What Next For the Chicago Blackhawks?
The Sabres are reportedly open for business plus the difficulty in trading Carey Price or moving Brent Seabrook’s contract in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
LATEST ON THE SABRES
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER) Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres are wide open for business and are listening to all options. They join the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings among the teams out there in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal and Hall appeared on both TSN’s recent trade-bait list and The Athletic’s trade deadline big board. Defenseman Brad Montour also appeared on both boards while Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt were other Sabres appearing on The Athletic’s list.
Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Eichel had not requested a trade. However, it wouldn’t be shocking if Adams was at least listening to calls about his captain. Given Eichel’s status among the league’s elite players, he would fetch a significant return. However, that type of move usually takes place during the offseason when teams have the cap space and available assets to move.
Reinhart could also fall into the category of an offseason move but we can’t dismiss the possibility he could be shopped at the April 12 trade deadline. The 25-year-old winger is on a one-year, $5.2 million contract and has arbitration rights this summer.
Staal, Hall and Montour are slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer. Hall has indicated he’s willing to discuss a new contract with the Sabres. Given his poor performance this season, however, Adams could peddle him at the trade deadline if he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause.
Staal must submit a 10-team no-trade list but I daresay he’d be open to going to a contender. Montour lacks no-trade protection.
COULD THE HABS TRADE PRICE THIS YEAR?
SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked if there was any possibility of the Montreal Canadiens trading goaltender Carey Price to the Seattle Kraken. Price is from British Columbia and lives in Kelowna during the offseason with his family. His wife is from Washington State and Price played his junior hockey there with the Tri-City Americans.
Engels points out the difficulty in moving Price’s contract. His no-movement clause means the Canadiens must protect him in the Seattle expansion draft. If Price agreed to waive that clause a trade would be difficult to pull off due to salary-cap implications, the current economic climate, and the way Price’s contract is structured.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, short answer: no.
Price’s struggles this season have prompted some Canadiens followers to suggest the Habs try to expose him in the Seattle expansion draft or trade him to the Kraken this summer. Engels does a nice job breaking down why that’s not going to happen. Sure, anything’s possible and perhaps a complex deal could be made to trade Price, but there are simply too many factors working against it.
COULD THE BLACKHAWKS ATTEMPT TO TRADE SEABROOK’S CONTRACT?
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Power looked at the Chicago Blackhawks options with Brent Seabrook’s contract. The 35-year-old defenseman announced the end of his playing career last week due to injuries but he hasn’t officially retired. He has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.875 million.
Because he cannot play anymore due to injuries, the Blackhawks cannot buy him out. They will place Seabrook on long-term injury reserve. They could attempt to trade the contract to a budget team that needs to reach the salary-cap minimum but Powers suspects the $15.5 million in actual salary remaining on that deal make it difficult to move. The flattened salary cap would be another stumbling block.
Powers suggested shopping Seabrook’s contract to a team already in salary-cap hell that could use his LTIR status to garner some extra cap room. It could also cost the Blackhawks a first-round pick to tempt a team into taking that contract off their hands.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Seabrook’s contract would be easier if this were a normal time when the salary cap was guaranteed to rise by $3 million or $4 million each year. But it’s not, and there might not be many teams willing to do so now.
Recaps of Friday’s games, Brent Seabrook retires, Sabres GM speaks about his club’s poor performance and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Brad Marchand scored twice and set up another to lead the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals 5-1. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist to give him 700 for his career. Capitals winger Tom Wilson could face supplemental discipline after he drilled Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in the head during the first period. Wilson was unpenalized on the play while Carlo left the game and was taken to hospital for his injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits stretching back to 2015. His previous antics earned him four fines and three suspensions totaling 23 games.
A shootout goal by Philipp Kurashev lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex DeBrincat scored twice, Patrick Kane collected two helpers and Malcolm Subban made 39 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have proven to be a handful for the Lightning in this series compared to their previous one earlier in the season. It’s indicative of how much the Hawks have improved since the opening weeks of the schedule.
David Perron’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Mike Hoffman’s overtime winner as the St. Louis Blues edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Perron scored twice while Ryan O’Reilly assisted on every Blues goal. The Kings have dropped four straight.
The Colorado Avalanche got an overtime goal by Valeri Nichushkin to nip the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Avs center Nathan MacKinnon remained sidelined by an apparent head injury suffered during Wednesday’s game against San Jose. He received clearance to play but was a late scratch to avoid further injury. Head coach Jared Bednar believes MacKinnon could miss a couple of more games.
