NHL Rumor Mill – July 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 15, 2021

The Lightning face some tough decisions this summer, the latest Vladimir Tarasenko speculation and updates on the Flames, Islanders and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LIGHTNING FACE DIFFICULT OFFSEASON DECISIONS

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning could face some tough decisions this summer to become salary-cap compliant for next season. They’re sitting above the $81.5 million cap by $3.5 million.

The Lightning has several players (Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde) with market value. Sources say all of them will receive interest so moving one of them wouldn’t be a salary dump.

General manager Julien BriseBois said he’s had discussions with the Seattle Kraken about a side deal. He doesn’t intend to ask any of his players with no-movement clauses to waive them for the upcoming expansion draft.

BriseBois has no plans to buy out anyone. That includes Tyler Johnson, who won’t be easy to move with three years left on his contract and an annual average value of $5 million. He also admitted it’s possible forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow depart via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning has 17 players under contract for next season. They could be looking at trying to clear over $10 million to leave enough wiggle room under the cap to fill out the rest of their lineup and still leave room for other moves if necessary during next season.

They’ll have to shed even more if they want to keep Coleman, Goodrow and fellow UFA David Savard. That doesn’t seem likely. Rumor has it the Bruins will push hard to sign Goodrow when the free-agent market opens.

Could the Tampa Bay Lightning ask Steven Stamkos to waive his NMC to accept a trade? (NHL Images)

Smith’s colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if BriseBois might approach captain Steven Stamkos about waiving his no-movement clause for a trade. There was talk last fall Stamkos’ camp was approached but the answer was no. LeBrun thinks there could be another conversation about it but I don’t think Stamkos wants to consider it. He took less than market value to stay with the Lightning and could be determined to stay put for the duration.

BriseBois could attempt to find more cap flexibility by acquiring a player or two on permanent long-term injury reserve. That’s what he did last December by shipping Braydon Coburn and Cedric Paquette to the Ottawa Senators for the contracts of Marian Gaborik and Anders Nilsson.

LATEST TARASENKO SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Vegas Golden Knights, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers are believed on the list of trade destinations Vladimir Tarasenko provided to the St. Louis Blues.

The Lightning are believed to be Tarasenko’s top preference but they’re already well over the salary cap for next season. The Rangers are an option but GM Chris Drury might want to move Chris Kreider in the deal. That could prove difficult, in part because of the winger’s no-movement clause.

Rutherford thinks the Islanders could also be a possible landing spot. However, they might not be willing to part with defenseman Noah Dobson. The Bruins could be unwilling to give up a first-round pick while the Flyers might not give up prospect Morgan Frost. There’s also speculation about a one-for-one swap with the Capitals for Evgeny Kuznetsov but he’s had off-ice issues and carries a $7.8 million cap hit for four more seasons.

It’s believed the Blues have an interest in Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. However, the Flames aren’t on Tarasenko’s list. The Flames aren’t looking to move Tkachuk this summer but Rutherford speculates they might be forced to next summer if he doesn’t want to sign a long-term deal with the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of interesting stuff here. The Rangers’ focus could be more on Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The Islanders have limited cap space and are trying to free up room to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Not saying they couldn’t use a scorer like Tarasenko but they’ll have to make room by perhaps moving out a forward such as Jordan Eberle.

The Golden Knights are more interested in shoring up their depth at center. The Bruins’ focus is on improving the left side of their blueline and re-signing Taylor Hall and perhaps Tuukka Rask and David Krejci. The Flyers are focused on adding a top-pairing right-side defenseman such as Columbus’ Seth Jones or Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.

It’ll take quite a display of salary-cap gymnastics by the Lightning to squeeze Tarasenko into their limited payroll for next season. Kuznetsov’s personal baggage and cap hit screams “buyer, beware!” The Panthers could use a reliable right-side scorer but GM Bill Zito might prefer the Blues retain some salary in a Tarasenko deal.

I’m not suggesting Tarasenko won’t be traded. However, his injury history and $7.5 million AAV for the next two seasons make it tough to find a suitable deal.

UPDATES ON THE FLAMES, ISLANDERS AND FLYERS

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving quashed a recent rumor suggesting winger Matthew Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary. “There’s nothing to it,” said Treliving. He’s also touched base with other clubs to gauge interest in several of his players coming off disappointing seasons.

Contract extension talks have begun between Treliving and the agent for Johnny Gaudreau. The winger’s limited no-trade clause kicks in on July 28, prompting some to suggest he’d have to be moved before then if a new deal cannot be reached.

