NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2024

The Oilers win their 15th straight game, Steven Stamkos and Brad Marchand reach notable milestones, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers picked up their 15th consecutive win by blanking the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0. Calvin Pickard turned in a 27-save shutout while Connor McDavid scored twice and collected an assist for the 28-15-1 Oilers, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 57 points. Petr Mrazek stopped 31 shots for the 14-33-2 Blackhawks as they dropped into last place in the overall standings with 30 points.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist to reach his 1,100th career NHL point in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Nikita Kucherov regained first place in the scoring race (83 points) with a goal and two assists for the Lightning (26-18-5), who sit third in the Atlantic Division with 57 points. Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist for the 23-21-3 Coyotes (49 points) as they sit four points out of the final Western Conference playoff berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos is the 29th player in NHL history to record 1,100 points with a single team and the sixth active player to do so, joining Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane (Chicago) and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar.

The Boston Bruins blew a 2-0 lead but defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brad Marchand. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist while Jeremy Swayman turned aside 35 shots for the 30-9-9 Bruins, who hold first place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points. Thomas Chabot had a goal and an assist for the 18-24-2 Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are tied with the Vancouver Canucks in points but the latter holds first place in the overall standings with 32 wins.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Alex Lyon made 30 saves to shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0. Dylan Larkin scored to extend his points streak to 10 games as the Red Wings (25-18-5) hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 55 points. Samuel Ersson made 14 saves on 17 shots for the 25-18-6 Flyers as they’ve dropped four straight but remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 56 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Wings sent goalie Ville Husso to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint. This is a positive sign that he could soon return to action as he’s missed the past 16 games with a lower-body injury.

The Carolina Hurricanes held off the New Jersey Devils 3-2 for their 10th win in their last 13 games. Teuvo Teravainen had a goal and an assist for the 27-15-5 Hurricanes (59 points) as they hold a three-point lead over the Flyers in second place in the Metro Division. Jesper Bratt scored to collect his team-leading 49th point for the 24-19-3 Devils (51 points) as they sit four points behind the Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Devils winger Ondrej Palat returned to action after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. They also placed forward Jack Hughes on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 5 and placed defenseman Dougie Hamilton (torn pectoral) on long-term injury reserve. The latter move enables the Devils to exceed the salary cap by over $6.7 million, which will allow them to add a player or two by the March 8 trade deadline. They’re believed to be in the market for a goaltender and perhaps a defenseman.

An overtime goal by Thomas Harley left the Dallas Stars to a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Miro Heiskanen scored for the 29-13-6 Stars in his first game since being sidelined by an injury on Jan. 4. With 64 points, the Stars sit third in the Central Division. John Gibson made 40 saves for the 16-30-2 Ducks.

The Nashville Predators scored three third-period goals to nip the Minnesota Wild by a score of 3-2. Roman Josi had a goal and an assist while Ryan O’Reilly collected two assists for the 26-21-1 Predators, who hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 53 points. Kirill Kaprizov collected two assists while Joel Eriksson Ek tallied his 21st goal of the season for the 21-22-5 Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Wild acquired defenseman Will Butcher from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Maxim Cajkovic. Butcher will report to the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa.

Montreal Canadiens center Sean Monahan scored twice and collected an assist in a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield had a goal and an assist while Sam Montembeault kicked out 43 shots for the 20-21-7 Canadiens as they blew a 3-0 lead until Monahan’s game-winning goal. Noah Dobson collected three assists while Mathew Barzal, Bo Horvat and Kyle Palmieri had a goal and an assist for the 20-17-11 Islanders (51 points) as they sit four points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher is expected to face supplemental discipline after receiving a match penalty for elbowing Isles defenseman Adam Pelech in the head. Pelech, who has a history of concussions, left the game and didn’t return. After winning their first game under new head coach Patrick Roy, the Isles have dropped two straight games.

The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Calgary Flames 5-2. Adam Fantilli, Yegor Chinakhov and Damon Severson each had a goal and an assist for the 14-23-9 Blue Jackets. Connor Zary and MacKenzie Weegar replied for the 21-22-5 Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oliver Kylington returned to action for the Flames for the first time since May 2022 as he dealt with mental health challenges…Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Blue Jackets forward Jack Roslovic…Calgary forward A.J. Greer left this game with an injured left leg…Earlier in the day, the Flames lost Adam Ruzicka and Nick DeSimone to waivers. The Arizona Coyotes claimed Ruzicka while the New Jersey Devils picked up DeSimone.

