NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2022

Lightning snap Panthers win streak, the Canadiens and their fans salute Guy Lafleur, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin suffers an injury, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf plays his final game, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov had a five-point performance while teammates Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman each collected four points as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Florida Panthers 8-4, snapping the latter’s 13-game winning streak. Kucherov, Stamkos and Nicholas Paul each tallied two goals for the Lightning, who sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 106 points. Sam Reinhart scored twice for the Panthers, who still maintain a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the overall standings with 120 points.

Speaking of the Avalanche, they dropped their fourth straight game by falling 4-1 to the Winnipeg Jets. Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for his 200th career victory while Kyle Connor scored his 45th goal of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The absence of core players Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Devon Toews to injury and illness has contributed to the Avs’ recent slide. The Avs could also be experiencing difficulty remaining motivated playing in meaningless games this late in the regular season.

The Montreal Montreal Canadiens honored the memory of their late star Guy Lafleur (NHL.com).

The Boston Bruins got two goals from Patrice Bergeron and Erik Haula to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3. However, this match was overshadowed by an emotional pre-game ceremony honoring the life and legacy of Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur, who passed away on Friday at age 70. Montreal fans followed the video tribute with a 10-minute standing ovation and chants of “Guy! Guy! Guy!” The Bruins (103 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lafleur meant so much to Montrealers, Quebecers and Canadiens fans around the world. The outpouring of emotion following his death is a testament to how his exciting style of play resonated with fans to this day. The province of Quebec announced it will stage a national funeral for Lafleur. His body will lie in state at the Bell Centre for two days before the funeral on May 3.

Meanwhile, the Capitals dropped a 4-3 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a shootout goal by Alex Kerfoot. Leafs star Auston Matthews collected two assists but remains at 58 goals on the season. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin left the game with an upper-body injury in the third period after crashing into the boards following a breakaway scoring attempt. The club had no immediate word on his condition. The Leafs are in second place in the Atlantic with 111 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs captain John Tavares and defenseman Timothy Liljegren missed the game. Tavares was given the night off while Liljegren is dealing with a minor issue.

Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf picked up an assist in his final NHL game but his club dropped a 6-3 decision to the St. Louis Blues. Ivan Barbashev had a goal and two assists while Vladimir Tarasenko, Jordan Kyrou and Justin Faulk each collected two points for the Blues, who sit in third place in the Central Division with 109 points. Blues center Tyler Bozak returned to action for the first time since being sidelined by a lower-body injury on March 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf is hanging up his skates after 17 seasons with the Ducks. He’s their franchise leader in points, assists, playoff scoring and games played and has been their captain for the past 12 seasons. He also helped them win their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2007 and finishes with 1,019 points. Don’t be surprised if he ends up in a front-office job with the Ducks.

An overtime goal by Dmitry Kulikov lifted the Minnesota Wild over the Nashville Predators 5-4. Joel Erikson Ek scored twice and picked up an assist while Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala each had two points. The Wild are tied with the Blues but hold second place in the Central with a game in hand. Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund each had three points as the Predators hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 94 points.

The Vegas Golden Knights’ playoff hopes suffered a blow after blowing a 4-2 lead in the third period to fall 5-4 to the San Jose Sharks on a shootout goal by Thomas Bordeleau. Nick Bonino and Timo Meier scored in the final minutes of regulation to tie the game. The Golden Knights (90 points) gained a point to sit three back of the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs each have three games remaining but the Golden Knights need the extra point a win would’ve given them to draw closer to the Stars. Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner dressed for the game amid reports he requires knee surgery but was the backup to Logan Thompson. William Carrier returned to the Golden Knights lineup for the first time since being sidelined by a lower-body injury on March 26.

The Carolina Hurricanes downed the New York Islanders 5-2. With 112 points, they’ve opened a four-point lead over the New York Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division. It was a costly victory, however, as goaltender Antti Raanta left the game with a lower-body injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes starter Frederik Andersen is also sidelined with a lower-body injury. They’re hoping to have him back in the lineup when the playoffs begin next week.

Philadelphia Flyers rookie Noah Cates scored twice and collected an assist while Martin Jones made 37 saves to upset the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. The loss leaves the Penguins (101 points) holding a one-point lead over the Capitals for third place in the Metro Division.

