NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2018

by | Jun 28, 2018 | News, NHL | 17 comments

Reviewing a busy day for the Penguins, an update on Logan Couture, the latest signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: The PIttsburgh Penguins yesterday traded winger Conor Sheary and defenseman Matt Hunwick to the Buffalo Sabres for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019.

Defenseman Jack Johnson could be signing a five-year deal as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 1. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move was a straightforward salary dump as the Penguins shed over $5.2 million in salary-cap payroll. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Sources say Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson intends to sign a five-year contract with the Penguins when the unrestricted free agent market opens on July 1. The annual average value is expected to  be between $3 million to $3.5 million. The Penguins also yesterday announced they re-signed center Riley Sheahan to a one-year, $2.1-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sheary-Hunwick deal was seen as Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford creating room to bring in a defenseman and a winger. It appears he’s accomplished the first if Johnson indeed signs on July 1.

I like the cap hit for Johnson but not the term, as five years is a long time to invest in a 31-year-old defenseman who lost the confidence of his coach in Columbus. Still, the Penguins have a reputation for successful reclamation projects with blueliners (Justin Schultz, Jamie Oleksiak, Trevor Daley) and could strike gold again with Johnson.

The Penguins had declined to make a qualifying offer to Sheahan, thus avoiding arbitration and getting him signed to an agreeable short-term deal. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: cites reports by TSN claiming the San Jose Sharks are expected to announce an eight-year contract extension this weekend for forward Logan Couture, who has one year remaining on his current contract. Financial terms weren’t reveal. Couture, 29, is currently earning an annual average value of $6 million on his current deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Sharks intend to re-sign Couture, who’s one of their best players. An eight-year deal will take him up to age 38, which is a long time to invest in a player whose best seasons will soon be behind him. It’s safe to assume his new deal could be worth at least as much annually as his current one, though I daresay it’ll probably be higher. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a two-year, $2.75-million contract. He’ll earn $1.25 million in 2018-19 and $1.5 million the following season. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals re-signed winger Devante Smith-Pelly to a one-year, $1-million contract

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks traded goaltender Jean-Francois Berube to the Columbus Blue Jackets for winger Jordan Schroeder. 

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday completed “a $135 million financing of a “six year senior term debt with a syndicate of financial institutions.” It’s a move that could indicate team owner Eugene Melnyk has no intention of selling the club. 

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Senators assistant general manager Randy Lee “has been charged with a new count of harassment stemming from his May 31 arrest in Buffalo after a hotel shuttle driver complained of unwanted sexual advances.”



  1. Welcome to COlumbus, Mr. Berube. Oh, btw, you’re the starter in Cleveland, now. Wherever Johnson winds up, it’s addition by subtraction for the Jackets. For all the hype, he’s never been very good at defense and makes all kinds of mental mistakes.

    • Paul

      Looks like Pens are getting a more expensive version of their press box sitter (now in Buff)

      IMO JJ in Pitt will hurt; JJ at $3.25 for 5 …. could be crippling

      Fingers crossed for a massive bounce back and Gonchar super magic

    • For all the good moves Rutherford has made with the Penguins this Jack Johnson business will end up being his most polarizing. 20 games in when the team sees what a liability he is they are going to have no option but to trot he and his contract out there every night. I don’t know why the Penguins insist on having one garbage dman on the roster every year but it’s getting old. Give me DeMelo, Claesson, Davidson, or Petrovic at 2 mill per over JJ any day. All 4 have much more upside and are available. Oh and this guy makes some good points too. https://youtu.be/mPK5lGSia-M

      • I can’t wait to see what happens. This will be a real test of the advanced analytics crowd. If Johnson does OK, they are going to look like fools.

      • Dee

        Chrisms is going to kill me … but Pens possibly are aquiring TWSNBN2

        I really hope both you and I are wrong and JJ has a big rebound …. Gonchar the Guru must work wonders

      • hunw…




      • most people who are lambasting the trade have watch JJ very little and only going with whats on paper. I can’t get over the potential term to JJ who is objectively a reclamation project but I like the addition for 2018. several factors including expansion, new CBA, etc factor in too. the fancy stats people shat on the hainsey acquisition, the lovejoy acquisition, even the phil acquisition. I’ll withhold judgment myself.

      • Look TorteRELLA ruined him. He had one bad year last year he will bounce back. With Gonchar tutoring him like he did Schultz and company he will be fine..

      • I never go by what is on paper. The fancy stats may make up about 5% of my overall opinion of a player. I don’t watch every Columbus game but I have seen enough to have developed my own opinion. 10 years ago he could get away with certain things because he was athletic and had a lot of offensive upside. Those days are gone. He’s 31 and will be 32 soon that’s too old to learn new tricks. He was a healthy scratch for the Bluejackets in the entire 18 playoffs. He lost his job to Ian Cole who came in and stole Savard, Johnson’s partner, and Savards play improved markedly and immediately. I’m not giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. Last summer I had a meltdown because of Niemi and Hunwick, I said those 2 will cost the Penguins games and they did. Getting stuck with this joker for 5 years is obscene. He did not have 1 bad year, he has been in a free fall for 4 years now and he was a mediocre player to begin with. I would much rather sign a DeMelo, Petrovic, or Claesson at a lower cap hit. Those players are still young and can improve. You absolutely cannot compare Shultz to Johnson. Shultz was still a very young player who had lost his way but had not hit his ceiling yet. Johnson is on the down slide of his career. He is not going to get better. He is not going to learn anything. He is garbage that one of the team’s biggest rivals can’t wait to throw in the dumpster. If Rutherford had not lost his mind when it comes to this player Johnson’s best shot at even staying in the NHL is a PTO. Rutherford made a mistake last year with Hunwick and it cost him a good depth forward with skill that put up 0.5 ppg at 5v5. What is the cost to get out of JJ? Guentzel? If Oleksiak chooses to not re-sign or th arbitrator awards him too high of a salary is anyone ok with that? There are better, cheaper options than Jack f’ing Johnson out there. I’ll take Dion Phaneuf with an amputated foot of Johnson any day. This is not a move a team looking to win a championship makes.

      • Chrisms, I’m a Blue Jackets fan. I’ve seen far too much of JJ. The Jackets should have traded him two years ago, when there were GMs other than Rutherford who thought he is good. Now that Kuvalchuck is back, he is the only active player with a worse +/- than JJ. Yes, +/- is a flawed stat, but for a defenseman to have the second highest career – says something about his defense.

  2. Lyle,

    Thanks for the explanation re not qualifying Sheehan then signing him… I couldn’t figure it out.

    I didn’t realize that Arb could force them to longer terms

    Is that the same reason re Wash/DSP?


    • “I didn’t realize that Arb could force them to longer terms”

      It doesn’t.

      • Capitals also wanted to avoid arbitration with Smith-Pelly. And as Gingold points out, arbitration doesn’t force teams to accept longer terms. The most a player can get in arbitration is a two-year term. The teams sometimes do this in hopes of getting better financial terms.

      • Then why did they pass on qualifying and then sign him

        Per above

        “The Penguins had declined to make a qualifying offer to Sheahan, thus avoiding arbitration and getting him signed to an agreeable short-term deal. ”

        What am I missing?

      • They didn’t want to risk going to arbitration and potentially pay him more. They also wanted to avoid the possibility of contract discussions stretching through the summer. Rutherford wanted this sorted quickly because, as we saw yesterday, he’s juggling his cap space to make room for other additions.

  3. Thanks Lyle

  4. I don’t care for Rutherford…. but I hope Johnson comes in and helps us to a 3rd cup in four years!!@!!