The Blue Jackets edged the Blackhawks plus the latest on Patrik Laine, Kevin Fiala, Travis Zajac, Sam Reinhart and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand (NHL Images)
NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets held off the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 to extend their points streak to seven games (4-0-3). Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist while Joonas Korpisalo made 31 saves for the win. Dylan Strome replied for the Blackhawks.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, winger Patrik Laine arrived in Columbus on Friday and could debut with the Jackets on Tuesday. Laine and Jack Roslovic were traded to Columbus last Saturday by the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a draft pick.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala received a three-game suspension for a dangerous hit on Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Roy on Thursday. Speaking of the Wild, Marco Rossi has returned to his native Austria to rehab an upper-body injury. The ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, the 19-year-old center is expected to rejoin the Wild in six weeks.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols list on Friday. He’s just two games from becoming the fourth player in Devils history to play 1,000 career games.
TSN: Buffalo Sabres winger Sam Reinhart is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings added center Blake Lizotte to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Friday.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes forwards Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Martinook and Warren Foegele came off the COVID-19 protocol list on Friday.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights’ next two games (Monday and Wednesday) against the San Jose Sharks have been postponed. Four members of the Golden Knights, including three coaches, are currently in isolation after one coach tested positive for COVID-19.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames held a players-only meeting following their 4-2 loss on Thursday to the Montreal Canadiens to air their frustrations stemming from their third straight defeat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames just haven’t looked good in their last couple of games. They’ve been dominated physically and on the scoreboard. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effort they put forth in tonight’s rematch against the Habs.
Bruins linked to Kyle Palmieri and Josh Anderson, the Canadiens were scouting the Avalanche and Lightning, plus the latest on the Rangers, Devils, Islanders and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BRUINS CHASING PALMIERI OR ANDERSON?
NJ.COM: Mike Rosenstein cited a report from Boston’s WEEI Radio claiming the Boston Bruins could be interested in New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri. He’s signed through next season, and it would make more sense to give up assets to land a player who can help them through two playoff runs. Palmieri leads the Devils with 22 goals and 41 points.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports sources are claiming the Bruins are very much interested in Josh Anderson. The 25-year-old winger has been sidelined by a shoulder injury since December, but he recently resumed practicing. Haggerty believes Anderson will have to return to the lineup before the Bruins move on him. If healthy, the big, physical forward could be the next player on their priority list behind New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider.
Could the Boston Bruins pursue New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri? (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were linked to Tyler Toffoli and Blake Coleman before they were recently traded to the Canucks and Lightning respectively. There’s growing pressure on Bruins general manager Don Sweeney to address his club’s need for secondary scoring depth. As more players come off the market, the higher the asking prices for those available.
ARE THE CANADIENS EYEING THE AVALANCHE OR LIGHTNING?
TVA SPORTS: The presence of Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and assistant Scott Mellanby in Colorado last night watching the Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning sparked speculation over what moves he could make with either club. The Avs are said to be dissatisfied with young center Tyson Jost, while the Lightning has limited salary-cap space for next season. The Habs are expected to move Ilya Kovalchuk and Nate Thompson, while goalie Charlie Lindgren could be in play.
Jean-Charles Lajoie sees Canadiens center Max Domi as a replacement for sidelined Avs center Nazem Kadri. Yvon Pedneault believes the Lightning could be forced to part ways with forward Yanni Gourde.
THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla wonders what Avalanche GM Joe Sakic will do to boost his injury-ravaged roster, especially with top-line winger Mikko Rantanen now sidelined by a shoulder injury. Sakic could be forced to mortgage part of his club’s future if he were to pursue someone like Montreal’s Tomas Tatar.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens play the Lightning on March 5, so that probably explains Bergevin was watching the Bolts in Colorado. They also face the Avs on March 21. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t fully dismiss the possibility of Bergevin scouting either club for a possible deal before the trade deadline.
