NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

by | Jul 30, 2021 | News, NHL | 39 comments

Alex Ovechkin looks forward to chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Blue Jackets sign Zach Werenski to a long-term contract extension, and the Blues sign Brandon Saad. Get the details plus other notable trades and signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Alex Ovechkin said the opportunity to pursue Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record factored into his recent signing of a five-year contract with the Capitals. Ovechkin, 35, has 730 career goals and needs 165 more to break Gretzky’s record. To do it, he needs to average 33 goals per season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The all-time goal-scoring record is the most reachable of Gretzky’s significant offensive achievements. Nevertheless, it’ll a daunting challenge for Ovechkin, who turns 36 in September.

Ovechkin’s still among the league’s elite scorers, tallying 24 goals in 45 games last season and 48 in 68 games in 2019-20. If not for the pandemic (and a half-season lost to a lockout in 2012-13), he’d be much closer to Gretzky’s record by now. However, he’s also at an age when his production will begin to decline.

The Capitals captain is currently sixth on the all-time list. A 37-goal performance this season would vault him over Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766) into third overall, 34 behind Gordie Howe (801).

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension. The annual average value is $9.583 million and takes effect in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets consider Werenski among the NHL’s top defensemen over the past five seasons and are paying him accordingly. He’s tallied 189 points in 335 career games. Starting in 2022-23, he’ll be the third highest-paid defenseman in the league with a higher annual cap hit than Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar’s $9 million and just ahead of former defense partner Seth Jones’ $9.5 million AAV with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Werenski’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman but I don’t consider him worth more than Makar, a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 who was a Norris Trophy finalist last season. But after enduring a steady parade of talent departing Columbus via trades and free agency in recent years, the Jackets had to pay the price to keep Werenski in the fold.

His new contract lacks no-trade protection in 2022-23 and a full no-movement clause in 2023-24 through 2026-27, dropping to a modified no-trade in the final season.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed winger Brandon Saad to a five-year, $22.5 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million. The deal also comes with a full no-trade clause in the first four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad took a pay cut from the $6 million AAV he earned over six seasons on his previous contract. He joins a club undergoing a retooling of its roster since winning the Stanley Cup two years ago. He fills the vacant left wing spot on the Blues’ first line following the departure of free agent Jaden Schwartz to Seattle on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights trade winger Ryan Reaves to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers acquired enforcer Reaves in yet another move to bolster their toughness. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, made this move to free up salary-cap space by shedding his $1.75 million cap hit.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed winger Corey Perry to a two-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry said he wanted to return to the Montreal Canadiens for another season. The opportunity to play two seasons with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, however, was too good to pass up.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Zach Werenski wasn’t the only defenseman the Blue Jackets signed yesterday, inking Jake Bean to a three-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.33 million. The Jackets acquire the 23-year-old blueliner from the Carolina Hurricanes last week.

MLIVE.COM: Long-time Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Helm and Valtteri Filppula were the last remaining active members of the Wings last Stanley Cup championship in 2008 still with the team last season. Filppula is also an unrestricted free agent and isn’t expected to be brought back.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Mathiew Perreault to a one-year, $950K contract.


  1. I didn’t post yesterday as (due to the actions/non-actions of Dubas and Hextal) I was walking around in a major funk ; hood pulled up over my head chanting “will this wind be so mighty ….” a la Rowan Atkinson and some Monty Python crew in “The Secret Policeman’s Ball”

    Will this wind…? – YouTube:


    WTF Dubas and Hextal…. Out round 1 …. other teams in the hunt to improve… instead of improving… worse

    Leafs tandem in net…. I don’t see an improvement. D lost a player not replaced; O lost a key contributor…. Spaces filled with depth/4th liners 💩😡🤬

    Hextall…. W T F

    For reasons only insanity explains…. You protect a 4th liner only to lose a 28 G (82 game pace) scorer; who is great on PP:; plays C & W up and down the top 3 lines who only cost $2.9 M on the Cap ; AND you lose Pens absolutely most tenacious and energetic forward

    Again all to protect Blueger …. And I like TB… but he is now at $2.2 M and could have easily been replaced by Gaudreau (who Pens also lost) for $1.2 M)

    Rodriguez re-up… fine move… he certainly earned a re-up… $1M in line

    I like McGinn… I do …. But he is no Turbo…. Net Cap savings to Pens …. $750 K… IMVHO…. Turbo worth much MORE than $750 K over what McGinn brings

    Heiden… again a player I like…. He is in NO WAY POSSIBLE; replacing McC

    So… Pens out round 1…. No change in goalie tandem ; lost a key stalwart 3rd pairing RHD in Ceci…. Not replaced; and Fwds much much weaker. Add to that… season starts w/o Gino

