NHL Rumor Mill – February 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 18, 2021

Check out the latest on the Bruins, Wild and Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE BRUINS PURSUE EKHOLM?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss’ belief the Bruins should make acquiring a defenseman a trade-deadline priority was among his five takeaways of the club’s performance at the quarter-point of the season.

Should the Boston Bruins pursue Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm? (NHL Images)

Goss expressed some concern about the Bruins’ scoring depth but felt they still need more experience and physicality on the blue line. He also pointed out Charlie McAvoy is the only Bruins’ rearguard with more than three points, suggesting they could use a blueliner who can generate some offense.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy took note of TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm could be available. With Matt Grzelcyk in and out of the lineup due to injuries, Murphy wonders if Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will try to fill that second-pairing left slot with Ekholm. Murphy also noted the Bruins’ offseason interest in Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm is a solid all-around defenseman carrying an affordable $3.75 million salary-cap hit through 2021-22. He could be a good addition to the Bruins or any other NHL roster.

The Bruins have over $4 million in projected cap space so there’s room for Ekholm’s cap hit, though it would be a tight squeeze. Depending on the Predators’ asking price, the Bruins could send them a player to free up some cap room. Winger Anders Bjork ($1.6 million annual average value) often comes up in Bruins’ trade chatter. Maybe the Predators would be interested in the 24-year-old winger if they decide to get younger.

SOME RECENT WILD SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked what it would take for the Minnesota Wild to acquire Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett or Ottawa Senators center Derek Stepan.

Russo acknowledged the Wild’s need for depth at center. Stepan’s $6 million cap hit, however, would be a concern, as would Bennett’s arbitration number this summer. The Wild have limited salary-cap space and the Flames or Senators would have to take a contract in return. Bennett’s inconsistency was also a concern for Russo.

Asked about Matt Dumba’s trade status, Russo feels the defenseman’s performance over the remainder of the season will make him more or less likely to be moved. His $6 million cap hit, his play last season and the fact that the acquiring club might have to alter their expansion draft protection list plans could make the 26-year-old blueliner difficult to move. Asked if Dumba might be a fit with the Vancouver Canucks, Russo said he got the impression the Canucks’ interest in him was nil.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with most capped-out NHL teams, the Wild probably won’t make a major move before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. They could swing a minor deal or two if necessary provided they can make the dollars fit. Otherwise, what you see is what you get with the Wild this season. Any significant moves on their part (Dumba?) could take place in the offseason before the July expansion draft.

DON’T EXPECT BIG MOVES BY THE STARS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks was asked if the Dallas Stars should use Esa Lindell or John Klingberg as trade bait for draft picks and prospects to restock their system as they haven’t seemed to develop any real NHL level talent recently. DeFranks disagreed with that premise and doesn’t believe they should shop Lindell or Klingberg. If they were to move either defenseman, he felt the package would be around NHL talent with the Stars championship window currently open.

DeFranks was also asked if the Stars would be a player in this year’s trade market. If they do become active it won’t be a big move. He also pointed out center Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop will be returning to the lineup from offseason surgeries later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have struggled to score and kill penalties in recent weeks. I daresay those would be the areas they would address if they decide to test the trade market.

Lindell and Klingberg are their top-pairing defense. They’re not going anywhere.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, including Connor McDavid tallying his 500th career point, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid collected two assists to pick up his 500th career NHL point as the Edmonton Oilers edged the Winnipeg Jets 3-2. McDavid accomplished the feat in his 369th NHL game, tying Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby as the eighth fastest player to reach that milestone. Leon Draisaitl scored twice for the Oilers, who’ve won four of their last five.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Earlier in the day, the Jets placed center Pierre-Luc Dubois on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Dubois could return to action on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 14th goal as his club nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Matthews also extended his points streak to 14 games. Alex Kerfoot tallied the game-winner in the third period. Brady Tkachuk replied for the Senators. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced defenseman Rasmus Sandin is out indefinitely with an injured foot.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice (including the game-winner in overtime) and collected an assist in the Florida Panthers 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Panthers overcame a 2-0 deficit but Vincent Trocheck tied the game for the Hurricanes to force the extra frame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau (20 points) sits among the NHL’s top-10 scorers. He’s among the key factors behind the Panthers’ strong performance this season.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen made 29 shots for his first career NHL shutout to blank the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Philipp Kurashev and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Blackhawks in their third straight victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have 22 points and sit in second place behind the Panthers in the Central Division. Neither club was expected to be in those positions when the season began. The Panthers were coming off an offseason of numerous roster changes while the Blackhawks began the season without an established starting goalie and three key players (Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Brent Seabrook) sidelined by illness and injuries.

Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists as the Vancouver Canucks rolled to a 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Braden Holtby made 35 saves while J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Ongoing power outages related to recent winter storms in Texas have forced the postponement of tonight’s game between the Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a broken thumb suffered during Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Sidelined winger Artemi Panarin and defenseman K’Andre Miller are expected to return to action tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: For the first time since Feb. 1 the Buffalo Sabres no longer have players on the COVID-19 protocol list. Casey Mittelstadt became the ninth Sabre to come off the list yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The number of players on the list has steadily declined in recent days. Eighteen players were still on the list yesterday, seven of those members of the Philadelphia Flyers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 17, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s action, the league reschedules more postponed game, an explosive report about turmoil within the Coyotes’ organization and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored with 41 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Colorado Avalanche over the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Nathan MacKinnon scored, Brandon Saad tallied a goal and picked up an assist and Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves for the win.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of the night. It could be a preview of a potential playoff series between these two clubs.

The New York Islanders extended their points streak to eight games by blanking the Buffalo Sabres 3-0. Isles rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin made 20 saves for his first NHL win and shutout while team captain Anders Lee scored twice. Anthony Beauvillier returned to the Islanders lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury.

Three unanswered goals in the third period gave the New Jersey Devils a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Mackenzie Blackwood kicked out 37 shots and Janne Kuokkanen collected three assists in the Devils’ first game since Jan. 31. Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

The Washington Capitals snapped a four-game losing skid by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1. Vitek Vanacek made 26 saves, Jakub Vrana tallied what proved to be the game-winner and Richard Panik collected two assists. Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson returned to action after being sidelined for nine games.

Jonathan Quick turned in a 28-save shutout as the Los Angeles Kings blanked the Minnesota Wild 4-0. It was the Wild’s first game since Feb. 2 following a COVID-19 outbreak. They took to the ice with five regulars (Jonas Brodin, Brad Hunt, Victor Rask, Carson Soucy and Cam Talbot) still on the protocol list.

HEADLINES

THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang reported on widespread turmoil and financial woes with the Arizona Coyotes organization. Her detailed investigation involving interviews with more than 50 people including current and former employees. Among the issues revealed were inquiries into the Coyotes’ finances (including unpaid invoices, delays in paying bonuses to players and accusations of breach of contract) and complaints of dysfunctional workplace culture.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes released a statement condemning Strang’s report, accusing The Athletic of engaging in a “harassment campaign” and questioning the reliance on what the club deemed “disgruntled ex-employees.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strang is a well-respected hockey reporter who did considerable research into this story. This wasn’t harassment, it was journalism. The issues examined in her report are serious and have been bubbling for some time. raising legitimate concerns about the Coyotes’ ownership and the club’s future in Arizona.

The NHL announced widespread changes to its schedule. Twenty-nine postponed games have been rescheduled while another six are expected to be rescheduled in the near future.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The NHL postponed a second straight game between the Stars and Nashville Predators due to ongoing power issues in Dallas stemming from a major winter storm.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, the Leafs acquire Alex Galchenyuk, three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves for the shutout while Clayton Keller scored the only goal as the Arizona Coyotes blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0. The Coyotes took four of the seven games in this series. Blues defenseman Torey Krug left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored and Josh Bailey collected two assists for the Islanders while Victor Olofsson tallied for Buffalo. It was the Sabres’ first game since their schedule was paused after Jan. 31 due to COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long layoff adversely affected the Sabres’ performance in this contest. They had nine shot attempts in the third period but none of them reached the net.

Ottawa Senators winger Evgenii Dadonov (NHL Images).

Evgenii Dadonov scored the tying and winning goals as the Ottawa Senators roared back from a 5-1 deficit to upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 in overtime. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs while teammate Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist in his return after missing 10 games to a rib injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators deserve credit for not giving up after falling behind by four goals. However, the Leafs were their own worst enemies as complacency seemed to set in after they took that big lead.

Speaking of the Leafs, they acquired forward Alex Galchenyuk from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Egor Korshkov and David Warsofsky.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Galchenyuk is on the move just two days after being acquired by the Hurricanes from the Senators. He’s now on his seventh team since 2018 and is expected to join the Leafs’ farm club because he already cleared waivers before the trade went down. He also doesn’t have to quarantine because he was still in Ottawa preparing to head to Carolina when this deal went down.

The Leafs were in the market for a depth forward. Acquiring Galchenyuk is an affordable move to bring in some additional experience.

And speaking of the Hurricanes, they tallied six unanswered goals to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3. Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and set up two others, Brock McGinn had a goal and three assists, Jordan Staal netted two goals and James Reimer made 37 saves for the win.

The Florida Panthers held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4, handing the latter their first home loss of the season. Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Anton Stralman each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers. Alexander Volkov tallied twice for the Lightning.

