NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 16, 2019
The latest on Mikko Rantanen, William Nylander, Sebastian Aho, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic remains hopeful of getting Mikko Rantanen re-signed before training camp opens on Sept. 11. The 22-year-old winger is among a half-dozen high-end restricted free agents coming off their entry-level contracts.
Sakic said he recently called Rantanen in Finland to discuss the terms of a new contract and how his summer was going. The two sides are interested in a long-term deal taking the winger up to unrestricted free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t sound like there have been any serious contract discussions between Sakic and Rantanen. I expect that will change as the start of training camp approaches. With over $16 million in salary-cap space, the Avs can afford a big raise for Rantanen, perhaps something between $8.5 – $9.5 million per season.
SPORTSNET: William Nylander is looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 22-year-old winger missed the opening two months of the season to a contract dispute and finished with just 27 points in 54 games. “Now I’m ready to dominate this year,” said Nylander.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering the Leafs are paying Nylander over $6.9 million annually through 2023-24 (stick tap to Cap Friendly), he’d better dominate this season. Another sub-par effort like last season’s and the calls from his critics in Leafs Nation will only get louder.
Missing training camp and the first 28 games of the regular season hurt Nylander’s performance. I expect we’ll see at least a return to form this season.
NHL.COM: Sebastian Aho has no regrets about signing an offer sheet with the Montreal Canadiens but insists he’s happy the Carolina Hurricanes matched it. “I did sign an offer sheet with Montreal and I’m thankful for them to offer me that contract, but I’m happy to be in Carolina,” Aho said it wasn’t an easy decision at the time, claiming he had less than a day to think about it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aho’s name surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to July 1. Several reports claimed Hurricanes management was playing hardball with the young center’s representatives, sparking rumblings he could become an offer-sheet target. Aho might be happy with his new contract and to stay in Carolina, but I can’t help wondering if team owner Tom Dundon might hold it against the youngster down the road.
COURIER POST ONLINE: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said he was dealing with a nagging left-leg injury that bothered him throughout last season. He feels he’s now fully recovered. Gostisbehere’s point total tumbled from 65 points in 2017-18 to just 37 last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gostisbehere is fully recovered we should see a significant rise in his stats this season.
THE ATHLETIC: Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin could be emerging as the front-runner for the Minnesota Wild’s GM job. Sources claim Guerin recently had a second interview with the Wild. Former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall and New Jersey Devils assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald are also believed among the candidates.
NHL.COM: Speaking of the Wild, Kevin Fiala is waiting for the Wild to find a new GM before continuing contract discussions. The RFA was in negotiations with Paul Fenton before his firing.
CBS SPORTS: Ivan Barbashev could play in Europe this season if there’s no new deal soon with the St. Louis Blues.