NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

A franchise record for Leafs’ goalie Jack Campbell, hat tricks for Leon Draisaitl and Kevin Fiala, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jack Campbell set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Campbell made 32 saves while teammate Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 28th goal of the season. Corey Perry scored twice for the Canadiens. The Leafs moved into first place in the league’s overall standings with 58 points as they hold a seven-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens remain in fourth with 43 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

The Oilers, meanwhile, doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2 thanks to Leon Draisaitl’s hat trick. Draisaitl and Connor McDavid (three assists) each finished with four points on the night. The Oilers (50 points) hold a one-point lead over the third-place Winnipeg Jets.

A hat trick by Kevin Fiala (the first of his NHL career) powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. Fiala finished with four points while Wild rookies Kirill Kapizov scored twice and collected an assist while Victor Rask and Jared Spurgeon each had three helpers. The Wild (50 points) snapped the Avalanche’s 15-game points streak and moved within two points of the second-place Vegas Golden Knights (52 points) in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues and remain four points back of the first-place Avalanche. Jordan Binnington made 50 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko netted his third goal of the season as the Blues (40 points) snapped a seven-game winless skid to move two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks into fifth place.

A three-goal outburst in the third period rallied the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Coyotes remain in fourth place in the West with 43 points.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have 21 players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. As the cases spread among the team, the NHL remains committed to having the team complete its schedule. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place to allow the Canucks to complete the season.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise played his first game last night since March 22 after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s not fully convinced he had the coronavirus as he didn’t feel any symptoms.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness rejoined his team in Chicago after a false positive COVID-19 test forced him into quarantine for the past two games.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs’ winger William Nylander was held out of last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens as a precaution after coming in contact with a potential positive COVID-19 case from outside the team.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher has been placed on long-term injury reserve as he’s expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured thumb.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will allow the Canadiens to exceed the cap by almost the equivalent of Gallagher’s $3.75 million cap hit if they decide to acquire another player before the 3 pm ET trade deadline on Monday.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler has been sidelined indefinitely by a concussion. It’s believed he suffered the injury after being elbowed in the head by Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk during Monday’s game between the Jets and Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big loss for the Jets. Wheeler usually skates at right wing on their top line though of late he’s also played on their second line. He’s fourth among their scorers with 10 goals and 32 points.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner is out for six weeks with a broken finger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant blow for the struggling Blue Jackets as they try to stay in playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. Jenner’s a big, hard-working forward who can play center or wing. They’ll miss his energy and physical game.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Mike Hoffman was a healthy scratch from last night’s game against the Golden Knights. Head coach Craig Berube denied it has anything to do with his trade status, claiming it was his decision to put Sammy Blais into the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s come up in recent days as a trade candidate with the Blues’ playoff hopes fading. He could be playing elsewhere by Monday’s deadline.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks purchased AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs and signed a new 15-year lease with the club’s arena.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games, referee Tim Peel will no longer work NHL games, the Lightning and Ducks makes a trade, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Zach Aston-Reese each had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. A further evaluation of his condition is expected today. With 42 points, the Penguins sit two points behind the second-place Washington Capitals in the MassMutual East Division. The Sabres have dropped a league-record 15 straight games in the shootout era. It’s also a franchise record for the beleaguered club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this point, I almost wish there was a mercy rule so the Sabres could just end their schedule today and start the rebuild process. It’s just so painful watching this club flounder through the remainder of a lost season.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp (NHL Images).

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp scored a career-high four goals to lead his club to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Bo Horvat returned to the Canucks lineup after leaving the previous game between the two clubs with a lower-body injury. The Jets (42 points) move into a three-way tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers with the Leafs holding first place in the Scotia North Division with a game in hand over the Jets and two on the Oilers. Meanwhile, the Canucks (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens, who hold six games in hand.

The Ottawa Senators staged their second straight upset of the Calgary Flames with a 3-1 victory on second-period goals by Josh Norris, Chris Tierney and Nikita Zaitsev. Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves for his second straight win. The Flames have dropped three straight and remain two points behind the Canucks. Earlier in the day, the Senators announced winger Austin Watson (hand injury) will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the sidelined Canadiens hold games in hand, victories aren’t assured for them in what becomes a more compact, difficult schedule. The Canucks and Flames had golden opportunities to overtake the Habs in the standings. These recent losses could prove costly to their playoff hopes.

Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Ryan Suter collected his 600th career point as the Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2, handing the latter their 10th straight loss on home ice. With 41 points, the Wild sit two back of the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Wild winger Zach Parise missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols. 

The San Jose Sharks got two goals from Evander Kane and a 42-save performance by Martin Jones to double up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game in the final minutes of the third period following a late hit by Kings forward Jeff Carter.

