NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2021

Sweden names its first three players to its 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team, more potential trouble for Evander Kane, plus the latest on Robin Lehner, Tyler Bertuzzi and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog are the first names submitted to be part of Sweden’s men’s ice hockey team at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Participating countries were asked to declare their three players last month.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canada’s three were recently revealed as Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. We’ll likely learn more about the other nations’ early three players in the coming days or weeks.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: A report by A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports claims an investigation is underway of San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane over allegations he violated the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols by using a fake vaccination card. In the United States, those who buy a fake vaccination card face six months in jail and a $750K fine.

This news comes following recent reports claiming Kane was being investigated for violating the league’s COVID protocols. The winger was recently cleared of allegations by his estranged wife, Anna, claiming he bet on NHL games. However, they’re also investigating claims of spousal abuse made by Anna.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m assuming this latest report is tied to the earlier one about the league looking into the possibility Kane violated the COVID protocols. If he did use a fake vaccination card, that could become justification for the Sharks to terminate his contract.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner said he’s encouraged about bringing change in hockey following conversations he had with the league and the NHL Players Association. The league reached out to Lehner for an interview after he alleged many teams were giving prescription drugs to players without a doctor’s consent.

This weekend was a cry for help from this league, the league that I love, that has given me so much,” said Lehner. He added the motivation for his recent comments on social media was to protect younger players. Lehner also said he’s encouraged about future discussions on the subject.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Lehner also received support from former NHL enforcer Tom Sestito, who claimed he was given and used “insane” amounts of the painkiller Toradol and Ambien, which is used to treat insomnia. Sestito said it took a year for him to sleep normally again after he stopped using Ambien. He also credited the Pittsburgh Penguins’ medical staff for helping to wean him off Torodol after he joined the club.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi still hasn’t suited up for a preseason game. The club is being cautious in his return to action after he underwent season-ending back surgery in April. It’s uncertain if he’ll see any preseason games before the season opens next week.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz left last night’s preseason game against the Golden Knights with what appeared to be a lower-body injury. He missed all of last season with an injured hip but head coach Jared Bednar said it’s not related to his previous hip problems.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Logan Stanley is listed as day-to-day following a lower-body injury suffered in Sunday’s preseason contest with the Vancouver Canucks.

ESPN.COM: Los Angeles Kings prospect center Quinton Byfield injured his left leg during last name’s exhibition game with the Arizona Coyotes. Linesman Ryan Gibbons was stretchered from the ice following an accidental collision with Coyotes center Liam O’Brien following the national anthem. His condition is unknown.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan suffered a laceration to his forehead after being struck by a puck during last night’s preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. He received several stitches and returned to his duties.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk could be sidelined at least two weeks following an ankle injury suffered during practice yesterday.

TSN: The Coyotes signed Alex Galchenyuk to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Galchenyuk’s second stint with the Coyotes, having played for them in 2018-19 when he was traded to Arizona by the Montreal Canadiens for Max Domi.

NBC SPORTS: Several prospects are earning positive reviews for their preseason performance thus far. Among them are the Washington Capitals’ Hendrix Lapierre, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Seth Jarvis, and the Ottawa Senators’ Shane Pinto.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

Check out the latest on Mika Zibanejad plus some Dallas Stars speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker recently reports Mika Zibanejad isn’t giving anything away about his contract extension talks with the Rangers or allowing it to get in the way of his preseason preparation. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

Walker speculates Zibanejad could be in line for a seven- or eight-year extension. It’s believed his camp’s initial ask is $10 million annually while Rangers management will likely look at something in the $7 million to $9 million range.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello wondered if Rangers general manager Chris Drury will play a game of chicken with Zibanejad if he can’t get him signed before the March trade deadline. There’s also the Rangers’ unstated wish to upgrade at center, including rumors of their interest in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. Carpiniello doesn’t believe the Blueshirts can afford two high-priced centers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zibanejad told reporters he’s happy in New York and likes the team’s direction. How long he remains part of it remains to be seen.

The Rangers will either commit to a long-term deal for Zibanejad or turn to the trade market or free agency next summer to replace him. It’s as simple as that.

Carpiniello’s correct in his assessment that they cannot afford to carry two expensive centers, especially with 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox becoming a restricted free agent at the same time. Talk of Zibanejad and a healthy Eichel on the Blueshirts was a pipe dream. It’s either one or the other. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks’ 10 questions facing the Dallas Stars this season included speculation over John Klingberg’s future with the club. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July after completing a seven-year contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million.

Considering how much several notable defensemen (including teammate Miro Heiskanen) received this summer, Klingberg could prove too expensive for the Stars. With Heiskanen earning $8.45 million annually, Esa Lindell making $5.8 million and Ryan Suter $3.65 million, re-signing Klingberg would give the Stars one of the most expensive bluelines in the league.