A three-goal first period powered the Minnesota Wild to a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Jordan Greenway and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist while Kirill Kaprizov and Marcus Foligno both collected two assists.
Max Pacioretty scored in overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist. Vegas goalie Oscar Dansk made 24 saves to pick up his first win since 2017.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announced his playing career is over due to injuries. The 35-year-old blueliner’s last game was Dec. 15, 2019, after which he underwent surgery on both of his hips and right shoulder. He then suffered a back injury during the opening day of training camp in January. Seabrook finishes his career with three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015), an Olympic Gold Medal (2010) and 464 points in 1,114 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Blackhawks and played a crucial role in their rise from league laughingstock to three-time Stanley Cup champion. He hasn’t officially retired, however, as he has three years and $15 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. He’ll remain on long-term injury reserve, which will provide the Blackhawks with a measure of salary-cap relief.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams expressed his unhappiness yesterday over his club’s poor performance. He called where the team was at this time “unacceptable”, criticized what he called a lack of competitiveness by the players, emphasized he has “full authority on hockey decisions,” indicated “everything is being evaluated” when asked about head coach Ralph Krueger’s status and claimed team captain Jack Eichel has not requested a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ statement seemed to be the club’s attempt to mollify Sabres fans upset with the club’s lack of progress. Talk is one thing, action is another. The fans are more interested in what, if anything, the current management intends to do to end this team’s decade of mediocrity.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens goaltending coach Stephane Waite said the club expected starting goalie Carey Price would struggle in January and February as he adjusted to sharing his workload this season with backup Jake Allen. Price was expected to improve as the season wore on and saw more starts.
Waite also said the long-time Habs netminder isn’t at 100 percent physically but he can still play. “He’s not hurt but he has some stiffness. He has to learn to play with the pain and that’s why we need a very good backup and that’s what we have in Montreal right now.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will further stoke debate among Canadiens fans over whether Price will ever regain his once-dominant form on a consistent basis.
THE SCORE: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s not looking to make a coaching change. Bench boss Travis Green is in the final season of his contract but Benning believes Green and his staff “have done a good job with our group”. As for trades, the Canucks GM said his struggling team has to figure this out from within as new players would have to quarantine for two weeks and regain their conditioning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, no Jake Virtanen to the Anaheim Ducks for Danton Heinen as rumored a week ago?
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are breathing a sigh of relief as they learned goaltender Igor Shesterkin suffered a mild groin strain during Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils. He had to be helped off the ice at the end of the third period when he was unable to put weight on his right leg. He’s listed as day-to-day.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Former 1980 Team USA forward Mark Pavelich, 63, was found dead in a Minnesota treatment facility. Pavelich helped Team USA upset the powerful Soviet Union squad on route to winning Olympic gold in 1980. He went on to spend six seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, tallying 329 points in 355 games.
Pavelich was arrested in 2019 and charged with a violent assault on his neighbor but was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Family and friends believe his condition was linked to head trauma suffered during his playing career. He was receiving treatment for his condition and was believed to be making progress at the time of his death.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Pavelich’s family, friends and former teammates.
Recaps of Monday’s games, stars of the week, additional Sabres, Devils and Wild game postponed by COVID-19 protocols, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz picked up his 850th career win as his club blanked the New York Rangers 2-0. Trotz moves past Ken Hitchcock into third on the list of all-time career victories by NHL coaches. Semyon Varlamov picked up the shutout with a 30-save performance while Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin were the goal scorers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Trotz on his milestone. He’s 81 victories behind Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, who’s second with 931. Scotty Bowman is the all-time leader with 1,244 wins.
The Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Jack Roslovic’s third-period goal, but it was Patrik Laine’s benching that garnered headlines. The Jackets winger didn’t play in the final 26:19 of the game. Head coach John Tortorella said the benching wasn’t about one play but was “part of the process of understanding our team concept, how we do things here, the discipline of being a pro.” Laine had no shots and had a plus-minus of minus-1 during his 11:14 of ice time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Welcome to playing under Tortorella, Patrik Laine. Torts’ critics will suggest this might force the recently-acquired winger to reconsider re-signing with the Jackets as a restricted free agent this summer. However, Laine will adjust and adapt to his new coach and his system. As long as he’s getting first-line minutes and scoring opportunities, he’ll do whatever Tortorella wants him to do on the ice.
Auston Matthews extended his goal streak to eight games and collected his 300th career point by scoring the game-winner in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Frederik Andersen made 31 saves for the win.
