NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2021

by | Sep 13, 2021 | News, NHL | 36 comments

Penguins GM Ron Hextall talks about his club’s offseason and their plans for the upcoming season, plus the latest on Jason Demers, Bo Byram, Ryan Donato and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: In an interview with Mike DeFabo, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said “there wasn’t a feeling around here” that big changes were needed during this offseason. “I think the part you can’t lose sight of is we did win the division last year,” he said.

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall (NHL.com).

Hextall doubts team captain Sidney Crosby will be sidelined long-term by his recent wrist surgery. However, he conceded Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery) could start the season on long-term injury reserve. Hextall also said the departures of Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev were cost-cutting measures to remain under the salary cap. He also

Turning to the UFA status of Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust, Hextall remains hopeful of reaching an agreement with the trio that’s fair for both sides. He’s also looking for better performances from defenseman Marcus Pettersson and John Marino and winger Jason Zucker.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins failed to advance past the first round in two of the last three postseasons and didn’t get past the qualifying round during last year’s expanded playoff format. Questionable goaltending and an aging roster core were contributing factors behind those playoff disappointments.

Hextall’s limited cap space prevented him from making any significant additions to his roster this summer. The outcome of this season could determine if Malkin, Letang and Rust still fit into the Penguins’ long-term plans.

PHNX: Craig Morgan reports former Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers is still waiting to find an NHL team to play with. “There’s hard days and there’s good days,” he said. “You’ve just got to focus on keeping yourself ready and making sure you don’t look too far ahead or you can make yourself go crazy, sitting in the house.” The 33-year-old Demers is training in Arizona.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Bo Byram is hoping for a healthier season after being limited to just 19 games in 2020-21 by concussion symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byram could see more playing time and responsibilities this season following the offseason departures of Ryan Graves and Patrik Nemeth.

CAP FRIENDLY: reports Ryan Donato signed a one-year, $750K contract with the Seattle Kraken.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers prospect Dylan Holloway might not be on the ice for the club’s rookie training camp. He underwent offseason surgery to repair a broken thumb suffered last season playing for the University of Wisconsin but it may not be fully healed.


  1. Re “ Hextall also said the departures of ….McCann…… were cost-cutting measures to remain under the salary cap.

    $2.9 M for young (and still RFA at end of current contract) 28 G scorer (82 game pace) player who plays C&W up and down (and easily moving around those positions) the top 9 is not where you need to cut Cap space…. NOT AT ALL!

    The return in trade was basically nothing….7th waaaay down the road and a player likely to spend his career in AHL or ECHL or overseas

    Hextall also do didn’t unilaterally make a cost cutting “move” re Turbo… Francis had to “choose” him. Yes he was exposed; but no guarantee Francisco s picks him

    Hextall still has the seriously underachieving Zucker on board

    He could have saved almost the same cap and moved out just one player in Zucker

    If Hextall was comfortable with losing both McC and Turbo for nothing…. Why didn’t he offer one (or heck BOTH) to Francis to take Zucker????

    His claim of “well Pens did win the Div last year”…. Is at the very least; misguided

    No other team lost 2 players in the expansion draft

    Pens start the season without Sid; without Gino; and still have Zucker. And…. as shown on CapFriendly….. are showing Ruhweedel on the big club 😭💩🤬

    The outlook for this year realistically is that finishing 6th might just be more probable than finishing in a playoff spot

    Per TSN ; Sid likely out 6 games ; Gino 14-20( maybe more); Pens start Carter 1C; Blueger 2C; Ridrigues (??) 2C??; ???? 4C

    Hextall knows Gino starts on LTIR and will be out a minimum of 1/6th of the season…. That is some Cap space to work with

    He needs to do whatever it takes to move Zucker; and also bring in a stop gap C ….. I like Boyle but he’s not the answer

    Boz and/or E Staal on low 1 yr contracts…. Cap paid for by Gino LTIR👍👍

    Zucker plus whatever it takes for Vlad…. Both 50% rerained to make Cap gap only $1M; OR

    Zucker; Laffy; O’Connor for Henrique; OR

    Zucker + + to Chi for Strome

    Something MUST be done….. pick up the phone and make a call

    • Pengy, with all those proposals, why do you assume St. Louis, Anaheim, Chicago – or anyone else for that matter – wants any part of Zucker?

      I would bet Hextall has tried to move some of that dead weight but has found no takers, especially if they are seen as one of the main reasons the Penguins have been eliminated early for the past 3 seasons.

      Let’s face it, he has inherited an expensive Royal mess – and an aging one at that – left behind by his predecessor. As I have discovered the hard way over the years, it doesn’t matter how devoted a fan you are of any one team, there comes a time when it deteriorates to the point of virtually starting from scratch.

      A great example of that, where a team was dominant far longer than usual, is Detroit.

