NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2022

What’s the latest on Filip Forsberg and Jeff Petry? Could the Devils attempt to move Jesper Bratt? What will the Capitals do about their goaltending? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL FORSBERG RE-SIGN WITH THE PREDATORS?

TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Nashville Predators would like to bring back Filip Forsberg. However, it’s not clear at this point if they’ll be able to do that. He said there hasn’t been much progress in contract extension talks since March and both sides seem entrenched in their current positions.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan recently examined three options for the Predators to replace Forsberg if he hits the open market on July 13. The bold move could be attempting a major trade to acquire David Pastrnak if he’s reluctant to sign a contract extension with the Boston Bruins.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

They could attempt to sign Valeri Nichushkin if the Colorado Avalanche winger becomes an unrestricted free agent next month. Another option is acquiring Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers as a reclamation project.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of time remains for Forsberg and the Predators to work out a deal. However, if there hasn’t been any progress in talks when the calendar flips to July, the more likely it’ll be that the 27-year-old left winger goes to market.

I don’t anticipate the Bruins shopping Pastrnak as both sides seem open to working out a contract extension starting on July 13. Sure, it’s possible talks could stall and the Bruins could start listening to offers but I’d say the odds of that happening are low right now.

Nichushkin won’t replace Forsberg’s offense or star power. Nevertheless, he’d be a more affordable option and his two-way game could be a good fit in the Predators’ system.

Puljujarvi’s trade value is low right now and he could be available given the Oilers’ limited cap space. It shouldn’t cost very much to acquire him if the Predators are interested.

CANADIENS WORKING ON PETRY TRADE

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Montreal Canadiens are working on trading Jeff Petry though there’s no guarantee a deal will take place. Five or six teams have expressed an interest in the 34-year-old defenseman.

The Dallas Stars are among those clubs, especially if they lose blueliner John Klingberg to free agency next month. LeBrun said it appears Klingberg could test the UFA market as there have been no contract talks of late with the Stars. The Detroit Red Wings are another potential destination.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Petry-to-Dallas speculation has been around since March when there was talk the Stars looked into acquiring him before the trade deadline. As for the Wings, they have plenty of salary-cap space to absorb the Michigan native’s $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and are in need of experienced blueline depth.

A LOOK AT DAILY FACEOFF’S UPDATED TRADE TARGETS LIST

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added five new names to his NHL offseason trade targets list.

New Jersey Devils winger Jesper Bratt is the notable new name, checking in at No. 10. Seravalli noted Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald recently said the 23-year-old winger is a big part of the club’s future. However, sources said Bratt was available at the trade deadline and there’s been no contract extension talks to this point. He also noted Fitzgerald’s pursuit of “hard skill” this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bratt completed a career-best 73-point season and is coming off his second NHL contract. Fitzgerald can take his time negotiating with him though Bratt does have arbitration rights and is in line for a big raise.

I’m skeptical that Bratt will get traded but I don’t rule it out. It will depend on what type of skill player Fitzgerald is pursuing this summer and if Bratt would be a trade chip necessary to acquire that type of player.

Speaking of the Devils, Seravalli has Mackenzie Blackwood at No. 20. There’s a sense they’re losing faith in the 25-year-old goaltender after two seasons of injury and inconsistent play. He could be a bounce-back candidate in tandem with a veteran on a deeper club with limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Improving the goaltending depth is a must for Fitzgerald this summer. He could shop Blackwood but could also keep him as a backup to be mentored by whoever he brings in as a starter.

New York Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen were also added to the list. Beauvillier came in at No. 15, Martinez at 14 and Kapanen at 18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These three have previously surfaced in trade speculation mostly as cost-cutting candidates.

LATEST CAPITALS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Andrew Gillis recently examined possible goaltending candidates for the Capitals if they part ways with Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek this summer. He suggested monitoring the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov and Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Both have a year remaining on their respective contracts. He also doesn’t anticipate they’ll be among the bidders for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell if he tests the open market in July.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber recently cited Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claiming the Florida Panthers are shopping starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky hard, so much so they’re willing to retain as much as 50 percent of his $10 million annual cap hit.

Silber wondered if the Capitals would be interested. She also suggested the Capitals could prefer keeping their options open with Campbell, Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper and St. Louis’ Ville Husso possibly available via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov might approve a trade back to where his career began but I don’t see the Capitals investing in him unless they can get him signed to a contract extension. The Kings could stick with Quick for his final season before passing the full-time goalie duties to Cal Petersen.

