NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2024

The Sabres are rumored to be shopping Casey Mittelstadt, speculation over Max Pacioretty’s future, two Canadian clubs could have an interest in Alexandre Carrier, plus the latest on the Flyers and Sharks in the NHL Rumor Mill.

REPORT: SABRES ACTIVELY SHOPPING MITTELSTADT

AFTER THE WHISTLE: Andrew Peters said Friday that he’d heard “from a very reliable source” that Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams is “shopping Casey Mittelstadt hard” because he doesn’t want to pay the 25-year-old forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mittelstadt is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1. He’s in the final season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.5 million. The versatile forward enjoyed a 59-point breakout performance last season and currently leads the Sabres in scoring with 42 points in 50 games.

Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (NHL Images).

Peters’ source didn’t know what Adams’ asking price would be for Mittelstadt but indicated that he’s looking for a goaltender. “They don’t trust the three that they have,” said Peters.

SPORTSNET: On Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman talked about Mittelstadt’s contract situation. He believes Mittelstadt would not be happy not to get a lucrative new contract when several other teammates did. “If you’re not going to pay him, you almost have to move him.”

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited Peters’ claiming the Sabres are shopping Mittelstadt. He believes the Flyers should pursue him and suggested offering up right-shot defenseman Sean Walker as part of the return.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Evan Rawal also noted Peters’ report about Mittelstadt. He believes the Sabres forward would be a good candidate for the Avalanche’s second-line center position. However, a young forward under team control for a few more years would be expensive to acquire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Kevin Weekes last month suggested Mittelstadt could be available if Adams didn’t want to sign him to a long-term extension. He shrugged off the speculation while Adams has not spoken about it.

Mittelstadt will draw plenty of interest in the trade market if Adams is indeed peddling him. Finding a reliable, established starting goaltender, however, won’t be easy as the pickings are slim right now.

Maybe Adams could offer up Mittelstadt to the Calgary Flames for Jacob Markstrom provided the latter would waive his no-movement clause to go to Buffalo. Perhaps a deal could be made with the Nashville Predators for Juuse Saros provided he’s willing to sign a contract extension on July 1. Anaheim Ducks starter John Gibson’s been a fixture in the rumor mill stretching back to last season but the Sabres could be on his 10-team no-trade list.

COULD THE CAPITALS ATTEMPT TO MOVE PACIORETTY?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculated the Washington Capitals could become sellers if they don’t gain ground soon in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Their pending unrestricted free agents include Anthony Mantha, Joel Edmundson and Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty carries a full no-movement clause giving him and his agent complete control over his situation. However, LeBrun believes he could waive it for the right fit and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

LeBrun thinks Mantha could be difficult to move even with retaining some salary. Edmundson’s playoff pedigree, meanwhile, could make him enticing to a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is on a one-year deal with a base salary of $2 million plus another $2 million in performance bonuses. The six-time 30-goal scorer has seven points in 14 games thus far in his comeback with the Capitals.

LATEST FLYERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek talked about possible trade-deadline moves for the Philadelphia Flyers.

They believe they are contemplating retaining Sean Walker and moving Rasmus Ristolainen. The latter would be easier to trade in the offseason for financial as well as hockey reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, 29, lacks no-trade protection but carries a $5.1 million AAV through 2026-27. He would be easier to move this summer when teams have more money to absorb that type of cap hit. However, he could still be a difficult sell unless the Flyers are willing to retain some salary.

They also believe Scott Laughton’s time with the Flyers could be drawing to a close. It could happen at the trade deadline or in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laughton, 29, is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. He carries an affordable $3 million AAV through 2025-26 and lacks a no-trade clause. He could attract a fair bit of interest in the trade market.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli suggesting Mikael Granlund might fetch the best return for the San Jose Sharks in the trade market.

