NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 11, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 11, 2022

The Sabres defeat the Golden Knights on Jack Eichel’s return to Buffalo, the Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau takes over the lead in the scoring race and much more from a busy night of action in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres spoiled Jack Eichel’s return to Buffalo by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1. Eichel was held scoreless while Peyton Krebs and Alex Tuch (the two players he was traded for) each tallied a goal for the Sabres. It was a milestone game for Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson as he made 30 saves for his 300th career NHL victory. The loss leaves the Golden Knights in third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel fired a shot at Sabres fans following the game as he received a mixed reaction from the Buffalo crowd. “That’s about the loudest I’ve heard this place, ever,” he said. “It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game.”

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad each collected four assists and Sam Reinhart netted a hat trick as the Florida Panthers dropped the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3. Huberdeau broke his own franchise single-season record by picking up his 64th assist and vaulted over the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid into first place in the scoring race with 82 points. With 85 points, the Panthers move into a tie with the Carolina Hurricanes but the latter holds first overall in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they got a 36-save shutout by Antti Raanta to blank the Colorado Avalanche 2-0. Ethan Bear and Sebastian Aho were the goal scorers as the Hurricanes sit two points behind the first-place Avalanche in the overall standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog could face supplemental discipline from the league for criticizing the officiating during and following the game after receiving a misconduct penalty in the final minute.

Johnny Gaudreau tallied a hat trick to lead the Calgary Flames to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Rasmus Andersson collected two assists while Jacob Markstrom got the win by stopping 30 shots. The Flames sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 77 points, five up on the second-place Los Angeles Kings. The Lightning (80 points) sit in second place in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau banked two of his goals in off the back of Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s enjoying a fine performance in a contract year and is a big reason behind the Flames’ improvement this season.

The Leafs, meanwhile, dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Arizona Coyotes. The Leafs overcame 3-0 and 4-1 deficits to force the extra frame. Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun scored the winner but it was controversial as he got away with a blatant hold on the stick of Leafs center Auston Matthews moments before. Chychrun finished the night with two goals, Matthews tallied his league-leading 44th goal of the season while Leafs forward Alex Kerfoot had three points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek was terrible, getting the hook after giving up four goals on 12 shots, with three of those while he was out of position. Erik Kallgren made 10 saves but gave up the overtime goal. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced starter Jack Campbell will miss two weeks with a rib injury.

A late goal by David Pastrnak lifted the Boston Bruins over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Pastrnak had two goals on the night while Brandon Hagel tallied twice for Chicago. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane collected an assist to tie Bobby Hull for second place among the franchise’s all-time scoring leaders with 1,153 points. With 75 points, the Bruins hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas scored twice as his club downed the New York Rangers 6-2, chasing Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin after he gave up four goals on 17 shots. Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou each collected two points for the Blues (73 points) as they hold a two-point lead over the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division. The Rangers remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points.

The Wild, meanwhile, got shootout goals by Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Fiala in a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Matt Boldy scored twice for the Wild as did Red Wings rookie Lucas Raymond. The two clubs also engaged in a big brawl at the end of the second period.

Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene had two goals and an assist and Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Juuse Saros made 27 saves for the win as the Predators (70 points) opened a three-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the first Western Conference wild-card berth. With 63 points, the Ducks remain four behind the Stars.

Tomas Hertl’s overtime goal gave the San Jose Sharks a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings to snap a three-game losing skid. Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson picked up two assists in his return to the lineup after missing 15 games recovering from a forearm tendon surgery. Trevor Moore had three points for the Kings (72 points), who hold a four-point lead over Vegas for second place in the Pacific Division.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor’s 35th goal of the season was also the winner as his club squeaked past the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Eric Comrie made 33 saves as the Jets (62 points) are five points back of the Stars. The Devils honored Travis Zajac in a pregame ceremony for playing 1,000 games with the franchise, a feat he accomplished last February when there were no fans allowed at Prudential Center due to COVID restrictions. Zajac retired at the end of last season.

New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin made 25 saves to shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-0. Anders Lee picked up the hat trick while Ryan Pulock collected three assists.

