NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2023

Will the struggling Islanders make a trade? Could Patrick Kane land with the Stars? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

IS A TRADE COMING FOR THE ISLANDERS?

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman said he believes New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is asking around to see if he can find some help for his struggling club.

Friedman believes Lamoriello is on the hunt for a scoring forward. He also thinks the Isles GM could be in on some of the defensemen the Calgary Flames are believed to be shopping (Nikita Zadorov, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev).

New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom (NHL Images).

One player who could be a trade chip for the Islanders is Oliver Wahlstrom. Friedman thinks the 23-year-old winger might welcome a move if he won’t get an opportunity with the Isles. He thinks the Flames could be interested considering they acquired Yegor Sherangovich during the summer.

NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears doubts that a trade is coming for the Islanders. With the exceptions of Wahlstrom and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, “there are not many Islanders who seem moveable right now,” he writes. He also noted that a limited number of teams are looking to offload talent.

If the Islanders fail to improve, Sears thinks a coaching change might be in order. He suggested former Nashville Predators coach John Hynes, current Islanders assistant coach John MacLean, former NHL coach (and current private skills coach) and Hall-of-Fame player Adam Oates, Isles farm team bench boss Rick Kowalsky, former Rangers coach Gerard Gallant and former Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft as possible replacements for current head coach Lane Lambert.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently recommended against making a trade. He believes it would take moving a first-round pick or one of their few well-regarded prospects as trade bait to land a player who can shake up the roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are in a mess right now. Lamoriello will have to act soon or risk this season slipping away.

It will cost too much of the Isles’ future to bring in a quick fix. They don’t have much available talent to offer up from their roster to bring in the type of player who could shake things up.

A coaching change seems the more likely course of action. Whether Lamoriello goes that route remains to be seen.

LATEST ON PATRICK KANE

SPORTSNET: Friedman and co-host Jeff Marek also discussed the possibility of Patrick Kane signing with the Dallas Stars or the Islanders.

Friedman doubted the Stars would be interested. He believes their focus is on bolstering their blueline. While he thinks Kane would love to play for Dallas, he doesn’t see a fit there for the 34-year-old free-agent winger.

As for the Islanders, Friedman thinks they’ve been interested in Kane’s scoring prowess. However, he wondered if the future Hall-of-Famer would pick the best opportunity to win now or the best opportunity over the next couple of years. That could improve the chances of a club like the Buffalo Sabres to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Kane landing with the Islanders. They’re not even on the reported lists of his potential destinations. They also lack the cap space to sign him so I think the odds aren’t in their favor if they were to make a pitch for him.










Oilers Fire Head Coach Jay Woodcroft

Oilers Fire Head Coach Jay Woodcroft

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have fired head coach Jay Woodcroft and defense coach Dave Manson.

Woodcroft is being replaced by Kris Knoblauch and will be joined by assistant coach Paul Coffey.

Former Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft (NHL.com).

Knoblauch joins the Oilers from the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack, the farm team of the New York Rangers. He also coached Oilers captain Connor McDavid when the two were with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hired by the Oilers in February 2022, Woodcroft coached them to the Western Conference Final that year. He guided them to a 109-point campaign in 2022-23, marking the fifth-best regular-season performance in franchise history.

Despite being upset by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round of the 2023 playoffs, the Oilers began this season considered a Stanley Cup contender. Instead, they’ve lurched to a 3-9-1 start that threatens to derail their season.

One would’ve thought the Oilers would’ve replaced Woodcroft with Knoblauch on Thursday following their loss to the bottom-feeding San Jose Sharks. Instead, it comes after they snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win last night over the Seattle Kraken.

Knoblauch’s connection to McDavid is fueling speculation that the Oilers captain had a hand in deciding Woodcroft’s replacement. It’ll be interesting to see how he addresses their porous goaltending, shaky defense and a popgun offense, especially if McDavid remains hampered by an upper-body injury that sidelined him for two games last month.

