NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2022

Leon Draisaitl is this season’s first 50-goal, 100-point player, Jonathan Huberdeau sets a franchise record as his Panthers clinch a playoff berth, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist to become this season’s first 50-goal, 100-point player in a 6-1 thrashing of the Anaheim Ducks. Connor McDavid scored his 40th goal of the season and chipped in two assists as the Oilers (85 points) moved to within one point of the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. McDavid still leads the scoring race with 105 points while Draisaitl is second at 101. The latter is also second in goals with 50, one behind Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducks winger Troy Terry missed this game due to facial injuries suffered when he received multiple punches from Arizona Coyotes center Jay Beagle on Friday. Beagle received no supplemental discipline for his actions.

The Florida Panthers are the first team to clinch a playoff berth after defeating the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. Jonathan Huberdeau scored to set a franchise record with his 97th point of the season while teammate Anthony Duclair tallied two goals for the Panthers, who sit atop the Eastern Conference with 102 points.

Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek scored two goals and set up another in a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Jordan Greenway collected three assists as the Wild extended their points streak to 10 games and sit in second place in the Central Division with 91 points. The Capitals hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 84 points, seven back of the Boston Bruins.

An overtime goal by Shea Theodore lifted the Vegas Golden Knights over the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and an assist while Robin Lehner returned to action with a 26-save performance after being sidelined 10 games with a lower-body injury. The Golden Knights vaulted ahead of the Dallas Stars into the second Western Conference wild-card berth with 82 points while the Canucks sit eight points back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have won just three of their last 10 games. With 12 games remaining in their schedule, they face long odds of clinching a wild-card spot.

The Philadelphia Flyers blew a 3-0 lead but managed to defeat the New York Rangers 4-3 on a shootout goal by Kevin Hayes. Martin Jones got the win with a 43-save performance. Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist for the Rangers (94 points), who hold a two-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Speaking of the Stars, they fell 4-1 to the Seattle Kraken. Chris Driedger made 29 saves while Alex Wennberg, Carson Soucy and Karson Kuhlman each had two points.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere scored in overtime in a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Before the game, the Blackhawks honored captain Jonathan Toews for recently reaching the 1,000 career NHL game milestone.

Cory Schneider made 27 saves in his first start in over two seasons to backstop the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Jean-Gabriel Pageau tallied a hat trick while Kyle Palmieri and Adam Pelech each had three points. Devils center Jack Hughes left the game after suffering a leg injury from a hit by Isles forward Oliver Wahlstrom.

Ottawa Senators center Josh Norris scored his first career NHL hat trick in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Forward Mathieu Joseph collected three assists for the Senators in their first home game since the death of Eugene Melnyk, who was honored by the club in a pre-game ceremony.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Senators forward Tyler Ennis was playing in his 700th career game but left the contest in the first period with what has been diagnosed as a season-ending upper-body injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 29, 2022

The Rangers retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30, the Stars retire Sergei Zubov’s No. 56, plus the latest on Evander Kane, Jonathan Toews, Nathan MacKinnon, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers retired Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony before dropping a 3-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild. Frederick Gaudreau tallied the game-winner as the Wild overcame a 2-0 deficit. Kevin Fiala and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist for the Wild (55 points), sitting nine points ahead of the Calgary Flames in the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Rangers were without defenseman Adam Fox, who’s been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and could miss next weekend’s NHL All-Star Game.

Henrik Lundqvist and his family watch his No. 30 being raised to the rafters at Madison Square Garden (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist becomes the 11th player in Rangers history to have his number retired. He’s their all-time leader among Blueshirts netminders in games-played (887), wins (459), shutouts (64), and save percentage (.918), and is just the fourth Rangers to win the Vezina Trophy (2012). He’s a lock for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Hall-of-Fame defenseman Sergei Zubov had his No. 56 retired by the Dallas Stars in a pregame ceremony but they went to fall 5-0 to the Washington Capitals. Vitek Vanecek had a 29-save shutout while Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists as the Capitals chased former teammate Braden Holtby from the Stars net after two periods. Washington (57 points) sits four points up on the Boston Bruins in the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot while the Stars (46 points) remain behind the Flames in the Western wild-card race.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zubov spent his first four NHL seasons with the Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins before going on to spend the remaining 12 years of his career with the Stars. He played a key role in their rise as a Stanley Cup contender in the late-1990s and early-2000s, helping them win the Cup in 1999. He’s their all-time leader in goals (111), assists (438) and points (549) among defensemen.

