- Teams are calling about Coyotes winger Conor Garland, reports TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie (Twitter link). The 25-year-old is second on Arizona in scoring with 10 goals and 21 assists in 41 games but last month, it was reported that they were open to the idea of moving him. Garland only makes $775K this season but will be a restricted free agent with arbitration eligibility this summer and is poised to land a significant raise.
While veteran Henrik Lundqvist was hoping to return to the NHL for the playoffs, the 39-year-old veteran announced via Twitter that those hopes will not be possible. The goaltender, who signed with the Washington Capitals in the offseason only to have to sit out the year after learning that he required open-heart surgery to fix issues with his heart, has been back on the ice for almost a month in hopes of joining Washington. However, he announced that inflammation around his heart requires more time for rest and recovery.
“Last week’s checkup showed some inflammation around the heart that now requires a few months more of rest and steady recovery,” wrote Lundqvist. “While it’s not what I hoped for, I know this is all part of the process of getting back to 100%.”
While a return to the NHL this season seemed highly unlikely, it’s disappointing for Lundqvist, the Capitals and fans who would have loved to see the veteran back on the ice.
- The New Jersey Devils could be close to getting back their No. 1 center as head coach Lindy Ruff said that Nico Hischier is “very close to playing, he’s closing in on that date,” according to NHL.com’s Amanda Stein. The 22-year-old has struggled staying in the lineup due to injuries. He was forced to sit out for the first month of the season with a leg injury and after appearing in five games, he suffered a facial fracture that required surgery. He practiced with the team Sunday, working with the penalty killing unit and is expected to rejoin the team’s No. 1 power play once he returns.
- The New York Islanders have placed forward Ross Johnston on injured reserve due to an undisclosed injury, according to The Athletic’s Arthur Staple. That will allow the team to recall Oliver Wahlstrom from the taxi squad. The 27-year-old Johnston hasn’t seen too much time with the Islanders this season, appearing in just nine games. He has no points, but has 35 penalty minutes. Wahlstrom will likely have to battle with Leo Komarov for playing time.
- Chris Ryan of NJ.com reports that the third-round pick sent to the Washington Capitals for Jonas Siegenthaler is technically still conditional. The Devils sent the Arizona Coyotes’ third-round pick to Washington, which was acquired in the Taylor Hall trade. However, there was a condition to the deal in which New Jersey would actually get Arizona’s second-round pick if Hall re-signs with the Coyotes. Of course, that condition is extremely unlikely considering that Hall is now in Buffalo. Unless the Sabres trade him to Arizona and Hall signs an extension with them before the draft, that condition wouldn’t happen. However, in the unlikely circumstances that did happen, the Devils would then opt to send their own third-rounder to Washington for Siegenthaler.
Caggiula, 26, scored 41 goals and 76 points through the first 222 games of his career, playing an energy role in the bottom-six for Edmonton and Chicago. Unfortunately, that production didn’t follow him to Arizona, where he had just one goal and seven points in 27 games this season.
Though he could never really find a fit in the desert, Caggiula comes to a Buffalo team that is desperate for some work ethic and fresh energy. Not only will he likely receive more responsibility and ice time, but this will be a great way for Caggiula to audition for his next contract. He settled for a one-year deal at the league minimum of $700K in late December and hasn’t had a great showing so far. A good few weeks with the struggling Sabres could change all that and send him to unrestricted free agency with something to build on.
There is also potentially a chance that Buffalo flips him by the deadline, especially if they know that another team was going to claim him. Being in last place, the Sabres would have had waiver priority over every other team in the league, meaning Caggiula never even had a chance to go anywhere else.
The Arizona Coyotes have placed Drake Caggiula on waivers according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. He has played just once since March 27, receiving fewer than 10 minutes of ice time in Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.
It wasn’t so long ago that Caggiula was proving to be a capable bottom-six scoring threat, able to manufacture even-strength offense in limited minutes. Over the first four seasons of his career, he recorded 41 goals in 222 games, an 82-game pace of 15 despite averaging just 13 minutes of ice time a night. For a player that was seemingly never outworked and played with a physical edge, those numbers were more than good enough.
Unfortunately this season that offense has dried up completely, with Caggiula scoring just a single goal in 27 games for the Coyotes. His possession numbers have fallen off a cliff in the desert and despite still managing 49 hits on the year, hasn’t been the energy machine he had in years past.
Still, with an expiring $700K contract, perhaps someone feels that Caggiula can be a valuable depth add just ahead of the deadline. He does have 249 games of NHL experience, not something often found so cheaply on the waiver wire.
The Arizona Coyotes have added another college prospect, signing Ty Emberson to a three-year entry-level contract. The deal will kick in immediately, meaning Emberson is burning the first year for the 2020-21 season but is eligible for recall to the Coyotes right away. For now, he’ll report to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL. GM Bill Armstrong released a short statement on his newest player:
We are very pleased to sign Ty to an entry-level contract. Ty is a good two-way defenseman who can play in all situations. He is another good prospect for us, and we look forward to monitoring his development.
