Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 14, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 14, 2021

More Penguins speculation, two of the players involved in yesterday’s Hurricanes-Senators trade shouldn’t get too comfortable, and an update on Derek Stepan in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

MORE PENGUINS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi recently examined the big decisions facing the Pittsburgh Penguins following their hiring of Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.

Sources close to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin confirm both players endorsed the Burke-Hextall partnership. Team co-owner Mario Lemieux has long expressed to confidants and previous GMs that he wants both players to retire as Penguins.

Malkin’s contract expires at the end of next season. The Penguins can open contract extension talks this summer. Rossi noted Malkin stated in September 2019 his preference to signing a three-year extension to finish his career in Pittsburgh. He believes the Penguins will keep Malkin as that was the understanding when Burke and Hextall signed on.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits outside of Pittsburgh wondered about Malkin’s future (and Crosby’s) under the Penguins’ new management. It appears neither he nor Crosby will be going anywhere based on Rossi’s report. The situation could change but if ownership wants Malkin and Crosby to retire as Penguins then that’s what’s going to happen.

Kris Letang’s contract also expires at the end of next season. Rossi reports Lemieux is believed to prefer retaining the veteran defenseman. However, Burke and Hextall weren’t told Letang couldn’t be traded, only that any trade “must be done the right way for respect for all he’s done.”

Rossi also cited sources saying former GM Jim Rutherford placed calls to many teams to gauge interest in Letang. However, a deal to move him was never in place and wasn’t the reason behind Rutherford’s decision to step down. It remains to be seen if Letang wants to re-sign or what the Penguins might get in return if they trade him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang has a modified no-trade clause listing 18 preferred trade destinations. It’s difficult to say what his value could be but given his age (34) and UFA status next summer they might not find many takers in the trade market.

The logjam on the left side of the Penguins’ blueline could become Hextall’s priority to address before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Rossi speculates either Mike Matheson or Juuso Riikola will have to go.

Parting with Matheson could require Hextall to package the blueliner with a draft pick, prospect or a player off the current roster. The Penguins cannot afford to carry an extra defenseman with Matheson’s contract ($4.875 million AAV through 2025-26).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson lacks no-trade protection this season but his modified no-trade (eight-team no-trade list) goes into effect next season. Moving him this season is preferable but his cap hit and poor play make him a tough sell.

COULD GALCHENYUK AND DZINGEL BE ON THE MOVE AGAIN?

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Chris Johnston reports anyone involved in yesterday’s trade between the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senator shouldn’t get too comfortable in their new locations.

Johnston doesn’t consider it out of the question that Alex Galchenyuk’s stay with the Hurricanes will be short given he’s bounced around a lot in recent years and could be on the move again in the near future. Meanwhile, the Senators have a decision to make with Ryan Dzingel. He’s in the final year of his contract and could be flipped for a draft pick at the Apr. 12 trade deadline if they decide not to keep him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cedric Paquette was the centerpiece of that deal. The Hurricanes intend to keep him for the playoffs given his gritty style of play and postseason experience. Galchenyuk saw limited action with the Senators while Dzingel wasn’t playing up to expectations with the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes could flip Galchenyuk to another club at some point before the trade deadline. Dzingel could also be moved if he fails to regain the scoring touch he had during his previous tenure with the Sens.

UPDATE ON STEPAN

SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan reported Friday center Derek Stepan could be among the first Senators moved before the trade deadline. He’s among several players eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer who could be useful pieces for a contending team.

