NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2020

The latest Rangers’ speculation involving Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Strome, Alexandar Georgiev, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

NEW YORK POST: With the Rangers’ season over, Larry Brooks believes Henrik Lundqvist’s long goodbye with the Blueshirts is over. He wonders how the goaltender and the club will part ways after 15 seasons as it transitions toward a tandem of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

Has Henrik Lundqvist’s long career with the New York Rangers drawing to a close? (Photo via NHL Images).

Lundqvist has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $8.5 million. Brooks praised his handling of this situation, but he doesn’t know if the former Vezina Trophy winner will accept being a backup with the Rangers or another club.

The Rangers must shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents like Georgiev, Ryan Strome, and Tony DeAngelo. Brooks doesn’t see a legitimate Stanley Cup contender pursuing Lundqvist at this stage in his career, or another club taking him on even if the Rangers absorbed half of his cap hit. The other option is buying out his contract once the playoffs are over. Retirement is also a possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A difficult decision faces Lundqvist and the Rangers. I agree with Brooks’ take regarding his trade value. The 38-year-old netminder has enjoyed a stellar career but he’s no longer the type of starting goaltender a contender would covet. Even if the Rangers absorbed half his cap hit, it would make him an expensive backup.

As Brooks observed, if Lundqvist retires his $8.5 million cap hit won’t count against the Rangers’ cap payroll for next season, but he’d forfeit the $5.5 million he’s owed in actual salary. If they can’t trade him to another club, a buyout would create $3 million in savings but still leave some dead cap space.

Brooks indicates the Rangers received no significant offers for Georgiev before the February trade deadline, nor did management especially dangle him in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev’s name surfaced a lot in this year’s rumor mill, though most of it was pundits dreaming up potential destinations for him. Barring a surprising swerve where the Rangers keep Lundqvist, Georgiev appears destined to be Shesterkin’s backup next season.

Brooks examined other possible off-season moves for the Rangers. Popular check-line winger Jesper Fast is expected to depart via free agency. They must decide whether to sign Ryan Strome to a one-year contract that might be worth $5 million. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Strome didn’t improve his chances for a long-term deal or his trade value with a dismal performance against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome had a couple of assists against the Hurricanes but his overall performance was disappointing. Maybe they consider trading him if they anticipate a difficult contract negotiation. Then again, perhaps the flat cap works in their favor if comparable players on other clubs start accepting less money on one-year deals.

The Rangers now have a shot at winning the upcoming second draft lottery and the right to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere. Brooks, however, suggests the Rangers could instead consider selecting big Sudbury Wolves center Quinton Byfield. He points to a looming top-six opening at center over the next couple of years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks could be talking about Strome if the Rangers ink him to a one-year deal in the off-season. However, I suspect he’s referring to Mika Zibanejad, who becomes eligible for UFA status in 2022 and could seek a pay raise that proves too hefty for the Rangers to carry.

Landing Byfield might be a more sensible pick if the Rangers win the draft lottery. They already have Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider at the left wing, with both guys carrying expensive contracts and full no-movement clauses.

Playing Lafreniere on the third line isn’t a good option, and shifting him to the right side takes him out of his comfort zone. They could move Panarin or Kreider to the right side but could face the same problem.

If the Rangers win the first-overall pick, maybe they trade down with another club to ensure they get Byfield and something else.

What say you, Rangers fans? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.










NHL Unfinished Business: The 2019-20 Scoring Race

NHL Unfinished Business: The 2019-20 Scoring Race

 










NHL Gold & Mold: Zibanejad’s five-goal game and Toronto’s three-game skid

NHL Gold & Mold: Zibanejad’s five-goal game and Toronto’s three-game skid

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 11, 2020

The Bruins become the first team to reach 100 points this season,  Mika Zibanejad and Filip Forsberg set franchise records with their respective clubs and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask kicked out 36 shots to shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Matt Grzelcyk and Patrice Bergeron were the goal scorers as the league-leading Bruins became the first team to reach 100 points this season. The Flyers played without defenseman Philippe Myers, who’s sidelined at least four weeks with a fractured patella in his right knee.

Mika Zibanejad is the fastest player to score 40 goals in New York Rangers history (Photo via NHL Images).

Mika Zibanejad became the fastest player to reach 40 goals in New York Rangers history in a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Rookie Kaapo Kakko scored twice for the Rangers (78 points), who sit three points out of an Eastern wild-card berth. The slumping Stars (82 points) sit third in the Central Division, but they’re winless in their last six contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how many great scorers the Rangers have had in their long history, that’s quite an achievement by Zibanejad.