HEADLINES

The NHL yesterday announced referee Tim Peel will no longer be working games after he was got on a hot mic stating his desire to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators during Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peel wasn’t fired but simply relieved of his duties until his intended retirement following what was slated to be his final game on April 24. The incident has raised concerns from Predators players and from pundits over how games are managed by on-ice officials. Some observers believe this could be an opportunity for the league to address this issue but there’s no guarantee we’ll see significant change. The league could simply dismiss this incident as a one-off and move on.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Alexander Volkov to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward prospect Antoine Morand and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois explained this move as a way of providing some short-term salary-cap flexibility and insurance against dressing only five defensemen in the event some of their blueliners suffer multiple short-term injuries. Volkov saw his ice time decline over the course of this season. Ducks GM Bob Murray believes he’ll benefit from a fresh start in Anaheim as the Ducks add more youthful talent.

NBC SPORTS: Bob McKenzie reports contract talks have started between the Minnesota Wild and Kirill Kaprizov’s representatives. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer. McKenzie suggests they could be working toward a mid-range deal of five or six years or possibly longer. A bridge contract might not work here because it’ll take Kaprizov up to his UFA eligibility age.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There is no definitive timeline for his return.

STLTODAY.COM: Former Blues defenseman Bob Plager was killed yesterday in a traffic accident in St. Louis. He was 78. An original member of the Blues renowned for his hip checks, Plager spent 11 of his 14 seasons in St. Louis and three seasons before that with the New York Rangers, finishing his career with 146 points in 644 NHL games. He and his brothers Barclay and Bill skated for the Blues from 1967 to 1972. Plager was one of the most popular players in franchise history and among the most popular of their alumni.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former NHL linesman Swede Knox passed away on Monday from lung cancer at the age of 73. Knox worked 2,248 NHL games from 1972 to 2000, including five Stanley Cup Finals and one NHL All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Plager and Knox families, as well as their friends and former teammates and colleagues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Edmonton Oilers 6-1 to sweep their three-game series. Jimmy Vesey scored two goals, Jason Spezza collected three assists and Fredrik Andersen made 26 saves in his return to action after missing four games with a lower-body injury. Auston Matthews also returned after missing two games with a wrist injury but was held scoreless.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs outscored the Oilers 13-1 in their three games, including back-to-back shutouts. They held Oilers captain Connor McDavid scoreless while Leon Draisaitl managed just one assist.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fourth straight victory by taming the Minnesota Wild 5-1. Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves while Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch and Colin Stephenson each had a goal and an assist. Wild winger Zach Parise was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career with the club owing to an overextended shift during Monday’s overtime loss to Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has bounced back well from last season’s inconsistent performance. He’s among the league leaders with 11 wins, a .939 save percentage, 1.71 goals-against average and three shutouts. The 36-year-old netminder could become a Vezina Trophy finalist if he can maintain that level of play.

Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each had four-point performances as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves for the shutout. It was a costly win for the Avs as center Nathan MacKinnon left the game in the third period after a hit to the head from Sharks winger Joachim Blichfield, who received a match penalty and could face supplemental discipline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avs coach Jared Bednar said MacKinnon seemed to be doing okay following the game. We should find out today or tomorrow if he avoided serious injury.

A shootout goal by Jakub Vrana lifted the Washington Capitals over the Boston Bruins 2-1. David Pastrnak scored for the Bruins while Lars Eller replied for the Capitals. The Bruins honored former captain Zdeno Chara with a video tribute as he returned to Boston for the first time since signing with the Capitals in the offseason. Before the game, the Bruins announced center Charlie Coyle was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 list.

The St. Louis Blues got power-play goals from Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sandford to hold the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington kicked out 27 shots. The Ducks have dropped eight straight games.

Arizona Coyotes netminder Antti Raanta stopped 40 shots as his club nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Two goals 40 seconds apart in the second period by Nick Schmaltz and Johan Larsson gave the Coyotes the win. The Kings have dropped three straight.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said his decision to fire goalie coach Stephane Waite during Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Ottawa. He said he consulted interim head coach Dominique Ducharme beforehand but not with netminder Carey Price, who learned of the move following the game. The Habs hired Sean Burke as their new director of goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin said the move was made to help Price improve his performance, which has fallen off over the past four seasons. The Habs GM is not expected to make any further organizational changes this season after firing coaches Claude Julien and Kirk Muller last week. However, Bergevin could face losing his job if his moves fail to improve the Canadiens,

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter was fined $5,000.00 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros on Tuesday. Saros is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker (lower body) was placed on long-term injury reserve yesterday.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said league revenue for 2021-22 could be affected by Canada’s slow vaccine rollout. While admitting it is premature to make predictions, Daly hinted it could affect everything from revenue to competition, including division alignment, travel and trades. He also said the league remains optimistic that its trajectory remains on pace toward a normal work environment for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadian government maintains the COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all its citizens who want one by September. Recent reports suggest the distribution of those vaccines could speed up in the coming months. Nevertheless, we won’t know for certain until the start of next season what the effect will be on Canadian teams and league revenue.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 3, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 3, 2021

Are the Bruins interested in Pierre-Luc Dubois? Could the Islanders revisit their interest in Zach Parise? Are the Lightning looking at free-agent defenseman Sami Vatanen? Find out in the first NHL Sunday Rumor Roundup of 2021.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL source claiming the Bruins have looked into what it might cost to acquire Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old Dubois signed a two-year contract with the Jackets last week amid rumors he’d still prefer a trade.