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 27 saves in his season debut in a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Leon Draisaitl (two points) and Connor McDavid (one point) extended their points streaks to 10 games. Smith was activated off long-term injury reserve earlier this week.
The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their win streak to five games by beating the Nashville Predators 4-1. Anthony Cirelli scored twice for the Lightning. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed center Ryan Johansen (upper body) on injured reserve. He’s listed as week-to-week.
Clayton Keller’s game-tying goal in the final second of regulation set the stage for Christian Dvorak’s shootout winner as the Arizona Coyotes nipped the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper kicked out 40 shots in regulation and overtime. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and collected an assist.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 7.
The NHL also postponed additional games for the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild because of COVID-19. A decision on when these teams can resume practice and their game schedule will be made in the coming days.
The number of Wild players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list grew to 11 with the additions of Victor Rask and Carson Soucy on Monday. Wild general manager Bill Guerin confirmed one staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus.
NJ.COM: The Devils have a league-leading 19 players on the protocol list as Connor Carrick, Nico Hischier and Sami Vatanen were added on Monday.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Yerdon reports Rasmus Dahlin joined the Sabres’ list, raising their number to nine players. Two linesmen who worked the Sabres-Devils game when the outbreak is believed to have taken place have also entered protocols.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The growing number of sidelined players and game postponements is raising concerns over the league’s handling of its COVID-19 protocols and of the effects upon the schedule.
The league remains intent on maintaining its 56-game schedule and making up those postponed games. However, some critics are calling for a league-wide postponement until the COVID curve is flattened or reduced but that’s unlikely to happen. Some suggest the schedule could be shortened in order to meet the May 9 completion of the regular season while others believe that the end date could be pushed forward toward late May or early June.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman expressed concern for Brent Seabrook. The 35-year-old defenseman remains sidelined by a back injury and there’s no timetable for his return. The Blackhawks also announced defenseman Adam Boqvist has come off the COVID-19 protocol list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowman indicated Seabrook’s back injury occurred prior to training camp. It appears to be the result of several injuries he played through and underwent surgery for last season.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs confirmed winger Wayne Simmonds suffered a broken wrist during Saturday’s game against the Canucks and will be sidelined for at least six weeks.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals got some good news as Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Samsonov and Justin Schultz returned to practice on Monday. Kuznetsov and Samsonov were taken off the COVID protocol list. Schultz was recovering from a facial injury suffered on Jan. 28.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin returned to practice yesterday following a one-game team disciplinary suspension for being late for practice on Saturday. Khudobin downplayed the incident, saying he had a good conversation with head coach Rick Bowness and accepted his punishment.
Recaps of Thursday’s action and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid had a hat trick and Leon Draisaitl had four assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored twice for the Oilers and added an assist while Mikko Koskinen made 38 saves for the win. The Oilers peppered Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko with 46 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins seemed determined to make amends for their unproductive efforts in the Oilers’ 5-3 loss to the Canucks the night before. They were the best players on the ice in this game.
Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as his club edged the Calgary Flames 4-3. Kyle Connor had a goal and two assists for the Jets. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm replied for the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine doesn’t appear to be troubled by the trade rumors dogging him since last fall. If this game is any indication, the 22-year-old sniper could have one of the best seasons of his career.
The New York Islanders spoiled the NHL debut of Alexis Lafreniere by blanking the New York Rangers 4-0. Anders Lee scored twice while Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves for the shutout. Rangers center Mika Zibanejad played over 19 minutes after recovering from COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lafreniere, the first-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, saw 15:21 of ice time with one shot on goal and a two-minute hooking penalty that led to Lee’s second goal. Overall, the Rangers played poorly in this contest as the Isles took an early 3-0 lead and never looked back.
Peter Laviolette picked up his first win as head coach of the Washington Capitals as his club hung on to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 6-4. T.J. Oshie had a three-point night (one goal, two assists), Alex Ovechkin collected two assists while Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson each had a goal and an assist. Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist in his debut with the Sabres while teammate Eric Staal left the game in the third period after he was hit in the head by the Capitals’ Nic Dowd. Staal is listed as day-to-day.
Brad Marchand opened the scoring and ended it with a shootout goal as the Boston Bruins nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Devils center Jack Hughes collected two assists while teammate Mackenzie Blackwood made 35 saves.
Filip Forsberg snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period as the Nashville Predators went on to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. Juuse Saros kicked out 29 shots for the Predators.
