NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2022

Jonathan Huberdeau sets a league record in Jonathan Toews’ 1,000th game, Auston Matthews is the first player this season to score 50 goals, potential investors are circling the Senators in the wake of Eugene Melnyk’s death, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jonathan Huberdeau set a single-season assist record for left wingers (71) as his Florida Panthers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0, spoiling the 1,000th career NHL game of Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves for the shutout while Aleksander Barkov scored twice. With 98 points, the Panthers are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes but sit in first place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau really doesn’t get the attention he deserves for his playmaking skills. He’s fourth overall in total assists (271) since 2017-18, four behind the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane and nine behind the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin. Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the overall leader during that period with 340.

Toews would’ve reached the 1,000 game mark much sooner had he not missed all of last season to illness. It’s been a difficult campaign for the Blackhawks captain, with 29 points in 57 games.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews became the first player to reach the 50-goal plateau this season in a 7-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. William Nylander scored twice while Mitch Marner and Ilya Mikheyev each collected three points as the Leafs (91 points) move one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning into second place in the Atlantic Division. With 76 points, the Jets are three points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is the fourth player in Leafs history to score 50 goals in a season, joining Rick Vaive, Gary Leeman and Dave Andreychuk. With 15 games remaining in the season, he’s poised to overtake Vaive for the Leafs’ single-season record (54) and has a realistic shot of becoming the first NHL player to reach the 60-goal mark since Lightning captain Steven Stamkos did it in 2011-12.

Third-period goals by Mikko Rantanen and Andre Burakovsky lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Nazem Kadri and Erik Johnson each had two assists for Colorado while teammate Nathan MacKinnon returned to the lineup after missing one game with an injured hand. With 102 points, the Avs hold a four-point lead over the Panthers and Hurricanes atop the overall standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was originally reported that MacKinnon suffered a fractured bone in his hand following a recent fight with Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. While he was declared “good to go” by the Avalanche, it’ll be interesting to see if that injury has any effect on his performance.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen made 32 saves to shut out the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Andrei Svechnikov tallied twice while Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist. Canadiens netminder Jake Allen stopped 40 shots in a losing cause.

Jamie Benn’s overtime goal gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, extending the latter’s winless streak to 11 games. Jake Oettinger kicked out 21 shots for the win as the Stars (79 points) hold a one-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western wild-card spot.

A shootout goal by Lias Andersson lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames. Viktor Arvidsson tied the game with 4:22 remaining in the third period while Cal Petersen picked up the win with a 26-save effort. Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 shots for the Flames, who hold a five-point lead over the Kings for first place in the Pacific Division with 89 points.

Evgeni Malkin’s overtime goal lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Minnesota Wild 4-3, ending the latter’s seven-game winning streak. Rickard Rakell scored two goals for the Penguins (92 points), who sit one point behind the second-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jason Zucker’s return to the Penguins lineup after missing the last 30 games to core-muscle surgery didn’t last long. He was helped from the ice in the second period after suffering what looked like a serious leg injury from crashing awkwardly into the boards. No update was provided on his status.

A six-goal second period powered the Boston Bruins to an 8-1 romp over the New Jersey Devils. Brad Marchand tallied twice while Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak each collected three points as the Bruins (89 points) hold a five-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins honored recently-retired goalie Tuukka Rask in a ceremonial pre-game puck drop.

The New York Islanders defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves while Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist for the Isles.

HEADLINES

OTTAWA SUN/THE ATHLETIC: Michael Traikos and Ian Mendes report that potential investors are already looking into purchasing the Senators only days after owner Eugene Melnyk passed away on Monday. Ownership of the team is expected to pass to Melnyk’s college-age daughters Anne and Olivia. Mendes confirmed there are “multiple groups” who’ve expressed interest in purchasing the Senators with the plan of keeping them in the Ottawa market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Melnyk isn’t even in the ground yet and already the vultures are circling hoping to pick up the Senators. One would think they’d at least allow his family time to grieve before making inquiries about buying the franchise. That’s the cold-blooded business world for you.

Nothing will happen until after Melnyk’s estate has been settled, which could take weeks. That’s when we’ll learn if his daughters will retain or sell the franchise. Based on the reports by Traikos and Mendes, they won’t lack potential bidders keen on keeping the club in Ottawa.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller’s season is over after undergoing surgery for a broken leg suffered during Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. His recovery period is expected to be between four to six months.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek will be sidelined for at least six weeks with a groin injury.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi is expected to miss two weeks with a lower-body injury.

