NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2021

by | Aug 30, 2021 | News, NHL | 46 comments

The latest on Jack Eichel, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Evander Kane, participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported a meeting was held on Aug. 18 between the NHL, NHL Players Association, Buffalo Sabres, Jack Eichel and some medical professionals to attempt a resolution to the impasse between the club and the 24-year-old center.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel prefers a disc replacement procedure to address the herniated disc in his neck while the club prefers neck fusion surgery. The meeting ended without a solution to the situation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only solution at this point is for the Sabres to trade Eichel to a club that will approve his disc replacement surgery.

TVA SPORTS: Eichel also journeyed to Montreal yesterday, creating speculation on social media that he’d been traded to the Canadiens. The real reason is to attend the BioSteelSports camp. His participation will be off-ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens had kicked tires on Eichel earlier in the offseason to gauge the Sabres’ asking price. Conjecture linking the Sabres star to the Habs increased last week after he changed agents and intensified over the weekend after the Carolina Hurricanes signed Montreal center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet.

If the Canadiens don’t match the Kotkaniemi offer sheet they’ll get the Hurricanes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Some observers suggest they could package those picks with their own first-rounder plus a prospect for Eichel.

However, they’ll probably have to include a salaried player or two to comfortably fit Eichel’s $10 million annual average value within the constraints of their cap payroll. The Sabres could absorb part of Eichel’s cap hit but I doubt they’ll agree to do so. They’ll want him completely off their books.

That’s also taking into account putting Shea Weber and Paul Byron ($11.257 million in combined AAV) on long-term injury reserve. Weber could be out for the season but Byron is expected to return from offseason hip surgery in January.

TSN: Speaking of Kotkaniemi, Darren Dreger reports some close to the young center predicted in early July he’d played his final game with the Canadiens after being scratched from a Stanley Cup Final game.

TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie said sources told him the Kotkaniemi offer sheet was the brainchild of Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and wasn’t GM Don Waddell’s idea.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain the reports claiming the Hurricanes attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and then gave the Habs a heads-up that they were going the offer-sheet route. The Canadiens have seven days from the date the offer sheet was signed (Aug. 28) to match.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports sources suggest an agreement is close between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and International Olympic Committee allowing NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. A decision could be announced next week.

NEW YORK POST: The latest chapter in Evander Kane’s turbulent summer sees him being granted a temporary restraining order against his estranged wife Anna. The San Jose Sharks winger accused her of hitting him on four different occasions and swinging around their infant daughter during a heated argument. The couple is currently going through a divorce. Kane is also under investigation by the NHL after Anna accused him of throwing games for money and abandoning their child to party in Europe.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Speaking of the Sharks, fans must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend their home games this season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHLer Brandon Prust is temporarily leaving social media after apologizing for a tweet telling a woman she should be forced into the sex trade as part of his argument against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the NHL is contemplating a Heritage Classic game between the Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs in Hamilton, Ontario this season. The game would take place at Tim Horton’s Field, which hosts the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Filip Gustavsson to a two-year contract.


  1. Speaking of social media, Eichel posted a single frown face emoji on the 19th., which of course set Twitter world in fire trying to figure out what that meant. Guess it had to do with meeting.

  2. Re “ The only solution at this point is for the Sabres to trade Eichel to a club that will approve his disc replacement surgery.”….

    I agree with an added statement…. Or who will agree to a trade if they fully believe they can convince Eichel to have the fusion done (this of course is a very low probability, but perhaps there is a club that believes they have the miracle power of persuasion )

    The trade will go much smoother if serious Eichel suitors are granted the right for their Drs (surgeons) to examine him …. Obviously not a free for all 31 Des…. Just 3 or 4 from serious bidders

    Re “ sources suggest an agreement is close between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and International Olympic Committee allowing NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. ”….👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏😁😁😁😁😁😁

    • That “only solution” has been quite obvious for two months. But nobody seems to be in any hurry to get it done. We are in the middle of a conflict between the unstoppable force and the immovable object. Teams are afraid to give up too much because they are naturally fearful that, after surgery, he won’t be nearly the same player he had been. The Sabres are equally afraid that he’ll recover and once again be a top player and they’d look foolish if they didn’t receive a king’s ransom in return. The only possible solution might be for him to have some type of surgery and return to play. This way, we’ll all observe his recovery. Good luck getting that to happen.

    • We – and by “we” I mean Canadian hockey players – should not be going to China until those two Canadians held in solitary confinement for over 2 years on trumped-up “spying” charges are released, not to mention the Canadian sentenced to death on equally trumped-up drug charges.

