The Senators defeated the Lightning, the Ducks upset the Hurricanes, plus the latest on the Blackhawks’ Taylor Hall, the Penguins’ Reilly Smith, the Rangers’ Ryan Lindgren and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk scored twice and collected an assist to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. Vladimir Tarasenko tallied his first goal with the Senators and added an assist. Anthony Cirelli and Tanner Jeannot replied for the Lightning, who played without captain Steven Stamkos as he missed this game with a lower-body injury.
The Anaheim Ducks upset the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3 to give Greg Cronin his first win as an NHL head coach. Frank Vatrano led the way with a hat trick, Cam Fowler, Mason McTavish and Ryan Strome each had two points and rookie Pavel Mintyukov scored his first NHL goal. Teuvo Teravainen scored twice for the Hurricanes.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Taylor Hall will return to the Chicago Blackhawks lineup on Monday when they face the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Hall missed one game following a shoulder injury from a hit by Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo last Wednesday.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Left wing Reilly Smith has already fit in well on Evgeni Malkin’s line in his first three games with the Penguins. Acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights in June, the 32-year-old Smith has three points in as many games and is drawing praise for his strong play at both ends of the rink.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren was sidelined by an undisclosed upper-body injury ahead of his club’s 5-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. He’s listed as day-to-day.
CBS SPORTS: Former Anaheim Ducks winger Max Comtois has signed a minor-league contract with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. It’s believed the deal contains an out-clause if he gets an offer from an NHL club. The Wolves are currently not affiliated with an NHL club.
What defensemen could the Leafs target in the trade market? What’s the latest on the Canucks rumored efforts to peddle Tyler Myers? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
POTENTIAL LEAFS’ BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently looked at several potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs to upgrade their blueline. The biggest names believed available are the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun, the San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson and the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg.
The Leafs are believed to have some interest in the 24-year-old Chychrun. However, his injury history and the Coyotes’ expensive price tag are areas of concern.
Karlsson’s strong start to this season has bolstered his trade value but his no-movement clause gives him full control. His $11.5 million cap hit through 2026-27 is a stumbling block even if the Sharks retained some of it.
Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).
Fox is warming to Klingberg. He’s a right-shot puck-moving defenseman who logs big minutes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun finally made his season debut last night following off-season wrist surgery. He’ll need to stay healthy and perform well in the coming weeks to convince interested clubs that he’s worth the Coyotes’ high asking price. The Leafs might be reluctant to get into that bidding war.
Karlsson is far too expensive for the Leafs even if San Jose retained a healthy chunk of his cap hit. The Sharks will also seek a significant return that could prove too rich for the Leafs. That’s assuming he’d waive his NMC for Toronto.
Klingberg could be the better option here. His $7 million salary for this season is expensive but the Ducks will probably retain part of it for a sweetener in the return. How much they’d want as part of the return could be an issue. Anaheim general manager Pat Verbeek could prefer to wait until the trade deadline in hope of drawing more interest in Klingberg.
The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek isn’t fully sold on Klingberg. While the blueliner had an impressive 17-point performance during the 2020 playoffs with the Dallas Stars, he managed just one point in their seven-game opening-round defeat at the hands of the Calgary Flames. The 30-year-old Klingberg has eight points in 19 games with the offensively anemic Ducks.
Pending UFA options on Fox’s list include the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov, the Washington Capitals’ Dmitry Orlov, Ottawa Senators’ Artem Zub, Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin, New York Islanders’ Scott Mayfield, and the New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson. He also suggested the Vancouver Canucks’ Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers, who still has a year remaining on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Dumba, Orlov, Dumoulin, Mayfield or Severson being available as long as their respective clubs remain in playoff contention. I think the Blue Jackets will try to re-sign Gavrikov and the Senators will attempt to re-up Zub.
Fox’s colleague Elliotte Friedman reported a couple of sources believe the Leafs are interested in Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins, who’s currently with their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint. He also said they were looking at Ducks winger Frank Vatrano but would have difficulty fitting his $3.65 million cap hit within their payroll even if the Ducks retained half of it.
LATEST ON TYLER MYERS
CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal talked about the details of the Vancouver Canucks’ attempt to trade Tyler Myers to the Ottawa Senators for Nikita Zaitsev. He revealed that the 32-year-old defenseman gets a $5 million signing bonus next July 1, which is difficult for most teams to swallow. Dhaliwal believes that’s why the Senators asked for a sweetener in the deal which the Canucks weren’t willing to give up.
