NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2024

What’s the latest on Mitch Marner? Could the Jets trade Nikolaj Ehlers this summer? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST MARNER SPECULATION

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran suggested four trade scenarios if the Maple Leafs decide to move Mitch Marner, provided he agrees to waive his no-movement clause.

One option is offering Marner to the Nashville Predators with goaltender Juuse Saros as the centerpiece of a package return to the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saros could be available this summer. He’s a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility and the Preds could move him to make room for promising Yaroslav Askarov. McGran speculated the Leafs would want Saros to sign a contract extension. He also indicated that Saros’ numbers weren’t that good this season.

Another could be sending Marner to the Seattle Kraken for defenseman Adam Larsson and promising center Shane Wright. Marner would boost the Kraken’s top-six scorers. Larsson is a right-shot defenseman who could help the Leafs but they’d have to sign him to a contract extension. Wright has struggled so far at the NHL level but the Leafs could be more patient with him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken general manager Ron Francis is expected to shop for offensive depth this summer. He could part with Larsson for an established scorer. Wright showed signs of improvement with five points in eight games during his late-season call-up. Francis could be reluctant to part with him but maybe he’d consider it for someone like Marner.

McGran also suggested shipping Marner to Utah for Clayton Keller or to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Mikhail Sergachev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Marner would make a big splash for the former Coyotes in their new market. However, I don’t see them parting with Keller, who’s been an important part of their roster rebuild.

The Bolts won’t trade Sergachev because it would further deplete their defense corps. He’s also a left-shot defenseman, which doesn’t address the Leafs’ requirement for a right-shot rearguard.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

Having looked at possible trade scenarios, McGran believes trading Marner will accomplish very little for the Leafs. He thinks they should keep the core five intact and see if they improve under a new head coach.

McGran doesn’t see the sense in moving out Marner for lesser players in return. He also doesn’t believe the 27-year-old winger wants out of Toronto.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan pointed to the big hole Marner’s potential departure would leave in their lineup. The winger was on pace for a 101-point performance this season with 85 in 69 games. He had 99 points in 2022-23, 97 the previous season and 94 in 2018-19. It won’t be easy to replace his production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The emotion of another early Leafs playoff departure is giving way to sober second thoughts among some Toronto pundits. McGran’s colleague Damien Cox suggests the Leafs should instead focus on stabilizing their supporting cast rather than breaking up their Core Four forwards.

For all the talk of trading Marner or asking John Tavares to waive his NMC, there’s a good chance both players will return with the Leafs next season. Marner and Tavares hold all the cards and if they don’t want to be traded there’s nothing the Leafs can do about it. Sure, they could buy out the final years of their contracts but that won’t happen.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Leafs opt to keep their core four intact. They won’t get equal value in any return for Marner or Tavares which could provide justification to retain them, even at the risk of losing them for nothing to free agency next summer. Whoever they hire as head coach could also prefer having Marner and Tavares in the lineup.

JETS COULD TRADE NIKOLAJ EHLERS THIS SUMMER

THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates believes Nikolaj Ehlers might not be with the Winnipeg Jets after this summer. The 28-year-old winger has a year left on his contract with a $6 million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade clause. He’s eligible for UFA status next July.

Ehlers has put up first-line numbers playing second-line minutes. If the Jets cannot extend him they must find a way to move him for assets. He’s been shopping before but Ates indicates things could be different this summer.

Ates suggested offering up Ehlers to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Ehlers might also fetch a power forward like Lawson Crouse from “Utah HC.” The Carolina Hurricanes might be a fit if he brought back one of their high-priced defensemen like Brent Burns, Dmitry Orlov or Jaccob Slavin.

