NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2021

It’s been a week since the Maple Leafs were eliminated from the first round but that hasn’t stopped speculation over their offseason plans. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos believes the clock is ticking for the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup hopes with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner under contract. Matthews’ current deal expires in 2024, Marner’s the following year.

If things go sideways, the pair can depart via the unrestricted free agent market. Traikos doubts the pair will want to endure another five years of disappointment, much less a decade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Traikos feels the Leafs have three seasons to either win the Cup or make significant progress toward doing so to convince those two to stay. A lot can happen over that time. What Dubas does over the next three years will determine the futures of Matthews, Marner and the Leafs.

Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas could find it difficult to bolster the roster with limited cap space this summer. They have roughly $67.8 million invested in next season’s cap payroll, leaving little room under the $81.5 million cap.

With Dubas and team president Brendan Shanahan adamant that high-paid forwards Matthews, Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander aren’t going anywhere, the Leafs will have to look elsewhere to free up payroll.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images).

Dubas could avoid potentially losing Morgan Rielly to free agency next summer by trading him now. It would free up $5 million in cap room but also leave a big hole on their blueline, one Rasmus Sandin could eventually fill. If Alex Kerfoot is taken by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft, it’ll free up $3.5 million.

Koshan considers re-signing Zach Hyman a seemingly insurmountable challenge. He’s an unrestricted free agent on July 28 and the Leafs lack the money to re-sign him. It’s believed the 28-year-old winger could get multiyear offers between $5 million and $6 million annually on the open market. With other holes in the roster to address, the Leafs can’t afford that even if they lose Kerfoot’s cap hit to the Kraken.

Hyman’s agent dismissed a rumor claiming the Leafs had already offered a deal worth $5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hyman is a Toronto native. He could accept a “hometown discount” to stay with the Leafs, especially if he thinks he won’t get better offers in the free-agent market under a flattened salary cap. However, this is also his best opportunity to land a lucrative long-term deal. There will be teams willing to pay between $5 million and $6 million for his services on the open market despite the flat cap.

Even if Hyman accepts a lesser deal of, say, $4 million annually, that’s still going to take a big bite out of the Leafs’ cap space. That could force Dubas to consider a bigger move this summer.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox believes the Leafs must make a decision soon on Rielly. Do they keep him for next season as an “own rental” for one last shot at the Cup with the Leafs, do they trade him, or attempt to negotiate a contract extension starting on July 28? His trade value, combined with his affordable $5 million cap hit, might never be higher than it is now.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran believes trading Rielly should be on the table if the Leafs are committed to Sandin taking over his role. He points out they got a first-round pick and promising prospect Filip Hallander by trading Kasperi Kapanen last year to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rielly would be worth at least that much, and freeing up his $5 million cap hit would give the Leafs room to bring in a couple of affordable bottom-six forwards.

While Dubas and Shanahan said they’re not trading Marner, McGran wondered if they would listen if it was talent-for-talent. Perhaps they’d listen if the Columbus Blue Jackets offered defenseman Seth Jones, or the Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, or the Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk or Johnny Gaudreau.

McGran admits it would get tricky trying to move Marner. He expects Dubas won’t change his approach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Rielly is a more realistic scenario than moving Marner. Yes, the latter could happen if the Leafs got a terrific offer. But Rielly’s affordable cap hit for next season is easier for other clubs to absorb than Marner’s $10.9 million through 2024-25.

The question is, will Dubas make that move? As The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel observed last week, the Leafs better make sure they have a suitable replacement lined up. Siegel doesn’t consider Sandin ready yet for a full-time top-four role. If Dubas shares that view, Rielly could return for at least next season unless he can find an appropriate substitution in the trade or free-agent market.

Mark Zwolinski examined the Leafs’ options for a backup goaltender for Jack Campbell next season. One option is bringing back Frederik Andersen if he accepted a pay cut in the $2 million range. Free-agent options could include Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, Colorado’s Devan Dubnyk or Edmonton’s Mike Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen has played his last for the Leafs. He did his best and was often overworked and underappreciated, but Campbell has taken over the starter’s job now.

I don’t see Rinne leave Nashville if he still wants to play one more season. The Oilers have already indicated they’re bringing back Smith. Dubnyk’s performance has really declined over the last two years. Other free-agent options include former Leafs James Reimer or Jonathan Bernier or the Hurricanes’ Petr Mrazek.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2021

What next for the Rangers following yesterday’s front-office purge? Could Rasmus Sandin’s emergence on the Leafs’ blueline lead to a Morgan Rielly trade? Which Sharks forwards could end up on this summer’s trade block? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker believes the New York Rangers replacing team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton yesterday with Chris Drury indicates ownership wants the current roster reconstruction wrapped up quickly. Drury will be expected to turn the Rangers into a Stanley Cup contender as soon as possible. Reaching the playoffs was a goal this season but will become a requirement in 2021-22.

