NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2020

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

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi report rival team executives believe Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could explore trading Kris Letang, despite Rutherford saying he wanted to keep the blueliner among his core players. One executive claimed Letang still has value in the trade market.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins explore trade possibilities for Kris Letang (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang’s age (33), annual average salary ($7.25 million through 2021-22), and injury history are significant sticking points. While he has an 18-team trade list, his no-movement clause means he cannot be demoted to the minors. With two-thirds of the teams facing a cap crunch for 2020-21, moving Letang seems a remote possibility.

They also reported the Penguins’ decision to release assistant coach Sergei Gonchar isn’t a sign of renewed strain between head coach Mike Sullivan and Evgeni Malkin, who is close to Gonchar. Despite occasional disputes, management believes Malkin respects Sullivan. They also said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby let it be known last year that he doesn’t want Malkin traded unless the center asks to be moved. Malkin has indicated he wants to finish his career with the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin’s name is always brought up by somebody in the rumor mill as a trade option whenever the Penguins fall short of expectations. Yohe and Rossi remind us he’s got a full no-movement clause, giving him full control over his NHL future for the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2022. Malkin’s not going anywhere unless he wants out, and he isn’t interested in that option.

Yohe also believes Matt Murray could be on his way out, suggesting he needs a change of scenery. He anticipates Rutherford will find a way to move center Nick Bjugstad, who has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.1 million. He also doesn’t rule out Jared McCann and Zach Aston-Reese becoming trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Rutherford sheds salary, the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign Murray and fellow RFA goaltender Tristan Jarry. I think Murray hits the trade block following the postseason.

Yohe doesn’t expect pending unrestricted free agents like Justin Schultz, Patrick Marleau, and Conor Sheary will be back.

WILD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo recently raised several questions about possible offseason moves by the Minnesota Wild.

One was whether Wild GM Bill Guerin would bundle some assets, including either Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba, to acquire a first-line center, or attempt to sign one via free agency. Russo also wondered if Guerin might shop one of his goalies, acquire one via trade or free agency, and/or promote promising Kaapo Kahkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba would have better trade value, and might even fetch a first-line center in a one-for-one swap. That move, however, would address one problem but create another, as Dumba is (in my opinion) their best defenseman. Guerin will have to look to the trade market as this year’s UFA market is thin on quality centers. 

As for their goalies, Russo pointed out adding one could mean buying out Devan Dubnyk, a move that could suggest Kahkonen’s not the goalie of the future. Dubnyk’s only got one year left on his contract. It might be worthwhile standing pat between the pipes and see how next season unfolds. They’ll have a better idea of Kahkonen’s readiness and can let Dubnyk walk via free agency.

Russo wondered if Guerin might revisit his failed trade-deadline attempt to ship Zach Parise to the New York Islanders. He also mused about buying out Dubnyk or Victor Rask if they can’t trade them, and if they’ll find a way to move expensive winger Mats Zuccarello, who also carries a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The attempted Parise deal was done before COVID-19 derailed the schedule and flattened the salary cap. I don’t see that trade happening, especially with the Isles’ limited cap space. Buying out Dubnyk and Rask creates around $4 million in dead cap space next season, over $2.1 million in 2021-22, and $1.33 million for each of the following two seasons.

The Wild are likely stuck with Zuccarello for a while unless he’s willing to waive his NMC and they’re willing to either pick up part of his $6 million AAV or bundle him with a sweetener like a high draft pick or top prospect.










The Best and Worst NHL Unrestricted Free Agent Signings of 2019

The Best and Worst NHL Unrestricted Free Agent Signings of 2019

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 26, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 26, 2019

Flames coach Bill Peters accused of making racial slurs to a former player, Henrik Lundqvist reaches another milestone victory, former Leafs coach Mike Babcock criticized for bullying tactics, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their points streak to five games with a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames. Jake Guentzel netted the winning goal in overtime. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering an undisclosed ailment on Nov. 4.