      • Agree.

      • As bad as that situation is, George, Canada boycotting the Olypics will do nothing to influence the two Michaels’ situation. If it could, I would agree. But as it won’t all it would do is punish Canadian athletes and disappoint many Canadian sports fans.

      • LJ, I respect your opinion – I truly do – but I disagree with that approach vehemently. That position will just confirm to the murderous dictatorship in Beijing that, whenever they are at odds with another country over some issue – in this case Meng Whanzou wanted in the U.S. on fraud charges – all they need to do is pluck one or two of their citizens off the street on phony charges and, like Canada would do if they follow your reasoning, they’d cave. And to hell with the rule of law.

        Yes, it would be disappointing to Olympians to have their country withdraw, but what about the families/loved ones of those 3 Canadians held in isolation and their very lives in jeopardy? At what point do we make sacrifices in support of our fellow citizens? Never, and just shrug and adopt the “too bad … so sad” approach.

        Some things are just more important than the forgettable disappointment of “fans” and athletes.

        And right now this has everything to do with hockey in case it’s deemed removable for being “off topic.” It IS part of the topic.

      • I agree as well.

        I am a hockey fan.

        I won’t be watching the any of the Olympics, including hockey.

      • Agree, George, 100%.

    • @Pengy I think if I’m the Sabres you first get a trade agreed upon and then to finalize it the other club gets to see the medical records. At this point it’s really which surgery the club would approve for Eichel to have since it’s known it’s either or.

  3. Re Heritage Classic at Tim Horton’s Field…. If this happens, This will be a big boon to Hamilton…. Hosting the Grey Cup and Heritage Classic just weeks apart

  4. If the Habs want Eichel the trade should include two 1st Rd. Picks, Romanov and Tuch.

    • I’d substitute Guhle for Romanov and throw in Paul Byron to make the cap numbers work, but otherwise, I’d make that trade. Not sure it’ll be enough for the Sabres, though.
      Count me as being skeptical about Dreger’s “report” that some people close to Kotkaniemi predicted in early July that he had played his last game with the Habs. That was nearly two months ago. If this were true, undoubtedly reports would have surfaced then. Next thing we’ll hear is that Kotkaniemi was feverishly trying to track down Ronald Corey to tell him “this is my last game for the Canadiens”!

    • MTL quickly declines that trade proposal.

  5. Eichel $10,000 per 4yrs remaining
    NMC kicks in next season wants disc replacement

    Sabres disc fusion

    If a trade or change of mind either way can not be reached, the only logical solution is a trade.

    If Eichel refuses the fusion and sits out on ltir, what are Buffalo options? Do they not pay and try to retain Eichel rights? How does that happen?

    They maybe able to terminate the contract, that doesn’t do anything for Buffalo.

    Buffalo isn’t getting equal value for Eichel as it stands.

    Wait a year then Eichel determines is location.

    The best option is to allow Eichel his prefer procedure and if it works you’ll get closer to your asking price.

    If it doesn’t you’ll have $10m on ltir

    • I think it was G-Man who asked the question of whether the disc replacement was covered by the team’s insurance on the Eichel contract. If it isn’t then the team would have to pay that out of pocket id unsuccessful, as I would think his contract is large enough to insure outside.
      That’s a good question, one I’m not sure we will ever find out the answer too.

      • Hi Ray

        I had queried this a few times as well… the true financial risk takers in this are the insurers

        A failed/unsuccessful surgery could mean $50 M in LTIR payouts

        I have no idea how the underwriters from the various insurers write these contracts but I would think they have written them with the largest safety buffer they can get (perhaps listing specifically surgeries NOT covered; or having the ability of refusal of surgery or nixing of coverage barring consultation/Approval)

        Obviously Eichel wants to play; but a failed surgery; (although horrific to him as an NHL player)still has him getting paid by either club ir insurance

        Sabres (or potential new club) with a failed surgery ; are on the hook for losing his trade value in picks/prospects; but should be financially covered (assuming insurer dies cover or dies authorize the surgery)

        Re Sabre potentially terminating his contract…. I doubt they would do it; but the only way I see this happening (again that is if they would choose this route) is with Eichel being deemed fit to play (by team Drs but also confirmed by league Drs) and Eichel still refuses to play (citing his desire for disc replacement surgery)

        Again, this is taking too much attention on a team struggling (during Covid) to keep fan interest and sell tickets

        Adams, lower the ask; trade him; move on

        I’m still holding out for the rare multi-team trade that has Eichel ending up with Rangers; Zab ending up on the Vegas strip; Sabres retaining on both but gaining a haul (picks/prospects) from both teams

        That would be interesting

  6. Is Eichel ready to play?

    That’s what his value is

    You people are putting out trade proposals for a player who is unable to play and needs potentially career ending surgery.