The Colorado Avalanche picked up their ninth straight win by hanging on to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4. Gabriel Landeskog scored twice and collected an assist while Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists for the Avs (65 points), who are 14-0-1 through January as they take over first place in the overall standings. Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel each tallied twice for the Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Each team was without a key player in this contest. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon suffered a facial fracture and a concussion following a hit by Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall on Wednesday and will be sidelined for the next three games before next week’s All-Star break. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews entered concussion protocol as the result of a hit from Detroit Red Wings forward Joe Veleno on Wednesday.

Speaking of the Bruins, they held on to defeat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. David Pastrnak collected two assists, Linus Ullmark kicked out 30 shots and Charlie McAvoy scored what proved to be the winning goal in the second period. The Bruins played without goalie Tuukka Rask as he’s sidelined with a lower-body injury. With 53 points, they hold a nine-point lead over the Detroit Red Wings for the final Eastern wild-card berth.

As for the Red Wings, they got a 36-save effort from Calvin Pickard and a shootout goal by rookie Lucas Raymond to nip the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Jake Guentzel tallied both goals for the Penguins, who move atop the Metropolitan Division with 61 points.

IN OTHER NEWS…

DAILY FACEOFF: Former NHL executive Chris Gear analyzed how the results of the NHL’s investigation into Evander Kane could affect his grievance with the San Jose Sharks over their termination of his contract. The investigation didn’t find sufficient evidence that Kane violated COVID protocols for traveling to Canada while he was supposed to be isolating following a positive COVID test.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recommend reading the entire piece. In a nutshell, Gear expects an arbitrator could rule in Kane’s favor where he received the full remaining entitlement from his terminated contract. The Sharks could face some sort of salary-cap charge but could also get some measure of cap relief as a consequence of his signing with the Oilers. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres hope Craig Anderson or Dustin Tokarski will be ready to play tonight after goaltender Michael Houser entered COVID protocols on Friday.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers sent goaltender Spencer Knight to their AHL affiliate after Jonas Johansson cleared COVID protocols. It’s not a demotion but a move to activate some players.

TSN: Tonight’s game between the Seattle Kraken and New York Islanders has been postponed due to a snowstorm in the New York area.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 25, 2022

The latest Blackhawks speculation includes the Capitals having an interest in Marc-Andre Fleury plus the latest Claude Giroux, Ben Chiarot, Jakub Chychrun and J.T. Miller in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports a league source told him anyone on the Chicago Blackhawks could be had in the trade market. That doesn’t mean they’re shopping players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat. However, they would do so if Toews or Kane asked to be moved and would at least listen if someone came calling about DeBrincat.

Powers considers Toews, Kane and Seth Jones to be pretty much untouchable. It would take significant offers to pry players such as DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Lukas Reichel and Brandon Hagel away from the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks could end up giving a first-round pick in 2022 or 2023 to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the conditions for acquiring Jones. However, Powers doesn’t see them giving away a player they covet simply to fill a draft spot.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

Powers believes Marc-Andre Fleury will have the best trade value for the Blackhawks, followed by winger Dominik Kubalik and defenseman Calvin de Haan. Fleury and de Haan are unrestricted free agents. Kubalik is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights but the $4 million it’ll take to qualify his rights could dampen his value in the trade market.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell told Frank Seravalli and Ryan S. Clark that she believes there’s a greater than 50 percent chance the Capitals could have a new goaltender by the trade deadline. She thinks they’re among the teams interested in Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any trade involving Toews, Kane or DeBrincat takes place in the offseason. Swinging the kind of deal it would take to move any of those players takes time and assets that interested clubs probably don’t have right now. That’s assuming Toews or Kane are willing to be traded or that a rival club can make an offer substantial enough to convince the Hawks to part with DeBrincat.

Fleury’s been linked to the Capitals several times in recent weeks as concern mounts over the status of their goaltending. They have just over $2 million in projected deadline cap space but that still won’t be enough to take on Fleury without the Blackhawks retaining some of the remainder of his $7 million cap hit or the Capitals freeing up some cap room. That’s assuming they’re not on his 10-team no-trade list.

SUGGESTED TRADE DESTINATIONS FOR GIROUX AND CHIAROT

SPORTSNET: During their recent “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed possible trade destinations for Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot.

Friedman considers the Colorado Avalanche a good fit for Giroux if he wants to chase a Stanley Cup provided they can make the cap dollars fit. Marek also suggested the Dallas Stars’ Joe Pavelski as another fit for the Avs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche seems to be linked to everybody, don’t they? I don’t rule out the possibility of general manager Joe Sakic making a move by the March 21 trade deadline. However, the Avalanche are pressed for cap space, requiring some creativity on Sakic’s part to take on the remainder of Giroux’s $8.275 million cap hit for this season if he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause to join the Avs.

