NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

by | Aug 7, 2021 | News, NHL | 11 comments

Oilers Darnell Nurse and Islanders Adam Pelech sign lucrative long-term contracts, concern about season ticket sales and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Darnell Nurse to an eight-year, $74 million contract extension. The 26-year-old defenseman’s annual cap hit is $9.25 million.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse’s new contract raise eyebrows around the league. He’s a very good defenseman but the overall consensus is the Oilers overpaid to keep him in Edmonton. He is also the fifth blueliner this summer to sign a long-term deal worth $9 million or more annually, joining Columbus’ Zach Werenski ($9.583 million), Chicago’s Seth Jones ($9.5 million), Colorado’s Cale Makar ($9 million) and New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton ($9 million).

The Oilers had little choice. Nurse is their top defenseman and they couldn’t risk losing him next summer to free agency. That would leave them scrambling to find a replacement as they did following Adam Larsson’s surprise departure to Seattle last month. Often, the replacement is more affordable but of lesser skill.

This move ensures some stability on the Oilers’ blueline. Over time, however, it could have long-term salary-cap implications if Nurse’s performance declines over the second half of this deal.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders avoided salary arbitration with Adam Pelech by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to an eight-year, $46 million contract. The annual average value is $5.75 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement of Nurse’s contract overshadowed the Pelech signing. Islanders fans should be delighted with this deal. Pelech is a solid stay-at-home blueliner who’s become a key part of his club’s defense corps. The term is a little long as it takes Pelech well past his prime years. However, the cap hit is quite reasonable and shouldn’t be a drag on the Isles’ payroll during the latter years of the contract.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken avoided arbitration with defenseman Vince Dunn by reaching an agreement on a two-year contract worth $4 million per season. They also signed free-agent forward Marcus Johansson to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn was among the players selected by the Kraken in last month’s expansion draft. He was coming off a one-year, $1.875 million deal with the St. Louis Blues. This is a “show-me” contract for the 24-year-old Dunn. He’s coming off his fourth-straight 20-point campaign but has struggled with consistency.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed forward Brandon Hagel to a three-year contract worth $1.5 million annually.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks centers Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel accepted their one-year, two-way contracts yesterday. Each will receive over $874K at the NHL level.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed defenseman Conor Timmins to a two-year, $1.75 million contract. They acquired the 22-year-old blueliner from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the return in the Darcy Kuemper trade earlier this week. They also hired Larry Pleau as a special advisor to general manager Bill Armstrong.

THE ATHLETIC: Some NHL executives are concerned over a dip in season-ticket sales for the 2021-22 seasons. Fans are opting more for partial season-ticket plans rather than full-season packages. That includes some fans who were used to opt for the full-season deals in the past.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the new broadcasting deals, gambling deals and the addition of a new franchise in Seattle, the NHL remains a gate-driven league. The worry about season-ticket sales comes amid concerns the cap could remain flattened over the next several years if league revenue doesn’t significantly increase.

As reported by Frank Seravalli yesterday and confirmed by The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro based on his multiple sources, the players owe the league approximately $1 billion because salaries exceeded revenue over the past two seasons. Until that’s paid back, the salary cap will only rise by $1 million per season only if revenue exceeds $4.8 million each season. That’s expected to happen for the coming season.

The amount owed by the players will be repaid through escrow rates agreed upon in last year’s CBA extension. If the debt isn’t fully repaid by 2025-26, the CBA will be extended for another season at a higher escrow rate until the owners’ share is made whole.

Perhaps those partial ticket sales are tied to fans’ concerns over another spike in COVID-19 resulting in another shortened season or restrictions on attendance. That could change in the long term if the league gets through 2021-22 without reductions to the schedule or limitations on the number of fans in the stands.

THE SCORE: Speaking of concerns over rising COVID numbers, The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted out the league has issued a memo to its 32 teams prohibiting the players from all corporate, charity and community-based interaction with fans.