    Neither disc replacement or neck fusion is guaranteed to be successful.

    This guy might never play hockey again and if that were the case he’d at least have some LTIR value but even that’s unknown.

    This soap opera will end when he’s back on the ice and performs.

    • I was just a beer league player when I got a double fusion in my neck from a collision on ice. I was told by doctors no more checking hockey, among other things. While Eichel is obviously a much higher caliber athlete than I was, I can’t help but think he’s going to be greatly affected by such a surgery, and is perhaps why he wants disc replacement instead. In any case, we know nothing about his future until he gets back on the ice post surgery.

  7. Some on here have no fffgung clue on how contracts work.

    Eichel wants experiment procedure. Drs don’t sign off, second opinion doesn’t either. The company who insures the contract won’t coveron experimental procedures.

    Eichel needs to agree on (1) he won’t get paid if he doesn’t recover and (2)the NMC is nullified.

    He can be just claiming he needs this not to play this season then get to use NMC. They were fine him getting fusion a few months ago. He woukdnt

    • Yes, this is probably an insurance issue.

  8. An end to the Eichel dilemma would have been in the best interests of four of the five parties that attended the meeting: Eichel, the Sabres, the NHL, and the Players Association. With them all wanting the same thing, an agreement among them would have been reached easily, if they didn’t have to weigh the overriding opinion of the disinterested fifth participant–the medical professionals. Medical facts don’t change to favor any group or individual.

    Allowing doctors of different teams to examine Eichel will not facilitate a trade. The meeting has made it obvious that medical professionals do not advocate Eichel’s preferred treatment. Jack might be no worse off if he asked that they treat him by bleeding him with leeches. He could make suckers of everybody.

  9. The GM who even thinks about trading for Eichel should probably be fired sooner rather later. Let’s see….he will have major surgery either his way or their way and then magically return to play as his former self. Probably not. At 10 million per year that would be one heck of a risk. Plus I have to give up a few future draft picks? I’m not sure how much more nonsensical these scenarios can get. By the way as a die hard Carolina Hurricanes fan it is nuts that Kotkaniemi is getting 6.1 million. I understand Dundon’s need for revenge (I guess) but come on man are you looking out for the team or your need to win. Someone please drop the puck – I’m ready for play.

    • Snuffy, you getting a hint of Harold Ballard in the air there?
      He’s the owner so he can (fill in the blanks).
      I’m going to be following Kotkaniemi’s career a lot more closely now, that’s for sure.

    • Can we put this revenge thing to bed once and for all?

      What is the difference between acquiring a player via offer sheet, and outbidding other teams for a UFA.


      Danault to LA as UFA. Habs get nothing.

      KK to Carolina via offer sheet. Habs get a first and a third.

      So it is arguably better to lose a player via an offer sheet. Other than that the difference is … zip. In both types of transactions the team that is outbid made a choice to let the player go.

      And the receiving team? Risk is also a factor.

      A young player (KK) has more upside? Maybe. But there is risk in that just as there are in teams acquiring established players via UFA. Ask Nashville about Subban and Duchene.

      Surely that puts an end to this revenge nonsense.

      • You guys have the offer sheet, extension and UFA slightly wrong.

        Carolina gives KK an offer sheet for 1 year at $6.1 which Montreal can accept or not.
        If not he goes to Carolina and Montreal is compensated with a 1st and 3rd that belong to Carolina. if yes he belongs to Montreal at those contractual terms.

        UFA situation doesn’t exist for KK, he’s been qualified, he can negotiate, he can accept or refuse in which case he has to sit out, can play in Europe but the Habs keep his rights for 3 more years.

        Once KK belongs to Carolina, they will either need to Qualify him at $6.1 million,(100%) which guarantees him a 2nd year at that level OR not qualifying him and letting him become UFA and hit the market.

        The thought that he would go to Carolina and sign an extension for considerably less money is counter-intuitive and makes no sense for KK.

        What considerably LOW number would he sign for now that is palatable starting a year from now for say…….5 years? Is $2 – $3 – $4 million a number KK wants to lock down for 5 years??

        That number will be there a year from now as a UFA unless he’s betting on himself to fail. Not a chance that he or his agent agree to a long term extension at “considerably less money” now.