Team captain Mark Giordano appears a prime candidate to be snapped up by the Seattle Kraken in next week’s expansion draft. The Flames could leave him unprotected. Discussions between Giordano and Treliving on the subject are continuing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giordano, 37, has a year remaining on his contract. He could be exposed if Treliving opts to protect just three defensemen as expected. Perhaps Treliving is working on a side deal with the Kraken to have them pass over Giordano for someone else on the Flames’ unprotected list.

DAILY FACEOFF: Cam Lewis cited The Athletic’s Arthur Staple recently reporting two league sources said the New York Islanders are shopping Nick Leddy. They’re hoping to get something for the 30-year-old defenseman rather than lose him in next week’s expansion draft to the Kraken for nothing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leddy still has some value as a second-pairing defenseman. His cap hit ($5.5 million), however, could make it difficult to find a suitable trade partner.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi reports Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher is willing to trade his first-round pick (13th overall) in this year’s draft if it’ll fetch a player who can help the club over the long term.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2021

Shea Weber faces career-threatening injuries, Jeff Skinner waives NMC for the expansion draft, Patrik Laine ties his struggles this season to John Tortorella, and the latest on Gabriel Landeskog, Steven Stamkos, Brandon Carlo and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Various injuries threaten to end Shea Weber’s playing career. The Canadiens captain could miss all of next season, if not more. He’s been hampered by foot, ankle, knee and thumb injuries in recent years. As a result, the Habs might not protect the 35-year-old defenseman in the upcoming expansion draft.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the left ankle and foot injuries are what could derail Weber’s career. He’s been dealing with those issues since 2018. His medical history creates a legitimate case for him to go on long-term injury reserve if he cannot play again. The league will make that determination and the process, which also involves Weber, his agent, the Canadiens and the NHLPA, is underway.

Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a devastating blow for Weber and the Canadiens. Despite his age, he’s been their unquestioned leader and the linchpin of their blueline. He’s played through injuries that would sideline most players but that wear and tear could be catching up with him.

Weber has five years remaining on his contract. He could retire if his ankle/foot injuries prevent him from playing again, but that would result in a huge salary-cap recapture penalty for his former club, the Nashville Predators. They matched the offer sheet Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012. Placing him on permanent LTIR would enable the Predators to avoid that penalty while also providing the Canadiens with over $7.8 million in annual cap relief if needed.

For now, it appears Weber could miss all of next season, including the playoffs. That will push the Canadiens into the trade or free-agent market for a replacement, though finding someone of Weber’s caliber will be a daunting challenge.

Weber’s status makes it unlikely the Seattle Kraken will select him if he’s left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft.

Speaking of the Canadiens, they signed assistant coach Luke Richardson to a three-year contract extension.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner has agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the upcoming expansion draft. It’s extremely unlikely the Kraken will select Skinner, who’s carrying a $9 million annual salary-cap hit over the next six seasons. The move will instead enable the Sabres to protect another player in the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per expansion draft rules, players with NMCs must be protected unless they agree to waive the clause. The deadline to ask players to waive those clauses was two days ago. Players asked to do so must reach a decision by Friday.

Speaking of players and no-movement clauses, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle was not asked to waive theirs for the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pointless to do so when you know the answer is, “Oh hell, no!” Or words to that effect.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine told a Finnish media outlet he laid part of the blame for his disappointing performance this season at the feet of former Jackets coach John Tortorella. Laine said Tortorella didn’t allow him the freedom to be creative offensively because of the coach’s desire for everyone to play a two-way game.

Laine said he understood the need for a tight system and he does what coaches tell him to do. However, he also believes they should give players the opportunity to use their strengths. “I do not even want to be like everyone else. I am who I am and do things my way. Everyone should be given the opportunity to be themselves.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what weight Laine’s comments have in his contract negotiations with Jackets’ management. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

The report also noted Laine made a disrespectful comment toward Brad Larsen (then an assistant coach) during a game this season, leading to Tortorella benching the winger. Larsen is now the Jackets’ head coach but the article cited sources saying the incident was quickly resolved with no lingering issues between the two.

THE ATHLETIC: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog is unhappy he doesn’t have a new contract yet with the club. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. “I can’t help but be honest with you that I’m a little bit disappointed that it’s gotten this far and it’s had to come to this point,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talks are reportedly ongoing between the two sides but they’re not yet close to a deal. Salary cap constraints are an issue here. The Avalanche must also re-sign Norris Trophy finalist Cale Makar and Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed defenseman Brandon Carlo to a six-year, $24.6 million contract. The annual average value is $4.1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a reasonable contract for the 24-year-old Carlo, who’s coming off a two-year deal worth $2.85 million annually. The only concern here is his injury history. He played in just 27 games this season. When healthy, however, he’s an effective shutdown defenseman.

