NHL Morning Rumor Mill – November 8, 2013.

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What moves could the Maple Leafs make at center? Are the Panthers planning any significant moves? Could the Senators shop a defenseman? 

If the Oilers won't shop Nail Yakupov, should they instead shop Sam Gagner?

If the Oilers won’t shop Nail Yakupov, should they instead shop Sam Gagner?

SPORTSNET.CA: Jeff Marek and Chris Johnston believe the Maple Leafs will make do with what they have in the short term to deal with the absence of Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak to injuries.  Marek suggests if the losses pile up Nonis should give the Calgary Flames a call and inquire about former Leaf Matt Stajan, though he’d be difficult to fit into the Leafs limited cap space…Mark Spector believes the Oilers shouldn’t panic but advocates quietly working on “acquiring a top-pairing D-man, some size in the second pairing, and changing the mix upfront.” Marek points out it takes quality to get quality, believing they must move one of their young players to show the others how serious their situation is. He suggests Nail Yakupov or Sam Gagner would fetch good returns. He also suggested shopping their first and second round picks for next season….The Carolina Hurricanes early struggles could put coach Kirk Muller on the hot seat. Johnston doesn’t believe the Staal brothers could be shopped, but pointed out Jeff Skinner’s name was floating around the trade market before his upper body injury…Spector claims ten GMs are keeping tabs on Calgary Flames winger Mike Cammalleri.  He believes the Flames could move pending UFAs Cammalleri and Matt Stajan, but believes Dennis Wideman and his $5.25 million per season contract is unmoveable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stajan’s $3.5 million cap hit would be a tight squeeze for the Leafs, plus he has a modified no-trade clause and might not be keen to return to Toronto.  Some Leafs fans will suggest offering up John-Michael Liles ($3.875 million per) to the Flames for Stajan, but the latter’s salary would still be a tight fit for the Leafs, especially when Bozak and Bolland return later in the season. Not saying it’s impossible, just difficult to fit within their cap space.

I still believe Yakupov is the best trade bait the Oilers have. Ales Hemsky won’t land what they need.  I understand the Oilers reluctance to move Yakupov, but he’s the only guy they can afford to move. Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner are all under long-term contracts, while Yakupov is in the second year of his entry-level deal.  Trading Gagner isn’t a solution as it weakens them at center. Package Yakupov with a first round pick and see if it can land a top-two defenseman. It takes quality to get quality. Otherwise, the Oilers are going to be in contention for the first overall pick again, which is cold comfort to their fans, who are growing impatient waiting for any sign of real improvement by this team.

If the Hurricanes try to shake things up, they won’t move either of the Staals to do it.  Skinner has considerable talent but also a growing injury history…I believe Cammalleri will be moved by the trade deadline. Stajan and perhaps Lee Stempniak could also be moved.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER):  Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon appeared on Prime Time Sports to talk about his club’s disappointing performance thus far. Tallon acknowledged his roster still needs work, but said it’ll take time to get those via development from within, free agency next summer or via “astute trades”. He also pointed out limited cap space among a number of teams around the league is affecting the trade market. Tallon also admitted the inquiries he’s currently getting are from clubs trying to pry away his good young players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon’s not going to panic, but at the same time, this team needs help. It sounds as though he’s willing to take the hit now and look for improvement in the off-season. I daresay if the Panthers are out of playoff contention near the March 5 trade deadline, a fire sale of veterans will begin.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators, currently carrying eight defensemen, could move one of those blueliners. He cited a league executive claiming “eight-to-10 teams” are seeking defensemen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Right off the bat, forget about the Senators moving Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Chris Phillips or Marc Methot. That leaves Patrick Wiercioch, Joe Corvo, Eric Gryba and Mark Borowiecki. 

NHL Canadian Corner – November 8, 2013.

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Canucks down the Sharks, Senators beat the Canadiens, Blues douse the Flames, Lightning defeat the Oilers, plus updates on the Maple Leafs and Jets.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Despite Roberto Luongo giving up another strange goal and the Sedins failing to garner a point, the Canucks downed the San Jose Sharks 4-2, snapping a nine-game losing streak against the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are showing a resolve overcoming what in the past would be back-breaking goals against them. That they got this win without the Sedins hitting the score sheet may be a positive sign they’re getting production from elsewhere in the lineup.

Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan celebrate a goal against the Canadiens.

Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan celebrate a goal against the Canadiens.

 OTTAWA SUN/LA PRESSE: Two goals in 37 seconds during the second period lifted the Ottawa Senators to a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, snapping a five-game losing streak at home, whilst handing the Habs their fourth straight loss.

 CALGARY HERALD: The St. Louis Blues doused the Flames 3-2, handing them their second straight loss. The Flames received bad news earlier in the day, learning winger Curtis Glencross is sidelined six weeks with a sprained MCL, joining injured teammates Mark Giordano and Lee Stempniak on the sidelines

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect the Flames to turn to their younger players to fill in for their injured veterans.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Taylor Hall scored a goal in his return from an knee injury, but it didn’t prevent his club from falling 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Steven Stamkos scored twice for the Bolts.

TORONTO STAR: David Clarkson is still trying to find his niche with the Maple Leafs.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets lead the NHL in waiver wire pickups.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 8, 2013.

