LeBrun also noted his qualifying offer this summer would be $3.25 million, which could scare off some suitors. It’s believed the Capitals aren’t interested in draft picks or prospects but instead want a roster player for Burakovsky. 

NHL Rumor Mill – January 22, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 22, 2019

The Oilers’ re-signing Mikko Koskinen could see Cam Talbot hit the trade block, plus updates on the Maple Leafs and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson believes the Oilers re-signing goaltender Mikko Koskinen leaves fellow netminder Cam Talbot’s future in limbo. Talbot’s performance slipped following a stellar 2016-17 campaign leading to the Oilers signing Koskinen last summer. If the Oilers fall out of playoff contention leading up to the Feb. 25 trade deadline, Matheson believes they’ll shop Talbot, who has a 10-team trade list. Possible destinations include 

Goalie Cam Talbot’s days appear numbered with the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).

Talbot is an unrestricted free agent this summer and there could be openings in Florida, New Jersey, St. Louis, Columbus, and Ottawa. His potential departure will mean the Oilers will have to pursue a backup via trade or free agency. Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tristan Jarry could become a trade target while Brian Elliott and Cam Ward could be available in the UFA market. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 yesterday, Elliotte Freidman speculated over what other moves Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli might have up his sleeve. Besides re-signing Koskinen yesterday, Chiarelli also placed forwards Ty Rattie and Ryan Spooner on waivers.

Friedman wondered if Chiarelli is trying to clear some salary-cap room to make a move. Rattie’s entire salary ($800K) won’t count against the Oilers’ cap if he heads to the minors, while they would save $1.05 million if Spooner ($4 million) is demoted.

Friedman said he’d heard some rumors they might be interested in Washington Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky but “somebody threw cold water on that to me today.” He also doesn’t see them parting with young assets for a rental player. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ moves yesterday stoked criticism of general manager Peter Chiarelli and calls for his firing by unhappy fans. However, re-signing Koskinen to a three-year deal and placing Rattie and Spooner on waivers suggests he’s not in danger of losing his job…yet. That could change if the Oilers collapse in the standings in the coming weeks.

Talbot’s days are numbered now in Edmonton. The Koskinen contract indicates he won’t be re-signed this summer.  Chiarelli could see if there’s a market for him before the trade deadline and call up veteran backup Al Montoya from the Oilers’ AHL affiliate. 

I agree with Friedman that the Rattie and Spooner moves could indicate Chiarelli is trying to free up cap space to perhaps acquire a player, one who is either signed through next season or a potential restricted free agent this summer. Burakovsky would fit that profile but reports out of Washington claim the Capitals aren’t ready to give up on him. 


TSN: Darren Dreger said he doesn’t believe the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent losses are increasing the sense of urgency for general manager Kyle Dubas to make a trade. Citing the William Nylander signing, he pointed out Dubas is a patient GM.

Noting the calls for the Leafs to add a right-side defenseman, Dreger pointed out the market for a top blueliner is very expensive right now. While St. Louis Blues rearguards Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko surfaced in trade speculation earlier this season, the Blues’ recent improvement suggests they might want to add, not subtract. 

Last week, Dreger’s colleague Bob McKenzie said the Leafs’ 2019 first-round pick could be in play. He also suggested a young forward like Kaspari Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson would have to be part of the deal for a good defenseman. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs aren’t in danger of falling out of a playoff spot, though that could change in the coming weeks if the losses keep mounting. Still, Dubas has time to examine the market and try to find the right fit. With the All-Star break coming up, he could use that period for some face-to-face discussions with some rival GMs. 


DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa recently reported Red Wings captain Niklas Kronwall would feel duty bound to listen if GM Ken Holland approached him about a trade. The 38-year-old has a modified no-trade clause, giving him some control. He expressed his surprise about a couple of recent reports suggesting the Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in him. 