Scanlan reported the team and the player seem to regret the trade that brought him to Ottawa. The veteran center is missing his family in Arizona but GM Pierre Dorion insisted Stepan hasn’t requested a trade. Nevertheless, Scanlan feels it’s clear Stepan is hoping the Senators can move him closer to home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid performance by Stepan in the coming weeks could improve his trade value. His annual average value is $6.5 million but he’s earning just $2 million in actual salary after being paid a $3 million signing bonus by the Arizona Coyotes before his acquisition by the Senators. Still, the Sens might have to pick up part of his AAV to make him attractive to cap-strapped contenders.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, Pierre-Luc Dubois benched, an update on the four Capitals sidelined under COVID-19 protocols, and a lengthy list of injuries in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 in the second game of their three-game series. With the score tied 2-2 following the first period, the Canadiens blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

Montreal winger Joel Armia also scored twice but suffered a concussion late in the third period from a blindside hit by Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Habs forward Paul Byron also left in the third after being struck in the leg by a shot from teammate Shea Weber. Canucks defensemen Travis Hamonic and Alexander Edler missed the game with upper-body injuries, while blueliner Jalen Chatfield suffered a first-period upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli now has five goals in two games against his former club this season. It’s uncertain if Myers will receive supplemental discipline for his cheap shot on Armia. The Canadiens and Canucks will play the final game of this series on Saturday, with the Habs unbeaten in regulation (3-0-2) thus far.

Jake DeBrusk tallied the only goal in a shootout to give the Boston Bruins a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Nick Ritchie had a goal and an assist while David Krejci collected two assists. James van Riemsdyk tallied twice and Jakub Voracek collected three assists for the Flyers, who gave up 43 shots in this contest. The Flyers played without forward Morgan Frost (dislocated shoulder, injured reserve) and defenseman Philippe Myers (fractured rib, week-to-week).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a big win for the Bruins, who entered this game sitting dead-last in goals for per game (1.00). A porous defense saw the Flyers blow 2-0 and 3-2 leads in this game. The injuries are piling up for the Flyers, who were also playing without Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their third straight win by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brayden Point. Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched for almost the entire game, seeing less than four minutes of ice time in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts victory was overshadowed by Dubois’ benching. This is ramping up speculation over the 22-year-old center’s future with the Blue Jackets and his relationship with head coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle tallied twice in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Isles center Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists. Josh Bailey returned to the Isles lineup after spending one day on the club’s COVID-19 absence list. The Devils were without starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was placed on the club’s COVID list, though that doesn’t mean he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 4-1. The Jets took control of the game with three unanswered second-period goals. Jets winger Patrik Laine missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings got their first win of the season by doubling up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. The Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit with Adrian Kempe netting the game-winner in the third period. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist for the Avs.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19. Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absence list on Wednesday. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov will miss at least four games while Samsonov could be sidelined longer. It remains to be seen if the other three tested positive.

Samsonov’s positive test triggered contact testing within the Capitals dressing room, leading to the NHL discovering the four players spent time socializing in the team hotel without facial coverings on multiple occasions. The league fined the Capitals $100K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits and fans questioned the NHL’s protocols when this story broke on Wednesday. The bottom line is the Capitals, and every other team in the league knew what the protocols were before this season started. The NHLPA voted for them. Every player had the opportunity to opt-out of playing this season. The players involved in this incident broke those rules and must now suffer the consequences.

The NHL’s COVID protocols were based on CDC and Health Canada guidelines enabling the 31 NHL teams to stage this season in their home arenas. They must also follow local guidelines.

Those rules have had an effect upon this season. A ban on non-essential travel at the Canada-US border has limited Canadian teams to playing among themselves during the regular season. The San Jose Sharks started this season on the road because Santa Clara County has prohibited all sports activities due to high local COVID levels.

The NHL has already postponed games involving the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes because of COVID outbreaks. They cannot risk further spread jeopardizing the season because some players won’t adhere to the rules.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola will each be sidelined several weeks with undisclosed injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford shopping for help. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson is sidelined for six weeks with an oblique muscle injury.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (medical reasons) is questionable for his club’s season-opener on Friday against the Nashville Predators.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews left practice early yesterday as he wasn’t feeling great, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe. His status will be updated today. Forward Joe Thornton is expected to miss some games with an upper-body injury.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Dillon Dube is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

WGR550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton will miss at least two games with a head injury. Sabres starter Linus Ullmark revealed he missed Monday’s game against Philadelphia as he was grieving the death of his father in Sweden. Ullmark returned to practice and is slated to travel with the club for their upcoming two-game series against Washington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ullmark during this difficult time.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2020

The Islanders advance to the Eastern Conference Final, the NHL will begin announcing its award winners, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the first time since 1993, the New York Islanders are going to the Conference Finals. They shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in Game 7 of their second-round series and face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final in Edmonton.

