NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020
Contract talks break off between the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo, the Wild won’t re-sign captain Mikko Koivu, an update on Steven Stamkos, the Penguins re-sign Jared McCann, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported contract talks between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo have broken off, with the Blues advising the 30-year-old defenseman to pursue unrestricted free agency.
Pietrangelo told Dreger contract discussions haven’t gone the way both sides were hoping. Unless something changes, it’s in the best interest of both sides for him to test the market.
Dreger colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if the Blues would be willing to trade Pietrangelo’s rights before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9. “If so, what is the draft pick that gets it done?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports sources said a recent Blues offer to Pietrangelo had an annual average value of $7.7 million, though it’s now believed to be $8 million. He’s willing to accept less than market value (believed to be $9 million AAV) but is concerned over the structure of the deal, such as term, no-movement clause, and a signing bonus in the final year of a long-term deal, guaranteeing Pietrangelo a cash payout in the event of a buyout.
While there’s still time for the two sides to work things out, it appears the Blues are willing to let Pietrangelo walk if he gets a better offer via the open market. The door could be open to both sides resuming discussions if he doesn’t find anything to his liking. Nevertheless, if I were a Blues fan, I’d be resigned to Pietrangelo playing with another club next season.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild won’t be re-signing long-time captain Mikko Koivu. The 37-year-old center spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Wild. It’s unclear if he’ll sign with another club. He’s previously indicated he’s not interested in playing for a different NHL team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears retirement beckons for Koivu. The wear and tear of his long career caught up with him over the last two seasons as he slid down the Wild depth chart, skating on the fourth line. I think we expected the Wild would part ways with Koivu, but it’s still a little sad to see the end of an era and the potential end of a long, productive career.
TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains hopeful Steven Stamkos could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Lightning captain won’t suit up for Game 1 tonight against the Dallas Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos has been sidelined with what’s believed to be a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training in July. He’s resumed skating but there’s still no timetable for his return.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed center Jared McCann to a two-year contract worth an annual average salary of $2.94 million. McCann was the subject of recent trade rumors but this new contract turns down the heat on that speculation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann could still be traded now that he’s carrying an affordable contract for the next two years. Nevertheless, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford re-signed him with the intent of keeping him in the lineup for at least next season.
TSN: The Washington Capitals re-signed winger Daniel Sprong to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $725K.
Cap Friendly published a list of upcoming important dates on the NHL calendar. Among the noteworthy timings:
The first contract buyout period begins on Sept. 25.
The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is Oct. 5.
The 2020 NHL Draft will be held Oct. 6 and 7, with free agency beginning at noon ET on Oct. 9.
No-movement and no-trade clauses for 2020-21 also take effect at noon ET on Oct. 9.
The deadline for player-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Oct. 10.
The second club-elected arbitration window begins 5:01 pm ET on Oct. 10 to 5 pm ET on Oct. 11.
Arbitration hearings will be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 8.
Nov. 12 is the last day for teams to exercise their walkway right and the last day for the second buyout period.
TSN: Rick Westhead cited executives from several NHL sponsors telling him talks for 2020-21 deals presuppose teams will at least play in bubbles of some sort. The NHL and NHLPA hope to avoid this but cross-border travel and crowds at indoor arenas are unlikely for many months. Westhead said NHL team sponsorships in many markets hang in the balance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Money will ultimately decide when the NHL returns to action next season and in what form. The league and the PA might not have much choice but to return under some sort of bubble.
There’s been talk of seeing purely divisional play, or having all the Canadian teams play each other while the American-based clubs would face each other based on regions, followed by more bubble hockey for the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. The league could be closely watching how MLB and the NFL have handled travel during their respective schedules.