NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2021

by | Oct 1, 2021 | News, NHL | 32 comments

Canucks closing in on new contracts for Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson, the Leafs sign Sheldon Keefe to a contract extension, plus the latest on Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Vrana, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger reported yesterday evening the Vancouver Canucks appear to be closing in on new contracts for restricted free agents Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. It’s believed Hughes could receive a six-year contract while Pettersson would get a three-year deal.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Satiar Shah reports Hughes’ could earn an annual average value of $7.75 million. The Athletic’s Rick Dhaliwal hears Pettersson could get a $7.7 million AAV. That would be a combined $15.45 million annually against the Canucks cap.

Cap Friendly indicates the Canuck have $13.7 million in projected cap space but they would be allowed to exceed the $81.5 million cap by $3.5 million by placing sidelined winger Micheal Ferland on long-term injury reserve. They could also get $3 million in cap relief if defenseman Travis Hamonic opts out of playing this season by today’s deadline.

No surprise if Hughes and Pettersson get those annual average values on their new contracts. Hughes is their top defenseman while Pettersson is their first-line center. They’re going to be paid as such. They’re also young players who’ve yet to reach their full potential. If you think their new contracts are expensive, wait until you see how much they get once those contracts expire.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs yesterday confirmed they’ve signed head coach Sheldon Keefe to a two-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs management still has confidence in Keefe to guide this club to a Stanley Cup despite not having won a playoff round during his short tenure behind their bench. This extension should quell speculation that Keefe could lose his job if the Leafs fall short again. Of course, that could depend on whether there’s a front-office purge next spring if this club makes another early postseason exit.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Leafs, winger Wayne Simmonds spoke out yesterday against racism in the game after HK Kremenchuk’s Andrei Deniskin received a mild suspension by the Ukrainian Hockey League for the racial taunting of HC Donbass defenseman Jalen Smereck during a recent UHL game. Smereck, an African-American, has taken leave from Donbass, which has called for stiffer punishment for Deniskin.

Simmonds has also encountered racial taunts throughout his playing career. “I’ve faced a lot of these things myself, and I don’t even know if I’d want my kids playing hockey to be quite honest.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hockey, at every level, is supposed to be for everyone. There should be no place for racism in the sport regardless of where it’s played.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana is expected to miss the next four months following shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a blow to the Wings’ offense. Acquired at last season’s trade deadline, Vrana had an immediate positive effect. He was expected to play a major role for the rebuilding Wings this season as they attempt to take the next step toward playoff contention.

THE ATHLETIC: Zac Rinaldo’s anti-vaccination stance likely means his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets is over before it began. Sources say he will not play a game for the Jackets or their AHL affiliate this season. The club placed him on waivers yesterday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Bell Centre in Montreal is expected to return to full capacity when the 2021-22 season opens next month as the Quebec government lifts some of its COVID-19 restrictions.

ESPN.COM: The Arizona Coyotes are the only NHL club to relax its game-day dress code for players this season. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators have plans to allow their players to wear team-issued tracksuits to games this season.

Several clubs have done away with the tie requirement though suits must still be worn. The Seattle Kraken has adopted a business casual policy.

The NHLPA has been pushing behind the scenes for a league-wide change. The PA believes it will help players build their individual brands and grow the game.


  1. Not a lot of rumors or even hard news to pass along these past couple of days, so I took a quick look at the current CapFriendly situation for all 32 teams to see where each stands in terms of cap. The results show that there should be a flurry of activity as the season opener draws near as teams move to finalize their rosters and, in 10 cases at least, get under the cap. No doubt there will be some plucked off waivers, a number placed on LTIR, demotions to the minors, RFA signings and, hopefully for interest sake, even a trade here and there. The number in brackets after each team shows – as per CapFriendly – the number signed up to the maximum of 23 (two teams are shown as over that number):

    Over the cap: Mtl (23), TB (22), Wpg (22), Dal (23), NYI (22), Edm (23), Vegas (23), Chi (23), Car (22), Wash (23)

    Less than $1 mil: Tor (21) Pit (23), Pha (22), StL (22), Cgy (23)

    Less than $2 mil: Fla (25), Col (23), Bos (23)

    $2 to $3 mil” Min (23), SJ (23), LA (23)

    $8 to $10 mil: Sea (24); NYR (23), Nash (23)

    $11 to $14 mil: Ariz (23), Clb (23), Ana (23), NJ (22), Det (23), Van (20)

    $17 mil +: Buff (23), Ott (23)

    What moves do you see the team you follow making?