For those keeping score, Knoblauch becomes the Oilers’ eighth head coach since 2013. As per Hockey-Reference.com, the others were Ralph Krueger (2013), Dallas Eakins (2014 to 2015), Todd Nelson (2015), Todd McLellan (2016 to 2019), Ken Hitchcock (2019), Dave Tippett (2020 to 2022) and Woodcroft.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2022

A look at some notable news from Wednesday’s preseason games, the Czechia government will allow Russian players on the Sharks and Predators into the country, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: New Calgary Flames Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and MacKenzie Weegar each had points in a 4-0 blanking of the Edmonton Oilers in preseason competition.

Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras (NHL Images).

Anaheim Ducks young star Trevor Zegras suffered an upper-body injury in a 3-1 preseason win over the Arizona Coyotes. The 21-year-old sophomore center was hit by Coyotes forward Jan Jenik during the second period. New Ducks defenseman John Klingberg also left the game but head coach Dallas Eakin said it wasn’t injury-related.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No update on Zegras’ condition following the game. Hopefully, there will be more details today.

Matt Murray turned in a 16-save shutout for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they blanked the Montreal Canadiens 3-0. It was a costly win for the Leafs as defensemen Jordie Benn and Carl Dahlstrom left the game with injuries. In a pre-game ceremony, the Leafs and Canadiens honored members of the 1972 Team Canada squad on the 50th anniversary of its thrilling Summit Series win over the Soviet Union.

Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev gave up six goals on 18 shots as the Colorado Avalanche were thumped by the Vegas Golden Knights 7-1. Georgiev was acquired by the Avs during the offseason.

Washington Capitals forward Dylan Strome scored twice in a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Strome signed with the Capitals as a free agent this summer.

THE ATHLETIC’s Aaron Portzline tweeted that Columbus Blue Jackets center Cole Sillinger skated yesterday in a no-contact jersey during practice. It’s his first time on the ice since suffering an upper-body injury on the first day of training camp. 

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jack Studnicka faces a now-or-never scenario to become a Bruins’ regular. Chosen by the Bruins in the second round of the 2017 draft, the 23-year-old center has spent the past three seasons bouncing between the big club and their AHL affiliate in Providence.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The government of Czechia will allow the Sharks and Nashville Predators to bring their Russian players to Prague to participate in the two-game NHL Global Series on Oct. 7 and 8. Czechia has banned Russian athletics in a show of solidarity with Ukraine. The players will be allowed to participate on short-term visas.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Before going on to a career in hockey, Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft was a child actor who appeared in the Canadian TV show The Littlest Hobo and had a bit part in the movie Separate Vacations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Woodcroft was also named the NHL’s most handsome coach. Perhaps Hollywood or a career as a male model beckons if this coaching gig doesn’t pan out…










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2022

Leafs center Auston Matthews wins the Hart Trophy and Lindsay Award as the NHL hands out the remainder of its annual awards. Check out the list of winners and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

MATTHEWS, SHESTERKIN, MAKAR HONORED AT NHL AWARDS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is the 2021-22 winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. He was also awarded the Ted Lindsay Award as league MVP as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews also won the Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goalscorer for the second straight year, becoming the first player to reach the 60-goal plateau in a decade. He’s the third player in Leafs’ history to win the Hart and the first to do so since Teeder Kennedy in 1955. He is also the first Leaf to win the Lindsay Award.

Matthews garnered praise from Leafs’ greats such as Mats Sundin, Darryl Sittler, Borje Salming, Lanny McDonald and Wendel Clark. He’s now the most decorated player in franchise history, having also won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 2016-17.

The New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin was the winner of the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender for 2021-22. He led the league with a 2.07 goals against average and a .935 save percentage and was third in shutouts with five and sixth in wins with 36.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Shesterkin was clearly this season’s dominant netminder. He’s the sixth Ranger to win the Vezina and the first to do so since Henrik Lundqvist in 2012.

Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche took home the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makar is the first defenseman in Avalanche history to win the Norris. It was a close vote as he narrowly beat out Nashville Predators’ captain Roman Josi.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider won the Calder Trophy. He’s the sixth player in franchise history to take home this honor and the first since Roger Crozier in 1965.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved honor for Seider. He led all rookies with 43 assists, 21 power-play points and 23:02 in time on ice per game. He’s already established himself as a core player with the rebuilding Red Wings and should continue playing a significant role in their future.