Turning to the Blue Jackets, they activated Zach Werenski off injured reserve and demoted David Jiricek to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland. Werenski collected an assist in this game.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2024

A look at the goalie market plus the latest on Jake Guentzel and Steven Stamkos in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

WHAT DOES THE NHL GOALIE MARKET LOOK LIKE?

NHL NETWORK: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman looked at how the goaltender market is shaping up ahead of the March 8 trade deadline.

Friedman noted that it’s now common knowledge that the relationship between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Elvis Merzlikins has gone sideways. He thinks most clubs weren’t surprised by this and probably already knew he was available.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (NHL Images).

Merzlikin’s contract ($5.4 million average annual value through 2026-27) would be a complicated trade. There’s a price for the goalie as well as a price to convince the Blue Jackets to retain part of his salary.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there are no takers for Merzlikins right now. That’s in part because of his contract but he also has to improve his play to reignite his market value before the trade deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline acknowledged those factors raised by Friedman and LeBrun. Nevertheless, he listed the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks as four potential trade destinations.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: James Nichols examined the pros and cons of whether Merzlikins would be a good fit with the Devils. However, he cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli expressing his doubts that the Blue Jackets will be able to move the goaltender for the same reasons as noted by Friedman and LeBrun.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch pointed out that not many teams can afford Merzlikin’s contract and it’s unlikely the Blue Jackets will retain any part of it. “We’re told the market is thin because teams with goaltending issues aren’t sure Merzlikins is the answer.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To be blunt, Merzlikins is not the answer. He’s done nothing over the past two seasons that would make any club want to pony up assets to add him to their roster and salary-cap payroll.

That could change if Merzlikins gets more starts in the coming weeks and performs well. That could prompt a desperate general manager to take a chance. For now, I don’t see a market for his services.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun spoke with Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin about whether they’d consider moving Marc-Andre Fleury if some teams were to call about him. Guerin said his club hasn’t given up on making the playoffs but he acknowledged that he expects teams to call if his club falls out of the race. He’d have to go to Fleury and his agent because he’s got a no-movement clause.

LeBrun noted there are some obvious destinations for Fleury. He cited teams with goalie issues like the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes. He also suggested the Edmonton Oilers as a mentor for Stuart Skinner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like that could be a conversation for when the All-Star break ends on Feb. 6.

NHL NETWORK: Friedman repeated what he said on Saturday about Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom. They haven’t gone to him with any trade proposals yet plus they’ve set a high bar with their asking price. Markstrom also has a full no-movement clause.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes indicated that he might retain Jake Allen for the remainder of this season. Friedman believes Hughes has set a price on the 33-year-old goaltender and won’t move him until someone meets it.

Friedman also believes that’s the same situation going on with the Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson. There’s a price for Gibson and a price if an interested club wants the Ducks to retain part of his $6.4 million annual salary.

The Los Angeles Kings could be one of the teams in the market for help between the pipes. They lost backup Pheonix Copley for the season to a knee injury and brought in Aaron Dell on a PTO contract. Friedman also believes the New Jersey Devils have been looking around in the trade market for a netminder. He wonders just how big they want to go.

WHAT NEXT FOR STAMKOS AND THE LIGHTNING

NHL NETWORK: Friedman noted that Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois said yesterday that Steven Stamkos won’t be traded this season. He said that it’s not a secret that Stamkos wants to play out his career in Tampa Bay. Friedman doesn’t think it’s been easy for the Lightning captain to see some of his teammates getting taken care of a year before their contracts expired.

Teams are interested in Stamkos but everyone is operating from the position that he wants to remain with the Lightning.

TSN: Chris Johnston also noted that the Lightning already have over $41 million invested in nine forwards for 2024-25. Even with a rising salary cap, the math will be difficult here. He believes there is a mutual desire to get things done but it’s one of the issues lingering beneath the surface.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The combination of what next season’s salary cap will look like combined with Stamkos’ level of performance at this stage in his career are what I believe are the reasons why he didn’t get a contract extension last year.

It will come down to how much of a pay cut Stamkos is willing to accept to finish his career in Tampa Bay and for how long.

