NHL Rumor Mill – January 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 21, 2021

The latest on Aleksander Barkov, Keith Yandle and Patrik Laine in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS (via KUKLA’S KORNER): TSN insider Darren Dreger reports it’s hard to say at this point how seriously we should take trade speculation about Aleksander Barkov. The 25-year-old Florida Panthers captain is due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

Dreger said the Florida Panthers and general manager Bill Zito believe they have time. Zito spoke to Barkov’s representative stating they had no interest in trade the center. Barkov has a no-movement clause in his contract for this season and a modified (12-team no-trade list) no-trade clause for 2021-22.

Barkov wants to win and wants assurances the Panthers are on the road toward achieving that goal. If they’re heading in that direction when it comes time to start contract talks, he’s willing to listen. Dreger indicates there are lots of NHL general managers who are eager to let Zito know they’re interested if Barkov becomes available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers cannot open contract talks with Barkov until he’s officially entered the final season of his deal, which will be when free agency begins on July 28. The recent trade speculation arose because some general managers are said to be skeptical that he’ll re-sign with the Panthers.

Barring the unforeseen, this will probably be the last we’ll hear about Barkov in this season’s rumor mill. Don’t be surprised, however, if the speculation over his future in Florida resurfaces this summer, especially if the Panthers have another disappointing season.

Dreger was also asked about Keith Yandle’s status with the Panthers. He called it “curious, at best,” suggesting the 34-year-old defenseman probably isn’t sure about his situation with the club going forward. He was told before the start of the season that he wouldn’t be in the lineup but there was an about-face perhaps because of push-back from his teammates. Dreger wondered if Yandle was seeing action to improve trade interest.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes believes the Bruins should pursue Yandle. Weekes called out the Panthers’ organization for disrespecting the veteran blueliner and believes it’s an opportunity for Bruins GM Don Sweeney to acquire Yandle to bolster the Bruins’ scoring if the Panthers agree to pick up part of his $6.35 million cap hit.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss acknowledged Yandle, a Massachusetts native, is still productive. However, his agent, contract and the Bruins’ need to give their young defensemen a chance to prove themselves doesn’t make Yandle a good fit at this time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Goss. If Yandle were a little younger or had less time remaining on his contract at a more reasonable cap hit, perhaps he’d be a worthwhile trade target for the Bruins.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the current absence of Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) will give the Winnipeg Jets a good idea of what life will be like without him. The winger asked for a trade during the off-season but Garrioch said the Jets could find a suitable trade partner.

That doesn’t mean Laine is off the market. Garrioch pointed out many observers believe a deal could happen during this season. The 22-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer who could seek over $9 million per season. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could attempt to move Laine before the trade deadline rather than meet Laine’s expensive salary demands.

Garrioch notes the speculations linking Laine to Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Like Laine, Dubois has requested a trade, prompting suggestions of a one-for-one swap. Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen would have more than a passing interest in Laine.

Anyone interested in acquiring Laine will have to talk to him about a contract extension. Garrioch lists the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks among the potential suitors. He dismissed rumors linking Laine to the Carolina Hurricanes because he doesn’t believe they’ll shell out big bucks to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Laine during the season is possible but only if the Jets have fallen out of the playoff race or they get an offer of an immediate impact player in return. Laine remains a key ingredient in the Jets’ playoff hopes for this season.

The Blue Jackets would certainly need to know if Laine would be willing to sign a contract extension. The Jets, however, could also have concerns about Dubois’ contract status. He’s signed through next season and they could be unwilling to part with Laine for a player who could prove unwilling to commit to a long-term deal with them.

Laine would certainly provide some welcome star power to the Red Wings but their biggest needs remain improving their defense. Ditto the Blackhawks.

The Flyers reportedly kicked tires on Laine but the cost of the return apparently ended those discussions. The Devils could be a good fit as they have the cap space and the assets to acquire and re-sign Laine, provided he’s willing to agree to a long-term deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Hurricanes-Predators game postpone over COVID-19 concerns, Avalanche trade Ian Cole to Minnesota, Elias Pettersson fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jack Hughes enjoyed his first two-goal game and added an assist as his New Jersey Devils held on for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 47 saves for the win. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Rangers, who lost center Mika Zibanejad to an apparent upper-body injury after falling into the corner boards late in the third period.

New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes and Blackwood were the Devils’ stars in this contest. This was Hughes’ best game in his young NHL career, showing the skills that made him the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. An update on Zibanejad’s status could be made later today.

The Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 thanks to a 40-save performance by goalie Brian Elliott. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who lost defenseman Philippe Myers and center Morgan Frost to injuries during this contest. Both are slated for MRIs today. Sabres goalie Carter Hutton didn’t return for the third period following a collision in his crease in the second period. Earlier in the day, the Sabres moved winger Kyle Okposo (undisclosed) on injured reserve. He’s yet to play a game this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big bounce-back win for the injury-depleted Flyers after getting drubbed 6-1 by the Sabres on Monday. The Sabres had plenty of opportunities to score but Elliott held them off the board.

An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano lifted the Florida Panthers over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4. Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves, the most notable stopping Patrick Kane on a penalty shot. Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe each scored twice for the Panthers while Dominik Kubalik tallied twice for the Blackhawks, who still seek their first win of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be a long, painful season for the Blackhawks. They’ve given up five goals in each of their first four games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins swept their two-game series with the Washington Capitals with a 5-4 overtime victory. Sidney Crosby tallied the winner in the extra frame as the Penguins overcame a 4-2 deficit. Tom Wilson scored twice for the Capitals. Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola left the game with undisclosed ailments and will be evaluated today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby collected three points in this contest and is now the Penguins’ leading scorer with five points.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist and Mark Scheifele collected two assists for the Jets. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle missed the game with what’s been called a minor injury but he isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Senators, who out-shot the Jets 41-28 in this game.

Tyler Bertuzzi potted an overtime winner to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wings forward Bobby Ryan scored his fourth goal in his first three games of this season, becoming the first player in franchise history to achieve that feat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned victory for the rebuilding Red Wings over a Blue Jackets team whose best players have been anything but through most of the first week of their season.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists, including his 500th career point, in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar had two helpers for the Kings. The Avs were playing without goaltender Pavel Francouz and winger Andre Burakovsky as both remain sidelined by injuries suffered during practice on Monday.

The Carolina Hurricanes-Nashville Predators game was postponed after five Hurricanes players (Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin) were placed in COVID-19 protocol. The rescheduled game will be played at a later date.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This probably won’t be the last game to be rescheduled during this season. The Dallas Stars had their first four games postponed and rescheduled after several players were placed in COVID-19 protocol during the final days of training camp.

HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Prior to the Colorado Avalanche’s game with the Los Angeles Kings, they shipped defenseman Ian Cole to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for blueliner Greg Pateryn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild made this swap because general manager Bill Guerin was looking for an experienced stay-at-home defenseman. He also knows Cole from their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins and likes what the blueliner could bring to his roster.

The Avs, meanwhile, shed all but $800K of Cole’s $4.25 million annual average value while taking on Pateryn’s $2.25 million AAV. It allows the to put Pateryn on the taxi squad if necessary to create room for promising blueliner Bowen Byram.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson was fined $3,987.07 for slashing Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan during a game on Monday night.

NHL.COM: The league will pause the use of pucks with embedded tracking technology because of performance issues. A new supply of tracking pucks will be received soon and put into service once quality-control testing is completed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 17, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, Flyers center Sean Couturier sidelined, Penguins forward Jared McCann fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Rookie Yegor Sharangovich’s first NHL goal was also a game-winner in the dying seconds of overtime as the New Jersey Devils nipped the Boston Bruins 2-1. Miles Wood opened the scoring and goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 27 saves for the win. Patrice Bergeron replied for the Bruins, who also lost winger Ondrej Kase (upper-body injury) after being hit by Wood with what appeared to be a high stick in the second period.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up their first win of the season by downing the San Jose Sharks 5-3. Phil Kessel scored twice, Oliver Ekman-Larsson collected three assists and Antti Raanta kicked out 31 shots for the Coyotes. Timo Meier had a goal and two assists for the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It took Kessel six games into 2019-20 to tally his first two goals in what was a disappointing season for the veteran winger. He now has three in his first two games this season.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price turned aside 34 shots to backstop his club over the Edmonton Oilers 5-1. Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry each tallied twice for the Habs, who held Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scoreless in this contest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens blew this game open with three unanswered second-period goals. Habs winger Josh Anderson left the game late in the third after falling awkwardly into the boards. Following the game, coach Claude Julien said Anderson was ok.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

After being shut out 4-0 by the New York Islanders in their first meeting of this season, the New York Rangers turned the tables by blanking the Isles 5-0. Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich each scored twice. Ilya Sorokin made his NHL debut in goal for the Islanders after starter Semyon Varlamov was injured during warmups after he was hit in the throat by a puck.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov’s injury reportedly wasn’t serious but it was enough to keep him out of the lineup for this game. Isles coach Barry Trotz refused to blame Sorokin for the loss, pinning it instead on his club’s overall poor performance in this contest.

