NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

The Avalanche take a 2-0 series lead over the Golden Knights, the Canadiens beat the Jets in their second-round series opener, the Sabres win the draft lottery, the Ted Lindsay Award finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Mikko Rantanen’s overtime power-play goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights and a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost also scored for Colorado while Alec Martinez and Reilly Smith replied for Vegas. Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 39 saves. Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the Golden Knights’ net after being the backup in Game 1.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t happy with the officiating on the slashing call on Rielly Smith that led to Rantanen’s PP goal. “Just a soft call”, he said, going on to accuse the Avalanche players of embellishment throughout the game.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Eric Staal had a goal and an assist while Carey Price made 27 saves for the win. Their victory, however, was overshadowed by a dangerous hit by Jets center Mark Scheifele on Habs center Jake Evans as the latter was scoring an empty net. Evans was stretchered from the ice while Scheifele received a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was out of character for Scheifele, who has no history of supplemental discipline. He let his emotions get away with him and could face a suspension. Evans, meanwhile, was evaluated by the Canadiens’ medical staff. John Shannon reported he was back at the team hotel following the game, where he was described as doing fine, alert but shaken.

It should be noted that Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers protected the prone Evans during the ensuing scrum. He also called for additional medical attention for the fallen Hab. “In a situation like that, you don’t want anyone falling on top of him,” said Ehlers. “I was just trying to keep everyone away.”

Winnipeg center Paul Stastny missed this game with an undisclosed injury. Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo left the game early in the first period with a lower-body injury.

The Buffalo Sabres won the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery yesterday. The expansion Seattle Kraken won the second-overall pick while the Anaheim Ducks will select third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could select University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. He’s listed as this year’s top prospect by NHL Central Scouting.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are the finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan defended his team’s top-four players during the club’s end-of-season press conference. He did, however, acknowledge the club lacked a “killer instinct” that must be addressed.

SPORTSNET: Leafs captain John Tavares said he’s doing “really well” in his recovery from the traumatic head injury suffered during Game 1 against the Canadiens. Tavares missed the rest of the series with a concussion and a knee injury. He said he has no memory of the incident and doesn’t intend to watch the replay.

TSN: Leafs winger Mitch Marner denied a report that he refused to play a goal-line role on the club’s power play. “It’s a complete lie,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect Marner, Tavares, Matthews or William Nylander to be traded this summer if Shanahan’s comments are anything to go by. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation among the Toronto media. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck’s status for Game 3 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning remains uncertain. He was still being evaluated yesterday following his ankle-to-ankle collision with teammate Warren Foegele in Game 2.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith could return to the lineup for Game 3 tonight against the New York Islanders. He missed Game 2 with a lower-body injury suffered during the previous game.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said he’d be comfortable returning with the same group of players next season. He defended beleaguered starting goaltender Tristan Jarry, lauded the coaching staff and expects core players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang to return next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke intend to bring some size and toughness to the line next season. There will be some changes but those will likely involve their secondary players. They could also acquire an experienced backup as a mentor for Jarry.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Kevin Hayes underwent successful sports hernia surgery last week. His expected recovery period is five weeks.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Hurricanes, the Vezina Trophy finalists are announced, the 2021 Draft Lottery goes tonight, an update on Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A third-period goal by Anthony Cirelli was the game-winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Alex Killorn opened the scoring in the second period for the Lightning. Andrei Svechnikov got the Hurricanes on the board late in the third. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves for the win as the Bolts were outshot 32-15. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck left the game with an injured right leg following a second-period collision with teammate Warren Foegele. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said it didn’t know the extent of Trocheck’s injury but indicated it didn’t look good. An update could come later today.

Losing their second-line center would be another blow to the Hurricanes’ forward lines. Winger Nino Niederreiter is out for the series with an undisclosed injury suffering in practice before Game 1.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

Speaking of Andrei Vasilevskiy, he joins Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche as this year’s finalists for the Vezina Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the fourth straight season Vasilevskiy has been named a finalist, winning the award in 2018-19. It’s the first time Fleury and Grubauer have been honored.