Thomas Greiss made 16 saves for the shutout while Brock Nelson led the way offensively with a goal and two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a complete team victory by the Islanders. They stifled the Flyers’ offense with their defensive play and aggressive forecheck. Head coach Barry Trotz’s decision to start Greiss over Semyon Varlamov also paid off.

The lack of consistent production by the Flyers’ top scorers was a problem throughout the playoffs. It came home to roost in Game 7 against the Isles defense.

The NHL will begin revealing some of the winners of its individual awards from Sept. 6 to Sept. 13. Those to be announced include the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (Sept. 6), Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Sept. 7), Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award (Sept. 8), Jack Adams Award (Sept. 9), Frank J. Selke Trophy (Sept. 10), Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Sept. 11), Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award (Sept. 12), and the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award (Sept. 13).

A 30-minute program during the Stanley Cup Final will announce the winners of the Calder Memorial Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy, James Norris Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and the Vezina Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this format and I hope the league sticks with it going forward. Their annual award show in Las Vegas has a cringe factor comparable to “The Dundies” episode of The Office.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals have reportedly interviewed Mike Babcock and Gerard Gallant for their vacant head-coaching position.

SPORTSNET: The Arizona Coyotes have interviewed NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire for their vacant general manager job.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves received a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Juuso Riikola to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.15 million.

SPORTSNET: A resolution has yet to be reached allowing the families of the players on the remaining four NHL clubs to join them in the playoff bubble in Edmonton. Discussions are ongoing between the league, the NHL Players Association, and the Canadian federal government.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 10, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 10, 2019

A look at some potential trade targets for the Canadiens, plus the latest on Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Included Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Anaheim Ducks rearguard Cam Fowler on its list of six trade targets for the Montreal Canadiens to shore up the left side of their blueline.

Should the Montreal Canadiens pursue Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler? (Photo via NHL Images)

Gostisbehere’s star has fallen a bit over the last two seasons. He was a recent healthy scratch and might benefit from a change of scenery. Having already parted ways with Corey Perry earlier this year, the struggling Ducks could be ready to move on from some of their established talent. The 28-year-old Fowler is among their top trade chips to bring in pieces for the future.

Other options include Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Oliver Kylington, Pittsburgh’s Juuso Riikola, and Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin seeks a top-pairing left-side, Fowler is the best option. He’s a solid, all-around blueliner who would bring a big boost to their defense. Those traits are also why the Ducks are unlikely to part with him unless they get a terrific offer, like a good young scoring forward as part of the return. Fowler also has a four-team trade list and might not be keen to go to Montreal. 

Gostisbehere’s struggles since last season have sparked speculation over his future in Philadelphia. He’s a skilled puck-mover but his defensive game often leaves much to be desired.

Brodie’s recent medical scare and UFA status could make him a risky acquisition. Then again, those factors could also make him more affordable. Kylington is young (22), has potential and won’t cost much to acquire, but the Habs are likely in the market for an established top-four defender.

Riikola has been a frequent healthy scratch and I don’t see him significantly improving the Habs’ defense. Like Gostisbehere, Gustafsson is a mobile puck-moving d-man but his defensive play is an area of concern.

WHAT WILL THE RANGERS DO WITH GEORGIEV?

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has to figure out what to do with his overcrowded crease. Current backup Alexandar Georgiev has played very well spelling off veteran Henrik Lundqvist. However, he’ll soon become waiver-eligible once he plays his 60th NHL game.