Robby Fabbri’s goal late in the third period was the game-winner as the Detroit Red Wings doubled up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Dylan Larkin scored twice and Bobby Ryan tallied his first with the Wings. Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A much better effort by the Wings in this contest after getting blanked 3-0 by the Hurricanes in their season opener.

Joe Thornton netted his first goal with the Toronto Maple Leafs as they held on to edge the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Mitch Marner factored in each Leaf goal, tallying once and setting up two others. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle scored his first career NHL goal. Leafs forward Nick Robertson left the game in the first period with an apparent knee injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs improved their defensive play following a sloppy loss 5-3 loss to the Senators on Friday night. They controlled the puck most of the night, out-shooting the Senators 40-19.

A four-goal third-period outburst powered the Nashville Predators to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets to sweep their season-opening two-game series. Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 42 saves while Brad Richardson snapped a 2-2 tie with what proved to be the winning goal. Alexandre Texier had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.

The Minnesota Wild overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Kings for the second straight game for a 4-3 overtime victory. Marcus Johansson tallied the game-winner with Kirill Kaprizov (the overtime hero in the first game) picking up an assist. Ryan Suter had a goal and an assist for the Wild.

Max Pacioretty was the overtime hero as his Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. William Karlsson scored the tying goal late in the third, setting the stage for Pacioretty’s winner. John Gibson made 31 saves for the Ducks.

Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom turned in a 32-save shutout against the Vancouver Canucks to defeat his former club 3-0. The Flames got power-play goals by Sean Monahan, Dillon Dube and Matthew Tkachuk. Former Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev led all blueliners in this game with eight blocked shots.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Sean Couturier will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a costochondral separation, which is when one of the ribs becomes separated from the sternum.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann was fined $10,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for elbowing Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim in the head on Friday. Sanheim seemed to escape injury and finished the game.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets canceled practice on Saturday due to potential exposure to COVID-19. It remains to be seen if they’ll hold practice on Sunday.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday claimed goaltender Troy Grosenick off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings. Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, he’ll have to stay in Edmonton for 14 days, meaning he’ll miss the club’s upcoming four-game road trip to Toronto and Winnipeg.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported goaltender Jimmy Howard will announce his retirement in the coming days. He spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. In 543 games, he had a record of 246 wins, 196 losses and 70 overtime defeats, with a 2.62 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage and 24 shutouts.

CBC.CA: Adam McQuaid has officially announced his retirement. He last played in 2018-19 but was sidelined by a herniated disc in his neck, leading to concussion symptoms and nerve pain in one arm. In 512 NHL games, McQuaid tallied 16 goals and 73 points with a plus-minus of plus-62 with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. He played all but one of his 10 seasons with the Bruins, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2011.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Howard joined the Red Wings at the tail end of their dominance but played well through most of his tenure. McQuaid was a hard-nosed defensive blueliner who was a key part of the Bruins’ defense corps for most of his time in Boston. Best wishes to both players in their future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2021

Recaps of the first games of the season, the Golden Knights and Red Wings name their new captains, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Morgan Rielly scored in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. William Nylander scored twice and collected an assist while John Tavares had a goal and two assists. Josh Anderson scored twice for the Canadiens and teammate Jonathan Drouin had three assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A close, fast-paced contest between these long-time rivals. Some observers credit Wayne Simmonds’ fight with Ben Chiarot as the turning point when the Leafs were down 3-1 in the second period, but it was penalties by Anderson and Nick Suzuki leading to two Toronto goals that changed the course of the game.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled their 2019-20 Stanley Cup championship banner before thumping the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos led the way with a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without defenseman Brent Seabrook, who missed training camp with a back injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos showed no lingering effects from the surgery he underwent in the offseason to address the core muscle injury that sidelined him for all but one game in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Joel Farabee scored and collected three assists to lead the Philadelphia Flyers over the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. Michael Raffl snapped a 3-3 tie with the game-winner in the third period. Flyers forward Nolan Patrick scored in his first game since missing last season to migraines. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied his first goal of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers exploited the Penguins’ sloppy defensive play throughout this game, especially in the third period.

Two third-period goals by Brock Boeser helped the Vancouver Canucks down the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Braden Holtby made 28 saves in his Canucks’ debut as he and his teammates successfully killed four Oilers power-play opportunities.