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance believes the Canucks would be better off waiting to move Myers after that $5 million is paid next July. He’ll be in the final season of his contract by that point, which could improve his trade value by making him more palatable to interested clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once the Canucks pay out that $5 million next July, Myers will be owed just $1 million for the remainder of next season. That could make him attractive to teams looking for teams seeking blueline depth hoping to remain close to the cap minimum.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarot, 30, was one of the notable names floating around the rumor mill for months because of his unrestricted free agent status this summer and the Canadiens’ low placement in the standings. He was among the defensemen on the Panthers’ rumored list of trade targets back in January. Chiarot should provide experienced depth on the left side of their blueline in a second-pairing role behind MacKenzie Weegar.
Montreal Canadiens trade defenseman Ben Chiarot to the Florida Panthers (NHL Images).
The Panthers gave up a fair bit for a rental player but that was likely the price to be paid to entice the Canadiens to retain half of Chiarot’s cap hit. Cap Friendly indicates the Panthers have $3.7 million in projected trade deadline cap space, leaving a bit of wiggle room for another move if necessary. Speculation suggests Panthers general manager Bill Zito might not be done dealing.
Canadiens general manager set a high price for Chiarot with a first-rounder and he got it plus more. Smilanic is in his second season with Quinnipiac University in the NCAA. Elite Prospects calls the 20-year-old center “a complete talent who can be relied on in all situations.” Overall, not a bad haul for the rebuilding Canadiens.
Before acquiring Chiarot, the Panthers traded forward Frank Vatrano to the New York Rangers in exchange for the later selection of either the Rangers’ own fourth-rounder in the 2022 draft or the fourth-rounder the Rangers acquired from the Winnipeg Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shipping out Vatrano was a cost-cutting move for the Panthers to clear sufficient space for Chiarot. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, he carries a $2.53 million cap hit for this season. He’d seen fourth-line duty and was a healthy scratch at times this season.
Vatrano is expected to help boost the Rangers’ bottom-six forward lines. This move doesn’t put a big dent in the Rangers’ projected trade deadline cap space ($31 million) and didn’t cost them any of their promising young players. GM Chris Drury has plenty of cap room and trade assets to make a more substantial move before Monday’s trade deadline.
The Calgary Flamesacquire forward Calle Jarnkrok from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2022 draft, a third-rounder in 2023 and a seventh-rounder in 2024. The Kraken also retained 50 percent of Jarnkrok’s $2 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After making a big splash last month by acquiring Tyler Toffoli, the Flames make a depth addition to their checking lines with the 30-year-old Jarnkrok. He’s a versatile two-way forward who can play all three forward positions. Like Chiarot and Vatrano, Jarnkrok is slated to become a UFA this summer.
It’s a decent return for the first-year Kraken. GM Ron Francis is aiming at loading up on picks to stock up his prospect pipeline.
Check out the latest on the Canadiens, Stars, Canucks, Ducks, Panthers, Predators, Wild, Kings and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST PETRY SPECULATION
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports a league source suggested a scenario that the Dallas Stars could become a team with interest in Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry if they move John Klingberg, a pending free agent who has requested a trade. The idea would see them replace Klingberg with the 34-year Petry.
LeBrun added the Canadiens are telling teams they don’t have to move Petry, who’s signed through 2024-25. They’re also not moving him at a discount simply because he’s struggling this season.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports a few teams have indicated they see a Petry move being more likely to occur in the offseason than at the March 21 trade deadline. Despite his difficulties and those of the Canadiens this season, he put up good stats last season and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry’s stats could improve playing on a better team. However, he’s a 34-year-old defenseman carrying a $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and a 15-team no-trade clause. Meanwhile, the salary cap is flattened for the foreseeable future. If the Canadiens don’t intend on retaining part of his cap hit or agree to take back a toxic contract, they’ll have to include a sweetener to convince an opponent to pick up the full remainder of his contract.
Finding a deal that works for the acquiring club, the Canadiens, and Petry is easier said than done. It will be quite an accomplishment for Habs rookie GM Kent Hughes if he can pull it off.
RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Vancouver Canucks could be considering re-signing J.T. Miller instead of trading him. That’s one reason why other names like Conor Garland have surfaced in the rumor mill. Canucks president Jim Rutherford wants to create room and that’s why he’s exploring all possibilities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman is referring to cap flexibility, something the Canucks haven’t had for a while. It doesn’t mean Rutherford’s going to engage in a fire sale of his best players or make cost-cutting deals before the trade deadline. However, that could change if his club fails to gain ground in the playoff chase by the March 21 deadline.
Whoever becomes the new Anaheim Ducks general manager faces a big decision regarding the future of pending UFA defenseman Hampus Lindholm. Friedman doesn’t believe the Ducks can afford to keep him post-deadline even if they’re in playoff contention unless they know he’s staying. He also mentioned the Ducks have many options with UFA blueliner Josh Manson, including keeping him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can also see them retaining Lindholm, Manson and fellow UFA Rickard Rakell as “own rentals” if they’re still holding a playoff spot by deadline day.
The Ducks haven’t been in the postseason since 2018. Like every team, they’ve endured revenue losses during this pandemic. Ownership could be unwilling to jeopardize potential playoff money this season by trading away a key player or two even at the risk of losing them to free agency this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers’ focus is reportedly on bolstering their blueline depth. It wouldn’t be surprising if they draw on their forward depth to address that need.
Nashville Predators GM David Poile said he likes his team and doesn’t want to make many changes. “We’re content where we are,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s understandable given the Predators’ improvement this season. It’s probably safe to say Poile won’t be shopping pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg, who’s played a key role in the Preds’ performance. Poile could be a buyer by deadline day but it will probably be a minor move or two.
There have been no current contract discussions between the Minnesota Wild and winger Kevin Fiala, who is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.
Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake will meet with winger Dustin Brown during the all-star break to discuss his future. The Kings have no desire to move goaltender Jonathan Quick. They are in the market for a big left-shot defenseman. Blake declined to comment about Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brown is a UFA this summer while Quick has a year remaining on his deal. I can see Blake signing Brown to an affordable one-year deal. Chychrun would be a terrific fit with the Kings but the Coyotes seek a good young NHL player, a first-round pick and a top prospect in return.
COYOTES ARE ONCE AGAIN WILLING TO TAKE ON CONTRACTS
TSN: Chris Johnston reports teams in need of salary-cap relief could be in touch with the Arizona Coyotes before the trade deadline. The Coyotes have let it be known they’re willing to take on contracts or money in exchange for future assets like they did last summer. It will depend upon the length of the contract and the type of player being brought in.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could also become a third-party broker between two clubs, retaining part of a player’s cap hit in exchange for a draft pick or prospect.
What can the Leafs do to address their short- and long-term salary-cap issues? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons took note of young defensemen such as Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse, Colorado’s Cale Makar, Chicago’s Seth Jones and Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen landing long-term deals worth over $8 million. He believes the going rate for a 27-year-old blueliner like the Leafs’ Morgan Rielly is around $8 million per season, which is a big raise over his current $5 million annual cap hit.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images).
He believes the Leafs face a challenging decision with Rielly. Do they re-sign him? Do they let him depart via free agency next summer? If they re-sign him, how will they clear sufficient cap space for his new contract?
Complicating things further is goaltender Jack Campbell will also become eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer. Simmons speculates it could the Leafs $6 million they don’t have to keep them both.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why some observers believed the Leafs could trade Rielly this summer rather than risk losing him next summer for nothing. However, management is sticking with its core (which includes Rielly, their best puck-moving defenseman) for the coming season.
Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $67.78 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23. Assuming the cap rises that season by $1 million, that’ll leave the Leafs with $14.7 million in projected cap space. If they re-sign Rielly for $8 million annually, they’ll have only $6.7 million left to re-sign Campbell and promising blueliner Rasmus Sandin, leaving nothing to fill out the rest of the roster.
They could let Rielly walk or shop him before the trade deadline. However, that will leave a big hole on their blueline that could prove difficult to fill.
Simmons also observed the Maple Leafs are above the salary cap but don’t have to be cap compliant until the start of the regular season. He wonders which players will be waived in training camp or whether Alex Kerfoot will be moved in a cost-cutting trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are 1.394 million over the $81.5 million cap. They also have 15 forwards under contract. Rather than trade Kerfoot, they’ll likely attempt to demote two or three of those extra forwards or see one or two of them claimed by other clubs via waivers.
