NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2020

Check out the latest on the Wild, Penguins, Leafs, Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Pittsburgh Penguins remain interested in Jason Zucker. However, they must find a way to make his contract ($5.5 million annually for the next three seasons) work. He also has a 10-team no-trade clause. Russo believes Zucker’s hometown Vegas Golden Knights are on his “yes list.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly still interested in acquiring Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker (Photo via NHL Images).

Russo also speculates defenseman Jonas Brodin (signed through 2020-21, $4.16-million annual average value) would be attractive to clubs seeking a top-four defenseman. Those would include Carolina, Toronto, Florida, and Vegas. The Hurricanes have serious interest, but Russo wonders if Dougie Hamilton’s recent injury could make them change course.

The Wild also possesses an attractive right-shot blueliner in Matt Dumba. His production and defensive play have declined this season. There’s a risk in trading him, as the 25-year-old could regain his form. His poor play this season could also affect his trade value.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reports the Penguins continue to pursue Zucker. However, the Wild aren’t ready to concede anything just yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Wild fail to climb back into the playoff chase by mid-February, first-year general manager Bill Guerin will become a seller. He won’t just ship out guys like Zucker, Brodin or Dumba for pennies on the dollar, but if he gets a solid offer for one them, I believe he’ll pull the trigger. There are others he could shop, but those three offer the best chance for a return that helps the Wild now and over the long term.

The Penguins made a failed attempt to land Zucker last spring. What could work in the Wild’s favor this time is Guerin joined them last summer from the Penguins’ front office. He’s well aware of Pittsburgh’s best young players and prospects. You can bet a couple of those could be in the asking price.

And no, I don’t see Mikko Koivu waiving his no-movement clause. Eric Staal could be moved if a team that’s not on his 10-team no-trade list comes calling, but I think Guerin would approach Staal to get his blessing.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said there’s a sense around the league the only way the Toronto Maple Leafs move winger Kasperi Kapanen is in a big deal that makes them significantly better. He also thinks the Leafs have been asked about pending UFA defensemen Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, and Jake Muzzin.

Friedman doesn’t see the Leafs becoming sellers, so the only way something happens there is is they want to give one of their younger blueliners more permanent minutes. It also sounds like there are some contract discussions between the Leafs and Muzzin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Kapanen won’t be used as trade bait for a backup goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev. If the 23-year-old winger can fetch them a reasonably priced top-four defenseman, preferably one with term remaining on his contract, I believe GM Kyle Dubas will take that deal.

No surprise they want to keep Muzzin. He’s their best defensive blueliner. With over $68 million invested in 12 players, they have sufficient room to re-sign Muzzin, but it won’t leave much space to fill out the rest of the roster unless they shed salary.


Nothing’s happening with the Chicago Blackhawks as long as they remain in the playoff chase. Should that change before the trade deadline, Friedman wonders if Florida Panthers head coach (and former Blackhawks bench boss) Joel Quenneville would ask to approach Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith on the virtues of playing in southeast Florida.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, goaltender Robin Lehner still wants to be paid fairly for his services. The pending unrestricted free agent wouldn’t say for sure if a long-term deal is a priority, but Friedman feels he won’t take a lesser annual average salary to get a longer-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Friedman that the Blackhawks won’t become sellers if they remain in the postseason hunt. If they do test the trade market, I still don’t see Keith or Lehner going anywhere. Keith has a full no-movement clause and there’s no hint that he wants out. Lehner, meanwhile, is out-playing long-time Hawks starter Corey Crawford. I think Chicago GM Stan Bowman intends to re-sign Lehner.

New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac wants to stay put. His agent claims something was offered to his client earlier this season, but he was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause at that time. His camp will see about the future after the season. Friedman guesses the offer came from the New York Islanders,

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zajac has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.75 million. He’s spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Devils. Maybe he’ll consider a trade during the off-season if the right club come calling.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 29, 2019

Game recaps, an update on Tuukka Rask, Stars reacquire Oleksiak from Penguins, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers extended their win streak to a season-high fourth game by defeating the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Rookie goaltender Carter Hart made 31 saves while teammate Travis Konecny scored one goal and assisted on another. Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was a late scratch with a lower-body injury and will miss tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. 

