NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

by | Sep 5, 2021 | News, NHL | 42 comments

The Canadiens don’t match the Hurricanes’ offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi and acquire Christian Dvorak from the Coyotes. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


MONTREAL GAZETTE/THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Montreal Canadiens announced yesterday they would not match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canadiens received the Hurricanes’ first and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first time a player has been successfully signed away from another club via offer sheet since the Edmonton Oilers inked the Anaheim Ducks’ Dustin Penner to a multi-year contract in 2007. While the Hurricanes PR department delighted in taunting the Canadiens on social media, at least there were no threats of a barn fight among general managers.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was pressed for salary cap space, the Hurricanes boxed him in with that offer sheet and he couldn’t justify that investment on a promising but inconsistent young forward. Matching the offer would’ve blown his salary structure apart, leaving the Canadiens with limited cap room for the coming season and create a potential cap headache for next season to qualify Kotkaniemi’s rights.

Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes above the $81.5 million cap by over $1.5 million but they’re expected to put defenseman Jake Gardiner on long-term injury reserve for the start of the season. Given their depth at center, Kotkaniemi will likely be a winger on their second or third line.


MONTREAL GAZETTE/ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Canadiens wasted little time finding a replacement for Kotkaniemi, acquiring center Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for two draft picks.

The Coyotes will receive the highest of the Canadiens’ two first-round picks in the 2022 draft plus a 2024 second-rounder. However, if either or both of the Canadiens’ picks are among the top-10, the Coyotes get the lower of the two picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were linked to the 25-year-old Dvorak throughout last week. He’s a skillful underrated two-way center carrying a $4.45 million annual average value for the next four seasons. Dvorak should prove a worthwhile fit as the Habs second-line center.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has been busy this summer rebuilding his club by shipping out veteran assets for draft picks. He now has eight picks in the first two rounds of next year’s draft, including three first-rounders. Armstrong could keep those picks but it wouldn’t surprise me if he uses some of them as trade bait to acquire promising young NHL talent.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness said Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Roope Hintz and Joel Hanley have recovered from the injuries that sidelined/hampered them for much of last season. Goaltender Ben Bishop is skating again but the club remains uncertain if he’ll be available for the coming season. He missed all of 2020-21 recovering from knee surgery.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW‘s Adrian Dater tweeted Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz has returned to full health and is anxious to resume his NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lower-body injury sidelined Francouz for the entirety of last season.

TORONTO SUN: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Gerbe will be sidelined four-to-six months following hip surgery.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild unveiled their jerseys for the 2022 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field on New Year’s Day when they face off against the St. Louis Blues.



  1. Some interesting things with this deal

    Is Dvorak a huge upgrade over kokamami? In retrospect offering kot the same money as Dvorak maybe avoids all this. Plus Montreal does downgrade a second to a third.

    I found it odd Arizona needed to prove the protection on the pick

    Lastly I guess Montreal can’t use a 1st for a rental if they are competitive this year. A 2022 one at least.

    • To me, this seems like a massive failure on the ARZ management side.

      1. Dvorak is on a relatively team-friendly deal. No need to cast him aside unless the return is incredible.
      2. The return wasn’t incredible.
      3. As Chrisms noted, the 1st is protected. Why on earth did they agree to that?
      4. …if he uses some of them as trade bait to acquire promising young NHL talent.

      Or, maybe, you know, get the young talent in the friggin’ trade you’re currently making. Cut out the middle man

      5. Leverage, people, leverage. You have a team that just lost 2 C’s and are desperate for a C. You basically just handed them one with little or no ‘surcharge’. This is the same deal that ARZ would have been offered a month ago.

      There were no other serviceable C’s in FA. Yet they give away clearly the best available one for a protected 1st and a 2nd years away.

      Totally butchered this. Yet another reason that franchise is a mess.

