NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2022

Milestone performances for Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied his 500th career NHL goal while teammate Kris Letang scored in overtime in a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Crosby joins Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin as the second active player to reach the 500-goal plateau and the second in Penguins history. Crosby and Letang finished the night with a goal and an assist as the Penguins move into second place in the Eastern Conference with 70 points.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The next active player in reach of 500 goals is Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos with 462.

Speaking of Ovechkin, he scored twice in a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators to reach the 30-goal mark for the 16th time in his career, sitting second to Hall-of-Famer Mike Gartner (17 seasons). Capitals coach Peter Laviolette picked up his 700th career win as the Capitals (63 points) opened a five-point lead over the Boston Bruins for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. With 60 points, the Predators dropped to the first Western Conference wild-card berth.

Meanwhile, the Bruins dropped a 2-1 decision to the New York Rangers as K’Andre Miller netted the winner in the ninth round of the shootout. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves in regulation and overtime as his club sits third in the Metropolitan Division with 66 points.

The Tampa Bay Lightning scored five straight goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit and down the New Jersey Devils 6-3. Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Pat Maroon and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who take over first place in the Eastern Conference with 70 points due to a game in hand over the Penguins. Devils rookie Dawson Mercer had a goal and two assists.

Joe Pavelski scored twice and set up two others to lead the Dallas Stars over the Colorado Avalanche 4-1, snapping the latter’s 19-game points streak. Teammate Tyler Seguin had a goal and two assists as the Stars (54 points) moved within one point of the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Avalanche, meanwhile, remains atop the overall standings with 72 points.

Speaking of that wild-card berth, the Los Angeles Kings dropped into that spot after falling 5-2 to the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Evander Kane each had a goal and an assist while teammate Kailer Yamamoto netted the winning goal by snapping a 2-2 tie. Both teams have 55 points but the Oilers moved into third place in the Pacific Division with a game in hand. The Oilers have won three straight under new head coach Jay Woodcroft.

Tyler Toffoli scored in his first game with the Calgary Flames in a 6-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Flames acquired Toffoli on Monday. Elias Lindholm had a goal and an assist as Calgary has won seven straight to take over first place in the Pacific Division with 60 points.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and collected an assist to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Robert Thomas had a goal and two assists while Pavel Buchnevich picked up three assists. The Blues hold third place in the Central Division with 61 points.

The Buffalo Sabres got two goals by Victor Olofsson in a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders. Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs each had two points for the Sabres. Kyle Palmieri scored twice for the Islanders.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

THE SCORE: Ottawa Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot missed Tuesday’s game against the Blues as he remains sore from a hit by Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson on Sunday.

TSN: The Nashville Predators signed defenseman Mark Borowiecki to a one-year, $900K contract extension.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks will return to full capacity at Rogers Arena on Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks as provincial indoor restrictions are eased this week.










Flames Acquire Toffoli From Canadiens

Flames Acquire Toffoli From Canadiens

In the first major deal before the March 21 trade deadline, the Calgary Flames acquired forward Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected), a 2024 fifth-round pick, prospect Emil Heineman and veteran forward Tyler Pitlick.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames receive a versatile two-way forward in Toffoli. He played for Calgary head coach Darryl Sutter during their days with the Los Angeles Kings so it shouldn’t take him long to reacquaint himself with Sutter’s system. The Flames were seeking secondary scoring as they push to secure a playoff berth and he should fit the bill. Toffoli’s not a rental so he’ll benefit their offense beyond this season.

Toffoli’s $4.25 million leaves the Flames with $54.45 million in projected cap space for 2022-23 invested in 12 players. It’ll be interesting to see what effect his acquisition will have upon their efforts to re-sign restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk and unrestricted free agent winger Johnny Gaudreau, who will both seek significant raises after this season.

I confess being surprised by this move as I felt the Canadiens might prefer retaining Toffoli given his affordable contract. Most pundits expected defenseman Ben Chiarot to be the first Hab dealt before the trade deadline.

This move likely signals the start of a rebuild by Canadiens VP of Hockey Ops Jeff Gorton and general manager Kent Hughes. They now have two picks in the first round of this year’s draft, with their own potentially being first-overall if they win the draft lottery. Shedding Toffoli’s contract gives them $79.8 million invested in 10 players next season, though they’ll get $7.857 million in cap relief if necessary with Shea Weber on permanent long-term injury reserve.