Peng noted that the 29-year-old two-way center has bounced back this season with 29 points in 38 games. He carries a $5 million AAV through next season and lacks no-trade protection.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Julian Gaudio cited The Fourth Period recently claiming the Vegas Golden Knights are interested in Anthony Duclair.

The 28-year-old Sharks winger has just 17 points in 46 games this season with San Jose but was a productive middle-six forward for the Florida Panthers during their run to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. He’s in the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $3 million.

Gaudio’s colleague Max Miller cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting there are teams with an interest in Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. The pending UFA has put up good underlying numbers this season but doesn’t have a resume in high-pressure games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Duclair seems the more likely to move given his cap hit and his performance in last year’s playoffs.

Granlund’s cap hit remains difficult to move unless the Sharks retain part of it. Having used up two of their three salary-retention slots on Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, I doubt they’ll keep any part of Granlund’s cap hit to facilitate a trade.

Kahkonen’s inexperience in playoff action will be an issue for contenders shopping for goaltending depth.

OILERS & CANUCKS COULD BE INTERESTED IN ALEXANDRE CARRIER

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if the Edmonton Oilers might be looking at Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier as a trade option. Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Thomas Drance recently mentioned Carrier as a trade target for the Vancouver Canucks.

Gallagher noted that Predators GM Barry Trotz isn’t necessarily shopping Carrier but is willing to listen to trade offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carrier could be an attractive option for contenders with limited cap space looking for an affordable defenseman. He carries a $2.5 million cap hit, lacks a no-trade clause and is slated to become a UFA this summer.

Gallagher also noted the Predators are trying to move blueliner Tyson Barrie following his trade request back in December.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2024

With Elias Lindholm off the trade market, check out the latest on Jake Guentzel and Sean Monahan plus updates on the Bruins and Sabres in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE LATEST PENGUINS’ SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe believes Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas would like to re-sign Jake Guentzel. The 29-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. It could depend on Guentzel’s willingness to sign what Yohe called a “somewhat team-friendly deal.”

Yohe believes Dubas isn’t afraid to trade Guentzel if a new deal isn’t possible. He won’t let the winger walk away for nothing this summer. Nevertheless, the Penguins GM would love to sign him for the right price.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guentzel’s cap hit on his current contract is $6 million. With the salary cap projected to jump by $4.2 million for 2024-25, he could get between $9 million and $10 million annually on the open market.

My guess is Dubas’ number is between $7.5 million and $8 million per season. It would then come down to how much Guentzel wants to stay and remain Sidney Crosby’s wingman.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski noted the Penguins have a couple of holes to fix among their middle-six forwards. He wondered if Dubas would attempt to move struggling winger Reilly Smith and his $5.5 million annual cap hit through next season to make room for another solution in a similar role.

Kingerski’s suggested trade targets include Ottawa Senators right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson, and former Penguins winger Jason Zucker of the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 32-year-old Smith’s production is well down this season with just eight goals and 20 points in 40 games. He has a 10-team no-trade list for this season which becomes an eight-team list next season.

Smith might not be willing to move to a rebuilding team, though the Coyotes are showing signs of a potential breakthrough as a playoff contender this season. Whether the Coyotes would want him, however, is another matter.

UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: In his Jan. 30 mailbag, Eric Engels was asked if the Montreal Canadiens will trade Sean Monahan and if so what type of return he might fetch.

Engels believes it would take a first-round pick for Canadiens GM Kent Hughes to part with Monahan. As for when Hughes can expect to receive serious offers for the 29-year-old center. Engels expects talks in the trade market will pick up following the All-Star break.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those discussions could start now after the Lindholm trade yesterday. That was the first domino to drop. Trade activity won’t take place during the All-Star break because the league doesn’t want anything to overshadow that.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the next big move takes place soon after the end of the All-Star weekend. Teams that were interested in Lindholm could shift their focus toward Monahan and that could drive up his trade value.