    • Hi George

      As you pointed out…. LTIR is going to help out/fix most of the teams who are in “overage” positions; with a tweak demotion/waive here and there

      Slim pickings for any more UFA grabs

      Only 5 RFAs (3 prominent) left to “ink”

      More or less some paper shuffling; official reporting of LTIR etc

      Would love to see a trade or two…. However , trades now (before season starts); highly unlikely

      Still think Panthers sitting good…. They have just over $1.3 M in space and are at 25…. Easy fix is to send down Luostarinen and Tippet … neither need to clear waivers…. Then Panthers start season with very promising team and $3M in space

      If Knight plays as he should and Bobo can play at even an “average” starter’s performance level…. That’s a find roster…. And if they win Atl and East…. I would not be gobsmacked

    • George, the Leafs will need waivers if they cut any players on the current roster. I can’t see that happening unless they sign one of the forwards they have in camp on a PTO – Josh Ho-Sang and Nikita Gusev.
      Based on pre-season games so far, the general feeling is that Ho-Sang will be signed and Gusev will be let go.
      I think that, if they sign Ho-Sang, they will put him on waivers and, if he clears, he will start the season with the Marlies.
      If they go with seven defence men, Timothy Liljegren looks like the best bet to stay up. He’s waiver exempt so they could put him back with the Marlies at any time.
      Not sure who would have to go if Ho-Sang makes the team but likely a fourth line winger – some people would say lots of options there.

      • Liljegren is a RD that Im curious how he would look getting the ultimate tutalege from fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larssen and what it would cost Canucks to acquire

      • Would a swap of LD Juolevi for RD Liljegren make any sense?

    • Canucks will be eating all of their space to get Pettersson and Hughes signed bringing their roster to 22 players.
      They should get an extra 3 mil when Hamonic’s deadline to get a jab expires but hopefully Canucks can grab 1 of the RD that should go thru waivers out of Seattle
      Cale Fleury, Will Borgen to name a few but they could go trade route as well, stay tuned I guess.

      Canucks fans are just over the moon to finally get EP/QH signed to go with the off-season work Benning pulled off.

  2. Re Rinaldo and waivers and “ Sources say he will not play a game for the Jackets or their AHL affiliate this season. ”

    What happens if he clears waivers?? …. I’m not sure if they (Jackets) can then unilaterally terminate his contract… Howard (and other Lawyers here),… can they?

    If not ….. does he just sit at home playing solitaire collecting $275 K (AHL sal) ??

    What team might pick him up knowing that he won’t be traversing the boarder?

    • The report said it’s unclear how the Jackets will proceed if Rinaldo clears waivers. However, they have no intention of bringing unvaccinated players onto their rosters.

      • Cheers and thanks Lyle

    • Pengy, there are some NBA players who will lose big-time money if they don’t get vaccinated. Andrew Wiggins, a Canadian with the Golden State Warriors, will not be allowed to play home games in San Francisco if unvaccinated. The city has a bylaw preventing his participation. Unless the team trades him to a team in a city without such a law, Wiggins could lose up to $15 million this year.
      New York has a similar law re vaccination which affects unvaccinated athletes there as well.

      • Local laws obviously can bar entry into large capacity venues such as sports arenas to the unvaccinated. But issues such as loss of pay or contract termination are governed by the contracts themselves and agreements worked out between the league’s and the players unions. I haven’t read up on how the league’s will handle this.

      • Thanks BCLeafFan

        Yes, for sure decisions will hit the pocketbook; and those players have to weigh that loss

        That financial hit (NBA) is much more than Rinaldo’s

        I am just wondering what happens IF he clears …. Clb per their statement won’t have him play for their club in NHL or AHL….

        I think there may have been a statement re possible termination of contract after that; IF it was possible

        Howard laid out some overarching fundamentals today…. So it seems it would have to be an “out” clause in the Standard Player Contract; for termination to happen

        Do you foresee any team grabbing Rinaldo off waivers?

        Metro Div has least Canadian rink games

    • Depends on the language of the contract. I have never read the NHL players standard contract, but it’s quite likely that there are clauses included which allow for termination in the event of certain instances of breach by the player. I have no idea if refusal to vaccinate is covered in any way. There are certainly clauses dealing with suspension without pay. Obviously, the NHLPA can file grievances on players behalf if called for. As Lyle says, it’s unclear how this will play out. Lucky for the team, it’s a one year 750K deal.

      On a different note, the Hughes contract will look like a steal for the Canucks before it’s halfway done.

      • Cheers and thanks Howard

      • Now hold on there, Howard.

        You are only a lawyer. And I have only been negotiating collective agreements for 20+ years so do either of us really have any credibility to say such things are arbitral when Habfan30 has declared that termination of player contracts are a civil matter? Thin ice, Howard. Thin ice.

      • The Jackets announced that Rinaldo has cleared waivers and will not be sent to their AHL team. But they will honor his contract. It was a 2-way contract so they’ll have to pay $300,000 or so to not play hockey. Unless they can send him somewhere on loan.

        Tell Jarmo I’m willing to accept half that amount to not play hockey for him.

  3. The NHLPA wants the dress code relaxed, stating it will allow the individual to show their personality and grow the game.

    Personally I have no issues with doing away with the suits.

    The suits didn’t stop players like PK or Pasta from showing their personality.

    The only time I ever see a player entering the arena is when showing on a broadcast.

    Wonder if some would still choose to wear a suit.

    • Hi Caper

      As you pointed out… PK and Pasta; and some others; are already “expressing their persona “ via “snappy” suits…. I think those two and a few others, will continue (at least for a while) with their “brand”

      Just waiting for a player to “push the envelope” and show up in a speedo, goggles, flip-flops; or tie-dye shirt; tethered cut-off jeen shorts, and furry slippers

      • Pengy, love to see the speedo and flip flops mid January in Winnipeg.

      • Banana hammock

      • Pickle dish

    • I bet they’ll still be wearing suits on the Island Caper. And no facial hair.

  4. In my opinion pro leagues are being half pregnant with their covid protocols.

    All staff and personnel must be vaccinated.
    Players? meh.
    Unvaccinated players can play in the AHL.

    NBA players don’t need to be vaccinated BUT can’t play in those jurisdictions that won’t allow them.

    The leagues are putting the onus on teams to risk litigation instead of setting clear covid mandates for all.

    • It’s about money. If superstars or top end players say ‘no’. What are you going to do? Those players make the league a lot of money.

      The NHL protocols only work because the players agree. If a large number of them pushed back, or if some superstars pushed back, the NHL would be just as relaxed as the NBA.

      • Randino,

        The NBA has a star issue now as unvaccinated players cannot play in NY for example and they won’t be paid. Kyrie Irving won’t be able to play home games.
        Same goes for Golden State Warriors and Andrew Wiggins, no home games.

        That’s how they are unloading the problem to the teams.

  5. Caper (and BCLeafan), it was too late to respond to you yesterday on the topic of Toews and the cap effect his (and Kane’s) salary had:

    To your question: My point is that Toews managed to put up decent numbers despite the cap squeeze that required the Hawks to trade a number of good players: Sharp, Saad, Ladd.

    They didn’t get back the quality they had to move, surely diminishing the talent Toews had to play with and affecting his scoring. Perversely, the Hawks had to trade Panarin and ended up getting Saad back. So they lost both ends of the Saad trade due to cap issues.

    Though tangential to my point some say the Hawks lost all three times they traded Saad:


    BCLeafan: Toews and Kane got their big money after their two cups, not before. in 2015 the Hawks gave too much $$ to too few players, affecting the rest of the roster and causing them to be uncompetitive to this day. In that sense, the Leafs did get done in like the Hawks. Ouch, sorry.

    • Lj I would say Kane has lived upto his contract and 2 years remaining.

      Will be interesting to see what Toew can do.

      Will he play his way onto team Canada?

      • Excellent question. We have McDavid, Sid and Bergeron (though last time Bergeron played wing, did he not?).

        It will take a while to come back from an extended layoff, particulary with the unknowns that long covid can bring.

      • Caper,
        I really like Toews but absent so long others have passed him by.

        How many of these centres will be playing out of position?

        Connor McDavid
        Nathan McKinnon
        Brayden Point
        Sidney Crosby
        Patrice Bergeron
        Ryan O’Reilly
        Mark Scheifele
        Mathew Barzal
        Sean Couturier

      • re-posting as messed up the info
        please delete the original

        I really like Toews but absent so long others have passed him by.

        How many of these centres will be playing out of position?

        Connor McDavid
        Nathan McKinnon
        Brayden Point
        Sidney Crosby
        Patrice Bergeron
        Ryan O’Reilly
        Mark Scheifele
        Mathew Barzal
        Sean Couturier

    • Nice one. Toews is still one of my favorite players.
      Good points about earning the big contract.

      • Thanks for taking it well, BCLF. You know a player is good when fans from other teams appreciate them.