NHL Rumor Mill – March 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 22, 2021

The latest on the Leafs, Bruins and Devils plus an update on Pavel Buchnevich in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE LEAFS TRADE ANDERSEN?

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski reports there’s talk the Maple Leafs should shop Frederik Andersen before the upcoming trade deadline despite his history of regular-season success. He’s battling a lower-body injury and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Backup Jack Campbell has put up better numbers in limited action this season but has also had his injury woes this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen (NHL Images).

Zwolinski speculates Andersen could be in a backup role in the coming spate of games to work with goaltending coach Steve Briere. After that, he feels Andersen should return to the starter’s role or be dealt before the April 12 deadline. “There’s no sense keeping a $5 million-a-year goalie in the backup role for long.” However, he acknowledged the risk that Andersen could help another team make a long playoff run.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby doesn’t see Andersen going anywhere. The Leafs lack an experienced third option within their system as witnessed by Michael Hutchinson’s inconsistent play. The 14-day quarantine for players acquired from American clubs leaves little time to break in a new acquisition, there’s limited salary-cap space and management is focused on a top-six forward and blueline depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen’s critics don’t care about those points raised by Hornby, they just want him gone. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, however, probably doesn’t share that view for exactly the reasons espoused by Hornby. Besides, it’ll take a fair bit of creativity and salary-cap gymnastics to ship out Andersen, bring in a suitable replacement and still pursue a top-six winger and perhaps a defenseman.

If the Leafs were to attempt to trade Andersen there might not be much of a market for his services. Many contenders have limited salary-cap space and more pressing issues elsewhere on their roster.

NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes recently reported sources claiming interest in heating up in Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier (though he’s currently sidelined) and San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk. Those options could be more palatable to teams seeking goaltending depth for the playoffs.

WHAT WILL THE BRUINS DO AT THE DEADLINE?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked what the Bruins will do to address their anemic secondary scoring and injury-battered blueline. He cautions against giving up too much for a short-term fix for a club that might not be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this season.

Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit on the Bruins’ defense but he won’t move the needle offensively. He doesn’t consider Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall a pure goal scorer. Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell might be a better option but Haggerty is leery of taking him on, pointing to the Ducks’ offensive woes and low position in the standings. Other trade targets could be Detroit’s Bobby Ryan, Anthony Mantha or Marc Staal or New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Dmitry Kulikov.

Jimmy Murphy recently reported multiple sources claiming the Bruins are scouting Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard. GM Don Sweeney is also continuing to monitor the situation with Ekholm and St. Louis Blues rearguard Vince Dunn. The Predators and Blues recently scouted the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney is being lambasted daily by his critics as Boston clings to the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have $5.9 million in trade deadline cap space. However, their lack of sufficient tradeable assets makes it difficult to outbid other clubs in the trade market.

Haggerty made a great point that it might not be worthwhile wasting futures on short-term fixes on a club whose Stanley Cup window may be closed. That’s something Sweeney must carefully consider. Sacrificing the future for immediate returns that might not advance their Stanley Cup hopes will only cost them down the road, especially when they have aging core players like Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask and Brad Marchand.

WILL THE DEVILS MOVE PALMIERI OR SUBBAN?

NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross wonders if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello will target Kyle Palmieri before the trade deadline. The New Jersey Devils’ winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Lamoriello is in the market to replace sidelined captain Anders Lee, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Gross believes Palmieri would be a good fit as he plays the type of hard-edge game Isles coach Barry Trotz prefers. He’s also tallied at least 24 goals in each of his full five seasons with the Devils.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW (via FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW): Jimmy Murphy reports Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is surfacing more frequently in trade rumors. He has a year remaining on his contract with a $9 million salary-cap hit but there’s a sense Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald would be willing to pick up a good portion of it. Subban has improved his defensive play while still logging big minutes and can still contribute to the power play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palmieri has expressed an interest in re-signing with the Devils and the two sides are said to have engaged in preliminary discussions. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald could consider moving the veteran winger if the cost of re-signing him proves too expensive. His current cap hit is $4.65 million and he could seek a substantial pay raise.

Murphy also pointed out Subban’s contract could be difficult to move right now even if the Devils picked up half his cap hit. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be moved in the offseason but a trade-deadline deal seems remote.

UPDATE ON BUCHNEVICH

NEW YORK POST: A week after suggesting the Rangers face an important decision on whether to re-sign or move Pavel Buchnevich at the trade deadline, Larry Brooks believes the answer is re-signing the winger. He points out Buchnevich has become a productive top-six winger and a complete player with a strong work ethic at both ends of the ice, suggesting the Blueshirts re-sign him to a four- or five-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility. It’ll be interesting to see what he and the Rangers eventually agree to.