      • I totally agree with you … all you hear about in this league is the need for quality centre’s… the Coyotes had one and let him go for a really late first and a 2nd down the road … Habs are way better off with Dvorak at C than KK … Bergy being shrewd once again … Armstrong blew this one big time, he should have held out for a kings ransom … not only didn’t Bergy have to overpay, he underpaid …

    • I don’t know the exact rules in the NHL fine print but I am sure they could make a condition on 1st saying we trade X team which ever 1st Arizona does not get in a trade for X rental player.

      • So said team would get either the later 1st or if top 10 the earlier first? My eyes are crossing.

      • I get the hilarity around that. Chism but practically. Carolina, less than 5% chance they are a top 10 pick and if Montreal is in danger of that, they probably are not shopping for rental help.

        I personally hope Montreal finishes with the 11th OA haha

  2. Another first round fail on Bergevin’s resume. This is simply a case of player mismanagement. KK was brought in too early, expectations were too high and he could never live up to them. Everyone talks about how important playoff experience is and here we are in the Finals and you are sitting out 2 cornerstone pieces in KK and Romanov so you can play Merill? Gustafson? Staal? – 3 players we who clearly would not be part of the future. I remember when I heard KK was being sat out for game 4 – at that time I knew he was finished in Montreal. There is no way Bergevin should have allowed that move. For now it looks like Dvorak is an upgrade on KK but it does not address the problem that we do not know how to draft and develop 1st round talent. Until we can figure that out, we are destined to be a mediocre team at best.

    • Didn’t that “medicore” team go to the finals last season???
      If yes, I guess every city in the league (except the Stanley Cup champion) wishes they had a medicore team?

      • Nasdaq40. Let’s remember that but for Covid, Montreal would have probably missed the playoffs the past 2 years. Going in to the playoffs most were predicting a 4 game sweep by the Leafs. That they were able to bring it all together for the playoffs was amazing but no one is predicting the Habs are Stanley Cup contenders this year – in fact, going in to this year, the “experts” are predicting they won’t make the playoffs.

    • You will with Ghule .. he will be a beast …

      • If you are playing a regular shift in the NHL as a C, at the age of 21, you are not a bust.
        Should he have played in the NHL as an 18 yr old?
        I think only the best of best should, but KK will be fine.
        Dvorak cost less than I thought. Good move by MB.

    • Habman67: If KK is another draft bust, why did the Canes offer sheet him?

      Because, unless you subscribe to the ridiculous “revenge” motivation, they think he has way more upside to show. One doesn’t do that for a bust.

      • LJ. I did not say KK is a bust. I said Montreal can’t draft and develop 1st round talent. I think we can both agree KK is not worth the $6.1 million he signed. I think the Canes think KK could be a player but the whole offer sheet thing was to get back at Bergevin for offer sheeting Aho. They will not resign KK to anywhere close to the $6,100 015 they offer sheeted him to. Bottom line, we used our 3rd overall pick for KK and 3 years later he is no longer a part of our organization. Also, they burned a year off of Romanov’s contract to allow him to skate with the club during last years playoffs even though the NHL would not allow him to play. This year when he can actually play, the sit him to play Merill and Gustafson – brilliant management!

    • I sure hope that if my team ever catches lightning in a bottle and rides it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, that they will be smart enough to play their prospects (for the future) instead of the best players at that moment who might help us win the cup right then.

      • Can’t ever stop thinking about the future. If you do your team might never make it the cup finals.

      • Hilarious! Of course you always play your best players but In what world is Staal (whose had a great career but unfortunately father time has caught up) better than KK and Merrill/Gustafson better than Romanov. Montreal let all 3 walk into free agency without offering them a contract. Merrill signed for 850K with the Wild and the other 2 remained unsigned. So Merrill/Gustafson are better yet in game 4 you bring in Romanov? Again asset mismanagement. If you are going with a youth movement then let them play. Don’t mess with their heads to the point that KK is willing to participate in the Canes revenge against Bergevin. He could have told the Canes that if you want me, I’ll sign for $6.1 but no $20 signing bonus and don’t add another $15 to my contract.