Bobrovsky’s contract expires in 2026. Even at $5 million annually, that’s a lengthy investment in a 33-year-old goaltender who struggles at times with consistency. I think the Capitals will test their luck in the UFA market and make a cost-cutting deal if necessary to add a goalie.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cites a report out of Russia claiming Alex Ovechkin called Evander Kane earlier this season to encourage him to sign with the Capitals following his contract termination by the San Jose Sharks. Kane ultimately signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m including this one just for fun. And no, I don’t see Kane signing with the Capitals. They already have a first-line left winger (hello there, Ovechkin) and they’ll likely invest their limited cap space in improving their goaltending and perhaps their blueline depth.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2022

Updates on Johnny Gaudreau, Claude Giroux and David Pastrnak plus the latest on the Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATES ON GAUDREAU, GIROUX AND PASTRNAK

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes Johnny Gaudreau’s sincerity over his public statements that he loves playing in Calgary. He thinks the 28-year-old left winger will give the Flames a chance to sign him. However, LeBrun wouldn’t be surprised if the Gaudreau camp decides to test the unrestricted free agent market on July 13.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

The New Jersey Devils have been mentioned as a potential suitor for Gaudreau given their salary-cap room. LeBrun also suggested the Seattle Kraken as a bit of a wild card but they also have the cap space and could be aggressive in the UFA market.

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian included the Devils among her list of potential destinations for Gaudreau. The Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders and Nashville Predators are other possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Flames will do all they can to keep Gaudreau in the fold. Still, you can’t blame him if he wants to consider all his options.

The Devils are an up-and-coming team in need of an established first-line winger. Gaudreau was born and raised in South Jersey. It’s only natural to assume they’d be among his pursuers.

It’s easy to dismiss the Kraken because they’re a new team still building their roster. However, general manager Ron Francis raised eyebrows by signing Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz last summer. It’s a long shot but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Gaudreau landing in Seattle.

I don’t see the Flyers and Islanders signing Gaudreau unless they’re prepared to clear cap space for what could be a seven-year, $70 million contract. The Penguins would have the cap room if Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang depart via free agency The chance to play alongside Sidney Crosby could be tempting.

Predators GM David Poile could be in the market for a new left winger if he fails to get Filip Forsberg under contract. If he balks at signing Forsberg for $8.5 million annually, I don’t see him handing out up to $10 million annually for Gaudreau.

Turning to Claude Giroux, LeBrun said the 34-year-old center’s priority is re-signing with the Florida Panthers. It won’t be easy given their salary-cap limitations but they’ve informed him that they’re interested in signing him.

Failing that, he wants to find a team where he can chase the Stanley Cup but also a place for his young family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following Giroux’s trade to Florida, there was speculation he could sign with his hometown Ottawa Senators if he won a Cup this spring. That faded after the Panthers were eliminated in the second round. We’ll see if it gets resurrected if he goes to market in July.

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports David Pastrnak’s agent refuted a recent report claiming his client had an issue with Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. The report cited a source close to Pastrnak saying he wouldn’t sign with the Bruins if Sweeney remain GM.

In an email to Conroy, JP Barry said he spoke with the winger and they have no idea where that story came from. “We both have a strong relationship with Don and the plan hasn’t changed one bit. We will sit down in July and begin extension negotiations.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak is slated next summer to become a UFA. The recent firing of head coach Bruce Cassidy, uncertainty over captain Patrice Bergeron’s future and injuries sidelining Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy from the start of next season contributed to concerns over the club’s ability to sign the talented winger.

Barry’s remarks should alleviate some of the concern about Pastrnak’s future among Bruins fans. However, that speculation will return and grow the longer he goes unsigned over the course of this summer.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples listed the highlights of Oilers’ general manager Ken Holland’s season wrap-up press conference on Wednesday.

Holland indicated he’s interested in bringing back Evander Kane. The 30-year-old winger meshed with Oilers captain Connor McDavid after coming to Edmonton in January as a free agent. He doesn’t know if Kane wants to return but intends to meet with him next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers got Kane for a bargain at $2 million for this season. He’s going to want much more than that on his next contract. Finding the cap space to keep him will be challenging for Holland.

The Oilers GM appears uncertain about Jesse Puljuarvi’s future. He intends to meet with his agent, admitting he has to sort out where the 24-year-old restricted free agent winger fits into the club’s plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already speculation that Puljujarvi could get traded instead of re-signed this summer.