As for Pavelski, he’s expressed his desire to stay with Dallas. While the Stars could shop unhappy defenseman John Klingberg before the deadline, I wouldn’t be surprised if they retain Pavelski if the two sides feel they can get a deal done before he becomes a UFA in July.

Regarding Chiarot, Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames have an interest in the Canadiens blueliner. He also wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs might pursue him, pointing out they were interested in Chiarot before he signed with Montreal but couldn’t make it work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Avalanche, the Leafs also carry limited cap space, though absorbing the remainder of Chiarot’s $3.5 million cap hit wouldn’t be as challenging as it would for the Avs to take on the more expensive Giroux. GM Kyle Dubas has shown the ability to swing deals with a tight payroll in the past so we shouldn’t reject that possibility out of hand.

The Canadiens’ rumored ask for Chiarot is a first-round pick. Don’t forget that Dubas parted with his 2021 first-rounder last year for Nick Foligno. Will he part with another first-rounder for another rental player this year? Stay tuned…

LATEST ON JAKOB CHYCHRUN AND J.T. MILLER

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple weighed in on a recent report by Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman reporting the New York Rangers made a trade offer to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Jakob Chychrun centered around Vitali Kravtsov. The 23-year-old winger is playing in Russia this season awaiting a trade by the Rangers.

Unless there are more pieces to a deal for Chychrun, it won’t address the Rangers’ need for more scoring punch on the wings. Adding Chychrun, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.6 million, could complicate things when left-side defenseman K’Andre Miller becomes a restricted free agent in 2023.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan believes we should be careful about the rumors regarding what’s being offered to the Coyotes for Chychrun, especially when it gets too specific about the Coyotes’ asking price. He doubts GM Bill Armstrong will get into specifics about what he’s seeking for Chychrun. He’s not going to limit his asking price as that would close off alternatives.

Morgan also dismisses reports that those trade talks are heating up when the trade deadline is two months away, calling it a “media-driven narrative”. He reminds us that agents and league executives love to stir the pot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A sensible take by Morgan. One need only look at the trade market where we’ve seen just one trade so far this month compared to four in December and three in November to see just how quiet things are right now. General managers and agents are probably talking, and some could be dropping tidbits to their media pals to drive to generate some activity, but moves involving notable players appear weeks away.

Business should start to pick up as we go through February and intensify once the calendar flips to March. Whether Chychrun gets moved over the next two months remains to be seen. Armstrong doesn’t have to move him by the trade deadline. He can afford to wait until the offseason to get the deal he likes.

SPORTSNET 650: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli believes the Vancouver Canucks could get more than a first-round pick and a highly-touted prospect if they were to trade J.T. Miller. He felt the New York Rangers has expressed some interest in Miller, as well as the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Canucks making any significant roster moves until they’ve hired a new general manager, which should take place within the next couple of weeks. I also doubt they’ll move a core player like Miller if they’re still in the playoff hunt by the March 21 trade deadline. They’re also unlikely to be in a big hurry to move him since he’s still got a year left on his contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 15, 2021

A look at the top potential trade targets now that Jack Eichel’s off the market in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy and Matt Larkin examined several possible trade targets now that Jack Eichel is finally off the trade market.

Kennedy kicked things off by suggesting Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel as the most obvious choice. He also wondered what the market would be for defenseman Kris Letang if the Pittsburgh Penguins decide the postseason isn’t in the cards for them this season. Despite his injury history and age, the 34-year-old remains a solid offensive blueliner who could fetch a decent return should the Penguins decide to rebuild.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel is going to be traded at some point between now and the March 21 trade deadline. He’s an unrestricted free agent next summer who doesn’t fit into the rebuilding Coyotes’ plans and he wants a chance to earn a new contract by playing with a playoff contender this season. He’s being paid only $1 million in actual salary but his $6.8 million cap hit likely means cap-strapped suitors could wait until closer to the trade deadline.

Like Kessel, Letang is a UFA next summer. While his name briefly surfaced in trade speculation over the past couple of years, he has indicated his desire to finish his career with the Penguins. He won’t be going anywhere if management feels the same way.

Kennedy noted that Letang has a modified no-trade clause allowing him to be moved to 18 teams. He’s also earning $7.25 million in cap hit and actual salary, meaning he would be a more likely trade candidate near the deadline if he and the Penguins decide it’s time to move on.