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac had a four-point performance in a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo via NHL Images)

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac had a four-point game (one goal, three assists) to lead his club to a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, handing the latter their fourth loss in their last five games. Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid kicked out 37 shots for the win. 

Speaking of the Penguins, they traded defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to the Dallas Stars yesterday in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. It was the same pick the Penguins sent the Stars in Dec. 2017 to acquire Oleksiak. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move was made by the Penguins in part to free up salary-cap space to perhaps pursue a second-line left wing or a third-line center before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. It also frees up space on the blueline for Justin Schultz’s eventual return. Schultz suffered a broken leg earlier this season and is listed as week-to-week.

Oleksiak will replace Marc Methot on the Stars’ blueline. Methot underwent season-ending knee surgery on Jan. 15. His tenure with the Stars is likely over as he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. Oleksiak is signed through 2020-21 with an affordable annual salary-cap hit of $2.137 million. 

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, and Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 27.

BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins placed goaltender Tuukka Rask (concussion) on injured reserve, though they haven’t ruled out his return to the lineup for Thursday game against Philadelphia. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE:  Former Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec is suing to recover a $200,000 loan to finance a romantic comedy starring his wife and featuring their two children. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2018

Game recaps plus the latest on Travis Zajac, Johnny Gaudreau, Pekka Rinne and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: In his first game since recovering from a concussion, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray had a 38-save shutout performance as his club blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0, snapping the latter’s five-game winning streak. Evgeni Malkin scored twice and assisted on Kris Letang’s goal.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog tallied a hat trick in his club’s 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils (Photo via NHL Images)

Gabriel Landeskog tallied a hat trick, Mikko Rantanen had four points and Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists (though his six-game goal streak ended) as the Colorado Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists for the Devils, who lost forward Travis Zajac to an apparent right-leg injury in the second period. No word as to his status following the game.

It was also a hat-trick night for San Jose Sharks’ forward Logan Couture as his club trounced the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. Former Sabre Evander Kane picked up two assists while Martin Jones made 24 saves for the win.

The Detroit Red Wings are winless through seven games after dropping a 3-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s the worst start to a season in Red Wings history. That could stoke speculation over Ken Holland’s future as general manager as some wonder if he might be replaced by Steve Yzerman. Holland, however, remains unconcerned. “I’ve been a manager in the league for 23 years,” Holland told The Hockey News. “I’ve won three Stanley Cups, five Presidents’ Trophies.* I don’t look over my shoulder.”

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien marked his return from missing two games with an upper-body injury with a goal and two assists to lead his club to a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Jets captain Blake Wheeler became just the second player in franchise history to reach 500 career points.

After scoring just four goals in their first five games, the Arizona Coyotes struck four times for a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, spoiling the return of Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford from a concussion injury. Former Blackhawk Vinnie Hinostroza scored twice for the Coyotes.

Valtteri Filppula, Andrew Ladd, and Scott Mayfield each had three-point performances as the New York Islanders thumped the Los Angeles Kings 7-2. Isles goaltender Robin Lehner left the game in the third period after taking a shot off his mask. No update yet on Lehner, who has a history of concussions.

Leon Draisaitl scored in overtime and Connor McDavid picked up two assists as the Edmonton Oilers edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 in their first home game of the season.

Two second-period goals by Cam Atkinson powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

CALGARY SUN: Flames GM Brad Treliving said left wing Johnny Gaudreau was fine after being forced to leave Wednesday’s game after suffering an apparent head injury from a high hit by Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy. 

NBCSN: NHL insider Bob McKenzie said the Nashville Predators have started contract discussions with goaltender Pekka Rinne, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. 

TSN: Pierre LeBrun said the Tampa Bay Lightning and center Brayden Point have agreed to shelve contract talks until the end of this season. Point is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer.