THE ATHLETIC: The Buffalo Sabres will honor long-time broadcaster Rick Jeanneret with a banner prior to tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators. The Hall-of-Fame play-by-play man has covered the Sabres since 1971 and will retire at the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved honor for the long-time voice of the Sabres.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2022

The Leafs down the Hurricanes, the Senators defeat the Devils, the three stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAMES RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews each scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Marner tallied the winner in overtime to extend his goals streak to eight games while Matthews moved into third place (31 goals) in the NHL goal-scoring race. The Leafs (63 points) have won six straight and sit three points behind the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

Ottawa Senators forwards Connor Brown and Nick Paul each had a goal and an assist while goaltender Matt Murray made 32 saves in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils, handing the latter their seventh straight loss. Brown has missed nine games with a broken jaw.

HEADLINES

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner and Florida Panthers forward Mason Marchment are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb.6, 2022.

SPORTSNET: Jack Eichel skated in practice with the Vegas Golden Knights without a non-contact jersey yesterday for the first time since they acquired him last November from the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s debut with the Golden Knights reportedly remains several weeks away. He could suit up by late February at the earliest but there’s talk his first game could take place in March.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins have shut down goaltender Tuukka Rask for the remainder of this week with a lower-body injury.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Netminder Mike Smith has come off injured reserve but his age and injury history suggest the Oilers cannot rely on him to carry the starter’s duties for the remainder of this season. He’s only appeared in six games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers could turn to inexperienced Stuart Skinner if Smith gets hurt again and/or if Mikko Koskinen continues to struggle. General manager Ken Holland could also try to add a goalie before the March 21 trade deadline.

CBS SPORTS: The Ottawa Senators will be without center Josh Norris for two more weeks as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed top prospect goalie Mack Guzda to a three-year entry-level contract. Guzda, 21, is an undrafted netminder with the Barrie Colts who was the OHL’s top goalie in December and January. He’ll continue to play for the Colts but could join the Panthers or their AHL affiliate in Charlotte at the end of the OHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Guzda signing prompted some observers to wonder if this move means the Panthers could shop young goalie Spencer Knight, perhaps to the Arizona Coyotes as part of a package for Jakob Chychrun before the March 21 trade deadline. However, I think that conjecture is premature. Trading away Knight this season would leave the Panthers without a reliable backup for Sergei Bobrovsky. They won’t toss an inexperienced kid into that role.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2022

Tuukka Rask makes a triumphant return to the Bruins, the 2022 All-Star Game rosters and captains are revealed but several notable players are passed over, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tuukka Rask made 25 saves in his season debut as he backstopped the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. David Pastrnak tallied all of the Bruins’ goals, including the game-winner on the power play to snap a 2-2 tie in the second period. Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist for the Flyers while teammate Carter Hart turned aside 33 shots. With 44 points, the Bruins moved to within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Penguins, they fell 6-2 to the Los Angeles Kings as the latter tallied four unanswered third-period goals, including three in a span of 1:23. Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored twice and set up another while Sean Durzi had a three-point performance and Jonathan Quick made 27 saves. The Kings (43 points) move into third place in the Pacific Division.

Nikita Kucherov collected two assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 24 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. The Lightning holds a two-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with 55 points. The Canucks have lost three of their last four contests.

The New York Rangers Rangers got a 37-save shutout from Igor Shesterkin in a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. Chris Kreider scored twice, including his first NHL shorthanded goal. Braden Schneider scored in his first NHL game. The Rangers (52 points) sit atop the Metropolitan Division while the Sharks (41 points) still cling to the final Western Conference wild-card berth with a one-point lead over the Calgary Flames.

Speaking of the Flames, they were upset 4-1 by the Ottawa Senators. Nick Paul tallied twice while Matt Murray made 27 saves for his first win of the season. The Flames have dropped four straight games.

Connor Hellebuyck picked up the shutout with a 33-save performance to blank the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Andrew Copp scored two goals and Kyle Connor scored shorthanded. The Jets (39 points) are two points behind the Sharks and one back of the Flames.