Regarding rumors linking the Panthers to Zdeno Chara, Richards believes they want to add another veteran defenseman but he’s not sure if Chara is the right fit. He also acknowledged the trade rumors about winger Frank Vatrano before the expansion draft. While nothing came of them, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a training camp deal.
Richards also predicted Sergei Bobrovsky could be moved out in 2023 “one way or another” but it won’t be a contract buyout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky will have just three years remaining on his contract following 2022-23. However, he must waive his no-movement clause first. The Panthers will also have to pick up a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual average value to facilitate a trade. Even then, they won’t get much interest in Bobrovsky if his performance doesn’t improve by that point.
Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Hurricanes-Predators game postpone over COVID-19 concerns, Avalanche trade Ian Cole to Minnesota, Elias Pettersson fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Jack Hughes enjoyed his first two-goal game and added an assist as his New Jersey Devils held on for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 47 saves for the win. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Rangers, who lost center Mika Zibanejad to an apparent upper-body injury after falling into the corner boards late in the third period.
New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes and Blackwood were the Devils’ stars in this contest. This was Hughes’ best game in his young NHL career, showing the skills that made him the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. An update on Zibanejad’s status could be made later today.
The Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 thanks to a 40-save performance by goalie Brian Elliott. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who lost defenseman Philippe Myers and center Morgan Frost to injuries during this contest. Both are slated for MRIs today. Sabres goalie Carter Hutton didn’t return for the third period following a collision in his crease in the second period. Earlier in the day, the Sabres moved winger Kyle Okposo (undisclosed) on injured reserve. He’s yet to play a game this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big bounce-back win for the injury-depleted Flyers after getting drubbed 6-1 by the Sabres on Monday. The Sabres had plenty of opportunities to score but Elliott held them off the board.
An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano lifted the Florida Panthers over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4. Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves, the most notable stopping Patrick Kane on a penalty shot. Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe each scored twice for the Panthers while Dominik Kubalik tallied twice for the Blackhawks, who still seek their first win of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be a long, painful season for the Blackhawks. They’ve given up five goals in each of their first four games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins swept their two-game series with the Washington Capitals with a 5-4 overtime victory. Sidney Crosby tallied the winner in the extra frame as the Penguins overcame a 4-2 deficit. Tom Wilson scored twice for the Capitals. Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola left the game with undisclosed ailments and will be evaluated today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby collected three points in this contest and is now the Penguins’ leading scorer with five points.
Nikolaj Ehlers scored in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist and Mark Scheifele collected two assists for the Jets. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle missed the game with what’s been called a minor injury but he isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Senators, who out-shot the Jets 41-28 in this game.
Tyler Bertuzzi potted an overtime winner to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wings forward Bobby Ryan scored his fourth goal in his first three games of this season, becoming the first player in franchise history to achieve that feat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned victory for the rebuilding Red Wings over a Blue Jackets team whose best players have been anything but through most of the first week of their season.
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists, including his 500th career point, in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar had two helpers for the Kings. The Avs were playing without goaltender Pavel Francouz and winger Andre Burakovsky as both remain sidelined by injuries suffered during practice on Monday.
The Carolina Hurricanes-Nashville Predators game was postponed after five Hurricanes players (Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin) were placed in COVID-19 protocol. The rescheduled game will be played at a later date.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This probably won’t be the last game to be rescheduled during this season. The Dallas Stars had their first four games postponed and rescheduled after several players were placed in COVID-19 protocol during the final days of training camp.
THE DENVER POST: Prior to the Colorado Avalanche’s game with the Los Angeles Kings, they shipped defenseman Ian Cole to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for blueliner Greg Pateryn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild made this swap because general manager Bill Guerin was looking for an experienced stay-at-home defenseman. He also knows Cole from their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins and likes what the blueliner could bring to his roster.
The Avs, meanwhile, shed all but $800K of Cole’s $4.25 million annual average value while taking on Pateryn’s $2.25 million AAV. It allows the to put Pateryn on the taxi squad if necessary to create room for promising blueliner Bowen Byram.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson was fined $3,987.07 for slashing Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan during a game on Monday night.
NHL.COM: The league will pause the use of pucks with embedded tracking technology because of performance issues. A new supply of tracking pucks will be received soon and put into service once quality-control testing is completed.