NHL Rumor Mill – August 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 24, 2020

Speculation over Marc-Andre Fleury’s future with the Golden Knights, plus the latest on the Flames, Senators, and Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLEURY’S FUTURE

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required) Jesse Granger suggests Marc-Andre Fleury‘s defense of his agent, Allan Walsh, gives the impression the veteran goaltender didn’t disagree with Walsh’s provocative post criticizing his client’s lack of playing time.

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

Over the weekend, Walsh posted an image showing Fleury being stabbed in the back by a sword with the name of Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer on the blade. Fleury appeared in just two of the Golden Knights’ games since the NHL returned to action, with trade-deadline acquisition Robin Lehner seeing the bulk of the starts. He’s had Walsh remove the image from his Twitter feed. 

Granger noted Fleury said he speaks regularly with Walsh. The fact Fleury didn’t immediately condemn the image gave the impression the netminder wasn’t that upset over it.

Fleury has two years remaining on his contract while Lehner is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner to a large contract, Granger believes they could face having between $12 – $14 million invested in the goalie position or they would have to move on from Fleury.

Granger pointed out Fleury has a 10-team no-trade list. Given the flattened salary cap for next season, there might not be many destinations for Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury’s future with the Golden Knights is now a topic of speculation that will intensify the longer he remains Lehner’s backup. As Granger noted, trading him won’t be easy. In addition to his no-trade clause and the flattened cap, his $7.5 million annual average value, his age (35), and inconsistency this season could also become sticking points.

LATEST FLAMES SPECULATION

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson acknowledged Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau’s playoff performance was disappointing. Trading him, however, could be risky. He wondered what the return would be, suggesting they’d have to get someone to replace Gaudreau’s production. Gilbertson mused about perhaps bringing in a blue-chip defenseman with Mark Giordano about to turn 37, or perhaps swapping Gaudreau for picks and prospects and using the cap savings to sign Taylor Hall. The danger would be looking back after the trade and realizing they got little in return.

Gilbertson also pondered if Flames GM Brad Treliving will re-sign Cam Talbot, stick with David Rittich, or pursue a free-agent goalie like Jacob Markstrom, Robin Lehner or Braden Holtby. He wondered which of their pending UFA blueliners (T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Derek Forbort, Erik Gustafsson, Michael Stone) will be back. He also thinks Treliving would like to add a Nazem Kadri-type player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving could quietly gauge Gaudreau’s trade value following the playoffs. Maybe he shops him for a more affordable young winger with upside. Maybe he dumps Gaudreau’s salary and goes after Hall, though that comes with its own risks in terms of salary and Hall’s effectiveness as he approaches 30 next year. Maybe he tries to add that young forward and a gritty secondary scorer.

The goaltending is an interest situation. Re-signing Talbot would be merely a short-term solution as Gilbertson points out. Rittich looks less like a future starter with each passing season. Markstrom, Lehner or Holtby might be better options but they’ll also be expensive.

WILL THE SENATORS ADD A GOALIE?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch recently suggested several trade options for the Senators if GM Pierre Dorion wants to add a veteran goaltender.

The New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist could be the biggest name available but he might not want to join a rebuilding team. Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray could be another trade target.

Garrioch also noted the Arizona Coyotes have Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper while the Carolina Hurricanes may decide they need to do something with James Reimer or Petr Mrazek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Lundqvist agreeing to be traded to a rebuilding club in what is likely his final NHL campaign. Murray’s injury history and inconsistency make him a risky acquisition.

The Coyotes won’t part with Kuemper, while Raanta also has a long history of injuries. The Hurricanes should upgrade their goaltending but they could stick with their current tandem because of their affordability. Both are signed for next season.

SUGGESTED BLUELINE OPTIONS FOR THE KINGS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman recently listed Carolina’s Joel Edmundson, Chicago’s Olli Maatta, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, and Florida’s Mike Matheson as possible blueline targets for the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson, Dillon, and Tanev are UFAs at season’s end. Maatta is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $4.083 million but Dillman suggests he could be a buyout candidate. Matheson is under contract until 2025-26 with an AAV of $4.875 million.

Kings GM Rob Blake seems content to continue rebuilding with youth but I can see him making an affordable free-agent addition or two this summer. One of those pending UFA options listed by Dillman could be on his list if he can get them to agree to short-term contracts. He could be reluctant to take on Matheson’s deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2020

Recaps of Tuesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin, Steven Stamkos,  and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (Photo via NHL Images).

 NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes are the first team to advance past the qualifying round, defeating the New York Rangers 4-1 to sweep their best-of-five series. The Hurricanes scored four unanswered goals, including two by Sebastian Aho, while James Reimer made 38 saves for the win. Chris Kreider tallied the only goal for the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series saw dominant performances by Aho and linemate Andrei Svechnikov. The young Hurricanes forwards proved too much for the Rangers to contain. Aho leads all playoff scorers with eight points, while Svechnikov has three goals and five points in three games.

 

Auston Matthews’s second-period goal was the game-winner and Frederik Andersen had a 20-save shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0, tying their qualifying round series at a game apiece. John Tavares and Morgan Rielly also tallied for the Leafs. The Maple Leafs win was overshadowed by Jake Muzzin being stretchered from the ice late in the game with a suspected head/neck injury after a cross-check by Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois sent the defenseman colliding awkwardly with Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstand. Muzzin was taken to a local hospital and was reportedly able to move his limbs.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Muzzin will be ok. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be at the hospital and if he’ll have to undergo the mandatory four-day quarantine before rejoining his teammates. The Leafs had the better of the play in this game, outshooting the Jackets 39-20.

Sean Monahan had a goal and two assists as the Calgary Flames downed the Winnipeg 6-2 to take a 2-1 series lead. Monahan’s linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm each had a goal and an assist, as the Flames went three-for-four on the power play. The injury-depleted Jets suffered another casualty as Mathieu Perreault left the game following a big hit from Flames forward Sam Bennett. Winnipeg defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game briefly left the game for stitches after taking a puck to the face.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a very physical game that left both sides battered, but the Jets got the worst of it. Already down two players with stars Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine sidelined, they cannot afford to lose more regulars. They also need more production from first-liners Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor, who’ve both been held to just one point in this series.

The New York Islanders tallied three unanswered goals to double up the Florida Panthers 4-2 and take a 2-0 series lead. Jordan Eberle tallied twice as the Isles overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits. Mike Hoffman and Keith Yandle each had two points for the Panthers. The Islanders can wrap it up in Game 3 later today. Following the game, Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson was fined $2,500.00 for high-sticking Isles center Brock Nelson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders showed lots of poise in this game. They didn’t get rattled when they fell behind and garnered momentum after Matt Martin made it 2-2. It was a disappointing outcome for the Panthers, who played much better in this game but couldn’t hold the lead.

J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat each had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks held on to edge the Minnesota Wild 4-3 and tie their series at a game apiece. Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom turned in a 34-save performance. Kevin Fiala scored two late goals for the Wild. The Canucks successfully killed off six penalties in this contest but also lost winger Micheal Ferland to an undisclosed injury in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong bounce-back effort for the Canucks, who looked flat in Game 1. They also tweaked their roster, with Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson entering the lineup for this one. Tyler Toffoli missed this game with an injured foot suffered in Game 1.

Nashville Predators’ goaltender Juuse Saros made 24 saves for his first career postseason win, backstopping his club to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes to tie their series at a game apiece. Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist as the Preds rolled to a 4-0 lead before the Coyotes tallied twice in the final minute of regulation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After falling behind early in Game 1, it was the Predators’ turn to ride an early lead to victory. Apart from brief flurries from the Coyotes, the Preds largely controlled the play, especially when Calle Jarnkrok made it 3-0. Coyotes backup goalie Antti Raanta was declared “unfit to play” after leaving the bench mid-game and won’t suit up for Game 3 later today.

HEADLINES

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos won’t be in the lineup when his club faces off today in round-robin play against the Boston Bruins. Though he’s skated with his teammates in recent days, he’s still recovering from an injury suffered during Phase 2 training.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Jack Studnicka will be a healthy scratch from today’s game against the Lightning. He’ll be replaced by Nick Ritchie.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is returning to St. Louis to attend the birth of his first child. He’s expected to rejoin his teammates for the first round of the playoffs.

THE SCORE: Former Washington Capitals winger Brendan Leipsic signed a one-year contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. He was released from his contract in May when inappropriate comments he made on a group chat were leaked to social media.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2020

Latest on the Ducks and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Eric Stephens recently listed five players he thinks the Anaheim Ducks could add from cap-strapped teams in the off-season. They include Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen, Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, and Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen.

