Latest Islanders and Oilers Speculation – April 16, 2018

Latest Islanders and Oilers Speculation – April 16, 2018

Another update on New York Islanders captain John Tavares plus another look at possible offseason moves by the Edmonton Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.

Which clubs could be potential landing spots for New York Islanders center John Tavares? (Photo via NHL Images)


NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross provided a primer on the future of New York Islanders captain (and pending free agent) John Tavares. He anticipates it could cost the Islanders around $10.5-million annually as he won’t be taking a hometown discount.

If Tavares tests the free-agent market on July 1, Gross lists the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks as possible suitors. He doesn’t see Tavares landing with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens or New York Rangers.

If the Isles cannot re-sign Tavares before July 1, Gross speculates they could attempt to trade his rights to a club that can sign him. Another option is signing him to an eight-year contract and then shipping him to another club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Sharks, Blues, Golden Knights, Red Wings and Canucks all have sufficient salary-cap space to sign Tavares to a lucrative long-term deal. If he hits the open market, however, he could be leery of signing with rebuilding teams like the Wings and Canucks. Gross makes a good point that Tavares might prefer avoiding the media cauldrons of Toronto and Montreal. I also don’t see him dissing the Isles by joining the arch-rival Rangers. 


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently listed several things for Oilers fans to watch for during the offseason. Among them is the never-ending search for an offensive right-shooting defenseman, though it might mean giving up a left-shot blueliner like Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse to get one, “or a first-round pick in a package for a left-shooting Oliver Ekman-Larsson, if he’s available”. He feels the Oilers’ 2018  first-round pick should be in play for Ekman-Larsson, provided it’s not in the top three.

With Colorado Avalanche prospect Cale Makar staying in school for one more season, Matheson doesn’t see them moving Tyson Barrie. He instead considers Carolina Hurricanes rearguard Justin Faulk as “the best short-term bet”, though the Canes will want a forward in return. 

Once the Oilers re-sign their key restricted free agents (including Nurse, Matt Benning and Ryan Strome), Matheson doubts they’ll have enough salary-cap space to pursue a big-ticket free-agent winger such as Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk or Vegas’ James Neal. He instead proposed more affordable free agents such as Columbus’ Thomas Vanek or New Jersey’s Michael Grabner. Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman could be a trade option. 

He doesn’t see the Oilers buying out the remaining five years on Milan Lucic’s contract. They don’t intend to trade center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If recent reports out of Arizona are any indication, Ekman-Larsson won’t be available. He hopes to re-sign with the Coyotes and I wouldn’t be surprised if they announce a new contract extension for him shortly as early as July 1. I agree with Matheson that Barrie’s unavailable. Given the Hurricanes’ recent management shake-up, Faulk could be available. However, the asking price could be a top-six forward.

If the Oilers aren’t shedding one of their higher-salaried players, they could consider affordable short-term UFA options like Vanek or Grabner. I can also see the Oilers packaging their first round pick in a package deal for a scoring winger or defenseman, but if that pick turns out to be first overall, they’ll keep it to select highly touted Swedish blueliner Rasmus Dahlin. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2018

Game recaps from the opening night of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby tallied a hat trick and Matt Murray had a 24-save shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven opening round series. With the Pens up 1-0 early in the first period, Murray made a timely save on the Flyers’ Scott Laughton that proved to be a game changer. 

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied a hat trick in a 7-0 thrashing of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had Laughton capitalized on that opportunity perhaps the outcome of this contest would’ve been different. The Flyers never really came close to beating Murray after that. Philadelphia goaltender Brian Elliott gave up five goals on 19 shots before he was given the hook. Given the Flyers lack of reliable goalie depth, don’t be surprised if Elliott gets the start in Game 2

The city of Winnipeg is celebrating its first playoff victory since 1996 as the Jets edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2 to take a 1-0 lead in their opening-round series. Joe Morrow snapped a 2-2 tie with a third-period point shot as the Jets overcame a 2-1 deficit for the win. All but one goal came in the third period. Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine also scored for Winnipeg, while Matt Cullen and Zach Parise tallied for the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the third period of this game is anything to go by, this will be a very entertaining series. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk was outstanding, giving his club a chance to win despite being outshot 40-20. 

Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves and Shea Theodore scored the only goal as the Vegas Golden Knights got their first-ever playoff victory by edging the Los Angeles Kings 1-0. It was Fleury’s 63rd playoff win, tying him for 12th all-time with Curtis Joseph, and his 11th postseason shutout, moving him to 10th all-time. Kings netminder Jonathan Quick kicked out 27 shots. The Golden Knights lead the series 1-0. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could become a hard-fought series between two evenly-matched opponents. The goaltending was strong for both clubs. If this keeps up, goals will be difficult to come by in this match-up. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: After 10 NHL seasons, the pressure is on Lightning captain Steven Stamkos to deliver a Stanley Cup. 

THE ATHLETIC: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Thomas Vanek needs to carry over his solid regular-season play into the postseason.

THE ATHLETIC: Special teams could make the difference in the opening-round series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. 

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche have faith in backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who replaces sidelined starter Semyon Varlamov in their upcoming series against the Nashville Predators. 

STLTODAY.COM: Jake Allen will return as the Blues’ starting goalie next season, but he acknowledges he must improve. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s inconsistent performance was a factor in the Blues failing to reach the postseason. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Changes could be coming to the Oilers’ coaching staff. 

THE ATHLETIC: Chicago Blackhawks forward Vinnie Hinostroza underwent sports-hernia surgery on Wednesday. He’s expected to make a full recovery and resume training next month. 

OTTAWA SUN: Chris Neil is returning to the Senators in the role of alumni ambassador.



Latest Canucks and Stars Speculation – April 3, 2018

Latest Canucks and Stars Speculation – April 3, 2018

A look at a couple of short-term replacements for the Sedins plus more offseason speculation for the Dallas Stars in your NHL rumor mill.

Could the Vancouver Canucks bring back Thomas Vanek? (Photo via NHL Images)


THE PROVINCE: Prior to the Sedin twins announcing their intent to retire at the end of this season, Ben Kuzma wondered if the Vancouver Canucks should consider bringing back Thomas Vanek if the Sedins decide to it a careers. He noted how Vanek, in his brief stay with the Canucks this season, was an effective scorer in Vancouver, becoming a mentor for rookie star Brock Boeser and acting as an assistant coach on the bench. Kuzma said the 34-year-old winger enjoyed his time in Vancouver and would consider returning on a one-year contract with a no-trade clause.


SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canucks bring back Vanek and pursue Bozak they will be short-term replacements for the Sedins on Vancouver’s second line. Critics of Canucks management could scoff at this idea, preferring the club build solely with young players. However, the development of their promising talent could benefit from the presence of a couple of veteran leaders who can still contribute as depth players and take some pressure off the youngsters. If Vanek and Bozak are willing to accept affordable one- or two-year deals, perhaps the Canucks will pursue them this summer. 


ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan suggests making prudent signings, locking up Tyler Seguin to a contract extension and addressing the leadership as the three keys facing the Dallas Stars in the offseason. She considers it unlikely the Stars will bring back pending UFAs Dan Hamhuis and Kari Lehtonen. She notes they need secondary scoring and wonders if general manager Jim Nill will pursue San Jose’s Evander Kane or Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk via free agency.

Seguin is eligible in 2019 for unrestricted free agent status and could wait for New York Islanders center John Tavares to set the market this summer. Kaplan feels “it would be wise for the Stars to commit to the one player who has consistently performed.” 

Kaplan doesn’t expect head coach Ken Hitchcock to be replaced after just one season. However, there are some questions over the leadership of captain Jamie Benn. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaplan also points out Nill has demonstrated he isn’t afraid to make bold moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes shopping this summer for secondary scoring via trades or free agency. However, he’ll face some scrutiny after a couple of last summer’s big signings (Ben Bishop, Martin Hanzal) were hampered by injuries this season.

It’ll be interesting to see if they attempt to re-sign Seguin on July 1. Given his consistency (five consecutive 70-plus point seasons), he’ll be in line for a substantial raise. As per Cap Friendly, Benn is the highest-paid Star, earning $9.5-million annually on an eight-year deal that runs through 2024-25. Are the Stars willing to exceed that to keep Seguin in the fold? They might not have much choice. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2018

Game recaps, Masterton Trophy nominees revealed, injury updates, the latest on Red Wings GM Ken Holland and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A late third-period goal by Stefan Noesen lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Devils winger Kyle Palmieri scored twice and winger Taylor Hall collected three assists. With the win, the Devils (88 points) moved three points up on the Florida Panthers for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.  The Devils win officially eliminates the New York Rangers from playoff contention.

