NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2024

The Oilers force Game 7 with the Canucks, Aleksander Barkov wins the Selke Trophy, and the Hurricanes re-sign coach Rod Brind’Amour. Get the details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: There will be a seventh and deciding game in the second-round series between the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks as the Oilers rolled to a 5-1 victory in Game 6.

Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and two assists, Connor McDavid had three assists and Leon Draisaitl had two assists for Edmonton. Dylan Holloway opened the scoring for the Oilers with a brilliant individual rush. Nils Hoglander replied for the Canucks.

Game 7 will be in Vancouver on Monday, May 20, at 9 pm EDT.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominating performance by the Oilers, who entered this game facing elimination. McDavid silenced his critics after being held to just one assist in the previous three games. So did Zach Hyman, scoring his first goal since Game 1 of this series.

The last game saw Vancouver shut down Edmonton’s scorers. This time, the Canucks struggled to generate offense, finishing with 15 shots on goal. The pressure has shifted to them as the Oilers will enter Game 7 riding the high of their convincing win in the previous game.

Stuart Skinner returned in goal for the Oilers and played well, helped by his teammates’ solid defensive play. Speaking of goaltenders, the Canucks confirmed that sidelined starter Thatcher Demko won’t be playing in Game 7. They’ll stick with Arturs Silovs, who has carried them since Game 4 of their first-round series with the Nashville Predators.

Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl became the third-fastest player in NHL history to reach 100 career playoff points, accomplishing the feat in 60 games. Wayne Gretzky was the fastest (46 games) followed by Mario Lemieux (50).


NHL.COM: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as this season’s top defensive forward. Barkov previously won this award in 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The voting wasn’t even close. Barkov got 165 of the 194 first-place votes.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: cited ESPN’s Kevin Weekes’ report that the Carolina Hurricanes signed head coach Rod Brind’Amour and his staff to multi-year contract extensions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was rumored earlier this month that the Hurricanes had pulled their offer, leading to Brind’Amour questioning his future in Carolina. All sides quickly denied it, insisting they were closing in on a deal.

The Hurricanes’ second-round elimination by the Rangers did nothing to affect those negotiations. If there are to be any changes during the offseason it will be to their roster.

NHL.COM: The Western Conference Final schedule was announced on Saturday. Game 1 will begin on Thursday, May 23, at 8:30 pm EDT.

DAILY FACEOFF: Buffalo Sabres defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Bowen Byram had early exits during preliminary round action on Saturday at the 2024 IIHF World Championships.

Playing for Sweden, Dahlin was ejected for a dangerous hit against Latvian defenseman Harald Egle. Byram, skating for Canada, was booted from his team’s game against Finland for slashing winger Jesse Puljujarvi.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was named the head coach for Team USA at the 2025 Four Nations Face-Off and the 2026 Winter Olympics.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2024

A look at potential coaching candidates for the Leafs, possible coaching destinations for Sheldon Keefe and the latest on the Capitals in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan looked at potential coaching candidates for the Maple Leafs after they fired bench boss Sheldon Keefe on Thursday.

Former St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube topped Koshan’s list, followed by former Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan, former New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant, and former Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft.

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour and Pittsburgh Penguins bench boss Mike Sullivan also made the list, along with former NHL coach Bruce Boudreau and Leafs assistant coach Guy Boucher.

TORONTO STAR: Brind’Amour is Kevin McGran’s top choice, followed by Berube, Gallant, former Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason, former Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol, and McLellan.

Former St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube is the betting favorite for the role. He was reportedly “intrigued” in the Ottawa Senators job but was weighing his options, prompting the Senators to hire Travis Green instead.

Berube, McLellan, Woodcroft, Evason and Hakstol were fired during or following this season in an unusually high turnover for coaches in recent months.

Brind’Amour’s name is out there due to recent rumors of difficulties in his contract extension talks with the Hurricanes. Both sides downplayed the speculation, claiming there’s close to a new deal. However, it’ll be interesting to see what happens if the Hurricanes end up swept from the second round by the Rangers.

There’s speculation suggesting Sullivan will quit the Penguins to join the New Jersey Devils because their general manager, Tom Fitzgerald, is an old friend. Pens GM Kyle Dubas recently issued a statement claiming the Devils haven’t sought permission to speak with Sullivan.

