NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2020

Check out the latest on the Maple Leafs and the Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons doesn’t believe Kyle Dubas should be fired, but feels the Maple Leafs general manager could be looking for work in a year if he hasn’t reversed the club’s fortunes by then.

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)

Simmons feels Dubas has to strengthen the Leafs after turning over almost half the roster last summer, weakening their depth in the process. The top of the roster wasn’t productive enough, the bottom of the roster not good enough, and the team defense was taken advantage of physically during puck battles.

Simmons called on Dubas to make bold changes via trades or free agency. He wondered if the Leafs GM will come back with goaltender Frederik Andersen next season or look for someone like Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, who Dubas knows from their days with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. He also noted there are desperate teams with salary-cap issues, roster issues, disappointed owners, or those like Pittsburgh and Nashville that have somehow lost their way.

TORONTO STAR: Dave Feschuk also wondered what Dubas has in store for the Leafs. He notes that fans and pundits are calling on the Leafs GM to trade William Nylander, or Mitch Marner, or Kasperi Kapanen and/or Andreas Johnsson. While Dubas could stubbornly stick to his plan, Feschuk suggests he needs to adjust it, pointing out the Leafs had this season’s sixth-worst goals-against per game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bloom is definitely off the Dubas rose. He’ll be under tremendous pressure to improve the Leafs this off-season.

Dubas isn’t afraid to make bold moves (signing Tavares and acquiring Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot, and Cody Ceci). The problem is those decisions failed to address the Leafs’ glaring weaknesses. He must get it right this off-season or the calls for his dismissal will grow.

The Leafs GM has limited salary-cap space to work with, carrying over $76.9 million invested in 17 players. He and his capologist were able to free up sufficient cap space last summer to re-sign Marner, but they’ll have to get more creative this year to address the club’s issues. Fixing those problems could mean moving one of the Leafs’ top forwards, or one or two of their more affordable secondary scorers.

WILD

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin knows his club is a long way from being a Stanley Cup contender. “There definitely have to be changes,” he said. “We haven’t had success here. Things need to get better. That’s just the way it is.”

Guerin indicated he’ll attempt to land a true first-line center, indicating that will likely come via free agency or the draft. “Teams don’t trade No. 1 centers. They just don’t,” he said. The Wild GM also indicated he was unhappy with his goaltending this season and didn’t rule out looking outside the organization for help.

Guerin will meet with pending UFA Mikko Koivu and intends to get started on contract extension talks with players such as Kevin Fiala. Jonas Brodin, Marcus Foligno, and Joel Eriksson Ek. He also said contract buyouts are a last resort, but Mizutani speculates Victor Rask could be a buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin took his time evaluating his roster until midseason when he traded Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh and replaced Bruce Boudreau as head coach with Dean Evason. He’ll start putting a bigger stamp on this team through the offseason.

Several good goalies are available in this summer’s UFA market, but Guerin might stick with his current netminders next season to buy time for promising Kaapo Kahkonen. The current tandem (Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock) are under contract for next season, meaning one of them will have to be moved to acquire another netminder.

There aren’t any No.1 centers available in this year’s UFA market. Guerin could draft a promising center this year but that prospect won’t address that need next season. If he can’t find help in the trade market, he could try the offer sheet route. With over $65 million invested in 17 players, that’s probably not a wise course of action.

Rask has an annual average value of $4 million through 2021-22. Mizutani pointed out a buyout will leave the Wild with over $1.33 million in dead cap space through 2023-24.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2020

The latest on the Sharks and Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHICH UFAS WILL THE SHARKS RE-SIGN?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz recently examined which San Jose Sharks’ unrestricted free agents could be re-signed and those who have likely played their final games in teal.

Will the San Jose Sharks bring back Joe Thornton for one more season? (Photo via NHL Images)

He feels it would make sense to bring back Joe Thornton if the long-time Sharks center accepts a $1 million or less salary to provide the club with salary-cap flexibility. He’s leaning toward Thorton’s return but doesn’t consider it a certainty.