The 2021 NHL Draft Lottery goes tonight at 7 pm ET at league headquarters. The Buffalo Sabres have the best odds of winning after finishing with the worst overall record, followed by the Anaheim Ducks. The expansion Seattle Kraken has the third-best odds.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL Draft will be held virtually on July 23-24. Follow the link above for full details on the lottery rules and this year’s top prospects.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel has reached the end of the rehab period for the herniated disk in his neck. If he still wants the neck surgery that team doctors haven’t been comfortable with, he has the right to take the team to arbitration. If he doesn’t agree with the arbiter’s decision, he can ask for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The surgical procedure Eichel prefers has never been done before on an NHL player. The team doctors’ preference is for continued rehab. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds if Eichel feels he hasn’t made much progress with his current treatment.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted goaltender Tuukka Rask has been battling nagging injuries. However, he doesn’t feel there’s any reason to believe Rask won’t be ready to play against the New York Islanders tonight in Game 3 of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask appeared to struggle during the Bruins’ overtime loss in Game 2. If that continues in Game 3 we could see backup Jeremy Swayman for Game 4.

TSN: Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield in Game 2.

WINNIPEG SUN: The province of Manitoba will allow 500 fully-vaccinated healthcare workers into the MTS Centre tonight for the Winnipeg Jets’ opening game of their second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin said he suffered a sprained shoulder during his club’s series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Teammate Joel Eriksson Ek played through a knee injury suffered in Game 6. The duo won’t require offseason surgery.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, Connauton will earn $825K at the NHL level. He spent most of this season on the Panthers’ taxi squad, seeing action in seven games.

TSN: The Pittsburgh Penguins have given teams around the league permission to speak with former general manager Jim Rutherford before his contract with them expires at the end of June. Rutherford stepped down as GM in January for personal reasons.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2021

A look at some predicted moves for this season involving Patrik Laine, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Duncan Keith and more in the NHL rumor mill.

TSN: In his 31 bold predictions for the new NHL season, Frank Seravalli envisioned the Winnipeg Jets moving winger Patrik Laine before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Two potential destinations: the Columbus Blue Jackets (for Pierre-Luc Dubois?) and the Carolina Hurricanes (for Brett Pesce or Vincent Trocheck?).

Could the Winnipeg Jets move Patrik Laine before the April 12 trade deadline? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve learned never to say never in this business so I don’t rule out Laine hitting the trade block before Apr. 12. However, I don’t see that happening if the Jets are in the thick of the playoff chase.

Seravalli isn’t the only pundit suggesting swapping Laine for Dubois. On paper, it makes sense. The Jets get a reliable second-line center while the Jackets bring in a type of goal scorer they haven’t had since Rick Nash left town almost 11 years ago.

The problem is we don’t know if Jets management wants to swap Laine for a second-line center when blue-line depth is their primary concern. I think they’ll want much more than that for a winger with 50-goal potential. We also don’t know how well Laine will get along with Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. There’s also the concern over whether Laine or Dubois would commit long-term to their new clubs.

Laine would certainly provide a boost to the Hurricanes’ offense but he could end up on the second line if he doesn’t click with first-line center Sebastian Aho. A return of Trocheck and Pesce could tempt the Jets, but not if it’s just one or the other unless something else of significance is included in the deal. Moving Trocheck for Laine would leave the Hurricanes without a suitable second-line center.

Seravalli predicts Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could become the top target on TSN’s top free-agent list for 2021. The 27-year-old center wants to stay with the Edmonton Oilers but the club has no plans of going beyond $7 million annually on a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap for next season could work to the Oilers’ advantage here. Nugent-Hopkins might not find many better offers because a number of teams will have limited cap space to make a competitive bid for his services. We’ll see how things unfold by July.

Speaking of the Oilers, Seravalli believes they’ll trade for another goaltender before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli made that prediction before Smith landed on long-term injury reserve last week. General manager Ken Holland will keep an eye on the waiver wire in the short term but I wouldn’t rule out Holland testing the trade market this season.

Seravalli thinks Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith will seek a trade after this season. The 37-year-old blueliner has two years left on his contract at $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Again, never say never. He’s got a full no-movement clause but could waive it if the right opportunity presents itself. Cap Friendly indicates Keith only has $3.6 million in actual salary remaining on his deal ($2.1 million for next season, $1.5 million for 2022-23). However, the cap hit itself could be difficult to move unless the Blackhawks pick up part of it. His age will also be a factor. He turns 38 this summer and his best seasons are now behind him.