Berube is the front-runner to become the Maple Leafs’ new coach, but that could change if Brind’Amour becomes available.


THE ATHLETIC: Julian McKenzie looked at some landing spots for Sheldon Keefe following his dismissal as head coach of the Maple Leafs.

The New Jersey Devils are McKenzie’s top destination for Keefe, followed by the Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Winnipeg Jets, the Kraken and the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keefe is under contract with the Leafs for two more years. Any club interested in hiring him must seek permission to do so. That will be our tip-off as to which teams are interested in Keefe.

The Devils are reportedly interested in interviewing Keefe for their vacant head coaching position. They’re also believed to have spoken to Berube.

Keefe is linked to the Penguins because Dubas hired him during his tenure as Leafs GM. It’s part of the “Sullivan-to-New Jersey” theory making the rounds. The Devils’ interest in Keefe would drive a stake through that rumor.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber reports Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan isn’t commenting much on the future of Darcy Kuemper. The 34-year-old netminder struggled this season, losing his starter’s job to Charlie Lindgren.

MacLellan still believes Kuemper is a good goaltender and acknowledged his difficulties this season. The Capitals GM rejected the idea of buying out the remaining three years of Kuemper’s contract.

Despite recent trade rumors about Kuemper, MacLellan anticipates he’ll bounce back next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan will listen if a team calls about Kuemper. However, that seems unlikely given his performance this season and his $5.25 million cap hit

Silber also reported that MacLellan intends to investigate this summer’s trade and free-agent markets in search of more scoring punch for the Capitals. He’s hoping to find a young top-six forward to take some of the pressure off aging captain Alex Ovechkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Silber mentioned Florida’s Sam Reinhart, Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen and Vegas center (and former Capital) Chandler Stephenson could become available in this summer’s UFA market. Reinhart will likely be re-signed by the Panthers but Teravainen and Stephenson could be free-agent options.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 3, 2024

Looking at some suggested destinations for Steven Stamkos, the latest coaching rumors, and speculation over the former Coyotes’ offseason plans following their move to Utah in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: David Morassutti looked at five potential destinations for Steven Stamkos this summer. The 34-year-old captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 unless he and the Lightning agree to a new contract by then.

Morassutti noted the Lightning’s intention to resign Stamkos and likes their chances of convincing him to stay. However, they have limited salary-cap space and must also ensure sufficient room to re-sign Victor Hedman before his UFA eligibility next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning could be forced to make a cost-cutting move to keep Stamkos, especially if he’s not interested in a hometown discount. Nevertheless, there’s a mutual willingness on both sides to get something done. Unless negotiations fall apart by July 1, he’ll stay in Tampa Bay. 

If the Lightning fail to re-sign Stamkos, Morassutti suggested the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting choices. I’ve summarized his main points as to why each of those teams could become landing places for Stamkos. Click the link provided for his detailed explanations.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

The Red Wings are managed by former Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who convinced Stamkos to re-sign with the Bolts in 2016. The Wings have plenty of salary-cap space but must also re-sign Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Still, Morassutti believes they could be a prime destination if they move some players to gain cap flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Does Stamkos want to join a rebuilding team that’s trying to get over the playoff hump, or would he prefer joining a club that’s close to Cup contention? If it’s the latter (and I suspect it would be), the Red Wings won’t fit the bill.

Stamkos’ former teammates Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis are now in the Canadiens organization. However, some will wonder if adding a high-priced free agent would be the right move for a team going through a rebuild. At some point, however, the Canadiens will have to make a push to reach the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Stamkos is interested in joining a rebuilding club regardless of whoever from his past is on the team. The Canadiens are at least two years away from being playoff contenders. They could find younger options than Stamkos that fit better into their timeline.

The Predators could use a premium goalscorer. He would also bring them additional leadership.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators are currently in a transition phase. They already have plenty of veteran leadership in Roman Josi, Ryan O’Reilly and Stamkos’ former teammate Ryan McDonagh. They possess over $18 million in cap space but could use that flexibility to bring in younger and less expensive talent.