An overtime goal by Josh Norris gave the Ottawa Senators a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken. It was Norris’ second goal of the game. Senators goalie Anton Forsberg picked up the win with a 30-save effort.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price continues to train at the club’s training facility and is reportedly aiming at returning to action in April. He’s encountered a couple of setbacks in his recovery from offseason knee surgery that has sidelined him all season thus far.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen is sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.

THE ATHLETIC: The Anaheim Ducks placed forward Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg on injured reserve.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard is sidelined by a lower-body injury and has returned to Denver for further evaluation.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to a five-year, $25.5 million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers value Ristolainen’s size and physical play. His new contract isn’t unreasonable in term or dollars as he’s completing a six-year deal worth $5.4 million annually.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Marco Scandella returned to action on Thursday after missing over a month with a lower-body injury. Forwards Pavel Buchnevich and Oskar Sundqvist missed Thursday’s game against the Rangers nursing injuries.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Columbus Blue Jackets granted forward Alexandre Texier a leave of absence for personal reasons stemming from the personal losses of people close to him.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed defenseman Markus Niemelainen to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $762K.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 28, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 28, 2022

Should the Leafs make a pitch for Marc-Andre Fleury? Which depth players could be the missing piece for Stanley Cup contenders? Could the Rangers add a Sabres defenseman by the trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD FLEURY RESOLVE LEAFS GOALIE WOES?

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Maple Leafs could be among several clubs (Edmonton, Boston, Washington, Colorado) lining up looking to acquire Marc-Andre Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks. The 37-year-old goaltender wouldn’t mind getting traded to a contending team.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

Simmons expressed concern over Leafs starter Jack Campbell’s recent struggles between the pipes. He’s also dismissive of Petr Mrazek being ready to go if Campbell cannot regain his dominant first-half form, calling him a “bottom-half NHL goalie” who the Carolina Hurricanes let walk for nothing last summer.

Fleury carries an expensive $7 million cap hit this season. The Leafs placed defenseman Jake Muzzin on long-term injury reserve but they’d have to do some maneuvering to bring in the Blackhawks goalie. Nevertheless, Simmons doesn’t see any better alternatives.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury would bring stability and plenty of playoff experience to the Leafs; crease. However, he has a 10-team no-trade clause and it’s possible the Leafs are on it.

If they’re not, it’ll take considerable salary-cap gymnastics by Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to land Fleury. Dubas reportedly won’t hold Muzzin out of the lineup if he’s healthy enough to return to the Leafs’ lineup before the end of the season.

WHO COULD BE THE MISSING PIECE FOR STANLEY CUP CONTENDERS

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli recently listed five depth players who could help a club win the Stanley Cup as Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow did for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Montreal Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen topped the list, followed by Chicago’s Brandon Hagel, Columbus’ Alexandre Texier, Arizona’s Lawson Crouse and San Jose’s Noah Gregor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens don’t have to move Lehkonen by the March 21 trade deadline as he’s a restricted free agent this summer. However, he has arbitration rights and is a year away from becoming eligible for unrestricted free agent status. If he’s only seeking a one-year extension, the Canadiens could ship him out for the right offer by the deadline.

Hagel’s drawn lots of interest because of his age (23), two-way play and affordable $1.5 million annual cap hit over the next two seasons. It’s those factors, however, that could keep him with the Blackhawks, especially if they intend to rebuild after this season. I don’t doubt they’re getting offers for Hagel but it could take a significant one to tempt them into moving him.

Texier’s trade value could be hampered by a recent report indicating he’s still several weeks away from returning from an injured finger. Meanwhile, GOPHNX.com’s Craig Morgan has Crouse on his “no-trade list”, citing his size, two-way play, strong skating and he’s on career highs in almost every statistical category.

Gregor could be available though he hasn’t surfaced in many trade rumors regarding the Sharks. The 23-year-old winger is on a one-year, $750K contract and becomes a restricted free agent this summer.