UPDATE ON THE RANGERS
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers face an impossible situation with veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who’s dropped behind Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev among their three netminders. He’s only received two starts since Jan.11 and Brooks considers a trade unlikely. A buyout in June of the final year of his contract seems possible.
Brooks doesn’t expect the Rangers to move Georgiev unless they get a “sure-shot top-six or a top-end first-rounder.” Unless blown away by offers, they’re not in a rush to move defenseman Tony DeAngelo. If they don’t re-sign Chris Kreider, it’ll give them the salary-cap space to re-sign DeAngelo. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports of little progress in Kreider’s contract talks and he remains very much in play in the trade market. If Kreider gets traded by the deadline, the Rangers will have sufficient cap room for DeAngelo and Georgiev.
As for Lundqvist, some consider it disrespectful that he’s now their third stringer, but the Blueshirts must give playing time to their young netminders. His expensive $8.5 million annual average value through 2020-21 and no-movement clause makes him almost impossible to move.
LATEST ON THE DEVILS
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco reports Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said Travis Zajac won’t be going anywhere by the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The 34-year-old center insists he wants to stay and help his club on and off the ice. Zajac has refused to waive his full no-movement clause.
Mastracco also reported the Devils have not had a conversation with the agent for Sami Vatanen, but Fitzgerald said that could change. The 28-year-old defenseman is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for all the recent musings about Zajac reuniting with former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello with the New York Islanders. And speaking of the Isles…
WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple examined what other moves could be in store for the New York Islanders after acquiring defenseman Andy Greene on Sunday. With Casey Cizikas three weeks away from returning to action and no firm deadline for Cal Clutterbuck’s return, Staple suggests adding a third-line center.
Anaheim’s Derek Grant, San Jose’s Melker Karlsson, Los Angeles’ Trevor Lewis, Buffalo’s Conor Sheary, or Ottawa’s Tyler Ennis could fit that role. If they want to go big, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau could be in play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello always plays his cards close to the vest. Nevertheless, he’s got over $18 million in deadline cap room to make another move if he wishes.
POTENTIAL RED WINGS TRADE BAIT
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan lists center Andreas Athanasiou and goaltender Jonathan Bernier as possible trade options for the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings. Young defenseman Dennis Cholowski has struggled to stick with the Wings. If he’s moved, Khan believes it would be as part of a larger deal in which the Wings get a young blueliner in return. Oft-injured rearguard Trevor Daley could be difficult to move.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James also listed Luke Glendening, Mike Green, and Darren Helm among the Wings’ trade candidates. Poor seasons by veterans Frans Nielsen, Justin Abdelkader, and Valtteri Filppula will adversely affect their trade value.
Could Joe Thornton accept a trade to the Avalanche? Could the Panthers peddle Vincent Trocheck? What’s the latest on Jake Muzzin’s contract talks? Could Max Domi hit the trade block? All this and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
LATEST ON THORNTON
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will attempt to move as many pieces as possible before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Defenseman Brenden Dillon is expected to be traded, but there will be a lot of attention on veteran Sharks center Joe Thornton. He has a full no-movement clause, but there’s a belief he could waive it to join a Stanley Cup contender. Garrioch thinks the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche are good fits.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater believes Thornton would be a good fit with the Avalanche. He’d be a short-term replacement for sidelined center Nazem Kadri and a potential playoff replacement for Tyson Jost or Vlad Kamenev. Jost hasn’t scored in 31 straight games. Dater also wouldn’t be surprised if Thornton returned to Boston.
Could San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton be a good fit with the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to Shawn Lamba for the Dater link. Thornton hasn’t indicated his intentions except to say he’d think about it if approached about a trade to a contender.
Returning to the Bruins, where his NHL career began, would make a nice story, but he’s not the second-line scoring winger they need. The Avs could be a better fit, but GM Joe Sakic could have other options on their radar.