Morassutti considers the Leafs a dark-horse candidate. John Tavares and Mitch Marner are a year away from UFA eligibility. The Leafs’ decisions regarding those two will determine how they navigate this summer’s free-agent market. They attempted to woo Stamkos eight years ago but could they have better luck this time?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, they won’t have better luck this time. The Leafs “Shanaplan” got derailed by signing Tavares in 2018 when their focus should’ve been improving their defense and goaltending. Signing Stamkos would be repeating their past mistake.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reported the Senators have begun interviewing candidates for their vacant head-coaching position. It’s believed they’ve spoken with or are interested in former Minnesota Wild head coach Dean Evason, former St. Louis Blues bench boss Craig Berube, former Los Angeles Kings’ head coach Todd McLellan and New Jersey Devils interim coach Travis Green.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Which would you like to see coaching your club, Senators fans? Let us know in the comments section below.

Garrioch also provided us with some interesting rumors regarding other current coaches.

Rumors linked the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mike Sullivan with the New Jersey Devils. If the Toronto Maple Leafs fire Sheldon Keefe, Penguins GM Kyle Dubas could allow Sullivan to go to New Jersey to make room for Keefe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas released a statement earlier this week claiming the Devils have not asked permission to speak with Sullivan nor was permission granted. Earlier this week, it was reported that a power struggle was brewing between Dubas and Sullivan over the club’s assistant coaches. However, most observers believe Sullivan will be staying put.

League sources claim the Senators have serious interest in Evason and have had at least one face-to-face meeting. The San Jose Sharks reached out to the Wild seeking permission to speak with Evason…It’s believed the Kraken could promote Dan Bylsma, who coaches their AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley. They may have also reached out to McLellan…Berube is reportedly “intrigued” by the Senators position but has other options and is staying patient…The Senators would be very interested if the Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour became available. However, he would cost $7 million per season and the Sens likely won’t shell out that much for a head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brind’Amour seems close to signing an extension with the Hurricanes. If he did become available I agree he’d be too expensive for the Senators to sign.


THE FOURTH PERIOD: Having moved to Utah, the former Arizona Coyotes could make some additions to their roster this summer.

General manager Bill Armstrong’s mandate from his team’s new ownership is to shoot for the playoffs next season. He’s expected to explore this summer’s trade and free-agent markets for players who can immediately help his roster.

Armstrong won’t acquire high-priced contracts to bail out cap-strapped teams, unlike previous years. Any additions this summer will be to upgrade the roster. Sources claim Armstrong seeks a second-line center and a top-four defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The financial shackles are finally off Armstrong. Years of rebuilding have given the former Coyotes a solid base of good young talent. They need a couple of skilled veterans in their prime to provide leadership and experience.

Utah could become a playoff contender next season with the right moves. It’ll be interesting to see if Armstrong can pull it off.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2024

The Avalanche and Hurricanes advance to the second round, the Leafs and Predators avoid elimination, the Calder Trophy Finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Winnipeg Jets 6-3 to win their best-of-seven opening-round series four games to one. Mikko Rantanen scored twice and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 34 shots for the Avalanche. They await the winner of the Dallas Stars-Vegas Golden Knights series.

Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev silenced his critics (including me) with his performance during this series. After giving up seven goals on 23 shots in Game 1, he allowed eight in the next four games with a .931 save percentage.

Winnipeg entered this series tied with the Florida Panthers for the fewest goals-against per game (2.41). Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is a Vezina Trophy finalist who won the Jennings Trophy as the goalie who played a minimum of 25 games for the team allowing the fewest regular-season goals.

However, the Jet couldn’t contain the Avs’ offense, finishing this round with the highest goals-against per game (5.40) while Hellebuyck allowed the most goals (24) among all first-round goalies thus far. They are also the first team in NHL playoff history to allow at least five goals in five straight games in a postseason round.

Three unanswered third-period goals gave the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders to take their first-round series four games to one. Jack Drury scored the winning goal and Seth Jarvis had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who will face the New York Rangers in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carolina’s offensive depth proved too much to contain for the Islanders. Credit Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov for keeping his club in most of these games but his teammates lack the scoring punch to hand with the Hurricanes.

An overtime goal by Matthew Knies lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series. Jake McCabe also scored and Joseph Woll made 27 saves for the Leafs. Trent Frederic replied for the Bruins as they hold a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 is Thursday, May 2 at 8 pm EDT.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Leafs’ best game of the series. Woll’s steady goaltending gave them confidence and they did a good job containing Boston’s leading scorers. The Bruins at times appeared flat during this contest while the Leafs were fighting to keep their season alive.