The Edmonton Oilers missed an opportunity to clinch second place in the Pacific Division by falling 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jakub Voracek and Oliver Bjorkstrand each had three-point performances for the Blue Jackets. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists and holds a three-point lead over the Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau for first place in the NHL scoring race with 118 points. The Oilers hold a two-point lead over the third-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific with 98 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse missed this contest as he’s listed as day-to-day with a minor lower-body injury. Blue Jackets forward Yegor Chinakhov returned to action after being sidelined by an upper-body injury since April 2.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic had a 17-save shutout to blank the New Jersey Devils 3-0. Tyler Bertuzzi had a goal and an assist.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2022

The number 13 proves to be lucky for the Panthers, the Blues extend their points streak, Sidney Crosby ties Jaromir Jagr for the second-most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers set a franchise record with their 13th consecutive win by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brandon Montour. Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists, Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots. Mitch Marner and Justin Holl scored for the Leafs while teammate Auston Matthews was held scoreless in his return to the lineup after missing three games with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers also set an NHL record for the most overtime goals in one season with 13. They have opened a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche in the overall standings with 120 points. Meanwhile, Toronto picked up a point and sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 109 points. Leafs rookie winger Michael Bunting is expected to miss some time after leaving the game with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Justin Faulk lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 to extend their points streak to 15 games (13-0-2). Faulk finished the game with two goals and an assist. Coyotes rookie winger Bokondji Imama tallied his first career NHL goal. The Blues are tied with the Minnesota Wild with 107 points but the latter holds second place in the Central Division with a game in hand.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Sidney Crosby tied Jaromir Jagr for the second-most 30-goal seasons in Pittsburgh Penguins history as he led his club over the Detroit Red Wings 7-2. Crosby has ten 30-goal campaigns and sits one back of franchise leader Mario Lemieux. Evgeni Malkin scored twice and Kris Letang had a three-point performance as the Penguins opened a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 101 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings forward Filip Zadina missed this game and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with appendicitis.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored multiple points for the fifth straight game in a 6-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. Stamkos had a goal and two assists and has 13 points in his last five contests. Nikita Kucherov also had three points as the Lightning (104 points) sit five points back of the Leafs in third place in the Atlantic Division. Predators captain Roman Josi scored to become the first defenseman to reach 90 points since Raymond Bourque in 1993-94.

The Carolina Hurricanes got an overtime goal by Seth Jarvis to nip the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Hurricanes rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov made 19 saves for the win in his first NHL game. With the win, the Hurricanes opened a two-point lead over the New York Rangers atop the Metropolitan Division with 110 points.

Speaking of the Rangers, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Boston Bruins. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist in his return to the Bruins lineup after missing eight games with an undisclosed injury. The Bruins hold a two-point lead over the Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 101 points.

Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm scored his 40th goal of the season in a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Chris Tanev collected three assists, Dillon Dube scored twice and Johnny Gaudreau collected two points for the Flames, who sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The loss leaves the Canucks’ playoff hopes hanging by a thread. With 87 points, they’re six behind the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card berth. The Stars need just one point to eliminate the Canucks from postseason contention.

Speaking of the Stars, they overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Seattle Kraken 3-2. Roope Hintz tallied twice and Jake Oettinger kicked out 30 shots for the win. Kraken rookie Matty Beniers was held pointless for the first time in six games.

The Los Angeles Kings improved their chances of securing a playoff spot by doubling up the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. Anze Kopitar, Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev each collected two points as the Kings hold a seven-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for third place in the Pacific Division with 96 points. Trevor Zegras scored to set the Ducks rookie points record with 58.

The Ottawa Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 with rookie forward Mark Kastelic scoring his first two NHL goals and Anton Forsberg making 44 saves. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield scored his 20th goal of the season and Rem Pitlick tallied twice. Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot was held scoreless in his first game since breaking his hand on March 16.

Forwards Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson each had a goal and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres extended their win streak to four games with a 5-3 victory over the New York Islanders.

San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier scored his 34th goal of the season in a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Kaapo Kahkonen got the win by stopping 27 shots.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner missed practice for the second straight day amid speculation he requires season-ending knee surgery. The Golden Knights have declined to comment and remain hopeful he’ll play tonight against the San Jose Sharks.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Cole Perfetti have been shut down for the season due to nagging injuries.