    This line up is heading towards a fair potential of missing the playoffs

    And Pens still stuck with Zucker

    Burkie committed to improving grit and size…..do something. At least call and find out price on strapping 230 lb Ritchie (not qualified by Bruins)

    Duby is available to be Jarry’s back-up…. Could probably sign for $1M…. If he falters… DeSmith…. At least with picking up Duby that gives Pens options

    The argument of no Cap space doesn’t fly when everybody knows Pens are starting the season with $9.5 M on LTIR (per TSN , Gino expected to miss more than a month and/or 10 games)…. That’s valuable space that can be used to land help now


    “Will this wind be so mighty”

    • @pengy

      Vegas clearing space for Malkin perhaps?

      • LOL … now I will have more of Will this wind?

      • @pengy
        you think the pens will resign him next summer? and or that the team will contend this season?
        Fetch Roy+ a pick for Malkin

      • Hi ds

        I don’t have confidence as at now; that Pens will make playoffs this year

        They are already much weaker than last year; and start first month at least w/o Gino; and they were out after first round this past year

        I’m confident that they’ll make an offer to Gino for next year…. Not sure if he’ll accept or retire… only other destination for him might be Panthers but I think they are set

      • @pengy
        yeah florida center position looks set unless barkov wants a new home

        pens net issue resolved?

      • Re Net…. I would have loved them to get Keumper… but that was a dream… I truly believe that they should see if they can sign Duby for 1 @ $1.5 M or less

        Jarry 60 starts
        Duby 22 starts

        If Duby falters … back to where Pens are now… DeSmith as back up

        Duby at max $1.5 M; with DeSmith sent down ($180 K for DeSmith then showing above)… would mean total above the line for back up max of $1.68 M…. so only $430K more in space used than current… very well worth it as a strategy…. Right now if Jarry and/or DeSmith go down to injury…. UhOh…. $430 K in space is well worth the possible prevention of disaster

    • Pengy, I just don’t see any cap room available for Hextal to make moves. Zahorna and ZAR the two RFAs will eat up most of the available 3.5 million or whatever. Sure, Malkins LTIR will prvide some wiggle room but they might be smart to hold that for in season emergencies or whatever.

      Sure, i’d like to see them move Zucker too but I’m not sure there are a lot of other GMs interested in him.

      • Hi Randino

        I really think they need to use that space NOW

        As at now; this roster at best is 50% chance to make the playoffs

        Hextall absolutely blew the McC situation and it still stings…. Severely

        A 7th in 2 years and a potential (at best) career AHLer …. Basically zip in trade

        If he had already concluded he was giving up McC… he should have said to Francis…. Take Zucker… we’ll give you McC…. That frees up $7.4 M plus… enough to get a good replacement for McC and have that player on the 2nd line with Gino/Kappy; Poulin in (on 3rd line) …. Replaces Zucker exit; AND leaves space to re-up Ceci

        Now… no change in G; weaker on D; much much much weaker on forwards; still have Zucker

        I say …. find out the hit for a Zucker/Teresenko flip…. and if not astronomical… do it

        I’m not a happy camper with Hextall/Burkie

        At the very least they need to make serious inquiries on Ritchie

    • Utter nonsense … you can’t spend that 9.5, this isn’t like Kucherov where he was out for the whole season … this is a matter of weeks …

      I don’t like McGinn, Heinton, Simon or bringing Rodrigues back … Pens have gotten smaller and softer since last year …

      and you are over estimating McCann’s importance … once again, did you watch the playoffs? He shrunk like a wilting violet when the play turned nasty …

      if bringing back this aging core makes Mario happy then so be it … there wouldn’t be any professional hockey in Pittsburgh if not for him … the only issue I have is that after the 2nd Cup he gave Rutherford carte blanche to keep it going and Rutherford put the team into cap purgatory …

      • Much like Dubas has done in Toronto. Both Pengy’s teams of choice.

    • See what happens when you cheer for two teams, Pengy? Twice the pain.

      • You got that right BCLeafsFan….

        Actually I don’t think it is straight 1+1=2…..

        It’s exponential pain….. cheering for both where both are failing…. The pain is tripled perhaps Quadrupled


  2. Maybe the worst re-signing in history .. a top 30 league wide dman, maybe and he gets the third highest contract in history for defensmen? Stupid ..

    • And no matter how well Werenski plays it won’t make a difference as CBJ are a slow train going nowhere.

