NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 21, 2020

by | Oct 21, 2020 | News, NHL | 49 comments

The Blackhawks begin rebuilding, a look ahead to next season, the latest notable contracts signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: In an open letter to their fans, the Blackhawks announced their commitment to “developing young players and rebuilding our roster”. The letter also stated the club needs “a stockpile of emerging talent to complement our top players” in order to return to Stanley Cup contention.

Chicago Blackhawks want core veterans like Jonathan Toews to be part of their rebuild. (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks are finally admitting what’s been apparent for some time. Years of salary-cap constraints led to cost-cutting moves that steadily eroded their depth of talent, leaving them with no choice but to restock with younger, affordable players.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports they want veterans such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith to be part of the rebuild. He said general manager Stan Bowman spoke with those players about their role in the club’s direction. “Now, we’ll see how those players react,” said LeBrun.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the joint NHL-NHLPA committee tasked with return-to-play for next season haven’t met yet but it eventually will as the league conducts internal intel among its clubs. Ten players are expected to be on this committee.

LeBrun reports the NHL general managers will be meeting on Friday. There will be discussion over when the American Hockey League will begin play as some GMs want to get their prospects playing as soon as possible. He also indicated the league and the PA have tentatively agreed that the seven clubs that didn’t qualify for return-to-play this summer will have extra training-camp time ahead of the normal training-camp period for next season.

Frank Seravalli reported NHL players are wondering if salaries will be prorated in case of a shortened season. For now, there’s been little discussion on that issue. The players are expected to receive all but 30 percent of their salaries next season, with 20 percent deducted for escrow and 10 percent deferred.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Player agent Allan Walsh believes it’s safe to assume the NHL won’t return to action on the tentative target date of Jan. 1. He believes it could be Jan. 15 or pushed to Feb. 1.

Walsh also speculated there could be multiple bubble cities with two in Canada and four in the United States where teams would travel to those cities for two weeks to play several games, return home for a week, and then travel to another bubble city for two weeks. He doesn’t expect to see any clarity on next season until mid-December.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything seems to be in the preparatory stage for the actual meetings between the league and the PA. Holding a regular season during the pandemic comes with a different set of challenges compared to staging the 2020 playoffs in two bubble cities.

Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley last week suggested the league could return on Feb.1 with a reduced schedule played in some sort of divisional bubbles, including a Canadian division if the border between Canada and the United States remains closed to non-essential travel. We’ll probably find out by mid-December if Foley’s remarks foreshadow the league’s intentions.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs avoided salary arbitration with Ilya Mikheyev by signing the winger to a two-year deal worth $1.645 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs are $175K over the $81.5 million salary cap with defenseman Travis Dermott to re-sign. They’re allowed to sit over the cap by 10 percent during the offseason.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators and Connor Brown are $2.5 million apart in contract negotiations. Brown seeks a one-year, $4.8 million deal while the Senators countered with $2.25 million. Brown’s arbitration hearing is slated for Thursday.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland is skating again but his agent said his client’s health will determine if he resumes his playing career. Ferland made three attempts to return from a concussion suffered in a game last year against the Los Angeles Kings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed forward Karson Kuhlman to a two-year, $1.5 million contract. It’s a two-way deal in the first year.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed Kaiden Guhle to an entry-level contract. The 18-year-old defenseman was the Habs first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s NHL Draft.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker reports Kraken general manager Ron Francis said the ownership of the expansion club has approved spending toward the upper limit of the 2021-22 salary cap as long as they aren’t hamstrung in future years.

Baker speculates players with hefty contracts lacking no-movement protection, such as San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson, Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby, could be targeted by the Kraken if left unprotected in next year’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect Francis to use the Vegas Golden Knights as his template for building an expansion roster. Thanks to some savvy moves including trades and free-agent signings, the Golden Knights became a Stanley Cup Finalist in their inaugural season and a perennial playoff club ever since.