    • It makes no sense that Carolina would pay KK $6.1 past this season. Everyone agrees it is way too much.
      Which is why, if he does go the CAR, they won’t.
      IMO anyway.

      That would mean Dundon is an idiot, which he is not.

      It will be an extension for less AAV moving forward.

      Will he agree to the same in MTL? Depends if wants to stay there or not.

      • Perhaps moot as I can’t see the Habs matching, but is KK not compelled to accept? If not then the opportunity to match is meaningless and a defeat of a team’s protection via RFA status.

      • Not sure I understand what you mean by KK being compelled to accept LJ?
        Not his call, if MTL matches the 1 year deal he stays put. If they don’t quality him next year at 110% of that (I think that is the minimum) then he becomes a UFA. That would seem unpalatable to MTL IMO.
        So, if my theory is right, MTL needs to work on an extension he will accept that they deem worth keeping him for. in a week. If they can’t come to an agreement he goes to CAR, where he has that deal done. Again, just my theory.

        Now, if the rumor is accurate that he wants to leave, he now has the leverage to make that happen to a team he wants to go to. Just don’t sign an extension with MTL.

        Whether Dundon wanted to or not, seems to have drawn a roadmap to make an offer sheet actually work without breaking the bank.

        Kind of really smart actually.

      • Ok, Ray. You are talking about not this single year offer, but whether he would accept the one after, discussed now.

        That of course is different. Surely the contract composition after the coming season has been canvassed but not committed to by Carolina. Otherwise it is barking mad to take the risk of agreeing to term and dollar based on unseen and as yet undelivered performance. What happens if KK under performs? What happens if he misses a significant part of the season and an assessment of his value cannot be made?

      • HF30, either I didn’t word it properly or you are misinterpreting what I said.
        We agree that the $6.1 is for this season only, that’s a done deal. Either in CAR or MTL.
        We get it, not hard to figure out.

        What Freidman reported on the weekend was that Carolina had an “expectation” or whatever the word was Lyle quoted yesterday, for an extension at a lower AAV than the $6.1.

        Which means an extension for less.

        KK isn’t losing anything and will look at it in total for the next few years as compared to what MTL is offering. Say another 2 years at $2.5M, which makes it $11.1M for 3 years.
        Just picking #’s.

        And if he does want to leave MTL, he refuses to sign an extension for past this season, and MTL would have to qualify at $6.1. Which is a tough pill they won’t like, so they let him walk.

        He gets a raise, and plays where he wants.

        This is just my theory, but if that is CAR plan, it was a smart move. Luv it.

        Best served cold.

      • Ray Bark

        I am assuming GMMB is rejecting this offer sheet, there has been no response to the childish trolling and the fanbase appears to be saying buh bye to a well liked player.

        Carolina may desire an extension with an AAV that is less than $6.1 million, I am explaining why it’s foolish to expect KK to look for or sign one NOW.

        KK holds all the cards, Dundon gave him $6.1 million, he has to qualify for another $6.1 million or let him go UFA and bid against other teams.

        KK is looking at his own interests which is performing and signing a long term contract for a lot of money with somebody.

        He has no reason to concede his advantage which is what signing an extension now would be.

        What extension and at what rate would be advantageous for KK to sign in advance of becoming UFA???

        I can see the advantage for Dundon , he can’t afford to pay him if he has a breakout year.

        I can be wrong but it seems to me that this offer sheet and all the trolling is meant to force GMMB’s hand and Waddell is gritting his teeth hoping Bergevin doesn’t say , hand over your 1st and 3rd.

      • Elliotte Friedman agrees with you, Ray. Spector wrote in yesterday’s Morning Coffee Headlines, “Friedman believes this offer sheet was made with the knowledge that Kotkaniemi’s next contract would be long term for less money.”

      • KK doesn’t hold all the cards HF30, because the cards have already been played.
        Not sure what part of the they already agreed to part we keep mentioning you are struggling with?
        Yes not on 1 year offer sheet, but it doesn’t need to be. I think the they can sign the extension as soon as he becomes a Cane.

        Unless you think the agent and KK are gonna play pretend smart and go just kidding! and welch on the agreement.

        Say good bye to your career Mr. Agent. Not gonna happen.

        Ball is in MTL’s court, along with KK, as maybe he does want to leave, who knows.

        This is fantastic, luv it.

    • Hey is this the same snuffy that used to work in St. John’s on duckworth, musician Snuffy? From Texas.

      • Not the same Snuffy. I’ve been to the airport in Texas (ha)…..does that count?

