NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 21, 2021

The NHL expansion draft begins at 8 pm ET tonight. Check out the latest on Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, Gabriel Landeskog, Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EXPANSION DRAFT SPECULATION

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s an expectation the Seattle Kraken could make an 11th-hour pitch to the Montreal Canadiens to ask their price to not select Carey Price. LeBrun doubts Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will pay it since he and Price agreed the latter would be exposed in the draft.

Will the Seattle Kraken select Carey Price in the expansion draft? (NHL Images)

Price, meanwhile, is slated to be examined in New York on Thursday regarding hip and knee ailments. Kraken GM Ron Francis has had a few conversations with Price’s agent.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports Francis has received the green light from Kraken ownership to select Price if they see fit despite the goalie’s health issues and expensive contract.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan examined Bergevin’s options to replace Price if he’s selected by the Kraken. Free-agent options could include Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen and Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, who began his NHL career in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn officially after 8 pm ET tonight if the Kraken snap-up Price. Doing so would free up $10.5 million in cap space for Bergevin to seek a short-term replacement. Possible trade targets could include Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper and Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo.

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports of rumors the Kraken could select St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and flip him to the Philadelphia Flyers for winger Jakub Voracek and a draft pick. Other reports they could target the  Washington Capitals for center Evgeny Kuznetsov. The New York Rangers have also been mentioned because of Tarasenko’s friendship with Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be very interesting to see if the Kraken would go that route with Tarasenko. They’ll have to get something worthwhile in the return to consider it.

Maybe they’d accept Voracek if they select James van Riemsdyk from the Flyers in the expansion draft. Despite Kuznetsov’s personal baggage, the Kraken could take the chance if they fail to land a quality center in the draft. Perhaps they could pry Pavel Kuchnevich and a draft pick or prospect from the Rangers.

Tarasenko isn’t the only player the Kraken could attempt to flip to another club soon after the draft. NBC Sports Adam Gretz also listed Calgary’s Mark Giordano, New Jersey’s P.K. Subban, Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok, Anaheim’s Adam Henrique and Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere as possible trade candidates if selected by the Kraken.

Pierre LeBrun also reported Gabriel Landeskog’s camp had a conversation with the Kraken on Sunday but there’s been nothing further since. Unless things change, he doubts the Kraken will sign the Colorado Avalanche. Landeskog is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Darren Dreger reports Francis has had a number of conversations with agent J.P. Barry, who represents pending UFAs Dougie Hamilton and Adam Larsson. They could be preliminary discussions. Francis’ window of exclusivity to negotiate with unprotected free agents expires at 10 am ET today.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Kraken are locked-in on Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger. He wondered if they’ll also attempt to add Frank Vatrano or if Driedger becomes their pick from the Panthers. They’re also interested in St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz. Do they add him now or select Vince Dunn and add the winger later?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Kraken don’t sign Landeskog, Driedger, Schwartz, Hamilton or Larsson today they can continue contract discussions with them. It just means they’ll be jockeying with other clubs interested in their services as the start of free agency (July 28) draws nearer.

DAILY FACEOFF: Cam Lewis cited a recent report claiming the New Jersey Devils appear interested in moving P.K. Subban. They exposed him in the expansion draft but were also trying to find a taker for the former Norris Trophy winner. Lewis wondered if they can convince the Kraken to take on the final season of Subban’s contract. He carries a $9 million cap hit for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps that will become one of those side deals we heard so much about leading up to today’s draft. It could take a significant sweetener to convince the Kraken to do that.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reported the Minnesota Wild continues to have discussions with the Buffalo Sabres regarding Jack Eichel. However, the asking price for the 24-year-old center remains very high.

It’s believed Sabres GM Kevin Adams sought all futures from the Wild. That would mean top prospects Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy plus two first-round picks. Given Eichel’s $10 million annual average value, the Sabres would have to take back a significant salary from the Wild or find another club to act as a third-party broker.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo doesn’t see a clear path for the Wild to acquire Eichel unless the Sabres lower their prices. He’s previously reported GM Bill Guerin is reluctant to burn through his cap space or deplete his prospect pipeline.

