NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2018
Jets re-sign Blake Wheeler plus updates on Zdeno Chara, Matt Duchene, Josh Morrissey and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday re-signed captain Blake Wheeler to a five-year, $41.25-million contract extension. The new deal, worth an annual average value of $8.25 million and also contains a full no-movement clause in its first three seasons, goes into effect next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler, who tallied a career-high 91 points last season, is the Jets highest-paid player, though he’ll likely cede that honor to Patrik Laine next summer. Keeping Wheeler out of next summer’s UFA market was expensive but that’s the price the Jets had to pay to keep him in the fold.
After years in sometimes painful roster building the Jets are now Stanley Cup contenders. Wheeler was a big part of that and no one can blame him for wanting to stay put, even if he might’ve received more money on perhaps a longer deal on the open market.
Wheeler, however, will turn 33 during the first year of that new contract. It’s unlikely the Jets will get full value for their money as his play inevitably declines. Still, if he can help keep them in Cup contention for the first two or three years of the deal they’ll consider it money well spent.
The biggest problem, however, is how much this contributes to their coming salary-cap crunch next summer. I’ll have more on that later this morning in the Rumors section.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Speaking of the Jets, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff expects to have restricted free agent defenseman Josh Morrissey under contract by the time training camp opens next week. Sources say the Morrissey camp prefers a short-term deal while the Jets are pushing for a loftier term. That might result in Morrissey getting something between $5-$6 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morrissey’s representatives prefer a short-term deal because they feel their client could be in line for a significant raise on his next contract. The Jets prefer a long-term deal for what could ultimately prove to be a bargain over the long term should Morrissey reach his full potential.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara won’t be joining his teammates during their upcoming trip to China so as to avoid the rigors of 12-hour flights on his 41-year-old body. Other Bruins staying in Boston include “Patrice Bergeron and Noel Acciari (both recovering from postseason groin surgeries), and defenseman Torey Krug (broken left ankle in May). Sean Kuraly and Danton Heinen, who served ambassadorships to China in July, will not return for a second trip.”
The Bruins have also invited defenseman Mark Fayne to training camp on a tryout basis.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Matt Duchene said he’s unconcerned over his contract status entering this season, focusing instead on helping the club turns things around following a disappointing 2017-18. Duchene is a year away from unrestricted free agent status and remains open to re-signing with the club. He adds he’s spoken with general manager Pierre Dorion several times this summer regarding the direction of the team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Duchene’s sincerity about staying in Ottawa but let’s see if he still feels the same way if the Senators have another lousy season.
Speaking of the Senators, they’ve brought back Chris Kelly as a development coach. He spent eight of his 14 NHL seasons with the Senators before retiring at the end of last season.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres forward Sam Reinhart said he’s focused on the upcoming season and not his contract. The restricted free agent is leaving negotiations with the club up to his agent as he prepares for training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with Morrissey, the holdup could be over the length of Reinhart’s new contract.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers will honor former Blueshirt Vic Hadfield by raising his No. 11 to the rafters of Madison Square Garden in a pre-game ceremony on Dec. 2. He spent 13 of his 16 NHL seasons with the Rangers from 1961-62 to 1973-74, rallying 20-or-more goals seven times, including a 50-goal campaign in 1971-72. The Rangers also announced they’ve hired Steve Konowalchuk as an amateur scout working primarily in the WHL.
TSN: Free-agent goaltender Jeff Glass will join the Calgary Flames on a professional tryout offer.
SPORTSNET’s Eric Francis reports Zach O’Brien and Justin Falk will also have tryouts with the Flames.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The keepers of the Stanley Cup are now politely requesting the Washington Capitals no longer do “keg stands” with the trophy. While the Capitals have treated the Cup with respect and reverence, there is concern that a player might inadvertently get hurt or the trophy could get damaged.