NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2020

by | Dec 23, 2020 | News, NHL | 6 comments

The Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put off contract discussion, Mikael Granlund returns to the Predators, the Lightning sign Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta, the Capitals sign Conor Sheary, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have agreed to put contract talks on the back-burner. The 27-year-old forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. There were reports in October that the two sides were making progress on a contract extension.

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two sides could resume negotiations at some point during the season. The flattened salary cap for the foreseeable future will affect the value of Nugent-Hopkins and his peers in next summer’s UFA market. He’s earning $6 million per season on his current contract. The longer he goes unsigned, however, the more likely his name could pop up in trade rumors.

TSN: The Nashville Predators signed winger Mikael Granlund to a one-year, $3.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m surprised by this signing because of Granlund’s offensive struggles during his previous season and a half with the Predators and reports he was seeking a long-term deal. It was rumored the Preds were interested in winger Mike Hoffman to boost their scoring punch. Both sides evidently decided it would be worthwhile to give it another go.

It’s an affordable deal for the Predators that would leave them with $9 million in cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly) for the coming season. That will provide general manager David Poile with considerable flexibility to put toward another UFA signing or to make trades as needed over the course of the season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed restricted free agent defenseman Erik Cernak to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $2.95 million. They also signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Jan Rutta to a two-year deal worth $1.3 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These signings push the Lightning above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $6.15 million with RFA center Anthony Cirelli still to be signed. The Bolts have until Jan. 13 to become cap compliant. They’re expected to make a cost-cutting trade or two but could get some flexibility if winger Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million AAV) ends up on long-term injury reserve because of a nagging hip ailment.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed UFA winger Conor Sheary to a one-year, $735K contract. He’s expected to skate on their third line. The signing leaves the Capitals with $2.2 million in cap space.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland announced his NHL retirement yesterday. He was one of the original Golden Knights selected in the 2017 expansion draft and the club’s unofficial leader. The 38-year-old blueliner also played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames during his 11 NHL seasons, tallying 127 points in 671 regular-season games. He won the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2018 as the Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Engelland in his future endeavors.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports former Toronto Maple Leafs center Frederik Gauthier is considering a professional tryout offer with the Arizona Coyotes. He spent parts of the last five seasons with the Leafs.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins signed UFA forward Jordan Nolan to an AHL contract earlier this month. He could have a shot at cracking the roster in training camp next month. Nolan spent six seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, winning two Stanley Cups. He also played for the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. He spent last season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings intend to name their first captain in three years. Dylan Larkin is considered the front-runner for the captaincy. The role has been vacant since former captain Henrik Zetterberg’s playing career was ended by nagging back injuries in 2018.

NHL.COM: The league and the NHLPA announced its medical protocols and critical dates for the coming season. They also revealed a change to the offside rule (stick tap to Kukla’s Korner) indicating a player’s skate will not have to be in contact with the blue line in order to be on-side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only change to the previously reported critical dates is the last possible date for awarding the Stanley Cup was changed to July 9 from July 15, though it comes with a note indicating that date could change. The same goes for the May 11th start of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: The Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals are the first teams to unveil helmet ads on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ads are on the side of the helmets where the team logos used to be. They’re not garish or create an unnecessary distraction. Based on the photos provided in the link, I daresay the other NHL clubs will follow their lead.



  1. The small advertisements on the helmets aren’t such a big deal, hardly noticeable which to me makes them useless from an advertising standpoint…but that’s hardly my area of expertise. I am a little concerned about a “slippery slope” and having NHL players look like NASCAR drivers in a couple of years.

    Hopefully they don’t start to also talk like NASCAR drivers, with every sentence a shoutout to some sponsor or another haha.

    Reporter: Mr. Pastrnak that was a beautiful game winning goal in overtime. What were you thinking as you came in on that breakaway?

    Pastrnak: I was just thankful that the equipment staff did a great job sharpening my Bauer Vapor 2X Pros and that the Mocha Espresso from Dunkin’ I had while in the penalty box gave me the extra boost I needed at the end.
    Of course the curve on my Bauer Supreme 2N Pro was just right to lift that backhander over Carter Hart’s Wells Fargo helmet.

    • LOL Double Minor

      I’m sure it would be about 100 takes for Pasta to quip that properly …. but quite funny

      Not a fan of the extra ads…. hated it when they started inking the boards…. but got used to it

      Is what it is

      Yes… it better not get to the level of the European Leagues 🤮


  2. I was looking at CapFriendly yesterday morning and they didn’t even have Hank down as LTIR for Caps; now they have Hank and Kempny

    I had forgotten about Kempny…. achilles

    Using their LTIR…. at 12F, 7 D , 1G…. as Lyle said….$2.2M in space

    Good signing on Sheary

    Whether the back-up is Copley or someone else…. that’s $1M

    So $1.2 M only buys one at league min

    Likely another move coming

    Surprised on Granlund pick up as well

    Re Bolts…. Cernak signing was eventual; but with Ruura as well; BrisBoise must have a much stronger confidence in Cap space now than a week ago…. how long their sniper is out and perhaps a workable deal (TJ?) already on the table

    They still must sign Cerelli

  3. A limited capacity of fans for Coyote home games is news?

    • If they limit capacity to 100 people, and actually sell 100 tickets, would that be considered a sellout crowd?

  4. I heard the Coyotes are considering letting fans in for free and charging them to leave …