NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2022

What will the Capitals do with their goaltending this summer? Are the Sharks open to trading Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns? Will the Blackhawks seek improvement between the pipes? Who could the Red Wings target via free agency? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE CAPITALS LOOK TO IMPROVE THEIR GOALTENDING?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski considers the Washington Capitals goaltending an interesting situation worth monitoring during the offseason. Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov are both restricted free agents. Vanecek had a solid regular season but fared poorly in the playoffs while Samsonov was the opposite.

Wyshynski wondered if the Capitals will seek an upgrade between the pipes. If they decide to keep their tandem intact, for how much and for how long? He also believes their blueline needs improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals need a reliable starter. There are only four suitable options via this summer’s unrestricted free agent market and one of them (Marc-Andre Fleury) apparently isn’t interested in playing for them. Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper, Toronto’s Jack Campbell and St. Louis’ Ville Husso could be available but will be expensive to sign. The Capitals would face competition from other clubs for those goaltenders should they test the open market on July 13.

General manager Brian MacLellan could try the trade market by looking at netminders such as Anaheim’s John Gibson, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Vegas’ Robin Lehner and the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov. Acquiring either of them, however, won’t be easy and will cost assets as well as salary.

Limited salary-cap space will also impede the pursuit of a goalie upgrade or the addition of a quality defenseman. Cap Friendly shows the Capitals with $73.5 million invested in 17 active players for 2022-23 with Vanecek and Samsonov as their key free agents. MacLellan might have to shed a contract or two to find sufficient cap space to address those needs.

THE SHARKS COULD BE OPEN TO TRADING KARLSSON OR BURNS THIS SUMMER

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka reports San Jose Sharks interim general manager Joe Will indicated he has no problem talking to other clubs about trading Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns this summer. Both players recently surfaced in the rumor mill after the Sharks missed the playoffs last month.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

Will said nothing was off-limits in terms of looking at ways to improve the roster wherever they could. However, he added that would be a decision left to whoever becomes the club’s general manager. He stated no changes are imminent but they’re open to discussion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Will is talking about a hypothetical trade scenario involving Karlsson or Burns rather than something that will actually take place. He or his successor are making it known they’re open to offers for their high-end talent but that doesn’t mean they’re actively shopping those players.

That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sharks management quietly gauged the market for Karlsson or Burns. However, Karlsson’s injury history, the 37-year-old Burns’ age, and their respective hefty contracts and no-trade clauses make moving either defenseman a difficult task in an offseason where the salary cap is rising by only $1 million for 2022-23.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus recently reported goaltending is the biggest issue facing the Chicago Blackhawks this summer. Current netminders Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia are slated to become UFAs this summer.

GM Kyle Davidson said Lankinen and Delia are part of the conversation but there are players in this summer’s free-agent market the Blackhawks will be looking at. He also didn’t rule out a foray into the trade market. A source claims the club hasn’t started contract discussions yet with Lankinen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Blackhawks could keep Lankinen or Delia as a backup as they pursue a reliable starter via free agency or a trade. Many of the options I listed for the Capitals could also apply here.

Davidson has $61.4 million committed to 14 players with Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome, Kirby Dach, Caleb Jones and Philipp Kurashev slated to become restricted free agents. There is sufficient room to add a decent starter provided those RFAs can be inked to affordable deals. Strome or Kubalik could be traded or allowed to depart as UFAs.

WHO COULD THE RED WINGS TARGET VIA FREE AGENCY?

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen recently published a list of forwards who might interest Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman in this summer’s UFA market.

Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck, New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nick Paul were Allen’s top three candidates

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trocheck and Paul should be available this summer but it remains to be seen if they want to sign with a rebuilding club. Copp, however, could be off the market as the Rangers are quite keen to re-sign him.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg, Rangers center Ryan Strome and Lightning winger Ondrej Palat were also among Allen’s choices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings’ plentiful cap space means they could afford to pay Forsberg a big raise. Like Trocheck and Paul, he might not prefer joining a rebuilding team.

