NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2023

by | Jul 27, 2023 | News, NHL | 36 comments

Patrice Bergeron explains why he retired, the Hurricanes re-sign Sebastian Aho, the Leafs place Matt Murray on LTIR, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

DAILY FACEOFF/BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Patrice Bergeron met yesterday with reporters and explained his decision to retire after 19 seasons with the Boston Bruins.

Bergeron, 38, said that he felt it was best to leave while still at the top of his game. He also wants to spend more time with his family.

The former Bruins captain also cited the physical toll that two decades of NHL action has taken on his body, though he indicated that he had no major issues. “It’s time to let that heal and move on,” he said.

As for his future, Bergeron indicated that he doesn’t believe joining the NHL coaching ranks is in the cards. “Never say never, but for now, I don’t have a want or will to coach.”

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most pro athletes tend to hang on too long, often becoming shadows of their former greatness late in their careers. Bergeron was that rare player still capable of playing at a high level at an age when most are in decline. He made the wise choice to trust his instincts and recognize the best time to leave the game.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes yesterday signed Sebastian Aho to an eight-year, $78 million contract extension effective July 1, 2024. The 26-year-old center will earn an average annual value of $9.75 million plus his deal comes with a full no-movement clause throughout and a modified no-trade clause (15-team no-trade list) in the final season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise that the Hurricanes locked up their first-line center on a long-term extension. Aho’s been their best forward since his 2017-18 sophomore season and a key reason why they’re a Stanley Cup contender. His new AAV is a reasonable raise over his current annual cap hit of $8.46 million. Aho probably would’ve gotten more in next summer’s open market but opted for the long-term security of staying with the only NHL club he’s ever played for.

General manager Don Waddell also indicated that he’s not close to re-signing other Hurricanes eligible for unrestricted free-agent status next summer. They include defensemen Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei and winger Teuvo Teravainen.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs announced goaltender Matt Murray is sidelined indefinitely and has been placed on long-term injury reserve.

The designation, however, comes two months after Murray was considered fully recovered from a late-season concussion and was well enough to be considered for a start against the Florida Panthers during the Leafs’ second-round series.

This report also came without any details as to the nature of Murray’s injury. The league reserves the right to have an independent doctor assess to determine if the LTIR designation is justified.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move prompted speculation on social media accusing the Leafs of circumventing the salary cap. It’s my understanding that the approval of the team doctor is required before a player is placed on LTIR. I believe that Murray must also report to training camp and undergo a physical. If he fails that, he will remain on LTIR for the 2023-24 season until such time that he’s physically able to return to action, which might not happen given his injury history.

Murray and his $4.687 million cap hit join sidelined defenseman Jake Muzzin and his $5.625 million on LTIR giving the Leafs some $10.3 million in cap relief. However, they remain above the $83.5 million cap by just over $2 million. That means they’ll have to shed salary via trade or demotion or end up icing a 20-man roster for the coming season.

THE ATHLETIC: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski has returned to the ice in semi-competitive play for the first time since his season-ending shoulder injury last November. He’s participating in a no-contact summer league as he looks toward returning to NHL action for 2023-24 with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Werenski’s absence was among the factors that contributed to the Blue Jackets missing the playoffs last season. They’ve bolstered their blueline this summer by adding Ivan Provorov and Damon Severson but a healthy and productive Werenski will be crucial to their hopes of postseason contention.

TVA SPORTS: Maxime Comtois revealed it was a mutual decision between himself and the Anaheim Ducks to part ways this summer. The Ducks didn’t send him a qualifying offer, making the 24-year-old forward an unrestricted free agent.

Comtois said he’s getting calls from interested clubs though none have turned into a concrete offer yet. After playing several years with the rebuilding Ducks, he said he wants to play for a winning team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Comtois also said that he’d be interested in joining the Montreal Canadiens but he has not received a call from them. The Habs are rebuilding their roster with an eye on making room for their promising young prospects.

SPORTSNET: Logan Cooley is having second thoughts about returning to the University of Minnesota for another season and could sign his entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes. Cooley, 19, was taken third overall in the 2022 NHL Draft by the Coyotes.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche re-signed forward Ben Meyers to a one-year, $775K contract.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed 2023 first-round pick Samuel Honzek to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old left winger was chosen 16th overall.


  1. it’s funny that Comtois, at 24, is too old for the Habs rebuild, but they had no problem re-signing Monahan, over 30 and coming off an injury-plagued season

    • Question.

      With Murray on LTIR , does the salary retention from the Senators now become usable cap room for Ottawa now?

      • No. It only applies for the Leafs

      • Yes the LTIR relief Murray creates is only for the Leafs cap…the Sens do not receive any cap relief even though they retained the 25%. Just one reason why retaining salary is not a go to move like some thing it is.