The St. Louis Blues extended their winning streak to six games with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks, snapping the latter’s eight-game win streak. Vladimir Tarasenko tallied the winner in overtime as the Blues vaulted into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 91 points.

Brandon Tanev tallied a hat trick and Connor Hellebuyck collected his 40th win of the season to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-4 shootout win over the Boston Bruins. The loss leaves the Bruins (105 points) one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Thomas Vanek’s hat trick carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 7-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images)

Thomas Vanek’s hat trick helped the Columbus Blue Jackets overcome a 3-0 first-period deficit to crush the Edmonton Oilers 7-3. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists to reach 100 points (102) for the second straight season. He also holds a six-point lead over Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov for the scoring lead. NHL linesman Steve Barton was stretchered from the ice after striking his head on the ice following a collision with McDavid. He was taken to hospital and reportedly can move his extremities and was speaking to doctors.

Kyle Turris scored in a shootout as the Nashville Predators nipped the Minnesota Wild 2-1. Wild center Eric Staal tallied his 40th goal of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last time Staal reached 40 goals was in 2008-09. With 73 points in 78 games, he could exceed 75 points for the first time since 2010-11. It’s been an incredible performance by the 33-year-old center, who was considered washed-up when he signed with the Wild as a free agent two years ago. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins (92 points) failed to gain ground on the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals, falling 5-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. The Penguins remain five points behind the Capitals and only one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for second place in the division. Penguins center Derick Brassard left the game with a lower-body injury. No update was provided on his condition.

The Anaheim Ducks slipped out of third in the Pacific Division by dropping a 4-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks. Brandon Sutter scored twice for the Canucks. The Ducks (91 points) hold a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Earlier in the day, the Canucks announced defenseman Chris Tanev would miss the remainder of the season with a sprained knee.

The Dallas Stars ended their eight-game losing skid with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Alexander Radulov potted the winner 40 seconds into the extra frame. The Stars (86 points) sit five points out of a playoff spot with five games to go, while the Flyers (90 points) hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Andrew Ladd scored the game winner as the New York Islanders edged the Ottawa Senators 4-3, handing the latter their sixth straight loss. Bobby Ryan and Matt Duchene each had a goal and two assists for the Senators.

The league yesterday announced a rule change regarding goaltender interference was approved by the board of governors. The new rule, which will be implemented today, will leave the final call on coach’s challenge for goalie interference up to the situation room in Toronto after consultation with on-ice officials.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hopefully this will address the increase in questionable goalie interference calls this season. 

TSN: The names of 28 nominees for the Bill Masterton Trophy were revealed yesterday. The nominees for the Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings are expected soon. The trophy is annually awarded to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Among the notables are New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers, Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal and Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber is upbeat about next season following recent surgery to repair torn tendons in his left foot. His recovery period could be up to six months. 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The Rangers have shut down defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for the remainder of the season. Shattenkirk was still recovering from surgery back in January to repair a torn meniscus. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin is sidelined indefinitely by an upper-body injury. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: A source claims Ken Holland will return next season as the Red Wings general manager. Head coach Jeff Blashill is also likely to return. So far, there’s no comment from Holland or the team. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Red Wings in the midst of a rebuild it appears team ownership wants to give Holland the opportunity to continue overhauling the roster. An official announcement is reportedly expected at the end of the season. 


Latest Oilers Rumors – March 12, 2018

Latest Oilers Rumors – March 12, 2018

Looking ahead to some possible offseason moves by the Edmonton Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples doesn’t see the Oilers moving center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, forward Leon Draisaitl or defenseman Oscar Klefbom. Instead, he thinks Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli could shop draft picks, including their 2018 first-round selection, which will be a lottery pick. He also doesn’t rule out the possibility of Chiarelli dealing away young winger Jesse Puljujarvi.