Kurz wouldn’t be surprised if the Sharks re-signed Melker Karlsson but could also see him move on to another club. Having traded away a penalty killer in Barclay Goodrow, it might be worthwhile to re-sign Karlsson if he accepts a pay cut.

Backup goalie Aaron Dell won’t be back unless the Sharks can trade starter Martin Jones, but his contract makes him nearly impossible to move. Stefan Noesen will likely get an affordable one- or two-year deal. Unless the Sharks trade Brent Burns, Kurz expects the Sharks will part ways with Tim Heed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve singled out the more notable of the Sharks’ UFAs. I can see Thornton, Karlsson, and Noesen being re-signed if they’re willing to accept cost-effective deals.

Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $66 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. General manager Doug Wilson indicated he believes his club can make a quick turnaround from this season’s disappointing performance. To do so, he’ll need those aforementioned free agents to accept affordable one-year contracts or watch them depart via free agency.

UPDATE ON THE WILD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo recently reported the league’s proposed roster expansion to 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goaltenders would allow the Minnesota Wild to use Kaapo Kahkonen in the 24-team playoff tournament.

Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock are the Wild’s current goalie tandem. However, coach Dean Evason isn’t ruling out the possibility of the AHL goalie of the year becoming their starter in the tournament if he plays well in training camp. “Whoever is in there that we deem is going to play well for us in whatever position, I’m sure everybody will support him and we will go forward,” said Evason.

Russo suggested it also makes sense for Wild general manager Bill Guerin to play Kahkonen to determine if the 23-year-old netminder is ready to become their No. 1 or No. 2 goalie next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s goaltending situation could get interesting in the off-season if Kahkonen outplays Dubnyk and Stalock in the proposed return-to-play tournament. Dubnyk has one season left on his contract with an annual average value of over $4.33 million and a 19-team trade list. Stalock has two years left at a cheap AAV of $785K. Should Kahkonen prove himself NHL-ready, Guerin could be tempted to use Dubnyk or Stalock as trade bait to address other roster needs.

Russo also reported Marcus Foligno hopes to sign a contract extension with the Minnesota Wild. The 28-year-old forward will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foligno’s become an effective third-line forward for the Wild. He carries a $2.875-million annual average value on his current contract. The Wild have over $39 million invested in just seven players for 2021-22, leaving plenty of space to re-sign Foligno if they choose.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 2, 2020

The Dallas Stars defeat the Nashville Predators in the 2020 Winter Classic, John Tortorella fined again, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Nashville Predators 4-2 in the 2020 Winter Classic before over 85,000 fans at the sold-out Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Alexander Radulov tallied the game-winner over five minutes into the third period, teammate Mattias Janmark had a goal and an assist, and Stars goaltender Ben Bishop made 31 saves. Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist for the Predators.

Alexander Radulov tallied the game-winner as the Dallas Stars defeated the Nashville Predators in the 2020 NHL Winter Classic (Photo via NHL Images)

Stars winger Corey Perry was ejected early in the first period for elbowing Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis in the head. Ellis left the game and didn’t return. Perry faces a disciplinary hearing from the league’s department of player safety. He insists the incident was unintentional, and hopes Ellis will be ok.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 2020 Winter Classic was among the most entertaining games since the league began staging outdoor contests. The Perry incident aside, the game had a good pace and the crowd was definitely into it. No word on Ellis’ status, but we should learn more later today.

The Minnesota Wild will host the 2021 Winter Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis. Their opponent has yet to be determined, but reports suggest the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets have been discussed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have a natural local rivalry with the Jets, but the other three clubs could draw bigger ratings in the U.S. TV market. The defending Stanley Cup champion Blues and the upward-trending Avalanche would be better opponents than the declining Blackhawks, who’ve been in more Winter Classics than any other NHL club.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella was fined $20,000 by the league for his post-game comments about the officiating following his club’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Blackhawks. He’s also been assessed a conditional $25,000 fine which will be collected in the event of what the league calls “similar inappropriate behavior” through Dec. 29, 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon reports this is the ninth time Tortorella has been fined by the NHL. He’s also been suspended three times.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock was fined $2,000.00 for diving/embellishment during his club’s 6-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 21.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou will be sidelined two-three weeks with a lower-body injury.