Emberson, 20, finished his junior season at the University of Wisconsin when the Badgers were knocked out of the NCAA tournament and like several of his teammates has decided to turn pro. Selected 73rd overall in 2018, the young defenseman had 13 points in 31 games this season, his best offensive performance in college. That was actually the most points by a Wisconsin defenseman as their forwards carried most of the offensive load, but production at that end of the rink isn’t really Emberson’s forte anyway.
Instead, he’s lauded for his mobility and physicality, ending rushes by aggressively closing on attackers. Add that kind of strong defensive presence and ability to skate the puck out of trouble to the leadership qualities that made Emberson the captain of the Badgers this season and you have a legitimate NHL prospect, even if his ceiling is somewhat limited. Though he is reporting to the Roadrunners, it shouldn’t be that long before Emberson is challenging for playing time with the Coyotes in a depth role.
Nathan MacKinnon’s comical misconduct on Wednesday night drew plenty of attention at the expense of Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland. Even in the midst of an 8-3 blowout in his favor, the Colorado Avalanche superstar lost his head in a scrum late in the third period, grappling with Garland and then picking up his opponent’s fallen helmet and bowling it back into his face. (video) While the helmet toss itself did not appear to do much damage (and has supplied many a laugh on April Fool’s Day), it was clearly a penalty. MacKinnon was handed a ten-minute misconduct and an ejection, but most expected that he could receive some supplemental discipline for the act. Well, the NHL Department of Player Safety has handed down their decision, but it isn’t what many – especially Coyotes fans – expected or hoped for. MacKinnon has been fined $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, but will not be suspended. This is the maximum fine for that particular penalty, but in the big picture means little to MacKinnon. There has been mounting scrutiny over the league’s handling of egregious penalties committed by its biggest stars and the recent leniency with MacKinnon and Connor McDavid will not help their cause.
- The NHLPA is adding a pair of noteworthy names to its staff. The Players’ Association announced today that former NHLers Ron Hainsey and Sean Bergenheim have been hired to executive positions. Hainsey, whose hiring seemingly marks his retirement after playing last season and speaking to team’s this off-season, has been named Assistant to the Executive Director for Special Projects and Development Initiatives. Bergenheim, who hung up his skates in 2018 and last played in the NHL in 2014-15, will hold the title of NHLPA European Affairs Representative. Bergenheim’s 506 career NHL games with four teams is impressive enough, but pales in comparison to Hainsey’s 1,132 career games with seven different teams. The NHLPA adds plenty of veteran hockey know-how with these additions, while both have held administrative roles in their careers as well. As for their specific duties with the Players’ Association, the press release describes each role as follows:
Bergenheim will work closely with NHL players from Europe, and on behalf of the NHLPA on matters relating to international competitions as well as professional hockey in Europe… Hainsey will work on a variety of matters related to the administration of the CBA, media and broadcast partners, and new opportunities for marketing and sponsorship, all with special emphasis on the enhancement of player communication within the NHLPA.
- For a daily dose of hockey history, it is worth noting that the last time the NHL had a trade deadline date in April was in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Unlike today, there were a number of April 1 trades that year as well. And it was the Calgary Flames who sadly held the title of April Fools that year. The team dealt star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for prospect forward Mark Cundari, the rights to goaltender Reto Berra, and a 2013 first-round pick. Bouwmeester would go on to play at a high level for seven more seasons with the Blues, going to the postseason six times and winning a Stanley Cup, before retiring this past off-season. As for the Flames’ return? Cundari played eight games over two seasons with Calgary and then never played in the NHL again. Berra played just half a season in Calgary, posting poor numbers, before being traded away for a second-round pick. That second-rounder became Hunter Smith, who played two AHL seasons and two ECHL seasons before retiring, having never seen NHL action. And the first-rounder from the initial deal? That was used to select Emile Poirier, who played just eight games over two seasons with Calgary and is currently playing in Europe. As they say, four strikes and you’re out. This is a trade that the Flames wish had only been an April Fool’s Day prank.
- Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has suffered a setback as he works his way back from an upper-body injury, notes Craig Morgan of AZ Coyotes Insider (Twitter link). The veteran was injured last Monday and while the hope was that he’d be back soon, he did not accompany Arizona on their nine-game road trip. Hjalmarsson has four assists in 29 games so far this season.
There has been plenty of roster movement between NHL teams and the taxi squad on a daily basis this season. Although some major names may be highlighted in separate articles, this is where you’ll find the majority of that shuffle news each day:
- The Ottawa Senators got the day started on the transaction wire with the swap of two forward prospects, partially reversing the moves they made yesterday. The team announced that Alex Formenton has been recalled from AHL Belleville and assigned to the taxi squad. In a corresponding move, Jack Kopacka has been reassigned from the squad to the minors. Formenton has played in two games with Ottawa so far this year, while Kopacka has spent time on the active roster but has yet to make his Senators debut.
