NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2021
A look at the notable players available in the upcoming 2021 expansion draft and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The NHL released the player protection lists for the 30 teams participating in the upcoming NHL expansion draft. The Seattle Kraken will choose one player from each team on Wednesday, July 21 starting at 8 pm ET. The Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from this draft.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, St. Lous Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton are among the notable names available in the draft.
Others include former Stanley Cup-winning goaltenders Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Matt Murray of the Ottawa Senators and Braden Holtby of the Vancouver Canucks.
Among the notable defensemen are Canadiens captain Shea Weber, the New Jersey Devils’ P.K. Subban, the Calgary Flames’ Mark Giordano and the Anaheim Ducks’ Kevin Shattenkirk.
Other noteworthy forwards include Nashville Predators centers Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene, Philadelphia Flyers wingers Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk, New York Islanders forwards Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey and Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde.
Some of the pending unrestricted free agents available are Boston Bruins forwards Taylor Hall and David Krejci, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Avalanche winger Brandon Saad, Canadiens center Phillip Danault and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting collection of talent for the Kraken to draw upon in the expansion draft. There’s a roster freeze in place until Thursday at 1 pm ET, allowing Kraken management exclusive negotiating rights with the free agents left exposed in the draft.
Signing those free agents, however, isn’t a certainty. Some clubs left them exposed in order to protect other players with the intention of signing those players before free agency begins on July 28. That’s why there’s little concern among Washington fans over Ovechkin’s exposure in the draft. Some NHL insiders believe Ovechkin and the Capitals already have a deal in place and are waiting until after the expansion draft to announce it.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports sources said there are concerns about Price’s health that could deter the Kraken from selecting him. His availability for next season could be in question.
An MRI following the playoffs revealed a hip injury that might require surgery. Price is traveling to the United States for further examination and the results aren’t expected until Friday, two days following the expansion draft. He’s also dealing with a lingering knee injury.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Price is scheduled to see a doctor in New York regarding his knee. “The hope is that it’s not too serious,” said LeBrun. He noted the Habs goalie is getting his hip checked out but it’s the knee that could require surgery.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Kraken are seriously considering selecting Price. However, because they are supposed to get the full medical records of all exposed players, Price’s medical appointments following the expansion draft aren’t going over well. Other teams are upset, believing the Canadiens are using Price and Weber to make a mockery of the process.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The complaints about the health of Price and Weber are being raised because both played well during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. Both players, however, have a long history of playing through injuries, as most NHL players do during the postseason.
Weber’s injury concerns were reportedly raised following his postseason exit medical. I daresay the same thing happened with Price.
I’m not saying critics aren’t justified in their concerns over the timing. I’m suggesting there simply wasn’t sufficient time between the end of the Stanley Cup Final and the due date for submission of the player protection lists for Price to receive a full evaluation of his hip and knee.
Price waived his no-movement clause to allow the Canadiens to protect backup goalie Jake Allen. He has five years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $10.5 million, a full no-movement clause that would follow him to Seattle, and an $11 million signing bonus due in September.
The Kraken could still select Price despite the injury concerns and his contract. It would be a big loss for the Canadiens but it would free up $10.5 million to pursue a younger, affordable replacement via trade or free agency. It would also provide additional cap space to find a potential replacement for Danault if he hits the open market next week.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning opted to protect their blueline corps while making forwards such as Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, and Yanni Gourde available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning will lose a good forward to the Kraken. My guess is they choose Gourde. He’s a solid, versatile two-way player who can play all three forward positions.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Predators were the only club to protect five defenseman: Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro, Philippe Myers and Alexandre Carrier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s one reason why centers Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene are available. The other is Predators general manager David Poile hopes the Kraken selects one of them to get their $8 million annual cap hit off his books.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak intends to test the free-agent market on July 28.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For decades, that tune was like Canada’s second national anthem. My condolences to Claman’s family and friends.