NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, Pierre-Luc Dubois benched, an update on the four Capitals sidelined under COVID-19 protocols, and a lengthy list of injuries in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 in the second game of their three-game series. With the score tied 2-2 following the first period, the Canadiens blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

Montreal winger Joel Armia also scored twice but suffered a concussion late in the third period from a blindside hit by Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Habs forward Paul Byron also left in the third after being struck in the leg by a shot from teammate Shea Weber. Canucks defensemen Travis Hamonic and Alexander Edler missed the game with upper-body injuries, while blueliner Jalen Chatfield suffered a first-period upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli now has five goals in two games against his former club this season. It’s uncertain if Myers will receive supplemental discipline for his cheap shot on Armia. The Canadiens and Canucks will play the final game of this series on Saturday, with the Habs unbeaten in regulation (3-0-2) thus far.

Jake DeBrusk tallied the only goal in a shootout to give the Boston Bruins a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Nick Ritchie had a goal and an assist while David Krejci collected two assists. James van Riemsdyk tallied twice and Jakub Voracek collected three assists for the Flyers, who gave up 43 shots in this contest. The Flyers played without forward Morgan Frost (dislocated shoulder, injured reserve) and defenseman Philippe Myers (fractured rib, week-to-week).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a big win for the Bruins, who entered this game sitting dead-last in goals for per game (1.00). A porous defense saw the Flyers blow 2-0 and 3-2 leads in this game. The injuries are piling up for the Flyers, who were also playing without Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their third straight win by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brayden Point. Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched for almost the entire game, seeing less than four minutes of ice time in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts victory was overshadowed by Dubois’ benching. This is ramping up speculation over the 22-year-old center’s future with the Blue Jackets and his relationship with head coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle tallied twice in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Isles center Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists. Josh Bailey returned to the Isles lineup after spending one day on the club’s COVID-19 absence list. The Devils were without starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was placed on the club’s COVID list, though that doesn’t mean he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 4-1. The Jets took control of the game with three unanswered second-period goals. Jets winger Patrik Laine missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings got their first win of the season by doubling up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. The Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit with Adrian Kempe netting the game-winner in the third period. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist for the Avs.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19. Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absence list on Wednesday. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov will miss at least four games while Samsonov could be sidelined longer. It remains to be seen if the other three tested positive.

Samsonov’s positive test triggered contact testing within the Capitals dressing room, leading to the NHL discovering the four players spent time socializing in the team hotel without facial coverings on multiple occasions. The league fined the Capitals $100K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits and fans questioned the NHL’s protocols when this story broke on Wednesday. The bottom line is the Capitals, and every other team in the league knew what the protocols were before this season started. The NHLPA voted for them. Every player had the opportunity to opt-out of playing this season. The players involved in this incident broke those rules and must now suffer the consequences.

The NHL’s COVID protocols were based on CDC and Health Canada guidelines enabling the 31 NHL teams to stage this season in their home arenas. They must also follow local guidelines.

Those rules have had an effect upon this season. A ban on non-essential travel at the Canada-US border has limited Canadian teams to playing among themselves during the regular season. The San Jose Sharks started this season on the road because Santa Clara County has prohibited all sports activities due to high local COVID levels.

The NHL has already postponed games involving the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes because of COVID outbreaks. They cannot risk further spread jeopardizing the season because some players won’t adhere to the rules.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola will each be sidelined several weeks with undisclosed injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford shopping for help. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson is sidelined for six weeks with an oblique muscle injury.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (medical reasons) is questionable for his club’s season-opener on Friday against the Nashville Predators.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews left practice early yesterday as he wasn’t feeling great, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe. His status will be updated today. Forward Joe Thornton is expected to miss some games with an upper-body injury.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Dillon Dube is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

WGR550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton will miss at least two games with a head injury. Sabres starter Linus Ullmark revealed he missed Monday’s game against Philadelphia as he was grieving the death of his father in Sweden. Ullmark returned to practice and is slated to travel with the club for their upcoming two-game series against Washington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ullmark during this difficult time.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 9, 2020

The NHL’s free-agent market opens at noon ET today. Check out the latest speculation on Alex Pietrangelo, Taylor Hall, Torey Krug and many more in today’s rumor mill.

PIETRANGELO

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo could head to market today (NHL Images).

  TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was ready to go to market as of yesterday afternoon. He’s up to visiting with interested clubs that are willing to have him travel. It could take a couple of days until he reaches a decision on his destination and next contract. The Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs could be among the interested parties.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports it could take moving a high-profile Leaf or two, such as William Nylander or Frederik Andersen, to free up cap space to sign Pietrangelo. He feels general manager Kyle Dubas has hinted that’s not going to happen, giving Andersen a vote of confidence while staying out of the Matt Murray trade market.

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi expects Pietrangelo will be too costly for the Philadelphia Flyers. He suggests more affordable options like Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Boston’s Torey Krug or Calgary’s T.J. Brodie.

EKMAN-LARSSON

TSN: Darren Dreger said the Arizona Coyotes might not be able to meet the Friday trade deadline set by defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’ll only waive his no-movement clause for the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report the Canucks appear the more interested buyer for Ekman-Larsson.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report the parameters of a deal with the Canucks would include “a draft pick of some magnitude, an inefficient contract from their bottom-six and a prospect.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: cites TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting the Bruins don’t like Arizona’s asking price. The Coyotes are believed to prefer the Bruins’ prospects over the Canucks.

HALL

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report there’s some talk Coyotes winger Taylor Hall would consider a reunion with the Edmonton Oilers. It would be difficult to achieve that unless the Oilers shed some salary.

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers suggests Hall would be a perfect fit for the Colorado Avalanche’s second line. He’s open to a short-term deal, perhaps a one-year contract that could pave the way for a longer contract in free agency after next season.

THE ATHLETIC: With the Columbus Blue Jackets shedding salary yesterday, Aaron Portzline wonders if they might get into the bidding for Hall. Other options could include Florida’s Mike Hoffman or Evgenii Dadonov or Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli.

MARKSTROM

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report the Vancouver Canucks remain confident of re-signing Jacob Markstrom despite persistent rumors linking the goaltender to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Oilers are among the teams that could be interested in Markstorm if he goes to market today.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman reported the Flames, Detroit Red Wings and Oilers (despite their salary-cap constraints) could pursue Markstrom.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples doesn’t see how the Oilers could afford Markstrom, who could seek $6 million annually on a long-term deal.

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson believes Markstrom should be the Flames’ top target in the UFA market. He feels Markstrom could become the high-end goalie they’ve been missing since Miikka Kiprusoff retired.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks listed the Minnesota Wild as a possible destination for Markstrom if he goes to market.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Sarah McLellan also included Markstrom among possible Wild UFA targets. Other options could include Washington’s Braden Holtby and Chicago Corey Crawford.

FLEURY

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Vegas Golden Knights have put trading goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on the side burner for now. His no-trade clause and $7 million annual average value makes him difficult to move.

HOLTBY

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is garnering interest from the Oilers.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild could be interested in Holtby.

KRUG

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report of increased chatter suggesting the Red Wings could pursue Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. He was raised in a Detroit suburb and seeks long-term security. The Wings have the cap space to make a lucrative offer.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman would like to address his blueline issues with one or two defenseman signings. It remains to be seen if he’ll pursue Krug. Yzerman said he expects to be “relatively conservative” in the free-agent market.

KHUDOBIN

TSN: Goaltender Anton Khudobin is heading to market after talks broke off with the Stars. The Flames could be interested, along with the Canucks if they fail to re-sign Jacob Markstrom or the Golden Knights if they can move Marc-Andre Fleury.

TOFFOLI AND TANEV

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Chris Tanev are heading to market.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Toffoli tops Brian Witt’s list of possible free-agent targets for the San Jose Sharks.

BRODIE AND HAMONIC

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Flames renewed contract talks with defenseman T.J. Brodie. Dreger also believes Flames blueliner Travis Hamonic would sign with his hometown Winnipeg Jets but there’s not a lot of interest at the moment. The Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Oilers could be among Hamonic’s suitors.

BARRIE

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman reported the Oilers could have an interest in Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie as a short-term replacement for sidelined blueliner Oscar Klefbom.

GREISS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss could draw interest from the Canucks if they fail to re-sign Markstrom or Vegas if they trade Fleury.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggested Greiss or Cam Talbot could be a fit with the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The opening hours of the free-agent period tend to be very busy with the best available players being quickly signed. However, it will be interesting to see how the flattened salary cap affects the market and the pace of the signings.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 7, 2020

Entering the second day of the 2020 Draft, here’s a look at the latest trade and free agent speculation in the NHL rumor mill.

