NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2023

by | Apr 8, 2023 | News, NHL | 19 comments

A first-ever 16-game day features a key matchup between the Predators and Jets in the Western wild-card race while the Bruins attempt to tie the single-season wins record. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: For the first time in league history there will be a 16-game day involving all 32 NHL franchises on Saturday kicking off with the Carolina Hurricanes visiting the Buffalo Sabres at 12:30 pm ET.

The Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference and the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators in the Western Conference are jockeying for the three remaining wild-card berths.

A key matchup pits the Predators against the Jets in Winnipeg. The Jets are tied with the Flames for the final Western wild-card spot with 89 points while the Predators are one point behind them. The Jets and Predators have four games remaining in their schedule while the Flames have three games left.

The Boston Bruins hope to celebrate their 62nd win on Saturday (NHL.com).

Meanwhile, the league-leading Boston Bruins have an opportunity to tie the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning for the most wins (62) in a season as they face the New Jersey Devils. The Bruins are 61-12-5 with 127 points and four games remaining in their schedule.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: It’s a good news-bad news day for the Minnesota Wild. The good news is leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov returns to the lineup after missing a month with a lower-body injury. The bad news is two-way center Joel Eriksson Ek is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury that could sideline him for the start of the playoffs on April 17.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan highlights the impressive rookie campaign of Arizona Coyotes forward Matias Maccelli. Despite missing 16 games to a lower-body injury, the 22-year-old left wing leads this season’s rookie class with 36 assists and sits second with 46 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like emerging superstar Clayton Keller, Maccelli’s performance has been mostly overshadowed by the Coyotes’ ongoing arena issues, their continuing roster rebuild and their placement near the bottom of the standings. Maccelli probably won’t win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie but he should be among the top finalists.

DAILY FACEOFF: University of Michigan center Adam Fantilli is the 2023 winner of the Hobey Baker Award honoring the top player in men’s NCAA hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fantilli is considered the best prospect behind the Regina Pats’ Connor Bedard in this year’s draft. He is expected to be chosen second overall by whichever club ends up with that selection following next month’s NHL Draft Lottery.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Devon Levi’s US college career recently ended but he was named the winner of the Mike Richter Award as the top college goalie for an unprecedented second consecutive year. He was also named Hockey East Player of the Year for the second straight season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres got Levi in 2021 as part of the return from the Florida Panthers in the Sam Reinhart trade. That move could go down as one of the biggest in Sabres’ history if Levi turns into the franchise goalie he’s projected to become. He’s won two of his first three games for the Sabres thus far.

DAILY FACEOFF: St. Louis Blues goaltender Thomas Greiss will miss the remaining week of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the NHL’s spending gap widened to record levels this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning spent at least $41 million more this season than the Arizona Coyotes in total player wage expenditure. Big-spending teams and bottom feeders have used long-term injury reserve (LTIR), front-loaded contracts and massive signing bonuses to game the salary-cap system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli also points out that this doesn’t always equate to success. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils are among this season’s high-spending playoff clubs. However, they share space with non-contenders like the Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals among the top-10 teams in salary expenditure.

LTIR has been a bone of contention for critics of the salary cap system for years. Nevertheless, most teams find it a necessary evil to get through seasons when they’re pressed for cap room. They had two opportunities to address it during the 2012-13 lockout and in 2020. The fact it still exists likely means it won’t be changed in the next round of collective bargaining in 2026.

The league previously cracked down on front-loaded contracts in the 2012-13 lockout and could attempt to tweak those rules in 2026. Signing bonuses are capped at 10 percent of a contract’s total salary compensation but I wouldn’t be shocked if that gets lowered too.


  1. Seems to me that, if the league is going to have a hard cap, then a player’s cap hit should be actual salary plus signing bonus, if any. That would remove the possibility of gigging the system.

    • Hi Paul

      The signing bonuses do count towards the Cap

      Cap hit is …. All Sal on contract plus all SB on contract ; totalled; then divided by number of years of contract

      Two exceptions to above formulae….

      1) when non UFAs sign AFTER game 1 of the season (weird formulae for yhe first year’s cap;

      2) Performance bonuses fof UFA players are added to Cap but can be “used” against Cap either in season attained/paid; or following season (e.g. Bergeron and Krejci earned PBs this year…. Most will be tagged against next year’s Cap hit as Bruins don’t have enough space to cover it this year

  2. Exactly, Paul. But pre-cap the owners with the deepest pockets could – and often did – spend like drunken sailors and there’s no doubt their noses were knocked out of joint when a system was put in place to try and level the playing field as the league expanded.

    The fact that there are such ongoing loopholes suggests that that was the price paid to get the Ritchie Rich’s onside.

    • I know, George. One hopes that, after living with the cap for several years and seeing how it actually improved the game, they would agree to a simplification.

      • I don’t agree with both of you though you both made valid points. Even without a cap big money teams still weren’t able to make it work and win it all.
        Just as Lyle noted, even today spending close to the cap, won’t mean you’re going to be a contender. You still need good decisions, smart management and luck. Teams not playoff bound and close to the cap will need luck, time and savvy asset management to turn things around…having a cap just further complicates things for those teams just like the cap complicates top teams keeping their roster together year after year.

        To put it frankly, this cap system is terrible for the players and sport; however without it some teams could just outbid smaller teams and poach players from them all but insuring they never have a good run due to an imbalance of talent.