Speaking of Eichel, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski cited Elliotte Friedman saying the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames are out of the bidding, at least for now. The Wild and Rangers are listed as possibilities.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov received a significant offer from KHL club CSKA Moscow. Guerin is aware of it but he believes they can bridge the cap in contract talks with the 2021 Calder Trophy winner.

LeBrun also reports the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens are among the teams believed interested in Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could lose defenseman Dylan DeMelo in the expansion draft. Canadiens captain Shea Weber could miss all of next season (and perhaps more) due to multiple lingering injuries.

Darren Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes continue shopping Oliver Ekman-Larsson but his $8.25 million annual cap hit is a tough sell. Perhaps interest will pick up if a team loses a good defenseman in the expansion draft.

Meanwhile, there’s no progress in contract talks between the Coyotes and winger Conor Garland. Several clubs are keeping an eye on the restricted free agent’s situation.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2021

The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is tonight at 8 pm ET plus the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Phillip Danault, Ryan Ellis, Patrik Laine and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken will finally have a full roster of players as they reveal their selections this evening in the 2021 NHL expansion draft. The names will be announced at Seattle’s Gas Works Park starting at 8 pm ET. Among the notable names available is Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano.

Seattle Kraken expansion draft is July 21. (NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation Price, Tarasenko and Giordano could be selected by the Kraken. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill update. Ovechkin, however, is expected to re-sign with the Capitals following the expansion draft.

THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Tarasenko, Jeremy Rutherford reports the surgeon who conducted the winger’s third shoulder surgery claims his patient’s left shoulder is “rock solid.”

Dr. Peter Millett said Tarasenko’s shoulder is “very stable and strong”, adding the winger told him it feels better now than it has for months. Millett is confident that Tarasenko is “100 percent ready for the upcoming season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues spent several weeks attempting to trade Tarasenko before exposing him in the expansion draft. This news could make him more enticing to the Kraken or to clubs that expressed interest in the 29-year-old winger.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels cited sources claiming it’s highly unlikely Phillip Danault returns with the Montreal Canadiens. The 28-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Engels also indicated there’s no truth to a reported deal between Danault and the Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault has put his Montreal-area home up for sale. His solid defensive play during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs should help him land a lucrative long-term deal elsewhere on July 28.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, they named Jean-Francois Houle as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Laval. The son of former Canadien Rejean Houle, he has several years of coaching experience at the university, Junior-A and minor-league levels. In 2011-12, he won the Ron Lapointe Trophy as the QMJHL’s top coach.

TSN: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis denied suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery this season. He said it was an injured knuckle that sidelined him for 20 games with the Nashville Predators. Ellis was traded to the Flyers on Saturday before the expansion draft roster freeze. He said he’s good to go for next season.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Patrik Laine is mulling the $7.5 million qualifying offer he received from the Blue Jackets. If he signs the one-year deal he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. The move could allow time for the Jackets to negotiate a long-term extension with the 23-year-old winger.

TSN: Prospect Logan Mailloux has renounced himself from this weekend’s NHL Draft. He’s asking teams not to select him following a criminal charge while playing in Sweden last year. He was investigated after distributing a photo of himself and a woman engaged in a sexual act. The photo was taken without her consent.

Mailloux received a summary punishment by fine. The NHL responded that he remains draft-eligible.

NHL.COM: Defenseman Yannick Weber has retired from the NHL after 13 seasons. He intends to continue his playing career in Switzerland. Weber amassed 94 points in 499 games with the Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Weber in his future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2021

Predators prospect Luke Prokop comes out as gay, Carey Price calls for increased recognition of the history of residential schools, the Kraken could be close to signing Chris Driedger, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop revealed yesterday he is gay, become the first player under an NHL contract to come out. “I am no longer scared to hide who I am,” wrote Prokop on Instagram. “Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.”

Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop.

Prokop, 19, is a defenseman with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. The Predators selected him in the third round (73rd overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft and signed him last December to a three-year entry-level contract.