WBNS: Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier is on injured reserve with a lumbar stress fracture.

TSN: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid will have a hearing with the department of player safety regarding an illegal hit to the head on Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Ivan Provorov.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2019

Game recaps, Wild re-sign Stalock, Hurricanes re-up Martinook, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Kyle Connor scored twice in regulation and tallied the shootout winner as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Boston Bruins 4-3. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron also scored two goals while linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak collected three points each. 

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor led his club to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins (Photo via NHL Images).

Conor Sheary’s third-period goal gave the Buffalo Sabres a 5-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner tallied his 31st goal of the season. 

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz made 38 saves to shut out the New York Rangers 1-0. Oskar Lindblom netted the only goal as the Flyers picked up their fifth straight win. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes re-upped winger Jordan Martinook to a two-year, $4-million deal. 

STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed backup goaltender Alex Stalock to a three-year, $2.355-million contract. The annual average value is $785K. 

NJ.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard won’t receive supplemental discipline for his elbowing penalty on Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen, opening a gash on Vatanen’s forward. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators winger Austin Watson has been suspended indefinitely without pay by the NHL and admitted into stage two of the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program for his ongoing issues with alcohol abuse.

CBS SPORTS: The Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled Mark Letestu, who’s spent the season in the minors. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens players Gerry Plamondon passed away Saturday at age 95. Plamondon was the last surviving member of the Canadiens’ 1946 Stanley Cup championship roster. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2017

Game recaps plus updates on Devan Dubnyk, Ryan Callahan, Matt Beleskey and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Facing his former team for the first time, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jon Merrill tallied the game winner in the third period. 

Alex Chiasson scored twice and Alex Ovechkin tallied his 22nd goal of the season as the Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins 5-3. Patrice Bergeron had two goals in a losing effort for the Bruins, who placed struggling winger Matt Beleskey on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Beleskey’s play (no points in 14 games) and his $3.8 million annual salary-cap hit through 2019-20 makes it unlikely he’ll be claimed by another NHL club. If demoted as expected later today, the Bruins will get $1.025 million in prorated cap relief. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their sixth straight victory with a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for his league-leading 23rd win of the season while league scoring leader Nikita Kucherov picked up his 22nd goal and 44th point. Lightning winger Ryan Callahan left the game in the third period with an injured right arm and could be sidelined for an extended period.

Oliver Bjorkstrand collected a career-high three assists as the Columbus Blue Jackets held on for a 6-4 win over the New York Islanders. The Jackets blew a 3-0 lead but surged ahead on goals by Seth Jones and Nick Foligno. Josh Bailey potted a hat trick for the Isles. 

Juuse Saros turned in a 46-save shutout performance backstopping the Nashville Predators to a 4-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Kyle Turris and Mattias Ekholm each had two points in this contest. 

The Minnesota Wild extended their winning streak to four games with a 2-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tyler Ennis and Mikael Granlund were the goal scorers while Alex Stalock got a measure of revenge over this former team by turning aside 28 shots for the shutout. Stalock was subbing for starter Devan Dubnyk, who’s listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a good start for Stalock, who will be expected to carry the goaltending duties until Dubnyk’s return, which might not be until perhaps the end of December. 

Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz each collected a goal and an assist to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-1 drubbing of the Winnipeg Jets. Corey Crawford made 27 saves for his 15th win of the season. 

Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves as the Colorado Avalanche edged the Florida Panthers 2-1. 

Tomas Plekanec scored in overtime as the Montreal Canadiens squeezed past the New Jersey Devils 2-1. It was Plekanec’s first goal in 18 games. Earlier in the day, the Devils made a minor trade by shipping forward Ryan Kujawinski to the Arizona Coyotes for forward Michael Latta.