        I can’t help but think if the system was changed where players you draft are not counted towards the cap but players you sign or trade for (basically not someone drafted by the team) is counted against the cap. Something built along those lines might help teams stay together longer as well as make sure the playing field is level. I’m sure this would also kill the FA market as well as trade market.
        It would be interesting as a team like the Leafs who have maybe 6 players on the roster that they drafted and I think Boston have about 12 and theoretically more cap space to add players come TDL time.

        As I’ve said before, something needs to be fixed regarding the cap as it stands now. Good teams will eventually get dismantled and bad teams will have to wait it out until they have the room to make the moves they have to make. Not exactly ideal for fans and teams on both ends of the spectrum.

      • NHL revenue is up and has been up for every non-covid year for the last decade. The cap is not bad for the sport at all. Different teams win the cup regularly. The league has parity. Some of the leagues best players will lose in playoffs this year as happens every year. Having the leagues best player doesn’t guarantee winning. I’m not seeing a lot of “bad”.

      • That’s one way of looking at it but if the cap raises high enough smaller market teams will likely be forced to relocate like they have pre-cap era or we’ll see more teams like the Yotes. Plus the loser’s point has much more to do with the “parity” than the cap does. The cap as it sits now is and will always be a negative.

      • Poor Toronto fan can’t try to buy championships no more. Not that it worked though.

      • Chris, you don’t have anything else to add than that? Wow, so many teams pre-cap were spending all kinds and didn’t win. That’s some insight you’re bringing. I just simple pedestrian comments is what you’re all about. Sad.

  3. Boston is going to tie or have the most wins in a single season.

    What makes this special, they been rotating players in and out of the lineup up, to get rest or heal nagging injuries. They sat Bergeron, Krejci, Lindholm out the same game, when they were already without Hall, Foligno and Forbort.

    78 games in and their back to back losses to Detroit and Chicago is their longest stretch of games without a point.

    Personally don’t care about the regular season; if you asked me earlier in the season which team had the most wins in a single season or which team has the most points in a single season. I would’ve google to find the answer.

    History is nice but the rest is more important.

    However, Boston has been able to do both. Chase history and get rest.

  4. I think the NHL Need’s Re-evaluate a couple of things Regarding its Salary Cap and its Structure set up
    and the Draft Age moving it to 19 yr old….🤔

    For the Cap when they become UFA @27 yrs old, over a time period of two years, Reduce Contracts to a max term of 7 years, for year 1, then year 2 move it down again to to a Max contract for 6 years,
    Do this over a 2 year period…❓

    Way to many NHL teams are signing old players who are washed up buy 34, 35 years old Look at Vancouver they have signed TJ Millar for 8 years at $8.M per for 8 years.. his last 3+ years he will be on the 4th line playing 8-9 minutes a night making
    $8.M PA….⁉️

    18 yr Olds looks to be to young as you have maybe a handfull of 18 yr old that make it Tops…
    Todays Draft Age is 18 at pressent, over a 3 year period move it back 4 months each year over a 3 year period, at the end then you have your draft age at 19.. this had been talked about foir years..❓

    Regarding Signing Bounus for UFA players..
    Should this be part of the Salary Cap or not part of it……❓
    My thought is it should Not be part of the Cap,
    maybe its used as a Negotiating tool to bring the UFA contracts down to 6 year Max…., maybe put a Cap hit of a Max Signing Bonuse $5-8.M…❓
    last but not lest, Sid is Right 100%….👀
    Regarding the playoff Cut setup.
    it should be the Top 8 Teams in the East & West that make the playoffs…. Not this WILD CARD set up someone wingnut dreamed up we have right now….🙈

    Food for thought today, Happy Easter Everyone😇

    • I suspect that if they were to move the draft age to 19, an 18-year-old phenom would sue with the claim that they are denying a legal adult the right to employment.

      • You got it.

      • Hi Kevin

        Both TSN and SN have repeatedly said that any legal challenge to moving the draft age to 19 would fail

        I’m not a lawyer… but they were both very firm on it…and have said it many times iver the years

        I’m all for moving draft age to 19

        A hybrid is easy…,

        Year 1 of change:

        1st 2 rounds … must be 18 by 15/9; rounds 3 & 4 …. Must be 18 by 31/12; last 3 rounds …, must be 19 by 31/12

        Year 2…. 1st round only…. 18 by 15/9; round 2 18 by 31/12; balance of draft, must be 19 by 31/12

        Year 3… only top 5 …. Must be 18 by 15/9; rest of round 1 … must be 18 by 31/12; all else 19 by 31/12

        Year 4 …. All players must be 19 by 31/12; with the exception of top 5 picks… must be 18 by 15/9

      • No they would go to the AHL….

    • Hi Willie

      With you re lowering draft age (see my thoughts below); lowering max contract length

      Would like to see UFA ability dropped to one year earlier…. One extra year of prime age as UFA

  5. Well tomorrow’s morning coffee headline gonna be a looooong one, eh? Everybody plays tonight.

    As usual, the best games are the teams jousting for the last spots. Should be a good night of hockey.

  6. Congrats Sid…. 1,500!!!

    • Yes Sid is a Great Player…..👌 and 1,500 Pts… WoW

      Still one of the Top players in todays Game,
      and a Very Class Act,
      They All Look up to Sid Young and Old Players and So they Should….👌👌