  1. Connor Brown and the Senators will likely reach an agreement somewhere in the middle of their $2.5 offer and his $4.8 submission – I’m betting around $3,250,000

    • Hi George…. good guess… if that is your over/under…. for ships ‘n giggles…I’ll take over

    • I am thinking Brown & the Sens reach a 3 year deal somewhere between 3.4-3.6 million a year. Brown IMO is a big part of the club and one of the bright spots that we acquired in the past two years. Hard worker on both ends of the ice. Ultimately, he will probably move down the depth chart to play the Right Wing on the 3rd line in the future. But having a guy like him, who can still chip in 15 goals and play in all situations, slide up the line up if needed is important for building a cup team.

      I’d be willing to invest as much as $3.8 per year up to no more than 4 years. But I’d certainly want him on a good 3-4 year deal to bring some culture and consistency to the team in the rebuild.

      • Hi JJB

        Also a very good analysis and viewpoint

        That is good and reasonable for Sens but Brown May want to (as it appears to be happening with these Covid contracts lately) bet on himself, take the short term hit for a hopeful better (and perhaps longer) contract on the next re-up

        Time shall tell

      • Brown signed, 3y $3.6million.

        Love this signing by Ottawa. He’ll be a core player for the next 3 years and hopefully have a key place in our top 9 for his career. He is the type of guy I want.

  2. That will leave only RFA Chris Tierney to finalize and, in his case, I’d be careful if I were his agent. I have no idea what he’s seeking – or what Dorion has offered – but realistically it can’t be a whole lot more than the $2,937,500 deal just expiring.

    His seasonal totals of 11g 26a 37 pts in 71gp, during which he was a -6, matches his career output over 436gp of 11g 24a 35pts during which he’s been a cumulative -46.

    He is, at best, a 3rd line C and, with Anisimov probably holding down the # 2 slot and kids like Logan Brown, Josh Norris, draftee Tim Stuetzle and possibly Colin White in the mix, if he’s seeking a substantial raise and gets one at arbitration, he’ll find himself among the UFAs looking for a job somewhere else – and if he got one I’m betting no one pays him anywhere near his current salary.

    • I agree with Tierney needing to be careful. If I were him I wouldn’t be looking for a big raise and I’d be looking at a short 1-2 year deal. Realistically you know your long term future in Ottawa is shakey at best. This season, he could play anyway from 1C-3C, that all depends probably on the performance of Norris & Brown at camp and where the Sens decide to deploy White & Stuetzle.

      Anisimov I think will be returning as the 4th line center with special unit time and will certainly be gone following this season. For Tierney, if a long term future exists in Ottawa, it will be as a 3rd/4th line center. Which based on his skill set, 2.7-3 isn’t a bad number for him.

      • You’re probably right on Anisomov, JJB – it just sort of rubs against the grain to think of a 4th line C playing maybe 8-10 min a game hauling down just over $4.5 mill per. As you say, gone next next year for certain. Just that, perhaps being in a contract year, he’ll “rise to the occasion” if lined up with Dadonov. Hope springs eternal!

    • I like Tierney as a player.
      Skates good, plays hard, against good players. Gets more D zone starts than any forward on the team, kills penalties, wins draws.
      Classic 3C and type of player you need to win IMO.
      Oilers needed a guy like that.

      • At $4 mil per? Even $3 mil per??

      • How about $3.5 George?
        I would do that all day.
        Important position IMO and a 3C giving you 40+ points doing the hard stuff is worth it.

      • If he and his agent are agreeable to a $600,000 increase for 2 years then I can see Dorion finalizing that. But if they seek more than 2 years and more than $3.5 he’ll be available.

        The fact that nothing has been done yet tells me the player and agent are aiming high.

  3. Kane is the only worthwhile vet left on Chicago. Doubt anyone would take the other three big names even if they agreed to be moved. And Kane would be tough to move due to current fiscal situation.

    • The obvious move is Kane to his hometown of Buffalo but cannot see Hawks wanting Okposo contract back(or another) even with a nice haul of of picks

      That top 6 becomes serious

      I am sure Cozens if off the table

      • All good, as long as he doesn’t need to take a cab to work….

    • Hi Chrisms

      All comes down to agreeing to waive… not sure if they would…. but if….

      Next summer after signing bonus paid… trade with 50% retained….