LATEST ON GUENTZEL

NHL NETWORK: Elliotte Friedman believes the determining factor in Jake Guentzel’s contract talks with the Pittsburgh Penguins could be where management thinks the club is going. He thinks GM Kyle Dubas is trying to rebuild a club that doesn’t have a lot of young assets while at the same time trying to satisfy veterans like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

Friedman thinks the Penguins are reluctant to trade any of their young assets for short-term fixes.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun doesn’t rule out the possibility of Guentzel getting a contract extension before March 8. However, he wondered if that would be the wise move given the club’s aging core. He thinks trading the winger would be a tougher call but the right one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Penguins slide out of contention perhaps that decision becomes easier for Dubas. As Friedman and LeBrun pointed out, even if they make the playoffs they lack the depth to contend for the Stanley Cup.

Guentzel will have to weigh carefully that the Penguins’ future could involve a rebuild and if he’s willing to be part of that. Dubas will also have to consider if there is a place for Guentzel in his plans.










NHL Morning Coffee Headline – January 17, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headline – January 17, 2024

The Oilers set a franchise winning streak record, the Jets regain first place in the overall standings, the Lightning aren’t trading Steven Stamkos, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2, setting a franchise record with their 11th straight win. Ryan McLeod and Evan Bouchard each had a goal and an assist while Stuart Skinner stopped 25 shots for the 24-15-1 Oilers, who hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 49 points. Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 34th goal of the season for the Leafs (21-13-8) as they sit third in the Atlantic Division with 50 points.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor (NHL Images).

A 4-2 victory by the Winnipeg Jets over the New York Islanders vaulted them over the Vancouver Canucks into first place in the overall standings with a record of 29-10-4 (62 points). Jets winger Kyle Connor scored in his first game after missing 17 games with an injured knee while Connor Hellebucyk got the win with a 35-save performance. Anders Lee tallied twice for the 19-15-6 Islanders (48 points), who have dropped five of their last six games and remain one point out of the final wild-cards spot in the Eastern Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets played very well in Connor’s absence but the return of their most talented scorer will only make them stronger. They have the same amount of points as the Canucks but hold a game in hand. Meanwhile, the slumping Isles were without forward Pierre Engvall as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche scored five unanswered goals to overcome the Ottawa Senators 7-4. Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists to tie Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov for the league-scoring lead with 72 points. Mikko Rantanen scored two goals and Samuel Girard collected three assists for the 29-13-3 Avalanche (61 points), who sit one point behind the Jets and Canucks in the Western Conference standings. Brady Tkachuk and Claude Giroux each had three assists for the 15-24-0 Senators.

New York Rangers winger Blake Wheeler scored two goals in a 5-2 win over the Seattle Kraken. Kaapo Kakko scored his first goal since returning from injury while Igor Shesterkin turned aside 29 shots for the Rangers (28-13-2) as they hold first place in the Metropolitan Division with 58 points. Jordan Eberle and Jared McCann each had a goal and an assist for the 19-16-9 Kraken (47 points) as they remain two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Kraken placed goaltender Philipp Grubauer (lower body) on long-term injury reserve and moved forward Matty Beniers (upper body) on injured reserve.

Three unanswered third-period goals lifted the Dallas Stars over the Los Angeles Kings 5-1, handing the latter their ninth loss in their last 10 games. Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Wyatt Johnston and Evgenii Dadonov each collected two points for the 26-12-5 Stars, who sit third in the Central Division with 57 points. Drew Doughty replied for the Kings (21-12-8) as they sit third in the Pacific Division with 50 points.

An overtime goal by Yegor Sharangovich gave the Calgary Flames a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist while Dan Vladar turned aside 23 shots for the 21-18-5 Flames as they moved to within two points of the final Western wild-card spot with 47 points. Sean Durzi had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes (21-18-3) as they sit two points behind the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vladar got the call for the Flames as starter Jacob Markstrom is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. They also recalled goalie Dustin Wolf from their AHL affiliate.

Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper kicked out 24 shots to shut out the Anaheim Ducks 2-0. Ethan Bear and Tom Wilson were the goal scorers for the 21-15-6 Capitals (48 points) as they sit one point out of the final Eastern wild-card spot. John Gibson stopped 26 shots for the 15-28-1 Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury.

The Chicago Blackhawks nipped the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on a shootout goal by Boris Katchouk. Petr Mrazak made 37 saves while Cole Guttman scored in regulation for the 13-29-2 Blackhawks. Ryan Carpenter replied for the 10-31-4 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zaitsev left this game with an undisclosed injury.

Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks signed forward Jason Dickinson to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value of $4.25 million. No, this isn’t a “sign-and-trade” scenario. The Blackhawks consider the 28-year-old center to be a key part of their rebuild going forward.

Speaking of Blackhawks contract extensions, ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reports there’s mutual interest between management and Mrazek. He’s been a good fit, loves playing in Chicago and wants to stay. Don’t be surprised if he re-signs in the coming weeks.

HEADLINES

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois made it clear that team captain Steven Stamkos won’t be traded no matter what happens between now and the March 8 trade deadline.

Stamkos, who turns 34 on Feb. 7, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Last September, he expressed frustration that the Lightning didn’t engage him in contract talks, sparking speculation of his possible departure from Tampa Bay this summer.

BriseBois insisted that he still sees Stamkos as a key part of the Lightning’s future. He hopes to meet with his captain following this season to discuss his plans and where he fits with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was wise of BriseBois to stamp out any potential trade rumors that might’ve become an unnecessary distraction for Stamkos and his teammates over the remainder of this season.

Stamkos has a full no-movement clause but he hasn’t asked to be traded and BriseBois hasn’t asked him to waive it. This should also give Lightning fans some hope that their captain will remain in Tampa Bay beyond this season.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights center Jack Eichel is listed as week-to-week following surgery for a lower-body injury.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Patrick Kane will miss the club’s next two games as he’s suffering from a lower-body injury. Wings coach Derek Lalonde stressed that this injury is not related to his surgically repaired hip. The team hopes to have a clearer picture of Kane’s condition by this weekend.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 7, 2024

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 7, 2024

The latest on William Nylander’s contract negotiations, the Flames and Noah Hanifin could be renewing talks, plus updates on the Senators and Ducks in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

NYLANDER DEAL COMING THIS WEEK?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander are closing in on an eight-year contract extension with an expected average annual value of $11.5 million. The deal could be officially announced as early as Monday.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There have been reports from Friedman and his colleague Nick Kypreos since last week that the two sides were working on a lucrative long-term extension. It was believed the aim was to get the deal done before the All-Star weekend from Feb. 1 to 3 in Toronto.

So what do you think, folks? Are the Leafs overpaying for Nylander or is this the right amount? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

FLAMES AND HANIFIN STILL TALKING CONTRACT

Friedman believes the Calgary Flames and defenseman Noah Hanifin have renewed contract negotiations after they were ended earlier in the season. He didn’t think there was any chance of the two sides picking up those discussions. However, Friedman doesn’t think it’s out of the question that the two sides could reach a deal but wouldn’t put any odds on it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two days ago, Friedman’s colleague Eric Francis suggested Hanifin as the one player of their pending UFAs (the others being Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev and Dan Vladar) worth retaining.

Francis pointed out that Hanifin still wants to stay in Calgary, he’s only 26 and it would make sense to re-sign a reliable No. 3 defenseman. He also noted the two sides were close to agreeing to an eight-year extension worth $7.5 million annually until the club’s slow start brought those talks to a halt.

Hanifin will draw plenty of interest if he becomes available leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. He could fetch the Flames a solid return of futures if they opt to rebuild. Whether it comes down to that could depend on their performance over the next two months.

SENATORS CALLING AROUND FOR HELP

Friedman reports Ottawa Senators management has been calling around letting other clubs know they’re willing to try some things. They’re unwilling to move their young core players but they’re in the market for what Friedman called professional players, those who know how to play properly and take good care of themselves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch has reported since last week that Senators general manager Steve Staios is seeking a veteran for their third line who can help alternate captain Claude Giroux work with their young players.

Garrioch cited a league executive saying it’s difficult to find those types of players right now because most are on expiring contracts and the trade deadline is still two months away. Like Friedman, Garrioch also reports that Staios hasn’t yet reached the stage where he’d consider moving one or two of his young core players.

There are rumors the Senators are shopping pending UFA Dominik Kubalik. However, there isn’t much of a market for the struggling winger.

CAN THE DUCKS LAND A SCORING STAR THIS SUMMER?

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens recently suggested the Anaheim Ducks could use a player such as William Nylander to take the eventual step out of their rebuilding process.

Stephens noted that the Ducks have the salary cap space to spend this summer and they need to add a pure sniper such as Nylander. With the Leafs winger likely to be off the market soon, there aren’t many decent free-agent alternatives.