Krupa’s colleague Ted Kulfan reported on defenseman Nick Jensen’s improvement this season following a shaky training camp and being scratched from the season opener. The 28-year-old is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and could be moved by the Feb. 25 trade deadline. With Kronwall likely to retire at season’s end, Kulfan feels Jensen would be a low-cost, dependable option for the Wings. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kronwall has hinted this season could be his last and his preference to retire as a Red Wing. Still, if a rival club made a reasonable pitch, Holland could ask him to waive his no-trade. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kronwall finishes this season in Detroit. Jensen has surfaced as a possible trade option but Holland could consider him worth retaining on a reasonable contract. 

NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2018

The NHL Christmas trade freeze has ended. Check out the latest on the Blues, Hurricanes, and Leafs in your NHL rumor mill. 


STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon believes if the St. Louis Blues decided to ship out talents such as Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko or Colton Parayko, they must get talent back. 

Teams hoping to pry Vladimir Tarasenko away from the St. Louis Blues should be prepared to pay a hefty price. (Photo via NHL Images)

Gordon wondered what would be a fair price for Parayko, a player many general managers would love to have on their rosters. He dismissed the notion that an offer of an unproven player, such as Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, would be enough to tempt the Blues. 

Gordon acknowledged an all-around defenseman such as Pietrangelo, with a year remaining on his contract ($6.5-million annual salary-cap hit), could help a club like the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. However, he rejected the idea of the Blues accepting a role player such as Andreas Johnsson or a blueliner like Nikita Zaitsev as part of the return, suggesting someone such as Mitch Marner would be more appropriate.

As for Tarasenko, Gordon noted the Carolina Hurricanes need scoring. He felt the only forwards worth discussing in a trade of that magnitude are Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov and the Hurricanes aren’t parting with those two.

Gordon’s colleague Jim Thomas touched on the recent spate of Blues trade rumors during his latest live chat with Blues fans. 

Noting Tarasenko is second to Washington’s Alex Ovechkin in goals over the past “four-plus” seasons, Thomas believes it would take “a heck of a deal” to pry him away from the Blues. 

Thomas thought there was more talk about Parayko last offseason compared to now. Given the Blues’ underachievement this season, it’s understandable why he’s come up in trade rumors. 

A lot of teams would be interested in Brayden Schenn but Thomas felt trading him would be a mistake. He also believes Tyler Bozak’s contract would make him difficult to trade, noting his $5 million per season for the next two years is expensive for a third-line center. 

He doesn’t expect veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will fetch much at his age before the trade deadline. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Blues general manager Doug Armstrong intends on blowing up the roster before the trade deadline and engaging in a major roster rebuild, he’s probably not accepting offers composed of draft picks, prospects, and unproven young players. He’ll want talent that can help his club now and over the long term.

Yes, NHL history is rife with instances of general managers making bad trades, but that doesn’t mean Armstrong will do the same. Moving top players such as Tarasenko and Pietrangelo will be blockbuster moves, and he’ll want a quality return for each guy. Same goes for Parayko and Schenn. 


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY:  During an appearance yesterday on Toronto’s TSN 1050, Darren Dreger said the Carolina Hurricanes remain a club he’s keeping an eye on leading up to the NHL trade deadline. He notes Hurricanes GM Don Waddell has talked openly about their need to acquire a scorer, while team owner Tom Dundon said he doesn’t value or covet high-end defense when going into a draft. 

Dreger believes they’ll continue to link the Hurricanes with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He pointed out their previous interest in William Nylander before he re-signed with the Leafs, and they’re said to be interested in Leafs winger Kaspari Kapanen. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two clubs seem, as Dreger pointed out, to be a good fit. The Leafs need to bolster their blueline, especially on the right side. The Hurricanes need scoring forwards. The Leafs have good young offensive forwards while the Hurricanes have depth in quality defensemen.

Both sides appear to be slow-dancing toward a possible deal in the coming weeks. Then again, perhaps they’ll find other options to address their respective needs. 


SPORTSNET: On Dec. 22, Luke Fox noted Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas saying he’d explore an upgrade on defense prior to the trade deadline if he didn’t see enough gains from his blueline before then. He wondered if Dubas might find a quality rearguard this season like the Washington Capitals did last season when they acquire Michal Kempny.

