NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 29, 2020

Chris Kreider sidelined with a fractured foot, the red-hot Golden Knights and Flyers continue their winning ways and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jakub Voracek tied a career-high with four assists as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the New York Rangers 5-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game road winning streak. Claude Giroux also scored twice as the Flyers (81 points) moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division. It was a costly loss for the Rangers (74 points) as winger Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot in the first period. They remain two points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot on Friday against the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lengthy absence for Kreider could prove fatal to the Rangers’ playoff hopes. He sits third among the Blueshirts in goals (24) and provides a physical presence to their forward lines.

The Flyers vaulted over the Pittsburgh Penguins (80 points), who dropped a 3-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson made 28 saves as the Ducks held on for the win. Jason Zucker scored both goals for the Penguins, who’ve lost five straight games.

Netminder Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots for his first victory with the red-hot Vegas Golden Knights by doubling up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Reilly Smith tallied twice for the Golden Knights (80 points), who’ve won eight straight and hold a six-point lead atop the Pacific Division. Vegas winger Mark Stone missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock kicked out 24 shots to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-0, with Zach Parise scoring a goal and setting up two others. The Wild (71 points) are just one point out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Jackets have lost 10 of their last 11 games and cling to the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 76 points. Jackets winger Alexander Wennberg returned to action for the first time in 12 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These are two teams going in different directions. The Wild have won six of their last 10 and are rising in the Western standings, while the Blue Jackets are danger of tumbling out of a playoff spot.

The Colorado Avalanche picked up their fifth straight win by edging the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Avs goalie Pavel Francouz turned aside 45 shots while Tyson Jost tallied two goals. Colorado (83 points) moved three points ahead of the Dallas Stars for second place in the Central Division. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho extended his points streak to 14 games. Carolina sits two points behind the Blue Jackets.

HEADLINES

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine remains doubtful for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Laine took a shot off his foot in Wednesday’s win over Washington. X-rays revealed he didn’t suffer any broken bones.

SPORTSNET: Oilers defenseman Mike Green will be sidelined three-four weeks with a knee injury.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders loaned winger Josh Ho-Sang to the St. Louis Blues’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Sources also say the Islanders will play all their playoff games this season and next at Nassau Coliseum, as well as their entire 2020-21 regular-season schedule. The Isles are expected to begin playing in their new arena at Belmont Park in 2021-22.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The AHL approved the transfer of ownership of the San Antonio Rampage to the Golden Knights, “as well as the relocation of the franchise to Henderson/Las Vegas.”










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2020

Game recaps, three stars of the week, plus updates on Frederik Andersen, Carey Price and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: An upper-body injury to Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen overshadowed their 5-3 defeat to the Florida Panthers. Andersen suffered the injury following a first-period collision with Panthers winger Frank Vatrano. Before that, the Leafs goalie was a bit slow getting re-set after being bumped twice. No word yet regarding his status for Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers. Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk tallied his first career NHL hat trick. The Panthers (63 points) moved into third place in the Atlantic Division, pushing the Leafs out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen suffered an upper-body injury during Monday’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs were down 1-0 before Andersen’s injury. They took as 3-1 lead after backup Michael Hutchinson came in, but gave up four straight third-period goals. If Andersen’s sidelined long-term it’ll be a serious blow to the Leafs playoff hopes. It could also push general manager Kyle Dubas into the trade market for help. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

Stephen Johns scored his first goal in nearly two years as the Dallas Stars downed the New York Rangers 5-3. Johns recently returned to action after being sidelined since 2018 by a head injury. Stars center Joe Pavelski scored twice within 16 seconds in the first period.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Elliott made 16 saves in a 3-0 blanking of the Detroit Red Wings. Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes, and Matt Niskanen were the goal scorers. The Flyers (65 points) have won six of their last eight games and hold the first wild-card in the Eastern Conference.

HEADLINES

Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, and Vancouver Canucks winger J.T. Miller are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 2.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen revealed his recent one-game benching was due to missing practice on Friday because he overslept.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The flu has sidelined Canadiens netminder Carey Price from tonight’s game with the New Jersey Devils.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg (upper body) was placed on injury reserve. He’s expected to miss three-to-four weeks.

TSN: The Chicago Blackhawks claimed defenseman Nick Seeler off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Local police have cleared Flyers mascot Gritty in the alleged assault of a 13-year-old fan in November.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – May 9, 2019

Check out the latest on the Blue Jackets, Stars, and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline notes the possibility of Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson heading to New York to take over the same role with the Rangers. He wonders how that might affect the club’s management. He expects goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and left winger Artemi Panarin will depart via free agency on July 1.