A four-goal third period carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 6-0 thumping of the Carolina Hurricanes. Elvis Merzlikins turned in a 31-save shutout and Yegor Chinakhov scored two goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes two points behind the Rangers in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Third-period goals by Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Seattle Kraken 2-1. The Blues extended their home points streak to 13 games while the Kraken have lost eight straight. With 49 points, the Blues are one point behind the first-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

The Predators, meanwhile, saw their five-game win streak halted in a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Jeff Skinner tallied twice while Aaron Dell made 29 saves for the Sabres.

Mathew Barzal broke a 2-2 tie to lift the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Barzal’s teammates Zach Parise and Josh Bailey each collected two points as the Isles’ played their first game in 11 days.

Philipp Kurashev scored in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2, handing the latter their five straight loss. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane also scored to snap a 13-game goalless drought. The Canadiens played without goalie Jake Allen, who is sidelined for a week with a lower-body injury. Teammate Chris Wideman also missed this game as he’s serving a one-game suspension for head-butting Boston Bruins forward Erik Haula.

HEADLINES

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox and Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar were among the notable first-time selections for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game to be held in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena on Feb. 5.

Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid were named captains of their respective division squads as chosen by fan voting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link to see the full rosters as well as the candidates for the “Last Man In” for each division to be decided by fan voting.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin were among the notables passed over for selection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The exclusion of Markstrom, Rantanen and Ekblad could be a result of being overshadowed by their more well-known teammates. Marchand’s snub is likely tied to his well-earned reputation for questionable play.

Shesterkin still isn’t as well-known as he should be, though his profile should improve if the Rangers remain among the league’s top clubs. It won’t help him become a participant in this year’s All-Star Game but could help him garner recognition for next season’s event.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: A partial tear in a thumb tendon has sidelined Oilers goaltender Mike Smith for at least a week, possibly two. The club has recalled Stuart Skinner from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Signing Evander Kane could help resolve that issue…oh, wait, he’s not a goaltender…never mind…

SPORTSNET: Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere and Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny are among the notable players added to the NHL’s COVID protocol on Jan. 13.

AHL’s Iowa Wild signed Eric Staal to a professional tryout contract.

TSN: The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said individual active NHL players will not be permitted to take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, any player under an NHL contract cannot participate in the Beijing Olympics.

THE SCORE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Quebec finance minister Eric Girard the league isn’t aware of any opportunity at this time that would lead to a franchise returning to Quebec City.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As one observer noted on Twitter, that was Bettman’s polite way of saying, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Oh, and for those of you saying, “What about the Arizona Coyotes?”, should that club be relocated, it’ll likely be to another American city in the Western Conference such as Houston.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2022

Big nights for Evgeni Malkin and Nikita Kucherov, rapper Kodak Black creates a stir at the Canucks-Panthers game, the Oilers confirm interest in free-agent Evander Kane, Tuukka Rask returns to the Bruins & much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin scored twice and collected an assist in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Malkin had been sidelined by offseason knee surgery. Jeff Carter also scored twice for the Penguins (47 points), who hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. With 45 points, the Ducks remain three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Nikita Kucherov carried the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-1 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each finished the night with three points as the Lightning (53 points) sit second in the Eastern Conference.

The Florida Panthers 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks was overshadowed by a viral video that appeared to show rapper Kodak Black having sex in a luxury box during the game. Panthers forward Sam Reinhart tallied two goals and collected an assist as the Panthers (53 points) hold first place in the overall standings with two games in hand over the Lightning. It was the Canucks first regulation loss under head coach Bruce Boudreau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are reports claiming Black’s female companion was merely twerking against him. Regardless, this incident created a stir on Twitter last night.

Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene scored twice, including the winner in overtime, in a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Nashville winger Luke Kunin also netted two goals. It was the fifth straight win for the Predators, who sit atop the Western Conference with 50 points. Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, who were playing without blueliner Bowen Byram after he left the club for personal reasons. The Av didn’t release any further details about Byram.

William Nylander opened the scoring and tallied the winning goal in a shootout as the Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. The Golden Knights forced overtime and the shootout by overcoming a 3-1 deficit on third-period goals by William Karlsson and Alex Pietrangelo. Vegas sits second in the Western Conference with 48 points while the Leafs (49 points) sit third in the Atlantic Division.