WILL THE SABRES BECOME SELLERS?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Michael Augello noted that the Buffalo Sabres have six pending unrestricted free agents (Victor Olofsson, Kyle Okposo, Zemgus Girgensons, Eric Robinson, Eric Comrie and Erik Johnson) who could become trade bait leading up to the March 8 deadline. However, he doesn’t expect they’ll fetch big rewards for the Sabres.

Augello also noted some recent speculation suggesting the Sabres could trade forward Casey Mittelstadt. He carries an affordable $2.5 million cap hit and is eligible for restricted free-agent status this summer. However, that might be a move that Sabres management can hold off on until this summer.

BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Jason Moser recently noted the speculation about David Jiricek’s future with the Columbus Blue Jackets after the rookie defenseman expressed frustration over being demoted to their AHL affiliate.

Moser thinks it could be worthwhile for the Sabres to look into acquiring Jiricek if he’s available. He thinks offering up a top prospect forward such as Matthew Savoie, Noah Ostlund, Jiri Kulich or Isak Rosen would make sense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres playoff hopes appear dashed for another season. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Sabres peddled some of those pending UFAs for middle or low-range draft picks and prospects that could be used as trade bait in the offseason.

They could move Mittelstadt but that could depend on how his contract talks go. If it appears he could be headed to arbitration they might shop him during the draft in June for a skilled defenseman or an established starting goalie.

As for Jiricek, he hasn’t asked to be traded and I doubt that the Blue Jackets want to move him given his potential as a top-pairing blueliner. If he did become available, however, the Sabres possess the depth in promising young assets to make a competitive offer.

WHAT MUST THE BRUINS ADDRESS BEFORE THE TRADE DEADLINE?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss ranked the Bruins biggest needs to address as the trade deadline approaches.

Acquiring a physical veteran defenseman who can clear the front of the net, kill penalties and play tough minutes against quality opponents. is the top priority. Adding a middle-six forward with a decent scoring touch could also help.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 28, 2024

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 28, 2024

Sean Monahan is linked to the Rangers, Chris Tanev could become a Senators trade target, and the Sabres’ Erik Johnson could become a trade candidate. Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

COULD THE RANGERS PURSUE MONAHAN?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported speculation over whether the New York Rangers might pitch for Sean Monahan.

The Montreal Canadiens center has garnered lots of respect around the league after overcoming injuries that threatened to derail his career two years ago. Monahan, 29, has 35 points in 49 games this season.

Montreal Canadiens center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

Friedman believes the Canadiens’ asking price could be a first-rounder for Monahan. He noted that the Rangers were in the market for a center and could use a second one after Filip Chytil suffered a setback last week in his recovery from a concussion.

It could prove not very easy for the two clubs to swing a deal. Friedman believes there is little love lost between their front offices. Canadiens executive vice-president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton is the Rangers’ former general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think Gorton would have an issue if the Rangers offered up a first-round pick or a top prospect for Monahan. A bigger concern could be whether the Blueshirts could win a bidding war for the Canadiens center. The Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks could have an interest in him.

SENATORS EYEING CHRIS TANEV

SPORTSNET: Friedman reported that Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev could be on the Ottawa Senators’ radar as they look to add complete players and “pros” to their lineup.

Friedman thinks Tanev would make a lot of sense for the Senators. However, they might not be among his preferred destinations given their place in the standings. The 34-year-old blueliner could prefer going to a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This only makes sense for the Senators if Tanev is willing to sign a contract extension with them. He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, which is why he’s come up so often in trade rumors this season. If he’s not interested, they’ll be wasting assets on someone who could bolt this summer to greener pastures. It might be best to wait and see if he will test the free-agent market this summer and inquire about him then.

WILL THE SABRES SHOP ERIK JOHNSON?

BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Jason Moser cited Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast episode in which Friedman said he’s starting to hear Erik Johnson’s name a little bit in the rumor mill. The 35-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Sabres last summer.