EKMAN-LARSSON SETS TRADE DEADLINE

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the agent for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will stick with the Arizona Coyotes if a trade to the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks doesn’t materialize by Friday.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t give Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong much time to hammer out a deal with the Bruins or Canucks. It could also affect what type of return he could get. Depending on how much pressure Armstrong’s getting from Coyotes ownership to move Ekman-Larsson’s contract, he could end up getting a lot less than he hoped.

Coyotes insider Craig Morgan believes Armstrong seeks a combination of draft picks and prospects for Ekman-Larsson. He cites two sources claiming Armstrong sought goalie Thatcher Demko as part of the return from the Canucks but that’s a non-starter. Morgan also noted the Bruins have two good young players in winger Jake DeBrusk and defenseman Brandon Carlo that could interest the Coyotes if they’re looking to do more than just shed salary and look for a brighter future down the road.

LAINE LINKED TO FLYERS

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall notes the latest trade speculation linking the Flyers to Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine but he thinks we should pump the brakes on that speculation. He believes it could cost the Flyers a good young defenseman such as Travis Sanheim or Philippe Myers or possibly a good young center off their roster or in their system. The economic uncertainty facing the league going forward could also make it difficult for the Flyers to re-sign Laine, who’s a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher probably inquired into Laine’s availability but he could face paying a steep price. The Jets need a second-line center and a top-four defenseman and the asking price for Laine could include one or both of those pieces. The young sniper could also seek a significant raise over his current $6.75 million cap hit.

LATEST ON STAMKOS AND JOHNSON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun acknowledged the speculation that Steven Stamkos isn’t listed among the Tampa Bay Lightning’s untouchables. However, he considers it unlikely Stamkos will be moved, citing his expensive contract (with a full no-movement clause) and his value to the Lightning as their captain.

However, the Lightning are pressing on with other possible moves. LeBrun reports Tyler Johnson’s agent has presented general manager Julien BriseBois with five or six teams he’d waive his no-trade clause for, though nothing is currently imminent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Stamkos is traded. Johnson, on the other hand, sounds more of a trade possibility now that he’s provided Bolts management with a list of preferred trade destinations. Now BriseBois has to determine if any of those teams are interested in Johnson, who has four years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million. The Lightning are looking to shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev.

UPDATES ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Frank Seravalli reports moving goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is the No.1 priority for the Vegas Golden Knights. GM Kelly McCrimmon is trying to shed salary and he’s been engaged with a number of teams (including the Carolina Hurricanes) to act as a third party to take on some of Fleury’s salary to facilitate a trade to another club. The Golden Knights are willing to offer up a second-round pick to that third team if they’ll eat up to half of Fleury’s salary, but Seravalli believes that price would have to be a first- and a second-round pick.

Seravalli also reported the Golden Knights had had trade talks regarding defenseman Nate Schmidt over the weekend. They could also consider moving Paul Stastny or Jonathan Marchessault.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could have an easier time moving Schmidt, Stastny or Marchessault than they would shipping out Fleury if it takes a three-way trade to do so. Trying to put together that deal would be a complicated endeavor at the best of times. It’s more difficult now under a flattened salary cap. The Golden Knights will either have to add more sweeteners or pick up part of Fleury’s salary themselves and then make another cost-cutting move involving a different player.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

LeBrun said he’s keeping an eye on Buffalo Sabres winger Wayne Simmonds, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday and is likely headed to market. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are said to be interested in Simmonds for the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun claimed the Canadiens were still interested in Simmonds despite the acquisition yesterday of Josh Anderson. The right price could be a one-year contract worth around $1.5 million.

Seravalli also wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets will buy out center Alexander Wennberg before the contract buyout window closes at 5 pm ET on Thursday. A buyout would save the Blue Jackets $10.7 million in actual cash and $4.46 million in cap savings over the next three years.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites The Athletic’s Craig Custance reporting Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli is likely headed to the UFA market on Friday.

 










NHL Offseason Lookahead – Vancouver Canucks

NHL Offseason Lookahead – Vancouver Canucks

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2020

The latest on the Leafs, Canucks and Blues in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports the Maple Leafs haven’t been actively shopping goaltender Frederik Andersen, but it behooves general manager Kyle Dubas to listen to offers. A high number of goalies potentially available via the trade and free-agent markets could affect Dubas’ final decision on Andersen. Koshan expects Andersen will still be a Leaf when next season opens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So do I unless Dubas can find a replacement who’s as good or better than Andersen.