Elite Prospects indicates Heineman, 20, is a 2020 second-round selection by the Florida Panthers who was dealt to the Flames last year in the Sam Bennett trade. He’s a speedy 6’1”, 185-pound two-way forward who can skate on either win. He has 11 goals and 16 points in 36 games this season with the Swedish Hockey League’s Leksands IF. 

Pitlick, 30, is a veteran checking-line forward and the cousin of Canadiens forward Rem Pitlick. He’s a UFA next summer and will likely be a short-term pickup for the Habs.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2022

Check out the latest Canadiens and Canucks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey believes it’s time for the Canadiens to find a new home for Jeff Petry after the struggling 34-year-old defenseman committed a pair of gaffes that led to two recent losses. General manager Kent Hughes recently said he’ll make a deal involving the unhappy Petry if it makes sense for both sides. Hickey acknowledged the Canadiens aren’t dealing from a position of strength and clearing out Petry’s $6.25 million cap space might be more important than any return.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Easier said than done. Petry’s age, the decline in his performance this season, the remaining three years of his contract and his 15-team no-trade clause (with a no-movement to prevent demotion to the minors) are significant stumbling blocks in the path toward a trade. That deal (if it can be found) might have to wait until the offseason given the high number of teams with limited cap space this season.

SPORTSNET’s Eric Engels (stick tap to Brian Wilde) said there are 12 teams with an interest in Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot. The asking price is “at least a first”. The club is also staying patient with winger Tyler Toffoli unless they get a big offer for the 29-year-old forward.

Engels said the Canadiens are gauging Petry’s value in the trade market. He speculates the Dallas Stars or Detroit Red Wings as possible destinations. As for winger Josh Anderson, he’s unlikely to be moved. It would “cost a ton” for a team to land him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Engels’ colleague Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are believed among the suitors for Chiarot. Toffoli’s under contract for two more years at an affordable $4.25 million annually. Unless he requests a trade, the Canadiens will likely hang onto him.

Given Petry’s age and cap hit, I don’t see him as a fit with the Stars. I understand they could trade John Klingberg or let him depart via free agency but I think they’d prefer a younger and more affordable replacement. I’ve suggested the Red Wings as a trade partner given Petry’s a Michigan native but GM Steve Yzerman could also prefer younger and cheaper talent on his blueline.

I also concur with Engels’ take on Anderson. He’s among the few Habs players who consistently bring a solid effort in every game. Yes, his scoring is erratic but his energy and physical play make him worth keeping.

UPDATE ON THE CANUCKS

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson weighed in on Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek’s Saturday report claiming the Canucks could have an interest in Pavel Zacha. The 24-year-old New Jersey Devils forward is a former first-round pick who is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer and is a year away from UFA eligibility.

Simpson points out Canucks president Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin saw a lot of Zacha during their tenures with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suggests perhaps Zacha could be viewed as a potential replacement for center J.T. Miller if the Canucks should trade him before the March 21 deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting theory by Simpson. I share his concern about Zacha’s durability and desire, making him “the anti-Miller”. However, he’d be a worthwhile secondary scoring addition to augment Miller if the Canucks intend to retain him.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report hearing the Canucks linked to New York Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov, who’s playing in Russia this season awaiting a trade.

Their sources were split over whether he’d been part of any latent discussions between the Canucks and Rangers, who’ve been rumored to have an interest in J.T. Miller. Kravtsov would fit the mold of promising young players the Canucks could target leading up to the trade deadline.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 13, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 13, 2022

Could the Canucks pursue Pavel Zacha? What’s the latest on Ben Chiarot, Tyler Toffoli and Nick Ritchie? Which Red Wings could become trade candidates? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

TRADE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM SATURDAY’S “32 THOUGHTS” SEGMENT

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek believes the Vancouver Canucks could have an interest in Pavel Zacha. The 24-year-old New Jersey Devils forward is a restricted free agent this summer and is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. The Devils carry talented young centers such as Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and Dawson Mercer, leaving general manager Tom Fitzgerald with a decision to make about where Zacha fits in.

New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha is a former first-round pick who didn’t blossom into a star as expected but has become an effective secondary forward who can play center or wing. Fitzgerald could consider moving Zacha if signing him to a long-term extension proves costly or if the forward no longer fits into the Devils’ plans going forward.

Elliotte Friedman wondered if interest in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot will soon pick up. The St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames are all reportedly interested in the 30-year-old blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman noted Chiarot left the game yesterday and wondered if that might spur more interest in what he called “an already popular player.” The thought here is those clubs might want to acquire him before he suffers an injury with the Habs.

