NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2023

by | Feb 23, 2023 | News, NHL | 32 comments

The Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane enjoys another multi-goal game, the Senators trade Nikita Zaitsev to the Blackhawks and the Vegas Golden Knights ship Shea Weber’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes. Get the details on these and other stories in the NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a 3-0 deficit to upset the Dallas Stars 4-3, leaving the latter winless (0-3-2) in their last five games. Patrick Kane and Max Domi each had two goals and an assist as the Blackhawks improved to 20-32-5 on the season. Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist for the Stars (30-16-12) as they remain second overall in the Western Conference with 72 points, one back of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was Kane’s third multi-goal game in his last four contests. That could alleviate concerns about his nagging hip injury among clubs that might be interested in acquiring him before the March 3 trade deadline.

A third-period goal by Simon Holmstrom lifted the New York Islanders to a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, leaving the latter with three losses on their four-game road trip. Ilya Sorokin made 25 saves to pick up his second-straight 20-win season as the 30-24-7 Isles (67 points) opened a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers for the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Nikolaj Ehlers scored for the Jets (35-22-1) as they remain one point behind the Stars in second place in the Central Division with 71 points.

The Calgary Flames scored five unanswered goals to rally back from a 3-1 deficit and defeat the Arizona Coyotes 6-3. Elias Lindholm had a goal and an assist to reach 500 career points as the Flames (27-20-11) moved to within two points of the Minnesota Wild for the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 65 points. Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes as they dropped to 20-29-9.


CHICAGO SUN-TIMES/OTTAWA SUN: The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, a second-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-rounder in 2026 from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for future considerations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a straightforward salary dump by the Senators, shedding Zaitsev’s $4.5 million annual salary cap hit through 2023-24. They could use that freed-up cap space to upgrade their defense either at the trade deadline or in the offseason.

The Sun’s Bruce Garrioch noted the Senators have been linked to St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko but it doesn’t sound like they’re anywhere close to a deal. They’ve shown some interest in the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba but Garrioch believes they’d likely want to sign the pending UFA to a short-term contract extension. He also noted the Los Angeles Kings could move a defenseman such as Matt Roy or Sean Walker.

As for the rebuilding Blackhawks, they can afford to take on Zaitsev’s cap hit through next season as this move enables them to add to their growing stock of draft picks. They now have seven picks in the first three rounds of the 2023 draft, including three second-rounders.

ARIZONA SPORTS/VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Vegas Golden Knights acquired defenseman Dysin Mayo in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round pick and the contract of Shea Weber.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move is seen as a precursor for a bigger acquisition by the Golden Knights before the trade deadline, lightening their long-term injury reserve which already contains Mark Stone, Robin Lehner and Nolan Patrick. Shedding the all-but-retired Weber’s contract means they have more flexibility to acquire players signed beyond this season.

For a budget team like the Coyotes, acquiring Weber’s contract enables them to reach next season’s salary-cap floor especially if they trade a player such as Jakob Chychrun who is signed beyond 2023-24. On paper, Weber’s AAV is $7.857 million but in actual salary, Cap Friendly indicates he’s being paid $3 million for this season, after which the actual salary drops to $1 million over the next three seasons.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin is officially sidelined for the remainder of the regular season and the 2023 playoffs due to a cervical spine injury. He played just four games before suffering the injury in October.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a career-ending injury for Muzzin, who was already on long-term injury reserve before this announcement. The Leafs have used the salary-cap flexibility to add Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen underwent emergency surgery on Wednesday after being cut on his lower right leg by a skate blade during Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet as to how long Johansen will be sidelined but there’s speculation it could be a season-ending injury.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Alex Ovechkin has returned to the Capitals after taking time away dealing with the recent death of his father.

NHL.COM: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie during Tuesday’s game between the two clubs. Larkin had been assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for his actions.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane is expected to miss two more games with an upper-body injury.


  1. Happy Days for George; Dark H; et al….

    The Zaitz has been jettisoned 😀

    Only a 2nd and a 4th (note in ‘26) to get Chi to take him($4.5 M Cap next year)

    This should mean a 4th in ‘26 from Pens would get Davidson accepting Dumo (UFA $4.1 M annual) and CR (one more tear at 800 K

    That frees up $4.9 M (annual cap) space for Pens to make a move on 3C with term

    Yesterday…. News re Petry as possible to a West Coast team???? Who has the space???