Will Matt Duchene re-sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets? (Photo via NHL Images)

While the Jackets will attempt to re-sign center Matt Duchene, Portzline said there’s talk he could have his eye on the Nashville Predators or perhaps a return to the Ottawa Senators. They could also re-sign winger Ryan Dzingel but Portzline cautioned against overpaying. He doesn’t expect center Alexander Wennberg will be moved but suggested Brandon Dubinsky could be a buyout candidate. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $51 million invested in 15 players. If ownership is willing to spend to next season’s projected $83 million salary cap, they’ll have over $31 million in cap room.

That’s more than enough to re-sign everyone but it appears Panarin and Bobrovsky will hit the open market on July 1. They’ll have to be replaced and the Jackets could go the free agent route to do so. Goaltender Robin Lehner would be a prime target if he doesn’t re-sign with the New York Islanders. If Buffalo Sabres left wing hits the open market the Jackets could be among the suitors. 

It’s imperative they re-sign Duchene, who hasn’t ruled out returning with the Jackets. Otherwise, they risk having nothing to show for mortgaging their future to acquire him. Dzingel didn’t pan out as hoped and they could pass if his asking price is too expensive.

Given their cap space, there’s no urgency to buy out Dubinsky. He carries a $5.85-million annual cap hit through 2020-21. A buyout would lead to a $1.95-million annual cap hit over the next four years. His full no-trade reverts to a modified no-trade on July 1 with a 10-team no-trade list. The no-movement remains in place to prevent demotion to the minors.

Wenneberg might benefit from a change of scenery. However, the decline in his production over the past two seasons hurts his trade value. The Jackets would probably have to pick up part of his $4.9-million annual average value (through 2022-23) to move him. A buyout would free up considerable cap space but would stretch through 2026-27. 

STARS

SPORTSDAY: Kevin Sherrington expects Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be back after a solid rookie season as bench boss. General manager Jim Nill’s status, however, could be tenuous. Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell, Roope Hintz, and Jason Dickinson were drafted by Nill, who also acquired goalie Ben Bishop and winger Mats Zuccarello.

However, the Stars had the third-worst goals per game (2.55). Captain Jamie Benn appears to be wearing down. Nill must re-sign Zuccarello and doesn’t have much cap space to do much else.

Josh Lile doubts the Stars will re-sign restricted free agent forwards Brett Ritchie and Mattias Janmark. He advocates bringing in more speed and skill to their forward lines. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think Nill’s in any danger of losing his job this summer. However, his offseason moves will determine if he has a future in Dallas beyond next season. They’ve got a superb goaltending tandem in Bishop and Anton Khudobin (another Nill signing), a defense corps anchored by Lindell, Heiskanen, and John Klingberg, and some promising youth up front.

Nevertheless, they must bolster their secondary scoring to take the burden off the Benn line. Zuccarello was a fine addition. I can see him agreeing to a three- or four-year deal with a no-movement clause (for expansion draft protection) for around the same annual cap hit as his current $4.5 million. 

With over $60.7 million committed to 15 players, they can afford to re-sign Zuccarello and restricted free agents Lindell and Dickinson. There should also be room to add another scorer via trade or free agency. 

RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks considers John Davidson a lock to join the Rangers as their new president. He also expects the Blueshirts will attempt to sign Panarin, but they’ll face competition from the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, and Chicago Blackhawks. 

In other Rangers speculation, winger Chris Kreider has a year remaining on his contract. If the Rangers decide to trade him, Brooks believes the acquiring team must re-sign him to an extension to maximize the return for the Blueshirts. He won’t have as much value to teams like the Edmonton Oilers or Winnipeg Jets if he’s looked upon as a one-year rental player.

Rangers defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith could be buyout candidates. Brooks also doesn’t rule out Vladislav Namestnikov or Jimmy Vesey becoming cost-cutting trade options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $63.8 million tied up in 19 players, the Rangers have room to make a significant addition via free agency this summer. Buyouts of Shattenkirk and Smith will prove costly in 2020-21 so they’ll have to be prepared for the cap hit in that season.

As for Kreider, it’ll be interesting to see how the Rangers play this. If they can’t reach a suitable agreement by mid-June they could attempt to move him during the 2019 NHL Draft weekend (June 21 and 22).










