NHL Rumor Mill – March 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 21, 2020

The NHL schedule remains paused, but the off-season trade and free agent rumor mill grind on. Check out the recent speculation on the Devils, Sabres, and Golden Knights in the NHL rumor mill.


NJ.COM: The fate of Cory Schneider was among Abbey Mastracco’s five questions facing the New Jersey Devils while the season is paused. Goaltending was the Devils’ Achilles heel over the past two seasons, in part because of the 34-year-old Schneider’s struggles between the pipes. They need a reliable backup for Mackenzie Blackwood. Buying out Schneider is an option, but promising Gilles Senn isn’t expected to be NHL-ready next season.

Cory Schneider faces an uncertain future with the New Jersey Devils (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mastracco observed buying out Schneider isn’t ideal, but if there’s a management change, a new GM will want to make his own decisions about the future of the club. If Schneider doesn’t fit into their plans, a buyout of the remaining two years of his contract (worth $6 million annually) could be in the cards.

Some observers speculate the projected revenue losses brought about by this pandemic could prompt the league and the NHLPA to introduce amnesty contract buyouts for next season. If they do, I think it’s a safe bet the Devils will go that route to shed Schneider’s contract. They could use part of the savings to sign a reliable backup for Blackwood.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked how the Buffalo Sabres will address their backup goaltending situation. Carter Hutton‘s struggles make it difficult to envision him on the roster next season. General manager Jason Botterill isn’t a fan of contract buyouts and it’s difficult to say what next season’s salary cap will look like. If they can find someone to take Hutton off their hands, Lysowski expects they’ll try to find a cheap backup option.

Lysowski was also asked about the Sabres’ options to fill their second-line center position. He doubts they’ll go the free-agent route, suggesting instead using an asset like defenseman Brandon Montour to acquire a center via the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hutton has one season left on his contract with an annual average value of $2.75 million. If the league and the NHLPA agree to allow amnesty contract buyouts for next season, Botterill could use that option to shed Hutton’s contract. For now, of course, that tactic is merely speculation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sabres GM shops a defenseman like Montour or Rasmus Ristolainen to bring in a second-line center.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jesse Granger was asked about the Vegas Golden Knights’ backup goalie situation if Robin Lehner isn’t re-signed. While there are plenty of options in this summer’s UFA market, Granger feels the Golden Knights could wait until next season’s trade deadline to address that need. The Seattle expansion draft will be held next summer, and he thinks a rival club could try to trade a goalie to Vegas rather than lose him for nothing to Seattle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That sounds good in theory, assuming aging starter Marc-Andre Fleury remains healthy and sharp throughout next season and they can find a good, short-term option as his backup until the trade deadline. However, the long grind of a regular season can take its toll, which could force them into the market for help. They would risk not dealing from a position of strength then.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 7, 2020

Does Cory Schneider still have a future with the Devils? Could Anthony Mantha’s contract talk with the Red Wings become complicated? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco wonders what the future holds for Cory Schneider. The 33-year-old veteran goaltender spent part of this season in the minors, but he seems to have regained his form since being recalled on Feb. 20. Mastracco believes whoever takes over as the Devils’ full-time general manager during the off-season could face a big decision regarding Schneider. He has two years remaining on his contract worth $6 million annually, which could prove difficult to move.

Could the New Jersey Devils part ways with Cory Schneider? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries have adversely affected Schneider’s play in recent years, resulting in the type of inconsistency that sent him to the minors this season to sort out. He’s played well since his latest recall, but Mastracco points out he also finished well last season only to struggle again in the fall. With Mackenzie Blackwood looking more comfortable in the starter’s job, interim GM Tom Fitzgerald or his replacement could try to trade Schneider or buy out the final two years of his contract.

Schneider has a full no-trade clause so he’ll have to sign off on any attempt to move him. While his $6 million annual salary is difficult to move, the Devils could offer to pick up part of it. A budget-conscious club looking to reach next season’s salary-cap minimum ($65 million?) could have some interest if the Devils include a draft pick or prospect.