Larkin suggests center Tomas Hertl as a trade candidate if the San Jose Sharks slide out of playoff contention. Another one could be Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano, prompting Larkin to wonder if the Calgary Flames might attempt to reacquire their former captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl could be the most desirable trade target depending on what the market looks like after the calendar flips to 2022. The 28-year-old center hopes to soon discuss a new contract with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson but there’s no certainty they’ll reach an agreement on an extension before the trade deadline.

The Kraken making Giordano their captain suggests they’re confident of signing the 38-year-old defenseman to a contract extension. If that doesn’t work out, they could consider moving him before deadline day. Maybe the Flames would try to bring him back as a rental but that will depend on what their needs are as the trade deadline approaches.

Returning to the Penguins, Larkin noted Evgeni Malkin is also in the final year of his contract. The 35-year-old center is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Once he returns to the lineup the club will have a better idea of how the standings might shake out. Malkin could be a player they could get a lot for in the trade market if they decide it’s time to move on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin’s in the same boat as Letang. He’s also hinted that he’d like to finish his career in Pittsburgh. He has a full no-movement clause and is earning $9.5 million in cap hit and actual salary. He would generate plenty of interest if the Penguins shop him but moving that contract won’t be easy.

Larkin also mentioned Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury as a trade candidate. He suggested the Edmonton Oilers as a club that might want to kick tires on Fleury or current free agent Tuukka Rask.

Staying with the Blackhawks, Larkin raised the possibility of Patrick Kane as a trade chip, noting he’s got a year remaining on his contract with a $10.5 million cap hit. He acknowledged that would make it difficult to move the 32-year-old winger but he would be appealing as a two-year rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has popped up in recent weeks as a potential trade chip for the Blackhawks later in the season. His $7 million cap hit ($6 million in actual salary) and 10-team no-trade clause would make it difficult for a team with little or no cap space (like the Oilers) to acquire him.

As for Kane, I don’t see the Blackhawks having that conversation with him until the offseason unless he asks to be moved before the deadline. The Hawks need a long-overdue rebuild. Kane and team captain Jonathan Toews could be shopped if they don’t want to be part of it. They both carry identical contracts with full no-movement clauses, which is why I believe any attempt by the Blackhawks to move either guy will have to wait until next summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2021

Could the struggling Blackhawks trade Marc-Andre Fleury to the Oilers? What other moves should they make this season? Read on to find out in today’s NHL rumor mill

YARDBARKER: TSN’s Chris Johnston and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have speculated over whether Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury could become a trade candidate at some point during the season.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Fleury was at the top of Friedman’s list of potential Blackhawks trade assets. He hinted Edmonton could be a trade destination during an appearance on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer.

Johnston, meanwhile, expressed his view that it’s reasonable to link the 36-year-old goaltender to the Oilers during a recent podcast. “I think that they (Oilers) understand what this season means. I see them trading for a (defenseman) before the deadline and I see them getting another goaltender and that goaltender might be the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.”

Acknowledging the Oilers aren’t the only team that could use a goaltender and has a chance to be competitive, Johnston wondered if Fleury would like the idea of playing for a team as good as the Oilers look thus far this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Blackhawks looking to move Fleury at some point before the March 21 trade deadline. Whether the Oilers can land him, however, is another matter.

Fleury’s contract will be a problem for the Oilers. Cap Friendly shows them sitting over $5 million above the salary cap with Oscar Klefbom, Josh Archibald and Alex Stalock on long-term injury reserve. He carries a $7 million cap hit this season and a 10-team no-trade clause. They’ll have to shed salary or convince the Blackhawks to retain part of his cap hit to make this work.

The Oilers are already carrying Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen as their current goalie tandem. One of them will have to go to make room for Fleury. The automatic assumption would be Koskinen but he has a 15-team no-trade and a $4.5 million cap hit. He’s been playing well thus far this season but he still has a history of inconsistent performance.

The possibility of playing for the Oilers could be enticing but there’s no certainty they’re among his choice of preferred trade destinations. If they’re not, there’s no certainty he’ll waive his no-trade clause to go to Edmonton.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski suggested the Blackhawks should approach Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to determine if they wish to finish their careers in Chicago if the club goes into a full rebuild. A former NHL general manager told Wyshynski the Blackhawks should attempt to move them to a club with Stanley Cup aspirations in hope of reaping a return that can help the rebuilding process.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski duly noted both players are signed through 2022-23 with identical $10.5 million cap hits and full no-movement clauses. Nevertheless, it would be worthwhile to find out whether they’re on board with being part of a full-fledged roster rebuild. If they’re not, then they need to give management a list of preferred trade destinations.