Mark Stone scored a goal and set up another in his first game as Vegas Golden Knights captain, leading them to a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Alex Pietrangelo had a team-leading 25:40 of ice time and collected an assist in his debut with the Golden Knights. Max Comtois scored twice for the Ducks.
A shootout goal by Logan Couture gave the San Jose Sharks a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Sharks had a 3-1 lead in the third but the Coyotes rallied to tie it on goals by Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel. Tomas Hertl scored twice for the Sharks and picked up an assist while teammate Evander Kane had a goal and two assists.
Kirill Kaprizov made an impressive NHL debut with two assists and a breakaway overtime goal to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar each had two points for the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov was the star of the game as he seemed to have little difficulty adjusting to the NHL pace. He’s among the top rookies for watch in this season’s race for the Calder Memorial Trophy.
The Carolina Hurricanes opened their season by shutting out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Dzingel and Andrei Svechnikov were the goal scorers while Petr Mrazek made 14 saves for the shutout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes’ margin of victory would’ve been larger if not for a 40-save performance by Wings goalie Thomas Greiss, who got little help from his teammates in this contest.
IN OTHER NOTABLE NEWS…
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks placed Jonathan Toews (illness) and Kirby Dach (wrist surgery) on long-term injury reserve and placed defenseman Brent Seabrook (back) on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews going on LTIR indicates his mysterious illness will keep him out of the lineup much longer than anticipated.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Sammy Blais received a two-way suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews on Wednesday. Toews left the game but returned and afterward said he suffered no lingering effects from the hit.
TSN: The Carolina Hurricanes placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers yesterday just two days after claiming him from the Edmonton Oilers.
CBS SPORTS: The Sharks placed defenseman Radim Simek (undisclosed) on injured reserve.
Recaps of the first games of the season, the Golden Knights and Red Wings name their new captains, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Morgan Rielly scored in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. William Nylander scored twice and collected an assist while John Tavares had a goal and two assists. Josh Anderson scored twice for the Canadiens and teammate Jonathan Drouin had three assists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A close, fast-paced contest between these long-time rivals. Some observers credit Wayne Simmonds’ fight with Ben Chiarot as the turning point when the Leafs were down 3-1 in the second period, but it was penalties by Anderson and Nick Suzuki leading to two Toronto goals that changed the course of the game.
The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled their 2019-20 Stanley Cup championship banner before thumping the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos led the way with a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without defenseman Brent Seabrook, who missed training camp with a back injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos showed no lingering effects from the surgery he underwent in the offseason to address the core muscle injury that sidelined him for all but one game in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Joel Farabee scored and collected three assists to lead the Philadelphia Flyers over the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. Michael Raffl snapped a 3-3 tie with the game-winner in the third period. Flyers forward Nolan Patrick scored in his first game since missing last season to migraines. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied his first goal of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers exploited the Penguins’ sloppy defensive play throughout this game, especially in the third period.
Two third-period goals by Brock Boeser helped the Vancouver Canucks down the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Braden Holtby made 28 saves in his Canucks’ debut as he and his teammates successfully killed four Oilers power-play opportunities.
St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist scored two goals and Robert Thomas collected two assists as their club rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues played without offseason acquisition Mike Hoffman as he missed the game due to a work visa issue. They also placed winger Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery) on long-term injury reserve.
THE SCORE: The NHL revealed 22 players on 16 different clubs were unavailable for the start of the season due to COVID-19 protocols. They include Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets center Mikko Koivu, Oilers winger James Neal, Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, Canucks forward J.T. Miller and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers.
TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 in December. He said he’s feeling fine and has fully recovered from the coronavirus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reminder that no one is immune from COVID-19. We’re bound to see more instances of positive tests over the course of this season. The best the league can do is take the necessary steps to limit exposure and spread of the coronavirus.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights announced winger Mark Stone was named their first captain in franchise history.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings named center Dylan Larkin as their 37th captain in franchise history and the first since Henrik Zetterberg retired in 2018.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a foregone conclusion Larkin would get the Wings’ captaincy but the Golden Knights played coy about naming their first full-time captain. Fine choices by both clubs.
TSN: The Washington Capitals signed goaltender Craig Anderson to a one-year, $700K contract and placed him on waivers yesterday for the purpose of placing him on their taxi squad if he clears.
CBC SPORTS: The Jets signed forward Trevor Lewis to a one-year, $750K contract.
CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers signed Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way deal and placed him on waivers yesterday. He’ll join their taxi squad if he clears.