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller announced his retirement after seven NHL seasons, citing health issues after battling injuries the past two seasons. He played 352 games for the Bruins, tallying 72 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Miller in his future endeavors.

TSN: It appears the Toronto Maple Leafs could lose two Zachs to free agency on July 28. The Leafs remain far apart in contract talks with winger Zach Hyman while all indications suggest defenseman Zach Bogosian will head to the open market.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Teddy Blueger to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $2.2 million.

THE SCORE: Lightning winger Pat Maroon admitted he was the one who accidentally damaged the bowl of the Stanley Cup during the club’s victory celebration in Tampa on Monday. He was attempting to lift the Cup and slipped on the wet stage and fell backward. It was raining at the time of the incident.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2021

The Lightning thump the Islanders to take a 3-2 lead in their semifinal series, updates on the Golden Knights and Canadiens, 18 players exempt from the expansion draft, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are one game away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final after crushing the New York Islanders 8-0 in Game 5 of their semifinal series. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each scored twice, Nikita Kucherov collected three assists, Brayden Point scored to extend his goals streak to eight games, and Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 21-save shutout.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Islanders center Mathew Barzal could face supplemental discipline from the NHL department of player safety after receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for cross-checking Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta, who was shaken up and played just one shift in the third period.

The Lightning holds a 3-2 series lead and can wrap up the series in Game 6 Wednesday on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the Lightning’s most dominating performance of these playoffs. It was also the Islanders’ worst effort of the postseason. The Bolts jumped from the gate early with three first-period goals, chasing Isles starter Semyon Varlamov from the net. Backup Ilya Sorokin didn’t fare any better, allowing five goals on 26 shots.

This loss isn’t all on the Isles goaltenders. Their teammates seemed caught off guard by the Lightning’s strong start and never really mounted much of a response.

Barzal’s frustration boiled over when he crosschecked Rutta. It could prove more costly to the Isles in Game 6 if his actions result in suspension.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights’ top forwards are struggling to score in their semifinal series with the Montreal Canadiens. Nicolas Roy has two goals, Mattias Janmark one, and that’s it for their scoring forwards. Their defensemen have accounted for the bulk of their offense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have done a good job thus far bottling up Vegas’ top scorers. They’ll have another opportunity to find a way to thwart the Habs’ tight-checking system in Game 5 tonight in Las Vegas.

TSN: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher believes the longer this series goes the more pressure falls on the heavily favored Golden Knights. “As this series goes on, we get more and more comfortable in these situations and we’re looking forward to it. We’ve shortened this series to a best-of-three,” said Gallagher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tonight’s game could determine the direction of this series. The winner will have a chance to close it out in Game 6 on Thursday in Montreal.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector weighs in on the poor quality of officiating in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mark (no relation) isn’t the only pundit raising questions about the questionable calls and missed penalties in every series thus far. We can expect this issue to be raised by reporters during NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual postseason press conference prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma expressed concern over the recent positive COVID-19 tests of Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme and Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon. He suspects they contracted the coronavirus in Las Vegas, where transmission rates are six times higher than in Quebec as health guidelines in Vegas have gone from relaxed to non-existent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of where Ducharme and McCrimmon were infected with COVID-19, the league and the two clubs must ensure their health protocols for this series remain strictly enforced. An outbreak among the players could put their health at risk and derail their series.

CAP FRIENDLY: 18 NHL players are exempt from next month’s expansion draft due to injury or career-ending illness. They include Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler, Arizona’s Marian Hossa, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg, Tampa Bay’s Marian Gaborik and Washington’s Henrik Lundqvist.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed forward Matt Nieto to a two-year, $1.7 million contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Blake Comeau to a one-year, $1 million contract.

ESPN.COM: J.T. Brown has retired from professional hockey to join the expansion Seattle Kraken as a television analyst. He played seven NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild from 2011-12 to 2018-19, finishing with 72 points in 365 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Brown in his broadcasting career.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild assistant general manager Tom Kurvers passed away Monday from lung cancer at age 58. He was diagnosed in 2019 despite being a non-smoker.

Kurvers spent 11 NHL seasons as a defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks from 1984-85 to 1994-95, finishing with 421 points in 659 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kurvers’ family, friends, former teammates and associates, and the Wild organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2021

The Lightning push the Hurricanes to the brink of elimination, the Islanders tie their series with the Bruins, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning pushed the Carolina Hurricanes on the brink of elimination with a 6-4 victory in Game 4. They hold a commanding 3-1 lead in their second-round series. The teams combined for eight goals in the second period as the Lightning rallied from a 4-2 deficit. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each scored two goals and collected an assist.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That second period was the most entertaining of this year’s playoff thus far. A lack of discipline proved costly for the Hurricanes as the Lightning tallied three power-play goals on six attempts with the man advantage. The series returns to Carolina for Game 5 on Tuesday.

