NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2022

Updates on Kris Letang and Patrice Bergeron plus four free agents who could use a strong finish to this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s been ongoing talk between the Pittsburgh Penguins and defenseman Kris Letang. While Letang wants to focus on the season, there’s been more of a connection between his camp and the Penguins, though the progress has been slow.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang, 34, is completing an eight-year contract worth $7.25 million per season. Earlier this year, there was talk he would seek a raise based on his strong performance this season. With 64 points in 74 games, he’s just three away from tying his personal best set in 2015-16.

The Penguins must also attempt to sign fellow UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. Malkin, 35, has indicated he’s willing to accept a pay cut. The 29-year-old Rust is finishing a four-year, $14 million contract and will justifiably seek a raise on a long-term deal.

Letang has said he’d like to retire as a Penguin. Unless he’s willing to accept a pay cut or perhaps a modest raise on a short-term deal, he could price himself out of Pittsburgh. The Athletic’s Josh Yohe guesses Malkin stays, Letang signs with the Montreal Canadiens and Rust cashes in with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. We’ll find out by July 13 if those scenarios come to pass.

There’s been less discussion between the Boston Bruins and Patrice Bergeron but that’s by design. There’s a willingness to be patient between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron and the Bruins agreed to shelve contract talks until the end of this season. I expect he wants to finish his career in Boston and the Bruins want to keep him. Their contract negotiations will start in earnest following the playoffs.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens believes pending free agents such as the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome, the Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser, New Jersey Devils’ P.K. Subban and Dallas Stars Alexander Radulov could benefit from a strong finish to this season.

Strome overcame a struggling start to this season to score a career-best 21 goals this season. He’s a restricted free agent and the Blackhawks could be reluctant to pay $3.6 million to qualify his rights for another year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus believes Strome faces a murky future in Chicago. However, he believes the 25-year-old forward’s solid play over the past four months could earn him a new contract with another NHL team if the Blackhawks let him walk.

The 25-year-old Boeser is also a restricted free agent. The Canucks could be unwilling to pay $7.5 million to qualify his rights given how injuries have hampered his production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser was the frequent topic of trade speculation this season. Unless he’s willing to accept a pay cut to stick with the Canucks next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s shopped this summer regardless of his performance over his remaining games. If anything, a strong finish would burnish his value in this summer’s trade market.

Stephens acknowledges that Subban and Radulov are now past their prime. Nevertheless, he suggests the pending UFAs could have value playing sheltered minutes on bargain contracts with contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 32-year-old old Subban is no longer the flashy mobile defenseman that garnered him the Norris Trophy in 2013 and made him a finalist for the award in 2017. However, he could have value as Stephens suggests in a third-pairing role.

Age and injuries have caught up with the 35-year-old Radulov. I don’t dismiss the possibility he could sign with another NHL club on a cheap one-year deal. Still, I think that he’s at the point in his career where he might need a training-camp tryout next fall to earn a new contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 17, 2022

Check out the latest on Claude Giroux, Christian Dvorak, Max Domi, Marc-Andre Fleury, Alexander Radulov. Semyon Varlamov and many more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST ON GIROUX, SANHEIM AND DVORAK.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Colorado Avalanche are interested in Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, “but there’s a preference for the Panthers, although it doesn’t look like anything is close”. The Flyers haven’t been impressed with offers thus far but it’s expected the real negotiations start following Giroux’s 1,000th game tonight. The 34-year-old forward controls this process.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not sure if Friedman is referring to the Panthers as Giroux’s or the Flyers’ preference. Regardless, I’m not surprised that he hasn’t been moved yet. He and the Flyers wanted to have him reach his 1,000th game as a Flyer. He could be moved over the weekend.

Friedman also addressed rumors suggesting the Flyers might shop Travis Sanheim after re-signing defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen last week. He noted the two played together so it would make sense to keep them. He also wondered what the Flyers will do with talented rearguard Ivan Provorov given his struggles this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d be more shocked if the Flyers move Provorov than I would if they move Sanheim. While general manager Chuck Fletcher will consider his options, I think he’ll keep those two defensemen.