Strome’s situation with the Rangers could go either way. Yzerman drafted Palat when he was GM of the Lightning so the latter might be willing to consider a reunion.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin, Avs winger Andre Burakovsky, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev and KHL forward Andrei Kuzmenko round out Allen’s listing.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, a look at some potential offseason goalie targets for the Oilers while Ilya Samsonov faces an uncertain future with the Capitals.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently suggested the Oilers could be among the teams interested in Ville Husso if the St. Louis Blues goaltender tests this summer’s free-agent market. Husso, 27, has outplayed Jordan Binnington this season for the Blues’ starting goalie job.

THE ATHLETIC: Husso was also on Allan Mitchell’s recent list of possible UFA goaltending targets for the Oilers this summer. Other options could include the Colorado Avalanche’s Darcy Kuemper and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso (NHL Images).

Mitchell believes all three will be expensive. He wondered if Oilers general manager would be able to sign Husso for less than $4.5 million annually over three years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are expected to let Mikko Koskinen walk via free agency this summer. Aging veteran Mike Smith is signed through next season with a $2.2 million cap hit.

Husso would be the most affordable of the three UFA goalies listed by Mitchell. However, his value in the free-agent market could rise significantly if a growing number of clubs were to consider him a more cost-effective option than Kuemper and Campbell. He’s also only been in the NHL for two seasons and that could make some suitors leery of investing in him.

The Blues could try to re-sign Husso and part ways with Binnington, whose performance has been in decline since backstopping the club to the Stanley Cup three years ago. However, he’s signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $6 million and a full no-trade clause. A buyout would stretch through 2031-32.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir wrote he doesn’t see the Washington Capitals going into next season with their current tandem of Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. The former is fumbling his opportunity to seize the starter’s job while the latter has inspired much confidence.

He believes the Capitals will have to settle on one of them and bring in a veteran capable of being a starter to pair with Vanecek. Samsonov could be shipped to a club that might see the 6-foot 3, 200-pound former first-round pick as an enticing reclamation project. He’d heard rumors before the trade deadline linking Samsonov to the Montreal Canadiens but couldn’t confirm them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Samsonov’s promising rookie performance in 2019-20 emboldened the Capitals to part ways with long-time starter Braden Holtby. However, he struggled to make the starter’s job his own and wound up sharing time with Vanecek, who has looked the better of the two since last season.

I also heard those rumors tying Samsonov to the Canadiens but they didn’t last long. Maybe the Canadiens were considering shopping Jake Allen before the trade deadline and saw Samsonov as a possible short-term backup replacement. Maybe there was nothing to this rumor at all. It’ll be interesting to see if it resurfaces in the offseason.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2021

Canada’s 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team names its first three players, the league reaches out to Robin Lehner over his social media accusations, Jake Guentzel tests positive for COVID-19, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong has notified Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo they will be part of the 2022 Olympic team. The move was made at the request of the International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL, and the NHL Players Association.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

This will be Crosby’s third Olympics, the second for Pietrangelo and the first for McDavid.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s no surprise seeing Crosby, McDavid and Pietrangelo being named to Canada’s squad. I daresay Crosby will be named team captain as he was in 2014. It remains to be seen when the rest of the roster will be named.

No word on which three players will be named to the other men’s Olympic ice hockey clubs. Perhaps those will be revealed in the coming days.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The NHL has reached out to Robin Lehner to set up an interview after the Vegas Golden Knights goaltender took to social media accusing several teams of giving players drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

Lehner claimed he knew several teams that gave players sedatives and anxiety pills with a doctor’s consent, singling out the Philadelphia Flyers and head coach Alain Vigneault. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher issued a statement yesterday denying the allegation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner claimed he had proof to back up his allegation against the Flyers though he never played for the club or Vigneault. As I said yesterday, he could end up in hot water if he cannot substantiate his claims. If he can, however, it could force the league to launch an investigation.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed in the NHL’s protocol for the coronavirus. He’s the second Penguin to test positive, joining forward Zach Aston-Reese.