Friedman said he was told that Johnson could be a name to watch as there’s going to be interest in him. He thinks the veteran blueliner would prefer going to a contender if the Sabres attempt to move him. Moser speculated they might get a third-round pick for him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson lacks a no-trade clause but the Sabres could try to do right by him by prioritizing contenders. He’s on injured reserve but is expected to return to action following the upcoming All-Star break.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 28, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 28, 2024

The Oilers’ win streak reaches 16, Auston Matthews reaches 40 goals and Nikita Kucherov regains the lead in the scoring race. Get the details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers extended their win streak to 16 games with a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators. Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists while Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for the 29-15-1 Oilers, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 59 points. Colton Sissons replied for the Predators (26-22-1) as they cling to the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 53 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are now one win away from tying the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins for the longest win streak (17 games) in league history. Corey Perry made his debut with the Oilers, logging 12:44 in ice time with two hits and two shots.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews netted his league-leading 40th goal as his club doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly each collected two assists while Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves for the Leafs (25-14-8) as they hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 58 points. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26 shots for the 30-12-5 Jets as they slipped to third place in the Central Division with 65 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews set a franchise record as the fastest player to reach 40 goals (46 games) and extended his team record for most 40-goal seasons with five. He also became the eighth player in Leafs history to reach 600 points and the fastest to reach that plateau. Meanwhile, the club announced that Calle Jarnkrok is sidelined week-to-week with a broken knuckle.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov collected two assists to regain the lead in the NHL scoring race with 85 points in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Brayden Point and Brandon Hagel each scored twice as the 27-18-5 Lightning sit one point ahead of the Leafs in third place in the Atlantic Division. Ondrej Palat and Nico Hischier each had two points for the 24-20-3 Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hischier wasn’t pleased with his club’s performance. “I’m embarrassed, to be honest,” he said in a postgame interview. With the Devils sitting six points out of a wild-card berth, he called on his teammates to play “pissed off.” They’ve won just three of their last 10 games.

The Vancouver Canucks overcame a three-goal deficit to nip the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on an overtime goal by Elias Pettersson, who finished the game with two goals and an assist. Brock Boeser tallied a hat trick while Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller each collected three assists for the Canucks (33-11-5) as they hold first place in the overall standings with 71 points. Alexandre Texier had a goal and an assist for the 15-23-10 Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Blue Jackets announced winger Patrik Laine returned to Columbus after suffering a setback in his recovery from a fractured clavicle. They also placed defenseman Adam Boqvist (upper body) on injured reserve and recalled blueliner Nick Blankenburg from their AHL affiliate in Cleveland.

A four-goal first period powered the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2. David Pastrnak tallied twice and collected an assist while James van Riemsdyk had a goal and two assists for the 31-9-9 Bruins, who sit second in the overall standings with 71 points. Tyson Foerster scored both goals for the slumping Flyers (25-19-6), who’ve lost five straight games but remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 56 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Flyers honored Mark Recchi with induction into their Hall of Fame. Recchi spent 10 seasons with the Flyers, tallying 627 points in 602 games. He also played three seasons with the Bruins, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 during his final season.

Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart scored to extend his points streak to 13 games as his club nipped the New York Islanders 3-2 on an overtime goal by Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist for the 31-14-4 Panthers as they sit in fourth place in the overall standings with 66 points. Semyon Varlamov turned aside 24 shots for the Islanders (20-17-12), who sit five points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 52 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After beating the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Patrick Roy’s first game as their head coach, the Isles are winless in their last three contests (0-2-1). Before this game, Roy indicated that defenseman Adam Pelech is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was sidelined by an illegal hit to the head on Thursday by Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, who received a five-game suspension as a result.

