NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2020

by | Dec 29, 2020 | News, NHL | 13 comments

Henrik Lundqvist to undergo open-heart surgery, Kirby Dach sidelined by wrist surgery and a roundup of Monday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist announced yesterday he’ll be undergoing open-heart surgery to address the condition that has sidelined him for this season. The 38-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals after being bought out by the New York Rangers in September.

Henrik Lundqvist will undergo open-heart surgery (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik for a swift and complete recovery.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Kirby Dach could miss the entire upcoming season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. The timeline for his recovery is four-to-five months. The 19-year-old center suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada during an exhibition game against Russia during the World Junior Championships in Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Blackhawks heading into this season. Dach was expected to play a bigger role with the club following a solid debut in 2019-20. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup by the time the playoffs begin in May, provided the Blackhawks qualify for the postseason.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed free-agent winger Corey Perry to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the high-scoring right winger he was during his playing prime with the Anaheim Ducks. Nevertheless, he played a key role in the Dallas Stars’ march to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The 35-year-old Perry should provide the Habs with experienced depth and leadership on their checking lines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Former New York Islanders forward Derick Brassard is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Coyotes. Meanwhile, SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports they also signed Jordan Schmaltz to a professional tryout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes freed up cap space over the weekend by shipping Derek Stepan ($6.5 million annual average value) to the Ottawa Senators. That’s given them just over $3 million in cap space, with a portion going to replace Stepan with the more affordable Brassard.

SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a good opportunity for Athanasiou to get his career back on track following last season’s disappointing performance with the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers. A former 30-goal scorer, the 26-year-old should get plenty of playing time with the rebuilding Kings.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Ethan Bear to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $2 million. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inking the promising Bear to a short-term deal was a good cost-effective move by the Oilers. If his development continues as hoped he’ll be in line for a big raise in two years’ time. Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sitting over $2.19 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, they’ll be cap compliant once they place sidelined Oscar Klefbom ($4.16 million AAV) on long-term injury reserve.

The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a professional tryout offer.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports goaltender Garret Sparks is heading to the Calgary Flames on a PTO.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were the only club among 123 teams of North America’s “Big Four” professional men’s sports leagues to receive a loan through a COVID relief program. The Penguins received a $4.82 million loan through the CARES Act.


  1. Speedy and full recovery Hank…. all the best

  2. From Lyle’s info above (Brassard possibly signing with Arz) and following up on yesterday’s back and forth re Stepan….

    Again WTF?

    If Sens were the instigators of that trade and sought out Stepan…. why did they not just offer a contract to the better player

    If Brassard signs for $2M or less ($2M is the annual Sal that they are on the hook for Stepan for)…. then Dorion gave up a 2nd to get a less productive C…

    Stepan last year … 70 GP… 10-18-28
    Brassard… 66 GP…. 10-22-32

    Brassard is bigger and faster

    Brassard’s contract last year (in non Covid times)…. was $1.2 M, so he’s going to come in at $1M or less

    So….. Dorion gave up a 2nd to get the lesser productive and slower and smaller of the two veteran Cs; and paid more; all while bailing out another team

    Again… acquiring the veteran C was not the issue; losing the deal was; then adding to that the fact that if there search was truly for a veteran mid 6 C to guide along the youngsters and shelter them a bit…. why have to trade for, give up an asset, and pay more for less ….W T F?

    • You’re assuming Brassard would sign with the Senators. Evidently, he wasn’t looking at doing that.

      • Hi Lyle and NY4Life

        Absolutely a viable answer… that Brassard might not want to sign with Sens or another rebuilding team… but he’d been out on the “still to be signed list” for a very long time… beggars can’t be choosers . We don’t even know if Dorion approached his agent to find out. There has been no reports that I saw that either had Brassard or his agent stating that they were not going to sign with Sens nor had been approached by Dorion

        Sorry re size… agree that the differential is relatively small with that height/weight for Brassard

        I knew Stepan’s as I looked that up yesterday but I was going by the radio this morning and they had said 6’ 2” , 206 for Brassard…. so I was going on 2” and 10 lbs… to me … that is “bigger”

        The stats are close yes … but do favour Brassard and Stepan had a much more prominent role in Arz than Brassard did with Isles… Stepan was getting about 4 extra minutes a game and got better line mates more often

        Brassard is about 55% on the dot; Stepan I think around 47%?