New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Rangers GM Glen Sather will be working with Drury in a consulting role. Sather was well known for his wheeling and dealing during his long management career. He would prove useful if ownership pressures Drury to explore this summer’s trade and free-agent markets to accelerate the rebuild.

The incident earlier this week with Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson showed a glaring need for more grit in the New York Rangers’ lineup. The club is expected to address its lack of experienced and heavy skaters in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have considerable depth in young players and prospects to use as trade bait to address that need. Cap Friendly indicates they have $55.6 million invested in 17 players, giving Drury sufficient cap space to target teams looking to shed salary this summer or to pursue unrestricted free agents.

Walker also reported former Rangers captain Mark Messier yesterday told ESPN NY radio he’s ready to help the club any way he can. He believes “One thousand percent” he could coach despite having no prior experience.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I admire Messier’s confidence. However, the Rangers will need an experienced, respected bench boss if they replace David Quinn as head coach. Messier doesn’t tick that box.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran recently suggested the emergence of Rasmus Sandin on the Maple Leafs’ blueline could make things a little uncomfortable for Morgan Rielly. If the club develops faith in Sandin, trading Rielly and his $5 million cap hit for next season to free up money to re-sign Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen could become an option.

McGran feels Rielly could fetch a return comparable to the first-round pick and prospect the Leafs got for shipping Kaspari Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, the blueliner would be safe if Andersen isn’t re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGran’s just spitballing here. I don’t think Rielly’s got anything to worry about. I’ll be very surprised if the Leafs bring back Andersen. They’ll likely stick with Jack Campbell as their starter and seek a reliable, affordable backup for him in the offseason.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz suggests San Jose Sharks forwards Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc could become expendable after being pushed out of the top-six at times in recent weeks. He speculates one or both could be moved out this summer, perhaps in pursuit of an effective third-line center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier’s got a $6 million annual salary-cap hit through 2022-23 while Labanc’s is $4725 million annually through 2023-24. Those contracts could prove tough to move with the salary cap staying around $81.5 million next season. It’s not impossible to move them but it could be more of a dollar-in, dollar-out scenario or perhaps the Sharks will have to retain some salary in the deals.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, including Connor McDavid tallying his 500th career point, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid collected two assists to pick up his 500th career NHL point as the Edmonton Oilers edged the Winnipeg Jets 3-2. McDavid accomplished the feat in his 369th NHL game, tying Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby as the eighth fastest player to reach that milestone. Leon Draisaitl scored twice for the Oilers, who’ve won four of their last five.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Earlier in the day, the Jets placed center Pierre-Luc Dubois on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Dubois could return to action on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 14th goal as his club nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Matthews also extended his points streak to 14 games. Alex Kerfoot tallied the game-winner in the third period. Brady Tkachuk replied for the Senators. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced defenseman Rasmus Sandin is out indefinitely with an injured foot.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice (including the game-winner in overtime) and collected an assist in the Florida Panthers 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Panthers overcame a 2-0 deficit but Vincent Trocheck tied the game for the Hurricanes to force the extra frame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau (20 points) sits among the NHL’s top-10 scorers. He’s among the key factors behind the Panthers’ strong performance this season.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen made 29 shots for his first career NHL shutout to blank the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Philipp Kurashev and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Blackhawks in their third straight victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have 22 points and sit in second place behind the Panthers in the Central Division. Neither club was expected to be in those positions when the season began. The Panthers were coming off an offseason of numerous roster changes while the Blackhawks began the season without an established starting goalie and three key players (Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Brent Seabrook) sidelined by illness and injuries.

Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists as the Vancouver Canucks rolled to a 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Braden Holtby made 35 saves while J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Ongoing power outages related to recent winter storms in Texas have forced the postponement of tonight’s game between the Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a broken thumb suffered during Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Sidelined winger Artemi Panarin and defenseman K’Andre Miller are expected to return to action tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: For the first time since Feb. 1 the Buffalo Sabres no longer have players on the COVID-19 protocol list. Casey Mittelstadt became the ninth Sabre to come off the list yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The number of players on the list has steadily declined in recent days. Eighteen players were still on the list yesterday, seven of those members of the Philadelphia Flyers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2020

Milestone nights for Alex Ovechkin, Zdeno Chara and Carey Price, Artemi Panarin has a five-point performance, Leafs’ Morgan Rielly sidelined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to surpass Teemu Selanne for 11th place (686 goals) on the all-time NHL goal list in a 2-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves for the shutout.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin takes over sole possession of 11th place on the NHL all-time goal-scoring list (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin needs just five goals to surpass Mario Lemieux and move into the top-10. With nine more goals, he’ll pass Steve Yzerman and Mark Messier to move into eighth place.