Joonas Donskoi’s goal late in the third period lifted the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Donskoi, Timo Meier and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist against the Flames. 

Kevin Roy scored twice and John Gibson made 29 saves to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. 

The Philadelphia Flyers collected their fifth straight win by edging the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Travis Sanheim and Valtteri Filppula were the goalscorers for the Flyers. 

OTTAWA SUN: After 15 NHL seasons, all of them spent with the Senators, rugged winger Chris Neil announced his retirement yesterday. In 1,026 games, Neil collected 112 goals and 138 assists for 250 points, along with 2,522 PIMs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck to Neil and his family in their future endeavors. 

TSN: NHL Alumni Association executive director Glenn Healy met yesterday with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss improving the medical benefits for retired players. The NHL Players Association was not scheduled to attend the meeting. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 3, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 3, 2017

San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau celebrates his 500th career NHL goal.

Game recaps, waiver updates and the latest on the 2018 Winter Olympics in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Long-time San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau scored his 500th career NHL goal as his club downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Chris Tierney also scored twice for the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Marleau for his incredible achievement. He is the fifth active NHL player to score 500 goals, joining Jaromir Jagr (758), Jarome Iginla (617), Alex Ovechkin (550) and Marian Hossa (518). 

Erik Karlsson collected three assists and Matt Stone scored twice to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, who’ve won only once in their last seven games. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have tumbled to second-last in the Eastern Conference and sit eight points out of playoff contention. If they don’t reverse this skid soon, this supposed Stanley Cup contender can forget about reaching the postseason. 

Ondrej Pavelec turned in a 39-save performance and Mark Scheifele scored twice as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Dallas Stars 4-3. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored a goal and set up two others in a losing cause.  

Pekka Rinne made 31 saves while Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen each netted a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators blanked the Edmonton Oilers 2-0. 

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist bounced back from a horrible effort against Columbus earlier this week with a 36-save performance to carry his club to a 2-1 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres. Chris Kreider tallied the winner with 1:04 left in the extra frame. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inconsistency has plagued Lundqvist throughout this season. The Rangers need a steadier effort from him over the remainder of this season and into the playoffs. 

Mike Yeo got his first win as head coach of the St. Louis Blues as his club cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Paul Stastny scored twice and set up another while Colton Parayko also had a three-point performance. 

First-period goals by Patrick Kane, Ryan Hartman and Marion Hossa powered the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. It was the Hawks first win in four games. 

Matt Read’s first goal since Nov. 27 turned out to be the game winner as the Philadelphia Flyers downed the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. 

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche claimed defenseman Mark Barberio off waivers yesterday from the Montreal Canadiens.

SPORTSNET’s Chris Johnston yesterday reported “Cal O’Reilly (BUF), Eric Gelinas (COL) and Luke Gazdic (NJ) have all been placed on waivers.”

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday re-signed goaltender Alex Stalock to a two-year contract. It’s one way for the first season (2017-18) and two-way the following season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Darcy Kuemper due to become a UFA this summer, this move ensures the Wild can protect starter Devan Dubnyk. 

TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA director Donald Fehr will be meeting with International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation officials today to discuss the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this. While not much is expected from this meeting, it’s possible Bettman will use this opportunity to try and extract some additional concessions from the PA, the IOC and IIHF regarding participation in next year’s Winter Games. While the league board of governors isn’t interested in taking part, Bettman is not acting like someone who wants to fully slam the door on this issue. NHL players very much want to take part so Fehr’s presence also lends an interesting level of intrigue to the proceedings. 

TORONTO SUN: Chris Pronger jokingly said he’s fined himself five dollars for squashing pop star Justin Bieber against the glass during the celebrity exhibition game during the recent All-Star weekend. Pronger works with the NHL’s department of player safety. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was worth every penny for that now-iconic photo.