NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2021

Dougie Hamilton’s contract status is the Hurricanes’ offseason priority, the Kings seek two top-six forwards, and the latest on the Rangers’ search for a head coach in today’s rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE HURRICANES?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan considers it crucial for the Carolina Hurricanes to re-sign Dougie Hamilton, pointing out their defense is built around him and Jaccob Slavin. The 27-year-old blueliner is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (NHL Images).

Hamilton’s outplayed his current $5.75 million annual cap hit. While there’s mutual interest in a new deal, the two sides tabled contract negotiations until after this season. Kaplan speculates he could get as much as $8.5 million per season on the open market but the Hurricanes could be uncomfortable going that high.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock isn’t optimistic about the Hurricanes’ chances of re-signing Hamilton. He believes the rearguard has “almost certainly played his last game” for the Canes. The same goes for pending UFAs such as Jordan Martinook, Brock McGinn and Petr Mrazek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap could limit the number of teams willing to get into a bidding war for Hamilton’s services in this summer’s free-agent market. Nevertheless, there will be a team that will pay him over $8 million annually if the Hurricanes won’t do it.

The emergence of rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic likely spells the end of Mrazek’s tenure with the Hurricanes. James Reimer is also a UFA this summer but it wouldn’t be surprising if he returned as Nedeljkovic’s backup.

Kaplan also considers re-signing head coach Rod Brind’Amour a priority. Sources indicate the two sides are believed to have the framework of a deal in place. However, Brind’Amour also wants his three assistant coaches taken care of as well. She also believes they could lose Brady Skjei, Warren Foegele or Morgan Geekie to the Seattle Kraken in next month’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeCock believes Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon would be insane to let Brind’Amour depart. I can see Hamilton hitting the free-agent market but not Brind’Amour, who’d be quickly snapped up by another club.

KINGS SEEKING TWO TOP-SIX FORWARDS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Los Angeles Kings could attempt to acquire two top-six forwards via this summer’s trade or free-agent markets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication as to who the Kings could target. Unrestricted free agent options include Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boston’s Taylor Hall, Toronto’s Zach Hyman, Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman, St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz, Colorado’s Brandon Saad, and the New York Islanders’ Kyle Palmieri.

I spoke with John Hoven of the Kings’ site Mayor’s Manor yesterday about Dreger’s report. He believes they’re seeking established scorers around 27 years old on short-term contracts of two-three years.

That would mean they won’t become a suitor for Buffalo Sabres’ center Jack Eichel. Maybe they’d have an interest in Eichel’s teammate Sam Reinhart? We’ll find out who’s on their radar in the coming weeks.

LATEST ON THE RANGERS COACHING SEARCH

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Gerard Gallant remains the favorite to become the new head coach of the Rangers. However, general manager Chris Drury is waiting to see if there is fallout from the second round of the playoffs that could make another candidate or two available.

Brooks believes the Rangers will watch Rod Brind’Amour’s contract negotiations with the Hurricanes. It’s believed those two sides were discussing a deal worth $1.8 million annually. Brind’Amour could be in line for $4 million per season with the Rangers but a source told Brooks he’d become the Seattle Kraken’s top choice if he goes to market.

The Blueshirts are also monitoring Paul Maurice’s situation with the Winnipeg Jets and Bruce Cassidy’s with the Boston Bruins. There’s talk Jared Bednar’s job as coach of the Colorado Avalanche could be in jeopardy if they fall to the Golden Knights but it’s not clear if he’d become a candidate for the Rangers’ job.

Former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet remains a viable candidate after creating a favorable impression with Drury following two interviews with the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant is probably atop most coaching wish lists this summer. He’ll land an NHL head-coaching gig this summer, be it the Rangers or another club. Brind’Amour would also be pursued by a number of clubs if the Hurricanes are foolish enough to let him walk.

Maurice has been the Jets’ bench boss for seven seasons but there’s no indication the Jets intend to shake things up behind the bench. I don’t think Cassidy will lose his job if the Bruins fall to the Islanders.

Bednar’s done a fine job in Colorado but his coaching of the Avs has come under criticism during their current series with the Golden Knights. It’ll be interesting to see what GM Joe Sakic does if his club fails to advance.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2021

The Avalanche and Lightning win the opening games of their respective second-round series, an update on Jake Muzzin, the Islanders consider a goalie change, commemorating a notable anniversary in Jets history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had two goals and an assist while Cale Makar collected four points as the Colorado Avalanche thumped the Vegas Golden Knights 7-1 in the opening game of their second-round series. Game 2 goes Wednesday in Denver.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Tempers flared after Vegas forward Mattias Janmark left the game in the second period with an apparent head injury following a hit by Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves. Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a match penalty in the third period for punching Graves in the back of the head, throwing him to the ice and attacking him while he was down. The Avs defenseman was down for several minutes before skating to the dressing room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche took control of this game in the opening minutes and never let up. Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner looked a little rusty in his first appearance of this postseason. I daresay we’ll see Marc-Andre Fleury return to the Vegas net for Game 2. Lehner wasn’t solely to blame for this lopsided loss. His teammates were outclassed in this contest.