  10. Offer sheet and UFA are totally different animals.

    An offer sheet is given by one team and can be matched by one team within a set of rules.

    UFA is open season, anybody can make an offer, anybody can match, anybody can make an offer that is structured differently.
    The player can accept whatever from whomever they want.

    To use the Danault example- as an offer sheet the Habs could have accepted the LA offer and Danault would have had to sign with the Habs.

    The difference is huge

    • My point, which I think is clear and should not need to be repeated, is that in either the offer sheet scenario or UFA bidding, the “home team” if you will, has an opportunity to retain the player via making a better offer than the competition. Thus, an offer sheet is no more revenge than being outbid, as both occur in the NHL market place.

      Did you get that? An offer sheet bid is no more revenge than a UFA offer.

      This is not the first time I have noticed you wandering from the point other posters here are making and trying to make distinctions that are meaningless or irrelevant to the context in which they were made.

      • LJ

        Your point is very clear

        ” in either the offer sheet scenario or UFA bidding, the “home team” if you will, has an opportunity to retain the player via making a better offer than the competition.”

        This is completely incorrect.

        To use your parlance, all the home team has to do to retain a player who gets an offer sheet, is to MATCH the offer- the player then belongs to the home team. point final

        A UFA situation is all about negotiations, changing offers, multiple competitors with no guarantee of high bid getting the player.

        Nobody has said that revenge is inherently involved in an RFA, you’re just intent on conflating situations that aren’t there.

  11. Absolute chaos within the Mtl fanbase.
    The 6.1 is nothing more than a 1 year signing bonus. KK will undoubtedly resign an extension with Carolina for 5 years at a more palatable rate. Say 4 to 5 million per.
    The late 1st and late 3rd is a terrible return for KK. You can try to spin it however you like. It’s not a decent deal for Mtl.
    To LJ’s point…. I’d rather lose a guy to an offer sheet than to UFA signing simply because with the former, you at least get something in return. Not much in this case though. Apples and oranges really, and only 1 applies in this case so the point is kinda moot.
    The real course of action would have been to sign the kid early and avoid the threat of an offer sheet all together.
    Huge misplay by GMMB.
    I’m not even sure I’d match the offer by Carolina at this juncture, as it appears that KK doesn’t want to be in Mtl.
    I mean, why sign the contract that is obviously a slap in the face to his current team? $20 bonus? $15 tacked onto the end of the 6.1?
    My money says he’s done with the Habs, or why sign a thumb in the nose offer sheet?
    Carolina wins this war unquestionably.
    He’ll be a 2-3C there, regardless of what Staal makes. Regardless of what Trocheck thinks. Regardless of losing a rookie goalie. Regardless of letting Douglas Hamilton walk. They’ve already upgraded the goalie position and the defense is near the best in the league, as is.
    Spin it however you like Habsfan30, it’s a losing scenario in Mtl.
    40 pt Suzuki and rookie Caufield won’t be the answer anytime soon. Pretty easy to shut down a 1 team line composed of youngsters. The wingers look decent, but who’s gonna distribute the puck to them? Evans?

    • Agree with most of that SOP except I have no idea where he plays. Jordan Staal can still play. But you’re right this is about the long term. Trochek only has a year left, and FLA gave him away for peanuts.

      If CAR did this without the Aho situation a couple years ago, I wouldn’t say what I am saying about this deal as there is a price to be paid to offer sheeting a guy coming off entry level. It drives up player salaries and you become an acceptable target for every other team as you started it. Same as what I said when MB did this a couple years ago.

      CAR is simply repaying the favor. Good on them.

      Safe to say we Bruins fans luv it!

      • Ray, it makes for great theater, if nothing else.
        It’s amazing to watch a fan base turn on a player who was beloved by all just a few short months ago.
        But, hey. That’s fine. At least they have the non cancerous, Mike Hoffman to right the ship and lead the locker room.
        I hear he’s great for moral.

    • 2422,

      The fanbase is pretty clear, there is no chaos at all, take the picks and let KK go.

      No comment from GMMB.
      No response to the trolling.

      Wait for the PLD rumours to start lol

      We’ll see how it plays out 🙂

      • So CAR issuing the same basic statement as MTL did 2 years ago is trolling?
        Or is there more statements from CAR that I am missing?

      • PLD won’t leave Winnipeg for Montreal anytime soon. Having a seat on that club is a great place to be. Plus his folks live there as well. Ideal situation for the young fella.

    • This assessment is pretty spot on, Shoreorrpark.

      MB could pull off some sort of trade using the picks and grow roses from the manure but right now it doesn’t look good on him.