Friedman also touched briefly on teams having an interest in Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli. The versatile forward carries an affordable contract beyond this season but the Habs could be reluctant to part with him unless he asks for a trade.

Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are working on a trade for Nick Ritchie, who’s currently toiling with their AHL affiliate. He has a year remaining on his contract. If the Leafs were to buy him out it would count as $300K again next season’s cap so they might not wish to retain more than that if an interested club asked them to absorb part of his $2.5 million cap hit. It’s believed there is some traction around the league in finding Ritchie a new NHL home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman indicated Ritchie hasn’t requested a trade. The Leafs obviously want to shed as much cap space as possible before the March 21 trade deadline. It’ll be interesting to see what it takes to convince a rival club to take him off their hands.

RECENT RED WINGS SPECULATION

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan considers defenseman Nick Leddy the Detroit Red Wings’ most viable trade candidate followed perhaps by forward Vladislav Namestnikov. Both are due to become UFAs this summer. Namestnikov is having a good season but the Wings could move him to make room for younger players like Joe Veleno and Jonatan Berggren.

Khan expects defenseman Marc Staal to be re-signed. Thomas Greiss, Danny DeKeyser, Sam Gagner, Troy Stecher and Carter Rowney are also in the final year of their contracts but aren’t likely to draw much interest in the trade market.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 11, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 11, 2022

Could Mark Stone’s injury provide cap relief for the Golden Knights? Are the Panthers still pursuing Jakob Chychrun? What’s the latest on Tyler Toffoli, Rasmus Sandin and Pavel Zacha? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STONE INJURY COULD ALLOW GOLDEN KNIGHTS TO ACTIVATE EICHEL

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli took note of Vegas Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer saying captain Mark Stone continues to deal with a nagging injury that already cost him 29 games this season. If Stone should be sidelined until the playoffs, it could provide the club with the necessary cap relief to active Jack Eichel without having to trade a forward such as Reilly Smith or Evgenii Dadonov.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone (NHL Images).

Eichel’s annual average value is $10 million while Stone’s is $9.5 million. The move would also enable them to reactivate sidelined defenseman Alec Martinez.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger also weighed in on the conjecture, pointing out there’s nothing certain about the Golden Knights plans, only that league sources were speculating about it. It’s uncertain whether Stone’s injury will sideline him for the remainder of the season. If he were to return to the lineup following the trade deadline and before the end of the regular season, the club wouldn’t be able to make a cost-cutting trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Call it the “Kucherov Gambit” when a team places a player on LTIR for the remainder of the season to garner cap relief only to welcome him back into the lineup for the postseason when the salary cap doesn’t count. That’s what the Tampa Bay Lightning did last season with Nikita Kucherov. Actually, it should be known as the Patrick Kane gambit, since it was the Chicago Blackhawks who set the standard in 2015 when Kane was sidelined by a broken collarbone.

It’s a form of cap circumvention but it’s also allowed under the CBA. Some general managers might grumble but they’re not about to do anything about it because they know they can also benefit from it if facing similar circumstances.

No one’s faking an injury here. Kane and Kucherov suffered legitimate injuries that took time to heal and their recoveries were monitored by the league to ensure everything was above board cap-wise. They’ll do the same for Stone and the Golden Knights if he ends up on LTIR for the remainder of the regular season.

ARE THE PANTHERS STILL INTERESTED IN CHYCHRUN?

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked if the Panthers still had an interest in Jakob Chychrun. He believes they do but doubts they can meet the Arizona Coyotes’ asking price for the 23-year-old defenseman. He felt they would be fine with a rental like the Montreal Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot.

Richards also doused any talk of the Panthers part with rookie star Anton Lundell to acquire Chychrun, calling him untouchable. “Get his name out of any rumor right now – in fact, it probably shouldn’t have been brought up.” However, he doesn’t dismiss the notion of giving up goalie Spencer Knight for the Coyotes blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe it was Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek who suggested the Coyotes could ask for Lundell as part of the return. As Richards observed, they could ask for him but that doesn’t mean the Panthers will do it.

There’s no reason for the Panthers to part with Lundell as he’s already become an indispensable part of their lineup. Trading him for Chychrun would address their need for another skilled puck-moving blueliner but it would create a hole on their forward lines that could prove difficult to plug.