“There’s a lot written about who’s going to be here, and waivers and all that stuff, said Gorton. “We’re just worried about the team playing well, and let events play themselves out.” He insists Georgiev remains “a big part of our team.”

Cyrgalis, however, believes Georgiev could be a very attractive trade piece as the Feb. 24 deadline approaches. He feels the Toronto Maple Leafs are an obvious landing spot. Moving Georgiev would create room to bring up promising Igor Shesterkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cyrgalis believes Gorton will still be active leading up to the trade deadline. He feels the Rangers GM wants to bring in assets that will eventually make the Blueshirts a Stanley Cup contender, not just a playoff contender.

When Georgiev’s name first surfaced, I dismissed the notion he’d be available if the Rangers were in the playoff chase by the deadline. If Gorton’s plan is to build a future Cup winner, perhaps he’d consider parting with Georgiev for the right price.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2019

Are the Canadiens scouting the Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic? Could the Devils poor start affect Taylor Hall’s contract talks? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANADIENS EYEING VLASIC?

TVA SPORTS: cites a report by The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz observing the Montreal Canadiens have heavily scouted the San Jose Sharks. Canadiens coach Claude Julien said his club seeks a top-four, left-shot defenseman.

Kurz refers to Sharks blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Montreal native carries a no-movement clause in his eight-year, $56-million contract that runs through 2022-23. He’s currently pointless with a plus-minus of minus-eight.

Are the Montreal Canadiens scouting Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canadiens are scouting Vlasic they might not like what they’ve seen thus far. He’s struggled but so has the Sharks as a team. They’ve won three straight but dropped their first four contests.

If Vlasic won’t waive his no-movement clause it’s a pointless exercise trying to acquire him. Just because he’s from Montreal doesn’t mean he wants to play there. Many Quebec-born NHL players haven’t been keen to experience that fishbowl existence.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there no reason to believe the New Jersey Devils aren’t considering any option other than re-signing Taylor Hall to a long-term extension. The 27-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

It remains to be seen what Hall wants to do. The Devils know being a consistent playoff contender could be key to determining his future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Devils don’t turn things around soon they risk falling into an insurmountable hole this season. That could affect Hall’s decision. If he’s not under contract as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches and they’re out of the playoff race by that point, GM Ray Shero could entertain trade offers.

Friedman also believes the Canadiens looked at Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Juuso Riikola.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Riikola played 37 games last season but only one this season and that was as a winger in last night’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

The Buffalo Sabres are looking to move a defenseman. Friedman thought the Arizona Coyotes could be an option with Niklas Hjalmarsson sidelined for three months. Given the Coyotes’ salary-cap constraints, a big move isn’t likely.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2019

Updates on the Blues and Bruins plus latest on Patrick Sharp, Martin Erat, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

St. Louis Blues center Oskar Sundqvist receives one-game suspension (Photo via NHL Images).

 NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues center Oskar Sundqvist received a one-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. The incident occurred during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.  Sundqvist will miss Game 3 tomorrow night in St. Louis. 

BOSTON HERALD: Grzelcyk is listed as day-to-day and is in concussion protocol. He didn’t travel with the Bruins but they haven’t ruled him out for Game 3. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Former Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp is rapidly rising among the ranks of NBC Sports’ NHL analysts. 

RUSSIAN MACHINE NEVER BREAKS: Former NHL winger Martin Erat has officially retired. He spent 13 seasons with the Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and Arizona Coyotes from 2001-02 to 2014-15. Erat spent the past three seasons in the Czech Extraliga. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Erat spent over 10 seasons with the Predators and enjoyed his best seasons in Nashville. However, he’ll be remembered for being traded to the Capitals in 2013 for then-promising prospect Filip Forsberg. Erat lasted only two more seasons in the NHL while Forsberg went on to become a big star with the Predators. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Juuso Riikola to a one-year, $850K contract.