COULD COLIN MILLER BECOME A RANGER?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggested Colin Miller as a possible blueline depth acquisition for the Rangers. The 29-year-old played two seasons under Rangers coach Gerard Gallant with the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those were also Miller’s best NHL seasons. He lacks no-trade protection and carries a $3.875 million cap hit for this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2022

The Lightning defeat the Predators in their Stadium Series, Mitch Marner collects six points in wild Leafs win over the Red Wings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists as his club held off the Nashville Predators 3-2 in their 2022 Stadium Series game before a sellout crowd of 68, 619 fans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots as the Lightning (74 points) moved within a point of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak left the game in the first period following a high hit from Nashville center Ryan Johansen. With 64 points, the Predators hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

Mitch Marner enjoyed a career-high six-point performance (four goals, two assists) as his Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Detroit Red Wings 10-7. Austin Matthews tallied his league-leading 37th goal of the season and collected three-assist while rookie Michael Bunting had a goal and four assists. Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek had a four-point night (one goal, three assists) while rookie winger Lucas Raymond scored twice and added an assist. The Leafs sit three points behind the second-place Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At one point, the Leafs led 7-2 before the Wings made it interesting by cutting the lead to 7-6 and then to 8-7 before the Leafs finally put it away. It wasn’t a good night for either club’s defenses or goaltenders. The Leafs’ Jack Campbell gave way to Petr Mrazek after giving up four goals early in the third period while the Wings Alex Nedeljkovic got the hook in the first period but returned in the third.

Edmonton Oilers forward Derek Ryan netted his first career hat trick as his club hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers, handing the latter their third-straight defeat. Mikko Koskinen kicked out 44 shots and Connor McDavid collected two assists for the Oilers, who opened a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 61 points. The Panthers (75 points) remain second overall in the Eastern Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Oilers as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the game in the first period with a suspected shoulder injury. He’ll be re-evaluated today.

The league-leading Colorado Avalanche (82 points) got two unanswered goals by J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon to down the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Darcy Kuemper turned aside 34 shots for the Avs, who sit six points over the Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings. The Golden Knights have just one victory in their last six contests and six in third place in the Pacific Division with 62 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ stumble could force them into the trade market before the March 21 deadline. There’s speculation they’re looking for goaltending help with starter Robin Lehner sidelined by what’s believed to be a shoulder injury.

Speaking of the Pacific Division, the Calgary Flames (68 points) hold a three-point lead over the second-place Los Angeles Kings after thumping the Minnesota Wild 7-3. Matthew Tkachuk and Tyler Toffoli each scored twice and picked up an assist. Flames defenseman Oscar Kylington left the game in the third period after an awkward fall into the boards but head coach Darryl Sutter said he’ll be fine. The Wild sit in third place in the Central Division with 65 points.

The Kings, meanwhile, remain three points behind the Flames by dropping the New York Islanders 5-2 to extend their winning streak to five games. Trevor Moore and Matt Roy each had a goal and an assist while Cal Petersen picked up the win with a 26-save performance. Islanders center Mathew Barzal left the game with a lower-body injury as did Zdeno Chara with an upper-body injury.

Tristan Jarry turned in a 27-save shutout and Evgeni Malkin potted the only goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the New York Rangers 1-0 to snap a three-game losing skid. With 72 points, the Penguins moved one point ahead of the Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand scored two goals and chipped in an assist to lead his club to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. With 66 points, the Bruins have won four straight and moved one point up on the Washington Capitals into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Sharks have lost 10 of their last 12 and also lost defenseman Mario Ferraro to a leg injury.

As for the Capitals, they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Cam Atkinson scored and set up another while Carter Hart made 27 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals hold a 10-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets but they’ve been struggling in recent weeks. There’s talk they could go shopping for a goaltender or a top-six winger before the March 21 trade deadline.

The Montreal Canadiens extended their winning streak to five games by nipping the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Artturi Lehkonen scored both of the Canadiens’ goals while Andrew Hammond made 26 saves against his former team. Colin White scored for the Senators in his season debut after being sidelined by shoulder surgery.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Wayne Gretzky called upon the international hockey world to ban Russia from participating in the 2022 World Junior Championship in Edmonton as a protest over that country’s invasion of Ukraine. Gretzky pointed to Poland’s Men’s soccer team as inspiration as that club intends to boycott its World Cup playoff game against Russia on March 24.