An overtime goal by Logan Couture lifted the San Jose Sharks over the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Sharks defenseman Brent Burns collected three assists as his club has moved into the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 41 points. The Wings were without captain Dylan Larkin as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He could return to the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Chicago Blackhawks got a two-goal performance from Alex DeBrincat to double up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Patrick Kane collected an assist to extend his points streak to five games.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS: Player agent Dan Milstein, who represents Evander Kane, expects his client will sign a new contract with an NHL team by this weekend. The San Jose Sharks terminated its contract with the 30-year-old winger citing breach of contract on Sunday. The NHLPA has filed a grievance on Kane’s behalf.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers general manager Ken Holland confirmed he has an interest in Kane and has contacted Milstein. Holland acknowledged the winger’s well-documented personal baggage but said he has a responsibility as a general manager to investigate every situation.

I would want to get an understanding with what’s going on in that person’s life. I believe in second chances,” said Holland. He also gave head coach Dave Tippett a vote of confidence as the club attempts to reverse its skid in the standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland’s interest in Kane has already drawn some criticism in the Edmonton media. However, there’s speculation the Oilers could have the former Shark under contract soon. Stay tuned…

Speaking of the Oilers, goaltender Alex Stalock is trying to make a comeback. He’s missed this season with a heart condition but has received medical clearance by his doctors to attempt to return to action. He will report to the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: To no one’s surprise, the Bruins signed Tuukka Rask to a one-year, $1 million contract yesterday. The 34-year-old goaltender had been recovering from offseason hip surgery. The club demoted Jeremy Swayman to their AHL affiliate in Providence to make room for Rask’s new contract.

SPORTSNET: New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stutzle, St. Louis Blues forward David Perron and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore were among the notables to enter the NHL’s COVID protocol yesterday.

OTTAWA SUN: The ongoing loss of hockey-related revenue due to attendance restrictions on Canadian NHL teams is generating concern over its effect upon the league’s hockey-related revenue for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The salary will rise by $1 million next season to $82.5 million as per the CBA extension regardless of this season’s HRR. However, it will affect the players’ repayment of their debt owed to the NHL owners for maintaining the salary cap at its current level despite the decline of HRR over the past two seasons due to COVID-19. It could take longer than originally projected for the players to make the owners whole, which will affect salary cap projections beyond 2023-24.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom has been hired as the club’s new vice president of hockey operations.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins general manager Ron Hextall was taken to task by Philadelphia Flyers legend and senior advisor Bob Clarke. Appearing on the podcast Cam and Strick yesterday, Clarke claimed Hextall alienated everybody during his tenure as Flyers GM. He accused him of ignoring the Flyers’ scouts by choosing Nolan Patrick over Cale Makar in the 2017 draft and trading Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues. Hextall declined to comment about Clarke’s comments.

NHL.COM: The league yesterday announced the Florida Panthers’ Andrew Brunette, the Colorado Avalanche’s Jared Bednar, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Peter DeBoer have been named as the head coaches for the 2022 NHL All-Star weekend (Feb. 4-5) in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL appears determined to press on with the All-Star Game despite a plethora of postponed games requiring rescheduling due to the latest wave of COVID-19. The best players from every NHL team in one place for a meaningless game of glorified pond hockey in the middle of a pandemic. What could go wrong?

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Jon Merrill to a three-year, $3.6 million contract extension.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals re-assigned goaltender Zach Fucale to their AHL affiliate in Hershey now that Vitek Vanecek has recovered from a non-COVID illness.

THE ATHLETIC: Nate Prosser has announced his retirement. The 35-year-old defenseman played 360 NHL games with the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers from 2009-10 to 2020-21. He spent over nine seasons with the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Prosser in his future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 7, 2022

Bryan Rust had his third straight multi-point game as the Penguins get their 10th straight win, Nathan MacKinnon has a five-point performance, Joe Thornton and Jakub Voracek reach milestones and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Bryan Rust had his third straight multi-point game (two goals, one assist) as his Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 to pick up their 10th straight win. Jake Guentzel also tallied twice while Kris Letang collected three assists. With 45 points, the Penguins have a comfortable hold on the first wild-card berth in the very tight Eastern Conference playoff race. The Flyers (32 points) have lost three straight and sit four points behind the Boston Bruins for the final wild-card spot.