Other proposed destinations include the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like that swap of Ehlers for Chychrun but the latter could have the Jets on his no-trade list. Utah could be interested but might not want to part with Crouse. I don’t see the Hurricanes parting with Slavin. Burns could have the Jets on his no-trade list. Orlov lacks no-trade protection but the Canes would have to retain part of his $7.75 million cap hit to facilitate that trade.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck was asked what type of return Ehlers might fetch for the Jets. He suggested a top-four defenseman who (like Ehlers) is a year away from UFA eligibility like Chychrun or Slavvin (who Billeck admits is likely untradeable), along with Vegas’ Shea Theodore or the LA Kings’ Vladislav Gavrikov. Billeck doubts those two will be traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve heard speculation suggesting the Golden Knights could move Theodore to free up cap room to re-sign Jonathan Marchessault. If so, they won’t want a player in return. As for Gavrikov, he’s got a full NMC.

Another option could be using Ehlers to acquire draft picks and use the $6 million savings in this summer’s free-agent market. Potential defense UFAs include Florida’s Brandon Montour, Carolina’s Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei and Vancouver’s Nikita Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could be the best option for the Jets but it does come with some risk. Those blueliners mentioned by Billeck could be unwilling to come to Winnipeg as free agents.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber looked at whether Ehlers would be a good fit with the Washington Capitals. His offensive consistency could be what the Capitals need to bolster their production.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2024

Check out the latest on Leafs winger Mitch Marner, the Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault, and the latest updates on the Predators and Devils in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD THE LEAFS’ MITCH MARNER AGREE TO A TRADE?

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving should ask winger Mitch Marner whether he’d have any interest in waiving his no-movement clause.

Marner, 27, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2025. Koshan acknowledged he’s one of the best hockey players on the planet but his performance in the Leafs’ first-round series against Boston was underwhelming and not close to what a leader should provide.

Koshan suggested exploring the trade market to see if Marner would fetch a No. 1 defenseman. If not, they can use part of the money they would’ve invested in him to sign a top blueliner in next summer’s free agent market.

Meanwhile, Steve Simmons doubts Marner or team captain John Tavares will agree to waive their no-movement clauses. He thinks Marner might have some value in the trade market but it will be limited compared to his worth because he only has a year left on his contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

Simmons dismissed the notion that Marner could fetch the Leafs any number of great young players as mostly fantasy. He believes the Leafs will be in a better position to address their needs next summer when Marner and Tavares come off their books.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner could agree to waive his NMC if Treliving tells him they won’t offer a contract extension or if he starts to feel the pressure of playing in Toronto is too much. If he does, however, the Leafs likely won’t get a great return even if he agreed to a contract extension with his new club as a condition of the trade.

I’ve seen some folks suggesting the Leafs offer up Marner to the Utah franchise straight up for Clayton Keller. That won’t happen. Keller is their best player and a foundation piece on a roster of good young players. He also carries an affordable $7.125 million annual cap hit through 2027-28. They’ll want to add someone who can play with him.

WILL JONATHAN MARCHESSAULT REMAIN WITH THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

LAS VEGAS SUN/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL/THE ATHLETIC: Jack Williams, Ed Graney and Jesse Granger report Jonathan Marchessault wants to remain with the Vegas Golden Knights.

The 33-year-old winger is among the few remaining original members of the club. He’s completing a six-year contract with an average annual value of $5 million and is slated to become a UFA on July 1.

I’ve done everything I can to stay here,” Marchessault told reporters Tuesday as he and his teammates cleaned out their lockers for this season. “I know I’m a big part of this organization and team. I’ve proved that over the years.”.

I’m pretty confident. I’d love to stay. This is my home. I’m part of the guys that started this. It’s the most proud thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Marchessault said he spoke with general manager Kelly McCrimmon and their chat went well. “He wants me back,” he said. “He likes me, obviously, and the feeling is mutual.” McCrimmon agreed the conversation went well, adding he’s had preliminary talks with the winger and his agent.

The problem is the Golden Knights’ limited salary-cap space. They have roughly $7.6 million available with 18 active roster players under contract for next season. A new contract for Marchessault could cost between $6 million and $7 million annually on a three or four-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will take plenty of salary-cap gymnastics to free up sufficient room to sign Marchessault and leave enough for the rest of the roster.

That means making a cost-cutting trade or two. All of the expensive Golden Knights have some form of no-trade protection. Four – Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Tomas Hertl and Alex Pietrangelo – have no-movement clauses.