Staples’ colleague Jim Matheson wondered if the winger could be shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks for Dylan Strome, who was Connor McDavid’s former junior teammate. However, he cautions the Oilers should be careful not to give up too soon on Puljujarvi.

Montreal Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy suggested Puljujarvi could be a fit with the rebuilding Canadiens. Sammi Silber of Washington Hockey Now thinks the Capitals should keep an eye on the Oilers winger.

Holland indicated that salary-cap constraints will make it difficult to keep his current roster intact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, some players who are unrestricted free agents won’t be back. There could also be one or two cost-cutting trades to free up cap room for other additions.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2022

Could the Bruins trade David Pastrnak this summer? What’s the latest on the Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE BRUINS TRADE PASTRNAK?

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports a source close to David Pastrnak said there’s “no chance” he returns with the Boston Bruins with Don Sweeney as their general manager. The 26-year-old winger apparently wasn’t pleased with how Sweeney treated his two best friends, Torey Krug and David Krejci, during their contract years. Krug went on to sign with the St. Louis Blues in 2020 while Krejci returned to Czechia last summer to finish his playing career.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

Pastrnak is approaching the final season of his six-year, $40 million contract. It’s expected the Bruins will offer up a lucrative long-term extension. One agent suggested an eight-year, $68 million contract ($8.5 million annual average value) would be fair to both sides. However, the Bruins face uncertainty next season with Patrice Bergeron mulling retirement while Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy are among several players sidelined through the opening weeks of next season.

Shinzawa believes the Bruins must consider trading Pastrnak if there’s any indication he’s hesitant to sign a contract extension. They can’t afford to lose him to next summer’s free-agent market for nothing. The asking price could be a first-round pick, a second-round pick, a young NHL player and a high-end prospect.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Sweeney intends to discuss a contract extension with the Pastrnak camp at the earliest opportunity. Murphy also cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting his sources indicated the Bruins fully intend to sign the winger to an extension and have no plans to trade him. However, that could change if the feeling isn’t mutual and Pastrnak decides to play out the final season of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak’s contract status adds another level of intrigue to an already chaotic offseason for the Bruins. The earliest they can sign him to an extension is July 13, which is when, for contract purposes, the 2022-23 season begins.

Pastrnak could get much more than $8.5 million annually in next summer’s UFA market. He reached at least 34 goals and 70 points in five of the past six seasons (including two seasons with 40-or-more goals) and has 48 points in as many games in last season’s COVID-shortened campaign. While the salary cap next summer will only rise by $1 million, I can see Pastrnak getting up to $10 million annually on the open market.

As Shinzawa and Murphy observed, the Bruins have the advantage of offering up an eight-year term compared to the seven years he’d get in the UFA market. However, much will depend on the club’s direction not just next season but also in the coming years.

Bergeron could retire this summer. Marchand has three years left on his contract but the wear-and-tear of 13 years of physical play could start catching up with the 34-year-old winger. The club appears to be entering a period of transition and also lacks depth at center.

Pastrnak could stick with the Bruins if he feels the Bruins’ transition won’t take long. If he has lost confidence in Sweeney, however, it might not matter how many assurances the Bruins GM makes him. That will leave Sweeney no choice but to shop him to the highest bidder.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Evander Kane hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll re-sign with Edmonton or hit the open market this summer. The 30-year-old winger signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Oilers in January following the termination of his contract by the San Jose Sharks. He meshed well skating alongside Oilers captain Connor McDavid.

Kane said he enjoyed playing for the Oilers and appreciated how well the club treated him. However, he indicated he has a number of variables to sort through. A new contract for Kane could be expensive and could force general manager Ken Holland to shed some salary to free up cap space to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s teammates praised his performance and made the case for him to stay. Finding the cap space to do so, however, won’t be easy. The outcome of his ongoing contract termination grievance with the Sharks could also be a factor in what his next contract looks like, be it with the Oilers or another club.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector suggested shopping Tyson Barrie and his $4.5 million cap hit, moving Zack Kassian and his $3.2 million AAV and perhaps having to choose between re-signing Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi. At least one of those players won’t be back if Holland gets Kane under contract before his UFA eligibility on July 13.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Mike Smith appeared non-committal about completing his contract during his end-of-season interview yesterday. The 40-year-old goaltender has a year remaining on his deal.

Jason Gregor of Oilers Nation reported sources telling him Smith is contemplating retirement. When asked about it, Smith replied it was too early to tell if he’ll hang up his pads but Nugent-Bowman observed he also didn’t affirm if he’d be back with the Oilers.