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2019

Hurricanes take 2-0 series lead over the Islanders, Avalanche ties their series with the Sharks, Hart Memorial Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a 1-0 deficit with early third-period goals to defeat the New York Islanders 2-1 and take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Warren Foegele and Nino Niederreiter scored 48 seconds apart for the Hurricanes, who lost goaltender Petr Mrazek (lower body) and defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk (shoulder) and Saku Maenalanen (hand) to injuries

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders outplayed, out-hit and out-chanced the Hurricanes throughout this game but managed just one goal and got caught napping on those Carolina goals. Hurricanes backup Curtis McElhinney, who replaced the sidelined Mrazek in the second period, made 17 saves for the win. It was a costly victory for Carolina. Mrazek is listed as day-to-day, Maenalanen requires surgery and is expected to be out 10-14 days, while Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour believes van Riemsdyk won’t be returning anytime soon. 

Tyson Barrie’s three-point performance helped the Colorado Avalanche edge the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in Game 2 of their second-round series (Photo via NHL Images)

Tyson Barrie had a goal and two assists and Philipp Grubauer kicked out 31 shots as the Colorado Avalanche edged the San Jose Sharks 4-3, tying their second-round series at a game apiece. Brent Burns scored twice and set up another for the Sharks, who weren’t happy over what they considered an icing that went uncalled led to Barrie’s goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche put forth a better effort in this contest compared to Game 1. As a result, they return to Denver for Games 3 and 4 having stolen a game from the Sharks in San Jose, giving themselves an opportunity to build some momentum heading into the third game. 

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid are this year’s finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, “given annually to the NHL player voted to be most valuable to his team.”

THE ATHLETIC/OTTAWA SUN: Frequent healthy scratch Alexander Wennberg skated for the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 of their series with the Boston Bruins. Ryan Dzingel, acquired by the Blue Jackets from the Ottawa Senators before the trade deadline, was a healthy scratch as he’s disappointed thus far in the postseason. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wennberg could be back in the Blue Jackets lineup for Game 3 tomorrow in Columbus. After tallying 12 points in 21 games with the Jackets (along with 44 in 57 games with the Senators), Dzingel went scoreless through five playoff games. 

THE ATHLETIC: Bruins high-scoring winger David Pastrnak may be second on the club in scoring this postseason but he’s struggled with consistency thus far. 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2018

What next for the Flyers? Are the Leafs concerned about offer sheets for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner? Will the Capitals trade Andre Burakovsky. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MORE CHANGES COMING FOR THE FLYERS?

ESPN.COM: In the wake of the Philadelphia Flyers replacing head coach Dave Hakstol yesterday with Scott Gordon on an interim basis, Greg Wyshynski offers up some suggestions to improve their fortunes. While noting Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher saying he hasn’t spoken with the Chicago Blackhawks about former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, Wyshynski believes it’s time to do so.

Among his other suggestions: trading pending free agent Wayne Simmonds for a “bounty of assets”, target St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo or bring in Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Anton Stralman, and perhaps attempt to offer sheet Lightning center Brayden Point next summer.

Having replaced their head coach, should the Philadelphia Flyers consider moving Wayne Simmonds? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher may not have spoken to the Blackhawks about Quenneville but there’s ongoing speculation that he could at some point. The question, of course, is whether Quenneville sees the Flyers as a fit. Given his long, successful coaching career, the Flyers wouldn’t be the only club interested in his services.

Simmonds could be shopped by the February trade deadline if he and Fletcher can’t reach agreement on a new contract. He might fetch a couple of draft picks (perhaps a first-rounder) and a quality prospect.

Targeting Pietrangelo is one thing, coming up with the Blues’ hefty asking price is another, assuming he’s even willing to waive his no-trade clause. An easier target could be Stralman if the Lightning decides to stick with youngster Erik Cernak this season. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait until Stralman becomes a UFA in July.

Pitching an offer sheet to Point assumes he’s willing to sign one. He could be content to stick with the Lightning, even if they have to shed some salary to make room for the hefty pay raise he’s likely to seek. Perhaps GM Julien BriseBois can weave the same magic Steve Yzerman used to use to convince Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman to accept less than market value to stay in Tampa Bay. 

LEAFS UNCONCERNED ABOUT POTENTIAL OFFER SHEETS FOR MATTHEWS, MARNER

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas isn’t worried about Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner becoming possible offer-sheet targets this summer. “Our salary cap situation is set up that we could defend any of those threats with no worry at all,” Dubas said after Monday’s practice. “I spend zero percent of my time having any worry about that.”