CBS SPORTS: An upper-body injury could sideline Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba for the remainder of the regular season and possibly the first game of their opening-round series against the Blues.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: The Flyers have ruled all their injured players except for Nick Seeler are sidelined for the season. That list includes Cam Atkinson, Carter Hart, Rasmus Ristolainen, Sean Couturier and Cam York.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2022

The hockey world honors the late Guy Lafleur, the Oilers clinch a playoff berth, Kirill Kaprizov establishes another Wild milestone and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

HOCKEY WORLD HONORS LAFLEUR

NHL.COM/MONTREAL GAZETTE/THE ATHLETIC/TVA SPORTS: The hockey world was in mourning yesterday following the announcement that Montreal Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur had passed away at age 70 following a long battle with lung cancer.

The hockey world honors the late Guy Lafleur (NHL.com).

Tributes poured in from around the league from current and former stars such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Alex Ovechkin, Phil Esposito, Marcel Dionne, Patrick Roy and Martin St. Louis, former teammates such as Ken Dryden, Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey, Yvon Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Jacques Lemaire and Chris Nilan and former Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman.

Lafleur was also remembered by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec premier Francois Legault and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Teams, executives and coaches from around the league sent their condolences, including Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic and Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. Sakic was Lafleur’s teammate during the latter’s two seasons with the Quebec Nordiques while Sutter played against him in the early-1980s.

The Quebec Remparts, Lafleur’s former junior team, honored his memory prior to last night’s game against the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wrote my tribute to Lafleur yesterday after seeing news of his passing. I noted his five Stanley Cups as well as his individual honors, statistical achievements, and what he meant to the Canadiens and their fans.

Put simply, he was the greatest player on hockey’s greatest team in the 1970s. A hero to Canadiens fans and admired by non-Habs supporters, Lafleur was worshipped in his home province of Quebec. He was a superstar whose electrifying style lifted fans from their seats and is fondly remembered to this day. He was also a Hall-of-Famer who always had time for his fans long after his retirement from the game. Rest in peace, Flower, you’ll never be forgotten.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers clinched a playoff berth with a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Evander Kane had a hat trick and chipped in an assist while Connor McDavid had three helpers and Mike Smith made 34 saves. Valeri Nichushkin scored twice for the Avalanche. The Oilers have won eight of their last 10 games and hold second place in the Pacific Division with 98 points. The Avalanche had lost three straight and remain in second place in the overall standings with 116 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have won 23 of their last 34 games since Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach. The addition of Kane in late January is another contributing factor to their turnaround in the second half of the season. He had 20 goals and 36 points in 39 games with the Oilers. A potential concern, however, was the departure of defenseman Darnell Nurse in the second period of this game with a lower-body injury. He will be re-evaluated today.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov became the first player in franchise history to reach 100 points in a season as he helped his club defeat the Seattle Kraken 6-3. Kaprizov scored a goal and picked up three assists while Joel Eriksson Ek tallied twice for Minnesota. The Wild hold a two-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for second place in the Central Division with 107 points. Kraken rookie Matty Beniers scored to extend his career-opening points streak to five games.

The Washington Capitals blanked the Arizona Coyotes 2-0. Vitek Vanecek made 19 saves for the shutout while Conor Sheary and John Carlson were the goal-scorers. The Capitals have won seven of their last nine games. They’re tied with the Boston Bruins with 99 points but the latter holds the first wild-card berth with a game in hand.