Reaves’ match penalty means he could receive a suspension by the NHL department of player discipline. Graves received a minor penalty for interference on the Janmark hit. No word on whether he’ll face supplemental discipline.

The Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Barclay Goodrow snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period while Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves for the win. Brayden Point was the other Lightning scorer while Jake Bean replied for the Hurricanes. Game 2 goes Tuesday night in Carolina.

Carolina winger Nino Niederreiter missed the game with an undisclosed injury suffered during practice on Saturday. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Niederreiter is “very, very doubtful” to play in this series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series will be closely contested between two talented clubs if Game 1 was any indication. Vasilevskiy made the difference in this contest. Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic played well for most of this contest but looked off-balance on the Goodrow goal.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs aren’t ruling out defenseman Jake Muzzin from Game 7 tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. He left Game 6 with a lower-body injury and was receiving further tests yesterday. If Muzzin can’t play, Rasmus Sandin is expected to replace him.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders coach Barry Trotz is mulling whether to replace rookie Ilya Sorokin with veteran Semyon Varlamov for Game 2 against the Boston Bruins tonight. Sorokin gave up four goals on 39 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Bruins.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith status for Game 2 is uncertain following a lower-body injury suffered in the first game.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers’ front-office purge continues as director of European scout Nick Bobrov was dismissed by new general manager Chris Drury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: On this date in 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg and become the second edition of the Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling in Atlanta, moving to the NHL’s smallest market improved the franchise’s fortunes. They’ve become a perennial playoff contender and are well-supported by Winnipeg fans. The Jets upset the Edmonton Oilers last week to advance to the second round of the 2021 playoffs. They currently await the winner of the Toronto-Montreal series.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

The Leafs and Hurricanes are on the verge of advancing to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the verge of winning their first playoff series in 17 years after blanking the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Alexander Kerfoot and Alex Galchenyuk each had three points, William Nylander tallied his fourth goal in as many games, Joe Thornton tallied his first playoff goal as a Leaf, and Jack Campbell kicked out 32 shots for his first NHL playoff shutout. The Leafs can wrap things up in Game 5 on Thursday in Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third straight game, the Leafs took control in the second period. They’ve done a fine job nullifying the Canadiens’ popgun offense and they’re getting more production from their secondary scorers as this series goes on.

The Habs have the depth to be a better team than what we’ve seen in this series and most of this season. However, their coaching staff doesn’t seem to know how to get the best out of them. Part of that could be due to pressure they’re getting from their desperate general manager.

Even if the Canadiens were playing better, they still couldn’t match the offensive depth the Leafs bring to bear in this series. While Austin Matthews was kept off the scoreboard in three games and Mitch Marner in two games, William Nylander has proven to be the biggest Hab killer in this series.

An overtime goal by Jordan Staal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of their first-round series. Martin Necas scored two goals for Carolina while Yakov Trenin tallied twice for the Predators. Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin returned to the lineup following a three-game absence and collected an assist. With a 3-2 series lead, the Hurricanes can end this series in Nashville on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will have to become the first team in this series to win a road game if they hope to wrap this up on Thursday.

SPORTSNET: Alex Ovechkin could become an unrestricted free agent this summer but the 35-year-old left winger wants to remain with the Washington Capitals. “I’m confident, we still have time,” said the Capitals captain. “Obviously, I want to finish my career here, I’m pretty sure we will do something.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals owner Ted Leonsis also wants Ovechkin to finish his career in Washington. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of deal they can hammer out and how long it takes to get it done.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said management and Tuukka Rask have agreed to table the goaltender’s contract talks until after the playoffs. The 34-year-old Rask is due to become a UFA this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask understands he’s not getting a long-term extension given his age. The sticking point could be salary. He’s earning an annual average value of $7 million on his current deal. He could point to his performance as justification for maintaining that annual salary. He backstopped the Bruins to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, was a finalist last year for the Vezina Trophy, and helped them advance to the second round of this year’s playoffs.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler joked about taking a Kris Russell slapshot to the groin during Game 4 of his club’s first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers. “I’ve got three beautiful kids, we’re not having anymore, so what the hell,” he joked with reporters following the Jets’ series-clinching 4-3 triple-overtime victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ballsy guy, that Wheeler. The Jets captain left the game briefly in obvious pain after blocking that shot but returned to play in all three overtime periods.

NEW YORK POST: New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom could be sidelined for Game 5 tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered an apparent right-knee injury following a collision with Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson in Game 4.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and defenseman Ryan McDonagh received fines from the NHL department of player safety for their actions during Game 5 against the Florida Panthers. Maroon was fined over $3,800.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct while McDonagh was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Panthers forward Mason Marchment.

NEW YORK POST: Wayne Gretzky has stepped down as vice-chairman of the Edmonton Oilers and is reportedly joining TNT as a lead hockey analyst starting next season.

The New York Rangers interviewed former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet for their vacant head-coaching position. The Blueshirts already interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant, who is considered the leading candidate for the job.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2021

Could the Flyers land Dougie Hamilton via free agency this summer? Should the Rangers attempt to acquire Nazem Kadri from the Avalanche. What’s the latest on J.T. Miller? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE FLYERS SIGN HAMILTON?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall examined the possibility of the Flyers signing Dougie Hamilton. The Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (NHL Images).

