NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2021

The Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues face serious offseason decisions following their first-round exits Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CAPITALS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes re-signing Alex Ovechkin is the offseason priority for the Washington Capitals. Their 35-year-old captain and franchise player is eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 28.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Kaplan wonders how much it would cost the Capitals and for how long to keep Ovechkin in the fold. Sources said he initially sought $12.5 million per season before the pandemic struck. With the salary cap flattened at $81.5 million for the foreseeable future, the Capitals might have budgeted for less. Nevertheless, Kaplan believes Ovechkin will be staying in Washington.

After a coaching change last year failed to improve their playoff fortunes, management could shake up the roster. There’s speculation the club could be growing impatient with center Evgeny Kuznetsov. He carries a $7.8 million annual salary-cap hit through 2024-25 as well as a 15-team no-trade list.

Kaplan noted the Capitals are among the NHL’s oldest teams. They could start retooling on the fly by bringing in some younger talent like top prospect Connor McMichael.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir also weighed in on the Capitals’ offseason needs, including Ovechkin’s contract and Kuznetsov’s status.

El-Bashir feels whatever general manager Brian MacLellan does with Ovechkin’s new deal will affect the rest of this summer’s decision. Moving Kuznetsov’s big contract won’t be easy but there could be a team with interest in the 29-year-old center. He wonders how this year’s disappointing finish will affect the Capitals’ expansion draft protection list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Ovechkin and the Capitals part ways this summer. Kaplan pointed out Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has indicated his intent to ensure his captain stays put.

Because of the flattened cap, Ovechkin might have to accept something between $9 million and $10 million on perhaps a three-year deal. Despite his age, he’s shown little sign of slowing down, with 24 goals and 42 points in 45 games.

A roster shakeup was likely to happen for cap purposes even if the Capitals hadn’t bowed out in the first round. Cap Friendly shows them with just over $72 million invested in 18 players for 2021-22, with Ovechkin as the only core player due for a new contract.

Moving Kuznetsov would help to address that issue. There could be a market for his services but the recent decline in his play, his three-game suspension for “inappropriate conduct” in the fall of 2019, getting placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list twice this season and his recent benching for missing a team function all but scream, “buyer beware.”

The expansion draft will help alleviate some of that salary-cap issue as they’re going to lose a player to the Seattle Kraken. It could be a high-salaried veteran such as T.J. Oshie ($5.75 million annual average value) or perhaps someone like Justin Schultz ($4 million), Lars Eller ($3.5 million) or Brenden Dillon ($3.9 million).

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUES?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski speculates the St. Louis Blues roster could have a different look next season following a second straight first-round elimination. Pending UFAs include Jaden Schwartz, Mike Hoffman, Tyler Bozak and Carl Gunnarsson, though management has expressed interest in signing Schwartz. They could also bring in an experienced backup for starter Jordan Binnington.

Wyshynski also wondered if the Blues would dare leave oft-injured sniper Vladimir Tarasenko unprotected in the expansion draft. Others who could be exposed include Schwartz, Sammy Blais, Ivan Barbashev, Marco Scandella and Vince Dunn. It’s expected Dunn, a restricted free agent, could be playing elsewhere next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford believes Schwartz’s status could be the Blues’ biggest question heading into the offseason. He struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs but their left-wing depth is thin.

Rutherford suggests Dunn and perhaps Robert Thomas could be trade candidates. He also feels they need to address their backup goaltending, add size to their blueline, and bring back the versatile Bozak on a one-year, plus-35 contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have $66.8 million invested in 20 players next season. A new contract for Schwartz will take a big bite out of their remaining cap space but they could have little choice if they don’t feel they can find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency.

Dunn was a fixture in this season’s rumor mill. He could be shopped this summer for a return that addresses one of the Blues’ roster needs.

Rutherford isn’t advocating for Thomas to be traded but wondered where he fits on the top six if Brayden Schenn is their second-line center. As he suggests, it might not hurt to examine his value in the trade market.

Exposing Tarasenko in the expansion draft would be a bold move. However, I don’t think it’s one they’ll consider.










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.










World Traveler Thomas Puts Canada Atop The Junior Hockey World

World Traveler Thomas Puts Canada Atop The Junior Hockey World

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2019

The Red Wings snap a 12-game winless skid, Joe Thornton reaches another milestone, Tim Thomas reveals concussion issues, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Detroit Red Wings picked up their first win in a month, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 5-2. Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina, and Filip Hronek each picked up three points as the Wings snapped a 12-game winless skid (0-10-2). Kyle Connor tallied both goals for the Jets.

Robby Fabbri scored twice as the Detroit Red Wings snapped a 12-game winless skid (Photo via NHL Images).

Steven Stamkos tallied two goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 3-2, leaving the latter winless in their last five games (0-4-1). Bolts winger Nikita Kucherov collected two assists.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice to lead his club over the Nashville Predators 4-3. Eichel now has points in his last 15 games. Sam Reinhart also picked up two assists.

Artemi Panarin tallied a hat trick to lead the New York Rangers over the San Jose Sharks 6-3, spoiling Bob Boughner’s debut as the Sharks’ interim coach. Mika Zibanejad also scored twice for the Rangers. San Jose is now winless in six games (0-5-1). Sharks center Joe Thornton picked up an assist in his 1,600th career game.

A three-goal third period, including two by Johnny Gaudreau, lifted the Calgary Flames to a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flames have won seven straight games. Mitch Marner and John Tavares each had two-point performances for the Leafs.

Clayton Keller scored twice as the Arizona Coyotes rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Vinnie Hinostroza collected three assists for the Coyotes, who’ve won four of their last six contests. Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks placed defenseman Calvin de Haan (shoulder) on injured reserve.

Vancouver Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom kicked out 43 shot in a 1-0 shutout over the Carolina Hurricanes. Elias Pettersson potted the winner in overtime. Earlier in the day, the Canucks revealed goaltender Thatcher Demko was sidelined with a concussion. Vancouver winger Micheal Ferland is seeing a specialist to deal with concussion-like symptoms.

Goaltender Thomas Greiss made 32 saves as the New York Islanders held off the Florida Panthers 3-1. Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle each had two points. The Panthers scratched struggling defenseman Mike Matheson from this contest.

Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry made 17 saves to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 1-0. Bryan Rust tallied the winner in overtime. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed the game due to illness.

The St. Louis Blues halted a three-game losing skid by doubling up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. Blues winger Oskar Sundqvist returned to action after being sidelined for six games and collected a goal and an assist.

Minnesota Wild winger Jordan Greenway had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” as his club held on to beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-5. Eric Staal and Jason Zucker each had a goal and an assist for the Wild. Connor McDavid and Oscar Klefbom each collected a goal and an assist for the Oilers, who’ve dropped six of their last eight games.

The Los Angeles Kings snapped an 11-game road winless skid by edging the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. Jonathan Quick made 36 saves for the win.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS: Former NHL goaltender Tim Thomas revealed he’s been dealing with brain damage related to his playing career that’s derailed his life. Doctors told Thomas that two-thirds of his brain were getting less than 5% blood flow and the other third was averaging about 50%.

Thomas revealed the news during a press conference before his induction into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. He revealed it was a concussion suffered in Dec. 2013 that changed his life and lead to his retirement. He’s better now but still isn’t close to normal, admitting he’s had difficulty communicating with people and watching hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was heartbreaking watching an emotional Thomas reveal this to the world. I wish him well in his ongoing efforts to cope with this condition.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens forward Matthew Peca is expected to miss the next six weeks with a knee injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens mascot Youppi was voted in the Mascot Hall of Fame. Youppi got his start with the Montreal Expos and joined the Canadiens after the Expos moved to Washington.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2019

Game recaps, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens overcame a 4-1 third-period deficit to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 on a shootout goal by Paul Byron. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and two assists for the Canadiens while Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs.

Connor McDavid’s four-point performance carried the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-5 win over the L.A. Kings (Photo via NHL Images).

Connor McDavid had a four-point performance (one goal, three assists) and James Neal scored twice as the Edmonton Oilers edged the Los Angeles Kings 6-5. Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists.

Mika Zibanejad’s hat trick carried the New York Rangers to a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Zibanejad scored at even strength, shorthanded, and on the power play. Speaking of the Senators, they will retire Chris Phillips’ No. 4 during a pre-game ceremony on Feb. 18 against the Buffalo Sabres. “The Big Rig” spent his entire 17-season NHL career with the Senators, holding the franchise record for games played with 1,179.

Patric Hornqvist and Jared McCann each scored twice as the Pittsburgh Penguin thumped the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had a rare fight, tussling with Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois. It was a costly win for the Penguins as forwards Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad left the game with injuries. Updates on their status are expected later today.

Tyler Bertuzzi had a four-point performance (two goals, two assists) as the Detroit Red Wings upset the Nashville Predators 5-3. Wings goalie Jimmy Howard kicked out 39 shots for the win.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and coach Joel Quenneville picked up their first win with the Florida Panthers with a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bobrovsky made 32 saves while teammate Mike Hoffman tallied a hat trick.

The Calgary Flames blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 as David Rittich turned in a 34-save shutout. Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau had a hand in all three goals, scoring one and setting up the other two. The Canucks scratched veteran winger Loui Eriksson.