A shootout goal by Tim Stutzle gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brady Tkachuk also scored for the Senators while Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic notched his 20th of the season for the first time in his career.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning will visit the White House on Monday as President Joe Biden honors the club for their 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup championships.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer dismissed a report by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan citing sources claiming goaltender Robin Lehner was about to undergo season-ending knee surgery. Lehner missed Friday’s practice as a maintenance day, according to DeBoer, who also said he expected the netminder at practice on Saturday and to be dressed for Sunday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the second time this season that DeBoer has dismissed a report claiming Lehner could undergo season-ending surgery. The previous one occurred in February alleging he’d suffered a serious shoulder injury. Multiple reports claim he’s battling a nagging injury which would account for his inconsistent play this season. There’s been no confirmation of this by Lehner or the club.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers forwards Andrew Copp (lower body) and Filip Chytil (upper body) are listed as day-to-day and won’t play against the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford were both fined by the NHL department of player safety for their actions against the Lightning during their 8-1 loss on Thursday. Simmonds was fined $2,250.00 for charging Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev while Clifford was fined $2,500.00 for high-sticking Corey Perry.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: ESPN NHL analyst Kevin Weekes is considered a strong candidate for the Sharks’ general manager position. The club is conducting a search to replace Doug Wilson, who recently stepped down as GM for health reasons.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Arizona Coyotes fans should expect to pay high prices to attend the club’s home games at the 5,000-seat arena at Arizona State University. The highest price per ticket for full season-ticket holders works out to $300.00 per game (before separate ticket fees) while half-season tickets work out to $445.00 per game. The cheapest seats for season-ticket holders is $89 per game while the cheapest half-season price is $110.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s just the ticket prices. It doesn’t take into account the price for concessions, souvenirs and parking. It seems to me those tickets will be mostly sold to local businesses, shutting out the average fan and leading to a lot of empty seats in that small arena.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2022

Jonathan Huberdeau takes over the scoring race, Matt Duchene sets a Predators record, the battle for the Western Conference wild-card berths continues and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected three assists to take over the lead in the NHL scoring race as his club downed the New York Islanders 3-2. Huberdeau (111 points) sits one point ahead of Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid. Aleksander Barkov tallied a hat trick for the Eastern Conference-leading Panthers, who’ve won 11 straight games. With 116 points, they’re tied with the Colorado Avalanche but the latter holds first place on the basis of regulation wins.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Islanders honored their late Hall-of-Famer Mike Bossy with a video tribute and a moment of silence. Bossy passed away last Thursday at age 65 of lung cancer.

A shootout goal by Mikael Granlund gave the Nashville Predators a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Matt Duchene set a personal and franchise record with his 40th goal of the season while teammate Filip Forsberg tallied his 39th. The Predators sit in the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 93 points, two up on the Dallas Stars. Andrew Mangiapane tallied twice for the Flames (104 points) as they hold a 10-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers atop the Pacific Division.

A third-period goal by Phillip Danault lifted the Los Angeles Kings over the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. Jonathan Quick made 29 saves for the win as the Kings (93 points) sit two behind the second-place Oilers in the Pacific Division and five points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Vancouver Canucks’ playoff hopes suffered a setback following a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Drake Batherson and Adam Gaudette scored in the shootout to give Ottawa the win. Alex Formenton tallied twice in regulation for the Senators as they ended Vancouver’s six-game win streak. The Canucks gained a point to move into a tie with the Golden Knights (87 points) and sit four behind the Stars for the final Western wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks goaltender Jaroslav Halak left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. He won’t be traveling with the club during its upcoming road trip.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell kicked out 37 shots to backstop his club over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2. William Nylander and Ilya Mikheyev each had two points for the Leafs, who’ve won 11 of their last 13 and hold the second-best record in the Eastern Conference with 108 points. Leafs star Auston Matthews missed his second straight game dealing with what’s described as a minor injury but took part in practice yesterday with his other injured teammates.

An overtime goal by Charlie McAvoy gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, snapping the latter’s nine-game win streak. Jake DeBrusk scored and had the assist on McAvoy’s game-winner as the Bruins (99 points) moved within one point of the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division. Pavel Buchnevich and Robert Thomas scored for the Blues, who sit in third place in the Central Division with 103 points.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot made 26 saves to shut out the Montreal Canadiens 2-0. Kevin Fiala and Matt Boldy were the goal scorers as the Wild (103 points) hold second place in the Central with a game in hand. Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 28 saves in his second game of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens forward Paul Byron left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, the club announced that forward Joel Armia has been granted a leave of absence to attend to a family matter in Finland.

Speaking of the Lightning, they were upset by the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on a third-period goal by Jakub Vrana. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos collected three assists to tie Martin St. Louis as the franchise career points leader with 953.