During the game, former NHL player Akim Aliu took to Twitter insinuating Flames coach Bill Peters uttered racial slurs at him when the two were in the minors a decade ago. Flames general manager Brad Treliving said the club will make a complete investigation before commenting on Aliu’s comments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aliu didn’t directly name Peters but referred to the Calgary airport code. He played for Peters on the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in 2009-10. That’s when the former defenseman claims the remarks were made.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 455th career victory by downing the Minnesota Wild 3-2 (Photo via NHL Images).

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 455th career win as his club edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. He moved into fifth place on the all-time wins list. Tony DeAngelo scored the winner in overtime. During the game, Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello was given a video tribute and a nice ovation by Rangers fans. Zuccarello spent nearly nine seasons with the Blueshirts.

The Dallas Stars tied a franchise record with their seventh straight win as they doubled up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. Alexander Radulov scored twice and set up another as the Stars extended their points streak to 12 games. Stars defenseman John Klingberg collected three assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After dropping eight of their first name games, the Stars have roared back in November. They now sit third overall in the Western Conference.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 26 saves to blank the New York Islanders 3-0, snapping the latter’s franchise-record 17-game points streak. It’s the Isles’ first regulation loss since Oct. 11. Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

Shorthanded third-period goals by Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat carried the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Palat also collected two assists. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak will have a hearing with the NHL department of player safety for elbowing Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who left the game with a concussion.

Jakub Voracek scored the tie-breaking goal as the Philadelphia Flyers nipped the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. Sean Couturier also tallied for the Flyers, while J.T. Miller scored for the Canucks, who’ve won just three of their last 11 contests. Earlier in the day, the Canucks announced winger Antoine Roussel (knee injury) was heading to their AHL affiliate in Utica for a conditioning stint.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo turned in a 25-save shutout in a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. Oliver Bjorkstrand netted the game’s only goal.

The Nashville Predators blew a 2-0 lead but went on to down the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on shootout goals by Filip Forsberg and Daniel Carr. Blues goaltender Jake Allen made 37 saves. Winger Troy Brouwer finally made his season debut with the Blues following a wait for his work visa to be approved.

After blowing a 3-0 lead, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 on an unassisted overtime tally by Patrick Marleau. Timo Meier also scored twice for the Sharks.

HEADLINES

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 24, 2019.

TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock is under criticism for his treatment of winger Mitch Marner during the latter’s rookie season. Babcock asked Marner to rank his teammates based on their work output, then shared the results with his teammates. The players were reportedly more upset with Babcock than they were with Marner. Babcock confirmed the story to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, claiming he was trying to focus on work ethic and role models with Marner and apologized at the time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock also came under fire from former NHL players Mike Commodore and Mark Fraser. They claim most of the players who skated for the long-time NHL coach hated him, as he used his power to turn teammates against each other. The emerging stories have dimmed some of the luster from Babcock’s otherwise stellar NHL record.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Leafs, center Alexander Kerfoot received a two-game suspension for boarding Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center Patrick Bergeron will be sidelined for two games with a lingering lower-body injury.

YARDBARKER: The Florida Panthers demoted goaltender Sam Montembeault to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.

NJ.COM: Tom Fitzgerald has stepped away from his assistant coach duties with the New Jersey Devils and returned to his position as their assistant general manager.










Offseason Moves Yet to Pan Out in NHL’s 2019-20 Season

Offseason Moves Yet to Pan Out in NHL’s 2019-20 Season

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 23, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 23, 2019

Capitals defenseman John Carlson reaches 20 points, Sabres captain Jack Eichel has a four-point performance against the Sharks, the Canucks’ Bo Horvat tallied a hat trick against the Red Wings, and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: John Carlson became the fourth defenseman in NHL history to record 20 points in October as his Washington Capitals beat the Calgary Flames 5-3. He’s also the league points leader. Carlson scored twice while teammate Alex Ovechkin tallied a goal and an assist. 

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is the fourth blueliner in league history to score 20 points in the month of October (Photo via NHL Images).