The Dallas Stars moved ahead of the Winnipeg Jets into second place in the Central Division with 66 points by dropping the Washington Capitals 5-4. Thomas Harley scored in overtime after his club blew a 4-2 lead and finished the game with two goals for the 30-13-6 Stars. Alex Ovechkin and Anthony Mantha each had a goal and an assist for the 22-18-7 Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals winger Max Pacioretty left this game in the third period with a lower-body injury unrelated to his surgically repaired Achilles tendon. No word following the game regarding his condition.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin sniped two goals in a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider each had two assists while Alex Lyon stopped 28 shots for the Red Wings (26-18-5) as they hold the final Eastern wild-card berth with 57 points. Alec Martinez had two assists for the 29-15-6 Golden Knights (64 points) as they remain in second place in the Pacific Division.

A five-goal second period rallied the New York Rangers over the Ottawa Senators 7-2. Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists while Jonathan Quick made 29 saves for the Rangers (30-16-3) as they remain in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 63 points. Brady Tkachuk and Jakob Chychrun scored for the 18-25-2 Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers captain Jacob Trouba missed this game as he’s serving a two-game suspension for elbowing Golden Knights forward Pavel Dorofeyev on Friday.

The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 as Dmitry Orlov broke a 1-1 tie with 36 seconds remaining in regulation time. Seth Jarvis collected two assists for the 28-15-5 Hurricanes, who sit two points back of the Rangers in second place in the Metro Division. Logan Cooley tallied for the slumping Coyotes (23-22-3) as they dropped their third straight game and sit four points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 49 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott missed this game with a lower-body injury.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom kicked out 32 shots for a 1-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks. Elias Lindholm scored the only goal as the 22-22-5 Flames (49 points) snapped a four-game losing skid and sit four points out of the final Western wild-card berth. Petr Mrazek made 30 saves for the 14-34-2 Blackhawks, who remain at the bottom of the overall standings with 30 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Flames announced that forward A.J. Greer is out for eight weeks with a fractured foot.

An overtime goal by Marcus Pettersson gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Penguins forward Lars Eller scored in his 1,000th career game as his club improved to 22-17-7 (51 points). Jake Allen made 30 saves for the 20-21-8 Canadiens.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry scored two goals as his club tamed the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Lukas Dostal stopped 35 shots for the 17-30-2 Ducks. Mats Zuccarello collected two assists for the 21-23-5 Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild forward Marcus Foligno missed this game due to illness.

The Buffalo Sabres tallied five unanswered goals in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. JJ Peterka scored twice while Dylan Cozens had a goal and two assists for the Sabres (22-23-4). William Eklund picked up two assists for the 13-32-4 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Sabres as forward Jack Quinn left the game with an injured left leg following a hit by Sharks forward Tomas Hertl. Head coach Don Granato indicated Quinn’s injury should be considered more than day-to-day for recovery.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2024

Nathan MacKinnon regains the scoring lead with a four-goal performance, five members of Canada’s 2018 WJC team face sexual assault charges, Salt Lake City expresses interest in an expansion franchise, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon regained the lead in the NHL scoring race with a four-goal performance in a 6-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. MacKinnon also collected an assist for 82 points, two ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and four assists while Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for the 31-14-3 Avalanche, who sit fourth in the overall standings with 65 points. Dylan Strome scored both goals for the 22-18-6 Capitals (50 points), who sit three points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche extended their home point streak to a franchise-record 24 games. Makar netted his 76th career goal to become the franchise’s all-time leading goalscorer among defensemen. Meanwhile, Avs blueliner Jack Johnson missed this game with an undisclosed injury.

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice took over sole possession of second place for most games by an NHL coach with 1,813 as his club beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-2. Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to 11 games while Matthew Tkachuk had two goals and an assist for the Panthers (29-14-4), who sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 62 points. Dylan Guenther had a goal and an assist for the 23-20-3 Coyotes (49 points) as they sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov collected an assist as he returned to action after being sidelined for three games by a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 32 saves for his second shutout of the season in a 1-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Auston Matthews scored in overtime to collect his league-leading 39th goal of the season as his Maple Leafs (24-14-8) regained third place in the Atlantic Division with 56 points. Laurent Brossoit stopped 29 shots for the 30-11-6 Jets as they sit third in the overall standings with 65 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a big win for Samsonov, whose struggles in December saw him briefly demoted to the Leafs’ AHL affiliate. He was touched by Leafs fans chanting his name, admitting he was nearly brought to tears. Meanwhile, Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey left this game with a leg injury after blocking a shot by Leafs forward Matthew Knies.