Dominik Kubalik scored twice, including the winner in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Wings overcame a two-goal deficit to force the extra frame.

The Winnipeg Jets downed the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 as Blake Wheeler tallied the winning goal in the third period. Jets center Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson each scored twice for the Oilers as they overcame 4-2 and 5-3 deficits.

Johnny Gaudreau’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Flames rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead until Brock Boeser force overtime with a shorthanded goal late in the third period.

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture had a goal and an assist to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 3-2.

HEADLINES

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 14.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars postponed their game last night against the Nashville Predators at the request of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson as a severe winter storm left hundreds of thousands of Dallas residents without power.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers canceled practice on Monday at the request of the NHL as a measure of caution. The club has seven players on the COVID-19 protocol list. They are still scheduled to practice today. They’ve been shut down for a week now.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril are still nursing injuries and are questionable for Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin believes prospect forward Cole Caufield will turn pro at the conclusion of his college season with the University of Wisconsin. It’s uncertain if Caufield will play any games with the Canadiens this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield’s offensive exploits in college play and in the 2021 World Juniors have generated plenty of anticipation among Habs fans. Time will tell if he can successfully make the jump into the NHL.

THE ATLANTIC: NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Ken Dryden believes oversized upper-body goaltending equipment has changed the game and not for the better. He feels expanding the net is a viable solution.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dryden makes a compelling case. He points to golf-club technology making championship courses longer, how a lighter soccer ball now makes it possible for players to curve or drop shots around a goaltender, and how the three-point shot eventually improved scoring in basketball.










NHL’s 2021 Season Already Affected by COVID-19

NHL’s 2021 Season Already Affected by COVID-19

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s games, more changes to the schedule, the Stars scratch Anton Khudobin scratched for disciplinary reasons, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens held on to edge the Ottawa Senators 2-1 as Josh Anderson snapped a 1-1 tie early in the third period. Canadiens goalie Jake Allen made 34 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s been sharp for the Habs, winning four of his five starts with a 1.81 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. That’s caused some pundits to suggest a “goalie controversy” as Allen has better stats than starter Carey Price. We shouldn’t read too much into that unless Allen receives more starts than Price in the coming weeks.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up their first series sweep of the season by downing the St. Louis Blues 3-1. Jakob Chychrun scored twice while Clayton Keller added a goal and an assist. The Blues also lost forward Robert Thomas after he exited the game with what appeared to be an injured left wrist. Defenseman Marco Scandella also missed the game with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Blues revealed center Tyler Bozak was placed on injured reserve.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves in his 500th career NHL game as his club nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Jordan Eberle had two goals and Anders Lee snapped a 3-3 tie in the third. Penguins rookie defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph tallied his first career NHL goal. Teammate Jared McCann left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Auston Matthews scored twice to extend his goals streak to seven games as the Toronto Maple Leafs extended their points streak to seven games by thumping the Vancouver Canucks 5-1. Wayne Simmonds also scored twice but left the game in the third period with an apparent hand injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved win by the Leafs over a floundering Canucks team who’ve suffered four straight lopsided defeats. Something’s got to give for the Canucks if they don’t soon snap out of this tailspin.

Shootout goals by Troy Terry and Max Comtois lifted the Anaheim Ducks over the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Ryan Miller made 28 saves for the win while Ducks center Isac Lundestrom netted his first career NHL goal. Logan Couture tallied for the Sharks.

The Calgary Flames drew first blood against the Edmonton Oilers with a 6-4 victory in the opening game of this season’s version of The Battle of Alberta. Mikael Backlund had a goal and two assists while Sam Bennett tallied his first goal of the season. Oilers captain Connor McDavid extended his multiple-point game streak to seven with a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles Kings reclaimed Oilers goalie Troy Grosenick off waivers.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The league announced 27 games have been rescheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most involve the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. Both clubs recently had games postponed because of COVID-19 protocols.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin has been scratched from today’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks over what head coach Rick Bowness called “an internal issue that we’ll deal with internally.” Asked if this would extend beyond today’s game, Bowness said they’ll address it “one day at a time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowness shed little light on the issue other than to suggest Khudobin may have broken one of the coach’s rules. “I have very few rules, but you damn well better follow them,” he said.

It must be a serious transgression for Bowness to scratch Khudobin, who backstopped the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final last year. He’s taken over the starter’s job while Ben Bishop continues his recovery from offseason knee surgery.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski was placed on injured reserve for one-to-two weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Werenski and defense partner Seth Jones are off to slow starts this season. He suffered this injury during Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Stars.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins expect to have sidelined defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and winger Jake DeBrusk back in the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas is sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered during Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour expects he’ll return to the lineup soon.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals added forward Jakub Vrana to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.