  3. Nice rebound by Habs. After losing Danault in FA, Dvorak is a nice replacement. Someone said yesterday, a win win. Canes have a pretty good prospect pool so losing a 1st and 3rd for a still high ceiling prospect is a no brainer. Forget about the 1 year bloated salary. It’s a gamble worth taking. Habs replace with kid with more experience. As far as Yotes? Better hope they draft well.

  4. In summary from yesterday…

    Canes increased their hit to now a total of $25M + @ Centre

    Houston Coyotes will start the ‘22/‘23 season with a low payroll; many recent draftees; and a bucket O’picks

    Habs lowered their expected Cap for upcoming year by $1.7 M; converted a 2nd in ‘24 to a 3rd in next years draft

    Dundon giggled posting while dropping a deuce sitting on the throne

    Bergevin ate a bottle of tums

    City of Houston collectively cheered

  5. In summary from yesterday…

    Canes increased their hit to now a total of $25M + @ Centre

    Houston Coyotes will start the ‘22/‘23 season with a low payroll; many recent draftees; and a bucket O’picks

    Habs lowered their expected Cap for upcoming year by $1.7 M; converted a 2nd in ‘24 to a 3rd in next years draft

    Dundon giggled posting while dropping a deuce sitting on the throne

    Bergevin ate a bottle of tums

    City of Houston collectively cheered

    • Duplicate post again?

      Sorry Lyle, I don’t know how that’s happening

      • You get too excited like a little kid at the cookie jar and mash the button twice….

      • Hi AZHN

        Didn’t think I did that… but I guess that might be it 🤪

        I hadn’t had my Tim’s ☕️ yet; so maybe

        I am asking the next question truthfully and with no sarcasm meant…

        Do you (and your friends who are Yotes fans) have true concerns re the possibility of the franchise moving?

        We posters can speculate and joke from the sidelines all we want; but a relo affects people such as you and your fellow Yotes fans friends

        What do you think the true probability is of a relo

        I can tell you that most here in my circle of friends believe the odds of a move are rising

    • Pengy, in my pong view the lineup of markets stays the same as long as Bettman is around; he’s too invested. It will take a new regime to decide the balance of reinvesting to preserve existing but perhaps viable markets, or moving on. A new regime is ulikely to retest Hartford or Atlanta, but the demo’s of that arizona market may be worth one more good swing if good ownerership can be found…..like they have been persistent in Miami which could move to the bubble

  6. Canes offer Jesperi as payback and they know Trocheks new contract wont fit next summer. There is no other reason with Aho-Trochek-Staal down the middle to over pay for Jesperi.

    Habs replace Danault with Dvorak.
    Habs still miss the playoffs

    • Hi ds

      Pens fans would love for Staal to NOT have trade protection; and Staal to reunite with Sid , Gino, Tanger (get the band back together) for Zucker + +

      alas… a pipe dream

      Note…. VT has no trade protection…. And he was born in Pitt…. Just sayin’

      What time does HexBurkie wake
      up on Sundays? At the crack of noon?

    • @Pengy

      I think Staal without a NTC is still a Cane

      Still some odds moves by a team so close to the top of contention

      • Hi ds

        You are probably right…. I was just hoping and praying …. 🙏🤞🤞🙏🤞🙏🤞👍👍👍👍👍

  7. I still think KK has plenty of upside left though his development hasn’t kept pace with Suzuki who is only one year older.

    A common theme this past week is :

    “Matching the offer would’ve blown his salary structure apart, leaving the Canadiens with limited cap room for the coming season and create a potential cap headache for next season to qualify Kotkaniemi’s rights.”

    Yet this is exactly the position Carolina has put themselves in , blowing their salary structure by making KK the 3rd highest salaried player and as mentioned, possibly playing him out of position. Martin Necas is a happy camper.

