NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2023
Reaction to the three-team trade that sent Ivan Provorov to the Blue Jackets, the latest Stanley Cup Final news, an update on Timo Meier and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
REACTION TO THE PROVOROV TRADE
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers general manager Daniel Briere thanked Ivan Provorov for his years of service to the club after trading the defenseman on Tuesday to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team deal involving the Los Angeles Kings.
Briere indicated that the deal was “really enticing” based on the draft picks the Flyers received and the direction the club is going as it rebuilds. “For us, what we were looking at is young guys and picks. We’ve said it from the beginning, so that was the major reason behind it,” said Briere.
“In exchange for Provorov and veteran minor leaguers Kevin Connauton and Hayden Hodgson, the Flyers will receive a first-round draft pick from Columbus (No. 22 overall), veteran goaltender Cal Petersen, defenseman Sean Walker, defensive prospect Helge Grans, a conditional second-round pick from Columbus, and a 2024 second-rounder from Los Angeles. Provorov heads to Columbus, while Hodgson and Connauton go to L.A. The Kings will pay for 30% of Provorov’s contract for Columbus.”
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen considers Provorov “a defenseman who slots in perfectly with our group.” He believes his club now has “two really strong defensemen on the left side of our top four with Zach Werenski and Ivan Provorov”.
Meanwhile, some LGBTQ+ Blue Jackets fans and community members are disappointed about the club’s addition of Provorov, citing his refusal in January to wear a Pride Night jersey when he was a member of the Flyers. Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox beliefs for declining to take part in the pregame formality.
Kekalainen defended the acquisition of Provorov. “We’ve always been an organization that promotes inclusion and diversity and all those things,” he said. “Hockey is for everyone, but we also respect freedom of opinion and freedom of choice.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read my take on the Provorov trade here.
Speculation abounds in the aftermath of the Provorov trade over whether Briere has other offseason moves in the works and how it affects the Kings’ efforts to re-sign a couple of key free agents. I’ll have more on that in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
STANLEY CUP FINAL NEWS
NHL.COM: Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights averaged 2.8 million viewers in the United States across TNT, TBS and truTV. It was the second-most watched Cup Final game ever on US cable. Viewership peaked at 3.3 million viewers between 10:45 – 11 PM ET.
Game 3 goes Thursday night in Florida at 8 pm ET. The Golden Knights hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault’s play since the middle of the second round has pushed him into the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation.
The 32-year-old has scored nine goals in his last nine games and leads the Golden Knights in this postseason with 12 goals in 19 games. He also has the best plus-minus (plus-16) among postseason players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this stage, I’d say it’s between Marchessault and Jack Eichel as the favorites among the Golden Knights as this postseason’s MVP. Nevertheless, there’s no question he’s played a big role in his club’s playoff run thus far.
THE SCORE: Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said he has “complete faith” in Sergei Bobrovsky, who was pulled in Game 2 after giving up four goals on 13 shots in the Panthers’ 7-2 loss. He dismissed any talk of Bobrovsky wearing down from the grueling playoff run.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky’s teammates also defended the goaltender. They cited their own poor defensive play and vowed to play better in front of him.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said his club will begin serious contract discussions with Timo Meier’s agent to sign the winger to a long-term contract. The 26-year-old winger is a restricted free agent on July 1 and is also a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A sticking point is Meier’s salary. He’s coming off a four-year contract with an average annual value of $6 million but earned $10 million in actual salary this season. That’s how much it’ll cost the Devils to qualify his rights unless he and the club reach an agreement on a new contract before July 1.
NEW YORK POST: The Islanders will maintain its status quo in the front office and behind the bench for 2023-24. Lou Lamoriello will be back as general manager while Lane Lambert remains their head coach.
Lamoriello said he intends to prioritize signing key free agents such as Zach Parise, Scott Mayfield, Pierre Engvall and Semyon Varlamov. However, he suggested winger Josh Bailey’s 15-year tenure with the club may be coming to an end. Bailey, 33, has a year left on his contract with a cap hit of $5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears that Lamoriello will attempt to trade Bailey, who lacks no-trade protection. Failing that, the Isles GM could buy out that remaining year before the buyout period ends on June 30.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Nashville Predators have announced their new ECHL partnership with the Atlanta Gladiators.
THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Atlanta, there’s some talk that the NHL could one day try again to establish a franchise in that city. Two previous teams, the Flames and Thrashers, relocated to Calgary and Winnipeg respectively.
Bad rosters, poor ownership and an arena in a bad location were cited as reasons why the Thrashers failed during their 11-year tenure there. However, if those issues are addressed and accounted for, there could be another opportunity to put an NHL franchise there.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged the two previous failed attempts in Atlanta. However, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a third effort at making it work there. However, he indicated the issue of expansion will not be on the table during the league’s upcoming board of governors meeting.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The size of the Atlanta market and the potential money it could generate explains why the league won’t shut the door on returning there. It’s the same reason behind the NHL’s stubborn efforts to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.