TVA SPORTS: As Montreal Canadiens center Christian Dvorak returns from injury, Renaud Lavoie believes the club’s goal is to trade him. He considers the 26-year-old Dvorak more of a Western Conference player. Lavoie said several teams were interested in Dvorak, including the Minnesota Wild, but it remains to be seen if they’re willing to compromise to get him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliotte Friedman said he’d heard the Wild had a prior interest in Dvorak but they can’t fit him into their lineup now. The Wild will be facing a salary-cap crunch after this season. Dvorak’s signed through 2024-25 with an annual cap hit of $4.45 million.

UPDATE ON THE LEAFS AND BLUE JACKETS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t want to part with any of his top prospects or his first-round pick for a rental player. Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm is their top target but they’ve also looked at the Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano, the Flyers’ Justin Braun, the Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg, and the San Jose Shark’s Jacob Middleton.

The Leafs have been shopping Travis Dermott and Justin Holl for months. Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if Dermott gets a fresh start elsewhere. He also makes a “completely insane prediction” of the Leafs acquiring New York Islanders blueliner Zdeno Chara.

If the Leafs decide to pursue Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury it’ll come down to whether Fleury believes he can win in Toronto. Friedman also dismissed the possibility of the Leafs acquiring John Gibson from the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to cost the Leafs a top prospect and/or a first-round pick as part of the return for Lindholm, Giordano and Klingberg, though the latter isn’t going anywhere with teammate Miro Heiskanen sidelined by mononucleosis. Those guys are all slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer. I also don’t see Chara agreeing to a trade to the Leafs.

Fleury’s situation is so muddied we don’t know if he’s staying or going. At this point, I’ll be surprised if there’s a deal that will work well enough for the Blackhawks to approach him about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs end up sticking with the goalies they already have and hope for the best.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Max Domi could be on the radar of the Washington Capitals while Jeff Marek suggested the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche as possible destinations. Marek also suggested Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan as a fit with the Edmonton Oilers but Friedman doubts that’ll happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Washington Hockey Now’s Sammi Silber believes Domi could be a good fit in Washington. However, his $5.3 million cap hit makes him an expensive rental for the cap-strapped Capitals.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman repeated his earlier reports suggesting the Canadiens were among the teams interested in New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha, as well as contract extension talks continuing between the Nashville Predators and Filip Forsberg.

The New York Rangers have shown interest in Dallas Stars winger Alexander Radulov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But are the Stars willing to move him? They’re not believed to be in sell mode as they jockey for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Radulov also might not be the best fit for the Rangers. The 35-year-old winger has been hampered by injuries in recent years and his production is down this season with just 18 points in 52 games.

Two sources expressed doubt to Friedman that New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov will be going anywhere by the trade deadline. Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck’s name has come up in the rumor mill quite a bit of late.

The Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs remain in the market for a left-side defenseman.

Keep an eye on the St. Louis Blues. Friedman expects they’ll be busy in the trade market. They were interested Ben Chiarot before he was traded to the Panthers and are linked to the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are pressed for cap space so it might have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move, or a three-team trade to spread the cap hit around if they intend to add a notable defenseman.

The Capitals continue to monitor the goalie market.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp has been linked to the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins.

There’s not much movement in contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and pending UFA forward Nick Paul.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

Check out the latest on Mika Zibanejad plus some Dallas Stars speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker recently reports Mika Zibanejad isn’t giving anything away about his contract extension talks with the Rangers or allowing it to get in the way of his preseason preparation. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

Walker speculates Zibanejad could be in line for a seven- or eight-year extension. It’s believed his camp’s initial ask is $10 million annually while Rangers management will likely look at something in the $7 million to $9 million range.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello wondered if Rangers general manager Chris Drury will play a game of chicken with Zibanejad if he can’t get him signed before the March trade deadline. There’s also the Rangers’ unstated wish to upgrade at center, including rumors of their interest in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. Carpiniello doesn’t believe the Blueshirts can afford two high-priced centers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zibanejad told reporters he’s happy in New York and likes the team’s direction. How long he remains part of it remains to be seen.