If Smith retires, his $2.2 million cap hit for next season comes off the Oilers’ books. Those savings could be put toward finding a new starting goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland is expected to address the media today. We could get some clarity over his offseason plans but I doubt he’ll tip his hand too much as to his intentions.

I examined the Oilers’ limit cap space yesterday and how much a new contract for Kane will bite deeply into it. Smith’s potential retirement would help free up some space but that will have to go into finding a suitable replacement between the pipes. That will also prove costly.

Holland will likely have to trim some salary from his cap payroll to address those two needs. If it also comes down to a choice between Yamamoto and Puljujarvi it could be the latter who gets traded given the ongoing disappointment in his performance.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2022

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Panthers, the Blues tie their series with the Avalanche, the Jack Adams Award finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven second-round series over the Florida Panthers with a 2-1 victory in Game 2. Ross Colton snapped a 1-1 tie with 3.8 seconds remaining in the third period on a terrific behind-the-back pass by Nikita Kucherov from behind the Panthers’ net. Corey Perry opened the scoring for the Lightning in the first period but Eetu Luostarinen tied the game in the second. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves for the win while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots for the Panthers. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have done an outstanding job neutralizing the Panthers’ vaunted offense, limiting the league’s high-scoring team in the regular season to just two goals thus far. They’re doing it with solid physical defensive play and strong goaltending from Vasilevskiy.

Like it or not, the Lightning are a great team, and great teams find a way to win. The Maple Leafs learned that lesson in the first round. Now, it’s the Panthers’ turn, and if they don’t address this issue soon, they’ll be joining the Leafs on the golf course next week.

St. Louis Blues winger David Perron (NHL Images).

A two-goal performance by David Perron led the St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Pavel Buchnevich collected two assists while Jordan Binnington kicked out 30 shots for the win. Gabriel Landeskog tallied the Avs’ lone goal. The series heads to St. Louis for Game 3 on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Game 1 was all about the Avalanche’s dominance. It was a different story in Game 2, thanks again to Binnington’s goaltending but also head coach Craig Berube shuffling his lines. Buchnevich was moved to the first line with Perron and Ryan O’Reilly, Robert Thomas centered the second line with Jordan Kyrou and Brandon Saad, while Vladimir Tarasenko was moved to the third line alongside Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers’ Andrew Brunette, the New York Rangers’ Gerard Gallant, and the Calgary Flames’ Darryl Sutter are the finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant won the award as coach of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18 and was a finalist with the Florida Panthers in 2015-16. It’s the second time Sutter has been named a finalist and the first time for Brunette.

Sutter shrugged off the nomination. He said he’d rather see it go to younger coaches or to Gallant, who he felt got a raw deal with the Golden Knights and Panthers over the way he was let go by those clubs.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely told reporters on Thursday that the club intends to extend the contract of general manager Don Sweeney. However, he was vague over the future of head coach Bruce Cassidy, suggesting the club needs some changes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe a coaching change will improve the Bruins next season. On the other hand, replacing Cassidy would make him appear the scapegoat for the front office’s inability to address the roster’s weaknesses, especially at the second-line center position.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Sweeney indicated he intends to open contract extension talks with David Pastrnak as soon as possible. The 25-year-old winger is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication that Pastrnak would entertain hitting the open market next summer. I expect the Bruins will try to get him signed to an eight-year extension worth between $8 million and $9 million annually.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Mike Smith will return in goal for the Oilers in Game 2 tonight against the Calgary Flames. He got the hook early in the first period of Game 1 after giving up three goals on 10 shots.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger T.J. Oshie faces some decisions over his recovery and healing from different ailments suffered over the course of this season. The 35-year-old winger was limited to 44 games this season by multiple injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aging bodies don’t bounce back as quickly from injuries. Oshie might also have to change the way he conducts his offseason training.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Anaheim Ducks forward Dominik Simon confirmed an altercation with Detroit Red Wings defenseman (and Czechia teammate) Filip Hronek during the ongoing World Championships led to his recent decision to leave the Czechia team and return home. Simon took responsibility for the incident, citing emotions from a recent game and from his personal life that led to his attempt to provoke a fight with Hronek.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan laments the deluge of sports betting ads on Hockey Night in Canada during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand why the NHL and HNiC are pushing gambling given the league’s recent tapping into the lucrative sports betting market. However, they’re going overboard with the neverending ads during commercial breaks and the constant huckstering by the HNiC staff. I also share Cowan’s unease over the effect it could have on compulsive gamblers and their families.

