Rumor Roundup: Hurricanes’ Semin, Coyotes’ Vermette talk of trade market

Lyle Richardson
Alex Semin

For several weeks trade rumors have dogged Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal and defenseman Andrej Sekera. There was talk several teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, inquired into Staal’s availability. Sekera’s eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July fuelled speculation he could be dealt at some point this season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Jumbo Joe says he won’t go, Ducks searching for backup

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton

Former San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton has no intention of waiving his no-movement clause anytime soon. Despite an off-season in which Thornton was stripped of the captaincy and mentioned in trade rumors, he told the Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger he considers the Sharks a very good team capable of doing something.

During the summer, there was speculation claiming Sharks management might try to pressure the 35-year-old into accepting a trade. The rumors carried over into this season, as Zeisberger cited a recent report linking Thornton with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Read more

Suspend him or not: Jack Johnson drills Jiri Tlusty with vicious check

Jared Clinton
Jack Johnson (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s almost incredible to believe that through the first two weeks of the NHL season there was little-to-no discussion about what the NHL was doing to increase player safety. The suspendable offenses were few and far between and it looked like everything may magically have been fixed.

Now, just four full days into November, we’ve had a hit in question on a near nightly basis. Tuesday night was no different than the three prior, as Jack Johnson caught Jiri Tlusty with a vicious check to an unsuspecting Jiri Tlusty, leaving the 26-year-old dazed: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Hurricanes GM Francis looking for trade partners

Jordan & Eric Staal (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

After going winless in October, the Carolina Hurricanes opened November with their first two victories of the season, downing the hapless Arizona Coyotes and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. This recent bout of success, however, won’t stem the growing tide of trade speculation dogging the Hurricanes this season.

ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports Hurricanes GM Ron Francis is getting phone calls from other clubs interested in making deals with him. Francis claims none of them are willing to make a hockey trade which that makes sense for his club, as they’re attempting to dump bad contracts upon the Hurricanes. Read more

Kopitar to return, Canes looking for second win

Bryan Mcwilliam
St. Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings

Well, Saturday night’s match-up prediction didn’t pan out as written. Some aspects were predicted correctly. As expected, a lot of goals were scored, but Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin did not light the red lamp, although they did have an assist each. Ryan Callahan did provide a spark in his return to the Lightning line-up with a first period goal, so there’s that. Let’s give Stamkos the win simply because his team walked away victorious.

Sunday, the NHL has seven games games scheduled, with two late afternoon affairs, one of which is a 5 p.m. contest between the Carolina Hurricanes, who are coming off their first win of the season, and the Los Angeles Kings who are winless on their current road trip.

The Kings have been without centre Anze Kopitar, who has been out of action with an upper body injury, but the 27-year old expects to return tonight, “”I’m planning on it unless there is something really drastic that happens,” he told the NHL after practice Saturday. “But I don’t think I’m going to be doing anything this afternoon. Hopefully it stays that way and hopefully I feel like that [Sunday].”

The return of Kopitar will be a major addition to a Kings team that has not looked good lately. After a heart-breaking 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers Tuesday, the Kings were shutout by the Penguins and dismantled by the Red Wings. With the exception of Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson, the scoring hasn’t been there for the Kings, who currently rank 25th in the NHL in goals per game, so Kopitar will be welcomed back with open arms.

The Hurricanes looked like a completely different team in their win over Arizona last night. They looked fresh, worked hard and took home a team win backed by a beautiful shutout performance from Cam Ward. Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch which lead to speculation that not having him in the line-up was a good thing for Carolina. Tonight, the Canes will see if the win was just a stroke of good luck, or if they’ve figured things out.

Prediction: Kopitar makes his return to the Kings’ line-up; doesn’t have an effect on the scoreboard, but gives his team the positive mental boost they need as the team looks energized. Hurricanes’ forward Elias Lindholm found his scoring touch on Saturday and it will continue on Sunday, as the centre nets another goal. It’ll be a lower scoring affair, in the 2-1 range, but the contest will be upbeat with some nice defensive work. Going out on a limb here and saying Carolina walks away victorious for their second win of the season and Lindholm’s lone goal is the game-winner.

Lindholm, Ward help Hurricanes secure first win of season

Bryan Mcwilliam
Arizona Coyotes v Carolina Hurricanes

Finally, the day has come. The Carolina Hurricanes earned their first win of the season Saturday in a 3-0 shutout of the Arizona Coyotes.

Elias Lindholm scored two goals early, Justin Faulk had two assists and Cam Ward stopped 25 shots for his 22nd career shutout, but it was a definitely a win that the team earned as a group.