William Karlsson, Ivan Barbashev, Shea Theodore and Adin Hill carry cap hits of $4.9 million or higher and have modified no-trade clauses. One of them could become a trade candidate.

LATEST ON THE PREDATORS

THE TENNESSEAN: Alex Daugherty and Gentry Estes report Nashville Predators GM Barry Trotz said everything was on the table regarding his off-season plans for the club.

Trotz told reporters on Tuesday that he wants to build up his top nine forwards, adding more youth and speed to augment the top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist.

We’ve got some draft capital that will allow us to be flexible and use those assets to acquire (talent),” he said. “That’s what we’re going to have to do.”

Trotz could be leaning toward re-signing Juuse Saros rather than trading him. The 29-year-old goaltender has a year remaining on his contract. The Predators can re-sign him starting on July 1. Trotz said Saros wants to stay and he wants to keep him. “We’re gonna work hard on getting something done with him.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saros was the subject of frequent trade speculation often linking him to the New Jersey Devils. He’s earning an AAV of $5 million on his current deal and it will cost more to re-sign him. I don’t doubt Trotz’s sincerity about retaining Saros but it will be worthwhile to monitor those negotiations.

UPDATE ON THE DEVILS

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting the Devils are speaking to multiple candidates for their vacant head-coaching job, including former Edmonton Oilers bench boss Jay Woodcroft.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Devils hope to hire a new coach within 7-10 days. “They should have a clearer picture by the end of this week.”










NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2024

What could be in store for the Predators in the offseason? What’s the latest on the Kings and Canadiens? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PREDATORS?

ESPN.COM: Ryan S. Clark looked at the offseason keys for the Nashville Predators following their first-round elimination by the Vancouver Canucks.

The Predators were 10th in goals per game during the regular season. However, their lack of production against the Canucks could prompt them to find more options for next season.

Decisions must be made regarding Anthony Beauvillier, Alexandre Carrier and Jason Zucker. They’re slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Clark wondered when promising goaltender Yaroslav Askarov would make his full-time NHL debut. He could share the crease next season with starter Juuse Saros, who has a year remaining on his contract. Askarov could take over as their starter the following season.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Rexrode suggested trading Saros this summer to free up salary-cap space to bring in some help for Predators stars Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi. Re-signing the 29-year-old goalie to a long-term deal in the range of $8 million annually would be an unwise course of action with the gifted Askarov on the rise.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saros was the subject of trade speculation this season. General manager Barry Trotz refused to move him and was rewarded when Saros helped the Predators clinch a playoff spot.

The Predators have over $18 million in cap space with 17 roster players under contract next season, including all of their core players. There’s room to make additions without trading Saros if he wants to keep him around next season to begin the transition to Askarov. However, that could also cause an unnecessary distraction for next season.

Keeping Saros for next season also means losing him for nothing to free agency next July. He would fetch a decent return in this summer’s trade market while freeing up his $5 million cap hit. That would clear room for Askarov’s promotion, but Trotz must ensure he has a reliable veteran backup to mentor the young netminder.

THE LATEST ON THE KINGS

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens looked at the five questions that will shape the Los Angeles Kings’ offseason. Who will be their general manager and head coach top his list, followed by what to do with underachieving center Pierre-Luc Dubois, the futures of their UFAs, and the club’s direction in the future?

Dubois has seven seasons left on his contract with an average annual value of $8.5 million. They could buy him out at one-third of the deal’s remaining value if the buyout occurs before his 26th birthday, which is June 24, which is the last possible day of the Stanley Cup Final. The buyout window opens on June 15 or 48 hours following the end of the Final, whichever is later.

The Kings could also push for a trade before Dubois’ no-movement clause begins on July 1. They would probably have to retain up to half of his cap hit to spark any interest in the trade market. Their other option is retaining him and hope that a new head coach and a new system might bring out the best in Dubois.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens acknowledged a buyout, even at 1/3 the remaining value, would be on the Kings’ books for the next 14 seasons. Nevertheless, he pointed out that it could reshape them on the fly, providing salary-cap flexibility to address their roster needs. A buyout could be more palatable than trading him and retaining $4.25 million annually over the next seven years.