    Strange deal Yotes/Knights…. absolute fantastic deal for Yotes…, must always be at Cap floor; looking to move Chychrun which might have put them below the floor; also Ladd gone this summer

    That said…, what is the advantage in the deal for Knights…. They could have kept Weber on LTIR; no skin off of them

    Instead…. Gave UP a pick (albeit a 5th).,,, and the return was a small D-man that has struggled to make the line-up on a bottom team….

    Am I missing something or did McCrimmon just make a one sided deal ; just to help out Bill Armstrong?

    Did Bettman order this deal to be made?

    • You know, Pengy, like Holl in Toronto (with some people – not all) Zaitsev was the convenient “fall guy” in Ottawa. His play had some bumps along the way, especially when he played through a cracked heel last season, but he wasn’t as bad as some thought. In fact, in recent weeks he has turned in consistently solid efforts.

      Clearly, the trade was a cap dump to pave the way for another deal … which could go down sooner rather than later … since the front office still retains hopes of making the playoffs.

      It’s probably a forlorn hope, however, and not because of the 6 points differential between them and Florida (who holds the last WC slot as of this morning), but rather the number of teams they’d have to climb over to get there:\ Florida 64; Pittsburgh 63; Detroit 62; Washington 62; Buffalo 60.

      • Looks like Ottawa is going after a defender maybe it’s chychrum after all good news for you George lol

      • I’m inclined to think MOT might be right…. Possible move on Chychrun

        Maybe my bromance Parayko

      • Yes Very Happy to see PD dump d/man
        Nikita Zaitsev last night and his 4.5M contract for 1.5 more years👍 For a 2nd pick this year n 2023 & 4th 2026 future considerations.. is always intresting
        Hawks have 7 picks in the 1st rd this year, 6 next year… and they have not started Trading Yet..⁉️

        Really helps PD out in freeing up salary space for this year and opens up $$.45M for next year to go out and get a Really Good 2nd pairing RD d/man to play with young Sanderson on the 2nd pair.
        2023/4 season Sens have just under $21.M
        At the top Dorion Shopping list

        -Re Sign Alex DeBrincat $8- Range..Or…❓….🤔

        -2nd paring RD-man $4.M Range✔️

        -A Staring Goaltender✔️
        Via Trade or UFA route..$5-$7 range
        Demko or Jarry….

        -Fill in bottom 6 & 3rd pairing d with rest of Cash
        sound like he wants to keep one of the UFA d/men Hamonic or Holden❓

      • The jury is still out on that one Man on TV. What I find most revealing on the Zaitsev trade is, while some of us in here always had him going as part of a package (i.e., “you HAVE to take Zaitzev’s contract if you really want X and Y” – no one ever mentioned Chicago as a possibility.

        Now, let the speculation begin as to what will constitute the “future considerations.”

        Let me start: Kane to Ottawa with x% withheld for X, Y & Z (3 pieces) – lol 🙂

      • ➡️A Trade proposal

        St Louis Blues Trade RD man Colton Parayko
        Ottawa Senators for the cat… Alex DeBrincat

        Both team get what they need at the positions they need to fill….🤔❓


      • willie w, don’t see that happening. Today, the Senators sit with a 7-2-1 record over their past 10 games – better than most of the other 31 teams over that span, and this without their 2 starting goalies, their top C, and two of their better D.

        A big part of that has been the play of DeBrincat. He’s not going anywhere … and certainly not for Parayko. He will be signed long-term by Dorion.

      • No one should be asleep when they play the Sens. My Wings have 2 games in Ottawa next week on back to back days. I am not feeling very comfortable about them.

    • Yeah, here’s a 4th rounder in 3 years along with Brian Doumulin…every gm in the league is lining up for that one.

    • Pengy, the Vegas / Arizona deal is mostly about next season. When teams start the year by dipping into LTIR they must jump through hoops in order to maximize their cap space. They don’t automatically get to exceed the cap by the total amount of the LTIR salaries.

      IF both Mark Stone and Robin Lehner are on LTIR next October, then adding Weber into the mix would have created a massive hurdle. So far, Mark Stone is expected to return this season (at least in the playoffs) but maybe Vegas knows more than everyone else.

      Also, Vegas was bumping up against the contract limit with 49 players. Now down to 48, giving a little more flexibility at the trade deadline.

