NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 23, 2020

by | Oct 23, 2020 | News, NHL | 27 comments

The NHL postpones the 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league postponed the 2021 Winter Classic and the All-Star Weekend for this season. The Winter Classic was slated for Jan. 1, 2021 at Target Field in Minneapolis featuring the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The Florida Panthers were to host the 2021 All-Star Weekend at BB&T Center in Sunrise from Jan. 29-31.

NHL postpones 2021 Winter Classic (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those events could be pushed ahead to the same locations for next season. There’s talk the league still hopes to begin the 2020-21 season sometime in January. These postponements indicate that’s not going to happen. At the very least, it won’t happen with fans in the arenas in the early going.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the status of the developmental leagues like the AHL and the Major Juniors will be a pressing issue at today’s meeting of NHL general managers. However, the league’s high-level executives aren’t going to be able to provide answers for their GMs.

Pierre LeBrun reports of a constant dialogue between NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and their chief lieutenants regarding plans for next season. He added there’s a bigger appetite among team owners, general managers and players to have a greater voice on those plans because there’s so much at stake. LeBrun also said whatever the season looks like when it begins likely won’t be what it’ll look like toward the end.

Frank Seravalli reported one of the biggest conversations is a cost-benefit analysis for the NHL. It would be problematic for the league if revenue for next season is lower than the total salaries owed to the players. The players will also be getting paid on Oct 31 for the first time since April, receiving 8.1 percent of the salaries to tide them over for whenever the season begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be very difficult for NHL prospects to get suitable playing time considering the difficulties their development leagues face to stage their respective seasons. As for what the NHL season will look like, the league has indicated it could begin without fans in the arenas but they could gradually allow fans into the stands over the course of the schedule depending on local health and safety protocols. That will ultimately determine what the league’s revenue looks like by season’s end and its potential effect upon player salaries.

Speaking of next season, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons reports the Canadian government is looking at a pilot COVID-19 testing program that would replace the current 14-day quarantine period for people entering the country with rapid testings at airports and border entry crossings. If those prove successful, it could open up travel for NHL teams between the two countries.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided arbitration with Connor Brown by signing him to a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $3.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair deal for both sides. Brown quickly established himself as a key player for the Senators after joining them in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finished second in team scoring, netting career-highs in assists (27) and points (43) in 71 games last season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed winger Denis Gurianov to a two-year contract worth $2.55 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gurianov led the Stars in goals last season (20) and finished second in playoff goals with nine. This new contract will be a bargain for the Stars if the 23-year-old winger continues to develop as a goal scorer. Cap Friendly indicates they have $77.4 million invested in 21 players with Roope Hintz left to re-sign.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks avoided arbitration with Jake Virtanen by signing the winger to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $2.55 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen had a career-best performance (18 goals, 36 points in 69 games) last season but followed up with a disappointing effort (two goals, three points in 16 games) in the playoffs. He’ll be under pressure to step up and improve his overall game next season. The Canucks are $1.5 million over the $81.5 million salary cap but could get relief by placing winger MIcheal Ferland on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to play next season. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils needed experienced depth on the blueline. This is a cost-effective short-term deal they hope will help to address that issue.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Dominik Simon to a one-year, $700K contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche’s home arena is changing its name from the Pepsi Center to Ball Arena.


  1. On Brown I said yesterday I think it’s a great deal for both sides. As a Sens fan, going into the season with Dadonov, Batherson, Brown, & Watson on the wing with the possibility of using White if needed, puts me a bit more at ease about our depth on the RW for the next 3 seasons.

    With a few strong prospects in the system as well, the Sens have natural long-term replacements for them and contracts balance well on when everything ends in comparison to players getting paid.

    Providing the players pan out and management stays steady, Ottawa has a really good shot have having an extended cup window of upwards of 7 or 8 years.

  2. Brown is overpaid, Gurianov underpaid …

    • A key note in the Jake Virtanen signing is its backlogged.

      1st year is $1.7 second year is $3.4 meaning his qualifying offer will be around $4m

      Wondering if this signing maybe a threshold for Jake Debrusk?

    • As I wrote yesterday when Brown’s signing was praised by some commentators…..So surprised by posts regarding Brown’s new contract. No one has mentioned this new deal is more than the Leafs gave to Kappy and Johnson.
      When those contracts where handed out by the Leafs there was a lot of disparaging comments and opinions for that…I don’t think brownie is a bad player but I’d rather have either of those “dumbass” contracted players over Brown any day of the week. Another over pay for a grinder. Here’s a reason why legit stars ask and make stooopid money.

      • Brown was one year from UFA and clearly a better player than both Johnsson and Kapanen last year. I also don’t remember anyone saying the Johnsson and Kapanen contracts were bad at the time. It was actually the opposite. Toronto had to squeeze Johnsson and Kapanen because they overpaid the top 4 forwards.

      • Exactly Van. I can’t recall ANYONE ever saying the Kapanen and Johnsson contracts were bad – only that those were the types they’d need to move in order to free up space. Love it when they try and put words in other’s mouths. As for Brown, he has veteran leadership intangibles that have to be worth something – much more than the ones they dealt him for who are now long gone – Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk – along with a third-round pick in 2020 – who they used to take a 5′ 11″ 156lb D from Finland.

        Go away Moore – ya bother me.

    • Ed, Gurianov was coming off ELC, no arbitration rights, no leverage.
      Brown did have arb rights and OTT purchased UFA years.

      • Ray, he’d never admit it, but his biggest fear is to see Ottawa – or Montreal – build up and become top contenders and – horror of all horrors – win a cup while his team begins its spiral down the drain.