Signing Hamilton away from the Hurricanes won’t be easy. They finished among the league’s top teams this season and he’s in a good spot there. There’s mutual interest between Hamilton and Hurricanes management in getting a deal done.

The Flyers must also be cognizant that Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier will be due for new contracts after next season, with the latter due for a big raise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall cited Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher saying his club will have to get creative to address their roster issues. With over $69 million invested in 17 players for 2021-22 (as per Cap Friendly), that creativity will require freeing up sufficient cap room for someone like Hamilton without tying up too much for future signings like Couturier. That could prove too daunting a challenge.

SHOULD THE RANGERS PURSUE KADRI?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers should consider acquiring Nazem Kadri if the Colorado Avalanche dangles the 30-year-old center on the trade market this summer. Kadri is serving his third playoff suspension in four years and the sixth overall in his nine NHL season.

Despite Kadri’s suspension history, Brooks thinks he could be the type of “nasty, jagged-edge, checking-type center who can score” that the Rangers need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Rangers GM Chris Drury would consider it if Kadri is shopped this summer. However, they would better off acquiring a physical forward who isn’t as reckless as the Avalanche center.

LATEST ON J.T. MILLER

THE PROVINCE: Steve Ewen reports the agent for Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said his client loves Vancouver and hasn’t asked for a trade. Brian Bartlett said Miller “has loved Vancouver and we’ve never discussed him wanting out.” He added this stemmed from a meme with a fake quote attributed to his client.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also cited a source over the weekend citing Miller saying he didn’t want to leave the Canucks. There could be some changes to the Canucks roster over the summer. Some players could be traded or bought out but Miller won’t be among them.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 16, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 16, 2021

Is there a path for the Bruins to land Jack Eichel? Should the Rangers consider signing Pekka Rinne? What’s the latest on Seth Jones’ contract talks. Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

COULD THE BRUINS LAND EICHEL?

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter examined possible paths for the Boston Bruins to acquire Jack Eichel. The Buffalo Sabres captain raised eyebrows during his exit interview last week expressing unhappiness over his situation, claiming there was a disconnect between himself and the club regarding treatment for his herniated disk in his neck.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Porter believes the Bruins could afford Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit for the next five seasons if they let unrestricted free agents like David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Sean Kuraly depart this summer. He also pointed out Bruins president Cam Neely admitting his club is a little thin at center. Current top-two centers like Patrice Bergeron and Krejci are in their mid-thirties.

The toughest question is whether the Bruins can afford what would be an expensive asking price by the Sabres. Porter feels it could mean parting with winger David Pastrnak. Eichel’s injury could also complicate matters.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will inquire about Eichel if the 24-year-old center and the Sabres fail to smooth over their differences. Sweeney has a recent trade history with the Sabres, having acquired Taylor Hall from them at the trade deadline.

Sweeney got Hall for a song because the veteran winger used his no-movement clause to ensure he’d go to Boston. The Bruins won’t have that advantage with Eichel because his NMC doesn’t kick in until 2022-23.

Sabres GM Kevyn Adam would seek a significant return, perhaps one too expensive for the Bruins. That could involve Pastrnak or defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

SHOULD THE RANGERS SIGN RINNE THIS SUMMER?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks makes the case for the New York Rangers to sign Pekka Rinne if the Nashville Predators goaltender becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. He feels the 38-year-old Rinne would bring much-needed leadership to the Rangers’ dressing room and act as a mentor for starting goalie Igor Shesterkin.

Brooks believes Alexandar Georgiev, the Rangers’ current backup, might benefit from a change of scenery if the Blueshirts move him and his $2.425 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinne could test the free-agent market this summer. However, I suspect he’ll retire as a player and perhaps take on a front-office role with the Predators. I

If Rinne decides to continue his career I don’t think he’d be the right choice for the Rangers. Yes, he’d bring leadership but performance is another matter. His best seasons are behind him and he saw only one start for the Predators over the final month of the regular season.

LATEST ON SETH JONES

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Columbus Blue Jackets have asked Seth Jones if he’ll consider looking at a contract extension at some point during the offseason. The 26-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Johnston said Jones has spoken with his agent and is taking the weekend to think things through. He expects the blueliner will get back to Jackets management over the next several days about whether he’s willing to discuss an extension now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Jackets could attempt to trade Jones this summer if he won’t commit to an extension. However, The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline recently reported the Jackets were willing to keep Jones into next season without an extension. Initial discussions had begun between Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Jones’ agent, Pat Brisson.

Kekalainen also told Portzline he and his staff have looked at whether the return is greater for trading pending UFAs one year away from the expiration of their contracts versus moving them at the trade deadline. He feels competition tends to be more intense at the trade deadline.

The Jackets could take their chances going into next season with Jones if he remains unsigned and try to change his mind. If he doesn’t, they’ll shop him to the highest bidder at the trade deadline.










What Next For the New York Rangers?

What Next For the New York Rangers?