        Who is better is subjective…. I challenge anybody that says Stepan is faster… not a chance

        I watched quite a few games last year for both of them…. not a full season by any stretch… I could have possibly caught a bunch of Stepan’s games where he underperformed to his season average and the converse for Brassard…. but my eye test had me favouring Brassard… again subjective…I cede that NY4LIfe has the opposite viewpoint… again we’re just doing our own eye test, and have differing opinions… all good 😄

        Even if we put them of equal value…. Brassard will come in at about $1M cheaper Sal, $5.5 M cheaper on the Cap, and no extra asset given up

        Stepan costs twice the Sal, 6.5 times theCap; plus a second

        I get the sense from some here that they believe I’m anti Stepan

        Not the case

        IMHO….I don’t think they (Sens) needed to go out and get a bottom 6 C; and more importantly they truly IMHO lost the deal… Arz had to free up Cap… Ottw didn’t HAVE to get a bottom 6 veteran C… and Ottw ended up giving a 2nd to secure the deal….I posted many times… Garland or a fair prospect should have come with Stepan if Sens were giving up a 2nd

        If Dorion was gung ho on a veteran bottom 6 C to shelter the youngsters and mentor them…. (a strategy I might not necessarily fully agree with but cede as a viable strategy) AND if he didn’t even call Brassard’s agent on an offer (we don’t know that)… then shame on him

        Again… I cede that Brassard may not have wanted to go on a building team (that is not known for sure, fair assumption, but not a certainty)….but needed a contract…. is Arizona going to be a playoff team??? …. maybe….but IMHO they are not getting out of the first round and that’s IF they make the playoffs

        Signing with either Arz or Sens… possibility he (Brassard) could be moved at TDL to a contender

        If Dorion did put out feelers to Brassard’s camp and got nowhere… AND he absolutely sensed he needed the vet bottom 6 C… then I get the negotiations and eventual deal with Arz for Stepan

        However, I cannot be convinced at all that they got a fair swap in the deal…. Arz got everything they wanted…. exodus of $6.5 M in Cap … and they had to shed Cap; AND got a second

        Again… for arguments sake only… call them equal performers…. Arz just saved $1M cash, $5.5 M Cap; gained a 2nd… with no gain or loss in performance to team (again using the equal Brassard/Stepan assumption)….massive Kudos to Bill Armstrong

        I’d love for Jimbo or Kyle to be able to do that…. please and thanks

    • I’m poor because I’ve always been bad at managing money, so I’ll need help here.

      If CapFriendly’s numbers are current. the Senator’s projected cap hit is $70,587,499. The combine dcap hit of Stepan, Paquette, and Coburn is $9,850,000..Subtracting that combined hit from the projected overall hit leaves the Senators with a projected hit of $60,737,499. perilously close to the cap lower limit of $60,200,000.

      Does the closeness of the money numbers suggest that the Senators considered their deals with the Lightning and Coyotes as a unit, and sought out a serviceable but higher-paid player like Stepan so that they could remain above the lower limit and have some wiggle room for making a possible future trade? In which case, the Coyotes may have had both the Senators and the Lightning over a barrel, knowing they wete the key to the Senators dealing with the Lighting.

      • Hi Francis

        There was no issue at all other f them reaching the floor w/o these trades

        @ $60.7M just $0.5 M away… but they were at 20 players…. league min is $700 K…. any three players…. from their own lower ranks OR UFA…. puts Sens at $62.8 Min… well past the worry stage

        They were never going to have a problem getting to the floor

        I don’t think Dorion was looking at a big package net that involved 2 teams… just 2 trades with 2 teams

  3. Andreas Athanasiou left money, term and the better team on the table on top of which he’s seen as a problem.

    Makes you wonder if it isn’t Darren Ferris that’s the problem.

    • Hi Habfan30


      AA could have gone the Duclair route; ended up with same deal… and save Agent’s fees

      • Write us a book next time … oh, and Hi!!!

    • I remember that the Oil didn’t qualify AA, and I mentioned on here that I didn’t think they would due to flat cap prior to that.
      I don’t remember seeing a report saying they did and for what amount.
      Not saying they didn’t, just saying I don’t remember seeing it. What was the rumored amount and term?

      • Ray I was hoping Boston would give him a shot and certainly affordable with little risk.

        I guess it’s all about Ben Hutton for Sweeney because there is nothing left out there; unless there is a trade to be had.

      • Seems accurate Caper. But who are they trading away to get a decent D man?
        If Chara comes back I think they roll with him and one of Zboril or Vaak.
        If not, then ya, Hutton it is.
        If they are a real contender come the TDL, which I am not convinced they are, make a move then.
        I am starting to think Sweeney is thinking past this season.

      • Ray, I know he wasn’t qualified and I seem to recall a two year deal at 2 mil.

        With that being said it’s entirely possible that I was reading a report/rumour of what Holland was willing to pay.

        My apologies