The Colorado Avalanche’s top line led the way as they doubled up the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist, Nathan MacKinnon collected two helpers and Gabriel Landeskog netted one goal. Philipp Grubauer made 29 saves to seal the victory.

Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin had three-point performances while Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson each scored twice as the Buffalo Sabres crushed the New Jersey Devils 7-2. Devils winger Taylor Hall briefly left the game after being shaken up following a collision with Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe but returned for the third period.

Third-period goals by Brayden Schenn and Sammy Blais lifted the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Blues forward Robert Thomas sat out the game with an unspecified upper-body injury.

John Gibson made 35 saves as the Anaheim Ducks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1, handing the latter their third straight loss. Second-period goals by Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique broke a 1-1 tie for the Ducks.

Jake Gardiner’s first goal with the Carolina Hurricanes was an overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. Gardiner’s goal completed a two-goal third-period rally by the Hurricanes.

A 35-save shutout by Jaroslav Halak carried the Boston Bruins to a 1-0 blanking of the Arizona Coyotes. Brad Marchand tallied the lone goal as the Bruins picked up their 15th consecutive victory over the Coyotes. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes recalled goalie Antti Raanta from his conditioning stint with their AHL affiliate.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2019

An update on NHL CBA talks, the latest on Connor McDavid, the Kings re-sign Adrian Kempe, the latest PTOs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Player Association executive director Donald Fehr said the players haven’t decided if they’ll exercise their early opt-out of the collective bargaining agreement by the Sept. 15 deadline. The PA executive board and other players met in Chicago yesterday for an update on current negotiations with the NHL. No decisions were reached regarding the CBA. Talks with the league continue on Friday.

Fehr said discussions remain pleasant and cordial. “It doesn’t mean there haven’t been disagreements and significant disagreements, but it’s so far at least free from rancor,” he said. “That’s a big improvement.” The PA and the league haven’t discussed a possible extension of the Sept. 15 deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fehr’s statement was essentially status quo. He’s not going to tip the PA’s hand while negotiations with the league are ongoing but also won’t say anything that could put those talks in jeopardy.

Escrow payments likely remain among the “significant disagreements” Fehr was alluding to. Indeed, it’s the biggest, perhaps the only, impediment toward a new agreement or an extension of the current one.

As for extending the PA’s opt-out deadline, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes that won’t fly with the league as both sides would have to agree. If so, Sept. 15 remains the next significant milestone.

No certainly Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid will be ready for the start of the season (Photo via NHL Images).

 THE SCORE: Player agent Jeff Jackson can’t say if client Connor McDavid will be fully recovered from a knee injury by the start of the Edmonton Oilers’ season on Oct. 2. The Oilers captain suffered the injury during the final game of the 2018-19 season. Jackson said McDavid hasn’t had any setbacks and is working toward getting ready for the start of training camp next week.

WINNIPEG SUN:Josh Morrissey confirmed contract-extension talks have begun with the Jets. The defenseman is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. “I’d love to get something done. I’d love to play here throughout my career,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After the recent departure of Jacob Trouba, Morrissey’s remarks will be music to the ears of Jets fans. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed center Adrian Kempe to a three-year contract with an annual average value of $2 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise Kempe got a bridge deal. After a promising 37-point rookie campaign in 2017-18, Kempe managed just 28 points last season. Cap Friendly indicates the Kings now have over $74.7 million invested in 23 players for 2019-20.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks inked restricted free agent winger Nikolay Goldobin to a one-year, $900K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is probably Goldobin’s last chance to prove himself as a reliable NHL regular with the Canucks. Another inconsistent effort could turn him into a waiver or trade candidate.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed forwards Devante Smith-Pelly, Tobias Rieder, Zac Rinaldo, and Alexandre Grenier to professional tryout offers. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers have brought back forward Troy Brouwer on a PTO.

STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: Winger Drew Stafford will attend Minnesota Wild training camp on a professional tryout offer.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano and Colorado Avalanche forward A.J. Greer pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan court to an assault charge stemming from an incident in New York on July 7. Both will be permitted to skip their next court date next month because of their respective travel schedules.

THE SCORE: NBC Sports has removed Pierre McGuire from its No. 1 broadcast team, relegating him to the second game of their doubleheaders. McGuire will be replaced by Brian Boucher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGuire has attracted criticism for his coverage in recent years. The Score observed he was “essentially forced to apologize for a series of awkward on-air exchanges with fellow analyst Kendall Coyne Schofield in January.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and former NHLers Tim Thomas and Brian Gionta are among this year’s inductees into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The taciturn Thomas was part of the conference call with reporters following the announcement, marking his first public statement since his retirement in 2014. He alluded to a “state of nervousness” since his retirement, adding he doesn’t like traveling and prefers to keep his personal life to himself.