The news was no surprise for the Predators. Prokop informed general manager David Poile of his sexuality over a year ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Prokop is receiving widespread support from the Predators and throughout the hockey community following his announcement yesterday. It took courage for this young man to come out. Hopefully, he’ll be an example and inspiration to other gay players.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price believes more should be done to make Canadians aware of the history of residential schools. A growing number of unmarked graves continue to be discovered on the sites of some former residential schools throughout several provinces.

Price’s grandmother was a residential school survivor. His mother, Lynda Price, is chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation in Northern British Columbia.

I think we need to do a better job in the future of recognizing that this is a part of our history in Canada and it’s just not right,” said Price.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported yesterday the Seattle Kraken are closing in on a three-year, $10.5 million contract with Chris Driedger. The 27-year-old Florida Panthers goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Under expansion draft rules, the Kraken have a brief window (July 18 to 21) to negotiate exclusively with free agents left unprotected in Wednesday’s expansion draft. If signed by the Kraken, he’ll be considered that club’s selection from the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Driedger came into his own this season after several years of bouncing between the NHL and the minors. He outperformed Panthers starter Sergei Bobrovsky. With promising Spencer Knight now on their roster, they can’t afford to carry three goalies.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the New York Rangers are close to signing a six-year contract extension with Barclay Goodrow. The Rangers acquired the 28-year-old forward last week from the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s believed the annual average value of his new contract would be around $3.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad pay raise for Goodrow, who’s completing a two-year, $1.85 million contract. That term is longer than most for a checking-line forward. They usually get deals between three-to-four years.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski cites sources saying the NHL’s 2021-22 schedule will contain a break for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. It’s reportedly scheduled for Feb. 5-22, 2022.

The schedule is expected to be released on July 22 but could contain a caveat indicating NHL participation in the Olympics isn’t yet guaranteed.

The NHL is still working with the International Olympic Committee on issues that prevented the league from participating in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have hired Darryl Williams as an assistant coach. Williams worked with Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault in Vancouver and New York over nine seasons.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their affiliation with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears for the next two seasons.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets hired Mark Morrisson as the new head coach of their AHL affiliate. He spent the past four seasons as an assistant with the Anaheim Ducks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2021

A look at the notable players available in the upcoming 2021 expansion draft and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The NHL released the player protection lists for the 30 teams participating in the upcoming NHL expansion draft. The Seattle Kraken will choose one player from each team on Wednesday, July 21 starting at 8 pm ET. The Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from this draft.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, St. Lous Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton are among the notable names available in the draft.

Others include former Stanley Cup-winning goaltenders Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Matt Murray of the Ottawa Senators and Braden Holtby of the Vancouver Canucks.

Among the notable defensemen are Canadiens captain Shea Weber, the New Jersey Devils’ P.K. Subban, the Calgary Flames’ Mark Giordano and the Anaheim Ducks’ Kevin Shattenkirk.

Other noteworthy forwards include Nashville Predators centers Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene, Philadelphia Flyers wingers Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk, New York Islanders forwards Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey and Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde.

Some of the pending unrestricted free agents available are Boston Bruins forwards Taylor Hall and David Krejci, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Avalanche winger Brandon Saad, Canadiens center Phillip Danault and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting collection of talent for the Kraken to draw upon in the expansion draft. There’s a roster freeze in place until Thursday at 1 pm ET, allowing Kraken management exclusive negotiating rights with the free agents left exposed in the draft.

Signing those free agents, however, isn’t a certainty. Some clubs left them exposed in order to protect other players with the intention of signing those players before free agency begins on July 28. That’s why there’s little concern among Washington fans over Ovechkin’s exposure in the draft. Some NHL insiders believe Ovechkin and the Capitals already have a deal in place and are waiting until after the expansion draft to announce it.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports sources said there are concerns about Price’s health that could deter the Kraken from selecting him. His availability for next season could be in question.

