NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 21, 2023
The Panthers down the Hurricanes in overtime for the second straight game, NHL and NHLPA to discuss the salary cap, the Penguins to seek permission to speak with Kyle Dubas, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Winger Matthew Tkachuk scored in overtime for the second straight game, Aleksander Barkov scored a highlight-reel game-tying goal and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 37 shots for the win. Jalen Chatfield opened the scoring for the Hurricanes while Antti Raanta made 24 saves.
The series shifts to Florida for the next two games with Game 3 on Monday at 8 pm ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour decided to start Raanta to give starter Frederik Andersen some rest following Game 1. Raanta was steady in Game 2 but I expect Brind’Amour will return with Andersen for Game 3.
This game wasn’t the four overtime marathon like Game 1 but it was still an absorbing, fast-paced matchup between these two clubs. The Hurricanes could’ve just as easily won the first two games of this series if they were able to get more than one goal at even strength.
There can now be no doubt that Tkachuk has established his reputation as a clutch playoff performer. One pundit nicknamed him “Playoff Chucky” and he’s earned it. He has to be considered in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy if the Panthers advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
However, my early Smythe Trophy leader is Bobrovsky. The 34-year-old goaltender had just two series victories on his resume entering the 2023 playoffs. He wasn’t even the Panthers’ starter in the first three games of their opening-round series against the heavily-favored Boston Bruins following yet another inconsistent regular season. His rock-steady performance since then has carried the Panthers to this point.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL and NHL Players Association will meet this week to open discussions on several issues, including raising the salary cap for 2023-24 beyond the projected $1 million to $83.5 million.
The PA is on record as rejecting the notion of raising the escrow rate of six percent per season for the next three seasons as a trade-off for raising the cap ceiling. However, they are said to be willing to accept a shorter training-camp period to increase the regular-season schedule to 84 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks sees that as a bargaining chip if NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is willing to move off his usual “take-it-or-leave-it” stance. Those extra games would bring in additional hockey-related revenue to 2023-24.
If the PA is indeed willing to agree to expanding the schedule it could garner support from the league Board of Governors, especially with 15 clubs carrying less than $10 million in cap space for next season with another seven carrying less than $15 million.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to seek permission from the Toronto Maple Leafs to speak with former general manager Kyle Dubas, who was fired on Friday by Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. The Penguins are in search of a new GM after firing Ron Hextall last month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s unknown if Dubas would be interested after stating last Monday that he’d step away from management for a while if he didn’t return with the Leafs. Nevertheless, the Penguins are conducting their due diligence by trying to contact him to find out.
DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of former general managers, the Calgary Flames are now allowing other clubs to speak with former GM Brad Treliving after reportedly refusing to do so before his contract expires on June 30. Treliving stepped down from his job with the Flames last month.
TSN: Maple Leafs winger William Nylander has changed his mind about joining Sweden in the IIHF World Championship currently ongoing in Finland and Latvia. He was reportedly reticent about arriving late to this tournament and taking a roster spot away from someone in the current lineup, especially as it may have belonged to his brother Alex.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think that’s a classy move by Nylander. His brother and the other players have been with that team for a while now.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa is questionable for Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. He was medically unfit for Game 1 and was replaced by Colin Miller.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said his club’s search for a new head coach will stretch into this week. He now doesn’t expect to reach a decision on his new bench boss until after he returns on May 29 from scouting the World Championship.
OTTAWA SUN/CTV NEWS OTTAWA: Canadian Olympic great Donovan Bailey and stand-up comedian Russell Peters are the latest notables to join Los Angeles-based producer Neko Sparks’ bid to purchase the Senators. Rapper Snoop Dogg is also part of Sparks’ group.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have parted ways with head trainer Jim Ramsay. He’d been in the role since 1994-95.