      In Pittsburgh it’s only going to get worse before it starts to get better. Sid can’t do it all by himself.

      • Hi George

        Hextall has admitted that he did not try an expansion offer with Francis and has not yet tried to trade Zucker

        Any player can be traded…. It would d the trade value that you have to be comfortable with in order for a deal to be completed

        I can’t possibly fathom that Francis would have turned down (in expansion) …. “We’ll give you both McC and Turbo if you take Zucker”

        That deal compared to roster now; has an increase of space of $5.5 M….. had that been done…. at least 20 UFAs (that were available just after UFA season opened) could have been had that produced at least at Zucker’s level and cost a fraction is f his Cap hit

        No denying he inherited a mess…. But basically status quo moves (at a time when he knew Gino would be out a minimum of a month) was not prudent

        He should have either started the rebuild OR made a move that gave them a shot at getting into the playoffs (where anything can happen)

        Unfortunately Pens are likely destined for the crap finish f being just outside the playoffs (so no playoff run; not chance at a premiere top 5 pick)

        I am not saying that a deal (ridding Zucker) is easy …. but it is (and has been) impossible without making a call

        If Murray asks way too much in the Zucker/Henrique flip…. Then at least he tried

        It’s the non effort in trying to move him coupled with the insanity of being the only team to lose 2 players in expansion (some got off Scott free) that irks me

        He better sign Boz and/or E Staal…. 1C Carter; 2C Blueger for at least 6 games…. 👎😢🤬🤪

      • Pengy, I understand your passion. But EVERY team will hit the proverbial brick wall at some stage, especially one that had the benefit of having two of the greatest players in the world, one of whom has played for years at less than market value , and so must enter a phase of trying to find the right combination and distribution of talent.

        They are not going to have a Crosby fall into their lap again – certainly not one of that calibre who is going to play the bulk of his career at less than market value – and it’ll be a while, very likely, before they get another crack at a Malkin-level F.

        Not everyone can be traded. The league is, was, and always will be, chock-a-block full of players who simply had no trade appeal – unless they were on the permanent LTIR and were seen as a convenient way to diddle the cap.

        If a selling point for a Zucker is, “well, he’s still young and could rebound to his best years …” then I would think any other GM would come back with “ok, if you believe that, why are you trying to peddle him to me? … sorry, there are better options out there.”

        As for Hextall’s claim that he never tried to move Zucker – do you really expect he would come out and say “yeah, I tried moving the stiff a few times but most just hung up” or words to that effect. Great way to welcome the guy back to camp.

      • Zucker has been no means terrible. He underperformed his cap hit. He has underperformed his acquisition cost. But he is not some terrible liability.

        And George. After Mario jagr and sid, we here in Pittsburgh fully believe another one will fall into our lap shortly after the crosby era.

        There is a track record

        Pittsburgh fans deserve it more than any other team

        It’s destined to happen.

      • Okay Wendell

      • At least my over the top semi sarcastic fandom is based on historical track records.


      • LOL. Can’t argue that!

      • Hi George

        Agree re proverbial wall….. that’s why rebuild is mandatory starting next year; and IMHO ; unless HexBurkie does something now; should have been considered for this year…. finishing just out of the playoffs (a possibility this year) …. Is the worst position

        Re “ chock-a-block full of players who simply had no trade appeal ”

        They may not have appeal…. But every player CAN be traded (yes even JJ)…. It all boils down to whether you (as GM) can stomach/afford the “bonus” “top-up” required in trade

        Apparently the “extra” required to accept JJ was far too steep (rightfully so)…. Hence his buyout

        Zucker has little appeal; but some team would take him for a “price”

        The trouble is Hextall has stated that he has not reached out to anybody re trading Zucker

        This is NOT a case of him hiding the fact that he did try but there was no takers, just to save face

        Had he reached out to anybody…. Somebody would have reported it

        So…. He hasn’t done so…. That is my bugaboo as a Pens fan

        If he tried but no deal worked… I’d live with that

        He has tried to move Pettersson but has not been successful

        Why not try and move Zucker ??

    • Pengy,

      You say yourself Zucker is underachieving.

      Hextall says “ He’s also looking for better performances from defenseman Marcus Pettersson and John Marino and winger Jason Zucker.”

      I don’t think anyone out there is looking to do the Pens any favors. I don’t see teams giving anything of value for your suggested return. Certainly not a capable #2 center.

      I think it’s time the penguins face the harsh reality. The cupboard is bare, and their stars have seen better days.

      Without question, it’s time to tear it down.

      For the franchise’s sake, he shouldn’t even be thinking about re-signing Letang or Malkin. Never mind both of them. Move them at the deadline, retain $$’s and maximize the return. (If they can stay healthy).