An MRI following the playoffs revealed a hip injury that might require surgery. Price is traveling to the United States for further examination and the results aren’t expected until Friday, two days following the expansion draft. He’s also dealing with a lingering knee injury.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Price is scheduled to see a doctor in New York regarding his knee. “The hope is that it’s not too serious,” said LeBrun. He noted the Habs goalie is getting his hip checked out but it’s the knee that could require surgery.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Kraken are seriously considering selecting Price. However, because they are supposed to get the full medical records of all exposed players, Price’s medical appointments following the expansion draft aren’t going over well. Other teams are upset, believing the Canadiens are using Price and Weber to make a mockery of the process.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The complaints about the health of Price and Weber are being raised because both played well during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. Both players, however, have a long history of playing through injuries, as most NHL players do during the postseason.

Weber’s injury concerns were reportedly raised following his postseason exit medical. I daresay the same thing happened with Price.

I’m not saying critics aren’t justified in their concerns over the timing. I’m suggesting there simply wasn’t sufficient time between the end of the Stanley Cup Final and the due date for submission of the player protection lists for Price to receive a full evaluation of his hip and knee.

Price waived his no-movement clause to allow the Canadiens to protect backup goalie Jake Allen. He has five years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $10.5 million, a full no-movement clause that would follow him to Seattle, and an $11 million signing bonus due in September.

The Kraken could still select Price despite the injury concerns and his contract. It would be a big loss for the Canadiens but it would free up $10.5 million to pursue a younger, affordable replacement via trade or free agency. It would also provide additional cap space to find a potential replacement for Danault if he hits the open market next week.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning opted to protect their blueline corps while making forwards such as Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, and Yanni Gourde available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning will lose a good forward to the Kraken. My guess is they choose Gourde. He’s a solid, versatile two-way player who can play all three forward positions.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Predators were the only club to protect five defenseman: Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro, Philippe Myers and Alexandre Carrier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s one reason why centers Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene are available. The other is Predators general manager David Poile hopes the Kraken selects one of them to get their $8 million annual cap hit off his books.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak intends to test the free-agent market on July 28.

CBC SPORTS: Dolores Claman, who wrote the Hockey Night in Canada theme music in 1968, recently passed away at age 94.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For decades, that tune was like Canada’s second national anthem. My condolences to Claman’s family and friends.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2021

Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, Gabriel Landeskog are among the notables to be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft, Miro Heiskanen among several players inking new contracts, and a roundup of yesterday’s notable trades in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NOTE: The NHL expansion draft roster freeze went into effect at 3 pm ET on Saturday. It will remain in effect until 1 pm EST on Thursday, July 22.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has agreed to waive his no-movement for the upcoming NHL expansion draft. He made that decision to enable the Canadiens to protect backup goalie Jake Allen.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The gamble here for Price and the Canadiens is the Kraken could be put off by his contract, which has five years remaining at an annual average value of $10.5 million.

There are a couple of poison pills in this contract. If the Kraken select Price, they’ll have to pay him the $11 million signing bonus due in September. His no-movement clause would follow him to Seattle as he’s only waiving it in this instance for the expansion draft, not a trade. In other words, the Kraken would need his permission to trade or demote him.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche will expose Gabriel Landeskog in the expansion draft. The 28-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. This allows the Kraken to exclusively negotiate with Landeskog and perhaps sign him to a new contract before the draft on Wednesday night. If he does, he would become the Kraken’s expansion draft selection from the Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation Landeskog seeks a long-term deal worth between $9 million and $10 million annually. That would be a big contract for the Kraken to take on so early in their existence. They could, however, try to ink him to a multi-year deal worth around $7 million annually. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues are believed to have left winger Vladimir Tarasenko exposed in the expansion draft. They could also leave defenseman Vince Dunn unprotected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have been shopping both players. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports a source said Tarasenko can’t believe he hasn’t been traded yet. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has told the winger’s camp that no teams are interested in him.

The source also said several teams have an interest in Tarasenko but Armstrong hasn’t found a suitable return. Another source told Rutherford there’s limited interest in the winger, who’s coming off three shoulder surgeries and carries a $7.5 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons.