The Notable Deals of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

The Notable Deals of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

New York Rangers re-sign Chris Kreider to a seven-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $6.5 million

Not a trade, but Kreider was considered the top trade bait entering deadline day. Reports out of New York this morning suggested he was likely to be moved. The Rangers bent on the term, as they reportedly offered a six-year deal. Perhaps the Kreider camp gave a little on the dollars. The 28-year-old left-winger gets the long-term deal to stay put, but time will tell if this deal pans out over the long term for the Blueshirts.

The New York Islanders acquire and sign center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

New York Islanders acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau

The Islanders address a glaring need on their forward lines with Pageau, a skilled two-way player who can skate at center or on the wing. They overpaid to get him, sending a conditional first-round pick in 2020, a 2020 second-rounder, and a conditional third in 2022 to the Ottawa Senators. That was offset by re-signing Pageau to a six-year, $30-million contract extension. The rebuilding Senators got a fine return, leaving them with potentially 13 picks in the 2020 Draft, with nine of those in the first three rounds.

Carolina Hurricanes acquire Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers and Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils

The Hurricanes shored up their banged-up blueline by parting with a first-round pick for Skjei and shipping forward Janne Kuokkanen and a conditional second-round pick to the Devils for Vatanen. With Dougie Hamilton out for several more weeks with a broken leg and Brett Pesce sidelined by an upper-body injury, Skjei and Vatanen should help fill the gaps.

Florida Panthers trade Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes

The Panthers were rumored for weeks to be in the market for a top-four defenseman and Trocheck recently surfaced as a trade candidate. Instead, they swap him for checking-line forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark plus two prospects. Trocheck, meanwhile, should provide the Hurricanes with some welcome depth at center.

Vegas Golden Knights acquire goaltender Robin Lehner

Big pickup there for the Golden Knights, shipping Malcolm Subban, a prospect and a second-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist. Lehner will share the duties with starter Marc-Andre Fleury, providing Vegas with a solid one-two punch between the pipes.

Pittsburgh Penguins acquire forwards Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford made a significant move earlier this month by acquiring Jason Zucker from Minnesota. He wasn’t done tinkering with his forward lines, bringing in three key playoff rentals. They got Marleau for the San Jose Sharks for a conditional third-rounder and shipped center Dominik Kahun to the Buffalo Sabres for winger Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues. In the twilight of his career, Marleau gets a final shot at winning the Stanley Cup. It’s Sheary’s second go-around with the Penguins, winning Cups with them in 2016 and 2017. Rodrigues had requested a trade from the Sabres earlier in the season.

Edmonton Oilers deal for winger Andreas Athanasiou

The Oilers sent Sam Gagner and two second-round picks to the Detroit Red Wings for one of the fastest players in the league in Athanasiou, prompting speculation he’ll become a new linemate for Connor McDavid. If those two mesh well together, Athanasiou will regain the 30-goal form that he’s been lacking this season. Failing that, perhaps he’ll be a better fit on their second line with either Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers also acquired winger Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators and defenseman Mke Green from the Red Wings.

Calgary Flames bring in Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort

With Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic still sidelined, the Flames sent a third-round pick in 2020 to the Chicago Blackhawks for Gustafsson and a conditional fourth in 2021 to the Los Angeles Kings for Forbort. Gustafsson is a mobile blueliner and Forbort will bring a physical edge to the Flames defense corps.

Buffalo Sabres acquire winger Wayne Simmonds

The Sabres sent a fifth-rounder in 2021 to the New Jersey Devils for Simmonds. He’ll provide leadership and experience, but won’t address their ongoing need for a scorer. At least they didn’t pay much to get him, plus the Devils picked up half of his $5-million salary-cap hit.

Boston Bruins trade winger Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie

This is a swap of two young forwards who needed a change of scenery. Ritchie was the Ducks first-round pick (10th overall) in 2014 but struggled to play up to expectations as a power forward. Heinen had a promising rookie performance (47 points) in 2017-18, but his production has eroded since then.

Colorado Avalanche land Vladislav Namestnikov

With their forward lines depleted by injuries, the Avs sent a 202 fourth-rounder to the Ottawa Senators for the versatile Namestnikov. The 27-year-old is a solid two-way forward who can skate at center or on the wing. He should fit in well on their checking lines.