- Veini Vehvilainen has finally joined the Toronto Maple Leafs after completing his mandating quarantine period. The young goaltender, acquired earlier this month from the Columbus Blue Jackets, has been assigned to the taxi squad, with prospect Ian Scott returning to the AHL Marlies. Vehvilainen’s arrival comes at a good time; starter Frederik Andersen remains sidelined and replacement Jack Campbell was given a rest day, so Vehvilainen and Michael Hutchinson were the only goaltenders in attendance at Leafs practice today. Should the Maple Leafs suffer another injury in net, Vehvilainen is now the next man up with the other three goalies already on the active roster.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins are set to wrap up a homestand on Monday before heading out on the road and are taking the opportunity to switch out their taxi squad personnel. Forwards Jordy Bellerive and Josh Currie have been reassigned to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Without announcing any corresponding move, this likely bodes well for the health of numerous Penguins forward currently sidelined by injury or on the COVID Protocol list.
- The Buffalo Sabres will give young goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and forward Brett Murray some play time, reassigning the duo from the practice squad to the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Luukkonen, considered the Sabres’ starter of the future, has played in eight AHL games so far this season but could get his first look with the top club before the end of the year. Murray is also looking to make his NHL debut; the 2016 fourth-round pick took a circuitous route to the pros but has nevertheless proven himself to be an effective player in the AHL and could soon get a chance in Buffalo.
- While the Maple Leafs have added former Blue Jacket Vehvilainen to their practice squad, Columbus has gone one step further today by recalling the other side of that recent trade, defenseman Mikko Lehtonen, to the active roster. Lehtonen, a prolific KHL offensive defenseman, recorded three points in nine games with Toronto before the trade, but the Blue Jackets hope that they can put him in a position to be more productive among their deep group of dependable defenders. Forward Stefan Matteau will be taking Lehtonen’s spot on the taxi squad, while promising young forward Liam Foudy will also join the squad after being promoted from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters.
- The Dallas Stars announced they have swapped a pair of forwards. The team has recalled Nicholas Caamano from the taxi squad and have assigned Justin Dowling to the taxi squad.
- The Florida Panthers announced they have moved forward Aleksi Heponiemi from the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL to the team’s taxi squad. The diminutive forward has four assists in three games for Syracuse and has an assist in three games for the Panthers this season.
- The Nashville Predators announced they have recalled goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo from the taxi squad under emergency circumstances as starter Juuse Saros is out and listed as day-to-day. Defenseman David Farrance, who just signed his entry-level deal, has been assigned to the taxi squad. The team also has sent defenseman Jeremy Davies to the taxi squad. Nashville also announced that the teams 2020 second-round pick, Luke Evangelista has been assigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL since the OHL still hasn’t begun their season.
- As they embark on a road trip, the Minnesota Wild have called in reinforcements up front in Luke Johnson. The veteran AHLer has been recalled to the taxi squad from AHL Iowa, where he has only played in two games this season versus six with Minnesota. A taxi squad fixture, Johnson has been a reliable depth piece for the Wild this year.
- The Arizona Coyotes announced they have assigned defenseman Jordan Gross to the taxi squad.
- The Department of Player Safety announced that Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz has been fined the maximum $5,000 for a boarding incident partway through the third period on Sharks defenseman Radim Simek. Meanwhile, Simek is questionable to play in tonight’s rematch as a result of the hit, notes Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News.
The Montreal Canadiens are sitting fourth in the North Division as they deal with a COVID shutdown through Sunday, but have played fewer games than all of their division foes. One might think that would push GM Marc Bergevin to add to his squad and try to climb even higher in the standings, but the Montreal executive once again downplayed the idea at media availability today.
As Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic tweets, Bergevin was asked multiple times about his trade deadline plans and repeatedly explained that no one should expect much from the Canadiens because of difficult cap restraints. Of course, no matter how many times he says it, Bergevin isn’t convincing some of his peers. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote earlier this week that some other managers around the league believe the Canadiens made a push for Mattias Ekholm. Bergevin’s availability was before the report came out about Canada potentially reducing the quarantine for NHL players to seven days, though it is unclear if that would have any effect on Montreal’s deadline plans.
- If you thought Tyler Pitlick could make for a good depth addition at the deadline, perhaps not. The Arizona Coyotes forward is out “week-to-week” with a lower-body injury. The 29-year-old Pitlick has 11 points in 33 games this season for the Coyotes and is signed through next season at a $1.75MM cap hit. He had been seeing more and more ice time recently, including a whopping 24:08 earlier this month in an overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
- The New York Rangers have several wingers at the NHL level that were selected at the very top of the draft, but perhaps it is one that went 174th overall that fans should be excited about. Morgan Barron scored another two goals today for the Hartford Wolf Pack and now has seven in his first 11 professional games. The sixth-round pick was a star at Cornell University, becoming a Hobey Baker finalist and scoring 32 points in 29 games during the 2019-20 campaign. Standing 6’4″ with enviable skill, he’s turning heads at the minor league level already.
- The Florida Panthers have assigned Noah Juulsen to the AHL on a conditioning loan as he works his way back from injured reserve. Juulsen hasn’t played since February 25 and has just four appearances on the season. The 23-year-old has been injured basically his entire professional career, never playing more than 54 games in a season at all levels combined. The Panthers have also recalled Eetu Luostarinen from the taxi squad, sending Brett Connolly back to it in his place.