The Leafs got the win without top center Auston Matthews, who missed this game with an undisclosed illness.

The Nashville Predators overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series on goals by Roman Josi and Alexandre Carrier. Juuse Saros made 19 saves for the win. Nikita Zadorov scored and Arturs Silov turned aside 20 shots for the Canucks, who hold a 3-2 lead in this series. Game 6 is Friday (start time TBA).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a goaltender’s duel through the first two periods. It looked like the Canucks were going to put this one away following Zadorov’s goal but the Predators refused to quit.

The Predators caught a break on Josi’s goal as the puck squirted behind Silov. The Canucks goalie tried to roll over to cover the puck but was inadvertently pushed during a goalmouth scramble, knocking the puck across the goal line.


NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard, Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber, and New Jersey Devils blueliner Luke Hughes are this season’s finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the finalists. Bedard is considered the favorite to win but Faber could make this interesting. He enjoyed a strong debut with the Wild, finishing among the rookie leaders in points and sitting among the league’s top-10 skaters in time on ice per game.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: T.J. Oshie said he has much to consider regarding his future as a player. The 37-year-old Washington Capitals winger said he’s been dealing with chronic back issues for years among other ailments.

Oshie has a year left on his contract. He said he’d love to play next season but needs assurances that he can do so without his back giving out. The Capitals winger intends to seek treatment during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oshie has never played a full NHL season due to injuries. He saw action in only 52 games in 2023-24.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers captain Sean Couturier recently changed agents and is now represented by Pat Brisson. One reason behind the change could be due to his former agent criticizing Flyers coach John Tortorella for benching Couturier for two games. The veteran center took responsibility for his poor play leading to his benching.

Speaking of the Flyers, top prospect Matvei Michkov might be able to join the club next season if the KHL allows him out of his contract with SKA St. Petersburg. Michkov’s contract runs through 2025-26 but SKA chairman Alexander Medvedev said he has a good relationship with the Flyers front office and has regularly spoken with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s nothing set in stone here but Medvedev said a decision on Michkov’s future could come by the end of June.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot could undergo wrist surgery in the coming weeks. The recovery time would be between two and three months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sooner Chabot has the surgery the more likely he’ll be fully recovered in time for training camp in September.

DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Senators, they reportedly interviewed Travis Green for their vacant head-coaching position. Green is currently the interim coach of the New Jersey Devils.

THE ATHLETIC: And speaking of New Jersey, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas denied speculation that head coach Mike Sullivan could become the next Devils head coach. Dubas said the Devils haven’t sought permission to speak with Sullivan nor have they been granted permission.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This sounds like another example of the hockey media “telephone” game. A pundit wonders whether Sullivan would be interested in coaching the Devils because he’s friends with their general manager. People start talking about it and it morphs into Sullivan trying to get out of his contract with the Penguins to coach the Devils.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Canadiens winger Juraj Slakovskiy is undergoing some medical procedures in Montreal. It will delay him joining Slovakia at the upcoming World Championships in Czechia but isn’t expected to prevent him from playing in the tournament.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2024

What’s the latest on Predators goalie Juuse Saros and Flyers winger Joel Farabee? Could Penguins coach Mike Sullivan join the Devils? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Rob Couch believes the current playoff series between the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators could determine Juuse Saros’ future.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (NHL Images).

Entering the first-round series with the Canucks, the 28-year-old Predators starting goaltender hadn’t yet elevated his game to an elite level in the postseason. He has a year left on his contract and becomes eligible for unrestricted free-agent status next summer.

Saros’ future in Nashville was the subject of media speculation leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. His performance in these playoffs could determine whether he gets a contract extension this summer and how long that new deal might be.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saros allowed three goals on 20 shots in Game 1 against the Canucks (.850 save percentage) but only one goal on 18 shots (.944 SP) in Game 2.

Saros reportedly drew the interest of New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald in February when he was searching for a starting goalie. Fitzgerald could revisit that interest this summer if Saros’ contract talks stall with Predators management.


PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey believes the Flyers would be making a huge mistake if they trade Joel Farabee this summer. The 24-year-old winger is the subject of media trade speculation after his offense declined down the stretch.