The St. Louis Blues picked up their third straight win with a 4-3 overtime upset of the Vancouver Canucks. Brayden Schenn tallied the winning goal after his club blew a 3-1 while Jake Neighbours had a goal and an assist for the 24-20-8 Blues (50 points), who sit one point out of the final Western wild-card berth. Pius Suter had a hat trick for the Canucks (32-11-5) as they remain in first place in the overall standings with 69 points.

A late goal by Jordan Martinook lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Boston Bruins by a score of 3-2. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had two points for the Hurricanes (26-15-5), who moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division with 56 points. Brad Marchand scored both goals for the 29-9-9 Bruins as they remain in second place in the overall standings with 67 points.

The Buffalo Sabres overcame a 3-1 deficit for a 5-3 upset victory over the Los Angeles Kings. JJ Peterka scored twice and collected an assist while Jack Quinn had a goal and two assists for the 21-23-4 Sabres. Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings (22-14-9) as they hold the first Western wild-card berth with 53 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings have won just twice in their last 10 games. Head coach Todd McLellan blasted his players following this match. “The stupidity that went into that loss is beyond explanation,” he said. Asked about his job security, McLellan replied that it was “a very fair question.” Kings general manager Rob Blake recently gave him a vote of confidence but that could change if this club fails to snap out of its funk.

Seattle Kraken winger Tomas Tatar scored two goals as his club beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. Jordan Eberle and Jared McCann each collected two points as the Kraken (20-18-9) sit two points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 49 points. Seth Jones had two assists for the 14-32-2 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Blackhawks announced they’d reached an agreement with goaltender Petr Mrazek on a two-year contract extension. He’ll earn an average annual value of $4.25 million.

HEADLINES

TSN: Five members of Canada’s 2018 World Juniors team have been ordered to report to London, Ontario police to face charges of sexual assault. London police announced they would hold a press conference on Feb. 5 to share further details.

The charges are related to an alleged sexual assault in June 2018 involving the players, who have a set time to report to the police.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils forward Michael McLeod and defenseman Cal Foote have taken indefinite leaves of absence from the team. The club indicated it has no further comment at this time.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators’ unsigned winger Alex Formenton has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his Swiss team where he’s played since last season. The club declined to comment on the matter.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers GM Daniel Briere made a statement yesterday regarding the indefinite leave of absence by goaltender Carter Hart. He acknowledged the reports regarding the five unnamed players of Canada’s 2018 WJC team but said neither he nor the Flyers would make any comment until the results of the investigation are released.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube is also on an indefinite leave of absence for what the club deemed mental health reasons. Nevertheless, it’s assumed by hockey fans on social media that Dube, Hart, Formenton, McLeod and Foote are the five players sought by London police. We’ll know for certain by Feb. 5.

DAILY FACEOFF: In a release shared with NHL media yesterday, the Smith Entertainment Group formally requested that the league begin the process of bringing an expansion team to Salt Lake City. The ownership group owns the NBA’s Utah Jazz and has talked with the NHL about an expansion club since 2022. The club would play in the Jazz’s current arena until a new venue is constructed at a later date.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Salt Lake City has a long hockey history with minor league teams playing there over the years. They also hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

SPORTSNET: In an interview with The Athletic, NHL Players Association executive director Marty Walsh said the clock is ticking on the ownership of the Arizona Coyotes as they continue efforts to find a location to build a new arena. At the most recent NHL Board of Governors’ meetings, Commissioner Gary Bettman said the Coyotes ownership had until the end of January to finalize a new plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh’s comments combined with the news of the Utah Jazz ownership’s interest in an expansion franchise looks like a warning shot to Coyotes ownership. If they don’t soon get their plans for a new arena project sorted out, the league’s patience could finally run out. If so, this franchise could end up sold and moved to Salt Lake City.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames placed center Adam Ruzicka and defenseman Nick DeSimone on waivers.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators re-signed forward Cole Smith to a two-year contract extension with an AAV of $775K.