Guentzel must remain in isolation for 10 days following his positive test. If he’s asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, he can be released from isolation if he receives two negative tests during that period.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forward Josh Archibald has been diagnosed with COVID-related myocarditis. It’s the same heart ailment that sidelined Oilers goalie Alex Stalock.

Archibald had contracted COVID during the summer. The unvaccinated forward was in the midst of his 14-day quarantine after traveling to Edmonton from the United States for training camp when he began to not feel well.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Stalock, Archibald’s career is now in jeopardy. Myocarditis causes inflammation of the heart muscle which can prove fatal under physical exertion. Stalock is out for the upcoming season and Archibald could suffer the same fate.

TSN: The Vancouver Canucks officially signed Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to their new contracts yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly has the full details. It’s going to be expensive for the Canucks to re-sign Pettersson at the end of his three-year contract. He’ll earn $10.25 million in actual salary in the final season (2023-24) of that deal, meaning it’ll cost them that much to qualify his rights. Hughes, on the other hand, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of his new six-year contract.

**UPDATE**: I’ve been reminded that rule for contracts signed after July 10, 2020, is now 120 percent of the contract’s annual average value. That means it’ll cost the Canucks $8.82 million to qualify Pettersson’s rights. Still expensive but not as much as $10.25 million. 

THE SCORE: The Tampa Bay Lightning have reportedly opened contract extension talks with head coach Jon Cooper. The club recently re-signed general manager Julien BriseBois.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper could become the NHL’s highest-paid coach after guiding the Lightning to consecutive Stanley Cup titles.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov missed yesterday’s practice with a lower-body injury. He’ll be re-evaluated today.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed checking-line forward Jake Evans to a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.7 million.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks goalie Adin Hill left practice yesterday favoring his left wrist. His participation in today’s preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks is in doubt.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 10, 2021

New deals for Igor Shesterkin and Carter Hart top yesterday’s notable contract signings and the contract standoff between Kirill Kaprizov and the Wild intensifies. Details on these and other stories in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed goaltender Igor Shesterkin to a four-year contract worth just over $5.66 million annually. It’s the largest second NHL contract signed by a goaltender.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a reasonable deal for both sides. The Rangers kept Shesterkin’s annual cap hit under $6 million and the 25-year-old goaltender qualifies for UFA status in four years times. He’s shown considerable promise as an elite netminder in his brief NHL career. This contract will look quite affordable if he reaches his full potential.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed goalie Carter Hart to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.95 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart might’ve earned himself a deal comparable to Shesterkin’s had it not been for his struggles last season. That worked in favor of the Flyers, inking the 23-year-old to a cost-effective bridge contract. He’ll be in line for a considerable raise in three years’ time if he regains his promising form from 2019-20.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals re-signed netminder Ilya Samsonov to a one-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Hart, Samsonov’s inconsistent performance last season hurt his efforts for a more lucrative deal. The 24-year-old also displayed some immaturity by testing positive twice for COVID-19 and getting scratched for disciplinary reasons late in the season for missing a team function.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports Kirill Kaprizov has a tentative agreement with KHL club CSKA Moscow for a one-year deal worth 8 figures in US dollars if a new deal with the Minnesota Wild doesn’t materialize.

The Wild initially sought a seven- or eight-year deal for the Calder Trophy winner. They’re willing to discuss a medium-range deal but the Kaprizov camp claims no offer has been made since April.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting development in the contract standoff between Kaprizov and the Wild. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill update.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings and Jakub Vrana are reportedly far apart in contract negotiations as his Wednesday arbitration hearing approaches. Acquired from the Capitals at last season’s trade deadline, the 25-year-old winger seeks $5.7 million annually while the Red Wings are offering $3.65 million. He’s completing a two-year contract valued at $3.35 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two sides could agree to something around $4.4 million before tomorrow’s arbitration hearing.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed Max Comtois, Max Jones and Joshua Mahura to new contracts. Comtois got a two-year, $4.075 million deal, Jones agreed to a three-year, $3.885 million contract, and Mahura a two-year, $1.5 million deal.

SPORTSNET: The New Jersey Devils re-signed winger Janne Kuokkanen to a two-year, $3.65 million contract.