SPORTSNET: cites Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the Los Angeles Kings will expose goaltender Jonathan Quick in the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. The Kings want to protect Quick’s heir apparent Cal Petersen. The 35-year-old netminder has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Kraken are reportedly close to signing Chris Driedger. The 27-year-old goaltender is slated to become a UFA on July 28. His camp received permission from the Panthers to speak to other clubs. If the Kraken sign Driedger, he’ll count as their selection from the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’ll be a big win for the Panthers as they won’t have to worry about losing another player from their expansion list. They had to protect goalie Sergei Bobrovsky because of his no-movement clause. Promising netminder Spencer Knight is exempt from this draft.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets will expose Max Domi in the expansion draft. They’re betting Domi’s injured shoulder will deter the Kraken. He’s recovering from shoulder surgery and could miss the opening month or two of 2021-22.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars signed defenseman Miro Heiskanen to an eight-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $8.45 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a wise long-term investment by the Stars. Heiskanen, 21, is completing his entry-level contract but he’s earned this new deal.

Over the past three seasons, he’s become the Stars’ best all-around defenseman. He regularly leads them in ice time, plays in every situation, and was their leading scorer in the 2020 postseason during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. This kid is a future Norris Trophy contender. His new contract will look like a bargain in a few years.

In other signings yesterday, the New York Islanders re-signed defenseman Andy Greene to a one-year, $1 million contract, the Anaheim Ducks signed winger Alexander Volkov to a one-year, $925K contract extension, and the Tampa Bay Lightning inked defenseman Fredrik Claesson to a one-year, two-way contract.

Several trades were made yesterday, the biggest being the Nashville Predators shipping Ryan Ellis to the Philadelphia Flyers in a three-team deal. You can read my take here. Other deals of note:

The New York Rangers acquired forward Barclay Goodrow from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for their seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft. The Rangers also traded forward Brett Howden to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft (originally belonging to the Winnipeg Jets) and impending free-agent defenseman Nick DeSimone.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first piece of the Lightning’s 2021 Stanley Cup championship roster has departed. Expect more cost-cutting moves by the Bolts in the coming days/weeks as they attempt to become cap compliant for next season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired forward Jared McCann from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for prospect forward Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick in 2023.

The Vancouver Canucks acquired forward Jason Dickinson from the Dallas Stars in exchange for their third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

The Arizona Coyotes acquired winger Andrew Ladd, a second-round pick in the 2021 draft, a second-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2023 from the New York Islanders. The Coyotes also traded goaltender Adin Hill to the San Jose Sharks for goaltender Josef Korenar and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move comes on the heels of the Islanders shipping Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday. They have been trying to move Ladd’s contract for some time. He spent all of this season with their AHL affiliate. He has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.5 million, giving the Isles some much-needed cap space for other moves, such as re-signing restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin.

It’s interesting that there was nothing listed in the Ladd trade report of the Coyotes sending anything the other way to the Isles. Perhaps they’re getting “future considerations.”










Were The Canadiens Good Or Just Lucky?

Were The Canadiens Good Or Just Lucky?

Are the Montreal Canadiens a stronger team than we thought, or did they just get lucky and go on a five-week hot streak?

The Canadiens enjoyed an impressive run in the 2021 playoffs. The lowest overall postseason seed, they upset the heavily-favored Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

They came a cropper against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, falling in five games. However, the clubs the Habs eliminated wouldn’t have fared any better against the powerful Bolts.

The Canadiens’ playoff success papered over the fact they barely qualified in the first place.

They cooled off after a hot start, replaced most of their coaching staff by midseason, saw starting goalie Carey Price endure one of the worst regular seasons of his career, endure a 25 game in 44-night second-half stretch following a COVID-19 outbreak, lost playmaking winger Jonathan Drouin for the remainder of the season for personal reasons, and endured a shaky stretch drive with Price, captain Shea Weber and alternate captain Brendan Gallagher sidelined by injury.