With the Devils investing over $55 million in 13 players for 2020-21, Schneider’s cap hit shouldn’t hamper their efforts to re-sign key players and add others during the off-season. The next GM, be it Tom Fitzgerald or someone else, could decide it best to hang onto Schneider and see how things play out.


THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Anthony Mantha expected his contract negotiations with the Red Wings this summer could get complicated. The 25-year-old winger will become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. While Mantha’s scoring abilities are obvious, he’s been hampered by frequent injuries, missing 28 games this season to a knee injury and a punctured lung.

Mantha is in line for a significant raise over his current $3.3-million annual average value. However, his injury history could affect what type of deal he gets. Mantha, meanwhile, insists he wants to be in Detroit for the long term.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha’s situation could be worth watching over the summer. If things get complicated, it could spark some trade speculation.

What’s In Store This NHL Offseason For The New Jersey Devils?

What’s In Store This NHL Offseason For The New Jersey Devils?


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 2, 2020

Game recaps, players and rookie of the month for February, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice and added an assist as the Washington Capitals edged the Minnesota Wild 4-3. Ovechkin has 45 goals on the season, moving into a second-place tie with Toronto’s Auston Matthews in the NHL goal-scoring race. The Capitals (86 points) opened a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist for the Wild (71 points), who remain one point out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin led his club to a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

The Flyers jumped to a 4-0 lead and cruised to a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers. They scored three goals in the first period, two on the power-play and one shorthanded. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allowed five goals on 26 shots in his first start since Feb. 3. The Flyers (83 points) opened a three-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers (74 points) are four behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the slumping Vancouver Canucks 5-3. Zach Werenski and Ryan Murray each had two points for the Jackets (78 points), opening a three-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for the final Eastern wild-card spot. Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller each had a goal and two assists for the Canucks, who dropped into the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Cam Talbot made 38 saves as the Calgary Flames blanked the Florida Panthers 3-0. Flames captain Mark Giordano collected three assists while Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist. With 75 points, the Flames moved one point ahead of the Canucks into third place in the Pacific Division. The Panthers (73 points) have dropped seven-straight games and remain five points behind the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division.

The Los Angeles Kings upset the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Calvin Petersen stopped 42 shots while Anze Kopitar scored two goals to snap the Golden Knights’ eight-game winning streak. With 80 points, the Golden Knights remain atop the Pacific Division. Earlier in the day, they revealed winger Mark Stone is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Cory Schneider turned in a 34-save shutout and Pavel Zacha scored twice to give the New Jersey Devils a 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak are the NHL’s three stars for February 2020. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes was the rookie of the month.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2020

Alex Ovechkin continues his march up the goal-scoring leaderboard, the Leafs rebound from an embarrassing defeat on Saturday, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 43rd goal of the season and the game-winner in a 4-3 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets. Ovechkin now has 701 career goals, sitting seven behind Mark Gartner for seventh place among the all-time goal-scoring leaders. The Capitals (84 points) opened a two-point lead over the Penguins for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Jets (70 points) are tied with the Nashville Predators, but the Preds hold the final Western Conference wild-card spot with three games in hand.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 43rd goal of the season in a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets (Photo via NHL Images).

The Predators, meanwhile got third-period goals by Ryan Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson to down the Ottawa Senators 3-2.

After an embarrassing loss to an emergency backup goalie on Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs rebounded with a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Leafs captain John Tavares scored twice while Lightning captain Steven Stamkos left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. The Lightning (85 points) failed to gain ground on the Bruins, while the Leafs (74 points) hold third place in the Atlantic Division.

Mike Hoffman’s third-period goal proved the game-winner as the Florida Panthers squeaked past the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. The Panthers sit two points behind the Leafs in the Atlantic, while the Coyotes (70 points) sit just outside the Western playoff picture.

Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund each scored two goals to lead the Calgary Flames over the Boston Bruins 5-2. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask saw his personal points streak end at 20 games. The Bruins remain atop the league’s overall standings with 90 points, while the Flames (72 points) hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

The Vancouver Canucks edged the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on an overtime goal by Tyler Toffoli. With 74 points, the Canucks move into second place in the Pacific Division, two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights.

An overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad lifted the New York Rangers over the New York Islanders 4-3. The Isles hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 77 points. The surging Rangers (72 points) have won four straight and eight of their last 10 games, sitting four behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final Eastern wild-card berth.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they dropped a 5-4 decision to the Minnesota Wild. Mikko Koivu tallied twice for the Wild, who sit three points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth. The slumping Jackets have just one victory in their last 10 contests.

The Philadephia Flyers picked up their fourth straight victory and their seventh in his last 10, doubling up the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Kevin Hayes had a three-point performance, including two goals. The Flyers (79 points) hold third place in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The St. Louis Blues picked up their fifth straight victory with a four-goal third period to nip the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5. Zach Sanford tallied twice for the Blues (84 points), who sit atop the Central Division and Western Conference standings.

Dallas Stars winger Roope Hintz had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. With the win, the Stars (80 points) move one ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for second place in the Central Division. The Hurricanes (74 points) sit two points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot.

Sonny Milano scored twice (including the game-winner) in his debut with the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-3 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers. New Oilers Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis each had a goal and an assist. The Oilers (74 points) sit third in the Pacific Division. Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm left the game in the second period after suffering an upper-body injury crashing into the corner boards. Before the game, the Oilers announced winger Kailer Yamamoto would miss two-to-three weeks with a sprained ankle.

Cory Schneider made 27 saves for his first win of the season as the New Jersey Devils defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Devils center Pavel Zacha collected two assists.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2020

The Devils fire GM Ray Shero, Jonathan Huberdeau become the highest-scoring Panther in franchise history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning was overshadowed by their firing of general manager Ray Shero an hour before game time. Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald takes over on an interim basis while Martin Brodeur moved to a role in hockey operations. The Devils’ victory brought the Lightning’s 10-game win streak to an end. The Devils also recalled goaltender Cory Schneider. Winger Kyle Palmieri missed the game with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero’s firing caught many observers off-guard. Ownership didn’t cite any specific reason, other than the club’s poor record this season. With the club poised to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years under Shero, they felt it was time for a change in the front office.

Shero made several positive moves during his tenure with the Devils, including the acquisitions of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri and taking Nico Hischier with the first-overall pick in the 2017 Draft. However, his inability to suitably address his club’s defensive and goaltending issues hampered their development and led to his downfall. I’ll have more on the Devils in the Rumors section.

The New Jersey Devils fired general manager Ray Shero (Photo via NHL.com).

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau became the highest-scoring player in franchise history in an 8-4 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Huberdeau scored and collected an assist for his 420th point, surpassing Olli Jokinen as their all-time points leader. Mike Hoffman scored twice while Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and two assists. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs.

Earlier in the day, the Panthers called up goaltender Sam Montembeault as starter Sergei Bobrovsky was sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered during Saturday’s practice. Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a leg injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 61 points, Huberdeau is enjoying a career season thus far. The 26-year-old left winger is among the league’s top-10 scorers and on pace for a career-high 110 points.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat scored twice to lead his club to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. J.T. Miller picked up two assists for the Canucks, who moved into third place (54 points) in the Pacific Division. Wild defenseman Greg Patertyn made his season debut after missing 44 games to core muscle surgery.

Teddy Blueger’s shootout goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Evgeni Malkin collected two assists for the Penguins (61 points), who move within four points of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Niklas Hjalmarsson returned to the Coyotes lineup after missing 43 games with a lower-body injury.

Jusse Saros had a 28-save shutout and Kyle Turris scored the only goal as the Nashville Predators blanked the Winnipeg Jets 1-0. Predators captain Roman Josi’s points streak ended at 12 games. Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game in the first period with an injured right leg.

The Buffalo Sabres rolled to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Evan Rodrigues tallied twice while teammate Jack Eichel picked up an assist to stretch his points streak to seven games. The Wings played without goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who’s dealing with a lower-body injury.


SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety regarding his altercation with Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk on Saturday. Kassian took offense to two hits from Tkachuk, punching the Flames winger and throwing him twice to the ice.

TSN: New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was fined $5,000.00 for slashing St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn on Saturday.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Stephen Johns played his first game in 22 months with their AHL affiliate Texas Stars. Johns had been sidelined by post-concussion headaches.