SPORTSNET: NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek took to Twitter calling on the NHL to suspend the contracts of all Russian players in the wake of Russia’s actions against Ukraine. He also criticized Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin over his “no more war” remarks on Friday, calling Ovechkin an “ablist” and a “liar” among other pointed comments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL won’t be suspending the contracts of Russian players. If they did, the NHL Players Association would immediately file grievances against the league. As for Gretzky’s remarks, there’s no indication of what the International Ice Hockey Federation intends to do regarding Russia’s participation in the WJC this summer.

YARDBARKER: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier remains a few weeks away from returning from a finger injury.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju will be sidelined for at least two games with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan entered COVID-19 protocol yesterday.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed defensemen Kyle Burroughs and Tucker Poolman on injured reserve.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 28, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 28, 2022

Drew Doughty, Quinton Byfield and Aleksander Barkov celebrate milestones, Oilers sign Evander Kane, an update on the Coyotes search for a temporary home, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty collected an assist in his 1,000th game while teammate Quinton Byfield tallied his first NHL goal in a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Adrian Kempe tallied the winner as the Kings held off the Isles late in the third period. The Kings sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 50 points.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty, 32, has spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Kings, winning two Stanley Cups and the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in 2015-16. He has 22 points in 25 games this season. Byfield, meanwhile, was the second-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The 19-year-old center appeared in six games last season and four this season.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov scored his 200th career goal and 500th career point to lead his club over the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Sam Bennett scored twice and Spencer Knight made 24 saves for the win as the Panthers regained first place in the overall standings with 65 points. The Golden Knights sit on top of the Pacific Division with 53 points.

Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras scored twice, including a lacrosse-style goal as his club held off the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. Troy Terry had a goal and two assists as the Ducks moved to within one point of the Golden Knights in the Pacific.

J.T. Miller had a hat trick and collected an assist to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists while goalie Spencer Martin made 33 saves for his first NHL win. With 43 points, the Canucks moved two points ahead of the slumping Jets and sit three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Tampa Bay Lightning downed the New Jersey Devils 3-2 to remain two points behind the Panthers in the overall standings. Anthony Cirelli snapped a 2-2 tie and Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 31 shots for the Lightning. Jesper Bratt collected assists on both Devils’ goals.

A shootout goal by Andrei Svechnikov lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Nino Niederreiter tied the game for the Hurricanes in the third period. They’re tied with the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins with 60 points but sit first in the Metropolitan Division. Senators center Josh Norris left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are already without leading scorer Drake Batherson for perhaps the remainder of the season with a high-ankle sprain. They also signed defenseman Nick Holden yesterday to a one-year, $1.3 million contract extension.

The Seattle Kraken picked up their first overtime win in franchise history by nipping the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. Jared McCann tied the game in the third period for the Kraken, setting the stage for Adam Larsson’s winning goal. Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins.

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner scored twice and picked up an assist to lead his club to a 5-3 upset of the New York Rangers. Sean Kuraly also scored twice for the Jackets while Joonas Korpisalo stopped 33 shots for the win. Artemi Panarin scored and picked up two assists for the Rangers while teammate Adam Fox is listed as day-to-day after leaving the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso made 28 saves backstopping his club over the Calgary Flames 5-1. Husso is 6-0-0 in January while Brandon Saad scored two goals and picked up an assist. The Blues (57 points) sit one point behind the second-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

Connor McDavid scored in a shootout to give the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. McDavid also scored in regulation while Predators winger Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist. With 44 points, the Oilers are two back of the Flames.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The Oilers signed Evander Kane to a one-year contract after the NHL said its investigation into whether the winger breached COVID-19 protocols produced insufficient evidence to conclude he knowingly violated those protocols. Terms were not revealed but Elliotte Friedman reported it was worth $750K in base salary with a $625K signing bonus plus a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager Ken Holland seems to believe adding a goal scorer carrying tons of personal baggage will help this struggling club overcome its shaky goaltending. It smacks of desperation by a GM who failed to suitably address his issues in the crease last summer and is now grasping at straws to save his season.

