NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2019

The latest on Elias Pettersson, T.J. Oshie, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson said he’s worked on improving his conditioning and the strength and power in his legs this summer. The 2019 Calder Trophy winner admitted he found games tougher late last season and hopes to avoid hitting that wall again in his sophomore campaign.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson is looking forward to his sophomore NHL campaign (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson dazzled through most of 2018-19 but his production notably declined down the stretch. With improved strength and conditioning, the 20-year-old center should exceed last season’s 28-goal, 66-point performance. 

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Canucks, they officially announced yesterday the three-year contract extension for general manager Jim Benning.

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie said he’s recovered from the broken collarbone that ended his 2018-19 campaign. He’s put more emphasis on building up the muscles in his shoulder and upper body.

THE ATHLETIC: The Boston Bruins have opened contract extension talks with head coach Bruce Cassidy. Over the past three seasons, he’s sported a record of 117-52-22.

The Bruins reached the playoffs in each of those seasons and reached the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Cassidy was a finalist last season for the Jack Adams Award.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM:  The Carolina Hurricanes unveiled their new road jerseys for 2019-20.


EAGLETRIBUNE.COM: Former hockey writer Russ Conway died at age 70 of coronary disease. In 1992, Conway was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his stories that exposed corruption at the highest levels of professional hockey.

His work led to the downfall and imprisonment of former NHL Players Association director Alan Eagleson. In 1999, Conway was “awarded the prestigious Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for journalists in the Hockey Hall of Fame.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Conway’s family, friends and colleagues. His book about Eagleson’s activities, Game Misconduct, stoked my interest in the often contentious labor relations between the league and the NHLPA.

During the 2004-05 lockout, I briefly corresponded with Conway. I appreciated his advice, as well as his willingness to help an aspiring hockey writer. 

NHL Most Important Players: St. Louis Blues


NHL Most Important Players: Dallas Stars


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2019

Updates on Nicklas Backstrom, Matthew Tkachuk, Brock Boeser plus the latest contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Nicklas Backstrom hopes to remain with the Washington Capitals for the rest of his career. The 31-year-old center is entering his contract year and spent his entire NHL career to date with the Capitals. He and goaltender Braden Holtby are eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer but the Capitals have limited salary-cap space for 2020-21.

Nicklas Backstrom hopes to finish his career with the Washington Capitals (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $62 million invested in 15 players for ’20-’21. Unless they shed salary they cannot afford to re-sign both players. It’s assumed they’ll retain Backstrom and let Holtby depart via free agency next July.

SPORTSNET: Player agent Don Meehan, who represents Matthew Tkachuk, said they made what they consider a fair offer to the Calgary Flames in early June. He said negotiations are ongoing and he doesn’t anticipate a contract standoff dragging on into the regular season. The Flames have around $7.7 million in salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will likely cost more than $7.7 million annually to re-sign Tkachuk. Recent speculation suggests the Flames could attempt to trade winger Michael Frolik ($4.3 million) to free up sufficient cap room.

SPORTSNET’s Iain MacIntyre tweets Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning is expected to speak to the media today about his new three-year contract extension. He’ll have nothing new to report on the contract talks with Brock Boeser. “Everyone in NHL seems to be waiting for someone else’s RFA to set market,” writes MacIntyre.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Boeser camp seeks a multi-year deal worth $7 million annually.

THE ATHLETIC’s Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks and Brendan Perlini continue to discuss a new contract. Powers cites a source claiming both sides are hopeful of getting a deal done “over the next week or so.”

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed winger Valeri Nichushkin to a one-year, one-way contract worth $850K. General manager Joe Sakic considers Nichushkin a big, young winger who will add depth to the Avs roster. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former Dallas Stars first-round draft pick, Nichushkin struggled to reach expectations following a serious knee injury in his sophomore season. This could be his last chance to continue his NHL career.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders re-signed forwards Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle. Ho-Sang received a one-year, two-way contract while Dal Colle got a two-year, one-way deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of last chances, this is likely Ho-Sang’s final opportunity to establish himself as an NHL regular with the Islanders.

NHL Most Important Players: Detroit Red Wings


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2019

An update on the Wild’s GM search, the latest on Joe Thornton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked if it’s down to Bill Guerin or Tom Fitzgerald as general manager of the Minnesota Wild. Guerin is an assistant general manager with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Fitzgerald an assistant GM with the New Jersey Devils.

Fitzgerald interviewed for the job last year before the Wild hired Paul Fenton. Since Fenton’s firing, Russo reports Fitzgerald had just a brief conversation with Wild owner Craig Leipold.

Russo considers Guerin the front-runner for the job. However, he doesn’t rule out Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby and former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall as potential contenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication as to when the Wild will hire Fenton’s replacement, though I suspect it could come by early September at the latest. They’ll want the new GM in place to fully assess the roster throughout training camp and preseason play.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks star Logan Couture believes long-time teammate Joe Thornton will return for another season. “I talked to Joe a month ago and asked him what was going on and he said, ‘Oh don’t worry about it,’ so I took that as he’ll be back,” Couture told NHL.com.

San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture is confident teammate Joe Thornton (pictured) will return this season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton will be back with the Sharks this season, likely on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.

NBC SPORTS: New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier could face pressure to improve entering the final season of his three-year entry-level contract. After a promising 52-point debut in 82 games in 2017-18, injury limited Hischier to 47 points in 69 games last season. The good news was his points-per-game rose in ’18-’19 compared to his rookie year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Hischier will have his best season yet. Had he not missed 13 games last season he would’ve exceeded his rookie numbers. A healthier campaign will lead to healthier numbers.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres legends Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert approve of the club returning to its primary color of royal blue for their 50th anniversary. That was the color the Sabres sported from 1970 to 1996.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Boston Bruins signed former Oilers defenseman Alex Petrovic to a professional tryout offer.