The high compensation price of four first-round picks and the threat of future retaliation have made general managers reluctant to employ offer sheets in recent years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs currently have just over $56.275 million invested in 12 players for next season. Assuming the salary cap for 2019-20 rises to $83 million as recently projected by league commissioner Gary Bettman, the Leafs will have around $26.8 million available. That’s more than enough to match offers for either guy, assuming they haven’t used up too much of that cap space beforehand signing other players.

While it’s possible a notable player could receive an offer sheet next summer, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is skeptical. “I’ll believe it when I see it”, he told Toronto’s TSN 1050 yesterday. He said he gave up on the notion of offer sheets this past summer when Ottawa Senators winger Mark Stone didn’t receive one.

McKenzie felt the Stone situation was tailor-made for an offer sheet. “Because you could have given a one-year offer sheet on Mark Stone and the Ottawa Senators would not – if they matched it – they would not have been able to trade him this year. They would have had to let him walk to free agency,” he said.  While McKenzie said it’s his understanding some teams considered that option, no one went for it. 

LATEST ON BURAKOVSKY

THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan noted this weekend’s Sportsnet report claiming the Capitals were fielding calls on Andre Burakovsky, who’s seen his ice time reduced this season and was a healthy scratch from the club’s last three games. While they’re listening to offers, Khurshudyan said they’re not in a rush to move the 23-year-old winger and aren’t actively shopping him. The Capitals remain hopeful Burakovsky can pick up his play whenever he gets back in the lineup and performs well enough to earn himself a new contract. He’s slated to become a restricted free agent next summer.

There’s speculation Burakovsky could be a trade chip to bring in a defenseman in the wake of Christian Djoos absence due to thigh surgery. Khurshudyan notes the Capitals’ top-two defense pairings are set and the third one is playing well as Brooks Orpik recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. She considers it unlikely they’ll trade Burakovsky for someone who can’t play significant minutes for them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Canucks were reportedly among the clubs interested in Burakovsky. It appears this isn’t a move the Capitals are in a hurry to make. Perhaps that will change as the season progresses. If Burakovsky’s performance improves it’ll bolster his trade value but will also be a good reason for the Capitals to retain him.  

UPDATES ON THE ISLANDER AND BLUE JACKETS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello would like to be active in the trade market but can’t find a dance partner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word from Garrioch as to what Lamoriello could be seeking. It’s worth remembering he’s the most secretive of NHL GMs. 

Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is said to be working the phones but isn’t getting much interest on center Alexander Wennberg. “That makes sense because he’s got a deal that runs through 2022-23 with a cap hit of $4.9 million.”

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2018

Lightning eliminate Devils, Capitals take series lead over the Blue Jackets, Leafs stay alive against Bruins. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils to take their opening-round series in five games. Nikita Kucherov scored his fifth goal of the playoffs and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 26 saves for the win. Devils goaltender Corey Schneider made 35 saves in a losing cause. The Lightning await the winner of the Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs series.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov picked up his fifth goal of the playoffs in his club’s series-clinching win over the New Jersey Devils (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils proved to be a difficult opponent but they ultimately couldn’t match the Lightning’s talented roster depth. After an injury-plagued season, Schneider redeemed himself with a strong playoff performance. 

Speaking of the Bruins and Leafs, the latter staved off elimination in Game 5 with a 4-3 win. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 42 saves while teammates James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak each had a goal and an assist. Game 6 goes Monday night in Toronto with the Bruins holding a 3-2 series lead. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup after missing Game 4 with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins came out flat in this game and the Leafs made them pay, driving Tuukka Rask out of the game after he gave up four goals on 13 shots. The Leafs came close to blowing this one but Andersen made the difference with 19 saves in the final period.

The Washington Capitals have taken their first lead of their series with the Columbus Blue Jackets, thanks to a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5. Nicklas Backstrom scored twice, including the winner, and Braden Holtby made 39 saves for the Capitals, who’ve overcome a 2-0 series deficit to take a 3-2 lead. Blues Jackets forward Matt Calvert tallied two goals and Alex Wennberg collected an assist in his first game back since being sidelined with an upper-body injury in Game 1. The two sides face off in Game 6 on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin promised his club would rally back to tie this series, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella is guaranteeing his team will force a seventh game. 

New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle, Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo and Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist (lower-body) is expected to return to action in Game 6 today against the Philadelphia Flyers. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin’s status is unclear after suffering a leg injury in Game 5. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes assistant coach Rob Brind’amour has expressed interest in the vacant head-coaching job. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: It appears Randy Carlyle will return next season as the Anaheim Ducks’ head coach. 

NEWSDAY: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expects construction on a new arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park to begin in early 2019.