      • Hi HoG

        Yes knew re the focal s on next year; but no real teason to do now (yes close to the 50 contracts; but that can be worked out in any trade by adding weakest AHLer going out in trade

        What baffles me more than doing it now…. Is the fact that Knights gifted this to Yotes…. Yotes should have paid for this big benefit

        Yotes MUST reach Cap floor; and with piddly revenue (max 4,600 at gate for the next 4 years) …. And doing so at the cheapest way possible is needed

        For about $3.8 M cash , Yotes get 3 full years (plus the balance of this year) at a Cap hit of $7.8 M

        HUGE gift by Knights to Yotes… Yotes should have given up assets (plural) for that

        I was not joking when I inferred that Bettman may have been involved

        Mind boggling

      • IMO this benefits Vegas more than Arizona? HOFG is bang on that Vegas was hampered by not having flexibility, so are other teams like EDM right now.

        More teams looking to move deals like Weber’s than willing to take them, hence Vegas paid to make it happen. Just like other teams have in the past as well. And yes I know Arizona gets to the floor without having to actually pay Webers cap hit.

  2. Parros…. Again, your going to end someone’s career (maybe life)….. $5,000 fine on a $5.3 M salary …. for cross-check to the head?

    You just incentivized Wilson to decapitate say…. Heischer (9/3); the breadman (14/3); Sid (25/3) etc etc

    Parros…. Your delivered “punishment” inconsistencies are ridiculous

    Gary…. You want serious injuries down in the NHL…. Here’s a step in the right direction..,, fire Parros; hire Kariya

    • Pengy, I could not agree more with your last point. Paul Kariya would be a great hire for Parros’s role.

      • For sure

        Rather have a decision maker at that position who has been a recipient of illegal checks causing damage rather than one who created damage

        Plus Kariya absolutely would be more consistent in ruling

    • Minimum and maximum fines are bargained for in the CBA, Pengaroo. Parros has to stay between the lines of the contract. $10,000 is the maximum.
      A 1 game suspension, on the other hand, would cost him roughly $30,000. He does have a suspension history, albeit not a terrible one

      • Hi SOP

        Yes I realize the restrictions re fines per CBA….. but he (Parros) should be (1) consistent; (2) dishing out many more suspensions than fines

    • It’s fine to dump on Bettman and Parros over the rulings by the DOPS but he is enforcing the laws as they are.

      The board of governors and nhlpa have to give them more teeth and they won’t or at least aren’t to date.

      • Hi HF30

        Sorry I fully disagree here

        Parris is not enforcing the laws as they are

        He has full authority to dish out suspensions of levy max fines

        He often fines when a suspension is warranted; or gives out no penalization when fully warranted; and other times suspends when a fine id more appropriate

        He is completely inconsistent; and certainly favours players that are like he was…. Cite many occasions re Wilson

        I do believe almost anybody not named Scott Stevens; could do a massively better job

      • Precedent is also taken into account I would think.
        Under 6 games, Bettman is the arbitrator and if more a neutral arbitrator is used.

        If you ask me, if the players/union wanted longer suspensions, they could get them as they are the ones who challenge them if they disagree.

        It’s fair to disagree with the fines and suspensions, I do too and agree they should be more, but plenty of folks to blame and not sure Parros or Bettman would be at the top of my list.

  3. @Ron Moore and George

    I am going to harp on this only once more..

    As per my mass confusion , the the 2016 NHL draft when the Leafs drafted away off the board , 1st pick in the second round , Egor Krashkov-

    Questions asked who was at the controls back than
    1. Lou Lamorello GM
    2. Mark Hunter
    3. Kyle Dubas
    Both co – assistant GM’s at the time !

    1. Jonathan Bernier
    2. James Reimer
    3. Garret Sparks
    Circus act in net

    For those that are not up to snuff , Year of Austin Matthews , Shanahan on the podium

    All the secondary hype was around Carter Hart – going in the top 10
    I am passionately watching this draft , a passionate student as per this time of the year – Leaf ball cap , Leaf Jersey etc, tons of hockey knowledge , as per the topic !

    I am anxiously observing picks go off of the board …
    OMG – I was in awe – No one took Carter Hart in the first round !