The Nashville Predators (78 points) moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference by doubling up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Filip Forsberg scored twice, becoming the first player in Predators’ history to register six 20-goal seasons. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens announced leading scorer Tomas Tatar is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

Auston Matthews’ 47th goal of the season was also the game-winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Teammate Mitch Marner collected two assists as the Leafs (81 points) opened a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers for third place in the Atlantic Division. Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly returned to action for the first time after suffering a broken foot nearly two months ago. The Lightning are eight points behind the Bruins.

Evgeni Malkin scored twice and picked up an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the New Jersey Devils 5-2. With 86 points, the Penguins sit third in the Metropolitan Division. Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced center Nick Bjugstad is considered week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian tallied twice and added an assist in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek made 23 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a concussion in late February. With 81 points, the Canes move into the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Wings, meanwhile, have the dubious honor of clinching last place in the overall standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The silver lining for the Wings is they have the best odds of winning the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.

The struggling New York Islanders winless skid reached seven games as they fell 5-4 in a shootout to the Vancouver Canucks. Brock Nelson scored twice for the Isles while Thatcher Demko made 45 saves for the Canucks (78 points), who moved back into the second Western wild-card berth, The Isles (80 points) sit one point out of an Eastern wild-card spot.

A natural hat trick by Nicolas Deslauriers carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon’s status remains uncertain after suffering a lower-body injury during Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar is expected to provide an update later today. Meanwhile, the Avs announced former Colorado Rockies stars and MLB Hall-of-Famer Larry Walker will be their honorary emergency backup goalie during Sunday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placing Troy Brouwer on waivers has raised speculation sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko could be nearing a return from shoulder surgery.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic could return to action against the Islanders on Thursday.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets assigned Mark Letestu to their AHL affiliate for a conditioning stint. A diagnosis of myocarditis sidelined him for all but seven games this season.

THE SCORE: The Columbus Blue Jackets will continue to allow fans at their home games despite the Ohio governor’s recommendation that indoor sports events be held without spectators over coronavirus concerns. The team has recommended those fans at higher risk, including the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, should avoid these events.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 10, 2020

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon injured against the Kings, the NHL limits locker-room access over coronavirus concerns, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon suffered a lower-body injury as his Colorado Avalanche dropped a 3-1 decision to the Los Angeles Kings, who extended their winning streak to six games. Avs coach Jared Bednar had no update on MacKinnon’s condition. Colorado (90 points) sit two points behind the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Western Conference.

Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon was injured during a 3-1 loss to the LA Kings on Monday (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche has persevered despite their injury-depleted roster throughout this season. A potentially lengthy absence of their leading scorer, however, will be a serious test. 

Despite a 3-2 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Washington Capitals regained sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division with 91 points. Sabres captain Jack Eichel netted his 36th of the season while teammate Dominik Kahun potted the winning. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 48th goal of the season, tying Boston’s David Pastrnak for first place among this season’s goal scorers. Washington has just four wins in their last 10 games.

The Florida Panthers upset the Blues 2-1. Mike Hoffman and Brett Connolly were the Panthers’ goal scorers while Chris Driedger made 26 saves for the win. The Panthers moved within a point of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot and the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division with a 2-1 upset of the Blues.

Shea Theodore’s overtime goal lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. With 86 points, the Golden Knights hold a three-point lead over the Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division. Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen made 45 saves in a losing cause. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid missed the game due to an illness.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored and set up two others as the Winnipeg Jets picked up their third straight victory by doubling up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. With 78 points, the Jets hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Coyotes, meanwhile, sit three points out of a playoff spot in the West.

HEADLINES

The NHL is joining the NBA, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer by limiting access to locker rooms and clubhouses to players and essential personnel over concerns about the coronavirus. Media groups responded with a statement expressing their understanding of this situation, but hoping access won’t be unnecessarily limited in the short and long term.

NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks released a statement in response to Santa Clara county banning all mass gatherings exceeding 1,000 people for the rest of the month over coronavirus concerns. The team will be reviewing each upcoming event scheduled at SAP Center and will provide updates in the coming days. The Sharks have three homes games scheduled for March 19, 21, and 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those games could be postponed, though rescheduling them will be difficult with the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning on April 8. The Sharks could also end up playing those games in an empty arena.

NHL.COM: New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 8.