    Dvorak was a very high end Junior and while in the NHL has been consistently improving yearly on a poor team

    He shoots L which complements Suzuki R shot.
    He’s a solid 2C for the Habs, outscoring KK and Danault combined, for less money than each.

    He’s a solid face off man, averaging 53.45% in his 4 years

    Bergevin got a 1st and a 3rd in next years draft and traded away a protected 1st in next year and a 2nd in 2024 a very good return.

    I don’t believe Dvorak is worth a 1st and 2nd.
    I don’t believe KK is worth a 1st and 3rd

    The big winner is KK, he gets $6.1 million this year, a further 6.1 next year OR coveted UFA status OR an extension for whatever number of years and pay he demands.

    2nd winner is Arizona who has chosen full rebuild and stacked up in next years supposed deep draft adding to Dylan Guenther taken this year.

    3rd winner is Montreal who improved its team in the immediate short term and has a 2c at a reasonable contract and somehow got a protected 1st next year.

    4th winner is the media/pundits who had a week of filler to talk about.

    5th winner is Tom Dundon who satisfied his ego and enjoyed trolling for a week.

    • Montreal did well with the trade. Dvorak will help a lot. I don’t get the rationale for the Coyotes but, as mentioned above, they need to hope they draft well. Interesting week thanks to that dreaded offer sheet.
      More please.

  8. I don’t understand this move by Arizona, is Dvorak worth a 1st and 2nd? Maybe not on talent alone; however when you consider the contract $$$ and term and then his age and production, plus what little talent you have on your team. This was an unnecessary move and could’ve recieved more.

    Good on MB for pulling this deal off, the team is better today then it was yesterday.

    Kk I like this player, I like the fact he pokes his nose in places he probably shouldn’t, has a little edge to his game. Didn’t understand why he got benched.

    For 2021-2022 I don’t believe he’ll be as productive as Dvorak.

    2yrs down the road, I might not say that.

  9. Bergevin did what he had to do. At this moment, Dvorak is a better center that Kotkaniemi; obviously the key to this deal is if that is still the case two or three years from now. And the cap hit is $1.65m. less and he’s under contract for four more years. As one reporter put it, Bergevin made lemonade.
    I don’t agree that Dvorak isn’t worth a first and a second. Over the past two seasons, he’s averaged 23g 45P per 82 games on an awful team. He’s solid defensively and strong in the circle. Plays the PP and the PK. With the Habs, I think he can be a solid second line two way center picking up around 50P per season. And he’s signed long term at a reasonable hit. That’s well worth picks who may or may not play for the team. A second rounder has about a 1 in 4 chance of being more than a fringe player. The first rounder is guaranteed to be no better than #11. That’s where the quality starts to drop. Well worth it.
    One thing, though. The Habs have to do a better job managing young talent, to say nothing about drafting. I don’t agree that KK was rushed to the NHL. His first season was his best. The mistake was not giving him more responsibility, more ice team and better and consistent line mates as time went on. They tried to shelter him too much rather than too little. In the end, Bergevin’s two #3 picks have yielded Dvorak and Anderson. Two solid second line players who will bring a lot to the team. But neither are superstars. And picking at #3, you want to get a real difference maker.

    • Hi Howard

      I agree GMMB did what he had to (not match) but I think he failed well overall

      The net is saving expected (what would have had to be paid to Koka) Cap this year; improving (this year) at C (expected 21/22 performance of Dvorak over Koka) at a cost of trading a 2nd for a 3rd. As at now .. my gut believes long term Koka is better than Dvorak in 2 years. If GMMB can extend Dvorak and if he maintains or improves…. this will be viewed (in a few years) as a fair step/move for Habs. If Dvorak falters; or if Habs can’t extend him; or if Koka blasts out like a rocket ship (all three of those are low probabilities as at now)… then GMMB is exposed to potential regrets in a couple of years

      Long and short… in 21/22 … IMHO …. Dvorak > Koka…. so short term improvement (and Cap savings) for sure

      Habs still; IMHO, battling 3rd through 5th in ATL , with Leafs and Bruins…. Bolts/Panthers battling for 1st in ATL (and East Conference)

      • As I said, At this point, Dvorak is better than Kotkaniemi, but in two or so years, who knows. And Waddell is now saying that they plan on using him at LW. The Habs of course drafted him as a center because that’s where their need was.
        But Pengy, I agree with you that the whole episode was a fail. If KK ends up playing center and playing decidedly better than Dvorak, the fail will have been in the way thy handled him. If not, the fail will have been in drafting him #3.

