NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

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.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked about how things stand with new contracts for Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart. He anticipates new deals for both could be announced later this summer.

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.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2021

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.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 24, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 24, 2019

Game recaps, injury updates, Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo reaches a milestone, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Claude Giroux scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in their 2019 Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia before a sellout crowd of 69,620. The Penguins also lost defensemen Brian Dumoulin to a concussion following a hit from Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds and Kris Letang to an upper-body injury in the ensuing scrum.  Simmonds received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Flyers (65 points) moved to within six points of a playoff spot while the Penguins (32 wins, 72 points) slipped out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. 

Claude Giroux scored the game-winner as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in their Stadium Series game (Photo via NHL Images)

Curtis McElhinney made 24 saves as the Carolina Hurricanes blanked the Dallas Stars 3-0. Hurricanes center Jordan Staal picked up an assist in his first game since being sidelined with concussion symptoms on Dec. 22. The win moves the Hurricanes (33 wins, 72 points) ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Stars, clinging to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference (30 wins, 65 points), subsequently acquired Mats Zuccarello from the Rangers.  Follow this link for details and my reaction. 

Sergei Bobrovsky’s 26-save shutout performance enabled the Columbus Blue Jackets to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Matt Duchene tallied his first goal since being acquired by the Jackets on Friday. Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson left the game in the second period with a groin strain.  The Jackets now sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 73 points. Following the game, the Jackets acquired winger Ryan Dzingel from the Ottawa Senators. Follow this link for details and reaction. 

Sam Reinhart’s hat trick powered the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals to snap their four-game losing skid. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his league-leading 44th goal. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner suffered a scare when he had to be helped from the ice in the second period with an ankle injury but return to play in the third. The Sabres (66 points) sit six points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Shootout goals by Tyler Bozak and Sammy Blais helped the St. Louis Blues to edge the Boston Bruins 2-1. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury but it’s not believed to be serious. Earlier in the day, the Blues placed center Brayden Schenn (upper body) on injured reserve

Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo picked up his 484th career victory backstopping his club to a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. With the win, Luongo tied Ed Belfour for third place on the all-time wins list. The Panthers also re-signed winger Frank Vatrano to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $2.35 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatrano, 24, is enjoying a breakout performance with the Panthers, tallying 20 goals and 33 points in 59 games this season. It’s an affordable deal that could prove a real bargain for the Panthers if he carries over that 20-plus goal per season pace throughout the term of his new contract. 

Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and Philipp Grubauer kicked out 38 shots as the Colorado Avalanche shut out the Nashville Predators 5-0. The win vaulted the Avalanche (65 points) into the final Western Conference wild-card berth. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. Zach Hyman scored twice, including the winner late in the third period. The Canadiens (73 points) sit one ahead of the Hurricanes for the first wild-card spot in the East. 

Robin Lehner picked up a shutout with a 36-save effort as the New York Islanders blanked the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. The Canucks (60 points) sit five points out of a Western Conference playoff spot. 

Charlottetown, PEI native Josh Currie scored his first career NHL goal and Sam Gagner tallied the winner as the Edmonton Oilers nipped the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. The Oilers were playing without Connor McDavid, who’s serving a two-game suspension. 

A three-goal first period carried the New York Rangers to a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Ryan Strome scored twice for the Rangers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2019

Game recaps, Oilers re-sign Koskinen, Hurricanes re-up Teravainen, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 


NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1, giving head coach Peter Laviolette his 600th career NHL victory. Pekka Rinne made 35 saves, Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist, and Victor Arvidsson tallied his 10th goal of the month. 

Los Angeles Kings goaltender picked up his 302nd career victory in a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues (Photo via NHL Images).

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 33 saves for his 302nd career victory in a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Quick moved past Mike Richter into fourth place for American-born goalies on the all-time wins list. Kings forward Tyler Toffoli scored a goal and added an assist. 

Mikko Koivu tallied his 200th career goal and Eric Staal had a two-point night as the Minnesota Wild doubled up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. Following the game, the Golden Knights traded little-used defenseman Brad Hunt and a sixth-round pick in 2019 to the Wild in exchange for the Wild’s fifth-rounder.

The Florida Panthers picked up their third straight win by beating the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Frank Vatrano had a goal and four assists while Aleksander Barkov collected three assists. The Sharks were playing without defenseman Erik Karlsson as he deals with an undisclosed injury. Karlsson will also miss the Sharks next game as well. 


New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner, New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane were named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending January 20. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed winger Teuvo Teravainen to a five-year, $27-million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.4 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teravainen, 24, has steadily developed into a reliable offensive forward for the Hurricanes. He enjoyed a career-best performance (23 goals, 64 points) last season and could exceed those totals (10 goals, 39 points in 48 games) this season.

Skating alongside center Sebastian Aho, Tervainen sits second among Hurricanes scorers in assists (29), points (39) and power-play points (12). He’s earned this raise as he’s become one of the Hurricanes’ core players. It’s a reasonable contract for a young player whose best seasons could still be ahead of him. 