The Rangers will either commit to a long-term deal for Zibanejad or turn to the trade market or free agency next summer to replace him. It’s as simple as that.

Carpiniello’s correct in his assessment that they cannot afford to carry two expensive centers, especially with 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox becoming a restricted free agent at the same time. Talk of Zibanejad and a healthy Eichel on the Blueshirts was a pipe dream. It’s either one or the other. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks’ 10 questions facing the Dallas Stars this season included speculation over John Klingberg’s future with the club. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July after completing a seven-year contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million.

Considering how much several notable defensemen (including teammate Miro Heiskanen) received this summer, Klingberg could prove too expensive for the Stars. With Heiskanen earning $8.45 million annually, Esa Lindell making $5.8 million and Ryan Suter $3.65 million, re-signing Klingberg would give the Stars one of the most expensive bluelines in the league.

Turning to the trade deadline, DeFranks suggested players on expiring contracts like Klingberg, Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov could become trade bait if the Stars are out of playoff contention by then. If the Stars are close and they retain them past deadline day, they risk losing those players to free agency for nothing next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Stars with over $58 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23 with Klingberg, Pavelski, Radulov and Braden Holtby as their notable UFAs and forwards Denis Gurianov and 2021 Calder Trophy finalist Jason Robertson becoming restricted free agents.

Klingberg’s going to cost at least as much as Heiskanen, probably more. As DeFranks observed, they probably can’t afford to keep him. Pavelski and Radulov are aging and don’t have many productive seasons left while Holtby’s past his prime.

Gurianov has arbitration rights and will seek a substantial raise if he hits 20 goals and 40 points this season. Robertson will be coming off his entry-level contract but a strong sophomore season will result in a hefty raise for him as well.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

The Sabres strip Jack Eichel of his captaincy, plus several stars are already sidelined or returning from injuries as training camps open. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams confirmed yesterday the club had stripped Jack Eichel of the captaincy. The 24-year-old center also failed his team physical and will be placed on injured reserve.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel and Sabres’ management remain in a standoff over which medical procedure he should receive to repair a herniated disc in his neck. He favors disc replacement surgery while the team doctors prefer fusion surgery. Adams also indicated the team is still open to trading Eichel at the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt any NHL fan or pundit is surprised by this news. It’s just another chapter in an impasse with no end in sight. There could be teams willing to let Eichel undergo disc replacement but they’re unwilling to pay the Sabres’ high asking price to acquire him.

Don’t expect to see Eichel on the ice this season unless one side blinks. I also don’t anticipate seeing him traded this season unless the Sabres drop their price. Even then, Eichel’s $10 million annual average value over the next five seasons is difficult for most teams to absorb even when he’s healthy.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss at least the first two months of this season recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee. The Penguins also have one unidentified player not yet fully vaccinated though he’s expected to be within the next few weeks.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said he’s been dealing with a nagging injury since prior to the 2020 NHL playoffs but downplayed the severity. He and GM Stan Bowman didn’t elaborate but said it was a common ailment among hockey players.

Meanwhile, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was back with his teammates in his first formal practice since missing all of last season with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. He’s hoping to be ready to play when the season opens next month.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Mike Hoffman are likely to miss training camp and the start of the season. Price is recovering from offseason knee surgery while Hoffman has been sidetracked by a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is listed as week-to-week due to ongoing rehabilitation on his hip. Meanwhile, teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov said he’s feeling good mentally and physically and ready to put a difficult 2020-21 season behind him.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck confirmed he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Aug. 20. He was unvaccinated at the time and took about 10 days to recover. He’s since been vaccinated but felt rushed into doing so in order to be ready for training camp so soon after recovering from the coronavirus.

I’m not anti-vax by any means,” he said. “But I’d like to have that decision for myself. It felt very forced on me.” He added the post-vaccination symptoms made him feel as though he had COVID again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebuyck’s situation was unique and probably should’ve allowed him more leeway to become vaccinated so soon after recovering from COVID-19. NHL protocols would allow him to join his teammates under certain restrictions until he received his shots.

The league isn’t forcing its players to be inoculated. However, they face travel restrictions, additional testing, forfeiture of portions of their salaries if they miss playing time and social interaction limitations as a result.