Speaking of the Bruins, they failed to gain ground on the Penguins by dropping a 3-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild, who snapped a five-game losing skid. Matt Boldy scored what proved to be the game-winner in his NHL debut while teammate Kirill Kaprizov left the game in the second period following what Wild coach Dean Evason called a “predatory hit” by Bruins forward Trent Frederic. Minnesota (42 points) holds the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference but sits just five points out of first in the Conference. Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

The Colorado Avalanche’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog combined for 12 points in a 7-1 drubbing of the Winnipeg Jets. MacKinnon had a goal and four assists, Landeskog tallied a hat trick and collected an assist while Rantanen has a goal and two helpers as the Avs (42 points) picked up their third straight win to move into third place in the Central Division.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov picked up two assists in his first game since Oct. 16 to help his club defeat the Calgary Flames 4-1. Tampa Bay forwards Corey Perry, Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn were the goal scorers as the Lightning sits atop the overall standings with 51 points. The Flames (40 points) are third in the Pacific Division.

The Vegas Golden Knights tallied four unanswered goals to down the New York Rangers 5-1, spoiling the return of Rangers coach Gerard Gallant and winger Ryan Reaves to Vegas. Jonathan Marchessault scored twice for the Golden Knights, who sit atop the Western Conference with 47 points.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros kicked out 46 shots as his club doubled up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi each had two points on the night as the Predators sit one point behind the Golden Knights.

Shootout goals by Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson lifted the Dallas Stars to a 6-5 win over the Florida Panthers. It was the Stars’ first game in 16 days. Aleksander Barkov scored twice for the Panthers while Joe Thornton played in his 1,700th NHL game. The Panthers (49 points) sit second in the Eastern Conference while the Stars (34 points) are four points out of a wild-card spot in the West.

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes extended his career-high points streak to five games with a goal and two assists in a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. MacKenzie Blackwood made 31 saves for the win. Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek played in his 1,000th NHL game. With the win, the Devils (33 points) are just three points out of a wild-card spot in the East.

The San Jose Sharks (37 points) moved within one point of a Western Conference wild-card spot by holding off the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist while goalie Adin Hill turned aside 37 shots.

A hat trick by Johan Larsson carried the Arizona Coyotes to a 6-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Travis Boyd collected a goal and two assists for the Coyotes. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes announced forward Jay Beagle is out “long-term” with a lower-body injury and claimed forward Riley Nash off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin were among the latest players placed on the COVID protocol list.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have extended their break from all activities until Saturday due to COVID-19. Twenty-two of their players are currently on the COVID protocol list.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Tuukka Rask signed a professional tryout contract with the Bruins AHL affiliate in Providence in the latest step toward his eventual return with the club. The 34-year-old goaltender is working his way back from offseason hip surgery and is expected to be back with the Bruins by sometime next week.

TSN: Seattle Kraken winger Jaden Schwartz is out four to six weeks with a hand injury.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed winger Nick Ritchie on waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas’ gamble on Ritchie failed to pay off. However, his other affordable offseason additions (Michael Bunting, Ondrej Kase and David Kampf) are working out rather well for the Leafs.

CTV SASKATOON: The Winnipeg Jets are looking into the possibility of playing some of their home games in Saskatoon due to strict COVID-19 capacity restrictions in Manitoba.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 5, 2022

Growing speculation over the Oilers’ goaltending situation, an update on Jakob Chychrun and the latest on Tuukka Rask, Claude Giroux, Mark Giordano and Ben Chiarot in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT WILL THE OILERS DO ABOUT THEIR GOALTENDING?

TSN: Darren Dreger reports Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland is looking at his goaltending as the club has stumbled through a 2-8-2 record in their last dozen games. Available trade options are being considered plus the club is also still searching for a third-line center. Dreger also cited a source claiming head coach Dave Tippett isn’t in immediate danger of losing his job.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Holland has already dismissed rumors linking the Oilers to former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. He wondered if Holland might pursue a rental player like Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury or Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Dallas Stars are getting some calls about Anton Khudobin, who cleared waivers last month and was sent to their AHL affiliate. The Stars would have to retain part of his $3.33 million cap hit or take back a contract in return. LeBrun wondered if the Oilers might take a chance on Khudobin even though he has another year remaining on his contract and they have zero salary-cap space.