NORTH JERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils play-by-play announcer Steve Cangialosi is stepping down after 11 seasons.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Savannah Ghost Pirates will be the ECHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Love the name of the franchise and the logo. I’ll have to look into buying a Ghost Pirates hat or a jersey at some point.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2022

More conjecture on the Bruins’ offseason plans, the latest speculation linking the Senators to Kevin Fiala, and which troublesome contracts the Coyotes could target in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes finding a center and holding firm on Jake DeBrusk could be among the priorities of Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, assuming he’s signed to a contract extension.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

The need for a center will become more urgent if captain Patrice Bergeron retires when his contract expires in July. There’s no one within their system who can step up and adequately replace him, plus they still haven’t fully addressed David Krejci’s departure last summer.

DeBrusk signed a two-year contract extension in March. While his play improved down the stretch and in the playoffs, he hasn’t withdrawn the trade request made in November. Shinzawa believes Sweeney won’t be quick to move DeBrusk if he still wants out.

Shinzawa includes Bergeron among his list of Bruins he believes will depart this summer. He thinks the 36-year-old center is confirming to himself that it’s time to retire.

Nick Foligno, Matt Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly and Craig Smith are among Shinzawa’s list of trade candidates, though he acknowledged a buyout seems more likely for Foligno. He also recommended trading star winger David Pastrnak if there’s any sense of uncertainty over whether he’ll sign a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron could retire and go out while still among the league’s elite players (especially if he wins the Selke Trophy this year) would cap a fine Hall-of-Fame career. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns for another season to buy the Bruins some time to find a suitable replacement or at least bolster their depth at center.

Pastrnak becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. He loves playing in Boston and the Bruins obviously hope to retain him past 2023. However, Bergeron’s possible retirement and the club’s direction could leave him thinking carefully over his future. He’d be among the top players in the 2023 UFA market and would land a lucrative long-term deal. It’ll be interesting to see how his situation plays out.

There’s speculation the Bruins would welcome back Krejci if he felt like returning to the NHL next season. So far, however, there’s no indication he’s planning a comeback in Boston or anywhere else. As for DeBrusk, he said he hasn’t given much thought to his request but will spend some time considering it over the offseason before making a decision.

COULD THE SENATORS PURSUE FIALA?

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes examined the pros and cons of the Ottawa Senators pursuing Kevin Fiala if the Minnesota Wild put the 25-year-old wing on the trade block.

The asking price could be the Senators’ first-round pick (seventh overall) in this year’s draft plus an affordable center or backup goaltender. A downside would be Fiala’s next contract as he could come in between $7.5 million and $8 million annually.

SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan recently suggested Fiala would check a lot of boxes as a fit with the Senators, though he also pointed out his next contract will be expensive. He also suggested Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny as another option, carrying three more years on his contract with a $5.5 million annual average value. He’s also familiar with Ottawa having played his junior hockey with the OHL’s 67s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the expense of Fiala’s next contract, he will draw lots of interest if the Wild decide to peddle him. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported several teams believe Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin will find a way to keep Fiala. If he can’t, Friedman mentioned the Senators, New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings as potential trade destinations.

Konecny could be a viable alternative for the Senators if they’re in the market for a scoring winger and lose out on Fiala. He lacks no-trade protection and the Senators have promising young prospects that could tempt Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher. That will depend on how much tinkering Fletcher intends to do with his roster this summer and whether he sees Konecny as a trade chip or part of the club’s long-term plans.

WHICH TOXIC CONTRACTS COULD THE COYOTES TARGET?

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan recently looked at 31 NHL teams’ troublesome contracts the Arizona Coyotes could target in their quest to add more draft picks and prospects this summer. His suggested options include the Montreal Canadiens’ Shea Weber, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Petr Mrazek, San Jose Sharks’ Kevin Labanc, New York Islanders’ Josh Bailey and the Philadelphia Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed many other notables, including the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews, Boston Bruins’ Nick Foligno, Calgary Flames’ Sean Monahan, the Florida Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky and the San Jose Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Those players, however, have full or partial no-trade clauses and probably won’t waive them to go to the Coyotes.