The New York Rangers picked up their third consecutive shutout and 50th win over the season by blanking the Winnipeg Jets 3-0. Igor Shesterkin stopped 31 shots, Ryan Strome tallied twice and Artemi Panarin reached the 70 assist mark.

San Jose Sharks netminder Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves as his club held off the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 3-2 victory, snapping a 10-game losing skid. Scott Reedy scored twice for the Sharks while Jack Roslovic netted both Jackets’ goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks coach Bob Boughner said sidelined winger Kevin Labanc won’t play in the club’s final seven games. He’s been sidelined by a shoulder injury since Dec. 11. Boughner also doubted goalie Adin Hill will return to action from the lower-body injury that’s kept him out of the lineup since March 12.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t ready to hang up his skates yet. The 37-year-old Minnesota Wild goaltender said he hopes to play “at least another season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Will he re-sign with the Wild if they can afford him? Is a reunion with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the cards? Let’s get the speculation started early.

TSN: Evander Kane’s grievance hearing over the termination of his contract in January by the San Jose Sharks was held on Tuesday. He was in the fourth year of a seven-year deal with the Sharks and stands to lose over $22 million.

The Sharks placed him on unconditional waivers on Jan. 8 citing breach of contract over a violation of the AHL’s COVID-19 protocols. Kane was skating with the Sharks AHL affiliate at the time. In late January, he signed a one-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Chris Johnston reported this isn’t expected to end quickly. He points out there could be significant salary-cap ramifications for the Sharks. The outcome could take months before a settlement is reached.

THE ATHLETIC: Kane also settled a seven-year-old lawsuit filed against him by a Buffalo woman who accused him of assault while he was a member of the Sabres.

GOPHNX.com’s Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun and forward Christian Fischer will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: The Canadiens issued a statement in full support of Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur during his ongoing battle with lung cancer. They asked fans to respect the privacy of Lafleur and his family and indicated they would not issue any further comment on the matter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur, who issued a statement last week mourning the passing of Mike Bossy.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 17, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 17, 2022

The latest on Filip Forsberg’s contract talks, more speculation over Semyon Varlamov’s future with the Islanders plus an update on the Sharks in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST ON FORSBERG’S CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there was recently a face-to-face meeting between Nashville Predators general manager David Poile and J.P. Barry, who represents Predators winger Filip Forsberg. It was the first time in a while the two sides had met this way.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Neither side would comment on specifics so it’s difficult to gauge if there’s been any progress in their contract negotiations. However, Friedman considers it significant that this meeting took place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. The 27-year-old left winger is completing a six-year, $36 million contract and is enjoying a career-best performance with 38 goals and 74 points in 69 games.

I’ve speculated that Forsberg could seek over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal to remain in Nashville. Poile, however, could be reluctant to go that high or for that long when he’s already got two forwards (Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen) on long-term deals with annual average values of $8 million.

MORE SPECULATION ON VARLAMOV’S FUTURE WITH THE ISLANDERS

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently suggested the New York Islanders should lean heavily on Ilya Sorokin over the remainder of their schedule for this season to see how well he holds up. He believes that will give the 26-year-old goalie another opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a bonafide NHL starter.

Kurz also thinks that could influence what Islanders management does with veteran netminder Semyon Varlamov. While it’s believed they want to bring him back for another season, they might prefer moving him in the offseason if Sorokin proves he can handle a heavier workload. Trading Varlamov would enable them to patch holes in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov frequently surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He’s signed through next season with an annual average value of $5 million and a 16-team no-trade list.

With the Islanders carrying over $70 million invested in 18 active players for next season, shipping out Varlamov’s cap hit would make it easier to add a top-four left-side defenseman or a top-six forward via trade or free agency. However, his no-trade list could complicate things.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka believes a lack of offense is the issue the San Jose Sharks must address in the offseason. They’re 30th out of the 32 NHL clubs in goals-per-game average and last in even-strength goals.

Pashelka believes the Sharks need to add an experienced top-six winger. With limited salary-cap space for 2022-23, they’ll have to shed some salary via trades or contract buyouts to clear sufficient room to bolster their scoring.

