NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2023
The latest on the Panthers and Golden Knights on the eve of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, analysis of the Blues Jackets acquiring and signing Damon Severson, another bidder for the Senators walks away, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
STANLEY CUP FINAL NEWS
FLA HOCKEY NOW: Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky drew praise from his teammates and head coach Paul Maurice for his solid performance in their win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Bobrovsky, meanwhile, deflected attention away from himself, talking up the Panthers improved play in cutting Vegas’ lead in the series to 2-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky’s struggles in the first two games of this series contributed to the Panthers falling behind 2-0 as the series shifted to Florida. They need him to remain on top of his game if they hope to rally back and win the Cup.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Former Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick is garnering praise from his Golden Knights’ teammates for his supporting role as their backup netminder. Quick hasn’t seen any action in this postseason but he’s accepted his job as Adin Hill’s understudy and mentor. Head coach Bruce Cassidy cited Quick as “doing his part, replaying experiences, supporting the team.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick’s experience as a two-time Stanley Cup champion provides invaluable support for the Golden Knights even if he never sees any game action in this series. The Panthers are getting the same thing from sidelined winger Patric Hornqvist.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun notes the Golden Knights’ defense corps is a reminder to NHL general managers that size matters on the blueline in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Talking with general managers like the Edmonton Oilers’ Ken Holland, the Colorado Avalanche’s Chris MacFarland and the Minnesota Wild’s Bill Guerin as well as Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy, the consensus is that it’s best to have a good mix of quick, puck-moving defensemen and big, rangy blueliners who used their size and strength to shut down opposing scorers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’re not advocating a return to the huge, lumbering defensemen of the “Dead Puck era” who relied on physical play and uncalled obstruction to shut down scorers. In today’s game, big defensemen need skill and foot speed to keep up with those swift-skating offensive opponents.
Nevertheless, as LeBrun pointed out by citing recent Cup champions and finalists, contenders need sufficient size on the blueline capable of handling the two-month grind of the postseason.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets acquired Damon Severson from the New Jersey Devils on Friday in exchange for a third-round pick in 2023. They immediately signed him to an eight-year contract worth an average annual value of $6.25 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move came on the heels of the Jackets acquiring veteran defenseman Ivan Provorov from the Philadelphia Flyers in a three-team trade involving the Los Angeles Kings.
Columbus has some promising young defensemen on their roster and in their prospect pipeline. However, they also need some experienced puck-moving skills among their top-four blueliners. The additions of Provorov and Severson should address that issue while buying more development time for their blueline prospects.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and his staff reportedly scouted Severson for months and had him at the top of their list of free-agent targets. The Devils’ willingness to trade his rights provided the Jackets with a golden opportunity to acquire him right away rather than risk losing him to another team via free agency.
With promising Luke Hughes joining the Devils and top prospect Simon Nemec likely to follow suit next season, Severson was the odd man out on their blueline. Rather than lose him for nothing, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald moved him for a draft pick.
Landing a third-rounder for Severson might not seem like a big deal for the Devils and maybe won’t amount to much down the road. On the other hand, that pick could one day turn into a quality NHLer or perhaps become a trade chip that adds an established player to their roster.
OTTAWA SUN: Billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos, the presumptive front-runner in the bidding to purchase the Senators, walked away from the process on Friday. Despite having made the highest and most fully-financed bid ($1 billion USD), Apostolopoulos was reportedly frustrated because he felt negotiations were taking too long with representatives of the Melnyk estate and the New York-based banker Galatioto Sports Partners assigned by the league to handle the process.
Apostolopoulos’ departure leaves Toronto businessman Michael Andlauer, Jeffrey and Michael Kimel of Harlo Capital, and Los Angeles-based producer Neko Sparks as the remaining bidders. It’s believed down to Andlauer and the Kimels as Sparks’ bid is said to be underfunded. Neither group has submitted a $1 billion bid for the Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the lowest bid is $850 million, which is no small amount. Still, the departure of the leading bidders raises questions about the reasons why it’s taking so long to arrange and finalize the sale of the Senators. It’s been nearly a month since the binding bids were submitted.
NHL.COM: Patrick Roy is interested in returning to the NHL coaching ranks but said he won’t be waiting by the phone in the coming days waiting for a call.
Roy said it’s been difficult for him to get an NHL coaching job because of the way he left the Colorado Avalanche in 2016. He quit the club as head coach over a difference of opinion with then-general manager Joe Sakic over the direction of the team. The Hall of Fame goalie acknowledged he made some bad decisions but claims he’s learned from those mistakes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roy won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2013-14 and has enjoyed success as the long-time coach of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, guiding them to two Memorial Cup championships. However, his intense personality and abrupt departure from Avalanche have made most general managers reluctant to hire him. That includes those who played with or against Roy during his playing days.
Roy may have mellowed and matured since his last NHL coaching stint but it will take some time before a team comes calling with a job offer.
SPORTSNET: NHL scouts were comparing Connor Bedard to Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid during the 2023 NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo this week. Central Scouting director Dan Marr believes Bedard is on the same trajectory as a generational talent as McDavid.
Bedard is ranked as this year’s top prospect and is expected to be chosen first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks during the upcoming NHL Draft in Nashville.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: It’s expected the Flames will announce the promotion of assistant coach Ryan Huska as their new head coach possible as early as Monday.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard has opened his Roberval, Quebec home to evacuees from wildfires in that province. Two families are currently staying there.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ethan Bear may require shoulder surgery in the coming weeks. He could miss the start of the 2023-24 season.
NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings have named Mike Buckley as their new NHL goaltending coach. He spent eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the last four as their head goalie coach.