Weber, Labanc, Bailey and van Riemsdyk, however, lack no-trade protection and would be prime cost-cutting candidates. Mrazek has a partial no-trade clause but might accept a trade to the Coyotes if he knows he doesn’t have a future with the Leafs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2022

Claude Giroux collects points in his Panthers debut, David Pastrnak tallies his 12th career hat trick, general managers to discuss closing the “LTIR playoff loophole” and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Claude Giroux had two assists in his debut with the Florida Panthers as they held off the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Former Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot picked up an assist in his first game against his former team. Canadiens blueliner Jeff Petry left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Panthers (92 points) move one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Dallas Stars on a shootout goal by Tyler Seguin. Scott Wedgewood picked up the win with a 44-save performance while Roope Hintz scored twice in regulation. Nino Niederreiter netted two goals for the Hurricanes. The Stars (74 points) remain one point ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his 12th career hat trick in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Erik Haula collected three assists and Hampus Lindholm collected an assist in his first game with Boston. The Bruins (85 points) move into third place in the Atlantic Division, knocking the Lighting into the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth. They’re also tied with the Leafs but the latter holds second place in the Division with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the game after blocking a shot in the third period.

The Vegas Golden Knights got a goal and two assists from Evgenii Dadonov to thump the Nashville Predators 6-1 to avoid falling further behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot. It was Dadonov’s first game since his trade to the Anaheim Ducks was overturned by the league. The Predators, meanwhile, are three points up on the Stars in the first wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights center Brett Howden was stretchered from the game following a hit by Predators winger Filip Forsberg. He was reportedly conscious, in stable condition with full movement of his limbs and sent to a hospital for further tests.

Earlier in the day, the Predators announced defenseman Mark Borowiecki is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Leon Draisaitl scored twice and Connor McDavid added two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. McDavid sits atop the scoring race with 95 points, five ahead of Draisaitl. With 77 points, the Oilers are two points behind the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game with an upper-body injury.

The Kings, meanwhile, picked up a point in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist in regulation and potted the winning goal in the shootout while Colin Delia made 43 saves for the win. Phillip Danault scored twice for the Kings.

An overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek lifted the Minnesota Wild over the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist and Cam Talbot kicked out 26 shots as the Wild (80 points) sit one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues in second place in the Central Division. With 71 points, the Canucks are four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Blues, while, fell 5-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers. Travis Konecny scored two goals and Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win. Earlier in the day, the Blues announced Tyler Bozak (lower-body) was moved to injured reserve.

A four-goal third period by the Ottawa Senators carried them to a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, leaving the latter five points out of the final Western wild-card spot. Brady Tkachuk scored twice and Tim Stutzle collected two assists for the Senators. Jets winger Kyle Connor netted his 40th goal of the season.

The New York Islanders picked up their fourth win in their last five games by downing the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Brock Nelson scored twice and Anders Lee had three assists.

HEADLINES

DAILY FACEOFF: Closing the LTIR playoff loophole in the salary cap will be among the items up for discussion in next week’s meetings of NHL general managers. Some general managers aren’t happy that some teams exceed the salary cap in the regular season with players on long-term injury reserve only to see those players return to the lineup for the playoffs when the salary cap no longer counts.

One proposed solution is to have 20 players iced by a team in a playoff game to count against the salary cap. Any attempted changes to the salary cap or to roster requirements, however, would constitute a material change of the collective bargaining agreement and would have to be negotiated with the NHL Players Association.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some would consider this the “Nikita Kucherov rule”, which arose because the Tampa Bay Lightning winger returned to action at the start of the 2021 playoffs after spending last season on LTIR recovering from offseason hip surgery. That allowed the Lightning the salary-cap flexibility to exceed the cap by the equivalent of Kucherov’s $9.5 million annual cap hit and add players before the trade deadline.

This loophole has existed since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005 and was used before, specifically by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 when Patrick Kane went on LTIR several weeks before the trade deadline with a broken collarbone. It’s taken this long, however, for some general managers to have an issue with it.

Bear in mind that medical substantiation must be provided to the league to justify placing a player on LTIR. The league looked into Kucherov’s status late last season and concluded the Lightning did nothing wrong.

Assuming the majority of general managers support this proposal, I don’t expect the PA to be onboard with it. This could be an issue that gets revisited during the next round of collective bargaining.

NBC SPORTS: The International Ice Hockey Federation has asked an independent ethics council board to investigate the Russian Hockey Federation and former IIHF president Rene Fasel regarding issues related to the war in Ukraine. Fasel was critical of the IIHF’s decisions to ban Russia and Belarus from upcoming international competitions. He’s serving as an advisor to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo will undergo season-ending hip surgery. He’s expected to make a full recovery in six months.

TSN: New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery while defenseman Scott Mayfield is done for the season with a lower-body injury.

Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway was fined $2,000.00 for diving/embellishment by the NHL department of player safety.