Florida’s Sam Reinhart isn’t in the same class as Nylander. Jake Guentzel could re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos is 34 and appears to be on a slow fade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens acknowledged that any chance of the Ducks landing Nylander was “pure fantasy”. He’s not wrong about what they’ll need to take the next step in their development but it doesn’t look like they’ll find it via this summer’s free-agent market.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 10, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 10, 2023

The Islanders end the Kings’ record-breaking road win streak, Patrick Kane’s first Red Wings goal was overshadowed by an injury to Dylan Larkin, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings’ record-setting 11-game season-opening win streak is over. Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s overtime tally completed a three-goal comeback as the New York Islanders picked up a 3-2 victory. Anders Lee scored twice in the third period for the Islanders as they improved their record to 12-7-7. Adrian Kempe and Vladislav Gavrikov were the goal-scorers for the 16-4-4 Kings.

Patrick Kane’s first goal with the Detroit Red Wings was overshadowed by an injury to captain Dylan Larkin as they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Ottawa Senators. During the first period, Larkin was knocked to the ice after being punched in the back of the head by Senators forward Mathieu Joseph during a scramble in front of the Senators net, laying face down for several minutes. He was helped from the game and didn’t return. The win improved the Senators’ record to 11-11-0 while the Red Wings slipped to 14-8-4 as they hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 32 points.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was no update on Larkin’s condition following the game. He’s had a neck injury before so here’s hoping this isn’t anything serious. Joseph and teammate Parker Kelly were assessed roughing minors while Wings forward David Perron received a match penalty in the ensuing scrum for attempting to injure Senators defenseman Artem Zub with a cross-check.

The Vegas Golden Knights cruised to a 6-1 drubbing of the Dallas Stars. Mark Stone, Zach Whitecloud, Paul Cotter and Nicolas Roy each had a goal and an assist as the Golden Knights (18-5-5) hold sole possession of first place in the overall standings with 41 points. Evgenii Dadonov scored the only goal for the 15-8-3 Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars center Roope Hintz missed this game due to illness.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak scored two goals and set up another in a 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Linus Ullmark stopped 31 shots as the Bruins (18-5-3) regained first overall in the Eastern Conference with 39 points. Michael Carcone netted his team-leading 13th goal of the season for the Coyotes (13-11-2) as they remain in the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 28 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins center Pavel Zacha left this game with an upper-body injury suffered during the first period and didn’t return.

The New Jersey Devils doubled up the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-2. Nico Hischier tallied twice while Jesper Bratt had a goal and an assist as the Devils improved to 14-10-1 after three straight wins. Yegor Sherangovich and Nazem Kadri replied for the Flames as they fell to 11-13-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Flames recalled forward Matt Coronato and placed goaltender Jacob Markstrom on injured reserve.

A shootout goal by Juraj Slafkovsky lifted the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Cayden Primeau kicked out a career-high 46 shots while Jayden Struble scored his first-ever NHL goal for the 12-12-3 Canadiens. Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo scored for the 11-14-3 Sabres as they overcame a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens winger Tanner Pearson left this game after taking a shot off his left hand. It’s the same hand that underwent three surgeries during last season to repair. No update yet as to his status.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored two goals and Ilya Samsonov turned in an 18-save shutout to beat the Nashville Predators 4-0. William Nylander collected two assists for the 14-6-4 Maple Leafs. Kevin Lankinen turned aside 31 shots for the Predators (14-13-0) as they cling to the final Western Conference playoff berth with 28 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Leafs announced that starting goalie Joseph Woll is considered week-to-week with a high-ankle sprain.

The Washington Capitals blanked the New York Rangers 4-0 with Charlie Lindgren getting the shutout by stopping 31 shots. Sonny Milano, Anthony Mantha, Tom Wilson and Nicolas Aube-Kubel were the goal scorers for the 13-8-3 Capitals. Igor Shesterkin made 25 saves for the Rangers (18-6-1), who hold first place in the Metropolitan Division with 37 points.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Petr Mrazek turned aside 38 shots in a 3-1 upset of the St. Louis Blues. Nikita Zaitsev had two assists for the Blackhawks (9-16-1) as they won consecutive games for the first time this season. Oskar Sundqvist scored for the Blues (13-13-7) as they sit just outside the Western wild-card picture with 27 points.

