NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 12, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, the league introduces enhanced COVID-19 protocols, two more Flyers are added to the protocol list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Sidney Crosby’s shootout winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the New York Islanders 4-3. Penguins Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist while teammate Zach Aston-Reese scored in his first game since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.

The Florida Panthers picked up a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to snap the latter’s six-game winning streak. Alex Wennberg and Aaron Ekblad each tallied a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who were playing without winger Anthony Duclair as he was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The Lightning played without captain Steven Stamkos, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have 18 points (8-1-2) and sit one point behind the Lightning in the Central Division.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic (NHL Images).

A four-goal third period rallied the Columbus Blue Jackets from a 4-2 deficit to nip the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5, ending the latter’s three-game win streak. Cam Atkinson scored and collected three assists while Jack Roslovic tallied twice. Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without Andrew Shaw as he suffered another concussion during Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars. They also learned defenseman Connor Murphy will miss 10-14 days with an injured right hip.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shaw has a history of head injuries. It may be time for him to consider retirement rather than risk further serious injury by continuing his playing career. Roslovic, meanwhile, has four goals and nine points in eight games since being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets and now centers the Jackets’ top line.

The Nashville Predators ended a three-game losing skid by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Dante Fabbro netted the game-winner in the final minute of the third period. Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm missed the game with an undisclosed injury and was placed on injured reserve.

Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves backstopping the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 5-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. The Senators also lost goalie Matt Murray as he left the game after two periods following a collision with teammate Nikita Zaitsev. More information about his condition could be released later today.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 38 saves for his 40th career shutout to blank the slumping Montreal Canadiens 3-0. Jujhar Khaira, Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie were the goal scorers. The start time for the game was pushed back an hour after Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi was held out of the game-day skate and placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The game was allowed to proceed following rapid testing of his teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have returned to earth after their red-hot start. They’ve dropped three of their last four games and managed just six goals during that period. Opponents have neutralized the Habs’ offense by clogging the neutral zone and outworking them in their own zone. In recent years the Canadiens have started strong only to suffer setbacks during the second quarter of the schedule that leaves them struggling over the remainder of the season. Time will tell if the latest slump is a minor speed bump or the harbinger of yet another collapse.

The Carolina Hurricanes dumped the Dallas Stars 5-3 to hand the latter their four straight loss. Nino Niederreiter broke a 3-3 tie with a breakaway goal early in the third period. Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera returned to the lineup after spending a week on the COVID-19 protocol list while goalie Anton Khudobin played his first game after being scratched from Sunday’s game for missing Saturday’s practice.

Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves to give the Calgary Flames a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Markstrom and teammates Chris Tanev and Josh Leivo were playing their first game in Vancouver since the former Canucks signed with the Flames last fall. Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano each collected two points for the Flames while the spiraling Canucks suffered their sixth straight defeat.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their first win in six games by thumping the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Drew Doughty collected three assists for the Kings while Tomas Hertl scored both goals for the Sharks. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced goaltender Devan Dubnyk was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks coach Bob Boughner called out goalie Martin Jones following this game, saying his performance was “not up to our standard.” Jones (5-3-0) has been erratic, playing well in his victories and getting pulled early in each of his defeats this season.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 21 saves to shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0. Max Comtois tallied the lone goal as Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (27 saves) suffered his first loss of the season. The Golden Knights played without netminder Robin Lehner, who’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL is adding game-day rapid testing for players, team personnel and on-ice officials as part of its expanded safety protocols in hope of stemming potential COVID-19 outbreaks.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The number of Flyers on the COVID-19 protocol list rose to five as Jakub Voracek and Morgan Frost were added on Thursday. The club’s next scheduled game is Feb. 18, after which they’re slated to travel to Nevada to face the Boston Bruins in an outdoor game at Lake Tahoe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL could be forced to find a replacement for the Flyers in that game or postpone that contest and shift it to an indoor venue at a later date.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild are cleared to resume team activities today though 12 players remain on the protocol list. They are scheduled to return to action against the Kings on Tuesday.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Steve Sullivan, adding they would not be seeking a replacement for him. Sullivan was interim GM after John Chayka left his role with the club last summer.