Mathew Barzal broke a 1-1 tie as the New York Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 to even their second-round series at two games apiece. Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves for the win while Casey Cizikas and Jean-Gabriel Pageau padded the lead with empty-net goals. This series moves back to Boston for Game 5 on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo missed this game with an upper-body injury that is suspected to be a concussion. He remains day-to-day.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, and Minnesota Wild blueliner Jared Spurgeon are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets need Pierre-Luc Dubois to make his presence felt if they hope to overcome a 2-0 series deficit against the Montreal Canadiens. He replaced suspended center Mark Scheifele on the Jets’ top line in Game 2 but his impact was minimal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois struggled throughout this season following his trade to Winnipeg from Columbus in January. He missed four games in February with a lower-body injury. Perhaps that’s an ongoing ailment he’s been trying to play through.

TSN: Speaking of the Jets, sidelined center Paul Stastny traveled with the team to Montreal for Game 3 tonight against the Canadiens. He missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury and there’s no indication if he’ll return to the lineup for the next two games.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars center Tyler Seguin is focusing on the last phase of his rehab from last fall’s hip surgery after missing all but the final three games of the regular season. He’s hoping to be fully healthy in time for training camp in September.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild prospect Marco Rossi has resumed skating for the first time since January following complications from COVID-19. He was the ninth overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. It’s expected the 19-year-old center will be ready to report to training camp in September.










NHL Playoffs: Tampa Bay will need a lot to go right to beat surging Panthers

NHL Playoffs: Tampa Bay will need a lot to go right to beat surging Panthers

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2021

The Colorado Avalanche clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, the opening-round schedule of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs is released, plus the latest on Nikita Kucherov, John Carlson, Patrick Marleau and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record by defeating the Los Angeles Kings 5-1. Tyson Jost scored twice for the Avalanche, who’ll face the St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the upcoming 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Colorado Avalanche win the 2020-21 NHL Presidents’ Trophy (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Avalanche on winning their first Presidents’ Trophy in 20 years.

Speaking of the Blues, they completed their regular-season schedule by overcoming a 3-0 deficit to thump the Minnesota Wild 7-3. David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou each scored two goals. The Wild will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round.

The Calgary Flames downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Earlier in the day, the Canucks confirmed sidelined center Elias Pettersson (upper-body injury) will miss their remaining games of this season but he’s working hard on a healthy return for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks still aren’t revealing the details of Pettersson’s injury but it’s believed to involve a wrist or hand.

The full schedule for the opening round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was released Thursday.

It kicks off on Saturday, May 15 with the Boston Bruins facing off against the Washington Capitals. Sunday, May 16, sees the New York Islanders squaring off against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning tangle with the Florida Panthers, and the Minnesota Wild squaring off against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Monday, May 17 features the Nashville Predators facing the Carolina Hurricanes while the St. Louis Blues meet the Colorado Avalanche. Wednesday, May 19 sees the start of the Winnipeg Jets-Edmonton Oilers series while Thursday, May 20 features the start of the Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs series.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and winger Nikita Kucherov practiced with their teammates on Thursday and are expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 of their series against the Panthers. Stamkos missed the final 16 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury while Kucherov missed the entire season following hip surgery on Dec. 29.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson said he’ll be ready for his club’s upcoming series against the Boston Bruins. He missed the final two games of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Patrick Marleau plans to return for a 24th NHL season and isn’t ruling out coming back to the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 41-year-old Marleau set the NHL record this season for most career games. This season was also statistically the worst of his career with just nine points in 56 games. If the Sharks don’t bring him back he could end up seeking a training camp tryout with another club.

THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE: Tyler Toffoli has embraced life with the Montreal Canadiens following his tenures with the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks. He cited the Montreal fans and the atmosphere at the Bell Centre among his reasons for signing with the Canadiens last fall and looks forward to when fans can return to the building.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli said he wants what Montreal fans want: winning the Stanley Cup. He praised his teammates, singling out Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. He also revealed he thought he would re-sign with the Canucks last fall but they never made him a contract offer.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have received permission to interview former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant for their vacant head-coaching job. Meanwhile, Brian Leetch resigned as the Rangers’ hockey operations adviser.

Former New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk has taken on a coaching and advisory role with the club. Boychuk’s career was prematurely ended by an eye injury last season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are being sued by a former player for alleged sexual assault in 2010 by their former video coach.