Matthews, Makar and Shesterkin were also named to the 2021-22 First All-Star Team along with Josi, Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom were named to the Second All-Star Team.

Seider was also named to the 2021-22 NHL All-Rookie team along with Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman, Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier, Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras, Detroit Red Wings winger Lucas Raymond and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DENVER POST: Nathan MacKinnon’s inability to score in the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final is raising some concern among Colorado Avalanche followers. However, MacKinnon isn’t troubled by that lack of production, having trust in himself that the goals will come. “No time for doubt,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No one was worried about MacKinnon’s goal-scoring drought when Colorado was riding a 2-0 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts are putting more focus on shutting him down because he’s the Avs’ biggest scoring threat. However, that also creates time and space for his teammates to garner more scoring chances.

MacKinnon’s limited offense isn’t an issue as long as the Avalanche are winning. It will become a greater concern if the Lightning rally back to tie the series or take over the lead.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri continues to make progress in his recovery from a thumb injury as he joined his teammates in an optional skate on Tuesday. Meanwhile, winger Andre Burakovsky remains in Denver receiving treatment for a suspected hand injury.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper expects Nikita Kucherov and Corey Perry will be in the lineup for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Both forwards were banged up during the Lightning’s 6-2 victory in Game 3. Cooper also indicated center Brayden Point (lower body) remains day-to-day and is doubtful for Game 4.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars officially announced Peter DeBoer has taken over as their new head coach.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers officially announced head coach Jay Woodcroft has signed a three-year deal.

TSN: Former NHL coach Dan Bylsma has been named the first-ever bench boss of the Coachella Valley Firebirds. They are the AHL affiliate of the Seattle Kraken and will make their debut in 2022-23.

TORONTO STAR: Denis P. Gorman has a detailed account of former NHL agitator Sean Avery’s recent trial in New York in which he was found guilty last Thursday of one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief.

The charge stemmed from an incident in Greenwich Village in 2019 regarding a collision involving the scooter he was driving and a minivan.

Avery called proceedings a “kangaroo court” and a “complete waste of resources”. However, he praised the judge for making the “right decision” by sentencing him to time served and ordering him to stay away from the minivan’s driver and his family for five years.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2022

The Avalanche crush the Lightning to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Nicklas Backstrom undergoes hip surgery, the Oilers are on the verge of re-signing head coach Jay Woodcroft, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche holds a 2-0 series lead in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final after drubbing the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 on Saturday. Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar each scored two goals, Mikko Rantanen collected three assists while Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves for the shutout. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4 starting on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was one of the most lopsided Stanley Cup Final games I’ve seen. The Avalanche dominated the defending champion Lightning from the opening whistle to the final buzzer. Their speed made the difference throughout this contest, leaving the Bolts chasing the game and struggling to keep up.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin (NHL Images).

Three years after being bought out by the Dallas Stars, Nichushkin had a career-best performance this season and is enjoying a solid postseason. In this series, he’s taken his game to a higher level, tallying two points in each of the first two games. Eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 13, Nichushkin is on his way to a lucrative new contract.

Following the game, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos called his club’s performance “unacceptable”. Head coach Jon Cooper said the Avalanche were playing at an elite level while his club was not. Andrei Vasilevskiy was in net for all seven goals-against but Stamkos and Cooper laid the blame on the poor defensive play in front of him.

Stamkos and Cooper said all the right things about the need for the Lightning “man up” and not give up. They’re capable of surmounting a 2-0 series deficit as the New York Rangers discovered in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Rallying back this time will be far more challenging for the Lightning. They’re up against the most formidable opponent they’ve faced over the course of their championship reign.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom underwent left hip resurfacing surgery on Friday. He faces a lengthy recovery process with no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom will likely miss the opening weeks of the 2022-23 season and could be sidelined for much longer. His absence leaves a big hole in the second-line center position.