CBS SPORTS: A lower-body injury will sideline Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk against the New York Rangers tonight.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery today.

NHL.COM: Willie O’Ree’s number retirement ceremony has been rescheduled to Jan. 18, 2022, to allow for in-person attendance. A trailblazer for players of color, O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018. He’ll become the 12th player in Bruins history to have his number retired.










Blue Jacket Ship Dubois to Jets For Laine and Roslovic in NHL Blockbuster

Blue Jacket Ship Dubois to Jets For Laine and Roslovic in NHL Blockbuster

 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2021

The latest on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ efforts to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois in today’s NHL rumor mill.

**UPDATE**

 

 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman was among several pundits last night reporting on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ efforts to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are aggressively shopping Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen is reportedly aggressively shopping the 22-year-old center after he was benched for most of Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Friedman speculates a deal could come as early as Saturday morning

Sources claim the Winnipeg Jets are offering up a package that includes forward Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, a Columbus native who’s currently unsigned. The Anaheim Ducks are believed to have increased their offer while the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens are said to be among the suitors. Friedman reports it’s not believed the Canadiens are willing to include center Nick Suzuki in their offer.

Friedman’s colleague Chris Johnston tweeted the Jets are believed to have the best offer on the table. The Blue Jackets are continuing to gauge the market to see if they’ll get better offers.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports it’s unclear if Dubois will be enough to land Laine and Roslovic or if the Jackets will have to sweeten the pot. The Jets are said to be in the market for a defenseman. Laine is a restricted free agent this summer and getting him to agree to a long-term extension will be a concern for the Jackets. Portzline speculates it could cost around $2 million annually to sign Roslovic.

It’s unknown what the Ducks and Canadiens are offering. Portzline believes the Jackets would be interested in top prospects such as the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras or the Canadiens’ Cole Caufield.

In a recent mailbag segment, Lisa Dillman was asked if the Los Angeles Kings should pursue Dubois. She feels there’s no trade fit between the Kings and Blue Jackets, pointing out the Jackets will want a player in return who gives them some version of what Dubois gives them. Promising young Kings prospects like Alex Turcotte and Quinton Byfield have yet to play an AHL game, let alone an NHL contest.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards believes the Panthers should get into the bidding for Dubois. He could fill the second-line center role behind Aleksander Barkov, giving the Panthers a solid one-two punch down the middle. Panthers general manager Bill Zito is former assistant GM of the Blue Jackets and knows Dubois and Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen well. Richards doubts a package of draft picks and prospects will get it done because the Jackets aren’t in rebuild mode.

TSN: The Panthers are among Frank Seravalli’s list of seven teams that don’t have an interest in Dubois or the assets to acquire him. The Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights are the others.

Seravalli wondered if the Canadiens would part with Jesperi Kotkaniemi to land Dubois. His colleague, Pierre LeBrun, listed the Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Arizona Coyotes reached out to the Jackets.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins are not among the clubs pursuing Dubois.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes as many as 20 teams have reached out to Kekalainen about Dubois. However, he doubts the Senators are among them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois could be traded to one of the aforementioned teams by the time you read this. On the other hand, this could drag on throughout the weekend or perhaps longer. It’ll be interesting to see what the deal looks like when it finally goes down.

Kekalainen wants to trade Dubois as soon as possible. The center’s benching on Thursday created a festering situation that threatens to worsen if left unaddressed. Nevertheless, he’s not going to just give him away. He’ll want a return that provides immediate help to his struggling roster.

Many of the teams linked to Dubois could merely be doing due diligence. They’re understandably interested in the two-way center but could quickly back away once they learn about the asking price. Still, one of them could surprise with a last-minute offer that meets the Jackets’ requirements.