Michael Traikos believes the Leafs shouldn’t waste their time pursuing an expensive defenseman such as St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. Instead, he suggests signing a more affordable physical option like Mark Borowiecki, who’s heading to the free-agent market after several seasons with the Ottawa Senators. While Borowiecki isn’t the right-shot blueliner the Leafs seek, he would add a much-needed element of toughness to their roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Dubas can’t find that top-pairing right-side rearguard, he might be forced to consider one or two affordable depth alternatives. Someone like Borowiecki could be among those options depending on how much cap space Dubas can free up.

SPORTSNET: Florida’s Aaron Ekblad, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen and Vancouver’s Troy Stecher are among Luke Fox’s list of 15 intriguing blueline trade targets for the Leafs.

Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Carolina’s Brett Pesce, Arizona’s Niklas Hjalmarsson, Columbus’ David Savard and Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin are also on Fox’s list. The remainder includes Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Chicago’s Connor Murphy, Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar and Edmonton’s Adam Larsson and Matt Benning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Ekblad, Dumba, Parayko and Pesce are available. Ristolainen was rumored to be on the trade block a year ago but Sabres coach Ralph Krueger loves his game so he’s probably off the market. Manson’s a possibility but the Ducks will want a good scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. Ditto the Wild with Brodin and the Blue Jackets with Savard. 

The Coyotes could try to move Hjalmarsson in a cost-cutting deal provided he waives his no-movement clause. The asking price for Ekholm could also be a scoring forward. Stecher is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and could hit the trade block if the Canucks can’t afford to re-sign him.

Larsson, Benning and Murphy have surfaced in offseason trade chatter. The Panthers could cut some payroll but I think they want to re-sign Weegar.

Rory Boylen, meanwhile, wondered if Dubas might flip his recently-acquired first-round pick (15th overall) to upgrade the defense corps, seek out further salary-slicing deals that would involve moving a mid-level contract like Alexander Kerfoot ($3.5 million), Andreas Johnsson ($3.4 million) and Pierre Engvall ($1.2 million), or explore options for Andersen’s replacement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t be surprised if Dubas flips that first-rounder in a deal for a top-four defenseman. They want to win right now and already have enough youth on the roster.

CANUCKS

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Tyler Toffoli’s willingness to re-sign with the Vancouver Canucks creates another salary-cap headache for GM Jim Benning. Toffoli, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9, along with goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Chris Tanev. Toffoli earned an annual average value of $4.6 million on his current contract and his next deal could be worth between $5-$6 million annually.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Tanev also wants to re-sign with the Canucks. Unless the club can free up some salary-cap space, keeping the 30-year-old defenseman won’t be easy. Benning remains hopeful of re-signing the long-time Canucks blueliner. Johnston urges caution, pointing out a decade of wear-and-tear have taken a tool upon Tanev’s performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston points out the Canucks have $15 million in cap space. Unless Benning can shed a salary or two, there won’t be enough room to re-sign Markstrom, Toffoli and Tanev. Even then, Tanev would be the odd man out. The combined cost of re-signing Markstrom and Toffoli could be at least $11 million.

Toffoli won’t lack for suitors if he hits the open market. In a recent mailbag segment, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz suggests he’d be a good target for the San Jose Sharks.

BLUES

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford reported a source claimed the St. Louis Blues offered Alex Pietrangelo a five-year deal worth close to $7 million than $8 million annually. It’s believed the 30-year-old defenseman isn’t happy with the offers he’s received.

It’s believed Pietrangelo could settle for something between $8-$9 million. Rutherford expects negotiations to continue, but sources say if Pietrangelo’s wife wasn’t from St. Louis and they hadn’t started their family there he might’ve already told the Blues he’s moving on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo won’t come down from his asking price the Blues must shed more salary to re-sign him or bid him farewell. Plenty of time remains until the free-agent market opens on Oct. 9 to hammer out an agreement.

Rutherford acknowledged the trade chatter about Vince Dunn, but he believes the Blues want to keep him. He’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, giving the club control over his contract. Barring a holdout, they could re-sign him for next season between $2.5 – $3 million. Maybe they trade him if they cannot re-sign him beyond 2020-21.