Turning to the trade deadline, DeFranks suggested players on expiring contracts like Klingberg, Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov could become trade bait if the Stars are out of playoff contention by then. If the Stars are close and they retain them past deadline day, they risk losing those players to free agency for nothing next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Stars with over $58 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23 with Klingberg, Pavelski, Radulov and Braden Holtby as their notable UFAs and forwards Denis Gurianov and 2021 Calder Trophy finalist Jason Robertson becoming restricted free agents.

Klingberg’s going to cost at least as much as Heiskanen, probably more. As DeFranks observed, they probably can’t afford to keep him. Pavelski and Radulov are aging and don’t have many productive seasons left while Holtby’s past his prime.

Gurianov has arbitration rights and will seek a substantial raise if he hits 20 goals and 40 points this season. Robertson will be coming off his entry-level contract but a strong sophomore season will result in a hefty raise for him as well.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 5, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 5, 2021

Could the Rangers pursue Jack Eichel? What roster needs do the Golden Knights and Jets still have to address? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Rick Carpiniello was asked several questions by his readers about the possibility of the New York Rangers acquiring Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

If the Rangers intend to acquire Eichel, Carpiniello believes they’ll have to trade center Mika Zibanejad now or at the March trade deadline. Zibanejad is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and will be ready to cash in on a big payday. Asked if the Rangers could re-sign Zibanejad for $8 million annually, Carpiniello felt that would be a great discount considering what comparable players are earning.

Carpiniello doesn’t believe the Rangers should include promising winger Kaapo Kakko in any deal for Eichel. One of their young defensemen and perhaps center Filip Chytil would have to be part of the return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carpiniello doesn’t seem to hold much hope for the Rangers landing Eichel, calling it a “fantasy” at one point.

Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with over $7.9 million in projected cap space for the coming season. They could afford to take on Eichel’s $10 million annual average value if they shipped one or two salaried players to the Sabres as part of the deal. That’s assuming the Sabres would be willing to ship him to a nearby rival. And no, I don’t see them picking up any chunk of his cap hit to help the Blueshirts.

The Rangers have considerable depth in promising prospects and young NHL talent to dangle as trade bait for Eichel. The Sabres will want some decent talent in return, and that could include a couple of players like Kakko, Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller or Vitaly Kravtsov.

Remember, the Sabres’ supposed asking price is said to be four assets comparable to first-round draft picks. That means a first-round pick in 2022, one or two top prospects and one or two promising young NHL players.

As for Zibanejad, they could afford to carry him and Eichel this season. However, it could be a tight squeeze cap-wise depending on which players they send to Buffalo in return or shed in other cost-cutting moves.

It could cost between $9 million and $10 million annually for the Rangers to re-sign Zibanejad. They can’t afford to carry him and Eichel plus the hefty raise Adam Fox will command next summer as a restricted free agent. That won’t leave enough cap room to ice a playoff contender in 2022-23. As Carpiniello suggests, Zibanejad would have to be moved soon after acquiring Eichel or at this season’s trade deadline to avoid losing him for nothing next summer.

NHL.COM: Nicholas J. Cotsonika believes the Vegas Golden Knights still need a first-line center. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said they’re happy with their depth at that position after acquiring Nolan Patrick and Brett Howden during the offseason. Promising Peyton Krebs could also crack their lineup this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Patrick and Kreb have promise but they’re not ready to fill that first-line center position. That was a significant weakness for the Golden Knights over the last two seasons and could haunt them in 2021-22. They were linked to Eichel but their limited cap space likely takes them out of the bidding unless the Sabres are willing to absorb a healthy chunk of his annual cap hit.

Tim Campbell believes the Jets still need a veteran backup goaltender for starter Connor Hellebuyck. So far it appears they’ll go with Eric Comrie filling that role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll have to go the trade route to address that issue if it becomes a pressing need during this season. The free-agent market has been picked clean, with aging Devan Dubnyk and Curtis McElhinney still remaining. Tuukka Rask is also unsigned but everyone knows he’ll be returning to the Boston Bruins once he’s fully recovered from hip surgery in January.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation and a look at what the Bruins still need to address in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC’s Rick Carpiniello tweeted on Monday we shouldn’t be surprised if Mika Zibanejad “is in the deal that ultimately brings Jack Eichel” to the New York Rangers.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

That prompted a reply from THE BUFFALO NEWS’ Lance Lysowski. While that might make the money work, he wondered if Zibanejad would waive his no-movement clause to join the Sabres.

Lysowski believes such a move would require a third team getting involved “because it’s hard to imagine MZ waiving to come to Buffalo.” He pointed out Zibanejad has one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks dismissed the recent rash of “Eichel to the Rangers” speculation on social media as “no more than the ongoing blizzard of contradictory tales and innuendo posted on social media.” He added some of it was coming from “the account of an MSG-Network analyst” who is friendly with Rangers general manager Chris Drury.

