NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2018

by | Jun 24, 2018 | News, NHL | 5 comments

Kings sign Kovalchuk, Coyotes agree to new deal with Hjalmarsson, Avalanche sign Grubauer and place Orpik on waivers. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: The Los Angeles Kings yesterday agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent left wing Ilya Kovalchuk on a three-year, $18.75-million contract. The annual average value is $6.25 million. The deal becomes official on July 1.

Ilya Kovalchuk is crowned a King, signing a three-year contract with Los Angeles on Saturday (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Click here for my analysis of the Kovalchuk signing and of yesterday’s five-player trade that saw the Calgary Flames trade Dougie Hamilton to the Carolina Hurricanes. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes reportedly have an agreement in principle with defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson on a contract extension. Terms have yet to be revealed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the 31-year-old Hjalmarsson has a year remaining on his current contract with an annual average value of $4.1 million. Perhaps it’s a four-year deal worth between $4 million and $5 million. The Coyotes also have a verbal agreement with blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson on a long-term extension, which may have influenced Hjalmarsson’s decision to stay. 

TSN: The Colorado Avalanche signed goaltender Philipp Grubauer to a three-year contract reportedly worth $10 million. The annual average value is $3.33 million, though the actual salary breaks down as $3.35 million in 2018-19, $3.9 million in 2019-20 and $2.75 million in 2020-21.

The Avalanche also yesterday placed defenseman Brooks Orpik on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out the final season of his contract. He and Grubauer were acquired on Friday from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable contract for Grubauer, who gets an opportunity to prove himself as a starting goaltender with the Avalanche. The length of the deal suggests next season could also be the last for oft-injured starter Semyon Varlamov, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

As for Orpik, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is reportedly willing to bring him back on a reasonable deal. This means it’s not cap circumvention to sign a player you just dealt to a team that subsequently buys out his contract. If this loophole ends up closed in the next round of collective bargaining between the NHL and NHLPA, we can call it “The Orpik Rule.”

WASHINGTON POST: Speaking of the Capitals, they made a contract offer yesterday to pending UFA defenseman Michal Kempny and continue to negotiate with free-agent blueliner John Carlson.

Isabelle Khurshudyan also reports, “MacLellan has said the Capitals’ priorities are Carlson, Kempny and restricted free agent winger Tom Wilson, and then the team will “make some decisions after that.” Other notable pending free agents include center Jay Beagle (unrestricted) and right wing Devante Smith-Pelly (restricted).”

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee has extended contract offers to pending UFA forwards James Neal, David Perron and Ryan Reaves and defenseman Luca Sbisa.



  1. The “Orpik Loophole”… I like that name you’ve given it

    I had no idea this was possible …. quite literally trading with money basically changing hands …. just not physically…. wow

    Has this ever happened before?

    Will this start any other Orpik Loophole moves?

    • Don’t think the NHL should do anything about it. The guy is unconditional waivers. Any other team can take him on his current contract. If nobody wants him – then he has his contract terminated and becomes no different from any other free agent. No different in spirit in trading broken body contracts – Pronger, etc Nothing to fix.

  2. Yeah, maybe there should be some kind of compensation rule, like they have for rfa signings. Same for dealing guys on expiring contracts at deadline. NFL has compensatory picks awarded to teams that lose free agents. League gives them extra pick. Usually a 3rd or 4th rounder

  3. Do not want Kovalchuk at $6.25M

    • Dustin Brown 2.0? Yeah, he had a nice bounce-back year, but the previous 4 seasons combined he totaled 51 goals – at $5,875,000 per and he’ll be 34 in November with that contract not running out until 2021-22. Now they could have two on that boat. That’s a real gamble by Blake.