Maybe it was the return of forwards Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Dwyer or maybe making Alexander Semin – a player earning $7 million – a healthy scratch was the smartest move of the season so far, but something looked different about the Hurricanes in the first period. They had a different kind of energy, almost a swagger on the ice, and it certainly transitioned over to their play.

The Hurricanes burst out of the gate, scoring early after Lindholm pounced on a rebound, putting it by a helpless Mike Smith. Lindholm followed that goal with another at 17:22, grabbing another rebound opportunity and wristing it by Smith.

After securing the lead, it was all Ward. The goaltender had the best performance of recent memory, shutting down the Coyotes offence, who didn’t play poorly. They had opportunities to keep the game close, but Ward wasn’t having any of it. He looked locked in. His most impressive save of the night came in the second period when he robbed Antoine Vermette, who broke in on a two-on-one.

The group looked fresh and they played well, but was it a stroke of good luck? Or are things going to change as the season moves on?

Sitting Semin could indicate that they’re willing to make some changes. When asked about Semin possibly being a healthy scratch for Saturday night’s game head coach Bill Peters told the Hurricanes website that “Right now, he’s not in the lineup.”

“We’ve got a couple guys back from injury so we’ve got the ability to take some guys out.”

Sounds like a harmless response, but teams don’t normally sit a player making $7 million a season if unless they’re unhappy. It’s not like Gerbe or Dwyer are stud prospects who are being given a chance to show the Hurricanes’ brass what they can do. This move reads that the organization is not satisfied with Semin and rightfully so. The Russian forward had two points in eight games and already a plus-minus of -7. Add in the fact that a poor attitude and work ethic have always been attached to him and it’s clear that an issue arose somewhere. Maybe Semin is reverting back to having a bad attitude, or maybe he’s not as healthy as the Hurricanes are letting on, but something is up and it’s certainly not his point totals. The Capitals cut ties with the talented winger because of a terrible attitude and work ethic, despite the talented play maker having seasons of 40, 38 and 34 goals, so maybe Carolina is thinking the same thing, or maybe this is the kick in the pants that Semin needs to turn things around.

Speculation aside, the Hurricanes won Saturday and the group effort was a refreshing site to see. They should stick with what worked against Arizona, ignore all of the Connor McDavid talk, and try and win some hockey games because the fans deserve it. The goose egg is gone, it’s time to move on.

Rumor Roundup: Defensemen at a premium in trade market

Tyler Myers

SI.com columnist Allan Muir observes it was around this time a year ago the first significant trades of 2013-14 took place, most notably the Buffalo Sabres shipping Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson and two draft picks. Muir, Sarah Kwak and Brian Cazeneuve speculated about which NHL teams could be the first to swing a significant trade this season.

Cazeneuve notes “a lot of teams” would love to land Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers. Though he doesn’t recommend it, he believes moving Myers could fetch a return to address several areas on the Sabres requiring short-term help. Kwak points out injuries to the respective defense corps of the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers could force them into the trade market, though the market is currently thin for blueliners. Read more

Buffalo, Carolina playing beer league-caliber hockey – with no end in sight

Matt Larkin
The NHL hasn't fielded two teams this poor at the same time in more than 20 years. (Getty Images)

The before: my summer conversation with Buffalo Sabres right winger Chris Stewart.

“You look at our team now and there are 13 or 14 new faces. So we come in and think of last year as an anomaly. There’s nothing we can do now. We can worry about the future. I hear everybody talking about tanking for Connor McDavid. That’s not in my DNA, personally.”

The after: my conversation with Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers after Tuesday’s humiliating loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It didn’t go our way because we didn’t work. That was an embarrassing effort, top to bottom, from our group, including myself. We hung out our goalie (Michal Neuvirth). He battled as much as he could, and we didn’t give him any help.

“Something’s got to change. This is probably the worst we’ve had it.”

It’s not like optimism in Buffalo was sky-high entering 2014-15, but there was a glimmer of hope the team would improve. General manager Tim Murray brought back Matt Moulson and added a cadre of veterans, including Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges and Andrej Meszaros. Maybe, just maybe, the Sabres would trudge their way up the basement stairs.

But, goodness, Tuesday in Toronto was a sight to behold. The Sabres’ 10 shots set a 44-year franchise low. They’ve been shut out four times in six games and are on pace to double the record for the most donuted team in one NHL campaign. They average 1.1 goals per game. After posting an NHL-worst 41.0 Corsi Close percentage last season, they sit at 36.6 percent after 10 contests.

Read more