St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist scored two goals and Robert Thomas collected two assists as their club rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues played without offseason acquisition Mike Hoffman as he missed the game due to a work visa issue. They also placed winger Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery) on long-term injury reserve.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: The NHL revealed 22 players on 16 different clubs were unavailable for the start of the season due to COVID-19 protocols. They include Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets center Mikko Koivu, Oilers winger James Neal, Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, Canucks forward J.T. Miller and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 in December. He said he’s feeling fine and has fully recovered from the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reminder that no one is immune from COVID-19. We’re bound to see more instances of positive tests over the course of this season. The best the league can do is take the necessary steps to limit exposure and spread of the coronavirus.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights announced winger Mark Stone was named their first captain in franchise history.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings named center Dylan Larkin as their 37th captain in franchise history and the first since Henrik Zetterberg retired in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a foregone conclusion Larkin would get the Wings’ captaincy but the Golden Knights played coy about naming their first full-time captain. Fine choices by both clubs.

TSN: The Washington Capitals signed goaltender Craig Anderson to a one-year, $700K contract and placed him on waivers yesterday for the purpose of placing him on their taxi squad if he clears.

CBC SPORTS: The Jets signed forward Trevor Lewis to a one-year, $750K contract.

CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers signed Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way deal and placed him on waivers yesterday. He’ll join their taxi squad if he clears.










Odds are COVID-19 Will Cost Some NHL Team a Playoff Berth

Odds are COVID-19 Will Cost Some NHL Team a Playoff Berth

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2021

Corey Crawford retires, Islanders sign Mathew Barzal, COVID-19 continues to affect training camps, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NJ.COM: Corey Crawford announced his retirement yesterday. The 36-year-old goaltender spent 10 full NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and signed a two-year contract last fall with the New Jersey Devils.

Goaltender Corey Crawford retires after 10 NHL seasons (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford had been absent for several days last week from the Devils training camp. On Friday, it was announced he was taking an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons.

Crawford enjoyed a stellar decade with the Blackhawks, backstopping them to two Stanley Cups (2013, 2015). He was also a two-time winner (2012-13, 2014-15) of the William M. Jennings Trophy. He played 488 regular-season games, with a record of 260 wins, 162 losses and 53 overtime losses, with a 2.45 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and 26 shutouts.

PuckPedia indicates Crawford is retiring rather than going on long-term injury reserve. Under the new memorandum of understanding to the collective bargaining agreement, his salary comes off the Devils’ books. Any multi-year plus-35 contracts where the compensation is the same or goes up with no signing bonuses after the first year no longer count against the salary cap upon retirement.

Best wishes to Crawford and his family in their future endeavors.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders yesterday signed Mathew Barzal to a three-year, $21 million contract. The annual average value is $7 million, though in actual salary he’ll earn $4 million this season, $7 million next season and $10 million in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The actual salary for the final season is notable because that’s what the Islanders must offer Barzal in 2023 to qualify his rights when he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He’s going to get a hefty raise on his next contract but that’s what it’ll take to keep their first-line center on Long Island.

**UPDATE** Under the terms of last year’s CBA extension (as per Cap Friendly), “The Qualifying Offer is limited to 120% of their previous contract’s annual average (AAV).” This applies to players on contracts signed after July 10, 2020.  In Barzal’s case, 120% of the AAV is $8.4 million, not $10 million. My thanks to “Howard” and “Caper” for pointing this out. 

This signing leaves the Isles over the $81.5 million salary cap by nearly $3.1 million, but they’ll get cap relief by placing defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) on LTIR to start the season. Nevertheless, the Isles could still be attempting to make a cost-cutting trade. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers’ winger James Neal has finally hit the ice in training camp after missing the first five days of practice in quarantine. For their season-opener, he’s expected to either be on the 23-man roster listed as unfit to play and on injured reserve or part of their six-man taxi squad.

The Calgary Flames yesterday indicated Sam Bennett was “unfit to participate” in practice. They also signed Brett Ritchie to a professional tryout offer.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings claimed defenseman Christian Djoos off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: The Penguins canceled practice yesterday due to potential exposure to COVID-19 out of an abundance of caution. The club is expected to release a statement today regarding Sunday’s schedule. It’s unknown if any players, coaches or staff members tested positive.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings forward Gabriel Vilardi, defensemen Kurtis MacDermid and Sean Walker, and goaltenders Cal Petersen and Matthew Villalta were deemed “unfit to participate” in yesterday’s scrimmage.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning announced they will open their season without fans in attendance over concerns of rising COVID-19 cases in Hillsborough County and west-central Florida. The Lightning have permission to allow a limited number of fans inside Amelie Arena but have opted to wait until at least Feb. 5, when they’ll reassess the local situation.

The Western Hockey League (WHL) announced it will stage a 24-game regular season for 2020-21. The start date has yet to be determined. The WHL is among the feeder leagues for the National Hockey League.