KLTV: Former NHL player Mike Ribeiro is on trial in Franklin County, Texas. He allegedly sexually assaulted two women on June 23, 2021, and attempted to assault another.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2024

Could the Sabres trade Casey Mittelstadt? What’s the latest on the Predators? Are the Flyers interested in Arber Xhekaj? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

IS MITTELSTADT THE ODD MAN OUT IN BUFFALO?

ESPN: Kevin Weekes recently looked at several players who could become available by the March 8 trade deadline. One of them was Casey Mittelstadt, who could become the odd man out among the Buffalo Sabres’ young forwards.

Weekes praised Mittelstadt’s performance in filling in for sidelined winger Jeff Skinner. However, they’ve yet to sign him to a long-term extension as they’ve done with their other young players. He said Mittelstadt is drawing a lot of attention.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reports Mittelstadt was surprised to hear his name mentioned on NHL Network as a trade candidate. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams has not approached the 25-year-old forward or his agent yet about a contract extension.

Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (NHL Images).

Mittelstadt has consistently been the Sabres’ most consistent player. He’s a versatile two-way player who can skate at center or on the wing among their top-six forwards.

Lysowski believes it could cost the Sabres $5.87 million annually (or 6.7 percent of their salary cap) on a five-year deal to sign Mittelstadt. They lack a proven internal replacement if they choose not to re-sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contenders seeking a player with Mittelstadt’s skills could be inquiring about his availability. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility in 2025.

I doubt that Adams is shopping Mittelstadt and likely intends on signing him this summer. He could be tempted by a significant trade offer but I don’t think he’ll get one leading up to the trade deadline. That sort of thing seems more likely in the offseason depending on how contract discussions go following this season.

LATEST ON THE PREDATORS

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently provided updates on several Predators who have reportedly become trade targets.

He noted that some observers still believe there’s an outside chance the Predators could move Juuse Saros despite general manager Barry Trotz’s stated intent to re-sign him. The Predators’ asking price could be outrageous but Gallagher believes that’s the point. He thinks Trotz has set the bar ridiculously high that no reasonable GM would agree to pay it.

One Predators goalie who could be available is backup Kevin Lankinen. Gallagher believes several teams could be interested in him. If they do move Lankinen, it could be closer to the March 8 trade deadline to allow promising Yaroslav Askarov more playing time with their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee before calling him up as Lankinen’s replacement.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie has been sidelined for nearly a month with an upper-body injury. That’s affected his trade value, which wasn’t that high to begin with. Most teams with an interest in Barrie lack the cap space to acquire him right now. He’s still expected to be moved by the March 8 trade deadline but this could drag on for a few weeks.

Earlier this season it was believed the Predators could move one or both of Alexandre Carrier and Dante Fabbro. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported they could now be inclined to retain both players. Fabbro’s been playing recently on their top defense pairing with Roman Josi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators could be unwilling to shake things up too much while they’re jockeying for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. I don’t see Saros, Carrier or Fabbro getting shopped. Barrie will likely be a trade deadline move.

CANADIENS GETTING CALLS ABOUT XHEKAJ

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting the Canadiens may have received some calls about defenseman Arber Xhekaj. However, the Habs aren’t moving the 22-year-old blueliner, who was recently recalled from their AHL affiliate in Laval.

Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Philadelphia Flyers were among the teams expressing interest in Xhekaj.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes recently said that Xhekaj was spending time in Laval to work on his defensive game. He also stated that he wanted the big blueliner to be part of their long-range plans.