THE SCORE: The NHL is reportedly “100 percent open” to adding women to its group of on-ice officials. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2018

Game recaps plus updates on Roberto Luongo, James van Riemsdyk, Steve Mason and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews tallied a hat trick, including the game-tying and winning goals, to lead his club to a 5-4 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues.  Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice for the Blues.

Jonathan Toews’ hat trick led the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-4 OT win over the St. Louis Blues. (Photo via NHL Images)

Tyler Seguin scored twice and set up two others as the Dallas Stars drubbed the Winnipeg Jets 5-1. Stars captain Jamie Benn also scored twice and collected an assist while Alex Radulov enjoyed a three-point night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Games like this one will make Seguin’s new eight-year, $78.8-million contract starting next season worthwhile for the Stars. 

The Florida Panthers fell 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout. Starting goaltender Roberto Luongo left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury after teammate Frankie Vatrano fell on Luongo’s right leg during a goalmouth scramble. “I don’t know how serious (the injury is)”, said Panthers coach Bob Boughner. “Hopefully, that’s not going to be a long-term thing. They’re going to reassess it and I’ll know more tomorrow.”

Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano and Elias Lindholm each had a goal and two assists as the Calgary Flames downed the Vancouver Canucks 7-4. Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson scored twice and set up another, giving him five points in his first two NHL contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson has the makings of the Canucks’ next big Swedish star, following in the footsteps of Markus Naslund and the Sedin twins. 

Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac each scored twice to give the New Jersey Devils a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the 2018 NHL Global Series in Gothenburg, Sweden. Earlier in the day, the Oilers activated defenseman Kris Russell from injured reserved and sent Ethan Bear to their AHL affiliate. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One game does not a season make, but the Oilers’ season opener looked pretty much like most of their games in 2017-18. Goaltender Cam Talbot was shaky while their defense struggled against the Devils’ aggressive forechecking. 

Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron scored two goals and an assist while Carey Price kicked out 21 shots in a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sophomore defenseman Thomas Chabot scored twice and added an assist while goalie Craig Anderson made 34 stops as the Ottawa Senators upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thanks to a combination of speed, promising youngsters and solid veteran goaltender, the rebuilding Canadiens and Senators look surprisingly good thus far. The playoffs still remain a long shot for both clubs and there’s still a long season ahead of them, but they’re serving early notice they won’t be pushovers.

Colin Wilson scored twice and Semyon Varlamov turned aside 35 shots to give the Colorado Avalanche a 5-2 over the Philadelphia Flyers, who also lost winger James van Riemsdyk in the first period to a lower-body injury. “I don’t know the extent of it, so we’ve got to wait until we get back,” said Flyers coach Dave Hasktol. “We’re at the end of a long trip here, so we’ll get home and figure out where everything is at.”

The Nashville Predators edged the New York Islanders 4-3 thanks to two goals from winger Viktor Arvidsson. Martin Barzal had a goal and an assist for the Isles.

John Gibson turned in a 41-save shutout performance and Max Comtois netted the only goal to give the Anaheim Ducks a 1-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton made 43 saves backstopping his team to a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers. Winger Conor Sheary scored twice for the Sabres.

Max Pacioretty’s game-tying goal set the stage for Erik Haula’s shootout winner as the Vegas Golden Knights nipped the Minnesota Wild 2-1.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports veteran NHL goaltender Steve Mason might be ready to retire. He’s dealt with several injuries (concussion, knee) in recent years and recently turned down a contract from an NHL club seeking a backup netminder. 

Former NHL winger Daniel Winnik signed a one-year contract with Swiss club Geneva-Servette.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2017

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac sidelined four-to-six months.

Updates on Travis Zajac, Mike Fisher, Zemgus Girgensons & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle and will be sidelined four-to-six months. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Devils’ offense. I’ll have more on how they could address Zajac’s absence later this morning in the Rumors section. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Now-retired Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher will be honored for his community work. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday signed restricted free agent forward Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year, $3.2 million contract. The annual average value is $1.6 million.