      Both Toews and Kane can effectively be had for AAV cash outlay of $2.45 cash per, $5.25 M Cap per

      A team taking on Kane at those cash and cap hits for his 33yr old and 34 year old years… note he is still at quite North of a PPG ….. will be quite happy

    • Toews is still a really good player.
      $10.5 is too much, but I’d take him on my team any day.

  4. “ The Canadiens signed Kaiden Guhle to an entry-level contract. The 18-year-old defenseman was the Habs first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s NHL Draft.”


    “With the 19th pick the New York Rangers are proud to select from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, Braden Schneider”

    With both those quotes coming after Leafs picked massive 162 lb (Note at 19 so already had extra year to grow) forward Amirov, to a Leafs team already with many small dynamic speedy forwards in the pipeline ….. is a kick in the gnads

    Add to that, as is (setting aside moves that will likely happen in Boston & TBay)….. Leafs are also behind Habs…. so as is … fighting with probably 2 of Flyers, Isles, Jackets, Canes, and perhaps Rangers… for last Wild Card slot

    Add to that… Leafs over by $0.2 M with Dermott still to sign (have time to do something …. but setting up to lose him)

    …..IMHO is a sad set of statements and circumstances for Leafs fans


    • Well, except for one maybe.

      • Which one might that be George … 😄

      • He’s talking about me. Yes Pengy the Leafs aren’t in the best position with the cap but like many things, your wrong on their pick. The player they picked is already playing meaningful minutes on his KHL team and is not listed a 165lb or small on his teams site he’s 6ft 183lb. As for the cap situation, I’d rather be a top team pushing against the cap than a bottom feeder with limited space and still missing major pieces to your team like most teams are at. But I’ll bet I’m wrong in thinking that, right?

        I forget we are so privileged to have experts that can point out which picks are best. It’s one of the perks of this site.

      • No I wasn’t.

      • Hi Ron

        Was going by TSN … when he was drafted they said he was 159 lbs then corrected themselves to “actually he’s listed at 162 lbs”

        Elite prospects had him listed this morning when I checked at 164 (I was just quoting TSN for the 162 to emphasize my point) but I just checked now on Elite Prospects; he’s showing there at 168 (he is gaining weight LOL)

        The KHL site has been known to “heighten” and “beef up” weight of players . Even if he is somehow at the 183…. IMHO I fully agree with SN and TSN that picking Ghule or Schneider or Wallinder or Barron was a much better move for Leafs and also with TSN’s contention at the draft that if Leafs insisted on a forward; that Lapierre; Zary; and Mercer were all perceived as having far better upsides/futures than Amirov

        It all comes down to opinion, and my opinion is that they should have taken Ghule or Schneider instead of Amirov… Habs and Rangers got the better picks IMHO

        I’m just in a funk cuz Habs roster as is have (at least for now) pushed Leafs down into Wildcard territory

      • No problem Pengy…but how do the Habs push the Leafs down or anyone for that matter. Last I checked they won’t of been a playoff team and them winning their play in, to me, proves players know a thing about playing a bit more than we think we do, and shows you how during a tournament such as a play off or play in elimination series, like all hopeful fans say when their team squeaks in, once your in anything can happen, this year both the Habs and hawks proved that nothing more.

        The only good signing is the Toffoli signing in terms of dollars, length and type of player. Everything else was meh at best.

    • Totally agree.As a long suffering Leafs fan, that draft pick made no sense at all.They already have a glut of this type of player

      • Maybe he’s their projected offensive replacement for Matthews once he bolts for somewhere closer to home in 2024 – as some notable Leafs fans – not me – are suggesting will happen, I should hasten to add. 🙂

      • So typical to spread what you know is 100% BS and no thing has ever even come close to suggesting that BS than one “fan’s” tiresome not reality based thought.

      • I said it tongue-in-cheek – for krissakes man get a bloody sense of humour.

      • Well given your history which I’m sure I’m not alone there you can’t tell. So just an fyi, unfortunately tongue and cheek or sarcasm never comes through as such. You literally have to use an emoji like 🙄 or something.

  5. And Pengy jumps off the Leafs bandwagon again. You must have a crystal ball, man, to know at this point how any draft pick will pan out.
    I read an interesting idea yesterday for the return to play. Assuming a compressed schedule of games, teams should be allowed to carry a taxi squad of two or three players, similar to what was done in baseball this summer. If the concept of temporary bubbles is used, this makes a lot of sense. At this point, it’s hard to see the AHL getting started any time soon.