TSN: The Tampa Bay Lightning inked forward Ross Colton to a two-year deal worth $1.125 million annually.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed defenseman Olli Juolevi to a one-year, $750K extension.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed blueliner Oliver Kylington to a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K at the NHL level.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss Jon Cooper was named head coach of Canada’s Men’s Olympic hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Games in February. His assistant coaches will be the New York Islanders’ Barry Trotz, the Vegas Golden Knights’ Peter DeBoer and the Boston Bruins’ Bruce Cassidy.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Former Blackhawks center and current radio analyst Troy Murray has been diagnosed with cancer. He intends to continue calling games while battling this disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Murray for a speedy and full recovery.

TRIBLIVE.COM: After 46 seasons in the broadcast booth, Mike Lange has called his last game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 73-year-old is stepping down from play-by-play duties, though he’ll continue to provide commentary and voiceover work for the club’s radio network.

Famous for his colorful style and signature catchphrases, Lange has been scaling back his broadcasting duties since 2017. In 2001, he received the Foster Hewitt Award for broadcasting from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Listening to Penguins’ games will never be the same. Best wishes to Lange in his retirement.










NHL Playoffs: Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals Game 2

NHL Playoffs: Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals Game 2

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2021

The Lightning, Wild and Islanders win the first games of their opening-round series, plus the latest on Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, Nathan MacKinnon and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point scored the game-tying and winning goals as his club squeaked past the Florida Panthers 5-4 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Tampa Bay winger Nikita Kucherov tallied two power-play goals in his first game after missing the regular season recovering from offseason hip surgery. Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists for the Panthers. Game 2 of this series is on Tuesday evening.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the best game of the playoffs thus far. It could end up being the best series of the first round if the Lightning and Panthers maintain the pace this set in Game 1. Kucherov showed no signs of rust in his first game of this season. The Panthers must play a more disciplined style. Three of the Bolts’ goals came with the man advantage.

An overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek gave the Minnesota Wild a 1-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of their first-round series. Cam Talbot kicked out 42 shots for the shutout while Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves. They meet again in Game 2 on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game despite the low score. Both clubs had plenty of good scoring opportunities but the goaltenders were superb. The Golden Knights were without sniper Max Pacioretty. He’s been sidelined since May 1 by an undisclosed injury.

The New York Islanders nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on an overtime goal by Kyle Palmieri, who also opened the scoring. Ilya Sorokin picked up the first playoff victory of his career with a 39-save performance while teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a three-point game. Game 2 of this series is also on Tuesday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry was shaky in this contest. Every goal beat him high to the glove side. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Sorokin got the start as Isles starter Semyon Varlamov was out with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm lifted the Calgary Flames over the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 after the Canucks overcame a 5-1 deficit to force overtime. Brock Boeser scored twice for the Canucks. Both clubs face each other two more times before their regular-season schedule is complete.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Brendan Gallagher have been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Laval on a long-term injury conditioning stint. Both are expected to be in the Canadiens lineup for Game 1 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens followers freaked out on social media over this decision because they’re afraid one or both could get hurt playing a meaningless AHL game. However, the Habs want both players to get in some game action before Game 1 due to their long absences from the lineup.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will be in the lineup when his club faces off tonight against the St. Louis Blues in the opening game of their first-round series. He missed four of the Avs’ final five regular-season contests with minor injuries.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov returned to the ice yesterday for the Capitals optional practice. Both had been on the COVID-19 protocol list since May 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s unclear who will back up Craig Anderson for Game 2 tonight against the Boston Bruins. Anderson replaced Vitek Vanecek in Game 1 when the latter suffered a lower-body injury. Kuznetsov, meanwhile, could be several days away from rejoining the lineup.

TORONTO SUN: Jack Campbell will get the start for the Maple Leafs when they faced the Canadiens on Thursday. Winger Zach Hyman is also expected to return to action after being sidelined since April 18 by a sprained knee.

THE ATHLETIC: John Tortorella reportedly wanted to step down last offseason as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. One of the reasons he stayed was because Nick Foligno convinced him to return for one last season.