That return could come from the Jets if Laine and Roslovic are part of a package deal but the Jets will certainly want more than Dubois in return. A defenseman might have to be included in that package.

The Canadiens have been linked to Dubois for some time with speculation suggesting Suzuki or Kotkaniemi will have to be part of the package. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin could be reluctant to part with either promising youngster especially given their roles in the Habs’ strong start to this season.

I’m not sure what the Ducks could offer up besides Zegras to the Blue Jackets. Maybe GM Bob Murray packages Zegras with another young forward like Sam Steel, Max Comtois or Max Jones.

The Flames already seem set with Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan as their top-two centers. They may have to part with one of them or perhaps a winger like Johnny Gaudreau to make this work.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2021

Recaps from Friday’s action, the Columbus Blue Jackets are trying to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois, the latest notable injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Anton Khudobin had a 34-shot shutout as the Dallas Stars crushed the Nashville Predators 7-0. The Stars tallied a franchise-record five power-play goals in their season-opener which had been delayed nearly two weeks due to a spread of COVID-19 among several players. Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski each scored twice for the Stars but captain Jamie Benn left the game with a lower-body injury following an awkward collision with Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson in the second period. The club provided no update on Benn’s status following the game.

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn sidelined during season-opening win over the Nashville Predators (NHL Images).

The Washington Capitals edged the Buffalo Sabre 4-3 on a shootout goal by John Carlson. Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist for the Capitals but they also lost rugged winger Tom Wilson to a lower-body injury. The Caps were playing without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov as the four were recently placed on their COVID-19 absence list. Sabres rookie Dylan Cozens tallied his first career NHL goal.

Kris Letang netted the game-winner in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame a 3-1 deficit to nip the New York Rangers 4-3. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry made 31 saves for his first win of the season. Former Charlottetown Islanders defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph collected an assist in his NHL debut with the Penguins.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares broke a 2-2 tie with a third-period power-play goal in a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers. The Leafs were playing without Auston Matthews and Joe Thornton. Matthews (upper-body) isn’t expected to be sidelined for long but Thornton (fractured rib) will be out for at least a month.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their first victory of the season by downing the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen kicked out 30 shots for his first career NHL win while Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk lost his first game against his former club as the Minnesota Wild picked up a 4-1 win. Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway each had a goal and an assist for the Wild while Kaapo Kakhonen got the win after replacing sidelined starter Cam Talbot, who left the game with a lower-body injury. It’s uncertain how long Talbot could be sidelined but he’s expected to miss Sunday’s rematch.

The Arizona Coyotes spoiled the Vegas Golden Knights’ home-opener with a 5-2 victory to snap the latter’s four-game season-opening win streak. Conor Garland led the way for the Coyotes with a goal and two assists. Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta (undisclosed) missed the game but will rejoin his teammates for Tuesday’s match against the Anaheim Ducks.

HEADLINES

**UPDATE**

 

TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported the Columbus Blue Jackets are closing in on a trade involving Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center requested a trade earlier this month and was benched for most of Thursday’s games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Dreger reports the Winnipeg Jets are the front-runners, although nothing is done yet. He speculates Patrik Laine or Jack Roslovic could be part of this deal as both players requested trades from the Jets. Dreger feels a trade could be done before the end of this weekend, perhaps as early as Saturday.

Pierre LeBrun points out Roslovic, a Columbus native, would be a natural fit with the Blue Jackets. He also reports the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens appear to be among the other interested clubs.

The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline tweeted Dubois was informed he’ll be a healthy scratch for Saturday’s rematch against the Lightning, assuming he’s still on the team by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was assumed Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen preferred to retain Dubois for the remainder of this season and attempt to trade the center in the offseason. Dubois’ benching on Thursday, however, appears to have created an untenable situation that cannot be allowed to fester any longer. I’ll have more about this in the Rumors section.

Speaking of Laine, he’s nursing an upper-body injury and was placed on injured reserve yesterday by the Jets. Nate Thompson (lower body) was also placed on IR.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle could return to the lineup today against the Jets after missing the last two games with an undisclosed ailment.