NHL Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 6

NHL Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 6

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, Artemi Panarin takes leave of absence amid assault allegations levied by his former Russian coach, stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Despite a 49-save effort by goaltender Anton Khubodin the Dallas Stars fell 3-1 to the Florida Panthers. Defensemen Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad provided two of Florida’s goals as the Panthers (26 points) sit in first place in the Discover Central Division. The Stars have dropped six straight games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning remains within three points of the Panthers after doubling up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning while Jesper Fast tallied twice for the Hurricanes, who sit one point behind the Panthers and two up on the Lightning.

A third-period power-play goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau lifted the New York Islanders past the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner was a healthy scratch. The Sabres also announced defenseman Jake McCabe will require season-ending surgery to repair a knee injury suffered during Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich turned in a 34-save shutout as his club blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0. Rittich got the nod as Flames starter Jacob Markstrom was day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Leafs star Auston Matthews was held without a point for the first time in 17 games. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (upper-body injury, day-to-day), forwards Joe Thornton and Zach Hyman (undisclosed, day-to-day) and defenseman Jake Muzzin (broken facial bone) also missed this game. It’s uncertain when Muzzin will return.

Jonathan Quick picked up his 54th career shutout backstopping the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Dustin Brown scored twice as the Kings picked up their fifth straight win to remain in fourth place in the Honda West Division with 19 points. Blues forward Sammy Blais returned to the lineup following a false positive test for COVID-19.

The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 3-0 deficit to nip the Anaheim Ducks 4-3. Christian Dvorak scored twice and Clayton Keller collected two assists for the Coyotes.

Mats Zuccarello had a goal and three assists as the Minnesota Wild thumped the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Victor Rask had a goal and two assists while Marcus Foligno had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a goal, an assist and a fight.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the Rangers after his former KHL coach alleged the winger beat up an 18-year-old woman in a bar following a 2011 game in Riga, Latvia. Panarin released a statement through his agent denying Andrei Nazarov’s allegation, calling it a fabrication. The Rangers also expressed their support for their winger, indicating he “unequivocally and vehemently” denied the charge.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Post reporter Larry Brooks cites a source indicating this isn’t a direct retaliatory measure by the Putin government toward the Rangers star but rather Nazarov “going rogue”. He suggests Nazarov, a Putin supporter, is attempting to sully Panarin’s reputation to curry favor within the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

Brooks points out Latvian journalist Aivis Kalnins reported a spokesman for the hotel where the alleged incident took place claims it never happened. None of Panarin’s former KHL teammates support Nazarov’s allegation.

Nazarov claimed Panarin was detained by police and there was a criminal case and trial but the incident was covered up by bribing local officials with 40,000 euros. However, Brooks pointed out Panarin at that time was not a high-profile player and had been passed over in two previous NHL drafts. He suggests there would’ve been little reason to engage in bribery and a cover-up for someone who at that time was a run-of-the-mill player.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 21.

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac played in his 1000th NHL game during Sunday’s contest against the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Devils fan contacted me yesterday to point out I missed this during yesterday’s morning coffee headlines. I regret the oversight. Congratulations to Zajac on reaching this noteworthy career milestone.

TSN: The NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list has shrunk to nine players. Six of those are members of the Philadelphia Flyers.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks announced center Dylan Strome has been placed in concussion protocol and defenseman Lucas Carlsson is on injured reserve with a strained groin. Blueline Connor Murphy has been activated from IR after missing six games with a hip injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Former NHL coach Bruce Boudreau is interested in becoming the Seattle Kraken’s bench boss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken aren’t believed to have started interviewing potential coaching candidates yet. Boudreau could be among the contenders given his years of NHL experience.










No Lead Is Safe In The NHL This Season

No Lead Is Safe In The NHL This Season

 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we look at the one question facing each non-playoff club

SPORTSNET: Josh Beneteau recently looked at the most important question facing the NHL’s seven non-playoff clubs.

Kicking off with the Detroit Red Wings, Beneteau wondered how many of their free agents will be brought back. RFAs Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha are the priorities. UFAs like Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Ericsson won’t be back, while RFAs Brendan Perlini and Adam Erne aren’t expected to return. Some, like Robby Fabbri and Alex Biega, probably earned themselves contract extensions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi, Mantha, Fabbri, and Biega will be back with the Wings next season.

Looking at the Ottawa Senators’ 13 potential picks in the 2020 draft, Beneteau wondered what general manager Pierre Dorion will do with all of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dorion will likely use most of those picks in the draft, but I expect he’ll use a few as trade bait, perhaps targeting a cap-strapped club looking to shed salary. He’ll probably consider that option if he can land a young, affordable NHL-ready player who can help the Sens’ rebuild.