Philadelphia Flyers add Derek Grant and Nate Thompson

The Flyers had an interest in Jean-Gabriel Pageau before the Senators shipped him to the Islanders. They instead went a more affordable route, sending a minor-league forward and a 2020 fourth-rounder to the Anaheim Ducks for Grant, and a 2021 fifth-rounder to the Montreal Canadiens for Nate Thompson. The two veterans will provide the Flyers with experienced depth up the middle.

Vancouver Canucks acquire Louis Domingue

With starting goalie Jacob Markstrom sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury, the Canucks sent minor-league goalie Zane McIntyre to the Devils for Domingue. He’ll split the duties with Thatcher Demko and should provide some additional insurance once Markstrom returns.










NHL Trade Deadline Tracker – February 24, 2020

NHL Trade Deadline Tracker – February 24, 2020

The NHL Trade Deadline is 3 pm ET today. This listing will be updated regularly throughout the day until all trade activity is complete.

Anaheim Ducks trade defenseman Korbinian Holzer to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Matt Irwin. 

Washington Capitals trade defenseman Christian Djoos to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Daniel Sprong. 

Montreal Canadiens trade Nick Cousins to the Vegas Golden Knights. Details to follow…

Calgary Flames trade Brandon Davidson to the San Jose Sharks for future considerations

New Jersey Devils trade goaltender Louis Domingue to the Vancouver Canucks in exhange for goalie Zane McIntyre

Tampa Bay Lightning acquire Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Sharks for a first-round pick.

New York Rangers traded defenseman Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes for the Hurricanes’ first-round pick in 2020. 

Columbus Blue Jackets acquire Devin Shore from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Sonny Milano

Vegas Golden Knights acquired goaltender Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks for Malcolm Subban, Slava Demin and a 2nd round pick. 

New Jersey Devils trade defenseman Sami Vatanen to the Carolina Hurricanes for winger Janne Kuokkanen and a second-round pick. 

Buffalo Sabres trade Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Dominik Kahun. 

Calgary Flames acquire defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the Chicago Blackhawks for a third-round pick

Los Angeles Kings ship defenseman Derek Forbort to the Calgary Flames for a fourth-round pick. 

Edmonton Oilers trade a fifth-round pick in 2021 to the Ottawa Senators for Tyler Ennis.

Edmonton Oilers acquired Andreas Athanasiou and Ryan Kuffner from the Detroit Red Wings for Sam Gagner, a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021. 

Boston Bruins trade Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie.

Buffalo Sabres acquire winger Wayne Simmonds from the New Jersey Devils for a conditional fifth-rounder in 2021. 

Philadelphia Flyers acquire center Derek Grant from the Anaheim Ducks for minor-league center Kyle Crisuolo and a fourth-round pick in 2020. 

Toronto Maple Leafs trade goaltender Michael Hutchinson to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Calle Rosen.

Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Patrick Marleau from the San Jose Sharks for a conditional third-round pick in 2020. The pick becomes a second-rounder if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. 

Montreal Canadiens trade center Nate Thompson to the Philadelphia Flyers for a fifth-round pick in 2021. 

Florida Panthers trade center Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forwards Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark and prospects Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen.

New York Islanders acquire center Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders for a first-round pick (lottery protected) in 2020, a  second-rounder in 2020, and a third in 2022. There are conditions attached to all picks. The Islanders re-sign him to a six-year contract extension.

Ottawa Senators trade Vladislav Namestnikov to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. 

Detroit Red Wings trade defenseman Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers for sidelined forward Kyle Brodziak and a conditional draft pick.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 19, 2020

Alec Martinez is reportedly on the verge of becoming a Golden Knight, more talk of Jeff Carter returning to the Flyers, the latest on Chris Kreider, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

KINGS AND GOLDEN KNIGHTS WORKING ON MARTINEZ TRADE

LOS ANGELES TIMES/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie yesterday reporting the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights are close to finalizing a deal sending defenseman Alec Martinez to the Golden Knights for two second-round draft picks. The move is expected to be completed today. Martinez was held out of last night’s game against Winnipeg for precautionary reasons.

THE ATHLETIC’s Jesse Granger suspects the delay could be salary-cap related on the Golden Knights side.

**UPDATE** The trade has been completed, with Martinez heading to the Golden Knights for a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-rounder in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have been in the market for a top-four, right-side defenseman for some time. There was talk they were eyeing New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, but that no longer appears the case.