THE SCORE: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was diagnosed with a broken nose following his collision with Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall on Wednesday. A clearer timeline for his recovery remains to be determined.

TRIBLIVE.COM: cites a report by Daily Faceoff indicating Pittsburgh Penguins forward Drew O’Connor is dealing with a collapsed lung suffered during the club’s recent road trip. Neither the Penguins or O’Connor’s agent is confirming the report.

CBJ PUBLIC RELATIONS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier is expected to miss four weeks after fracturing a finger during Wednesday’s game against the Flames.

GOPHNX.COM: The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly in advanced discussions with Arizona State University to use the school’s new multi-purpose arena as their temporary home for the next three seasons while they await approval and construction of a new arena in Tempe. The facility seats just 5,000 people. The Coyotes lease at the Gila River Arena has been terminated at the end of this season by the city of Glendale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is being done with the NHL’s blessing. The league is determined to maintain a franchise in the lucrative Arizona market.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers will be retiring Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a ceremony before tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars will retire Sergei Zubov’s No 56 before tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to both players for their upcoming honours. Lundqvist was one of the greatest players in the Rangers’ long history while Zubov was a key player in the Stars rise to NHL dominance in the late-90s and early-2000s.

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has been charged with sexual assault by Vancouver police stemming from a 2017 allegation. He’s currently playing in the KHL but is expected to make his first provincial court appearance on Feb. 10.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2022

The Flames set a franchise record in win over Blue Jackets, the Avalanche’s home win streak continues, the Penguins re-sign Jeff Carter, the Canucks hire Patrik Allvin as GM, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames fired a franchise-record 62 shots at the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 6-0 victory. Johnny Gaudreau collected three assists, Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals and Jacob Markstrom turned in a 23-save shutout. Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 56 saves. With 46 points, the Flames tie the Dallas Stars but take over the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with two games in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins wasn’t to blame for his club’s lopsided loss. His teammates let him down with a lousy defensive effort. They also lost center Alexandre Texier as he left the game with an injured hand.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

Cale Makar’s overtime goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins, extending their home winning streak to 17 games. They forced the extra frame with unanswered third-period goals by Samuel Girard and Gabriel Landeskog while Nazem Kadri finished the night with three assists. Charlie McAvoy collected two assists for the Bruins. The Avs are tied with the Florida Panthers with 63 points but hold first overall with two games in hand while the Bruins hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 51 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Avs as center Nathan MacKinnon left the game following a hard hit from Bruins winger Taylor Hall. MacKinnon’s face was bloodied by his own stick following contact from Hall’s shoulder. He could miss the Avs’ upcoming game with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on a shootout goal by Auston Matthews. Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell reached the 20-win mark in a season for the first time in his career as his club remains in third place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points. The Ducks picked up a point thanks to goalie John Gibson’s 41-save effort and sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 50 points.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Dylan Strome tallied his first NHL hat trick in an 8-5 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Alex DeBrincat scored twice and added an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have been trying to trade Strome since last season. The Athletic’s Scott Powers speculates his improved play of late might make him more enticing to other clubs if he keeps playing well between now and the March 21 trade deadline.

The San Jose Sharks got a 32-save performance from James Reimer to beat the Washington Capitals 4-1, handing the latter their third loss in the past four games. The win keeps the Sharks (46 points) in the hunt for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Jeff Carter to a two-year contract extension. The 37-year-old forward will receive an annual average value of $3.125 million with a full no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable contract for a veteran forward who still has plenty left in the tank. He’s been a good fit with the Penguins since joining them in a trade last season. He’s sixth among their leading scorers this season with 12 goals and 26 points in 36 games.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Penguins with $51.8 million invested in 10 players for 2022-23. Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Kasperi Kapanen are among their free agents to be re-signed or replaced.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks officially announced Patrik Allvin as their new general manager. He’d been with the Penguins for 16 seasons and was named their assistant GM in 2020. Allvin previously worked with Canucks president Jim Rutherford during the latter’s tenure as Penguins GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Canucks management team in place, there’s speculation big roster changes could be coming before the March trade deadline. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor update.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Aaron Dell received a three-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for interference on Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson.

OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of Batherson, he suffered a high-ankle sprain as a result of Dell’s actions. He was slated to play in the upcoming NHL All-Star Game and has been replaced by Brady Tkachuk. Batherson could be sidelined for months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Batherson is the Senators’ leading scorer so this is a significant blow to their offense.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg is week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild got some good news as defenseman Jonas Brodin is set to return after missing several weeks with an upper-body injury.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks intend to begin reaching out to potential general manager candidates for interviews this week. Current interim GM Kyle Davidson will also interview for the job.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2021

In today’s NHL rumor mill: Looking ahead at possible offseason moves by the Golden Knights and the Blue Jackets appear to be out of the Jack Eichel sweepstakes.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Vegas Golden Knights need to open up some salary-cap flexibility during the offseason. They’ve only got $3 million in cap room for 2021-22 with Alec Martinez and Tomas Nosek hitting free agency. Reilly Smith, Ryan Reaves, Brayden McNabb and Nick Holden will be UFAs next summer.

Could the Vegas Golden Knights attempt to trade Marc-Andre Fleury later this summer? (NHL Images).

They have over $12 million tied up in goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. Wyshynski wonders if Fleury might be easier to move with a year remaining on his contract as a Vezina Trophy finalist.

Wyshynski believes they need to find a star center. With players like Jack Eichel, Evgeni Malkin, Aleksander Barkov and Evgeny Kuznetsov potentially available and the Golden Knights considered high-stakes gamblers, it wouldn’t be surprising if they made a major move this summer.

The Golden Knights are exempt from the expansion draft. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t swing a cost-cutting deal with the Seattle Kraken.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Ed Graney believes offseason changes are needed for the Golden Knights after failing to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season. Pointing to a power-play that went scoreless in 15 attempts against the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinal, he feels it needs a “massive overhaul, be it schematically or personnel.”

Graney also thinks the Golden Knights must move on from one of their two goaltenders. “You figure it would be Fleury,” he said.

He also pointed out the need for high-end talent up front. The lack of depth at center, including Cody Glass’ inability to develop as hoped, also needs to be addressed. He recommended putting together a package offer for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel or contacting the Columbus Blue Jackets about winger Patrik Laine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights aren’t likely to just stand pat this summer. They’re unafraid to make bold moves and could so again this summer, perhaps with one or two cost-cutting trades to free up room for an impact center.

Fleury carries a $7 million cap hit for next season ($6 million in actual salary) and a 10-team no-trade list. Still, the Golden Knights could gauge his value in the trade market, especially if he ends up winning the Vezina Trophy.

Landing an expensive talent like Eichel or Kuznetsov would be a complex move. The Sabres reportedly want between four-to-six assets for Eichel. Kuznetsov will cost less but the Capitals will still want to get back something decent. Laine could be available but the Golden Knights lack the quality center the Blue Jackets would probably want in return.

Forget about Malkin or Barkov, they’re not going anywhere. The former reportedly will only waive his no-movement clause to go to Florida, while the Panthers intend to sign the latter to a contract extension.

BLUE JACKETS OUT OF THE EICHEL SWEEPSTAKES?

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports of rumors the Columbus Blue Jackets are heavily involved in trade discussions with the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel. However, his sources claim it doesn’t appear they’re in hot pursuit of the 24-year-old center.

Eichel’s health (herniated disc), the Sabres’ asking price, and the Blue Jackets’ position as a rebuilding club are the main issues here. Portzline speculates it could cost them their first-round pick (fifth overall) in this year’s draft, goaltender Elvis Merzlkins, forward Alexandre Texier or defenseman Andrew Peeke, and a top prospect. Even that probably wouldn’t be enough to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I assumed the Blue Jackets’ depth in first-round picks in this year’s draft and in tradeable goaltenders (Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo) could give them an edge in the potential Eichel bidding war. Portzline’s report took the air out of that balloon.

Maybe the Jackets’ interest changes if the Sabres can’t find a suitable trade partner for Eichel and lower their rumored asking price. As Portzline pointed out, however, giving up a lot of promising young players for a superstar with injury concerns would be a risky move for a rebuilding club.