Assessing the list of veteran defensemen who might become available by the deadline, Fox listed Vancouver’s Alexander Edler, St. Louis’ Jay Bouwmeester, Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall or Nick Jensen, New Jersey’s Ben Lovejoy, and Dallas’ Marc Methot as potential rental options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Except for Edler, I can hear most of Leafs Nation replying, “Oh, hell no!” to these other options. Apart from the 28-year-old Jensen, the rest are in the mid to late thirties with a lot of mileage on them.

Edler 32, remains a skilled puck-moving defenseman who can still log big minutes. He could be a decent fit with the Leafs, provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.  

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2018

Are the Flyers on the verge of replacing coach Dave Hakstol with Joel Quenneville? Get the details plus the latest Leafs and Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

Are the Philadelphia Flyers on the verge of firing head coach Dave Hakstol? (Photo via NHL.com)


COURIER-POST ONLINE: Dave Isaac yesterday cited “multiple sources” claiming the Philadelphia Flyers would announce the firing of head coach Dave Hakstol “Sunday night or Monday morning.” Those sources also said Hakstol’s replacement would be former Chicago Blackhawks bench boss Joel Quenneville.

Following Isaac’s report, TSN’s Darren Dreger took to Twitter reporting there was “No communication with Joel Quenneville, yet. Anything is possible.”

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Dave Scott, the CEO of the Flyers’ parent company Comcast Spectacor, said it wasn’t true that Quenneville had been hired.

NBC SPORTS: John Boruk and Jordan Hall report two team sources said no moves have been made regarding the club’s coaching staff. They also cited FOX Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland reporting Quenneville hadn’t taken the job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Isaac isn’t a rumor monger and I don’t doubt his sources. However, the Flyers moved quickly to deny Quenneville was replacing Hakstol. Of course, we can’t rule out the possibility that the embattled Hakstol could be replaced and perhaps the Flyers have their eye on Quenneville. We’ll find out soon enough. 


THE ATHLETIC: Ian Tulloch recently conducted an in-depth analysis of the defensemen linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the rumor mill to determine which one would best suit their needs on the right side. Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues is a legitimate No. 1 defenseman but the asking price could be comparable to what the New York Rangers got for Ryan McDonagh last season, which included two key prospects plus a first-round draft pick and a second rounder.

Tulloch considers Blues rearguard Colton Parayko one of the better two-way blueliners in hockey. He feels Parayko’s defensive skills could improve the Leafs’ shot suppression and cut down opponents’ scoring chances. The cost could be Kaspari Kapanen, prospect Timothy Liljegren and a 2019 first-round pick.

Tulloch also examined more defensive blueliners such as Chris Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks, Mark Pysyk of the Florida Panthers, and Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers, noting the decline of their respective performances. Other options include Brett Pesce of the Carolina Hurricanes, Nick Jensen of the Detroit Red Wings, and Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tulloch isn’t saying the Leafs are actively pursuing any of the aforementioned. He was also being realistic over the potential cost to acquire guys like Pietrangelo or Parayko. Time will tell if the Leafs attempt to bring in players of that caliber or opt instead for more affordable short-term options. 


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington isn’t impressed with recent trade proposals by some in the Toronto media involving the Buffalo Sabres. He noted a recent Sportsnet column including the Sabres among potential trade destinations for Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, proposing “a deal of Conor Sheary, Marco Scandella, Lawrence Pilut and the 2019 first-round pick originally acquired from St. Louis in the Ryan O’Reilly deal in exchange for Pietrangelo and fellow defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.” Harrington considered it  “insanity” that the Sabres would give up so much for a player carrying a $6.5-million annual cap hit who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.  

Harrington also noted a recent proposal in The Hockey News in which the Sabres acquire Buffalo native Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Sam Reinhart, Jason Pominville, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Brendan Guhle, Victor Olofsson and three first-round draft picks. “No truth to the rumor the deal also includes a partridge in a pear tree,” he scoffed, pointing out Kane’s $10-5-million annual cap hit for the next four years would be a problem. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize the good folks at Sportsnet and The Hockey News were merely spitballing about players who’ve popped up in the trade-rumor mill. Still, Harrington makes a good point about the silliness of those Sabres trade proposals.