Trade candidates include goaltender Adin Hill, forward Kevin Labanc and defenseman Radim Simek. The Sharks could also look into buying out the final four years of blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s contract, which would free up $8.8 million over the next two seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Pashelka pointed out, the oft-injured Hill is expected to be the odd man out as James Reimer and the recently-acquired Kaapo Kahkonen will be their goalie tandem next season. Labanc has slid down the depth chart while Simek’s become a recent health scratch. It won’t be easy to find many takers for those players given their current woes.

Buying out Vlasic will provide some cap relief but it will sting nevertheless because of the way the deal is structured. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll count as over $3.6 million in the first year, $1.4 million in the second, rising to $4.1 million in the third year and $5.1 million in year four before dropping to over $1.6 million over the remaining four years of the deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 12, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 12, 2022

More speculation about possible offseason moves by the Jets and the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mark McIntyre believes the Jets’ offseason priority must be repairing a defense that is “comically painful to watch.” Part of the solution could come from promising young blueliners such as Dylan Samberg, Ville Heinola, Johnathan Kovacevic, Declan Chisholm and Leon Gawanke.

Making room for those players, however, should force general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to seriously consider moving one or two of his veteran core players. McIntyre believes Josh Morrissey should be the only full-time Jets defender considered untouchable. He recommends Cheveldayoff explore peddling any one of Brenden Dillon, Nate Schmidt, Dylan DeMelo and Neal Pionk.

NBC SPORTS: Sean Leahy also recommends the Jets repair their blueline corps. He believes that will require trades as Cheveldayoff isn’t the type of GM to toss around money in the free-agent market.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

Leahy feels the Jets cannot afford to waste the prime years of Morrissey, goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele. “Maybe someone in that group is moved this summer in order to facilitate improvement elsewhere”, he writes.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck believes it seems clear that Scheifele isn’t buying into the system of Jets interim coach Dave Lowry. He wondered if a new head coach could help the center improve his performance after an inconsistent effort this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have reached a critical crossroads. They were expected to be much better after a solid performance during last season’s COVID-shortened schedule. Cheveldayoff cannot make marginal changes and expect things to get better next season. A shakeup to the roster core seems likely.

That could involve trading Scheifele but he has two more seasons remaining on his contract with a $6.125 million annual cap hit and a 10-team no-trade clause. Perhaps hiring a coach that Scheifele would respect might get him back on track but it won’t create the cap space needed to make room for younger blueliners.

Schmidt, 30, also has a 10-team no-trade clause and a $5.95 million annual cap hit through 2024-25. Dillon would be easier to move given his lack of no-trade protection and $3.9 million cap hit for two more seasons. However, the 31-year-old could be at the stage in his career where his best seasons are now behind him.

Pionk is younger at 26 and still has some prime years left in him. He also lacks a no-trade clause but his $5.875 million cap hit through 2024-25 might not be easy to move with the salary cap rising marginally for next season. DeMelo, 28, has a six-team no-trade clause but a cost-effective $3 million annual cap hit for two more seasons.

THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak was asked which of the San Jose Sharks goaltenders could be traded this season. He doesn’t see them shopping recently-acquired Kaapo Kahkonen. Veteran James Reimer would have the most trade value but wondered if the Sharks would want to ship out their best goaltender. Adin Hill would have the least trade value given his injury history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kahkonen’s not going anywhere so it’s down to Reimer or Hill. They could move Reimer if, as Masisak suggests, they get a solid offer for him, such as a middle-six forward. However, if the goal for next season is reaching the playoffs, I suspect it’ll be Hill getting shipped out for whatever they can get for him.

Asked about Evander Kane’s contract situation, Masisak indicates multiple sources suggest a resolution could be reached before teams start reshaping their rosters in the offseason. He speculates there could be negotiations regarding a settlement between the Sharks and Kane between now and a yet-to-be-determined date for his grievance over his contract termination. That would mean the Sharks would still be on the hook for part of Kane’s salary but not the full $7 million annually for the next three seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane could be receptive to a settlement. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s keen to stay with the Edmonton Oilers. A settlement of, say, $4.5 million annually could make it easier for the Oilers to re-sign him to an affordable deal.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng reports the agent for forward Jonathan Dahlen confirmed his client wants to re-sign with the Sharks. The struggling winger is a restricted free agent this summer and there was speculation he wants to return to Sweden.