Are the Boston Bruins interested in Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois? (NHL Images)

The source told Murphy the Bruins interest was merely exploratory at this point. There are no details as to what the Jackets’ asking price would be. Murphy feels Dubois, who can play center or wing, would provide the Bruins with much-needed secondary scoring and would become a successor to aging second-line center David Krejci.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication the Blue Jackets are looking into moving Dubois but I daresay he’ll be a hot topic in the early-season rumor mill. If the Jackets were to shop the young center they’ll likely want a center of at least equal value in return. They were among the NHL’s lowest-scoring clubs last season with depth at center a nagging issue.

I don’t see the Jackets trading away Dubois without getting a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. They could seek a package of picks and prospects for Dubois that they could flip to another club for a first- or second-line center (assuming Max Domi could slide into the first-line spot), but that sounds easier said than done right now. The Bruins lack sufficient assets in available roster players or young assets to land Dubois.

If the Jackets decide to move Dubois it could be during the offseason when interested teams would have more cap space. However, the flattened salary cap for 2021-22 means that the market could be limited.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently examined the New York Islanders’ options for replacing departed center Derick Brassard. Among them was perhaps revisiting their interest in Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise.

Staple said there’s no indication the Isles were looking at renewing their trade-deadline interest in Parise. However, the recent retirement of Johnny Boychuk freed up his $6 million annual average value, making it possible to swing that trade now. Acquiring Parise would mean taking on the remaining five years (at $7.54 million annually) of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple isn’t saying the Isles will revisit the potential Parise trade but they have the cap wiggle room to do so if they wanted to. While anything’s possible, the drastic economic changes brought on by COVID-19 since last year’s trade deadline probably killed off any lingering chance of the Isles acquiring Parise.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2020

Check out the latest on the Penguins and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi report rival team executives believe Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could explore trading Kris Letang, despite Rutherford saying he wanted to keep the blueliner among his core players. One executive claimed Letang still has value in the trade market.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins explore trade possibilities for Kris Letang (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang’s age (33), annual average salary ($7.25 million through 2021-22), and injury history are significant sticking points. While he has an 18-team trade list, his no-movement clause means he cannot be demoted to the minors. With two-thirds of the teams facing a cap crunch for 2020-21, moving Letang seems a remote possibility.

They also reported the Penguins’ decision to release assistant coach Sergei Gonchar isn’t a sign of renewed strain between head coach Mike Sullivan and Evgeni Malkin, who is close to Gonchar. Despite occasional disputes, management believes Malkin respects Sullivan. They also said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby let it be known last year that he doesn’t want Malkin traded unless the center asks to be moved. Malkin has indicated he wants to finish his career with the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin’s name is always brought up by somebody in the rumor mill as a trade option whenever the Penguins fall short of expectations. Yohe and Rossi remind us he’s got a full no-movement clause, giving him full control over his NHL future for the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2022. Malkin’s not going anywhere unless he wants out, and he isn’t interested in that option.

Yohe also believes Matt Murray could be on his way out, suggesting he needs a change of scenery. He anticipates Rutherford will find a way to move center Nick Bjugstad, who has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.1 million. He also doesn’t rule out Jared McCann and Zach Aston-Reese becoming trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Rutherford sheds salary, the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign Murray and fellow RFA goaltender Tristan Jarry. I think Murray hits the trade block following the postseason.

Yohe doesn’t expect pending unrestricted free agents like Justin Schultz, Patrick Marleau, and Conor Sheary will be back.

WILD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo recently raised several questions about possible offseason moves by the Minnesota Wild.

One was whether Wild GM Bill Guerin would bundle some assets, including either Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba, to acquire a first-line center, or attempt to sign one via free agency. Russo also wondered if Guerin might shop one of his goalies, acquire one via trade or free agency, and/or promote promising Kaapo Kahkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would have better trade value, and might even fetch a first-line center in a one-for-one swap. That move, however, would address one problem but create another, as Dumba is (in my opinion) their best defenseman. Guerin will have to look to the trade market as this year’s UFA market is thin on quality centers. 

As for their goalies, Russo pointed out adding one could mean buying out Devan Dubnyk, a move that could suggest Kahkonen’s not the goalie of the future. Dubnyk’s only got one year left on his contract. It might be worthwhile standing pat between the pipes and see how next season unfolds. They’ll have a better idea of Kahkonen’s readiness and can let Dubnyk walk via free agency.

Russo wondered if Guerin might revisit his failed trade-deadline attempt to ship Zach Parise to the New York Islanders. He also mused about buying out Dubnyk or Victor Rask if they can’t trade them, and if they’ll find a way to move expensive winger Mats Zuccarello, who also carries a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The attempted Parise deal was done before COVID-19 derailed the schedule and flattened the salary cap. I don’t see that trade happening, especially with the Isles’ limited cap space. Buying out Dubnyk and Rask creates around $4 million in dead cap space next season, over $2.1 million in 2021-22, and $1.33 million for each of the following two seasons.

The Wild are likely stuck with Zuccarello for a while unless he’s willing to waive his NMC and they’re willing to either pick up part of his $6 million AAV or bundle him with a sweetener like a high draft pick or top prospect.










The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part I)

The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part I)