        The odds of that happening may indeed be long – but that doesn’t take away from his irrational fear which triggers indignant response to any hint of criticism leveled at his team from “non fans” – despite their being a frequent topic of discussion.

  3. Ed is overplayed

  4. Re winter classic cancelled: who cares
    Re all star game cancelled: good
    Re Brown signing : overpaid by 1.5M and one year too many.
    Re Gurianov signing: who? And who cares.
    Re Ahl and maybe CHL leagues seasons in jeopardy: Again Dubas is way ahead of the curve focusing on Euro talent that will be playing vs NA who may lose a year of development and never recover.


    • Wendel, is that your $6 million dollar house just put on the market in To or the other Wendel?

      If you are not aware of who Gurianov is:
      a) You did not watch/follow the playoffs after Toronto lost out
      b) You only follow To (from the centre of the Universe)

      • I wish GOHABSGO and

        a) correct
        b) correct

        The product is garbage nowadays.

    • Agreed on Winter Classic and ASG. How is Brown overpaid by US$1.5M/year? A durable 45-50 point player (he had 43 points in 71 games) that can play in any situation on top 3 lines with one year to free agency would have gotten close to $1M/year more than that with longer term pre-COVID. This is a good contract for Ottawa and Brown. It expires as the young guns’ ELC’s end and gives Brown a reasonable raise over the next few years. He was significantly underpaid last year for his performance.

      I’m sure Toronto would love to have him. Too bad Dubas botched the Matthews (too little term for dollars), Marner (massive overpay – at least US$2M/year) and Nylander (shouldn’t have flown to Sweden and caved) negotiations. Probably should have had a combined cap savings of at least US$5M/year. Plus, Dubas didn’t get any cap savings for the heavily signing bonus structured deals. You’d think he would have saved something on the cap hits by having nearly all of the Matthews and Marner contracts paid out in signing bonuses. The same is true with the Tavares contract.

      • it would have been an OK contract in last years different financial landscape. Had he been a UFA he would have been lucky to get his last contract amount which was 2.1m I think.

        Marner is 2M overpaid I agree but Nylander is 2M underpaid so they r a wash.

        I agree AM34 should have been signed to max 8 yes even though he would have to get more $ than McDavid, but Dubas is a wizard who will make his next contract work. They are currently set capwise for next 2 seasons even if they win the Cup with probably the most talented roster in league locked up.

      • Funny you don’t mention the Tavares contract? That is just brutal! It’s funny leafs give up a first to rid themselves because they had to sign kapanen and johansson, than a year later they trade both them away? Is dubas one of the worst gm’s in the league? Since he took over the team has declined he put them in cap hell and Now he’s reverting back to signing past their prime players just like the leafs of old!

      • Bigbadbruisedbrain,

        Have you looked at Tavares stats the past 2 years. Excellent.

        I am going to assume you are suffering from post concussions symptoms to suggest difference maker Tavares isn’t earning his dough.

      • Ya those playoff stats are amazing for a captain!! Lol Tavares is a bad contract no disputing that

  5. Kulikov went for cheap.
    Caper was right.

  6. After all the excitement of the draft and free agency the chill of reality descends. So many things have to go right for play to resume, not just in the NHL but the AHL as well. That’s a lot of financial ballast for owners.

    If the AHL can’t go, then perhaps one way for the NHL to respond is to allow taxi squads where non-roster players are allowed to practice with the NHL team they are associated with, so that in the event of a call up players are available.

    Where is that vaccine?

  7. The next few months will resemble that period in WW II from late 1939 to May 1940 which became known as The Phony War in that, when it comes to signings & trades, virtually nothing will be happening due to the paralyzing uncertainty you mention LJ.

    Teams at or over the cap won’t really have to do anything to free up space until a firm start date is announced, and the way things are developing with Covid proliferation, no one should hold their breath waiting for THAT bit of news. As for the best of what’s left of the UFAs such as Hoffman, Haula, Hamonic, Vatanen, Duclair – why would any team commit to any of them at this stage? They aren’t going anywhere unless, suddenly, they start to panic and drastically lower their salary/term expectations, in which case they maye be signed on for a year.

    What COULD create some early activity, however, is if some teams start to walk away from RFA contract hassles (no arbitration rights) or arbitration awards, thereby adding those players to the ranks of the UFAs. But those, I expect, will be few and far between.

  8. Good signing on Brown

    Stars got a great deal on Gurianov

    I may have seen him in 20-25 games total this year, but I thought he was very good…$2.55 M…wow

    This sets up a good baseline for Hintz (another player I’m pro on)

    Both 23 (although Hintz with a late B-Day , will be 24 in a month) … both LWs but Hintz can play C, both big Guys .. 6’3”; but Hintz at 220 , 20 lbs heavier; both were on 82 game pace of 26 Gs…. total points pace for Gurianov was 37; Hintz 45

    The final contract for Hintz can’t differ much from Gurianov I would think

    • Thanks PENGY
      Finally, someone talking about the Gurianov contract that knows what he is talking about. This helps us minions make good decisions in our salary and keeper drafts.

      • Hi GHG

        Gurianov IMHO…. is a keeper

  9. Bigbadbruisedbrain,

    Have you looked at Tavares stats the past 2 years. Excellent.

    I am going to assume you are suffering from post concussions symptoms to suggest difference maker Tavares isn’t earning his dough.

    • Whose got the bruised brain lol you can’t even figure out where to reply to a comment! Lmao

      • Don’t do that u may concuss yourself again

      • Don’t do that you may bruise your brain again……………siiiiiigh cmon man you can do better