USA TODAY: NBC Universal will reportedly shut down its main sports channel (NBCSN) at the end of 2021. NBC owns the NHL’s national broadcast rights in the United States, with most of the league’s game televised on NBCSN. The league’s deal with the network expires at the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL intended to shop around for a new broadcasting deal this summer. If they stay with NBC, their games would be shown on USA Network, which goes into more homes than NBCSN currently does.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2021

The latest on Keith Yandle, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported on what led to the speculation over Keith Yandle’s future with the Florida Panthers. Prior to the start of their season, there was talk the veteran defenseman would be a healthy scratch from their season-opener amid rumors he might be asked to waive his no-movement clause.

Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle (NHL Images).

The club wanted to change its culture, become tougher to play against and hold players to account. New general manager Bill Zito comes from a demanding franchise (Columbus Blue Jackets) and there were rumblings during the offseason that Yandle didn’t fit into the organization’s plans.

The club denied asking Yandle to waive his no-movement clause, which the blueliner confirmed. However, over the past two weeks, the 34-year-old rearguard felt his character was being called into question. Several of his teammates stood up for Yandle and made it clear they wanted him in the lineup.

Friedman doesn’t think this story is over, suggesting perhaps the club wouldn’t mind if the players used this situation as a rallying cry. There’s a rumor suggesting Yandle would waive his NMC for the Boston Bruins but Friedman doesn’t see him as a fit given their avoidance of taking on long-term contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Zito mishandled this situation. Friedman noted some of the Panthers felt Yandle needed to improve his defensive play but none of them questioned his character. It’s one thing to demand accountability for a player’s performance but this quickly blew up into a bigger issue that still has the potential to become an unnecessary distraction for the Panthers unless the air is cleared.

I agree with Friedman’s take regarding Yandle and the Bruins. Taking on an aging blueliner with a questionable defensive game and a $6.35 million AAV through 2022-23 wouldn’t be a wise decision to improve their blueline.

Friedman believes there are several “very, very good teams in the weeds” on Pierre-Luc Dubois waiting to see how the Columbus Blue Jackets handle the situation. He’s curious to find out what the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning think.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche have a superstar centering their first line in Nathan MacKinnon, while Nazem Kadri’s worked out well as their second-line center. Dubois doesn’t seem to be a fit there unless the plan is to knock Kadri down to the third line or ship him out. Ditto the Lightning, who have Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli and Yanni Gourde centering their top-three lines, with captain Steven Stamkos who can slide into the center position when necessary.

Assuming either or both clubs wanted Dubois, they’ll have to part with a center or a forward who can have an immediate positive effect on the Jackets’ forward lines. Kadri, Point or Cirelli fit that description but I don’t see their respective clubs parting with them.

Don’t forget that both teams have limited salary-cap space this season. Any deal for Dubois will have to be as close to dollar-for-dollar as possible to take on his $5 million annual average value. Even if the Avs or Bolts were interested it’s probably too complicated to pull off that trade.

Friedman said he’d heard during the offseason that the Edmonton Oilers were close to a contract extension with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, things have gone quiet for a while.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s talk the Oilers don’t want to go above $7 million per season for Nugent-Hopkins, which could explain the silence of late. Then again, maybe the two sides have decided to just put things on hold while the season is underway.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ interest in Jack Roslovic can’t be tied to their opening two losses. They’ve been interested in the 23-year-old Winnipeg Jets forward for some time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski recently reported second-hand sources told him during the offseason that Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was interested in Roslovic. Kingerski noted the Jets could use some blue-line help. The Penguins have nine defensemen, including Pierre-Olivier Joseph on their taxi squad.

