NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2021
The latest on the Canadiens and Lightning, updates on contracts talks for Gabriel Landeskog and Kirill Kaprizov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said Carey Price will be in goal on Monday evening when they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. The Canadiens are on the verge of elimination in part because Price has struggled in this series.
Price acknowledged he had to improve but Ducharme didn’t throw his starter under the bus. “You can talk about one guy but it’s about all of us. We have to be better in front of him,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme’s correct in his assessment of the Canadiens in this series. Yes, Price hasn’t played to the same level as he did in the first three rounds, but his teammates also haven’t performed well. If they don’t turn it around in Game 4, the Lightning will win their second straight championship.
The Lightning have been the better team in this series. They’ve done a masterful job cashing in on Montreal’s mistakes, forcing turnovers, matching the Canadiens’ physical game and shutting down their offensive game.
Even if the Habs manage to win Game 4, they’ll be delaying the inevitable because they cannot match the Lightning’s depth of talent. History is also against them as only one team (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs) has ever rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup.
ESPN.COM: The Canadian government did not grant additional exemptions for family members of the Lightning to cross the border and avoid the 14-day quarantine for a possible Stanley Cup celebration in Game 4.
The league and the NHLPA had spoken with the government about this as recently as last week. However, the PA warned the players it was unlikely the request would be approved.
THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh reports contract talks between Gabriel Landeskog and the Colorado Avalanche are expected to pick up soon. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Both sides are interested in negotiating a new contract but the salary cap could complicate things.
Contract talks between the Avs and pending UFA goaltender Philipp Grubauer have yet to pick up steam. Preliminary discussions have started between the club and Cale Makar. The restricted free agent blueliner could be targeted for an offer sheet but the Avs are prepared to match any offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve noted before, just because a team could try to sign Makar to an offer sheet doesn’t mean he’ll do so. It’s a waste of time to try if he’s not interested.
NHL.COM: Contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and winger Kirill Kaprizov are expected to resume this week. General manager Bill Guerin remains confident the 2021 Calder Trophy winner wants to continue playing for the Wild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hangup here is the Wild wants to sign Kaprizov to a long-term deal while the 24-year-old prefers a shorter contract to take him up to the earliest date for his UFA eligibility. A compromise could see Kaprizov ink a four-year deal.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen speculates the Red Wings could have over $27 million in cap space after they’ve signed their restricted free agents. Despite that much cap room, however, they’re not expected to be a major player in the UFA market because top players won’t be attracted to signing with the rebuilding Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen believes Wings general manager Steve Yzerman could target cap-strapped clubs looking to make cost-cutting trades.
NHL.COM: Prospect Matthew Beniers indicated he’s leaning toward returning to the University of Michigan next season. He and Michigan teammate Owen Power are projected to be the top two prospects in the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Power has also said he was considering a return to Michigan next season. It’ll be interesting to see if their decisions affect their selection in the draft. Some rebuilding clubs could prefer prospects ready to join their system right away.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks promoted Todd Harvey as their new director of amateur scouting.