NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2018
Predators re-sign Ryan Ellis, Oilers’ Andrej Sekera sidelined indefinitely plus the latest on Duncan Keith, Jake Allen, Zach Werenski and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators yesterday announced they re-signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year, $50-million contract extension. Ellis was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis is in the final year of a five-year, $12.5-million deal with an annual average value of $2.5 million. His new cap hit is a hefty $6.25 million. Ellis probably would’ve received over $7 million annually on the open market next summer but it appears he’s left some money on the table to get that extra year with the Predators.
A skilled two-way defenseman, Ellis is a key part of the Predators’ blueline corps, which also consists of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm. Predators general manager David Poile has invested considerable time, money and assets building up his defense and obviously wants to keep that top-four together as long as possible. They’ll be vital for the Predators’ ongoing pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
The Ellis deal also means captain Josi will also be in line for a substantial raise from the Preds as early as next summer, when he’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera is sidelined indefinitely following surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon suffered during a recent training session. Sekera played only 36 games last season following a serious knee injury during the 2017 playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Sekera again for another lengthy period to start the season is a serious setback for their blueline. Prior to his knee injury he filled a top-pairing role but struggled after returning to action last season. At his age (32), there’s concern this could end his career. It could provide an opportunity for a promising prospect such as Evan Bouchard to crack the roster. It could also send them into the trade or free-agent market for help.
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Kuc believes it’s not time to write off Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith after one disappointing season. Though the 35-year-old’s offensive numbers were down, his Corsi-For (51.8 percent), shot attempts (347), hits (41) and blocked shots (165) numbers were better than the previous season’s. Former Blackhawks defenseman Sean O’Donnell believes Keith will do whatever it takes this summer to remain an elite player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A bounce-back performance by Keith could be among the key factors that helps the Blackhawks return to playoff contender status in 2018-19.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Despite a busy offseason for the St. Louis Blues, their success next season could rest upon the play of goaltender Jake Allen. Since taking over the starter’s role in 2016-17, the 28-year-old has struggled with consistency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another shaky effort by Allen could force GM Doug Armstrong into the trade market for help between the pipes before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. This could be a make-or-break campaign for the Fredericton NB native.
NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski has returned to skating following shoulder surgery on May 3. He’s hoping to be in the lineup for the Jackets’ season-opener on Oct. 4 in Detroit against the Red Wings but won’t rush the recovery timeframe of five-to-six months.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Steven Santini to a three-year, $4.25-million contract.
THE SCORE: Free-agent forward Mark Letestu has accepted a professional tryout offer with the Florida Panthers.