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers re-signed goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a three-year, $13.5-million contract extension. The annual salary-cap hit is $4.5 million. In 27 games, the 30-year-old Koskinen has a record of 14-10-1, with a 2.78 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage and three shutouts. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Oilers fans are upset over this move and calling for general manager Peter Chiarelli to be fired. Despite Koskinen’s stats, he has been inconsistent at times this season. Nevertheless, he’s outperformed former starter Cam Talbot, whose days in Edmonton are likely numbered now. Koskinen’s contract isn’t outrageous and could provide some affordable stability between the pipes for the Oilers, though I also expect they could be in the market for a promising young netminder this summer. 

TSN.CA: The Oilers also placed forwards Ty Rattie and Ryan Spooner on waivers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These moves could free up some salary-cap space for perhaps an upcoming addition via trade. We’ll see…

TORONTO SUN: Jake Gardiner (back spasms) could return to the Maple Leafs blueline for Wednesday’s game against the Washington Capitals.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators goalie Craig Anderson is fed up with players crashing the crease and is calling on the league to crack down. Anderson recently returned to action after missing 11 games with a concussion. 

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets have hired NHL Hall-of-Famer Martin St. Louis as a special teams consultant.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former NHL player and coach George “Red” Sullivan passed away Saturday at his home in Peterborough, Ontario. He was 89.  Sullivan played for the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Rangers from 1949-50 to 1960-61, tallying 107 goals and 346 points in 556 games. He coached the Rangers for four seasons (1962-63 to 1965-66), was the first coach in Pittsburgh Penguins history (1967-68 to 1968-69) and was the Washington Capitals’ bench boss as a midseason replacement in 1974-75.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Sullivan’s family, friends, and former teammates.  

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2018

Game recaps, Rangers trade Grabner to Devils, Bruins ship Vatrano to Panthers. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.com: Auston Matthews game-tying goal set the stage for Tyler Bozak’s shootout winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the New York Islanders 4-3. Matthews, however, left the game late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. A further update is expected today. Speaking of the Islanders, they’re reportedly closing in on a new five- or six-year contract with winger Josh Bailey worth $5 million annually. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs fans will be holding their breath today awaiting further word on Matthews’ condition. As for Bailey, looks like he could get a significant boost over his current $3.3-million annual cap hit. With 62 points in 58 games, the 28-year-old winger is enjoying a career-best season in his contract year. This could be a gamble on the Isles part, and not just because they’re investing so much in a late-blooming scorer. This could also be considered a vital step in their efforts to re-sign franchise player John Tavares before his UFA eligibility on July 1, as Bailey is one of Tavares’ linemates.

The New Jersey Devils acquired winger Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

A three-goal second-period outburst powered the Minnesota Wild to a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Taylor Hall extended his points streak to 13 by scoring one of the Devils two goals. Meanwhile, the Devils acquired winger Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers in exchange for their 2018 second-round pick and defenseman prospect Yegor Rykov. It’s the first trade between the two clubs since the Devils moved to New Jersey in 1982

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grabner was one of the notable names among the trade candidates heading toward Monday’s 3 PM ET trade deadline. A speedy forward with a good scoring touch who can play either wing and kill penalties, Grabner was also one of the more affordable rental players on the market, carrying a $1.6-million salary-cap hit. With the Devils jockeying for playoff position,Grabner should provide a much-needed boost to their forward lines.

Speaking of the Rangers, they fell 3-1 to the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs were playing without goaltender Carey Price, who’s sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion in Tuesday’s loss to Philadelphia. They also announced defenseman Shea Weber, sidelined since Dec. 16 with a foot injury, will undergo season-ending surgery. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: RIP Montreal Canadiens’ 2017-18 season. You started ugly, finished poorly and won’t be missed by Habs fans. 

A late third-period goal by Vincent Trocheck gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. Before the game, Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo delivered an emotional speech honoring the victims of last week’s Stoneman Douglas school shooting. Luongo lives in Parkland, where the school is located, and expressed his support for the school’s survivors, many of whom are advocating for tougher gun laws. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne collected his 300th career NHL victory as he made 33 saves to help his club crush the San Jose Sharks 7-1. 

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov tallied his league-leading 80th point as his club edged the Ottawa Senators 4-3. 

Johnny Gaudreau’s three-point performance (one goal, two assists) led the Calgary Flames to a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, snapping the Flames three-game losing skid and the Coyotes four-game win streak. 

Goaltender Petr Mrazek picked up his first win with the Philadelphia Flyers, backstopping them to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored one goal and set up the other.

Kari Lehtonen had an 18-save shutout performance as the Dallas Stars blanked the Los Angeles Kings 2-0. 

The Edmonton Oilers nipped the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on an overtime goal by Connor McDavid. 

Marco Scandella’s overtime goal lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. 

BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins traded winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a third-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. They also announced forward Anders Bjork underwent successful shoulder surgery on Wednesday and is expected to require six months of recovery. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatrano was once considered a promising scoring forward but he was surpassed on the Bruins depth chart by youngsters Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk. With the Panthers trying to reach the playoffs, Vatrano could provide some depth to their forward line. This move should also give him an opportunity to get his NHL career back on track. 

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (knee)  on injured reserve