LATEST TIDBITS FROM TSN’S INSIDERS AND SPORTSNET’S 32 THOUGHTS

TSN: Discussing what could be next for the Edmonton Oilers following yesterday’s coaching change, Darren Dreger suggests their need for a top-four defenseman is greater than their requirement for reliable goaltending depth. He considers the addition of a right-shot blueline a priority.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still believe addressing their goaltending is the priority. Given the limited options available or the cost of acquiring Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury if they’re not on his 10-team no-trade list, adding a defenseman would be the next best option. The Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg would be the best rental blueliner but the Oilers might not have sufficient assets to win a bidding war for his services.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman repeated his speculation that the Calgary Flames could be interested in Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli. He also suggested a reunion with the Los Angeles Kings, who are seeking some scoring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli is also the type of player the Canadiens could prefer retaining for their upcoming rebuild. If he forces the issue and wants out, the Habs could seek a first-round pick and either a top prospect or good young NHL player in return.

There were rumblings the Dallas Stars may have considered a coaching change. Friedman believes they’d decided to stick with head coach Rick Bowness.

Friedman would be surprised if the Toronto Maple Leafs traded defenseman Rasmus Sandin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As would I. It would be premature to give up on him for a quick fix.

Despite speculation about Nick Paul’s future with the Ottawa Senators, a source told Friedman he’s pessimistic Paul would be available by the trade deadline.

Teams are showing interest in New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha and New York Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov, who is expected to return to the NHL next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha was the sixth-overall pick by the Devils in 2015. While he hasn’t blossomed into a star as hoped, he’s put up decent numbers in a secondary role.

The 24-year-old Zacha is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. The Devils could be reluctant to part with him but perhaps they’ll entertain offers if they feel he’ll be difficult to retain beyond 2023.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2022

Could the Flames have an interest in Tyler Toffoli or Christian Dvorak? Are the Capitals any closer to acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury? What’s the latest on the Leafs? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE FLAMES PURSUE TOFFOLI OR DVORAK?

THE JEFF MAREK SHOW: Elliotte Friedman said “a lot of people” think Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli could end up with the Calgary Flames by the trade deadline. He feels it makes a lot of sense. The Flames are in the market for secondary scoring plus Toffoli played for head coach Darryl Sutter during their tenures with the Los Angeles Kings.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

Friedman also mentioned there’s “some traction from teams in the West” who’ve seen Christian Dvorak quite a bit during his tenure with the Arizona Coyotes. They liked what they saw then and believe what they’re seeing of his play with the Canadiens isn’t him. Marek wondered whether the Flames would be interested, pointing out Dvorak and Flames star Matthew Tkachuk played together with the OHL’s London Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens management could prefer retaining Toffoli and Dvorak. They carry reasonable contracts and they would maintain some veteran skill if the front office is going forward with a roster rebuild as expected. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t listen to offers.

If the Flames are interested in either guy it’s going to cost them. The asking price could include a first-round pick and a top prospect such as Jakob Pelletier, Matt Coronato, Connor Zary or Dustin Wolf. I don’t believe the Canadiens will be interested in fading 27-year-old center Sean Monahan, who’s only a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

CAPITALS UNABLE TO LAND FLEURY

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the Capitals made a push to acquire the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury. However, it appears their efforts to land the 37-year-old goaltender was unsuccessful.

Seravalli also said the Capitals were in the market for a “jack-of-all-trades” forward who can work well with the club’s younger players. Potential trade chips include their 2022 first-round pick, goaltender Vitek Vanecek and defenseman Michal Kempny.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim beyond Fleury for contenders like the Capitals who are in the market for a goalie upgrade. As for Capitals trade bait, The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir also listed Carl Hagelin, Daniel Sprong, Justin Schultz and the Capitals 2020 second-round pick in his “let’s talk” tier.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel listed prospects Matthew Knies, Nick Robertson and Rodion Amirov, a first-round pick in 2022, and defenseman Travis Dermott among his list of possible trade assets for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Blueliners Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl, winger Nick Ritchie and their 2023 first-rounder as other potential trade chips.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran speculates Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin could find themselves as trade bait by the March 21 deadline. He pointed out Leafs GM Kyle Dubas brought them up unprompted during a recent interview, indicating he wants to see what they can do over the next several weeks. McGran also believes Dubas could be reluctant to part with draft picks after having just three picks in last year’s draft and only three in this year’s.

Liljegren and Sandin could be the Leafs’ best trade chips if they’re seeking a player with term on his contract who can help them beyond this season. Whether they have enough value to draw that type of return has yet to be determined.