UPDATES ON THE PANTHERS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s talk Vincent Trocheck could be available as the struggling Florida Panthers search for a defenseman before the trade deadline. The 26-year-old has two more seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million, which Friedman feels many teams can handle.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes Trocheck’s contract could be difficult to move unless Panthers GM Dale Tallon agrees to pick up a portion of his annual salary-cap hit. He thinks the slumping Panthers could be ready to accept the reality of their situation and become deadline sellers. Pending UFA wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov could be on the move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon could go from buyer to seller if the Panthers fail to gain ground in the Eastern Conference standings. He’s made no secret of his wish to acquire a defense partner for Aaron Ekblad to bring some stability to his blueline, but that sort of player isn’t cheap or easy to find.
Dangling Trochek instead of a rental player like Hoffman or Dadonov could fetch that type of return. Given the Panthers’ limited salary-cap space, it would have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move.
UPDATE ON MUZZIN’S CONTRACT STATUS
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Jake Muzzin believes he’s close to a contract extension with the Maple Leafs. The 30-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Muzzin didn’t go into specifics, but it’s believed it could be a four-year deal worth around $5.5 million annually.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the CBA tagging rule could determine when Muzzin and the Leafs reach their agreement. They can only commit so much salary following the season they’re in. That amount goes up by 10 percent on March 1, leading Johnston to speculate the contract won’t be completed until after that date.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like this is a done deal, it’s just a matter of time. Assuming it’s $5.5 million annually, that will push the Leafs’ cap payroll for 2020-21 to over $76.8 million invested in 16 players. If the cap rises to $84 million, it won’t leave much to re-sign or replace their other free agents.
LATEST ON THE CANADIENS
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Marc de Foy expects defenseman Jeff Petry and winger Tomas Tatar will remain with the Montreal Canadiens after the trade deadline. He claims that the decision was made a long time ago. Both players have a year remaining on their respective contracts.
He speculates center Max Domi could be on the move, pointing to a recent rumor linking him to the Minnesota Wild. He thinks Habs GM Marc Bergevin could have a Wild defenseman, like Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin in his sights.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the Canadiens must lower their asking price of a second-round pick for winger Ilya Kovalchuk if they intend to move him by the trade deadline. He expects teams will come calling about Max Domi but doesn’t think the Habs intend to go that route.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rumor linking Domi to the Wild came from The Athletic’s Michael Russo in a piece suggesting that several teams could be interested in Dumba and Brodin.
Here’s what Russo wrote: “The Canadiens would likely part with center Max Domi, maybe in a trade for Brodin because they have a surplus at Domi’s position and could use a quality left-shot defenseman.” He mentioned Domi because he feels the Wild would want a center in return for either blueliner. He’s not saying Domi is definitely on the block, he’s not saying it’s a Domi-for-Dumba swap, and he’s not saying the Habs are definitely pursuing Brodin.
All of the trade chatter about Domi seems to originate from a few Montreal pundits unhappy with the 24-year-old’s performance this season. They also suggest his RFA status (with arbitration rights) could complicate his future in Montreal. Perhaps that’s true, but GM Marc Bergevin isn’t under any pressure to move Domi at the trade deadline. If he decides to shop Domi, he can do it in the summer, when teams have more money and a willingness to make hockey trades.
MORE RUMORS FROM THE OTTAWA SUN’S BRUCE GARRIOCH
New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is said to have mild interest in Travis Zajac. The New Jersey Devils center has a year left on his contract and history with Lamoriello.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zajac reportedly refused to waive his no-movement clause earlier this season when presented with a trade opportunity. Just because he has a history with the former Devils GM doesn’t mean he’s going to accept a trade to the Islanders.
Garrioch believes Ottawa Senators defenseman Dylan DeMelo will be on the move by the deadline. The Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets, and Vegas Golden Knights could be potential destination for DeMelo.
If the New York Rangers don’t trade Chris Kreider, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau could become the top forward available. Don’t expect the Senators to get a first-round pick for him.