Little wonder no one gave them a chance of defeating the Leafs, Jets and Golden Knights in each successive round. And yet, they defied the critics and overcame the odds.

Montreal Canadiens pose with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl (NHL.com).

But which team are the real Canadiens? The one that took their fans on a dazzling run that came within three games of the Stanley Cup? Or the one that stumbled through a shortened season and backed into the playoffs?

On the one hand, the Habs seemed to finally adjust to interim coach Dominique Ducharme’s system in the postseason. They played a strong team game with an emphasis on solid defensive play, quick zone transitions, and in-close scoring chances. Their penalty-killing was the best throughout this postseason.

Price bounced back, reminding everyone why he’s still among the best goalies in the game. Weber, Jeff Petry, Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson formed a solid top-four defense that cleared traffic from around Price’s net and took away the opposition’s scoring lanes.

Young forwards Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Jesperi Kotkaniemi continue to blossom into future stars. Josh Anderson provided size, speed and clutch scoring. Tyler Toffoli was strong at both ends of the rink. Phillip Danault was superb in a shutdown center role. Greybeards Corey Perry and Eric Staal provided invaluable depth experience and leadership.

On the other hand, Price admitted he didn’t play well during the first three games against the Lightning. Anderson’s scoring was inconsistent for most of the playoffs. A thumb injury robbed Weber of his fearsome point shot. Alexander Romanov’s limited postseason appearances raised questions over Ducharme’s faith in the promising defenseman. The power play often looked like they were playing with a live grenade.

So, are they an emerging Stanley Cup contender or an overachiever that crashed to earth in the Final?

Marc Bergevin was a finalist for GM of the Year, which for some weird reason is voted on following the second round of the playoffs. He wouldn’t have even been among the candidates had that vote occurred following the regular season.

The Canadiens’ playoff run probably saved Bergevin’s job (should he still want it) and should remove the interim label off Ducharme’s title. Having gotten their team to the Final, can they avoid the pitfalls that doomed many Cup Final underdogs of the past?

Everything depends on several factors.

Bergevin was able to use plentiful cap space to add Toffoli, Anderson, Perry, Staal, Edmundson and backup goalie Jake Allen. Making similar acquisitions won’t easy with a salary cap expected to remain flat for the next several seasons.

More promising youngsters must begin to crack the lineup. Ryan Poehling, Mattias Norlinder, Cayden Primeau, Jan Mysak, Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris have to make a positive impression within the next several years.

Price must maintain his strong playoff form throughout the regular season, something he’s had difficulty doing in recent years. The 36-year-old Weber must begin accepting a reduced role as a second-pairing defenseman, allowing Petry to take the first-pairing role on their right side.

Toffoli and Gallagher must remain healthy. Danault should be brought back but that could prove difficult given his earlier rejection of a six-year, $30 million deal. If not, a suitable replacement must be found. Perry should be an affordable one-year signing.

Suzuki, Caufield, Kotkaniemi and center Jake Evans must keep improving and take on greater roles and responsibilities. Romanov must be given more playing time and room to allow for his development. Anderson needs to find the back of the net more often. They need more from Drouin than what he’s given them in the past, assuming he can continue his playing career.

Ducharme must prove he can still make the right moves as he did through most of this postseason. He has to ensure the players still buy into his system. He must also silence critics who feel he’s slow to trust his youngsters given his seeming reluctance to insert Kotkaniemi, Caufield and Romanov into the lineup earlier in this postseason.

Even if all those factors pan out, will the Canadiens be deep enough and strong enough to match up well in an Atlantic Division? Can they compete on an even footing with the powerhouse Lightning, the improving Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators, the still-talented Maple Leafs and still-dangerous Boston Bruins?

Can they do more than just hold their own against Eastern Conference teams like the veteran-laden Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals? Will they be able to handle the rising Carolina Hurricanes, the promising New York Rangers, and the hard-working New York Islanders?

Can they keep pace with the best of the west in the Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche? Or the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers? The suddenly improved Minnesota Wild?

This year was a heckuva run for the Canadiens but they have a long way to go to prove they’re more than a one-year wonder.