NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2022

It was a day of hat tricks for the Penguins and Rangers, Nathan MacKinnon extends his points streak, the three stars and rookie of the month for December are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their eighth straight win by holding off the San Jose Sharks 8-5. Penguins forwards Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust led the way with three goals each as the club played its first game in 13 days due to COVID postponements. Rust also collected two assists to finish the game with five points. Sharks forward Timo Meier picked up three assists while James Reimer got the hook after giving up six goals on 17 shots.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust (NHL Images).

Speaking of hat tricks, Mika Zibanejad tallied three times as the New York Rangers blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. Igor Shesterkin made 38 saves for the shutout while Lightning goalie Andre Vasilevskiy gave up four goals on 21 shots in his first game since returning from COVID protocol.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with three assists in a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Linemate Mikko Rantanen also had three points with a goal and two assists as the Avs played their first game in 16 days. Ducks forward Max Comtois and defenseman Cam Fowler returned to the lineup from recent injuries.

A three-point performance by Johnny Gaudreau (one goal, two assists) powered the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Jacob Markstrom turned aside 30 shots for the Flames.

The Boston Bruins scored five straight goals to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Charlie McAvoy and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and an assist as the Bruins (34 points) vaulted over the Wings into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Kyle Connor’s overtime goal lifted the Winnipeg Jets over the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4. Playing their first game in 13 days, the Jets blew a 4-2 lead as Mattias Janmark scored two unanswered third-period goals to force the extra frame.

The New Jersey Devils blew a 3-1 lead but still managed to upset the Washington Capitals 4-3 on an overtime goal by Nico Hischier. It was Hischier’s second goal of the game as his Devils picked up their third straight victory. The Capitals, however, moved past the Lightning into first place in the Eastern Conference.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and Rangers winger Artemi Panarin were among the latest players to enter the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko were the NHL’s three stars for December 2021. Ducks forward Trevor Zegras was named the rookie of the month.

The NHL department of player safety suspended Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett for three games for an illegal hit to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Cedric Paquette during Saturday’s game between the two clubs.

TSN: Speaking of the Canadiens, their search for a new general manager is reportedly underway. Pierre LeBrun reports they’ve been reaching out to NHL clubs to seek permission to speak with potential candidates. Roberto Luongo, Mathieu Darche and Daniel Briere are believed among the Habs targets.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 21, 2021

Connor McDavid extends his season-opening points streak, the league-leading Panthers home-winning streak continues, the Islanders debut in their new arena, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid’s season-opening points streak reached 17 games with a goal and an assist as his Edmonton Oilers downed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2, snapping the latter’s four-game winning streak. Leon Draisaitl (35 points) also had a goal and an assist to maintain his three-point lead over McDavid atop the scoring race. Alex DeBrincat netted both Blackhawks goals.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

The Florida Panthers remain undefeated at home (10-0-0) by holding off the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Frank Vatrano scored two goals and collected an assist while Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves. Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek each had a goal and an assist for the Wild.

Calgary Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane tallied twice in a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders, spoiled the latter’s first game at UBS Arena. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves and Noah Hanifin had three assists for the Flames. Brock Nelson scored both goals for the COVID-depleted Islanders, who placed Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Anthony Beauvillier in the protocol before the game, joining Anders Lee, Ross Johnston and Josh Bailey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the loss, it was great to see the Islanders finally play in their new arena. This was a long-time dream come true for the team and their fans following years of delays due to local political machinations amid concerns about a possible relocation of the franchise.

Martin Necas goal with 34 seconds remaining in regulation gave the Carolina Hurricanes their fourth straight win with a closely contested 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Sebastian Aho and Derek Stepan each had a goal and an assist while Frederik Andersen made 39 saves. Adrian Kempe scored two goals for the Kings. With 28 points, the Hurricanes sit one back of the league-leading Panthers.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice and chipped in an assist to blank the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Ilya Samsonov made 22 saves for his second straight shutout while Conor Sheary also potted two goals. Sharks winger Kevin Lebanc missed this contest as he was serving a one-game suspension for slew-footing St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak.

Four unanswered third-period goals powered the New Jersey Devils to a 5-3 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yegor Sharangovich scored twice and set up another as the Devils ended a three-game losing skid.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry turned aside 26 shots for his second straight shutout to down the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0. Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter scored the only goals in the first period as they snapped the Leafs’ five-game win streak.

The Montreal Canadiens rode a 5-0 lead to a 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators. Ryan Poehling scored two goals with 37 seconds in the second period while Tyler Toffoli had a goal and two assists. Matt Duchene collected the hat trick for the Predators.

Boston Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort had the first two-goal game of his NHL career as his club dropped the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2. David Pastrnak and Craig Smith each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins as they collected their third straight victory. Derick Brassard scored both goals for the Flyers.

Third-period goals by Reilly Smith and Mattias Janmark lifted the Vegas Golden Knights over the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. Laurent Brossoit picked up the win with a 27-save effort. Blue Jackets forward Max Domi rejoined the lineup after being activated off their COVID protocol list.

Two shorthanded goals by Roope Hintz helped the Dallas Stars defeat the St. Louis Blues 4-1. Stars captain Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up their third win of the season (3-13-2) as they nipped the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on an overtime goal by Clayton Keller, handing the Wings their fourth straight loss.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE JOURNAL NEWS: The New York Rangers had a bit of a scare when center Mika Zibanejad missed practice on Saturday after being placed in COVID protocol. However, it was subsequently determined to be a false positive and he’s slated to play in today’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. Zibanejad contracted the coronavirus last January, missing a portion of last season’s training camp.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks returned center Mason McTavish to his OHL team in Peterborough for the remainder of the season. Selected third-overall by the Ducks in the 2021 NHL Draft, he scored two goals and added an assist in his nine games with the Ducks.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported Fenway Sports Group had explored the possibility of a merger with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment before pursuing their plans to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins. Those discussions didn’t get far as MLSE was not ready for that kind of move yet.










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.