Speculation over who could become the next general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers listed their potential candidates to replace Stan Bowman as general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks. Bowman stepped down on Tuesday following the release of Tuesday’s report into the findings of an independent investigation into allegations of sexual assault of two players by former video coach Bradley Aldrich.
Former New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton (NHL.com).
Among the notable names on their list were NHL senior director of player safety Patrick Burke, analytics guru Meghan Chayka, former Los Angeles Kings assistant GM Michael Futa, former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton, former player and current TV commentator Ed Olczyk, Carolina Hurricanes assistant GM Eric Tulsky and NHL analyst Kevin Weekes.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli included Gorton and Weekes on his list of potential candidates, joining interim Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson, Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby, Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray and former Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford.
TSN: Darren Dreger believes the Blackhawks need experience in the GM’s chair going forward. He suggested Rutherford, Gorton and former Penguins and New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks could stick with Davidson or look to someone else within their organization. Perhaps they think outside the box and bring in someone with limited management experience such as Chayka. Olczyk or Weekes.
Dreger could be right that they’ll look to someone with experience who can be a steady hand on the tiller. Gorton could be the best bet here given his rebuilding efforts with the Rangers.
The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Hurricanes, the Vezina Trophy finalists are announced, the 2021 Draft Lottery goes tonight, an update on Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: A third-period goal by Anthony Cirelli was the game-winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Alex Killorn opened the scoring in the second period for the Lightning. Andrei Svechnikov got the Hurricanes on the board late in the third. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves for the win as the Bolts were outshot 32-15. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck left the game with an injured right leg following a second-period collision with teammate Warren Foegele. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said it didn’t know the extent of Trocheck’s injury but indicated it didn’t look good. An update could come later today.
Losing their second-line center would be another blow to the Hurricanes’ forward lines. Winger Nino Niederreiter is out for the series with an undisclosed injury suffering in practice before Game 1.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).
Speaking of Andrei Vasilevskiy, he joins Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche as this year’s finalists for the Vezina Trophy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the fourth straight season Vasilevskiy has been named a finalist, winning the award in 2018-19. It’s the first time Fleury and Grubauer have been honored.
The 2021 NHL Draft Lottery goes tonight at 7 pm ET at league headquarters. The Buffalo Sabres have the best odds of winning after finishing with the worst overall record, followed by the Anaheim Ducks. The expansion Seattle Kraken has the third-best odds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL Draft will be held virtually on July 23-24. Follow the link above for full details on the lottery rules and this year’s top prospects.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel has reached the end of the rehab period for the herniated disk in his neck. If he still wants the neck surgery that team doctors haven’t been comfortable with, he has the right to take the team to arbitration. If he doesn’t agree with the arbiter’s decision, he can ask for a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The surgical procedure Eichel prefers has never been done before on an NHL player. The team doctors’ preference is for continued rehab. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds if Eichel feels he hasn’t made much progress with his current treatment.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted goaltender Tuukka Rask has been battling nagging injuries. However, he doesn’t feel there’s any reason to believe Rask won’t be ready to play against the New York Islanders tonight in Game 3 of their second-round series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask appeared to struggle during the Bruins’ overtime loss in Game 2. If that continues in Game 3 we could see backup Jeremy Swayman for Game 4.
TSN: Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield in Game 2.
WINNIPEG SUN: The province of Manitoba will allow 500 fully-vaccinated healthcare workers into the MTS Centre tonight for the Winnipeg Jets’ opening game of their second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin said he suffered a sprained shoulder during his club’s series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Teammate Joel Eriksson Ek played through a knee injury suffered in Game 6. The duo won’t require offseason surgery.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, Connauton will earn $825K at the NHL level. He spent most of this season on the Panthers’ taxi squad, seeing action in seven games.
TSN: The Pittsburgh Penguins have given teams around the league permission to speak with former general manager Jim Rutherford before his contract with them expires at the end of June. Rutherford stepped down as GM in January for personal reasons.
The Hurricanes eliminate the Predators to advance to the second round while the Canadiens stay alive with an overtime win over the Leafs. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of their opening-round series. Sebastian Aho tallied the overtime winner as the Hurricanes rallied from a 3-1 deficit. Aho scored twice and Dougie Hamilton netted the game-tying goal on an assist by Jaccob Slavin. Nick Cousins, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen scored for the Predators.
Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
An overtime goal by Nick Suzuki gave the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens had a 3-0 lead at one point but the Leafs battled back thanks to two third-period goals by Jake Muzzin. Joel Armia scored twice the Habs. Game 6 goes Saturday night in Montreal with the Leafs holding a 3-2 series lead.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the first game in this series that Montreal looked like the better team despite blowing that three-goal lead. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield’s heads-up play at his blueline picking off a blind pass by the Leafs’ Alex Galchenyuk set the stage for Suzuki’s winner. The Habs will become the first Canadian team in these playoffs to have fans in the stands as 2,500 people will be in attendance for Saturday’s game.
Game 1 of the second-round series between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins is 8 pm ET on Saturday, May 29 in Boston.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek will be in the lineup for Game 7 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Eriksson Ek was banged up in the previous game after crashing into the Golden Knights’ net in Game 6 but said he’s good to go for tonight’s contest.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights go into tonight’s game against the Wild without forwards Ryan Reaves and Peyton Krebs and defenseman Brayden McNabb. The trio was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri awaits his fate after appealing his eight-game suspension before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. A decision could be announced as early as today. Kadri was suspended by the NHL department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the first round.