Rutherford also expects the Blues will do everything they can to re-sign winger Jaden Schwartz, but if Pietrangelo re-signs, he could become a cap casualty. He’s got a year left on his contract with an AAV of $5.35 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford also touched on the possibility of the Blues getting $7.5 million in cap relief next season if Vladimir Tarasenko is on long-term injury reserve throughout the season. He’s projected for reevaluation of his surgically-repaired shoulder in December or January, but could be sidelined longer. Right now, there’s no certainty he’ll be out for the entire season.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2020

A look at this year’s noteworthy UFAs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently updated his listing of this year’s top NHL unrestricted free agents. St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tops the list, followed by Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner.

TSN: Frank Seravalli also has Pietrangelo, Hall and Krug among his top-three and Lehner at No. 5 on his top-10 list, with Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom in the fourth spot.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No argument from me regarding Pietrangelo’s placement. He’ll be heavily courted if he and the Blues fail to reach agreement on a contract extension. Despite the flattened salary cap for next season, he could command over $9 million annually on the open market.

The respective playoff performances of Hall and Krug didn’t do much to improve their free-agent value, but they still remain near the top of this year’s UFA crop. Hall’s current annual average value is $6 million and Krug’s is $5.25 million. Under normal circumstances, they’d get long-term contracts with big raises. Now, they might have to accept short-term deals for more modest raises in hopes of scoring more lucrative deals once league revenue improves.

Hoffman played well for the Panthers during the qualifying round. He’s a reliable scorer but his age (31) could limit him to a three-year deal with an AAV of around $6 million.

I’d put Lehner slightly ahead of Markstrom but both are the best pending UFA netminders. Lehner will want a long-term deal after spending the past two years on one-year contracts and for more than his current $5 million. Markstrom is rumored to be seeking over $6 million annually on a long-term contract, but maybe he’ll accept that much on a three-year deal.

Larkin has Markstrom ninth on his listing, with Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie, Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, and Calgary Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie coming in sixth through 10.

Seravalli has Hoffman and Dadonov sixth and seventh on his listing, followed by Toffoli, Panthers center Erik Haula, and Barrie completing his top-10 list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Toffoli’s two-way skills should put him higher on those lists. Dadonov has tallied 25-play goals in each of the last three seasons and probably would’ve reached 60 points again this season had the schedule not been derailed by COVID-19, but I wonder how productive he’ll be with another club. 

Barrie’s stock really took a hit this season with the Leafs. However, he’s a right-handed shot with good puck-moving skills. As Seravalli suggests, he could regain his form away from Toronto’s harsh spotlight. I’m puzzled by Seravalli’s ranking Haula so high. While I agree this year’s market isn’t a good one for centers, Haula’s injury history could hurt his UFA value.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien are 13th and 14th on Larkin’s rankings. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Sami Vatanen, Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund, and Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk fill in the rest of spots 11 through 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby’s playoff performance didn’t help his UFA stock. His play has been in decline since 2018. The flat cap will also work against his chances of securing a hefty raise on a long-term deal. Granlund also didn’t help his case with his postseason play. I’d put Byfuglien at the bottom of this list because we don’t know if he intends to resume his career after sitting out this season and if the 35-year-old blueliner will be as effective as he once way.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford lands at No. 20 on Larkin’s list, preceded by Calgary Flames defenseman Erik Gustafsson, Washington Capitals blueliner Brenden Dillon, Haula, and Flames rearguard Travis Hamonic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Larkin pointed out, Crawford played well despite the horrible blueline in front of him this season. He wonders if the long-time Blackhawks goalie will take less money to stay in Chicago. I think he will. At 35, he could sign a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a low base salary that could take him up to $5 million.

Dallas Stars netminder Anton Khudobin, Calgary Flames goalie Cam Talbot, and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz are among Larkin’s bottom 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin’s play throughout this season and in the playoffs could send his value rising for clubs pursuing an experienced, reliable backup. Talbot could seek a starter’s job elsewhere if he doesn’t re-sign with the Flames. Schultz’s value plummeted this season, in part because he was returning from a serious leg injury suffered last season. He could prove a worthwhile, affordable gamble on a one-year, “show-me” deal.

New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo, Predators forward Craig Smith, Canucks blueliner Chris Tanev, Colorado Avalanche winger Vladislav Namestnikov, Carolina Hurricanes’ defenseman Joel Edmundson, and Arizona Coyotes center Carl Soderberg complete the listing.