Martinez, 32, would bring a welcome presence on the Vegas blueline. He’s got plenty of postseason experience, winning two Stanley Cups with the Kings. He’s also signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $4-million annual average value. The Golden Knights could shift Shea Theodore to the left side and pair him with Martinez.

MORE “CARTER-TO-FLYERS” CHATTER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman thinks the Philadelphia Flyers could consider bringing back Jeff Carter, depending on the health of young center Nolan Patrick.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall points out how difficult it would be for the Flyers to pull that off. They have just over $2 million in salary-cap space, meaning there’s not enough to acquire Carter even if the Kings absorbed half of his $5.2-million AAV. They would have to do some cap juggling for the remaining two years of his contract. There’s also the question of what the Kings would want in return, and what assets the Flyers can spare.

More talk of the Philadelphia Flyers bringing back Jeff Carter (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stranger things have happened, and it would make a nice story for Carter to return to the city where his NHL career began. Given the cap difficulties, however, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher could be forced to seek more affordable alternatives.

UPDATE ON KREIDER

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and St. Louis Blues could be interested in New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider. The Washington Capitals could be a stealth candidate, but their recent acquisition of defenseman Brenden Dillon probably takes them out of the bidding.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Avalanche and Bruins are the front-runners for Kreider. He also lists the Blues, Capitals, and Florida Panthers among others who could come calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues’ acquisition of defenseman Marco Scandella could be the only move they make at the deadline. Sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko is recovering well from early-season shoulder surgery and could return before the end of the season. Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater believes the Avs could target Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar if they fail to land Kreider.

THE LATEST ON TROCHECK

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck is garnering attention. The 26-year-old has two year left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million. Friedman feels most teams can afford that, though he won’t be inexpensive.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun doesn’t believe the Panthers are shopping Trocheck but acknowledged teams are calling about him. The Panthers desperately need a top-four defenseman, so they have little choice but to listen to offers. He wonders if they might have an interest in Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, but gets the sense Wild GM Bill Guerin wants to retain Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers GM Dale Tallon will want a defenseman for Trocheck. Failing that, he might have to get creative. LeBrun suggested dealing the center for picks and prospects that could be flogged to another club for a top-four blueliner.

IS LEHNER AVAILABLE?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders if a lack of progress in contract talks is affecting Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner, who was unusually quiet during a recent game. The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly interested in Lehner and have an extra first-round pick to dangle as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes fading, GM Stan Bowman could listen to offers for Lehner if he remains unsigned by the deadline. We’ll see what happens.

COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SIMMONDS?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds remains a player of interest for the Vancouver Canucks. Their recent acquisition of Tyler Toffoli was related to filling the gap left by the sidelined Brock Boeser. They still haven’t found a suitable replacement for Micheal Ferland, who’s out for the season due to concussion symptoms. Simmonds has an eight-team no-trade list, but the Canucks aren’t believed to be on it.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also thinks the Canucks could consider adding Simmonds, but that could be difficult to do without a first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Canucks will still add toughness if they can’t land Simmonds. They could be faced with considering more affordable options. Vancouver GM Jim Benning surprised us with his acquisition of Toffoli, so he could have another trick up his sleeve before the deadline.

ATHANASIOU’S VALUE COULD RISE

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports injuries to contending teams could bolster the trade value of Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou. The Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks could be in play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager (and former Red Wings GM) Ken Holland might be interested in Athanasiou. However, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Oilers’ injuries and winger Zack Kassian’s seven-game suspension is creating problems for how Holland will approach the deadline. While he’d love a third-line center like Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau for a right-winger for Connor McDavid’s line, he’s not prepared to part with a first-round pick and a top prospect for a rental player. Many of those injured Oilers aren’t on long-term injury reserve, giving Holland limited cap space.

The Canucks’ acquisition of Tyler Toffoli likely rules them out for Athanasiou. He could be a fall-back choice if the Avs lose out in the bidding for Kreider.

WILL KOVALCHUK STAY OR GO?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun speculates the Montreal Canadiens could likely trade winger Ilya Kovalchuk if an agreement on a contract extension can’t be reached before the trade deadline. He suggests the Avalanche and Bruins as possible destinations.