I don’t believe the Kings ownership wants to buy out Dubois. For his part, he admitted his first season in Los Angeles didn’t go as planned but said he’s committed to a better performance in 2024-25. “I’ll do anything to be better,” he said.

It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out. If the Kings intend to buy out Dubois they’ll hope the playoffs end well before his birthday on June 24. If they go the trade route, they’ll have a limited window of opportunity that will slam shut on July 1.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Spencer Lazary noted the Kings and winger Arthur Kaliyev didn’t see eye-to-eye for most of this season, affecting his performance and development. He recommended offering him to the New York Islanders for a draft pick or a prospect.

The Islanders badly need more offense. Kaliyev, 22, could be an affordable option for them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings could retain Kaliyev and see how he does under a new head coach but it’s more likely he’ll be traded. Whether the Islanders would be interested is another story.

UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu believes the Montreal Canadiens prefer to avoid signing free agents to long-term contracts, at least until they’ve sorted out those of Kaiden Guhle, Juraj Slafkovsky and Kirby Dach, and determined how much money will be at their disposal as the salary cap rises. If someone like Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault were to agree to a two or three-year deal, that’s something Basu believes they might consider.

The Canadiens could consider acquiring a young forward coming off an entry-level contract who their teams might undervalue. He suggested forward Cole Perfetti might be an option if the Winnipeg Jets don’t consider him ready to contribute right now. The Jets could use depth on their blueline, prompting Basu to suggest offering up the first-round pick that the Habs got from the Jets for Sean Monahan and/or one of their excess of young, cheap NHL-ready defensemen.

Basu also mentioned the possibility of taking a bigger swing in the trade market by pursuing Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras or Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas. Of the two, Necas would be the more affordable to acquire as the Ducks will set a high asking price for Zegras.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico also pondered the possibility of the Canadiens acquiring another young forward at the draft. In addition to Zegras and Necas, he mentioned St. Louis Blues winger Jordan Kyrou. He suggested the possibility of a smaller move for someone like Winnipeg’s Cole Perfetti, Columbus’ Kent Johnson or New Jersey’s Alexander Holtz.

The Canadiens will likely draw on their depth of promising defensemen for trade bait. D’Amico suggested Logan Mailloux, Adam Engstrom or Justin Barron as trade options. He didn’t rule out the possibility of shopping veteran David Savard, who garnered interest at the March trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens management acknowledged their need for more scoring and are expected to add one or two forwards via trade or perhaps free agency. GM Kent Hughes could pursue one of the players mentioned by Basu and D’Amico but could also have his eye on a forward that no one expects to be available.

Zegras will be very costly with the asking price starting with Montreal’s first-round pick and defense prospect David Reinbacher. Necas, Perfetti, Johnson and Holtz would be much more affordable. Kyrou probably isn’t available but it never hurts to ask. The Jets likely won’t give up on Perfetti but they might be open to offers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2024

The Canucks advance to the second round, the Golden Knights force Game 7 with the Stars, the Jack Adams Award finalists are revealed, the Penguins make a change to their coaching staff, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks advanced to the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs by eliminating the Nashville Predators with a 1-0 victory in Game 6 of their first-round series. Pius Suter scored the only goal with 1:39 remaining in the game and Arturs Silovs made 28 saves as the Canucks will face the Edmonton Oilers in the next round. Juuse Saros stopped 28 shots for the Predators.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Arturs Silovs. (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the fourth straight game in this series that was decided by one goal with the Canucks winning three of those contests. They also got those victories with three different goaltenders. Thatcher Demko won Game 1, Casey DeSmith took Game 3 filling in for the injured Demko, and Silovs got their other two wins from Game 4 onward after DeSmith was sidelined.

The Predators’ popgun powerplay was their biggest weakness, scoring just twice with 22 man-advantage opportunities. They also blew the lead in Games 1 and 4 which proved costly in this series.