  3. Agree Lyle…. Werenski very good…. But I don’t think he is worth more than Makar

    Reaves trade logical for Knights who needed the space

    Sad now for this Pens fan as there is another “heavy” brought into the Div to play against the Pens

    Bolts good to get Perry…. I was surprised on term

    The LTIR “money” is being put to use

    Lyle , or anybody…. Do you know if any of the Cap strapped teams have approached Murray re Kessler? They don’t need the space ; and Kessler can only nix a trade to 8 destinations

    He’d be very valuable to Knights…. And if for whatever reason Knights were one of the 8 teams… why would Kessler not waive??? He isn’t going to play… so no move… and since he would in effect be getting paid out of Nevada… his take home pay increases

    • It’s rather obvious that Makar is better than Werenski. In fact, Makar May be the best D-man in the league now. He would have won the Norris had he not missed time to injury. But Werenski is a top notch D-man himself and the Jackets had no choice but to overpay to keep him.

      Of course, there’s been much talk over the past few years about free agents not wanting to play in Montreal, talk which will undoubtedly continue even though that theory has been thoroughly debunked over the past couple of years, but Columbus is the real dead zone of the NHL. Their own players have been leaving in droves and it seems like absolutely nobody wants to play there. So, as several local media types tweeted out after the signing, the Jackets had to pony up extra to keep their top player long term.

  4. Bruins acquisitions grading Derek Forbort awkward and slow F
    Nick Foligno almost invisible the last couple of years F
    Eric Haula hopefully he is not going to be 2nd line centre C
    Thomas Nosek D
    Linus Ullmark B good pick up way too expensive
    Sweeney still need a GOOD rushing d get busy!

  5. Werenski not worth contract but Columbus didn’t want to give him a reason to leave don’t blame them at this point. Charlie McAvoy is good and we need him but shouldn’t be over 8 unless has massive year this year.

  6. Lots of time left and players will be available once GMs digest their overpayments.

    The cap is still flat and while some have weaponized it there’s only so much to go round and the rush to give out $9 million contracts will bite them.

    I’m happy with the Bergevin’s signings and willingness to not bite on Danault, I imagine his stockpiling of players on good contracts will lead to an unforseen trade.

    • While I agree I wouldn’t pay Werenski more then Makar, Columbus doesn’t own Makars rights. It isn’t a matter of choosing. It’s a matter of what you have on your plate.

      If you make these decisions based on other teams best players, you will wind up with a team of 4th liners and AHL players.

      You pay YOUR best players top dollar. It seems like a waste of time making these comparisons.

      Now I’m not saying you pay a Rob Scuderi , Victor Hedman money just to be clear.

      • Oooops, wrong spot.

      • I agree. It’s almost, if not impossible to trade for a top nhl talent like him without potentially setting your team back in the cost.
        You pay your best players whatever your market can bare because you can’t afford top tier talent leave your team like what’s happened in Columbus.

    • Habfan, I agree that Bergevin’s signings have been pretty good so far. Savard and Hoffman are two solid players who were signed at reasonable term and coin. Hoffman at 3 years, $4,5m. AAV, for example, is far better than Coleman at 6 years, $4.9m. AAV. The depth signings of guys like Wideman, Perreault and Paquette, whatever you want to say of them as players, are low risk and can be buried in the minors at no cap hit. Losing Perry isn’t good but, at his age and production, it’s not overly worrisome.

      I do disagree as to Danault. I think Bergevin could have done more to sign him long before the season ended. He leaves a big hole that will have to be replaced by a center who can play at least third line minutes.

      I think Suzuki will shine as No. 1 center, especially with line mates like Caufield and Hoffman. Kotkaniemi should be given second line minutes and a chance to step up. Once again, he will have better line mates than he has ever had. But who is there after that? Evans and Paquette will never be more than fourth liners. Poehling should turn out to be a solid third line center but I’m not sure he’s ready yet. Perreault would be the answer if this was 2017, but as of now, he’s more likely to take over Perry’s spot. So a solid, veteran center is a necessity.

      • Howard,

        I think that training camp will try a line of:




        Either one would make Danault forgettable

        Neither Tatar or Gallagher were ever considered to be shut down players but they were the guys outscoring the opposition.

        I like Danault, but Gallagher is the stir that makes the drink and when he was out Danault wasn’t performing at all.

        Suzuki. KK and Evans spent a lot of time on Matthews, McDavid and Scheifele during the year not Danault.

        I like Danault and not trivializing his value, but Savard, Paquette and Perrault combined cost less than him.

      • Habfan, I’m sorry, but I just don’t have as high an opinion of Paquette as you do. They need someone better to center the third line. And I wouldn’t play Gallagher on that line. I’d put him with KK and Toffoli – giving KK a chance to shine and grow. I’d put Anderson and Drouin with whichever center they pick up.