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have $8.9 million in salary cap space with Backstrom carrying an annual average value of $9.2 million. Management could place him on long-term injury reserve to exceed the $82.5 million salary cap in order to find a suitable short-term replacement or to address other roster needs. Should he return to action during the season, however, they’ll have to shed salary to become cap compliant.

DAILY FACEOFF: cites ESPN’s Kevin Weekes and Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now reporting the Edmonton Oilers are on the verge of removing the interim tag from head coach Jay Woodcroft’s job title. They’re expected to reach an agreement on a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Color me unsurprised. Woodcroft did a fine job after replacing Dave Tippett behind the bench. Taking over a struggling Oilers’ team that was in danger of falling out of playoff contention, he coached them to a 26-9-3 record in their remaining 38 games and guided them to the Western Conference Finals.

NBC SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson has earned his degree in general studies at the University of Michigan. He’s fulfilled a promise to himself and Red Berenson, who coached Johnson at Michigan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a special season for Johnson. In addition to earning his degree and appearing in his first Stanley Cup Final, he also became the 21st American-born defenseman to play in 1,000 career NHL games.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have dismissed Chris Brumwell, who was their vice-president of communications and community partnerships for the past nine seasons.

PHILADELPHIA HOCKEY NOW: Flyers senior director of communications Zack Hill is retiring on July 1 after 29 years with the organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2022

The latest on the Rangers and Lightning as the Eastern Conference Finals returns to New York for Game 5, ongoing fallout from the Oilers’ elimination from the Western Conference Finals, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers hope to regain the lead in the 2022 NHL Eastern Conference Finals on home ice as the series returns to New York for Game 5 tonight at 8 pm ET. They saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate as the Lightning won Games 3 and 4 in Tampa Bay.

New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil (NHL Images).

The Rangers haven’t lost on home ice since Game 1 of their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re also 3-0 in home games following a road loss.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers centers Ryan Strome and Filip Chytil will be game-time decisions. Strome has been sidelined since Game 3 with a lower-body injury while Chytil left Game 4 with an upper-body injury.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper hasn’t ruled out center Brayden Point for Game 5. He’s been working his way back into the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury in Game 7 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The presence or absence of Strome, Chytil and/or Point could affect the outcome of Game 5. While the Lightning has coped with Point’s absence, his return would provide them with a big boost. The Rangers, meanwhile, are still learning to adjust without Strome and Chytil in their lineup.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland revealed several of his players were coping with injuries during their playoff run. However, none of them are expected to undergo surgeries.

Holland confirmed forward Leon Draisaitl played with a high-ankle sprain suffered during their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings. He still managed to finish the playoffs with 32 points in 16 games, including four primary assists in their 6-5 series-ending loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals.

Defenseman Darnell Nurse played the entire postseason with a torn hip flexor. Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was dealing with a shoulder injury but still managed 14 points in 16 games.

Winger Jesse Puljujarvi suffered a shoulder injury in Game 4 against the Avalanche and his recovery timeline is four-to-six weeks. Winger Kailer Yamamoto missed the final two games against the Avs due to concussion protocol.

Holland also indicated five-to-seven other Oilers, including goaltender Mike Smith, were battling injuries.

TSN: Holland also praised interim head coach Jay Woodcroft for doing a “fabulous job” in getting the Oilers to the Western Conference Finals. He intends to meet with Woodcroft next week to discuss his future with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should be a short conversation with Woodcroft getting the “interim” tag removed from his job title in the near future. He took over a club that was sinking in the standings and quickly reversed its fortunes, guiding them to a 26-9-3 record in their final 38 games and a second-place finish (104 points) in the Pacific Division.

THE DENVER POST: Ticket prices in Denver for the 2022 Stanley Cup Final are going for up to $1,000.00 on the secondary market, with some peaking at $10,000.00.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examines the trades by Avalanche GM Joe Sakic that helped turn his club into a Stanley Cup finalist. Among the noteworthy additions were Nazem Kadri, Devon Toews, Darcy Kuemper, Andre Burakovsky, Samuel Girard, Josh Manson and Arturri Lehkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic has made moves that will help his club now and over the long term. He’s proven to be among the savviest general managers in the league.