Oilers general manager Ken Holland contacted Jimmy Howard to see if the 36-year-old goaltender was interested in a reunion in Edmonton. Howard played for Holland when the latter was GM of the Detroit Red Wings. Howard, however, declined the offer and intends to announce his retirement soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No offense to Howard, who had a long and mostly productive career with the Red Wings, but this shows how desperate Holland is to improve his goaltending.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 17, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 17, 2021

Check out the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Patrick Laine, Jack Roslovic and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON DUBOIS AND LAINE

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens were among several teams to make serious pitches for Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois before the regular season began. Once the puck dropped, however, the Jackets have decided to wait and see how their season unfolds before making any decision on Dubois’ trade request.

Chris Johnston believes there’s no urgency by the Blue Jackets or Dubois to make a trade at this point. He feels there’s a certain comfort level between the two sides right now, pointing out the 22-year-old center is seeing first-line minutes right now. He believes the Jackets will want a return that replaced Dubois immediately rather than a futures package.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen could pull the trigger if he gets a deal he likes during this season. Finding that deal, however, is another matter. If the Jackets are struggling by mid-February it could put Kekalainen under pressure to move Dubois.

Could the Winnipeg Jets swap Patrik Laine for Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images)

For all the recent talk of the Canadiens parting with Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi in a package deal for Dubois, we don’t know if Montreal GM Marc Bergevin intends to go that route. Bergevin seems interested but he could also remain patient and see how his club does over the course of the season and how well Suzuki and Kotkaniemi perform. If they meet or exceed expectations, Bergevin won’t have any need to trade for Dubois.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently weighed in on the Dubois speculation. He suggests one way to resolve this is to ship Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets for winger Patrik Laine, who is rumored to want out of Winnipeg.

The problem, however, is it’s uncertain why each player seeks a change of scenery. If it’s the size of the market, it’s hard to imagine either player would be happy with this swap.

Duhatschek believes it would be serendipitous if Laine were to end up with the Anaheim Ducks, where former Jet Teemu Selanne wound up spending most of his Hall-of-Fame career. He suggested the Los Angeles Kings as a landing spot for Dubois, where the young center could fill the second-line role behind Anze Kopitar. The price for the Ducks and Kings would cost them a promising young asset like Trevor Zegras or Quinton Byfield.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen’s preference could be shipping Dubois to a Western Conference team. The Kings could be a good fit but we don’t know if GM Rob Blake is willing to give up promising assets for Dubois. They could also be out of the running if the Jackets seek a return that provides immediate help.

Dubois might be a better fit with the Ducks as they’ll need a suitable replacement soon for aging captain Ryan Getzlaf. Like the Kings, however, they probably couldn’t help the Jackets address their need to replace Dubois at center.

Kekalainen could accept a package of picks and prospects in exchange for Dubois if he had a deal lined up with another club where he could flip that return for an established young first-line center. However, that could be easier said than done.

I concur with Duhatschek regarding the uncertainty about whether Dubois or Laine would like their new markets if they were swapped for each other. Laine is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. The Jackets will want assurances he’ll sign a long-term extension. Dubois is signed through next season but the Jets will have concerns about his plans beyond 2022.

PENGUINS INTERESTED IN ROSLOVIC

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins are among the teams “very interested” in Winnipeg Jets forward Jack Roslovic. The 23-year-old restricted free agent remains in Columbus awaiting a trade.

Friedman points out the Penguins have started the season 0-2, adding general manager Jim Rutherford isn’t afraid to make in-season moves. He wonders if there could be a fit there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could seek a top-four defenseman for Roslovic. And no, they won’t want Mike Matheson or Cody Ceci in return.

RECENT CAPITALS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked if Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan might consider trading center Evgeny Kuznetsov. While Kuznetsov can at times be a frustrating player to watch, El-Bashir doesn’t see MacLellan trading him, especially when they’re in go-for-it mode.

El-Bashir was also asked if the Capitals might trade winger Richard Panik in a cost-cutting deal. He believes the Capitals are hopeful Panik will have a bounce-back performance under head coach Peter Laviolette but doesn’t rule out moving him if things aren’t clicking by mid-February. The winger’s $2.75 million annual average value through 2022-23 would be difficult to move.