Brooks pointed to his tweet last Friday, indicating Drury had been telling agents that he never expressed serious interest in Eichel. The Blueshirts GM apparently added he couldn’t understand why his club is being consistently linked to Eichel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oh, I dunno, Larry, maybe part of it is due to your reports since late June indicating the Rangers had an interest in Eichel. Just throwin’ it out there.

I’ve mulled the possibility of a three-team trade sending Eichel to the Rangers. My original idea envisioned the Vegas Golden Knights shipping a package consisting of Reilly Smith, Peyton Krebs, Nicolas Hague and a first-round pick to the Rangers for Zibanejad, assuming he’ll waive his NMC for Vegas. That package was the Sabres’ asking price for Eichel as reported by The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy last month. The Rangers would then flip that return to the Sabres for Eichel.

The main problem with that scenario is the Sabres reportedly want to send Eichel to the Western Conference. My alternate theory is Eichel to Vegas for Kennedy’s reported asking price, with the Golden Knights then shipping him to the Rangers for Zibanejad.

Eichel’s trade status continues to dominate the rumor mill with the trade market going quiet during the offseason dog days. Perhaps we’ll see a resolution before training camps open next month.

NHL.COM: Amelie Benjamin examined the Boston Bruins’ offseason moves and what still needs to be addressed before the season opens in October. David Krejci’s decision to return to the Czech Republic leaves them in need of a second- or third-line center. Their plan is to start Charlie Coyle in the second-line role, though he didn’t have a good performance last season. Benjamin feels they may need to upgrade at that position if they want to be serious Stanley Cup contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Addressing that need could be easier said than done. The unrestricted free agent market has been picked clean so they’ll have to go the trade route. They’ve been linked to Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak but those discussions appeared to be in a stalemate.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 25, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 25, 2021

This year’s draft is history and the start of free agency is days away. Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Dougie Hamilton and more in today’s Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WILL EICHEL BE TRADED THIS SUMMER?

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen reports Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams continues to field calls from teams interested in acquiring Jack Eichel. He also hasn’t ruled out keeping the 24-year-old center if he doesn’t receive a suitable offer that addresses his club’s needs.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello believes the reason Eichel wasn’t traded this weekend was the Sabres’ asking price remains too high. A league source said Sabres owner Terry Pegula wants Eichel traded to a Western Conference team.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers must resolve Mika Zibanejad’s contract situation one way or the other before turning to Jack Eichel. They cannot afford to carry both.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Brooks believes the Rangers prefer re-signing Zibanejad but the price has to be right. Preliminary talks between Zibanejad’s camp and the Rangers have begun with the 28-year-old center reportedly seeking a deal similar to Eichel’s $10 million annual average value for seven or eight years. The Rangers prefer to keep the term to between five and six years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price and Pegula’s supposed desire to ship Eichel to the west could assure he’s still suiting up with the Sabres this fall. At this point, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where a Western Conference club ponies up the equivalent of four first-round picks.

Time isn’t on the Sabres’ side. I’m not doubting Adams’ sincerity when he said he’s fine with Eichel being on the roster next season but his preference is to move him. I don’t blame him for setting a high asking price but he’ll have to lower it if he wants Eichel off the roster before training camp opens in September.

Zibanejad’s a talented center but the Rangers would be crazy to invest $10 million annually on him. He’ll be 29 next April and I don’t think he’d get that much from any club around the league. Maybe they reach an agreement on a five-year deal worth around $8 million. We’ll see. Lots of time for this to play out.

It’s time to start preparing for this to be the summer of Eichel in the rumor mill.

BUSY MARKET FOR GOALIES & DEFENSEMEN?

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen believes the goalie market will be intriguing with many teams seeking help between the pipes. The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and San Jose Sharks could be busy addressing that issue via trades or free agency. So could the Colorado Avalanche if Philipp Grubauer departs as a free agent on July 28.

Trade targets could include Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights. Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said Braden Holtby might be available.

Several teams, including the Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils will be shopping for defensemen. Pending free-agent blueliners include Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Suter, Keith Yandle, Alexander Edler, David Savard, Alec Martinez, Tyson Barrie and Zdeno Chara.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The News & Observer’s Chip Alexander reports the Hurricanes are continuing talks with Hamilton’s agent. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said they seemed to be getting closer to an agreement but it would have to be reached before free agency opens on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Larry Brooks reports there could be mutual interest between Hamilton and the New Jersey Devils that could come in the form of a seven-year deal worth around $9 million. That would replace P.K. Subban’s contract when it expires next summer.

The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders are among the clubs pursuing Suter, who was recently bought out by the Minnesota Wild. Yandle could also be an option for the Bruins if they don’t land Suter.










What Next For the New York Rangers?

What Next For the New York Rangers?