There will be a seventh and deciding game in the first-round series between the Dallas Stars and the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights. Noah Hanifin and Mark Stone scored in the third period and Adin Hill made 23 saves as the Golden Knights shut out the Stars 2-0. Jake Oettinger turned aside 28 shots for the Stars. Game 7 goes on Sunday, May 5 in Dallas at 7:30 pm EDT.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid defensive effort by Vegas made the difference in a goaltender’s duel between Hill and Oettinger. This was also a better-disciplined effort by the Golden Knights, avoiding the costly penalties that led to the Stars’ victories in Games 4 and 5.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Rick Bowness of the Winnipeg Jets, Andrew Brunette of the Nashville Predators, and Rick Tocchet of the Vancouver Canucks are the finalists for the Jack Adams Award as the league’s Coach of the Year for 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Bowness, Brunette and Tocchet. This is the first time Bowness and Tocchet have been named as finalists for this award. It’s the second time for Brunette as he was runner-up in 2021-22 with the Florida Panthers.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins fired associate coach Todd Reirden on Friday. He’d been with the club since 2020-21 and oversaw the club’s power play, which fell to 30th overall this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: General manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Mike Sullivan were rumored to be in a “power struggle” over the coaching staff. However, it was clear a change had to be made given the club’s woeful performance on the power play this season.

This could further stoke rumors that Sullivan might quit or get fired but I don’t see either scenario happening. If he were getting fired it would’ve happened by now, especially with notable former NHL coaches like Craig Berube, Todd McLellan, Dean Evason and Gerard Gallant available. Reirden’s firing shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for Sullivan.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is progressing in his recovery from an undisclosed illness. However, there’s been no determination regarding his availability for Saturday’s Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. The Leafs scoring star was sidelined for Games 5 and 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will likely be a game-time decision by Matthews and the Leafs depending on how he feels following practice on Saturday.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders confirmed general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Patrick Roy will return next season. Lamoriello sounded open to the possibility of roster changes during the offseason. Eight players are slated to become free agents, five of them unrestricted.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bolstering the offense should be Lamoriello’s priority. The Isles’ limited scoring punch nearly derailed their playoff hopes and proved costly in their elimination from the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals winger Max Pacioretty isn’t sure what the future holds after this season. The 34-year-old staged a comeback from double Achilles surgery in 2022-23 and played in 47 games this season but admitted being “a shell of my former self” with four goals and 23 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is on a one-year, $2 million contract. With the Capitals transitioning toward younger players, it seems unlikely he’ll be brought back.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2024

Looking at some suggested destinations for Steven Stamkos, the latest coaching rumors, and speculation over the former Coyotes’ offseason plans following their move to Utah in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

POSSIBLE OFFSEASON DESTINATIONS FOR STEVEN STAMKOS

SPORTSNET: David Morassutti looked at five potential destinations for Steven Stamkos this summer. The 34-year-old captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 unless he and the Lightning agree to a new contract by then.

Morassutti noted the Lightning’s intention to resign Stamkos and likes their chances of convincing him to stay. However, they have limited salary-cap space and must also ensure sufficient room to re-sign Victor Hedman before his UFA eligibility next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning could be forced to make a cost-cutting move to keep Stamkos, especially if he’s not interested in a hometown discount. Nevertheless, there’s a mutual willingness on both sides to get something done. Unless negotiations fall apart by July 1, he’ll stay in Tampa Bay. 

If the Lightning fail to re-sign Stamkos, Morassutti suggested the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting choices. I’ve summarized his main points as to why each of those teams could become landing places for Stamkos. Click the link provided for his detailed explanations.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

The Red Wings are managed by former Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who convinced Stamkos to re-sign with the Bolts in 2016. The Wings have plenty of salary-cap space but must also re-sign Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Still, Morassutti believes they could be a prime destination if they move some players to gain cap flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Does Stamkos want to join a rebuilding team that’s trying to get over the playoff hump, or would he prefer joining a club that’s close to Cup contention? If it’s the latter (and I suspect it would be), the Red Wings won’t fit the bill.

Stamkos’ former teammates Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis are now in the Canadiens organization. However, some will wonder if adding a high-priced free agent would be the right move for a team going through a rebuild. At some point, however, the Canadiens will have to make a push to reach the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Stamkos is interested in joining a rebuilding club regardless of whoever from his past is on the team. The Canadiens are at least two years away from being playoff contenders. They could find younger options than Stamkos that fit better into their timeline.