WGR 550: Speaking of the Sabres, they also announced their pricing for single-game tickets for the upcoming season, which go on sale on Sept. 16. Mini-packs go on sale on Aug.23. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: During a recent meeting with season-ticket holders, Kings executives Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille expressed confidence that  their club will improve under a new offensive plan this season. Blake also cited a lack of affordable young talent as a reason why the club didn’t make a big splash in this summer’s free-agent market. He also said winger Marian Gaborik is progressing with a non-surgical procedure on his knee but isn’t sure when he’ll return to the lineup. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake also alluded the club’s salary-cap limitations – a hangover from the previous management – as a factor that hampered efforts to bolster their offense. Oft-injured winger Mike Cammalleri and backup goalie Darcy Kuemper were their only notable UFA signings. They have little choice but to look to within and hope a change in their system can improve their production. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger J.T. Brown donated $1,500.00 to remove a Confederate statue in downtown Tampa Bay. The Lightning, along with MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, raised the necessary $140K in private donations within 24 hours to have the statue removed. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 7, 2016

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 7, 2016

New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall levels Vancouver Canucks defenseman Philip Larsen.

New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall levels Vancouver Canucks defenseman Philip Larsen.

Game recaps, injury updates and much more in this morning’s collection of NHL headlines. 

NHL.com: A hit by New Jersey Devils’ winger Taylor Hall on Vancouver Canucks defenseman Philip Larsen knocked the latter from the game and overshadowed the Devils 3-2. victory.

Larsen was knocked unconscious and was stretchered from the game. Latest word is Larsen was awake and responsive and was taken to hospital for further evaluation. Though Hall was reassured the hit was clean, he still expressed remorse. He said his intention wasn’t to injure Larsen, a former teammate. 

Also during the game, Devils forward Travis Zajac suffered a facial injury after crashing head first into the boards, but was stitched up and returned to action. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will review the hit, but it remains to be seen if it will be ruled illegal. While a case could be made that it was a blindside hit, Hall didn’t target Larsen’s head or hit him from behind. Here’s hoping Larsen didn’t suffer a serious injury and returns to action soon. 

Marian Hossa scored twice while Scott Darling turned in a 22-save shutout performance to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. However, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook left the game with an upper-body injury

Jakub Voracek tallied in overtime after Wayne Simmonds scored twice in regulation to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers, giving the Flyers their sixth straight victory. 

Jaden Schwartz scored twice, including in overtime, as the St. Louis Blues overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Canadiens center Davis Desharnais left the game in the third period with an apparent knee injury. Earlier in the day, the Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (lower body) on injured reserve

Jaroslav Halak made 36 saves backstopping the New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers. The Rangers also lost forwards Rick Nash (groin) and Matt Puempel (concussion) to injury

Henrik Zetterberg’s shootout goal capped a rally for the Detroit Red Wings that saw them roar back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3. Jets rookie Patrik Laine scored his 17th of the season, tying him for first in the league. 

Rasmus Ristolainen’s overtime tally gave the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Ristolaninen also collected two assists in the contest, as did Oilers captain Connor McDavid. 

Roma Josi’s overtime marker gave the Nashville Predators a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, who dropped their sixth straight game. 

Sean Monahan’s third period power-play goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs demoted backup goalie Jhonas Enroth and called up Antoine Bibeau. Meanwhile, unrestricted free agent netminder Karri Ramo signed a professional tryout contract with the Marlies, the Leafs’ AHL affiliate. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This doesn’t mean Ramo has signed with the Leafs. That will depend upon his performance with the Marlies over the next several games. He remains a UFA and can sign with any NHL club he chooses.

ESPN.COM: Hall of Famer Eric Lindros is calling for a national standard to diagnose and treat concussions in sports. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think that’s a great idea, but getting some pro sports leagues to recognize such a standard is another matter. The commissioners of some of those leagues (hello there, NHL commish Gary Bettman) refuse to acknowledge the link between concussions and serious brain injuries. 

The NHL and NHLPA are in talks to give teams a “bye week” in the 2017-18 schedule. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell is no fan of Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s suggestion of a one-game wild-card play-in for the postseason. 

NEW YORK POST: The NHL will be moving its headquarters to a new location in New York City.