    Knowing how desperate the Leafs are for a starting goaltender , It’s a no brainer – your future dream goalie was at your door step next day , as the Leafs were on the clock .
    Leafs could have made 2 significant splashes this day , but chose not to choose Carter Hart ?!!
    I was like Steve Dangle – his audition , with the Zamboni driver going in on emergency basis , Carolina vs Leafs
    People can view this video on U Tube – Hilarious
    This was me , as per being utterly bewildered as per the turn of events of this draft
    By the way Joseph Woll went 1st in the third round , therefore the Leafs knew they had a goalie in the back of their mind

    Here we are going into the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2023 and it’s deja vu all over again , as per the goaltending , other than Joseph Woll – whom is sitting on the bench ???

    The Stanley cup could be a reality , with Carter Hart in goal
    You now have O’Reilly/ aka Dougie Gilmour

    Has to be the largest blunder ever – ignorance of this draft

    Thankyou for listening , I will move on

    By the way George – Zaitsev dismissal is a blessing and U know it …

    • Ken you have listed it correctly of who was in charge below Shanahan. I think Lou’s role was to clean house and put in place all his rules and bring in Babcock to aid in this process.
      Both Dubas and Hunter worked the drafts and often didn’t see eye to eye on everything. I think Lou or Shanahan were the tie breakers. I guess Hunters pick won. Anyway it was a reach that fell short, hate the game – draft picks are voodoo crap shoots, not the player – the guy taking the risk.

      Just like the game, can’t win ‘em all.

  4. Minimum and maximum fines are bargained for in the CBA, Pengaroo. Parros has to stay between the lines of the contract. $10,000 is the maximum.
    A 1 game suspension, on the other hand, would cost him roughly $30,000. He does have a suspension history, albeit not a terrible one

  5. GeorgeO, i read one of the talking heads comments last night; which basically said that Dorion was pressured to dump Zaitsev contract and wasn’t allow to take any money back, that the deal had nothing to do with acquiring any players but more to do with the sale of the team.

    George have you heard that? or is that even a conversation in Ottawa?

    • First I heard THAT one. Pressured by who? The current owners (Melnyk’s daughters) are in the process of selling the team and rights to the downtown site with the return approaching $1 billion!

      I seriously doubt getting rid of Zaitsev suddenly became a condition of the sale. The daughters could not possibly care less what moves Dorion makes, nor are any potential buyers (and there are several groups still in the picture) in a position to dictate anything.

      Can you give me a link to that comment?

    • Hi i didn’t want to put a name to it, as it was a tweet and i couldn’t remember which one of the talking heads it was, i think i remember who but not a 100% certain. I will now see if i can find it on my twitter feed and post it for you.

      I remember after i read it and checked capfriendly Ottawa had $13,768,206 and $18,268,206 in cap space after the trade and $21,700,000 in deadline capspace.

      There only high ticket sign is Debrincat, doesn’t appear they needed the space to help add anyone, unless it Timo Meier?

      I will see if i can find the tweet.

      • George this is why I didn’t say a name, because the person who I thought tweeted it, wasn’t him.

        Frank Servalli tweeted
        Sense is Dorion has autonomy to make moves provided no significant net expenditure.

        He has a full article on the daily faceoff.

        I didn’t read the article, just the tweet, but it was the ” No significan expediture” that grabbed my attention.

      • Thanks Caper … Seravalli is entitled to his “sense” but until he or anyone else can come up with definite proof that Dorion has his hands tied when it comes to “expenditures” he’s just blowing smoke.

        As I say above – who in the current administration is sitting with ultimate authority over Dorion? There’s no reason why the Melnyk sisters would put handcuffs on him – what do they care? When you’re about to receive upwards of close to a billion dollars, the relative paltry amounts being handed out in contracts doesn’t even come within the same ballpark.

        And why would any potential new owners – about to spend something close to that billion dollars – balk at a player’s contract? And none of them certainly have any authority – yet – to dictate team policy.

      • George now imagine dealing with this kind of rumors, (I guess) about your team for years and years every season.

        This move is a tidy bit of business which allows flexibility. Nice move to make the second pick years later, nice because you’re not immediately restricting one of your prospects pipelines which is still in its infancy.

  6. Doesn’t anyone else think the Yotes “buying” just under $24M of cap space for only $3M actual dollars make the cap system we have look absolutely dumb?

    • Obviously. If you’re gonna have a hard cap, add up actual salaries each year instead of average annual value.