The league and the NHLPA will continue observing vaccination rates and the spread of COVID variants during this offseason to determine whether similar measures will be required for training camp.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports a lawyer for a former Chicago Blackhawks player has asked the U.S. Center for SafeSport to investigate Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of two former Blackhawks players.


  1. There is absolutely no way on this earth that Nurse is worth more $$$ than Leon!!!

    If anything, maybe $1 mill to $ 1.5 mill per season less.

    With these mentally challenged contracts that are being handed out to D-men, I am only thankful that Jeff Petry signed for he did last summer.

    The Leafs are going to be in tough when trying to resign Reilly & the Bruins with McAvoy. The same with Tampa & Sergachev in two summers time!!!

    Stan Bowman pushed the D-man market & Kekalainen destroyed !!!!

    • Nurse’s contract is hefty but relative to what other similar #1 dmen were signed for this summer. Like you said Uwey , Hamilton, Makar, Werenski, Jones all got more than I figured they would and those deals set the market price. Fast forward 5 years from now and we may say they were good signings based on market value in say 2026.
      By getting Pelech to sign for 5.75 * 8 , Lou set a precedent for the rest of the team who want to stay and win, solid management tactic IMO.

      • Fergy22 Pelech signing was solid but I wouldn’t compare him to the others.

        Pelech is a solid defensive defenceman with little offense.

        All the D that signed the $9m plus contract has an offense element to their game.

        This is a league that pays for offense, I don’t think any of them are worth $9m per and especially in a salary cap freeze that the league is presently in.

        Next year with McAvoy and Norris winning Fox we’ll see where it goes.

      • Caper I agree on Pelech & was not comparing him to the others just pointing out that locking up such an important piece of that team on the price and term he settled on was smart and leverage for others about to sign this year and next. Lee is the only contract on the Isles I feel that they overpaid, but he likely would have been offered that or more on the open market.

    • Ya, Holland was between a rock and a hard place after those other deals got signed.
      Is Leon worth more, I would agree with that. But it doesn’t matter. Pretty sure Leon understands how this works, and would rather have Nurse on his team long term, than not.

      Safe to say Nurse is picking up the first big tab for the boys during camp.

      Heard Bouchard is training with Nurse this off season. That will help huge if he works as hard as he does. If he can take a big step this year, he will move to top 4 by mid season. The brains and skill are there already.

    • Lol Petry who’s he don’t put him in with best young D men in NHL please he’s half the player with no more upside. I do agree the prices are to high only one I would give 9 to is Makar.

    • The only thing mentally challenged here is your comment.

      Oilers were stuck. Couldn’t risk losing him for nothing. I had hoped $8.25M per but teams like Edmonton and Winnipeg tend to have to overpay to keep or bring in guys.

  2. There was only one $9+ mil defenseman on the list – Makar. How many players can you put on a roster with an $81mil cap? Hmmmm. Maybe 9?

    I heard someone say about investigations: If you find one cockroach, there’s 99 hidden that you can’t see?

  3. Nurse and his agent are the two biggest winners this offseason …

  4. Re: Nurse’s contract

    It is what it is. When Jones, Werenski and Makar signed those deals, all I could say was “Oh Crap”.

    That said, I’d rather have Darnell then any of the others. He does it all and he’s a great player to build your D-Corp around.

    We just need another G. Kenny, call Jim Nil. He’s got a Khubodin and you have the pieces to get it done.

  5. Not understanding the shell shock of the nurse contract at all. The kid signed 1 bridge deal, exceeded expectations. Got a 2nd bridge deal, exceeded expectations and grew into a legitimate #1 defenseman on his team who likely will still improve as al all around defender. Sometimes the team wins in gambling with bridge deals, sometimes its the player. Holland did not set the market this time, it was set for him and no way…no way could they risk going into next season with him as a pending ufa. You can question much of what holland has done since working for the oilers but this was a no brainer. The Oil had no leverage here.

    Nurse will live up to the deal for the most part imo…latter years are anyones guess though, as it is for nearly all 8 yr contracts