Could the Anaheim Ducks pursue Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen in the off-season? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens provides an excellent, detailed examination of those players and why they could be available. I’ll just add my two cents here.

Strome and Virtanen are restricted free agents, with the latter having arbitration rights. Of the two, Virtanen seems the most likely to be available. He was relegated to the press box during the Canucks tune-up game last week against the Jets. Virtanen has decent offensive skills but his consistency and poor defensive play are ongoing issues. The Canucks could be ready to move on from him following this season.

Raanta puts up solid numbers when healthy. Problem is, he’s been banged up a lot in recent years. He’d make a good backup for John Gibson but also carries a $4.25 million AAV for next season. That would make him a pricey understudy for Gibson. If the Coyotes move Raanta it would be to shed some cap payroll to make room to re-sign Taylor Hall. They won’t be keen to retain part of his salary. 

The Blues must dump some salary to clear space to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn. However, I don’t think they want to move Schwartz. Their leading trade candidate could be goaltender Jake Allen.

Kapanen would be a nice addition to the Ducks. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an affordable $3.2 million annual average value. The Leafs don’t want to part with him but could have little choice if management can’t find another way to shed salary for next season.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers could face a difficult decision with Jesper Fast. The popular winger won the club’s Player’s Player Award as voted by his teammates for a record fifth straight year.

Fast is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Brooks believes the hardworking winger will seek much more than the $1.85 million annually that he’s currently earning. However, it could be difficulty squeezing that raise into the Rangers’ limited salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, the Rangers have over $68 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21. They must also re-sign restricted free agents such as Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev.

Unless they shed significant salary (contract buyout for Henrik Lundqvist, perhaps?), they won’t have enough to keep everyone. Fast could become the odd man out.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

Check out the latest on the Leafs, Coyotes, and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs can get a decent return if they trade Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alex Kerfoot or if it’ll be a salary dump because of the flat cap.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen (Photo via NHL Images).

Mirtle feels they could get a player or prospect for Kapanen, but injuries and so-so-seasons for Johnsson and Kerfoot will affect their value. Still, he feels a depth-depleted club like New Jersey or Ottawa could be interested in one of those players.

He also believes the Leafs could go cheap on defense for next season out of necessity because of their lower cap space, perhaps seeking an affordable UFA veteran like Vancouver’s Chris Tanev. He doesn’t see them moving out a core player for blueline help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in 16 players next season, with Kyle Clifford, Jason Spezza, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev to be re-signed or replaced. General manager Kyle Dubas did some impressive cap management last summer to free up room to re-sign Mitch Marner, but some of his deals received mixed results this season.

Dubas could pull off some more cap wizardry, perhaps acquiring one or two players on permanent long-term injury reserve status to provide more wiggle room. Nevertheless, there’s an expectation Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be moved in a cost-cutting deal. Such a trade doesn’t mean they won’t get an NHL-ready player back, but it would be one with much less than the $3-million or more cap hit of each of those three, with possibly less talent.

Dubas could surprise us with an interesting trade that brings in a top-four, right-shot defenseman. However, I think Mirtle’s assessment that they’ll stick with more affordable options for 2020-21 is the correct one.

A LOOK AT SOME POSSIBLE COYOTES TRADE OPTIONS

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan recently examined the short- and long-term effects of a flat cap upon the Arizona Coyotes.

Per Cap Friendly, the Coyotes have almost $80 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21, with star winger Taylor Hall among their notable free agents.

Morgan examined several possible cost-cutting trade candidates for ’20-’21, including center Derek Stepan, winger Michael Grabner, goaltender Antti Raanta, and defensemen Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed several others but these five appear the more likely trade options. They lack no-trade protection or have limited no-trade clauses, their contracts expire at the end of next season, and they could draw interest in the trade market.

Stepan’s $6.5 million annual average value is steep, but he’ll only get $2 million in actual salary for next season because the Coyotes recently paid out $3 million in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs looking for some affordable short-term experience and leadership.

Goligoski carries a $5.475-million AAV but receives $4 million in actual salary and has an eight-team no-trade list. Raanta has an injury history but could be a decent short-term option for clubs seeking goalie depth. Demers and Grabner would be affordable depth additions.