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Game recaps, plus updates on Martin Brodeur, Claude Giroux, Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Marchand, Jordin Tootoo and more.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick shut out the Buffalo Sabres.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick earned a shutout against the Buffalo Sabres.

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Jonathan Quick celebrated his 300th career NHL game by shutting out the Buffalo Sabres 2-0. Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar tallied for the Kings.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Martin Brodeur made 22 saves for the 122nd shutout of his career as the New Jersey Devils blanked the floundering Philadelphia Flyers 3-0. Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who has yet to score this season, called a players-only meeting following the game, ducking the media upon its completion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for that line brawl against the Washington Capitals last week serving as a spark to turn the Flyers season around. They are 1-2 since that donneybrook.  

STAR-TELEGRAM: Rich Peverley’s overtime goal lifted the Dallas Stars to a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings, spoiling another magnificent goal from Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Carl Hagelin scored twice and backup Cam Talbot made 32 saves as the New York Rangers downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2, giving the Rangers their sixth win in their last eight games. It was the fifth straight loss for the Blue Jackets, leaving coach Todd Richards fuming.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve noted before, since the return of Hagelin from injury and the call-up of Chris Kreider, the Rangers have been a better team.  It also helps captain Ryan Callahan returned from injury plus Talbot has provided them with reliable backup goaltending. Despite a slow start to this season and the absence of Rick Nash (concussion), the Rangers seem to have turned things around.

BOSTON GLOBE: Brad Marchand finally scored his first goal of the season, which proved to be the game-winner, as the Boston Bruins defeated the Florida Panthers 4-1. It was the seventh straight loss for the Panthers, resulting in an angry players-only meeting afterwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers are in serious trouble. Management would love to make a move or two to bolster the lineup but there’s not much available in the trade market right now. I’ll have more on this in my Rumors section later today.

WASHINGTON POST: Marcus Johansson scored the game-tying goal and Nicklas Backstrom netted the winner in a shootout as the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Justin Peters made 21 saves backstopping the Carolina Hurricanes to a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders. Radek Dvorak scored the game’s only goal.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Corey Perry, the Anaheim Ducks scoring leader, is a key factor in the club’s early success this season.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings winger Jordin Tootoo cleared waivers yesterday but still remains with the club. The Wings have 30 days to send him to their AHL affiliate. 

Emery’s Attack On Holtby Was Indefensible.

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Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ray Emery skating the length of the ice to attack Washington Capitals netminder Bradon Holtby during a line brawl in a recent game between the two teams created a stir within the hockey world.

Emery was widely condemned for provoking a fight with a clearly reluctant Holtby, but received no supplemental discipline for his actions.  Under NHL rules there’s nothing to prevent a goaltender from leaving his crease to partake in a fight at the other end of the rink.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan voiced their disapproval of Emery’s actions, leading to speculation the league could implement a new rule in which a goalie leaving the defensive zone to join in a fight could face suspension.

Emery wasn’t without his supporters. Though the fight didn’t change the game’s outcome (a lopsided 7-0 win for the Capitals), he was named the game’s third star. It’s been suggested Emery was simply doing his part as a good teammate in a brawl involving every player on the ice. His defenders believe his actions provided the struggling Flyers with a much-needed spark which had been lacking since the start of the season.

Ray Emery's attack on Braden Holtby didn't sit well with NHL headquarters.

Ray Emery’s attack on Braden Holtby didn’t sit well with NHL headquarters.

Bullshit.

It’s one thing if Emery was attacked by another player around his net, or jumping in to save a teammate from a beating, or if Holtby was the aggressor.

That’s not what happened. Emery skated the length of the ice and tried to provoke Holtby into fighting. When the Capitals goalie expressed his unwillingness, Emery essentially told him to defend himself and started swinging.

This wasn’t Emery’s first dance in a line brawl, tangling with Martin Biron during a scrap several years ago against the Buffalo Sabres, then exchanging punches with Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters. The difference then was Biron and Peters were willing participants.

To be fair, Emery doesn’t have a reputation for instigating fights. His only NHL suspension was three games for striking former Montreal Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre in the face with his stick. Indeed, since his early NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators,  Emery’s matured as a player and a person.

While there’s nothing in the rule book preventing Emery from challenging Holtby to a fight, he had no reason to push the issue when it was obvious the Capitals netminder wanted no part of it. Holtby did nothing to provoke Emery. He didn’t attack one of Emery’s teammates, nor was he fighting one of them.

Suggesting Emery gained respect from his teammates and Flyers fans for pummeling Holtby is nonsense. He has nine NHL seasons under his belt, which includes a  season with the Flyers. He had no reason to prove himself in such a manner.

It’s been argued Emery and the Flyers were “sending a message”, that they were sick and tired of their poor start and simply venting their frustrations.

Did it change the outcome of the game? No. Are rival clubs now fearful of the Flyers? No. This isn’t the era of the Broad Street Bullies, where the Flyers won two championships and dominated the league with equal parts menace and talent.

It was pointless for Emery to attack Holtby. It served no purpose. His actions were indefensible.

If the NHL has its way, Emery– or any other goalie – won’t get away with leaving their defensive zone to partake in another line brawl.