Some might feel the NHL’s protocols are too restrictive. However, the league and the NHLPA don’t want a repeat of 2020-21 when multiple game postponements due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among several teams wreaked havoc on an already compressed schedule.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Center Tyler Seguin, winger Alexander Radulov and goaltender Ben Bishop were on the ice for the Stars’ opening day of training camp. Seguin missed all but three games last season to hip and knee surgeries. Radulov was sidelined most of last season by a core muscle injury requiring offseason surgery. Bishop, meanwhile, is hopeful of playing after missing all of last season to knee surgery.

CALGARY SUN: Flames center Sean Monahan revealed a hip injury bothered him for most of last season. He underwent offseason surgery and was on the ice for the club’s opening day of training camp.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche forward Stefan Matteau and defenseman Roland McKeown had both tested positive for COVID-19 but are nearing the end of their recovery. Meanwhile, head coach Jared Bednar said defenseman Cale Makar underwent an upper-body procedure recently but isn’t expected to miss any practice or preseason time.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins center Charlie Coyle began training camp yesterday wearing a non-contact red jersey. He’s coming off a pair of knee surgeries but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken center Yanni Gourde took part in drills yesterday wearing a non-contact jersey. GM Ron Francis indicates Gourde could return to action sooner than expected from offseason shoulder surgery. He was originally expected to be sidelined until December.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace revealed he was recently hospitalized fighting for his life with a severe case of COVID-19. He spent a week in intensive care before being released. He and his wife must now wait eight weeks before getting vaccinated as per CDC guidelines, something they had put off based on advice from doctors related to medical conditions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Legace and his wife for a speedy and complete recovery.

THE PROVINCE: An internal document shared with NHL teams earlier this week reveals the league believes 30 of its 32 teams could start the season with full capacity at their arenas. The exceptions are the Vancouver Canucks (50 percent) and the Montreal Canadiens (33 percent). The memo also revealed the various anticipated vaccine guidelines for all the franchises. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

The Canadiens don’t match the Hurricanes’ offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi and acquire Christian Dvorak from the Coyotes. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

KOTKANIEMI OFFICIALLY WITH THE HURRICANES

MONTREAL GAZETTE/THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Montreal Canadiens announced yesterday they would not match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canadiens received the Hurricanes’ first and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first time a player has been successfully signed away from another club via offer sheet since the Edmonton Oilers inked the Anaheim Ducks’ Dustin Penner to a multi-year contract in 2007. While the Hurricanes PR department delighted in taunting the Canadiens on social media, at least there were no threats of a barn fight among general managers.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was pressed for salary cap space, the Hurricanes boxed him in with that offer sheet and he couldn’t justify that investment on a promising but inconsistent young forward. Matching the offer would’ve blown his salary structure apart, leaving the Canadiens with limited cap room for the coming season and create a potential cap headache for next season to qualify Kotkaniemi’s rights.

Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes above the $81.5 million cap by over $1.5 million but they’re expected to put defenseman Jake Gardiner on long-term injury reserve for the start of the season. Given their depth at center, Kotkaniemi will likely be a winger on their second or third line.

CANADIENS ACQUIRE DVORAK FROM COYOTES

MONTREAL GAZETTE/ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Canadiens wasted little time finding a replacement for Kotkaniemi, acquiring center Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for two draft picks.

The Coyotes will receive the highest of the Canadiens’ two first-round picks in the 2022 draft plus a 2024 second-rounder. However, if either or both of the Canadiens’ picks are among the top-10, the Coyotes get the lower of the two picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were linked to the 25-year-old Dvorak throughout last week. He’s a skillful underrated two-way center carrying a $4.45 million annual average value for the next four seasons. Dvorak should prove a worthwhile fit as the Habs second-line center.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has been busy this summer rebuilding his club by shipping out veteran assets for draft picks. He now has eight picks in the first two rounds of next year’s draft, including three first-rounders. Armstrong could keep those picks but it wouldn’t surprise me if he uses some of them as trade bait to acquire promising young NHL talent.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness said Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Roope Hintz and Joel Hanley have recovered from the injuries that sidelined/hampered them for much of last season. Goaltender Ben Bishop is skating again but the club remains uncertain if he’ll be available for the coming season. He missed all of 2020-21 recovering from knee surgery.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW‘s Adrian Dater tweeted Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz has returned to full health and is anxious to resume his NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lower-body injury sidelined Francouz for the entirety of last season.