    • Hi BCLeafsFan

      I’m always ON the Leafs bandwagon… always hoping for a winning team, late rounds of playoffs and please please please, a Cup

      I’m just saying what I believe to be true…. as is they are not as good as Bolts, Bruins, Habs…. which leaves them fighting for a WildCard birth;

      and… taking Amirov instead of Ghule or Schneider , made no sense

      TSN were bantering Zary, Lapierre , and Mercer (all 3 picked after Amirov) also as better prospects and higher upsides than Amirov


      • Hawks issue isn’t loss of depth it is they only one difference maker.

        Leafs are in awesome shape capwise for this year as well as their attempt to repeat as Champs in 21-22. Everyone of significance is already locked up for next 2 years. Leafs dubas says no problem being under cap with dermott on board as their cap wizard just assigns non waiver players to marlies on non game days. Simple.

        GO LEAFS GO

      • Leafs Dubas also said he feels great about the goaltending, how does that make you feel Wendell ?
        And you yourself have repeated the need for an upgrade on Fred and a top rhd . Are those pieces not significant? You did say it was a fireable offence if Fred were to still be a leaf at trade deadline .
        Are you confused like your boy wonder or what ?

      • LTC er,

        Mgmt 101: talk up the people you r trying to move.

        Also Thornton earning his money already from Europe . He reads paper and knows Andersen has lost team and fan base confidence so he specifically talked him up too.

        He wont be their playoff goalie, no chance.

        I hope I haven’t confused you more than usual.

      • Just so we can all confirm , are you saying you are Kyle Dubas ? If not , what are you managing ? Lol, the fan club ? Or editor in leaf , James ?
        You didn’t answer the question , are the two pieces YOU insist they NEED not significant? How are all the pieces in place for two years when you guarantee Fred will be gone by deadline ? His upgrade isn’t significant? Or the elusive rhd?
        Also signing guys like simmonds , mikeyev , engvall , guys you say make no difference what so ever , why on earth would he not save some dollars and sign only guys for league minimum ? They don’t matter right ?
        Confusion is your middle name .
        Kyle Confusion Dubas-Tanner

      • If one of the greatest players to play the game likes Anderson then I think that’s should hold move weight than any fanboy’s or hater’s opinion of him. They’d are entitled to their opinions but it doesn’t mean we would accept them when you consider the source.

      • If being a great player makes you a great evaluator then Bobby Orr would be head and shoulders above Sam Pollock and Scotty Bowman as the best GM and coach in league history. How did those two do in their NHL careers.

        You LTC group thinkers (term used very loosely” are funny, just pile on doesnt matter a complete absence or reasoning.

        I am gonna take a shot and guess the LTC’s mascot is a …lemming??? Lol get a grip fellas.

      • Wendell , the goal is to win the Stanley cup , multiple deep runs is a great start .
        2 questions .
        Longest cup drought in nhl history ? (Hint: Currently running strong)
        Haven’t won a round since what year ?
        Answer those questions and then continue to tell us how great they are . Lol. Both of those answers are currently running , can’t tell me you don’t want to talk about the past , that’s current .
        You also didn’t answer why Dubas pays anyone over 700k if not a difference maker ? Waste of money , that’s not genius like in your dream bubble

      • Craig, you seem to be angry all the time. Its ok to be wrong, fella. Lighten up.

      • lol try answering the questions above before chiming back in Wendell . Support your outlandish claims , your not very good at that . You are great at throwing out baseless claims like you have a following. You are a laughing stock of this site for a reason , must be that crooked thinking hahaha . The blue dream , every offseason since 67 is THE year

    • Hi BCLeafsFan

      Re” Assuming a compressed schedule of games, teams should be allowed to carry a taxi squad of two or three players, similar to what was done in baseball this summer. If the concept of temporary bubbles is used, this makes a lot of sense. ”

      Agree fully

      Not sure how the taxi squad thing would work re Cap …. do the players get their NHL Sal and be part of Cap…. but excellent idea 👍👍

    • That’s right BCLeafFan – and with the border closure extended again to late November – and very likely beyond into 2021 – and just 4 Canadian-locations in the AHL (Belleville, Laval, Toronto in the east and Winnipeg in the west), scheduling will be a nightmare.

