NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumor Mill – September 28, 2020
The latest on the Lightning and Stars in the NHL morning coffee headlines plus updates on Alex Pietrangelo and Braden Holtby and the latest Penguins and Senators speculation in the NHL rumor mill.
MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES
TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said team captain Steven Stamkos will not return for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final. Stamkos returned to the Lightning lineup in Game 3 for the first time since February, scoring a goal but playing only five shifts in the first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. Stamkos was in obvious discomfort following his final shift in Game 3. It’s believed he’s still dealing with an issue tied to the core muscle surgery he underwent in March.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness yesterday said forwards Roope Hintz, Blake Comeau and Radek Faksa, defenseman Stephen Johns and goaltender Ben Bishop remain unfit to play.
MLIVE.COM’s Ansar Khan reported Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman confirmed unrestricted free agent defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley won’t be re-signed.
THE SCORE: Forward Chris Stewart announced his retirement after 11 NHL seasons. He played 668 career games with the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, and Philadelphia Flyers, finishing with 160 goals and 322 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Stewart in his future endeavors.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen cites multiple reports claiming the Golden Knights will aggressively pursue Alex Pietrangelo if the St. Louis Blues defenseman becomes an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. The Blues are reportedly offering an eight-year deal worth $8-million annually but Pietrangelo is said to be seeking an annual average value of over $9 million.
The Golden Knights have limited salary-cap space but Schoen believes they would “perform the necessary salary-cap gymnastics” to fit in Pietrangelo’s new contract. He said team owner Bill Foley’s financial clout and dogged pursuit of the Stanley Cup makes the Golden Knights among the few clubs willing to spend to the $81.5 million salary cap.
Schoen said the Golden Knights aren’t expected to be active in free agency outside of Pietrangelo. However, he suggested several other blueline targets, such as Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, Calgary’s Travis Hamonic and Carolina’s Sami Vatanen. If they seek depth elsewhere in the roster, New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast and Calgary’s Cam Talbot are among his proposed options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Golden Knights have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players, with goaltender Robin Lehner their most notable free agent. Those “gymnastics” to free up cap space for Pietrangelo could include trading away players under contract for next season, contract buyouts, or acquiring a player on permanent long-term injury reserve. The Golden Knights are also allowed to spend over the cap by 10 percent in the offseason but must become cap compliant when the regular season begins.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Tarik El-Bashir lists the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks among possible destinations for free-agent goalie Braden Holtby. He also included returning with the Washington Capitals if Holtby can’t find better offers in the free-agent market but acknowledged the math doesn’t appear to work there. El-Bashir reports the Capitals asked Holtby’s camp if there was interest in a one-year contract but there wasn’t.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames, Hurricanes, Oilers and Sharks all need a reliable starting goalie. The question is, how much are they willing to pay to get one via free agency. Holtby is coming off a five-year contract worth an annual average value of $6.1 million and likely unwilling to accept a similar or lesser cap hit on his next deal. The Flames, Oilers and Sharks have the most cap space but could be reluctant to invest too much in a goalie during the current economic situation.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe believes the Pittsburgh Penguins recent blueline addition of Mike Matheson could mean veteran Jack Johnson won’t be in the lineup and might not be back at all. With three left-side defensemen, Johnson will either have to play on the right side, become a healthy scratch or get traded. Yohe feels the Penguins will try to move Johnson to a team trying to reach the salary-cap floor, or perhaps package him in a deal involving goalie Matt Murray.
Regarding recent rumors tying the Penguins to Vancouver Canucks rearguard Chris Tanev, Yohe points out they lack the cap space to sign him now. He also said the front office is looking forward to seeing Kris Letang’s performance under his second stint playing for defense coach Todd Reirden.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Johnson won’t be easy because of the steady deterioration of his play, but we cannot outright dismiss the possibility, slim as it may seem. He lacks no-trade protection and carries a reasonable cap hit ($3.25 million) through 2022-23. Those two years beyond next season, however, are a sticking point.
Perhaps a budget club would acquire him and buy him out if he’s part of Yohe’s suggested package deal. Cap Friendly indicates the cap hit would be $1.16 million for the next two seasons, rising to over $1.9 million in 2022-23, then falling to over $916K for the final three years.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects more changes for the Senators after they bought out winger Bobby Ryan’s contract last week. Approaching next week’s NHL draft with three first-round picks, GM Pierre Dorion is reportedly listening to all offers as he looks to bolster his roster.
Anders Nilsson’s concussion could push the Senators into the market for a goaltender. Garrioch claims Carolina’s Petr Mrazek or James Reimer, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper are available. He said they’re not seeking a long-term solution because they’ve got six goalies in their system.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes won’t move one of their goalies unless they pursue an upgrade. The same goes for the Leafs with Andersen. Murray is on the block and the Penguins could try to pry away one of the Sens’ first-round picks for him. A first-rounder could also be part of the asking price for Kuemper.