The Predators could use a premium goalscorer. He would also bring them additional leadership.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators are currently in a transition phase. They already have plenty of veteran leadership in Roman Josi, Ryan O’Reilly and Stamkos’ former teammate Ryan McDonagh. They possess over $18 million in cap space but could use that flexibility to bring in younger and less expensive talent.

Morassutti considers the Leafs a dark-horse candidate. John Tavares and Mitch Marner are a year away from UFA eligibility. The Leafs’ decisions regarding those two will determine how they navigate this summer’s free-agent market. They attempted to woo Stamkos eight years ago but could they have better luck this time?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, they won’t have better luck this time. The Leafs “Shanaplan” got derailed by signing Tavares in 2018 when their focus should’ve been improving their defense and goaltending. Signing Stamkos would be repeating their past mistake.

LATEST NHL COACHING RUMORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reported the Senators have begun interviewing candidates for their vacant head-coaching position. It’s believed they’ve spoken with or are interested in former Minnesota Wild head coach Dean Evason, former St. Louis Blues bench boss Craig Berube, former Los Angeles Kings’ head coach Todd McLellan and New Jersey Devils interim coach Travis Green.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Which would you like to see coaching your club, Senators fans? Let us know in the comments section below.

Garrioch also provided us with some interesting rumors regarding other current coaches.

Rumors linked the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mike Sullivan with the New Jersey Devils. If the Toronto Maple Leafs fire Sheldon Keefe, Penguins GM Kyle Dubas could allow Sullivan to go to New Jersey to make room for Keefe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas released a statement earlier this week claiming the Devils have not asked permission to speak with Sullivan nor was permission granted. Earlier this week, it was reported that a power struggle was brewing between Dubas and Sullivan over the club’s assistant coaches. However, most observers believe Sullivan will be staying put.

League sources claim the Senators have serious interest in Evason and have had at least one face-to-face meeting. The San Jose Sharks reached out to the Wild seeking permission to speak with Evason…It’s believed the Kraken could promote Dan Bylsma, who coaches their AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley. They may have also reached out to McLellan…Berube is reportedly “intrigued” by the Senators position but has other options and is staying patient…The Senators would be very interested if the Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour became available. However, he would cost $7 million per season and the Sens likely won’t shell out that much for a head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brind’Amour seems close to signing an extension with the Hurricanes. If he did become available I agree he’d be too expensive for the Senators to sign.

FORMER COYOTES EXPECTED TO ADD TO THEIR ROSTER THIS SUMMER

THE FOURTH PERIOD: Having moved to Utah, the former Arizona Coyotes could make some additions to their roster this summer.

General manager Bill Armstrong’s mandate from his team’s new ownership is to shoot for the playoffs next season. He’s expected to explore this summer’s trade and free-agent markets for players who can immediately help his roster.

Armstrong won’t acquire high-priced contracts to bail out cap-strapped teams, unlike previous years. Any additions this summer will be to upgrade the roster. Sources claim Armstrong seeks a second-line center and a top-four defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The financial shackles are finally off Armstrong. Years of rebuilding have given the former Coyotes a solid base of good young talent. They need a couple of skilled veterans in their prime to provide leadership and experience.

Utah could become a playoff contender next season with the right moves. It’ll be interesting to see if Armstrong can pull it off.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2024

The Avalanche and Hurricanes advance to the second round, the Leafs and Predators avoid elimination, the Calder Trophy Finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Winnipeg Jets 6-3 to win their best-of-seven opening-round series four games to one. Mikko Rantanen scored twice and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 34 shots for the Avalanche. They await the winner of the Dallas Stars-Vegas Golden Knights series.

Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev silenced his critics (including me) with his performance during this series. After giving up seven goals on 23 shots in Game 1, he allowed eight in the next four games with a .931 save percentage.

Winnipeg entered this series tied with the Florida Panthers for the fewest goals-against per game (2.41). Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is a Vezina Trophy finalist who won the Jennings Trophy as the goalie who played a minimum of 25 games for the team allowing the fewest regular-season goals.