Flyers general manager Daniel Briere is open to making a “hockey trade” this summer to bolster their depth at center or defense. However, Bailey doesn’t believe Farabee should be used as a trade chip to address one of those needs.

Farabee is the Flyers’ only left-shot winger currently on their roster. He also enjoyed a career-best 50-point performance this season before the wheels fell off for the entire team down the stretch. Bailey considers him a good complimentary winger capable of reaching 30 goals and 70 points in a season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Farabee didn’t sound pleased about moving up and down the Flyers lineup during his end-of-season interview. It’ll be interesting to see if Briere and head coach John Tortorella still see him as a key piece of their rebuild or a trade chip to add depth elsewhere on the roster.


TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos reports rumors that Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan could leave Pittsburgh to become the New Jersey Devils’ new bench boss. Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald is a close friend of Sullivan’s. “It could simply come down to Sullivan’s lack of confidence in GM (Kyle) Dubas’ ability to contend anytime soon.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication out of Pittsburgh or New Jersey thus far suggesting Sullivan is ready to bolt from the Penguins to join the Devils. There’s also no hint that the Pens intend to fire Sullivan, something that likely would’ve happened by now if there was any unhappiness over his coaching.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2023

Are the Rangers waiting for Sheldon Keefe or Mike Sullivan to become available as coaching candidates? Could the Golden Knights buy out Robin Lehner? Will the Sharks attempt to trade Kevin Labanc? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wondered why the Rangers’ search for a new head coach is on hold.

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe (NHL.com).

One possibility is Rangers general manager Chris Drury is waiting to see what happens to Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe once that club hires a new GM. Another could be what happens with Pittsburgh Penguins’ bench boss Mike Sullivan if former Leafs GM Kyle Dubas becomes their new general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Drury is waiting on Keefe he might not be the only general manager doing so. Other clubs, such as the Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals, are also in the market for a new head coach.

By his own admission, Brooks isn’t letting Sullivan’s possible availability go despite him telling his colleague Mollie Walker that he’s not going anywhere. His initial theory was Dubas would bring Keefe with him if the Penguins hired him but that’s not a certainty. For now, we just wait and see.

Brooks shot down the possibility that they’re waiting for Joel Quenneville to be reinstated by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. He claimed there’s “no expectation within the industry” that Quenneville (under indefinite suspension since 2021 for his role in the Kyle Beach sexual assault saga) would be reinstated in a timely manner that would make him a candidate for any open head-coaching job “in this current search cycle”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, not during this offseason.


VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski points out that Adin Hill is making a strong case to stick with the Golden Knights with his strong performance during their current playoff run. He wondered if they might consider buying out Robin Lehner’s contract and use part of the savings to sign Hill to a long-term deal.

The 27-year-old Hill is slated to become an unrestricted free agent. He’s completing a two-year deal with an average annual value of $2.175 million.

Lehner, 31, has missed the entire 2022-23 season recovering from potentially career-threatening hip surgeries. He has two seasons remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $5 million.

Kingerski suggests buying out Lehner would make sense if the Golden Knights can’t keep him on long-term injury reserve for 2023-24. His cap hit would then be reduced to $750K for 2023-24, rising to $2.25 million for 2024-25 and then falling to $1.75 million for the remaining two years of the buyout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner must be medically cleared to play in order for Vegas to buy out his contract. So far, there’s no indication yet that he will receive that clearance during the buyout period in late June.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller noted that trade rumors are starting to swirl about Kevin Labanc. The San Jose Sharks winger is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. With the club carrying so many high-salaried players with no-trade/no-movement clauses (Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl), the 27-year-old Labanc could become a prime cost-cutting trade candidate.

Given Labanc’s offensive struggles since his career-best 56-point performance in 2018-19, Miller doesn’t expect the Sharks would get much in return for him. Maybe a team seeking some offensive depth such as the New York Islanders might take a chance on him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation over whether the Sharks will trade Karlsson has dominated the Sharks rumor mill. Nevertheless, we can’t rule out the possibility that GM Mike Grier can find a taker for Labanc. Given his salary and with just a year left on Labanc’s contract, Grier might be more receptive to retaining part of his cap hit to facilitate a trade than he would for Karlsson.