The Philadelphia Flyers got two goals from Travis Konecny to upset the Colorado Avalanche 5-2. Bobby Brink collected two assists while Travis Sanheim and Owen Tippett each had a goal and an assist as the Flyers (15-10-2) picked up their fourth straight win. Nathan MacKinnon and Josh Manson scored for the Avalanche (16-9-2) as they remain in first place in the Central Division with a one-point lead over the Stars.

An overtime goal by Nikita Kucherov lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken, handing the latter their seventh straight loss. Kucherov finished the night with two goals and an assist for the 13-11-5 Lightning as they hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 31 points. Jordan Eberle picked up two assists for the Kraken as they dropped to 8-13-7.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer left this game with a lower-body injury while teammate Justin Schultz suffered an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed this game due to an illness.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson scored the winning goal and picked up two assists to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Sam Lafferty and Ilya Mikheyev each had a goal and an assist as the Canucks improved to 18-9-1. The Hurricanes fell to 14-12-1, dropping all four games on their Western Canada road trip, prompting a players-only meeting in the dressing room following this contest.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner has been sidelined for six weeks with a broken jaw after being struck in the face by a puck during Friday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.

THE SCORE: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin is expected to miss significant time after being hit from behind by the Edmonton Oilers’ Evander Kane during Friday’s game between the two clubs. He’s listed as week-to-week. After reviewing the incident, the NHL department of player safety issued a warning to Kane.

CBS SPORTS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Benning is deemed week-to-week with a lower-body injury.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2023

More speculation on Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Flames defensemen Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, and Sharks blueliners Mario Ferraro and Marc-Edouard Vlasic in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: During their Dec. 4 “32 Thoughts” podcast episode, Elliotte Friedman wondered what would happen with Steven Stamkos if the Tampa Bay Lightning are a playoff bubble team if he isn’t signed to a new contract by the end of this season.

Co-host Jeff Marek noted that Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said at the start of this season that they need to see what the season is going to be like before opening contract talks with Stamkos. Friedman believes teams will call about Stamkos.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s still a long way to go before the end of this season. Still, it probably won’t be the last time that Stamkos surfaces in the rumor mill. For now, he’s not going anywhere.

Bear in mind that Stamkos still has a full no-movement clause that expires when his current contract does on June. 30. He’ll have complete control over whether the Lightning attempt to trade his negotiation rights during the offseason just as he would if they approached him about moving before the March 8 trade deadline. Time will tell if either possibility takes place.

The pair also discussed Calgary Flames defensemen Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev. Friedman noted that the Arizona Coyotes had shown an interest in Hanifin this year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: GOPHNX.COM’s Coyotes beat writer Craig Morgan acknowledged the rumors linking the club to Hanifin. While saying the rumor “has some legs”, he also suggested their level of pursuit of the Flames defenseman was “a bit exaggerated.”

Morgan noted that the Coyotes could use a defenseman such as Hanifin. However, if they were to acquire him, it would have to be without giving up any of their top prospects plus they’d have to sign him to a contract extension with a term and salary that would fit within their cost-conscious budget plans.

Regarding Tanev, Friedman noted a couple of people told him that they think the Flames could make another attempt to re-sign him. However, he’s not sure how likely that will be.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Maple Leafs are believed to be quite keen on acquiring Tanev to shore up their injury-depleted blueline. Whether they can pull it off remains to be seen.

Turning to the San Jose Sharks, Friedman said the Carolina Hurricanes were rumored to have taken a run at acquiring defenseman Mario Ferraro. He’s a talented young player signed for two more seasons with an affordable $3.25 million average annual value. Friedman thinks a lot of teams will be checking into his availability.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rebuilding Sharks could prefer hanging onto Ferraro if they see the 25-year-old rearguard fitting into their long-term plans. However, they could part with him if they get an irresistible offer.

Friedman also believes the Sharks want to move out Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who’s been a frequent healthy scratch this season. He’s got two more seasons on his contract with an AAV of $7 million plus there are some signing bonuses too.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only way I see the Sharks moving Vlasic (who has a three-team trade list) is if they’re willing to keep half of his cap hit as they have one retained salary slot left. Even then, they might have to include a sweetener in the deal like a draft pick or prospect.

Vlasic will be 37 in March and is a spent force as an NHL defenseman. I doubt he’ll draw much interest in the trade market. The Sharks might have to bite the bullet and buy him out next June.