However, the Jet couldn’t contain the Avs’ offense, finishing this round with the highest goals-against per game (5.40) while Hellebuyck allowed the most goals (24) among all first-round goalies thus far. They are also the first team in NHL playoff history to allow at least five goals in five straight games in a postseason round.

Three unanswered third-period goals gave the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders to take their first-round series four games to one. Jack Drury scored the winning goal and Seth Jarvis had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who will face the New York Rangers in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carolina’s offensive depth proved too much to contain for the Islanders. Credit Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov for keeping his club in most of these games but his teammates lack the scoring punch to hand with the Hurricanes.

An overtime goal by Matthew Knies lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series. Jake McCabe also scored and Joseph Woll made 27 saves for the Leafs. Trent Frederic replied for the Bruins as they hold a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 is Thursday, May 2 at 8 pm EDT.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Leafs’ best game of the series. Woll’s steady goaltending gave them confidence and they did a good job containing Boston’s leading scorers. The Bruins at times appeared flat during this contest while the Leafs were fighting to keep their season alive.

The Leafs got the win without top center Auston Matthews, who missed this game with an undisclosed illness.

The Nashville Predators overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series on goals by Roman Josi and Alexandre Carrier. Juuse Saros made 19 saves for the win. Nikita Zadorov scored and Arturs Silov turned aside 20 shots for the Canucks, who hold a 3-2 lead in this series. Game 6 is Friday (start time TBA).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a goaltender’s duel through the first two periods. It looked like the Canucks were going to put this one away following Zadorov’s goal but the Predators refused to quit.

The Predators caught a break on Josi’s goal as the puck squirted behind Silov. The Canucks goalie tried to roll over to cover the puck but was inadvertently pushed during a goalmouth scramble, knocking the puck across the goal line.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard, Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber, and New Jersey Devils blueliner Luke Hughes are this season’s finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the finalists. Bedard is considered the favorite to win but Faber could make this interesting. He enjoyed a strong debut with the Wild, finishing among the rookie leaders in points and sitting among the league’s top-10 skaters in time on ice per game.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: T.J. Oshie said he has much to consider regarding his future as a player. The 37-year-old Washington Capitals winger said he’s been dealing with chronic back issues for years among other ailments.

Oshie has a year left on his contract. He said he’d love to play next season but needs assurances that he can do so without his back giving out. The Capitals winger intends to seek treatment during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oshie has never played a full NHL season due to injuries. He saw action in only 52 games in 2023-24.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers captain Sean Couturier recently changed agents and is now represented by Pat Brisson. One reason behind the change could be due to his former agent criticizing Flyers coach John Tortorella for benching Couturier for two games. The veteran center took responsibility for his poor play leading to his benching.

Speaking of the Flyers, top prospect Matvei Michkov might be able to join the club next season if the KHL allows him out of his contract with SKA St. Petersburg. Michkov’s contract runs through 2025-26 but SKA chairman Alexander Medvedev said he has a good relationship with the Flyers front office and has regularly spoken with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s nothing set in stone here but Medvedev said a decision on Michkov’s future could come by the end of June.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot could undergo wrist surgery in the coming weeks. The recovery time would be between two and three months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sooner Chabot has the surgery the more likely he’ll be fully recovered in time for training camp in September.

DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Senators, they reportedly interviewed Travis Green for their vacant head-coaching position. Green is currently the interim coach of the New Jersey Devils.

THE ATHLETIC: And speaking of New Jersey, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas denied speculation that head coach Mike Sullivan could become the next Devils head coach. Dubas said the Devils haven’t sought permission to speak with Sullivan nor have they been granted permission.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This sounds like another example of the hockey media “telephone” game. A pundit wonders whether Sullivan would be interested in coaching the Devils because he’s friends with their general manager. People start talking about it and it morphs into Sullivan trying to get out of his contract with the Penguins to coach the Devils.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Canadiens winger Juraj Slakovskiy is undergoing some medical procedures in Montreal. It will delay him joining Slovakia at the upcoming World Championships in Czechia but isn’t expected to prevent him from playing in the tournament.