Wyshynski believes the Blackhawks should retain Dominik Kubalik. The 26-year-old forward is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights but could be part of the solution along with young players like Alex DeBrincat and a few others. He recommends trying to move the rest of their pending free agents, including perhaps trying to ship Fleury back to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Blackhawks must also make a decision about recently acquired defenseman Seth Jones, whose eight-year, $76 million contract kicks in next season. There’s no chance they’ll recoup what they gave up to the Columbus Blue Jackets (two first-rounders, defenseman Adam Boqvist and a second-rounder). Wyshynski wondered if they could find a taker for Jones if they opt to go into a full rebuild or if he’ll become a pillar for the Blackhawks to rebuild around.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be easier to find a trade partner for Jones if he were playing as well as he did prior to last season. The ongoing decline in his performance coupled with that big contract could make him almost impossible to move.

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers report the Blackhawks aren’t in any rush to find a full-time replacement for recently fire head coach Jeremy Colliton. Derek King has taken over the role on an interim basis. Interim general manager Kyle Davidson said the club will conduct that search during the offseason.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2021

What’s next for the Blackhawks after firing their head coach? Will the Stars make a cost-cutting deal soon? Find out in this edition of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WHAT ELSE IS IN STORE FOR THE STRUGGLING BLACKHAWKS?

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers wondered what other changes could be in store for the Chicago Blackhawks after interim general manager Kyle Davidson replaced Jeremy Colliton as head coach yesterday with Derek King on an interim basis.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

The Blackhawks GM could spend the next 10-15 games to determine if moves need to be made to help the club improve or nudge it toward getting worse and improve their chances of keeping their 2022 first-round pick. That selection was part of the deal in acquiring Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets but Powers points out the Blackhawks would retain that pick if they finish low enough in the standings and have the draft lottery balls drop in their favor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly has the details of the conditions for the Blackhawks’ 2022 first-round pick.

Powers feels the Blackhawks have a handful of players they could move this season, suggesting Marc-Andre Fleury and Dominik Kubalik as trade candidates. Fleury, Calvin de Haan, Ryan Carpenter and Kevin Lankinen are among their notable upcoming unrestricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury’s struggling behind the Blackhawks’ porous defense. However, there could be playoff contenders willing to bet the 36-year-old netminder will regain last season’s Vezina Trophy-winning form on a better club. His $7 million cap hit, however, could keep him in Chicago until the weeks leading up to the March 21 trade deadline.

Kubalik carries an affordable $3.7 million cap hit and is just two seasons removed from his 30-goal NHL debut. He’s also a restricted free agent with arbitrations rights next summer, which could make him a more enticing option for teams seeking a scoring winger they can keep beyond this season.

Prior to Colliton’s firing, Mark Lazerus pondered the fate of Dylan Strome. The 24-year-old center has been a healthy scratch in most of the Blackhawks games this season and often sees checking-line duty when he gets into the lineup. Given the club’s struggles, Lazerus wondered why they won’t at least move Strome up in the lineup and put him with some skilled linemates.

Lazerus noted the Blackhawks have tried trading Strome for nearly a year, suggesting the recent management change clouded his situation. Even if they could find a team to ship him to, they’d be selling low right now on one of their best trade chips.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks might have to accept a lesser return for Strome. There’s obviously not much of a market for him right now and they’ve done him and themselves no favors by keeping him in the press box for most of this season. Like Kubalik, he’s an RFA with arbitration rights next summer.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes there are players the Blackhawks shouldn’t consider trading, such as Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach. However, he suggests Davidson should contemplate shopping long-time stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. While they each carry $10.5 million cap hits, they’ve got just one season left on their contracts following this one. Proteau thinks a team poised for a long Stanley Cup run could be willing to take on one or the other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It comes down to whether Toews and Kane will agree to be moved. Both carry full no-movement clauses and might not be keen to waive them despite the Blackhawks’ struggles. Perhaps that decision is made next summer. It would be easier if they approached management and requested to be traded but there’s no certainty they’ll do that.

LATEST ON THE STARS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Stars goaltender Ben Bishop is now technically eligible to come off long-term injury reserve. However, that decision remains with Bishop and general manager Jim Nill.

Bishop’s been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery last fall. The 34-year-old goalie has been practicing with the Stars but they lack sufficient cap space to take him off LTIR. They can accomplish this by sending players to the minors or via trades.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars already have two goaltenders in Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin. Holtby, 32, has seen the bulk of their starts this season and sports a solid 2.46 goals against average and .924 save percentage. He also carries an affordable one-year, $2 million contract and lacks no-trade protection. Perhaps he becomes a trade candidate when the Stars decide to reactivate Bishop.