TORONTO SUN: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Gerbe will be sidelined four-to-six months following hip surgery.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild unveiled their jerseys for the 2022 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field on New Year’s Day when they face off against the St. Louis Blues.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury reaches a career wins milestone, J.T. Miller expresses concern about the Canucks returning to action on Friday, Jack Eichel done for the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 485th career victory as he backstopped the Vegas Golden Knights over the Los Angeles Kings 6-2. Fleury moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time NHL wins list. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and two assists for the Golden Knights, who remain in second place in the Honda West Division with 60 points.

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

Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves in his debut with the Colorado Avalanche as they held off the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while Blues winger Mike Hoffman tallied twice. The Avalanche sit atop the West Division with 64 points while the Blues (44 points) remain in fourth place. They played without goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to be sidelined for two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent acquisition of Dubnyk proved timely for the Avs. With Grubauer on the shelf and regular backup Pavel Francouz out of the season, they would’ve been in big trouble without an experienced netminder to fill the void. Dubnyk’s no longer in his playing prime but should provide some short-term stability between the pipes.

The Arizona Coyotes missed an opportunity to overtake the Blues by dropping a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild. The Coyotes have lost five straight and remain one point back of the Blues. Mats Zuccarello scored two goals for the Wild as they sit in third place with 53 points.

A 27-save performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have lost four of their last five and sit four points back of the Blues.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive in the Scotia North Division by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves as the Flames (41 points) picked up their third straight win to sit just four points behind the Canadiens, who’ve dropped four of their last five contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ postseason hopes seemed all but dashed a week ago. They were mired in a lengthy losing skid while the Canadiens were playing .500 hockey and seem assured of clinching a playoff spot. The odds still favor the inconsistent Habs as they hold three games in hand over the Flames with several key games coming up between those two teams.

Laurent Brossoit stopped 27 shots as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2. With 55 points, the Jets opened a three-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North Division.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller spoke out yesterday against his club’s scheduled return to action on Friday after he and his teammates were sidelined for nearly three weeks by a recent COVID-19 outbreak. He believes the Canucks haven’t had sufficient time to recover and return to play, especially with eight players still on the COVID-19 protocol list. He feels he and his teammates would be at greater risk of injury, adding they’re also concerned over the health of their family members who also contracted the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported the Canucks players met with the NHLPA. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the PA, NHL and Canucks medical met to determine if the club is healthy enough to play on Friday. A decision is expected later today.

None of the Canucks want to opt-out of completing the season, but they have justifiable concerns about their health and safety right now. It could take at least another week for enough of them to be healthy enough to safely return to action.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of COVID-19, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson was placed on the NHL’s protocol list as a precautionary measure after the AHL postponed three Toronto Marlies games. Robertson recently played with the Marlies before skating in the Leafs’ last two games.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel will not return this season because of a herniated disk in his neck. He’s expected to be recovered and healthy for 2021-22. The Sabres also announced Jason Karmanos has been hired as associate general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s been sidelined since March 7 so I don’t think anyone’s surprised by this announcement. It’s just another blow in a seemingly unending series of them this season for the sad-sack Sabres.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars announced goaltender Ben Bishop (knee surgery) and winger Alexander Radulov (core muscle injury) will miss the remainder of the season. The Stars also signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $750K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop underwent surgery last fall. He was on track to return in two weeks’ time but his condition reportedly worsened and they decided to shut him down for the season. Tyler Seguin is still expected to return soon from offseason hip surgery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Conor Sheary signed a two-year, $3 million contract extension yesterday. The annual average value is $1.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The plans to construct a new arena for the Calgary Flames have been put on hold over budget concerns. The parties involved in the construction are pausing to review and resolve the issues.