ATHANASIOU STRUGGLING TO FIT ON OILERS LINES

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports Andreas Athanasiou isn’t working out as hoped for the Edmonton Oilers. Since his acquisition at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, he failed to click alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Athanasiou is a restricted free agent at season’s end and must be qualified at $3 million. Spector doubts GM Ken Holland will pay the winger that much, speculating he’ll likely re-sign him for less on a one-year deal.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou’s stock tumbled this season. His speed was supposed to be an asset alongside McDavid or Draisaitl but his skills are good enough to hang with those superstars. If he spurns less money to stay in Edmonton, Holland could try to trade his rights at the draft. Failing that, he could just cut Athanasiou loose via the UFA market at season’s end.










NHL Injury Outlook: Injuries spike this Valentine’s Week

NHL Injury Outlook: Injuries spike this Valentine’s Week

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2020

Patrik Laine’s hat trick power the Jets over the Senators, Ilya Kovalchuk comes through again for the Canadiens, Claude Giroux reached 800 career points, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrik Laine tallied a hat trick and Kyle Connor picked up four points as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Laine moved past Sidney Crosby with the seventh-most goals (133) scored by a player before the age of 22. With 61 points, the Jets passed the Arizona Coyotes into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Patrik Laine’s hat trick powered the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. While they also have 61 points, the Jets hold a game in hand. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 29 saves to extend his home points streak to a team-record 18 games. Charlie Coyle scored twice and Patrice Bergeron had a three-point game. The Bruins (80 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals in the overall standings. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta was scratched before the game with a lower-body injury.

Two third-period goals by Leon Draisaitl lifted the Edmonton Oilers over the Nashville Predators 3-2. The Oilers had a scare when captain Connor McDavid suffered a bruised knee in the second period, but he returned to play over five minutes in the third. Draisaitl (85 points) holds a four-point lead over McDavid for top spot in the NHL scoring race. The Oilers (64 points) moved within a point of the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division, while the Predators (59 points) remain two points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.

The Montreal Canadiens edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on an overtime goal by Ilya Kovalchuk. Marco Scandella scored the tying goal late in the third period. John Tavares tallied for the Leafs. Kovalchuk leads the Habs with three game-winning goals, with two of those in overtime. Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin returned to action for the first time since suffering a wrist injury on Nov. 15. The Canadiens (61 points) are five points behind the Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his franchise-record points streak to 18 games with a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Brayden Point had a goal and an assist for the Bolts, who’ve won six straight and remain five points behind the Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings. The Lightning also revealed defenseman Ryan McDonagh will be sidelined for two weeks with a lower-body injury.

Kris Letang had a goal and an assist and Tristan Jarry kicked out 33 shots as the Pittsburgh Penguins hung on for a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Penguins (73 points) sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

New Jersey Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood picked up his second straight shutout to blank the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. Nikita Gusev, Blake Coleman, and Kyle Palmieri were the goal scorers. The Kings have dropped nine of their last 10 contests.

Claude Giroux picked up three points, including his 800th career point, as the Philadelphia Flyers thumped the Washington Capitals 7-2. Sean Couturier tallied two goals for the Flyers, while Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin remains two goals away from 700 career goals. The Flyers (67 points) sit just outside the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Third-period goals by Nazem Kadri and Nathan MacKinnon gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, ending Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins’ winning streak at eight games. The Jackets (69 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division.

Dallas Stars winger Roope Hintz scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Stars sit third in the Central Division with 67 points. Dallas winger Alexander Radulov missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Calgary Flames snapped a three-game losing skid by thrashing the Vancouver Canucks 6-2. Christian Dube had a goal and two assists and Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist for the Flames (62 points), who cling to the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Canucks winger Brock Boeser left the game with an apparent arm injury and could be sidelined for a little while.

Shootout goals by Andrei Svechnikov and Justin Williams gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 6-5 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Jake Gardiner picked up three assists for the Hurricanes, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 67 points. The Golden Knights (64 points) sit third in the Pacific Division.

IN OTHER NEWS…

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues will retired Chris Pronger’s No. 44 next season. The date has yet to be announced. Pronger had his best seasons with the Blues, spending nine years in St. Louis. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015, Pronger won the Hart and Norris Trophies with the Blues in 2000.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes organization may face $5 million in fines if found guilty of allegations involving physical fitness testing of draft prospects.

TSN: The International Olympic Committee engaged with the NHL last week. It’s unclear if they offered enough to sway the league into allowing its players to participate in future Winter Olympics.