  6. Something that just seem to get swept under the rug, was San Jose signing of Kevin Lebanc for 4yrs at $4.725m per season.

    As we all remember Lebanc signed a very team friendly 1yr deal for $1m after scoring 17g 39a 56pts in 82 games an a -1

    Last season he scored 14g 19a 33pts in 70gp an a -33

    The season after your best season which you signed a one year deal for $1m, you follow it up with less goals (based on 82 games would’ve been 16g) but 11 less assist based on 82 games, you sign a new 4yr contract for $3.75 m per season more.

    The Sharks were in cap trouble and Lebanc helped them out and now the favor has been returned.

    Everyone said Wilson had a handshake agreement with Lebanc which is quite apparent he did, which is cap circumvention and everyone gives a wink wink and everyone moves on.

    One thing for sure Doug Wilson get the respect of the players to be known as a man of his word.

    • Unless Lebanc craps out again and that one good year proves to be an illusion … in which case he looks like a sentimental idiot. Let’s hope not.

  7. Boy, 20% salary held back for escrow, and 10% held back for salary deferral – whatever that is. Then there are taxes and between 2 – 4% agent fees. Would taxation average around 50% in Canada?

    Even if one threw in a cautious 25% tax rate to a NHL location players will see 50% come off their cheques, and often more.

    The “click” you hear is Tampa players hanging up whenever Brisbois calls. Killorn and company probably have taken the extra step of throwing their Iphones into the Gulf coast.

    • Hi LJ

      Deferral… they still get their 10% …. just not paid until the next year

      All players will lose a minimum of 20% of their gross Sal In escrow (signing bonuses are not hit by the escrow)

      If the season say ends up being 60 games.. owners likely to enact the “pro-rate” clause of the CBA

      So with a 60 game schedule …. taking a $5M salaried player….

      With pro-ration and escrow… they are down to just a tad over $2.9 M gross… and $290 K of that paid out a year later…. then of course you hit them with taxes

      Again those players with SBs … don’t have any escrow or pro-ration reductions…. so players like Mathews and Marner , even with a 60 game schedule… would only lose about $290 K in gross…. $700K for 60 games pro-rated less 20% escrow… ~$410 K…. $41 K paid the following year

      Their max after tax loss then is in the $130 K range

      Same parameters… 60 game…. Crosby would lose about $2.3 M in after tax $’s

      Players with high SBs are sitting with a big advantage

      • Thanks for the clarification on deferral,Pengy.

        Not to nit pick but escrow payments are not necessarily “lost.’ You probably didn’t mean that they were.

        But the chances of a short fall in projected revenue are pretty darn good, so the outcome may indeed mean they are “lost” this coming year.

      • Hi LJ

        Technically they aren’t lost… meant to wait for balancing of the books and revenue sharing

        I Can’t by any stretch of the imagination, see less than 20% revenue loss 20/21… so effectively that 20% escrow basically gone for good IMHO

  8. It is good to see the adults in the room accepting reality. Revenue, or lack of same if the ultimate difference maker.
    I’m not sure what order the bullet points should be in, but, they are likely different if you assume a one year vs a more-than-one-year dislocation. They are also vastly different if you can’t play in your own building.
    – Continuity of the roster
    – Continuity of fan interest
    – Continuity of the player pipeline

    In the US there are some states where there is high school and college sports permitted, and some restrained. I can’t speak to Canada. Most of our activity is attached to schools except for the USHL, as opposed to the Junior system; so I’d guess most US kids will find schools where they can play. The many low minor league teams can’t run without fans but if they are in areas where they are permitted to play the league may wish to ship ECHL and AHL guys down to keep them active as opposed to Europe or missing a year.

    I’ve said before, and I still believe that the NHLPA is the most concerned of all the sports unions with the health of the sport in general, and expect professional hockey to manage it’s way proactively through the situation. There will be sacrifices on the part of players. We’ll find out what kind of character and community concern NHL players have and I believe we’ll be very happy with the outcome.