      • Hi CO

        Yes as I responded to George… Hextall should have chosen 1 of two doors… start rebuild; or make a move that gets them into the playoffs for their last crack at it

        Doing neither…. Basically status quo/stay afloat moves…. Useless moves IMHO

        Re Zucker…. As I said to George…. ANY player is trade-able…. it comes down ti comfort level in the return offer/ask

        Even JJ could have been traded …… along with 6 firsts as a penalty; to get a C prospect in return…. LOL

        Zucker for sure could never be moved straight up for s 1C, and could for sure be moved (with accompanying 2 firsts) to Arz for a B prospect

        So there are the goalposts if a potential trade ( value)

        No trade happens without s call… Hextall has confirmed that he has not called anybody re trying to move Zucker

        I do think Zucker plus Laffy plus O’Connor would bd very close to getting Henrique

        If Murray retained 25% on Henrique, Hextall could add ZAR

        That’d a tough 4 for 1 ; but it moves Zucker and frees up
        $3M…. Pens can replace ZAR ; still have space; and have improved dramatically (Henrique over Zucker)

        Nothing changes without a call

        Status quo… likely headed for 5th/6th Metro; just out a f playoffs; 13th-16th overall pick

        Agree…. Re-upping Gino and Tanger (unless very reasonable contracts) is not the route to take

        All I am asking from HexBurkie ; is to do something

        Signing Boz and/or E Staal and nigh league min; fits in Cap (Gino LTIR) and moves the needle to vying for 4th in Metro and possible WC spot

      • Letang is still a top ten d man in league… this supported by his Norris votes last year. If he doesn’t completely flame out this year bringing him back I’d a no brainer. Malkin is a tougher call.

      • Hi Chrisms

        No question re desire to bringing back either Tanger or Gino…… that said…..at the right price

        $1M per ….which won’t happen….. Done and done

        @ current Cap hit….. no and no

        So, what is a fair and “palpable” Cap hit for each of them?

        Same goes for Rusty (but he is a few years younger)

        Now let’s say Pens are definitely out nearing TDL (and that is a reasonable outcome as at now)…. If Zito reaches out to HexBurkie for Gino at 50% (and of course this assumes Gino says OK)….. what’s the ask (I’m assuming part of the deal would be a conditional pick if he re-ups with Panthers)

        Same re Tanger (who only has protection against trade to 13 teams; 18 he can be traded to)… what’s the ask

        Heaven forbid…. The craziest of craziest…. Sid is Fed up at TDL; and says he’d go to Avs to play with Mac K? 50% retained on Sid…. (Pens paying about $6 M cash for balance of contract; Avs get Sid for less than $4.4 M on the cap)…what’s that ask?

        Again … E X T R E M E E X T R E M E LONGSHOT…. remember Gretzky was traded….but what’s the ask? Mac K and Sid as top two Cs with the rest of the talent on Avs…. That , IMHO, Skyrockets Avs to top of Cup contenders

        Pens must start rebuild next year IMHO

        What’s your thoughts re acquiring one/both of Boz and/or E Staal?

      • Tangers current contract is a bargain. I’d hope for a small cut if it’s 3 or more years. If he goes year to year his current rate Is more than fair. Geno unless he goes full machino would have to take a cut. Unless pens are completely out of the race they don’t move either. Id take either center as a Malkin insurance player but when he comes back it would be tough to fit if not cheap. I’m thinking it’s zahorna time! Dark horse for Calder right there.

      • But Pengy, let’s be reasonable man, when you say “This is NOT a case of him hiding the fact that he did try but there was no takers, just to save face …” Unless you were privy to the inner circle or a fly on the wall with a recording device, you have absolutely NO way of knowing that for certain. Nor is assuming that “Had he reached out to anybody…. Somebody would have reported it …” the definitive answer. A call between two GMs who understand the need for discretion would begin and end there – “can I interest you in Zucker?” – response “not from what I’ve heard about him” – is a much more likely scenario if, what you say is true, “It’s not so much his production but his negative impact on other players …”

        If a chat between 2 GMs can be easily leaked, don’t you think a reputation like that – IF it’s accurate – would also get around?

        Maybe, if there weren’t so many possible trades still out there based solely upon so many teams needing to clear cap space, a Zucker could me moved. But with all those other “warts” – again, IF accurate – and GMs so cautious about their spending combined with internal realistic assessment of their season to come – even with a Zucker in the line-up, that’s an almost impossible sell.

      • I’m not sure I’d keep a guy around based on him finishing 9th in Norris consideration. Certainly not at 35+ going into a new contract at 6-7 per. And certainly not with his health issues.

        His injuries at 35 won’t get better than when he was 25-28.

        I’m not saying he’s useless, but I will say he’s more valuable as a trade / rebuild chip than he is keeping around a team that time has or is on the down side.

        Top 10, maybe in points. But certainly not a top 10 on the league today.

      • Giordano won a Norris a couple of years ago, and Calgary gave him away in expansion for nothing.

      • What health issues? He has missed very little time in the past few years. I don’t see how a guy still playing at his level is someone you don’t keep around.

        And Calgary didn’t want to give geo away. It was a by product of expansion. I get the point you were trying to make but that example isn’t really applicable.

      • He missed 1 game in last year’s shortened season, 7 or 8 the year prior in a shortened season. 17 the year before that, only two in 17-18, 41 games missed in 16-17, , 15-16 – 11 games,

        This list, is pretty much the same or worse going back further. I mean grossly worse.

        Calgary didn’t protect Giordano. Because he was 37 and 2 years beyond his Norris days and at 6.75 per, it was the right move.

        If Giordano wasn’t protected over Tanev etc. ?

        Personally, I hope Pittsburgh signs both to lifetime contracts at 7-8 per.

      • So his health issues have gotten better for years? I’ll take it! Fountain of youth. Would be one heck of a thing to see them sign those lifetime contracts. Geno at age 71?!?! That would be a sweet marketing gimmick

      • Reality says full season = not gotten better. That’s an awful optimistic outlook!

        Mort d-men 35 + don’t get better with age. Certainly not in modem era. Letang is going to? 9th in Norris voting.

  2. The resident writers are alive and well. Are these two real people or paid staff writers ????

    • If you’re including me in that edict … well, we choose to participate … and that’s why Lyle has the site. The more who participate the better he does.

      Instead of carping about those of us who choose to chime in, and the occasional snipe, why don’t you contribute your own observations? It doesn’t cost anything.

      What is your team of choice? What do you think THEY need to do – if anything.

      • George–My guess is that “Old Guy” isn’t bemoaning your contributions, and that he would be amenable to your invitation to analyze a team of his choice. But I can see how he, or yourself, would become annoyed by a Pittsburgh poster, for example, who claimed to have two teams of choice, while living hundreds of miles away from where one or both played, and called himself “Sensy” or “Leafsy”, for example, and posted endless and persistent hateful drivel critical of select players he may have seen play only on TV, in a language that appears to be a Vulcanese dialect.

      • Pengy has three favorite teams.
        1. Leafs
        2. Pens
        3. Golden Knights

        Wonder how his dog is doing?

      • Shoreorrpark–His dog has gone mad trying to figure out if he is a lab, a terrier, or a collie. Is it any wonder?

  3. Pengy,

    Putting aside the fact that I hardly saw any Penguins games last year, why is Zucker your hobby horse?

    Pro-rated, last year 20G-20A-40Pts which isn’t so far off his career average.

    It isn’t as if he fell off a cliff statistically and no reason to think he can’t be somewhat better this year in a real full season.

    It isn’t as if much was given up for him.

    • Hi HF30

      It’s not so much his production but his negative impact on other players

      He is for sure the worst value to Cap hit that Pens have…. thus no other team has expressed interest in the 20-20 (full season pace) player

      Re “ It isn’t as if much was given up for him.”…. this unfortunately is not true…. the trade was grossly lopsided…. 1 st AND Calen Addison…. ouch!

      Jimbo was not good at this deal…. He publicly lauded and could veted Zucker for months…. Literally driving up the ask friends m the Wild

      • “ He is for sure the worst value to Cap hit that Pens have…. thus no other team has expressed interest in the 20-20 (full season pace) player”

        Hey, ease up on the hard sell there buddy!

        It seems you’re talking yourself out of the reality trading him.

    • I think if the Pens just brought back Jack Johnson he would stop riding Zucker so much.

      Also hope Demers lands somewhere. Would be a solid 6 or 7 and wouldn’t cost much.

  4. Nothing personal but since the Pens are in my teams division (The Jerks) I hope Hextall continues making “wrong” moves if that is in fact the case as per some posters opinions. They have always been a pain in the butt to my team. The biggest mistake they made in my humble opinion is when they exposed Fleury in the expansion draft. Great goalies are hard to find.

  5. That is no country for old men
    The bemouth crowded slot
    The younguns slick as snot
    It was a great run
    The Pens are done

    • The best for last. Thanks, Jorge.

      • Bo Byram is going to make his presence felt in the NHL this year. I don’t think you guys even know there is hockey west of Chicago? GO AVS!!!!!!

      • GO like they did this past season? Like losing to a 3-year old team that right after fell to the team from the “weak” Northern Division which itself just made the playoffs?

      • tommyboy,

        That’s a heck of a team in Colorado with crazy skilled players , quite a quick turn around over there with some high draft picks .

        Byram should show his true self, covid hurt him so did that dirty he got.

        Darcy Kuemper is an upgrade and they could afford adding an enforcer for the skilled players. MacDermid might not do muchin the regular season but in the playoffs, he’ll earn his contract