      • “ he failed well overall”….typo…. Should have been “ he faired well overall”….one letter changes the whole context doesn’t it

  10. MB did the best he could cleaning up the mess he made but to me that is like giving a pat on the back to someone who intentionally started a fire in the first place and then had to put it out themselves. Yes the fire is out now but the house is still damaged because of it.

    Some say this move makes them better and only time can tell that but are they better now with the team they have then they were with the team they made the SC run with? Definitely not on paper and likely not in real life either.

    • The Habs lost 5 players from this past year’s team, FlyingV, and have Byron on the sidelines for half a year. They will start the season with 1/3 of the team being new players, without factoring in who may also make the team out of training camp (Poehling, Norlinder?)

      It’s a mug’s game to try and predict the season’s results in September. IMO The Habs are stronger on the wing, perhaps about the same on D given the additions to replace Weber, and then there is that big question mark about how well they will do without Danault and KK.

      Often even good players struggle through an adjustment period in coming to a new team, a new role, new line mates, new systems. It will IMO take about half a season to see what they are really like.

      Washington, Boston and Pittsburgh are slowly declining. Philly will be stronger, perhaps Florida will be as well. Tampa is a lock for a playoff spot and watch out for those PITA Sens.

      Carolina, whom we can thank for a week of high drama, gave Tampa a very good challenge in the playoffs. But as far as I can see they effectively traded KK and Bear for Hamilton. They will still be good, but that is a poor outcome for them.

      Come on then, drop the puck!

      • I would never presume to predict anything. Too many factors. I just don’t think they have improved.

      • Toe Blake said it best, The FlyingV – predictions are for gypsies

    • In all, I think the Habs are at least as good now as when the season ended. At center, Dvorak is a suitable replacement for Danault. With some more offensive upside, especially as a goal scorer. The loss of Kotkaniemi is more a matter of what they could potentially lose in the future rather than the loss of his production until now. And with the addition of Hoffman and having Caufield at the outset, they are vastly improved on the wings.
      Defense, of course, is the issue. The loss of Weber hurts, but I think adding Savard makes up for the physicality and leadership that Weber provided. But obviously not the offense. Romanov needs to be given the opportunity to step up. They should not hold him back like they did with KK – give him more minutes and opportunity and see if he can develop. If Norlander can make the team as well, so much the better. Obviously, some of the young D-men, such as Romanov, Norlinder, Harris, Struble, Brook and HeWhoShallNotBeNamed will have to soon play large roles with the Habs.
      I would make one more move. Sign Sami Vatanen to a low cost one year deal or a PTO.

      • Howard,

        You forgot Guhle, who may just challenge Norlander or Brook as the next rookie D-man to make the roster.

      • Pretty good assessment, Howard. Except for the Vatanen suggestion. He has been injury prone since 2017. Giving him a PTO reduces opportunity for all the young prospects.

        And the player you don’t want to name is Mailloux. He’s not Voldemort so let’s not join the cancel culture.

      • Uwey,
        You’re right, I forgot Guhle. My oversight. He’s probably the best of all of them.
        The prospects are still at least a year away. I certainly don’t feel comfortable with Wideman taking a regular shift. Vatanen can be signed to a deal that can be buried in the AHL at no cap hit if he doesn’t work out. I think it’s a worthwhile risk.
        Oh, and please excuse my sarcasm. Trust me, I’m on your side on Mailloux.