NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 16, 2023
The three stars from the final week of the regular season are announced, notable news from locker clean-out day for eliminated clubs, and notable updates involving several playoff teams in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
THREE STARS OF THE FINAL WEEK OF THE REGULAR SEASON
NHL.COM: Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brent Burns and Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Laurent Brossoit are the three stars for the week ending April 14
NOTABLE NEWS FROM LOCKER CLEAN-OUT DAY FOR ELIMINATED TEAMS
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson once again emphasized that he still likes playing for the Sharks but winning remains his priority. He once again shrugged off the trade rumors dogging him throughout this season, adding that he’s focusing on the present. Karlsson intends to take some time to enjoy himself and resume training for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson is handling this diplomatically as he has all season but that won’t make the trade speculation disappear. There were teams interested in him but his hefty contract proved difficult to move during the season. It’s expected trade chatter involving Karlsson will pick up in June when teams have more cap space to work with for next season.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau vowed to bounce back next season from his lackluster performance in 2022-23. Following a career-best 115-point performance last season with the Florida Panthers, he managed just 55 points this season with the Flames.
“I didn’t lose my talent in five months. I’m not a different player from what I was last season,” said Huberdeau. He acknowledged that he found it challenging playing under head coach Darryl Sutter’s system and struggled to adjust to playing right wing after spending his career on the left side.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving to Calgary after 10 seasons with the Panthers likely required some adjustment for Huberdeau. Struggling to play up to expectations after signing an eight-year contract extension worth $10.5 million annually was probably another factor that affected his play.
THE PROVINCE: Six months after injuring his left hand and several surgeries later, Vancouver Canucks winger Tanner Pearson is trying to get his career and life back on track. He didn’t comment about the quality of care he received from the Canucks but it’s expected he’ll file a grievance against the club with the help of the NHL Players’ Association. “I’m just trying to get my hand back,” he said.
Canucks winger Brock Boeser made it clear that he wants to continue his career in Vancouver. “To be completely honest with you, I don’t want to be traded,” he said. The 26-year-old winger struggled through a difficult first half following the death of his father last year, sparking speculation that he would be traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rumors seemed to suggest that the Canucks were listening to offers for Boeser but they weren’t actively shopping him. They could move him for the right price as they’re reportedly looking to garner salary-cap flexibility for next season but they could consider other options before going that route.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers winger Cam Atkinson is looking forward to 2023-24 after missing all of this season with a herniated disc in his neck that required surgery after a few misdiagnoses and conflicting information from doctors. Despite the confusion at the start of his recovery, Atkinson said he has full confidence in the Flyers’ medical staff and is feeling better now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report noted that head coach John Tortorella said earlier in the season that the club was focused on increasing trust between the players and the medical staff after a new head trainer was brought in.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie revealed he underwent a minor procedure to address lingering back issues. He’s looking forward to a full summer of training, claiming he’s feeling good and is optimistic moving forward.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins forward Jeff Carter said he and his family love living in Pittsburgh and he intends to finish the final season of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bang goes the fantasy of those Penguins fans hoping the club’s new management would convince the 38-year-old Carter to waive his no-movement clause. They could buy him out but because it’s a 35-plus contract they won’t get any cap relief from doing so.
THE ATHLETIC’s Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins won’t be playing for Latvia in next month’s IIHF World Championships. He’s at a career crossroads after struggling this season and is putting his offseason focus on preparing for 2023-24.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Josh Norris will be spending the summer preparing for next season after undergoing shoulder surgery in January…Defenseman Thomas Chabot revealed he fractured a bone and tore ligaments in his wrist…Blueliner Travis Hamonic injured the meniscus and medial collateral ligament in his right knee late in the season…Rearguard Jakob Chychrun was sidelined by a hamstring injury.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins center David Krejci returned to practice on Saturday after missing the last six games of the regular season. However, captain Patrice Bergeron skipped practice for precautionary reasons as he’s still feeling the effects of an upper-body injury suffered on Thursday.
Winger Brad Marchand left practice for precautionary reasons after experiencing some soreness. Meanwhile, Nick Foligno and Derek Forbort resumed scrimmaging with their teammates.
TSN: New Jersey Devils winger Timo Meier missed practice on Saturday due to food poisoning.
Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett missed the final 12 games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury but could return at some point in his club’s first-round series with the Bruins.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers said he was merely winded from a heavy hit by Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman, did not suffer a head injury, and is ready to play in Game 1 of his club’s first-round series with the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
TWINCITIES.COM: Speaking of the Wild, sidelined center Joel Eriksson Ek is progressing faster than expected after being listed as week-to-week following a lower-body injury suffered on April 6. He’s resumed skating, prompting speculation he might at least travel with the team as they start their first-round series this week against the Dallas Stars.