The Edmonton Oilers could be unwilling to part with young winger Jesse Puljujarvi. (Photo via NHL Images)

If Chiarelli targets a team with salary-cap trouble, Staples thinks the Oilers could get a good veteran player with their second-round selection in this year’s draft. If the Oilers target someone such as Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, their first-round pick (along with someone such as Klefbom) might make sense. However, if the Oilers win the draft lottery, Staples feels they’ll “almost certainly” retain that pick.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell has some suggestions on how the Oilers can improve their roster this summer without breaking the bank. Among them could be pursuing players such as Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou, Calgary’s Sam Bennett or Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman via the trade market or Columbus winger Thomas Vanek via free agency. Some promising AHL players could include Pittsburgh’s Daniel Sprong, Winnipeg’s Brendan Lemieux, Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane or Arizona’s Nick Merkley.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming Chiarelli remains the Oilers’ general manager, he’ll be expected to make at least one significant move to improve the roster for next season and beyond. I agree with Staples that Draisaitl and Klefbom aren’t going anywhere. While moving Nugent-Hopkins would clear his $6-million cap hit, they seem reluctant to go that route.

As for Puljujarvi, TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported the Oilers denied speculation around the trade deadline suggesting they could move the 19-year-old winger. Of course, they could change their minds if they get a good offer this summer, but I don’t see them actively shopping Puljujarvi. I believe they want to be patient with him. 

Their 2018 first-round pick could attract considerable attention if Chiarelli is wiling to move it. Indeed, if Edmonton wins the draft lottery again, that pick could garner them a significant return. The Oilers will likely retain that pick if it becomes first overall but it would certainly be worthwhile to at least listen to offers. I can see Chiarelli shopping his second-round pick as Mitchell suggested to clubs looking to shed some salary.  That pick might help them land a young NHL player or one of those promising AHL players. 

Athanasiou has faced some criticism over his performance. I don’t think the Wings are ready to part with him yet but it certainly could be worth looking into.  The Flames could move Bennett this summer but probably not to their rival in Edmonton, as the last thing they’ll want is to risk seeing him blossom there.

Hoffman carries a modified no-trade clause and might be unwilling to to go to Edmonton. If he is, however, it’s a move that could be worth exploring. Vanek could be an affordable option but his age (34) could be a concern. 


NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2018

Updates on the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.  

The Washington Capitals were reportedly among the clubs interested in Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson before the trade deadline (Photo via NHL Images)


FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling NHL Network on Friday he believed the Washington Capitals made a pitch for Ryan McDonagh and Erik Karlsson before last Monday’s NHL trade deadline. McDonagh was eventually dealt by the New York Rangers to the Tampa Bay Lightning while Karlsson remains with the Ottawa Senators. Looking at the Capitals’ salary-cap constraints, Friedman wasn’t sure how they could’ve pulled off either deal but he thinks they tried. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I share Friedman’s uncertainty over how the Capitals would’ve done it. The Lightning gave up a roster player, two draft picks (including their 2018 first rounder) and two prospects in the McDonagh deal. It’s said the Senators sought between five to seven assets for Karlsson and were also pushing for winger Bobby Ryan to be included in the deal. Cap Friendly indicates the Caps are bumping against the $75-million ceiling. 

Washington defenseman John Carlson is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. If the Capitals fail to re-sign him, perhaps they’ll revisit their interest in Karlsson during the offseason,


DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent mailbag segment, Helene St. James was asked if the Red Wings will seek a replacement for goaltender Petr Mrazek this summer via free agency. She questions Jared Coreau’s readiness to become a full-time NHL backup. She thinks they could look to free agency, where former Wings goalie Petr Mrazek could be available. 

She also doubts the Wings will pursue a big-ticket player via free agency. She thinks they could instead sign a patch player, as they did with Trevor Daley last summer. She speculates they could pursue a forward and wouldn’t be surprised to see former Wings forward Thomas Vanek return. She also knows there’s some interest in re-signing defenseman Mike Green.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Free-agent goaltender options could include Jonathan Bernier, Andrew Hammond, Michael Hutchinson or Carter Hutton. Vanek expressed interest in returning to the Wings last summer so perhaps there’s an opportunity for him to do so this summer. The Wings might be unwilling to pay Green $6-million per season again, but if he’s willing to accept a bit of a pay cut perhaps they’ll ink to another three-year deal.