NHL.COM: The NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings of the prospects eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft. University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power topped the list of North American skaters while winger William Eklund of Djurgarden in the Swedish Hockey League leads all international skaters.
TSN: Sports agency PBI Sports announced it represents former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. The announcement is seen as Rutherford showing interest in returning to NHL management. Rutherford stepped down as Penguins GM in January.
Recaps of Friday’s action plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Two goals in 12 seconds by Colin Blackwell and Chris Kreider lifted the New York Rangers to a 6-2 drubbing of the Boston Bruins in front of 1,800 fans at Madison Square Garden. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists for the Rangers. Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron scored to collect his 889th career point, surpassing Bobby Orr for fifth on the club’s all-time points list while linemate Brad Marchand netted his 300th career goal. The Bruins have dropped four of their last five contests.
The Minnesota Wild picked up their fifth straight victory by downing the Los Angeles Kings 3-1, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov scored his fifth of the season and leads the Wild and all NHL rookie skaters with 16 points in 17 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov must be considered the favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. The smooth-skating 23-year-old is very entertaining to watch and a big reason why the Wild are playing so well of late.
Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while rookie goalie Hunter Miska made 16 saves for this first NHL win.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is listed as day-to-day with an injured hand. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (lower-body injury) was on the ice yesterday ahead of Leafs practice while winger Joe Thornton and defenseman Jake Muzzin joined their teammates in practice.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews’ injury is reportedly considered a minor issue. He and his teammates are slated to meet the Edmonton Oilers tonight.
ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury while goaltender Linus Ullmark is expected to miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s absence could force Sabres coach Ralph Krueger to insert Jeff Skinner into the lineup. The struggling winger was a healthy scratch for the club’s last three games.
STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko could soon return to the Blues’ lineup before the club’s six-game road trip ends on March 8. The 29-year-old winger has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery but is taking part in practice with his teammates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have struggled of late so the return of their top sniper should provide a welcome boost to their offense. They’ll have to do some juggling with their salary cap space to make room for his $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit when he comes off long-term injury reserve.
THE ATHLETIC: Jim Rutherford told Pierre LeBrun he’s ready to work in the NHL only a month after suddenly stepping down as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford insists he was “treated great” by the Penguins and has no regrets. He also said he has no geographical limitations on where he’d like to work.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a solid reputation around the NHL as one of the savviest general managers in the business. I doubt he’ll be unemployed for long.
NHL.COM: Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Irving Grundman passed away on Friday at age 93 following a short illness. He was the Habs GM from 1978-79 to 1982-83, winning the Stanley Cup in his first season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Grundman’s family, friends, and the Canadiens’ organization. During his tenure as GM he drafted future Hall-of-Famers Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau, as well as such noteworthy players as Mats Naslund, Craig Ludwig and Mike McPhee.
The Canucks beat the Senators, the Predators edge the Blackhawks, Jim Rutherford steps down as Penguins GM, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-1 thanks to a 42-save performance by goaltender Thatcher Demko. J.T. Miller and Tyler Motte each scored twice as the Canucks broke a 1-1 tie with a three-goal outburst in the second period. The Senators also lost defenseman Christian Wolanin to a lower-body injury.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were outshot 23-7 in the first period. The outcome of this game would’ve been very different if not for Demko.
Matt Duchene scored the deciding goal in a shootout as the Nashville Predators nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1. Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen kicked out 41 shots. Earlier in the day, Lucas Wallmark became the third Hawks player added to their COVID-19 list this week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawk are without Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist yet they’ve managed to pick up at least one point in their last five games. Lankinen’s been a major factor in that streak, going 2-0-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jim Rutherford stunned the hockey world yesterday by announcing he was stepping down as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Assistant GM Patrik Allvin has taken over from Rutherford on an interim basis as the club begins its search for a permanent replacement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under Rutherford, the Penguins became the first team to win consecutive Stanley Cups (2016 and 2017) since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings. A savvy wheeler-dealer, he was never afraid to make bold moves to bolster his roster as he saw fit.
Rutherford and the Penguins denied his decision was health-related or that he was retiring from the game. Nevertheless, some pundits found the timing of this move surprising and curious. It comes just seven games into this season when he has just months remaining on his contract, sparking some speculation perhaps it was less amicable than we’re being led to believe.
Shortly before Rutherford’s announcement, the Penguins revealed they signed free-agent defenseman Yannick Weber to a one-year, $700K contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rash of injuries has walloped the Penguins defense corps, with Brian Dumoulin the latest to be sidelined. That made them the subject of recent trade chatter. The Weber signing is an inexpensive short-term move to add some veteran depth.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights placed defenseman Brayden McNabb on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks yesterday announced they’ll be returning to SAP Center in San Jose on Feb. 13 for their scheduled home game against the Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks have been playing home games in Arizona this season because of restrictions against team sports in Santa Clara County. That restriction was recently amended after the state of California lifted its’ stay-at-home order.
The Sharks also pulled off a rare three-team trade yesterday. They shipped defenseman Trevor Carrick to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Jack Kopacka, then sent Kopacka and a seventh-round pick in 2022 to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Christian Jaros.
THE SCORE: cites a report in Sports Business Journal indicating the NHL has borrowed $1 billion US to divide among its 31 teams to address revenue shortfalls occurring from COVID-19 restrictions.