Could the Edmonton Oilers target Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury? (NHL Images)

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Terry Jones believes goaltending is the Oilers’ Achilles heel right now and feels they have to be finished with struggling Mikko Koskinen while starter Mike Smith remains sidelined. He thinks Holland’s first move of the New Year is to find a new starting netminder.

Robert Tychkowski doesn’t put all the blame for the Oilers’ slump on Koskinen’s shoulders but acknowledges they need help between the pipes. He also cites a lack of goal production beyond superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things are getting really ugly in Edmonton right now. Koskinen’s difficulties over the past month have proven costly, to the point where Tippett blamed the goaltender for their recent loss to the New York Rangers.

Firing Tippett might provide a spark that improves the Oilers’ goal production but it won’t turn Koskinen into a better netminder or magically make Mike Smith a healthy starter. Holland has no choice but to find a suitable solution between the pipes.

The most immediate should be giving Stuart Skinner more opportunities. While he only won four of nine starts this season he put up better stats (2.70 GAA, .916 SP) than Koskinen.

As for those trade options, Fleury is being mentioned because he’s a pending unrestricted free agent playing for a bad team in Chicago. However, there is no indication Blackhawks management is in any hurry to ship out the 37-year-old goaltender, let alone if the Oilers are among his preferred trade destinations.

Khudobin could be an easier option but the Oilers’ limited cap space means Holland will have to get creative to find a way to make the dollars fit. The 35-year-old Stars netminder could be motivated for redemption after his struggles earlier this season sent him tumbling down the pecking order behind Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger.

Maybe Holland puts in a call to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Joonas Korpisalo. Like Fleury, he’s due to become a UFA this summer. He isn’t expected to be back with the Jackets after they signed Elvis Merzlikins to a long-term extension. Korpisalo carries a more affordable $2.8 million cap hit and lacks no-trade protection.

I’ve also read and heard some suggestions about Holland acquiring Carey Price from the Montreal Canadiens but that’s just nonsense at this point. Price hasn’t played a single game this season as he’s still recovering from offseason knee surgery. Even if he agreed to waive his no-movement clause, the Oilers can’t afford his $10.5 million annual average value. I doubt there’s any team willing to be a third-party broker right now to take on part of his hefty cap hit for the next four years.

UPDATE ON CHYCHRUN

TSN: Darren Dreger reports teams are calling Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong and making offers for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. However, Armstrong isn’t in a rush to move the 23-year-old blueliner. The asking price is said to be a “Jack Eichel type of return”.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun doesn’t believe a Chychrun deal is imminent but the fact they’re fielding calls suggests the possibility of a deal before the March 21 trade deadline. However, he points out they’re under no obligation to move Chychrun by then. The blueliner carries an affordable $4.6 million annual cap hit through 2024-25.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes Chychrun could potentially be the first big trade of 2022. He also noted Coyotes winger Phil Kessel and pending UFA forward Lawson Crouse could be available.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan dismissed a rumor claiming Chychrun and his agent requested a trade. He also believes Armstrong could be doing Chychrun a favor by moving him to a team where he’d have a better chance at success than having him burn through several years of his playing prime with a rebuilding club.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss cited Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claiming the Bruins were among several teams in the mix for Chychrun. Others include the New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong can afford to wait for the right offer for Chychrun. Maybe that comes before the March trade deadline but I think it’s more likely to take place in the offseason when some clubs will have more salary-cap space and a willingness to make big trades to address roster weaknesses.

LATEST ON RASK, GIROUX, GIORDANO AND CHIAROT

NHL.COM: Amelie Benjamin reports Tuukka Rask is making progress in his recovery from offseason hip surgery and could make his debut with the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate in Providence this weekend should he receive medical clearance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa wondered what Rask’s contract could be once he signs with the Bruins. He thinks it will most likely be an affordable one-year deal. How much they pay him could depend on whether they can free up some cap space by honoring winger Jake DeBrusk’s trade request.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman doesn’t get any sense of urgency from the Philadelphia Flyers to ship out pending UFA center Claude Giroux as they’re still battling for a playoff spot. He considers it unlikely Mark Giordano will stay with the Seattle Kraken as he’ll have considerable value at the trade deadline. He also wondered if the St. Louis Blues might attempt to acquire Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot.