NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 28, 2021

by | Sep 28, 2021 | News, NHL | 9 comments

Key dates for the 2021-22 season are revealed, the league won’t allow unvaccinated players into Canada, plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Cole Caufield and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: The key dates for the NHL’s upcoming 2021-22 season were released yesterday. The trade deadline will be 3 pm ET on Monday, March 21, 2022, and free agency begins at noon ET on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Dec. 1, 2021, remains the due date for restricted free agents to be signed in order to play this season. Players on one-year contracts can sign contract extensions effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Other notable dates include the last possible date of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs (June 30), the first buyout period opening (July 1), the 2022 NHL Draft (July 7 and 8 in Montreal), and the salary arbitration period (July 27 to Aug. 11, 2022).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli (stick tap to Kukla’s Korner) tweeted out the complete list yesterday. The last day of the regular season is Apr. 30, 2021, the playoffs begin on May 2, and the deadline for qualifying offers is July 11.

THE SCORE: The NHL will not allow unvaccinated players to enter Canada to play in games this season. The league isn’t seeking a National Interest Exemption because so few NHL players remain unvaccinated. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly recently said he expected 98 percent of NHL players will be fully vaccinated by the start of the upcoming season.

The New York Rangers will retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 on Jan. 28, 2022 (NHL Images).

  NEW YORK POST: The Rangers announced they will retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 jersey on Jan. 28, 2022, in a pregame ceremony at Madison Square Garden before facing off against the Minnesota Wild. He will become the 11th player to receive that honor in Rangers history.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens rookie winger Cole Caufield will be sidelined about a week with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Joel Edmundson is expected to join his teammates in training camp on Tuesday or Wednesday after being sidelined by a minor injury. Winger Brendan Gallagher has joined his teammates after missing training camp due to family reasons.

TSN: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon claims there was no grand scheme behind his club’s successful attempt at signing away winger Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Canadiens earlier this month. He noted the signing wouldn’t have happened had his club managed to re-sign defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who inked a seven-year deal with the New Jersey Devils on July 28.

There was no grand plan…we didn’t set out to do this two years ago, even a month ago,” said Dundon. “There’s always lots of options to look at based on the order things happen. When this came up, this one actually worked.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Kotkaniemi signing was made as retribution for the Canadien’s failed attempt at signing Sebastian Aho two years ago. However, Dundon does make a good point about Hamilton.

Had the Hurricanes retained the blueliner, Kotkaniemi would probably still be with the Canadiens because the Canes would’ve lacked the cap space to sign him to a one-year, $6.1 million contract. The Hurricanes’ also attempted to trade for the 21-year-old center before going the offer sheet route, and reportedly gave the Habs a heads-up that they were going to sign him. That was an odd thing to do if revenge for the Aho offer sheet was the goal here.

The Hurricanes got a little petty by tacking the $15.00 onto the end of the $6.1 million (for Kotkaniemi’s jersey number in Montreal) and including a $20 signing bonus (signifying Aho’s jersey number). Still, that’s not proof Dundon was plotting vengeance for the past two years.

THE ATHLETIC’S Tarik El-Bashir reports Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller left practice yesterday with a lower-body injury. They’ll see how he feels today. El-Bashir doesn’t know if it’s connected to last season’s groin muscle strains.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese tested positive for COVID-19 and entered the NHL’s coronavirus protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Ron Hextall last week indicated only one player in the organization was not fully vaccinated but declined to identify him. Aston-Reese’s positive COVID test doesn’t mean he was that player.

ESPN.COM: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen was removed from the COVID-19 protocol list. He’d been held out of the lineup since Friday but that doesn’t necessarily mean he tested positive.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Washington Capitals defenseman Dylan McIlrath for two preseason games and two regular-season games for an illegal hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Steven Fogarty.

Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig was suspended for one preseason game and one regular-season game for cross-checking Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois.

THE ATHLETIC’s Rick Dhaliwal reports Vancouver Canucks defenseman Brady Keeper underwent surgery on Monday for a broken leg.

THE SCORE: Former NHL defenseman Sami Vatanen signed a one-year contract with Geneve-Servette Hockey Club in Switzerland. He recorded 200 points in 473 career games with the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars.


  1. Montreal signed Aho’s front loaded offer sheet with the believe that Dundon was too cheap to match the offer. One thing the GM’s should know by now is that Dundon is willing to spend to the cap if he thinks it will make the team better. Not over paying for Dougie Hamilton was an an example of wise cap management not an example of being cheap.

  2. I thought for sure Vats would sign somewhere in the NHL…very surprising to me

    Not being able to sign Hamilton certainly gave Dondon the opportunity for space, and ability for Canes to prepare an offer sheet (any player available for one)…. But targeting a Hab , with the extra $15 and $20 (that idea was certainly not coming from the GM)…..Mmmmmmm…. Methinks there was revenge/spite on his mind

    All legal, all part of the CBA…. I’d love to see more offer sheets

    • If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck …

  3. One item doesn’t make sense, Lyle. Season ends on April 20 and playoffs being on May 2? Should it be April 30?

  4. Dundon still bothering to explain away the signing as a nothing burger and it could be if he didn’t keep talking about it.
    The offer sheet high is wearing off.

    Kotkaniemi is #82 and Dvorak has been given #28 while Sami Niku has been given KK’s #15.

    Their respective careers will be intertwined.

    Ridly Greig has a history of suspensions in Junior for hits to the head and cross checking and now an auspicious debut in the NHL.

    As mentioned yesterday, I was thinking of Sami Vatanen getting a PTO with the Habs and am surprised he left for the SHL at a prime age of 30y/o.

    • Habs could’ve signed Vatanen for a year instead of signing Sami Niku.

      • A lot of teams could have signed Vatanen. He could have been had for less than a million. The difference is (1) Vatanen is injury prone (2) Niku is younger and has possible growth.

    • Vatanen’s offensive upside is limited, and his defense is non-existent. He played for some defensive-minded teams and STILL finished his NHL career a MINUS -5. No thanks!

  5. Again it’s clear to anyone not chafing at their gm losing the cap game that it wasn’t done as revenge. I’m sure some marketing guy called dunden and said “how’s about getting lots of great publicity for 35$?”