Beneteau wondered if this is the end of an era for the current San Jose Sharks roster. GM Doug Wilson seems intent for now on keeping the group intact and trying to figure out what went wrong this season. Nevertheless, he has a history of making blockbuster moves.

Could Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick become an off-season trade candidate? (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We certainly can’t rule out the possibility of Wilson surprising us with a big move or two. Trying to move one or two of his veteran core, however, will be difficult. All of them carry expensive contracts with varying degrees of no-trade protection.

Turning to the Los Angeles Kings, Beneteau noted they shipped out Tyler Toffoli before the trade deadline and wondered if long-time Kings like Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, and Jonathan Quick will return. Beneteau acknowledged the trio are declining and have at least two years remaining on their contracts with annual cap hits of $5.2-million or more. Moving one of them, however, could fetch some sort of future asset while opening a spot for a younger player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings could be forced to pick up part of the salary-cap hit to move Brown, Carter, or Quick. Otherwise, they might have to include a good young asset in the deal, which this rebuilding club will be unwilling to part with.

Looking at the Anaheim Ducks’ anemic offense, Beneteau wonders who’s going to score next season. He speculates they could move one of their two first-round picks in this year’s draft to land a scoring forward through the draft or via trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay teams will be more interested in the Ducks’ pick than the one they got from the Boston Bruins. I don’t see GM Bob Murray moving his pick, especially if the Ducks win the draft lottery.

With the New Jersey Devils still undecided over whether to retain interim GM Tom Fitzgerald and head coach Alain Nasreddine, Beneteau wonders who’s going to make the roster decisions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the unusually long off-season facing the Devils, they have plenty of time to address that issue. They reportedly interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis, while Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, and John Stevens are said to be among their coaching candidates.

Beneteau closes by wondering which players will be part of the solution for the Buffalo Sabres. He thinks upgrades in goal and on the forward lines are coming and won’t rule out big trades involving defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and RFA winger Sam Reinhart.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres GM Jason Botterill and head coach Ralph Krueger expressed support for Ristolainen. It appears they’re also keen to keep Reinhart in the fold. Then again, we can’t rule out the possibility of one or both being moved before next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2020

Some possible regional neutral-site locations to reopen the schedule, Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Quick weigh in on a possible resumption, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports a league source confirms Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of the NHL’s board of governors, is interested in having TD Garden become one of the four regional neutral-site locations if the season resumes in July.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports Las Vegas could be a fit as one of those neutral-site locations. Nevada isn’t a COVID-19 hotspot compared to other NHL cities like New York or the San Francisco Bay area, plus the city has suitable facilities to host and accommodate NHL players. However, it could lack sufficient rinks for training camps.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sean Shapiro believes Dallas will be high on the list of possible neutral-site locations. The area has suitable accommodations, training facilities, and a major international airport. Climate, however, could make it difficult to sustain acceptable ice conditions.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The league could consider Raleigh, North Carolina as a neutral-site city, but Luke Decock believes a lack of practice facilities would be a major obstacle.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Columbus, Edmonton, Minnesota, and Toronto could be among the leading neutral-site candidates.

Could Las Vegas become one of the NHL’s regional neutral-site locations?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the aforementioned cities have low COVID-19 numbers and less stringent social-distancing restrictions. Boston, however, is not among them. Jacobs is a very powerful league owner, but I doubt he’ll have enough influence to overcome the local health curtailments.

Meanwhile, Edmonton’s chief medical officer recently announced a recommendation to ban events of 15 or more people until the end of the summer. If approved, kiss that city goodbye as a neutral-site location.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated a single positive or multiple positive tests involving players or personnel wouldn’t put an immediate halt to on-ice activity. “Everything depends on the facts and the entire set of circumstances,” said Daly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Daly, local health officials will make that decision, not the league. If they feel one or multiple positive tests among NHL players or staff creates a risk of spreading the coronavirus to the local population, that city will shut down games in their location. If that happens, the league’s plan to resume the schedule could be derailed.

Former NHL player John Scott took to Twitter yesterday claiming NHL training camps will begin on June 1. He anticipates European players will be returning to their NHL clubs soon. However, SPORTSNET’s Eric Engels recently reported Montreal Canadiens winger and NHLPA alternate player rep Brendan Gallagher said on Wednesday that a resumption of the schedule in July has not yet been put before the PA membership for approval.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick believes netminders will need time to get back into form if the league resumes this summer. He recalled his own long recovery from a groin injury just one game into the 2016-17 season.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington teamed up with local businessman David Corbett delivered 2,000 N95 masks to Mercy’s Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield.

SPORTSNET: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is using Scotiabank Arena as a giant kitchen to prepare 10,000 meals a day for Toronto’s front-line health-care workers, their families, and the city’s community agencies and shelters.