The Philadelphia Flyers rallied from a 5-2 deficit to upset the Boston Bruins 6-5 on Travis Konecny’s shootout goal. The game ended when Bruins winger Brad Marchand grazed the puck at center ice as he overskated it, resulting in a failed shootout attempt and sealing the Flyers’ victory. Travis Sanheim scored twice for the Flyers and Sean Couturier had a three-point game. David Krejci scored twice for the Bruins. Zdeno Chara became just the sixth player to play 1,000 games with the Bruins.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin matched his career-high of five points in a single game to lead his club over the New York Islanders 6-2. Panarin scored twice and set up three others while teammate Jesper Fast had a three-point game.

Carey Price picked up his 46th career shutout as the Montreal Canadiens blanked the Calgary Flames 2-0. Jordan Weal and Ryan Poehling were the goal scorers. Price tied Ken Dryden for the third-most shutouts in franchise history.

The St. Louis Blues picked up their fourth straight win and their ninth consecutive home victory by downing the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Brayden Schenn collected two assists. The Blues hold a nine-point lead over the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference.

HEADLINES

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo, and Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 12.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Speaking of Vasilevskiy, he will replace Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. Rask has opted to skip the All-Star Game to spend time with his family and rest up for the second half of the season. He’ll serve a one-game suspension following the All-Star break.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was named captain of the Metropolitan Division in the upcoming All-Star Game.

USA TODAY: This year’s All-Star Game will also feature a three-on-three game between Canadian and American members of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly will be sidelined eight weeks with a fractured foot. The Leafs have recalled defenseman Rasmus Sandin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rielly is the Leafs best defenseman. This is a big loss to their blueline corps.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Zack Kassian received a two-game suspension for his altercation on Saturday with the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier will be sidelined at least five games with an undisclosed injury.

WGR 550: Buffalo will continue hosting the NHL Draft Combine through 2022.

 










10 Europeans to Watch in the 2020 U20 World Junior Championship

10 Europeans to Watch in the 2020 U20 World Junior Championship

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 15, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 15, 2019

David Pastrnak has a four-goal game, the Avalanche are the only unbeaten team, the Panthers rally to beat the Devils, and more in today’s NHL morning headlines.

NHL.COM: David Pastrnak scored all of the Boston Bruins goals to lead his club to a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Brad Marchand and Torey Krug each collected two assists. It was a costly win for the Bruins as David Krejci left the game with a suspected lower-body injury.

David Pastrnak tallied all four goals in the Boston Bruins’ 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks (Photo via NHL Images)

The Colorado Avalanche (5-0-0) are the only undefeated team following a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and two assists as the Avs chased Capitals goalie Braden Holtby after giving up three goals in as many shots in the first period. Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist for the Capitals.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their first win of the season by downing the Edmonton Oilers 3-1, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. Corey Crawford made 27 saves for the Hawks in their first victory of the season. Oilers winger James Neal tallied his league-leading eighth goal of the season.

Brett Connolly scored twice as the Florida Panthers rallied to overcome a 4-1 deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 6-4. Pavel Zacha had a goal and two assists for the Devils, who remain winless (0-4-2) in their opening six games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the second time the Devils blew a big lead this season. Disenchanted Devils fans are starting to call for the firing of head coach John Hynes. There’s no indication general manager Ray Shero is considering that option but he could be forced to if the Devils don’t arrest this skid.

Buffalo Sabres rookie Victor Olofsson set an NHL record by scoring five consecutive career-opening power-play goals in a 4-0 victory over the struggling Dallas Stars. Jack Eichel had two assists while Carter Hutton made 25 saves for the shutout.

The Minnesota Wild picked up their first win of the season by blanking the Ottawa Senators 2-0. Alex Stalock made 26 saves for the shutout while Victor Rask and Zach Parise were the goal scorers. The Wild played without winger Mats Zuccarello, who’s sidelined for the next three games with a lower-body injury.

The New York Islanders overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on an overtime goal by Devon Toews. Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal each had a goal and an assist for the Isles, as did Brayden Schenn for the Blues.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby are the three stars for the week ending Oct. 13.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will be sidelined for three months after suffering a cracked fibula during Saturday’s game against the Avalanche.

SPORTNET: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom was granted a leave of absence until the weekend to deal with a family matter. The club called up Zane McIntyre.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs have sent defenseman Rasmus Sandin to the Marlies and recalled blueliner Kevin Gravel. Sandin made the roster out of training camp but the Leafs felt he’d benefit from a bigger workload with their farm club.

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers placed defenseman Andy Welinski on waivers.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Long-time Red Wings executive Jimmy Devellano underwent successful surgery yesterday to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor.