NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2023

by | Jan 4, 2023 | News, NHL | 45 comments

Hat-trick performances by the Sabres’ Tage Thompson and the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk while Auston Matthews sets a Leafs franchise record. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson tallied in overtime for his third hat trick of the season in a 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals. Thompson finished the night with four points while Alex Tuch had a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who improve to 19-15-2. Alex Ovechkin tallied twice for the 21-13-6 Capitals.

Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thompson has 30 goals on the season and sits three back of Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid for the goal-scoring lead. The Sabres, meanwhile, have won seven of their last 10 games. With 40 points, they’re six back of the New York Islanders for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Before the game, the Sabres entered Capital One Center in Washington wearing t-shirts that read, “Love for 3” to honor Buffalo Bill safety Damar Hamlin, who remains hospitalized in critical condition after collapsing during Monday’s NFL game against the Bengals. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams released a statement in support of Hamlin and the Bills’ organization.

Matthew Tkachuk tallied his first hat trick with the Florida Panthers as they downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. Eric Staal also scored twice for the Panthers (17-18-4) while Clayton Keller had two points for the 13-18-5 Coyotes, who’ve lost 10 straight road games.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews collected two points to become the fastest player in franchise history to reach 500 points (445 games) but his club fell 6-5 to the St. Louis Blues. Brayden Schenn tallied the winner in the shootout while Brandon Saad scored two goals for the Blues, who improved to 18-17-3. Michael Bunting scored twice and William Nylander had a three-point performance for the 23-8-7 Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of Bunting, the Leafs have reportedly opened preliminary talks about a contract extension for the winger, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their fourth straight victory by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Former Blackhawk Brandon Hagel had a goal and an assist in the third period against his former club as the Lightning rose to 24-11-1 on the season. Seth Jones replied for the Blackhawks, who dropped to 8-25-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane left this game in the second period with a lower-body injury. An update on his condition is expected on Wednesday.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Artemi Panarin, K’Andre Miller and Filip Chytil gave the New York Rangers a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, snapping the latter’s 11-game win streak. Paul Stastny collected two assists for Carolina (25-7-6) while the Rangers improved to 21-12-6. With 56 points, the Hurricanes remain six back of the league-leading Boston Bruins.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Pheonix Copley stopped 28 shots to backstop his club over the Dallas Stars by a score of 3-2. Adrian Kempe snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Kings (22-13-6) reach the 50-point plateau, sitting four points behind the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Roope Hintz collected two assists for the 23-10-6 Stars as their four-game win streak came to an end. With 52 points, they’re two back of the Golden Knights for first overall in the Western Conference.

The Winnipeg Jets got a 33-save performance from Connor Hellebuyck in a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Sam Gagner tallied the tie-breaker in the third period as the Jets improved to 24-13-1 and sit three points behind the first-place Stars in the Central Division. The Flames’ record fell to 18-14-7 on the season.

Four straight second-period goals carried the Seattle Kraken over the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Jaden Schwartz had a goal and two assists for the Kraken (20-12-4) as they sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 44 points, one up on the Flames and two ahead of the Oilers. Connor McDavid netted his league-leading 33rd goal of the season for the Oilers (20-17-2) as they dropped their fifth straight home game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leon Draisaitl returned to the Oilers lineup after being sidelined for two games with what was believed to be a core muscle strain.

A three-point night by Mathew Barzal carried the New York Islanders to a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored twice for the Isles, who improved to 22-15-2 and hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 46 points. Bo Horvat scored twice for the Canucks as they dropped to 16-18-3.

Ottawa Senators goalie Anton Forsberg turned in a 22-save shutout to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0. Tim Stutzle and Claude Giroux each had two points for the Senators (18-17-3) while the Blue Jackets slide to 11-23-2 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Senators, a source told the Ottawa Sun that it could take until March to determine who the club’s new owner will be. Even then, the paperwork to complete the sale might not be done until June.

The Nashville Predators downed the Montreal Canadiens 6-3, handing the latter their fifth straight loss and leaving them with just one win in their last 10 games. Nino Niederreiter had three assists for the 16-14-6 Predators. Cole Caufield netted his 22nd goal of the season for the 15-20-3 Canadiens.


DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings placed winger Jakub Vrana on waivers yesterday. The move comes as the club attempts to create roster space for sidelined players such as Robby Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Zadina slated to return soon to their lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana missed most of this season in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program and is currently with the Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint.

A rival club interested in bolstering their scoring could pluck Vrana off waivers today by the noon ET deadline. He’s under contract through next season but also carries a $5.25 million annual average value. Given the high number of teams that Cap Friendly indicates have less than that in cap space, it’ll be interesting to see if he gets plucked off the waiver wire later today.

The Red Wings are carrying three goaltenders. However, they decided against putting Alex Nedeljkovic or the well-traveled Magnus Hellberg on waivers for the purpose of sending one of them to the minors for the time being.

LAS VEGAS SUN’s Danny Webster took to Twitter yesterday to report the Golden Knights have taken center Jack Eichel off injured reserve.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers activated promising winger Bobby Brink off injured reserve and have sent him to their AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins have recalled goalie Dustin Tokarski from the AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. They’ve also placed defenseman Kris Letang on their non-roster list as he’s joined his family in Montreal following the recent death of his father.


  1. As to Vrana:

    I hate to think the next step is contract termination, and just prefer to think that he needs a lot more time to get to game shape and Stevie is gambling that no one will take him right now because he would have to be on their NHL roster at a considerable cap hit.

    • JZ

      Vrana has game no doubt but after looking at capfriendly I do not see a team picking him up even with his upside

      • Have to agree there Mrbruin4 – in addition to any uncertainty there may be with regard to his reason for entering the player assistance program, as I indicated in one of yesterday’s threads. We should know relatively soon if he’s claimed or cleared.

      • Good fit with NJ , he would slot in nicely with Hughes and Mercer. Palat stays on LTIR for the season

      • He just cleared waivers and has been assigned to the minors. As I said yesterday, I just could not see any team picking him up at that cap hit what with all the uncertainty as to his stint in the player assistance program. With his head on straight and healthy he could add to any offense, but with so many up tight against the limit simply being unable to afford that risk, and teams with cap space likely figuring they’d keep that reserve for other possible moves, he just wasn’t going to be picked up.

        I also see Pacioretty has been taken off IR in Carolina – potentially making them even more of a threat if he gets into game shape quickly.

    • Not sure exactly what is going on with Vrana…and I doubt anyone has any real insight. Detroit’s roster issues are expected, with so many forwards on the team, and with so many injured ones about to return. Of course, the cause of this is twofold…signing guys like Copp, Perr
      on, and Kubalik, as well as the emergence of Berrgren, Veleno, and Soderblom as bona-fide top 9 NHL forwards, and the continued development t of Rasmussen. We know that Yzerman has his eyes on the future, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  2. Congrats AM …. Fastest Leaf to 500 pts

    Oil… seemed in control … then springing leaks…. Lose….just above cut line now….Concern?

    Bedard value super high….. tanking??? Maybe more trades out (NOW or very soon) of UFAs on bottom teams…. Get pics AND lose more; increase Bedard odds???

    Pens alert …. Now sitting outside playoff picture (acknowledging Pens have to games in hand on Isles); next game v best in West (@ Knights) ; and potential to have both Sabres and Wings catch/pass them before playing in the Little League barn in the desert on Sunday (and no guarantee win there)….. Jarry out? Tanger and Perry still out. Roster moves afoot Dr. Watson???

    • Pengy, Re: Oil.
      Concern, yep, panic no or not yet.

      Last night’s game is the type that can’t happen. Previously it was death by a thousand cuts with different guys taking turns making critical mistakes and the wrong time and wrong place on the ice. Most folks think they will iron that stuff out and get it going.

      Last night after a decent start they gave the game away in the 2nd period. It’s like McDavid scores, up 2-0, sit back and watch him win us another game. On home ice no less. Too many passengers. Time for Woodcroft to use his best tool, ice time. A few guys need to watch a game from the press box.

      Wake up time.

      • I am hoping that Sully uses the same philosophy in Pittsburgh

        Agree, foot off the gas was the good summary analysis post McD’s goal

        I think if Oil can get in; Kane back and in form; and Skinner playing at his best levels; roster tweak …. Oil have a shot at going through Knights to WCF

      • Ya Pengy, roster is pretty similar to last years so nothing major required in theory. They really miss Keith on the ice, on the bench, and in the room, even though it helped them be cap compliant.

        Bouchard especially as he helped him last year as a mentor and hated losing, so the gave a kick in the pants as well when required. The guy looks asleep some games this year.

        They miss those type of guys in the room – Keith, Smith and Kane. Can’t just be McDavid being the voice every night.

        Need a shut down guy on the blue line at the deadline, but if your Holland do you spend future assets for the present if this team doesn’t wake up?

        IMO the boys in the room need to earn that. Runway getting shorter, so best not wait much longer.

    • Hi Pengy/Ray
      Last nights Oilers permofmance was one we have seen way to many of this year, The Oilers d has way to many Holes in it ( all 3 pairings )

      Last night when McCann walked by oilers 2 of the d/men just standing watching him stroll in and score
      The team needs to change the mix not just by adding a top 4 LD, they also need to change the 3rd paring up, they need sandpaper & way more physical type d men…
      Dave Manson the d coach, he needs to get in there and show them how its done⁉️

      As for the Nine Million dollar man on d, Mr Nurse needs to start playing like a #1 d/man❓
      Right now a very good team in the Wester Conference will miss the playoffs and if they dont fix the d…. it will be the Edmonton Oilers…🥶

  3. Went to the Sens game against Columbus last night. Stützle was outstanding again as were Giroux and Forsberg. Zub and Sanderson were also very solid on defence while Chabot was inconsistent, giving the puck away a few times. Maybe he’s getting tired.
    Hamonic helped preserve the shut-out for Forsberg by blocking a hard Laine shot with only a couple of minutes remaining and up 3:0. Shows the team is playing for each other. Lots of good signs right now.
    Even the attendance was respectable at almost 15,000 on a Tuesday night against a last place Columbus team.

    • Dorion has done nothing to try and stable the defense .
      It was well known before the year started , Chabot was going to be held out to to dry if Dorion didn’t upgrade his defence chore .

      • OK Ken, I have to ask: exactly how do you know that “Dorion has done nothing to try and stable the defense?” The fact no deal(s) have been made does not signify that he hasn’t tried, and unless you have a private pipeline into his office, on what basis do you make that claim?

        As for Chabot’s ice-time, here are the current Top 10 in terms of D ice-time:

        1. Makar – 27.09
        2. Doughty – 26.23
        3. Dahlin – 26.21
        4. Chabot – 26.08
        5. Toews – 25.20
        6. Heiskanen – 25.15
        7. Josi – 25.14
        8. Karlsson – 25.12
        9. Hughes – 25.00
        10. Fox – 24.59

        The difference between 4th and 10th is 1.09 which I seriously doubt is “being left out to dry.”

        As of today Ottawa has allowed 118 goals – 10 of them into an empty net – so goalie-in that’s 108 goals. There are almost half the league (15) with worse goals against. Toronto, for example, has allowed 100, 5 into an empty net, so goalie-in – 95 goals against. Compared to Ottawa, that’s a difference of 13 goals – over 38 games played.

        Let’s at least keeps things in perspective.

  4. Heh. I recall when the new Tage Thompson contract extension ($7,142,857 to kick in next season) was announced, comments ranged from “insane” to “gamble” to “it won’t age well.”

    That’s looking like a Sid Crosby/MacKinnon-type bargain deal now.

    • George, some interesting numerology in last night’s Buffalo / Washington game. Tage Thompson scored 3 goals in the Sabres’ 5-4 overtime victory. Thompson now has 30 goals on the season.
      It was his 3rd hat trick of the year; and the third goal was scored exactly 3 minutes into the OT period.
      Game was played on January 3rd.

      Damar Hamlin, #3

      • Speaking of Hamlin, Hammer-of-the-Gods, I heard on the news yesterday that, what cardiologists are describing as the cause of his heart stoppage (blunt force blow to the chest) actually happened to Chris Pronger years ago in St. Louis when a puck slammed into his chest. He recovered and went on to play 12 more years.


      • George, it is very likely that Chris Pronger and Damar Hamlin did NOT suffer the same injury. Chris Pronger’s cardiac arrest was due to commotio cordis, which is most commonly associated with a hard small object (puck, baseball) hitting the chest with great force. Extremely rare event that usually occurs in boys under the age of 20 (protective skin and muscles not strong enough to protect the heart).

        Chris Pronger video

        Listen to the ex-NFL players on social media. They are all shocked. Why? Because it was a routine collision / tackle that happens 100 times in every college / pro football game.

  5. OK Leaf fans what does a new contract look like for Bunting 23 goals last season and on pace for 28 this season.

    27yrs old coming off a $950,000 contract, i would think we wants a very nice increase.

  6. I am hearing Samsonov and Kerfoot to Ottawa

    Yaitsev stays put , I am not sure what is coming back

    Hopefully an adequate backup goaltender

    Or future considerations

    Good luck Ottawa !!

    • Yeah, right. LOL. When pigs fly, maybe. Come on Ken, where the heck did you hear THAT asinine rumour?

      • @George

        Exactly , Aston Reese , Engvall , Hunt , Kerfoot and Samsonov

        25 % of your lineup – Tell me how many teams these 5 players can crack any contending lineup on a consistent basis …

        Samsonov – I was hoping for a shootout last night to show the hockey nation the calibre of goaltender he actually is ..
        He totally embarrassed himself , what a joke !
        They should just bring that Swedish kid back up and send Samsonov packing !!!

        I honestly do not know how the Leafs are going to sign Bunting with salary cap from “h” let alone resign Nylander and Matthews ..

        This is why when the article came out on Treliving , I was like a kid in a candy store – wishing the rumour could come true . I still think there is traction to that rumour , wait and see …
        Treliving is a strong candidate to clean up this teeter totter effect in Leafland , with a very unbalanced lineup , with potential -“4” -11 million players in their lineup .. They have 3 already
        Boston, Tampa, Carolina , Colorado are all competing , without 11 million dollar contracts , as they have more than a 75% competitive lineup , not 5 duds , scab hockey !

        Negative perhaps , but facts are facts !

      • Ya, that one doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface George as a tender would need to go the other way.
        As opposed to a poster on here, Forsberg has been a very solid 1B or backup in OTT the last 3 years. Signed to a reasonable cap hit for 3 more years. Talbot going the other way maybe, but he has been good too and is a pending UFA just like Samsonov? Bigger cap hit than Samsonov though, so why would Leafs do it?

        Samsonov has been very good so far, so I suppose if OTT wants to sign him long term on a reasonable deal maybe, but so could the Leafs then. Kerfoot is a pending UFA too so why would OTT do that.

        Doesn’t seem like a fit to me.

      • Ray, that’s the sort of rumour that pops up in wishful-thinking fan blogs. Those things are about as useful as teats on a boar hog.

        As for Ottawa, if they don’t intend to re-up Talbot any move to replace him will be made in the off-season – certainly not now and most definitely not with Samsonov.

        Where Kerfoot is concerned, over his career he has played 398 NHL games scoring 70g 136a 206 pts for 82-game averages of 14g 28a 42 pts. Virtually nothing has changed since joining Toronto where he has played in 241 games scoring 36g 85a 121 pts for 82-game averages of 12g 29a 41 pts. And he is a pending UFA making $3.5 mil off the cap.

        In essence, he would add nothing of significance to Ottawa’s offense – certainly not at that cost. If they – or anyone else – sees him as useful down the line they’ll just wait until he becomes a free agent because, wherever he winds up next season, it won’t be anywhere near a $3.5 mil cost.

      • Ken there are another 31 teams you can become a fan of…that is if you’re so disgusted with how the currently 3rd best team is run.

      • Agree with that whole post George, except I don’t think Kerfoot takes a big haircut. 1/2 point players make $3M, which is what he is, consistently. Plus he can play C if required in a pinch for an injury.

        Somebody picks him up I think, just not for a long term deal. 3 years at his current rate as a UFA IMO.

      • IF the cap was rising substantially, Ray, I’d agree. But it isn’t – not next year anyway, and there are just so many teams at or near the top, some of whom will actually go over as and when LTIRs start to return (those that can anyway).

        There just aren’t that many teams with that sort of cap space who will see any benefit in having a 41-42 pt F in the line-up costing $3 mil (+) off their cap.

  7. The Blues are one of the bottom 10 teams in the league right now, and bottom 10-12 teams in the league in Goals. Yet they score 10 goals in 2 games against the Leafs. The Leafs defense is flat out embarrassing. They have to improve that backend because that is not a defense that can win a cup.

    • I guess what you’re saying is the Leafs will be fine unless they play a bottom 10-12 team like the Blues?
      Your numbers don’t lie.

  8. As steady as Talbot has been I still would have preferred Gustavsson sharing the duties with Forsberg.
    I get why Dorian made the move and Gustavsson had a really rough start to the season but he is putting up solid numbers of late and is 10 years younger than Talbot.
    Kerfoot and Samsonov don’t fit from my pov.

    • I heard somewhere that they are strongly considering offering Talbot a 2-3 year contract. As far as moving Gustavsson, I think they were (and maybe still are) hoping that Mads Sogaard will develop enough to replace him.
      Forget that Samsonov etc. rumour. As George mentioned, that’s somebody doing some wishful thinking.

      • Talbot will be age 36 to start next season , I could see 2 years at a discount but I would not consider 3 years.
        The next up and coming goalie changes from year to year. I believe that Merilainen is the next best tender of the group.

      • Fergy22, yeah, Leevi Merilainen is doing well at Karpat in the SM-liga with 17gp and a 2.11gaa and save # of 0.926. Of course, that’s a far cry from the AHL – but encouraging. Speaking of the AHL, the Belleville Senators, with nearly all the recent years top prospects up in Ottawa, are struggling in last place in the North Division where Mads Sogaard, the giant goalie, is also doing OK in terms of personal stats considering the overall weakness of the team in front of him – 14gp 3.32 gaa and 0.900 save %. These kids, however, are at least 2 years away – probably three.

    • When Cam Talbot was playing for the Oilers, he would go on a mini run win a few and then get hurt,❗️
      then come back Lose a few ganes and Repeat…….

      he never played a Full season I don’t think he ever played more then 40 games
      Samsonov would be Great in Ottawa….❓

      • Williew – when you say “Samsonov would be great in Ottawa” I can’t see on what you base that statement.

        Comments have been made repeatedly in here that, in order to become better and to coincide with their improving offense, Ottawa needs to shore up their D.

        So, with that so-called weak link in front of them

        Talbot has played 22 games posting a 2.74gaa and a 0,911 save %, including one SO

        Forberg has appeared in 19 games with a 2.91gaa and a 0.914 save %, including one SO

        Samsonov, with a much stronger team in front of HIM, has played in 15 games, posting a 2.38gaa and 0.914 save %.

        The differences of .36 and .53 in gaa and 0.003 save % are negligible in the circumstances.

        Ottawa can’t worry about his history in Edmonton (where they had some pretty bad teams at the time – dead last 2015-16, 2nd in Pacific 2016-17, 6th in Pacific in 2017-18 and 7th in Pacific in 2018-19)) any more than the Leafs can worry about Murray’s history in Ottawa.

  9. What’s with the weird Trudeau ads? I thought this site avoided politics.

    • According to my ad providers, whatever ads that you see on my site tend to be based on your interests, demographics and other information. I don’t choose them.

      • Thanks. I reported the ad. Total nonsense.

    • Hi George,
      This is what & why im saying what Im thinking…🤔
      I can tell were aron diffrent pages with this one….

      1) With Samsonov being young at 25yr old, the best is yet to come from this young goaltender.

      2) I would not say the Leafs have a better defence that ottawa’s d, …. However when Zub is healthy and they have a top 4 going the Sens are better than the Maple leafs,❓
      If the Sens can add 2 players

      1st, would be a 2nd paring RD man to play with Sanderson when they Get Rid of Nikita Zaitsev
      2nd a younger better goaltender

      3) Cam Talbot has played for 5 Teams in the past 6 Years….❓ what dose that tell you when All these NHL teams give up on him after a year…
      I wantched him in Edmonton and he is very very Inconsistent, over this time period his stats were
      Goals against AV, 3.01
      Save % .903
      his stats look ok so far this year but its still early and he has played more games than normal 22 out of 37

      The Older A Goaltender gets his game starts to go down hill & Not get better and all the injuries he has had over the past 4 years Talbot has played an averages 35 games a year❗️
      this year he is 36… I would be Shocked & Very Suprised if the Sens resign him again….❓

      im off to watch the Canada US game on TV Now,
      who ever wins this one will have there hands Full against Czech 🥶

      • “The Older A Goaltender gets his game starts to go down hill & Not get better …”
        Heh. Tell that to Johnny Bower, Craig Anderson, Glenn Hall and a few others

  10. Ron Moore

    I think you follow the Leafs with your heart vs true knowledge of the game
    I have to ask you , how many first round exits have there been ..:

    How many teams have a core 5 of almost 50 million , which will soon exceed the 50 million

    Signing Tavares at the the time , I knew was an absolute nightmare , and would come back and haunt them
    There are defense and goaltender positions to consider at the time .
    Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup in, over “55” years ..
    What did Dubas obtain in the Kadri trade , Marchment trade to name a few , many more examples , how many 1 st round draft choices has Dubas squandered .
    It’s not a case of me cheering for another another team .
    I cannot put my “dunse “ cap every night like you do , and clap in glory , how great this team is , how they are the 3rd best team , which is absolutely ludicrous .

    You and I have been down this road before , and I see your dumbfounded remarks on here on a repetitive basis and just shake my head .

    Matt Murray will have to be strong come playoff time , as per preventing an early exit , a second round victory is impossible , and hopefully the end of the Dubas era …

    • Hi Ken,
      if the leafs get Beat again in the first round its time for a Majior shake up on and off the ice❓
      This is now 6 Straight First Round Exits,

      time to move out John Tavares, and Re-think the team, they need to improve there d First, and them
      The Goaltending they need to figure out…

      I dont think they will be able to afford the young 25 yr old goaltender Samsonov he is making $1.8m this year and a RFA in july…. maybe he dose a 1 year deal for $3.5 to $4.M or he go’s to arbitration.❓
      an other UFA is Michael Bunting… almost a point a game player…. what he going to get $$4.M+…⁉️

      So they have 9 UFA players to Replace Or Re-sign
      with only $12,760,217 in cash🙈 as of july 2023
      and 4 RFA players,
      looks like a night mare for the New GM & Co who ever is left in leaf land

    • George,
      Cam Talbot a 1B is 100% Not in that Group❗️

      Johnny Bower, Craig Anderson, Glenn Hall and a few others

    • LOL 😂