The department of player safety fined Blues winger Oskar Sundqvist $5,000.00 for roughing Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist on Sunday.

CBS SPORTS: The Sharks officially announced the re-signing of defensesman Radim Simek to a four-year, $9-million contract extension.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury and has returned to Las Vegas

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: With goaltender Petr Mrazek set to return to action, the Carolina Hurricanes sent Alex Nedeljkovic to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.

NBC SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom joined his teammates for their annual team photo yesterday. Lindblom has been sidelined since December as he undergoes treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2020

Mika Zibanejad lights up the Capitals, the Flyers keep rising in the Metro, the Wild and Blackhawks surge into playoff contention and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mika Zibanejad scored five goals, including the winner in overtime, as the New York Rangers edged the Washington Capitals 6-5. Artemi Panarin and Tony DeAngelo each had three points for the Blueshirts. Zibanejad tied the club record for most goals in a single game. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to move into a tie for the goal-scoring lead with 47 goals. With the win, the surging Rangers (76 points) are two points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The slumping Capitals, meanwhile, move into a tie with the Philadelphia Flyers for first in the Metropolitan Division with 87 points.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad tallied five goals in a 6-5 win over the Washington Capitals (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are in a good position to overtake the Isles and the stumbling Columbus Blue Jackets. They must now be taken seriously as a playoff contender. The Capitals, on the other hand, appear to be in trouble. As per The Washington Post, a lack of cohesive team player (especially on defense) has led to a record of 14-15-2 since Dec. 23.

Meanwhile, the Flyers picked up their eighth straight victory by downing the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Earlier in the day, however, the Flyers learned winger James van Riemsdyk will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with an injured hand. The struggling Hurricanes (75 points) slipped three points out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. They also learned defenseman Brett Pesce is out for the season following shoulder surgery. His expected recovery period is four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Capitals flounder, the Flyers are poised to take over first place in the Metro. They’ve been red hot in 2020, showing no sign of slowing. The Hurricanes are really struggling with goaltenders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek sidelined since late February. If they don’t return to action soon, the Canes’ playoff hopes could be dashed.

The Ottawa Senators spoiled the return of former Senator Jean-Gabriel Pageau by hanging on to defeat the New York Islanders 4-3. Pageau was dealt by the Sens to the Isles at last Monday’s trade deadline. The loss leaves the Islanders (78 points) clinging to the final Eastern wild-card spot. They’ve won just two of their last 11 contests.

An overtime goal by Torey Krug carried the Boston Bruins over the Florida Panthers 2-1. It was the Bruins’ fourth consecutive victory while the Panthers dropped their eighth straight home game. The Bruins sit atop the overall standings with 98 points, while the Panthers (74 points) sit four points out of a playoff spot in the East.

The Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 32 shots for the shutout while Victor Hedman tallied twice. The Bolts sit second in the Atlantic Division with 89 points. Before the game, Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar returned to Montreal for evaluation of an upper-body injury.

Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Evgeni Malkin collected two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2, handing the latter their fifth straight defeat. The Pens have won two straight and sit third in the Metro with 84 points.

Zach Parise extended his goal streak to four games and Alex Stalock made 30 stops as the Minnesota Wild nipped the San Jose Sharks 3-2. With 75 points, the Wild leaped over four other clubs into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A month ago, the Wild seemed done like dinner, especially after winger Jason Zucker was traded to Pittsburgh on Feb. 10. Since then, the Wild have won eight of their last 12 games and put themselves into the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.

The Nashville Predators got a 33-save shutout from Juuse Saros to blank the Dallas Stars 2-0. Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene were the goal scorers. The Stars (82 points) remain in third place in the Central Division while the Predators (74 points) moved into a four-way tie with the Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, and Arizona Coyotes for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks hold the spot due to games in hand.

Alex DeBrincat scored twice to lead the Chicago Blackhawks over the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane also netted his 30th goal of the season. Chicago (74 points) are four points out of playoff contention in the West, while the Oilers (80 points) remain two back of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

Shootout goals by Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe gave the Los Angeles Kings a 1-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 36 saves while the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen made 30. The Leafs (79 points) picked up a point and sit third in the Atlantic Division.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NJ.COM: Devils defenseman Will Butcher underwent season-ending surgery to repair ruptured ligaments in his right thumb.

TSN: The NHL Players Association canceled its April meeting with player agents because of the spread of the coronavirus.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Matthew Barnaby was arrested on assault and public intoxication charges at a Nashville bar early Thursday morning.