        Also, while we’re on the topic of Bergevin’s moves, and seeing the contracts given to defensemen, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more talk about how wise it was to lock up Petry last fall to a reasonable $6.25m. AAV. It’s obviously hard to compare him to Werenski and Jones, who are much younger than him, but his stats compare very favorably to Hamilton (who is 5 years younger). He is also way more physical than Hamilton and he, not Hamilton, just played a large role in leading his team to the finals. Now I’m not saying he’s as good or better than Hamilton, but if Hamilton can get $9m.AAV, you’d figure Petry could have commanded at least $7.5m. AAV on the open market, if not more.

      • This is the last time I comment on Danault because no matter what I or anyone else thinks, he has 5.5 million going into his bank for the next 6 years.

        How many forwards signed contracts for that money when in their best season scored 13 goals in a full season? Would we say very few?

        Danault’s name was mentioned in the Selke discussion. Selke finalist Barkov scored 26 goals last year. Bergeron scored 25, and Stone 21. Danault scored 5.

        The rationalization for LA signing Danault was that they are preparing for playoff hockey and need a defensive specialist. LA finished amongst the worst offensive teams in the league this past year. The season before they finished dead last in their conference, and only Detroit scored less in the league. How is it then that LA needs a defensive specialist at 5.5 more than they need offense? In order for Danault to make a meaningful impact LA has to make the playoffs. Does anyone see that as likely in the next couple of years?

        The only way the Habs miss Danault this coming year is if KK cannot make the next step. He wasn’t going to make a difference to the Habs offense. And being a shut down center on a team that can’t score isn’t going to help LA either.

      • @LJ
        The Pacific division outside of Vegas is anyones game…the Kings can finish in the top 3.

  7. this is pretty simple…….

    Bruins don’t clear cap $$$$ with a trade David Krejci isnt coming back & this team wont get close to a cup with Coyle or Foligno as their 2nd line center

    from here it looks like they would have to trade DeBrusk and either Wagner or Moore and get back a draft pick cause they cant take $$$$ back …

    the Bruins added one player on the D which isnt going to help them a lot the rest of the DMen they already had…

  8. Boston been trying to get Krejci a scoring winger and they finally do; only not to have Krejci as their C

    Boston still has $1m in space enough to sign Chara. Did I say that.

    • Caper…agree 100% …its been how many years the Bruins have been looking I believe since Horton & Lucic……something isnt right here …..

      would at least bring the big guy in and see what he has left

    • Ya this is weird Caper and Joe, and I keep waiting for the DeBrusk trade so they can sign him.
      Even then, he could obviously get more elsewhere.
      Maybe plays at home? He has talked about it.
      Sign him for the last 20 games!
      Never say never, but looking slim right now.

  9. Any over / under on Ovie +/- I’ll set it at -25 !

    Always been a big Ovie fan, but last year in some games I watched, he hung out at the center ice waiting for a break out pass, all PP for 2 minutes.

    Ovie isn’t trying to help Washington win games, he is simply trying to get to Gretz record.

    I believe he will hurt his team more then help, because he is going to play very selfish hockey.

  10. You guys need to look at the advanced stats. Eventhough Werenski is getting paid too much, it’s because Chicago over paid Jones. Werenski was propping Jones up, he carried Jones and Columbus knows that. Jones is about to take a nosedive this year not having someone to lean on like Werenski.

  11. No more chara, Joe you’re drawing from the bottom of the barrel oh wait a minute they already did that signing Foligno and……………FORBORT!?!? The most important piece of the puzzle a GOOD Rushin d. going back to that ole Country hit “What was I thinking,”Please fire Sweeney.

  12. The last 3 playoff series the Bruins lost was because they were intimidated, pushed around moved off the puck and couldn’t get the puck out of their D zone so what happens they just got a little smaller

  13. You might be right on that Caper. I personally don’t see Ovi catching the record because beyond your point the team’s stars are aging as fast as Ovi. Whether or not he is more dialed into himself for the team Washington could well struggle just to make the playoffs next season. I see the Islanders, rangers and CarolinaLikely better. There’s also a strong possibility with the strength of the Atlantic division that five teams there could make the playoffs.

  14. Ovi won’t catch Gretzky, old age catches up with everyone and the way he plays so do the injuries. Sweeney gets a D minus for his adds.

  15. Giving Sweeney 28 million to spend on FAs is like giving a little kid $10 in a toy store … the kid isn’t going to buy two items worth $5 he’s going to buy 10 items worth $1