The Buffalo Sabres (8-1-1) moved into first place in the league’s overall standings by edging the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime. Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice (including the game-winner) and assisted on two others.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat tallied his first career NHL hat trick leading his club to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was the Wings’ fifth straight loss. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed defenseman Jonathan Ericsson on waivers.

Boston Bruins forwards David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist as their club doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Pastrnak holds the NHL goal-scoring lead with 10 goals. Earlier in the day, the Bruins placed center David Krejci (upper body) on injured reserve and revealed winger Kurtis Kuhlman will be sidelined four weeks with a hairline fracture in his right tibia. 

Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 446th career victory in a 2-1 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury moves into seventh place on the all-time wins list. The Blackhawks also made a minor-league trade, shipping forward Aleksi Saarela to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Ian McCoshen.

Goaltenders Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock combined for 25 saves as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Edmonton Oilers 3-0. Dubnyk left the game following a second-period collision with teammate Ryan Donato and Oilers defenseman Brandon Manning. An update is expected later today. Earlier in the day, the Wild activated winger Mats Zuccarello off injured reserve.

Jonathan Huberdeau and Denis Malgin each had a goal and an assist in the Florida Panthers’ 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Aleksander Barkov collected two assists for the Panthers as they extended their points streak to six games. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel collected two helpers.

Viktor Arvidsson scored twice and added an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a 6-1 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks. Earlier in the day, the Ducks signed defenseman Luca Sbisa to a one-year, one-way contract and placed him on waivers to send him to their AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Christian Dvorak scored in overtime as the Arizona Coyotes nipped the New York Rangers 3-2. It was the Coyotes’ fourth straight victory and the Rangers’ fifth straight defeat. Blueshirts defenseman Tony DeAngelo scored twice in a losing cause.

Anze Kopitar’s third-period goal lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, who’ve lost four of their last five games. Nikolaj Ehlers scored and set up another for the Jets.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DENVER POST: An update is expected today on the status of Mikko Rantanen. The Colorado Avalanche winger suffered a leg injury during Monday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.

The Charlotte Checkers signed forward Jamie McGinn to a professional tryout.

CBS SPORTS: Former NHL winger Magnus Paajarvi signed a two-year contract with KHL club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

NBC SPORTS: Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise has narrowed down proposed team names to five. They are expected to officially reveal its name in 2020.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 22, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 22, 2019

Games recaps, three stars of the week, Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk battling cancer, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko scored a goal and set up two others as the St. Louis Blues downed the Colorado Avalanche 3-1, snapping the latter’s eight-game points streak. It was a costly defeat for the Avalanche as winger Mikko Rantanen left the game in the second period with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.  Coach Jared Bednar said Rantanen will be re-evaluated today.

St. Louis Blues’ winger Vladimir Tarasenko led his club to a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images).

Gustav Nyquist’s overtime goal on a penalty shot lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jackets blew a 2-0 first-period lead and forced the extra frame on Alexander Wennberg’s game-tying goal in the third period. Austin Matthews tallied a goal and an assist for the Leafs. Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson returned to the lineup after missing six games to an upper-body injury,

The Dallas Stars nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1, handing the Senators their fourth straight defeat. Earlier in the day, Stars forward Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop revealed their respective houses suffered damage as a result of a tornado that ripped through North Dallas on Sunday night. Seguin’s house is the one he has up for sale as he’s already moved into a new one.

A five-goal outburst by the Philadelphia Flyers powered them to a 6-2 drubbing of the Vegas Golden Knights. Michael Raffl led the way for the Flyers with two goals and an assist.

HEADLINES

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton are the league’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 20, 2019.

TSN: Hockey Hall of Fame Dale Hawerchuk revealed he’s receiving treatment for stomach cancer. He took a leave of absence in early-September from his job as head coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Hawerchuk makes a full recovery. 

NJ.COM:  Devils center Nico Hischier (upper-body injury) and defenseman Will Butcher (upper body) could return to the lineup on Friday against the Arizona Coyotes.

CBS SPORTS:  Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello is ready to return to action after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Brian Dumoulin (lower body) on injured reserve dating back to Oct. 18.