        Also with Murray and failing physicals, all teams preform a Baseline test to every healthy (and/or new players) player to basically have a start point or baseline to what all a certain players vitals are which include more than just physical tests. If a player fails to meet the baseline, they fail and deemed not healthy to play. With Murray it would be anyone’s guess if his issue is either a head issue or a physical limitation…or both!

    • It has nothing to do with Comtois’ age, mikeP. As for Monahan, they signed him on June 20. Comtois wasn’t available until July 1.

    • mikeP. Habs have lots of young talent in their system so there is no need to add Comtois who apparently was not good enough for the Ducks or anyone else at this point to make an offer he wants to sign. Monahan can be used for his veteran leadership and if he has a very good season can be used to lure a 1st round pick from a contending team at the trade deadline. The move to sign Monahan and not sign Comtois makes sense to me.

    • Mike. Monahan is 28 and is a low risk signature (2M). Provides skill and experience to the team when healty. Had 17 points in 25 games, Comtois 19 in 64.

    • mikeP, it’s not so funny at all.

      I don’t write Comtois off but at 24 he has had over 200 NHL games to his experience. It may be he wasn’t played to his strength, that the Ducks are just plain bad, or … that in 200+ games he hasn’t displayed enough for the Habs to invest in his development.

      Don’t you find it interesting that no other club has signed him yet either, when he could surely be gotten for a song?

    • 🔥

      The Sen/s just singed Tarasenko. to a 1 year deal for $5.M with a NTC for the whole year.
      Now they only have $895,000 left in cap space❗️

      The need to sign 3rd line Centre Shane Pinto who got 20 goals last year……
      thats going to cost them $??.M+ unless he takes a team friendly deal for 1 year untill they have cap space next year🤔

      Also need to resign the Big Russian RFA 6.ft5 & 215lb L.W. Egor Sokolov, they could sign & send him to the AHL…

      So they also need to trade out some salary cap….⁉️
      maybe they move out 26 yr old LW/RW winger Mathieu Joseph @$2.9M to sign the 2 young guys
      Pinto has to be on the team 100%

  2. I’ll say it again….

    This Leaf’s fan is happy Berg is retiring

    This Team Canada’s fan is not

    Great player; great Leader, great guy

    Excelled in Jr; internationally; and as a Bruin

    Enjoy your retirement Patrice…. See you when you get to HHOF as s first balloter

    This Leaf’s fan is happy re Murray LTIR…. But fully accepts massive skepticism EVERYWHERE else

    As stated above…. “comes two months after Murray was considered fully recovered from a late-season concussion and was well enough to be considered for a start against the Florida Panthers during the Leafs’ second-round series.”

    Again … I get the Skepticism….

    Murray would want LTIR…. Full pay vs being bought out and losing 1/3rd of that

    Leafs want LTIR…, off books, no Cap hit; saves more in Cap hit than buyout; no dead cap next year

    and….. signature on paperwork…. Leafs Team doctor…. Employee of Leafs

    I get it

    Re Aho…. Good deal both sides

    End result…. despite arguments (quite valid I might add) that although Aho’s numbers are slightly less than WW’s this year but he is due far more as he is 1C (vs winger); is more of a 2-way player; is younger (1yr); AND most importantly was already AT $8.46 M Cap (so only getting a 25% Cap raise…

    End result…. WW’s Dad just going to dig in harder and refuse (come Hell or High Water) to take a Cap hit that does not start with at least a 9….

    So…. If they do re-up WW…. At least 9…. Which needles up AMs final deal…. And top 4 next year then would be at least 53% of Cap ceiling….. Leafs already struggling at Cap with top 4 in 23/24 making up 48%…. Ouch

    Leafs with LTIR relief still need to get under the Cap by opening day and must be Cap compliant if/when Murray comes off LTIR

    They’ll be screwed if independent NHL Dr brought in to examine him AND if Dr says he’s good to go…. Back on Cap AND more importantly , buyout Window door shut by then

    Right now… only 22 (of 23) AND still $2.1 M over

    Trade WW for 2nd pairing D at $4.9 M or less Cap hit

    I still say WW for Oleksiak straight up ; works for everybody

    Tre could get more with a sign and trade….. 8 years, *$8 M

    *Take home of $8 M Gross in Seattle …. $5.1 M…. To equate take home of $5.1 M in Toronto…. Gross needs to be $10.8 M (Source: Gavin Group)

    • From Twitter chatter, Leafs were going to buy out Matt Murray but his reps claimed he was injured. All LTIR requests must be approved by the NHL. Assuming the buyout rumour is true, if the league had denied the LTIR request, with the Leafs proceeding to terminate the contract, Murray’s agent would surely have filed a grievance.

      Murray is owed $8 million for the upcoming season. Losing 1/3 is $2.67 million. Concussions require time to heal. Maybe attempt a comeback in 2024 after a year of rest and rehab.

      “was well enough to be considered for a start against the Florida Panthers during the Leafs’ second-round series.”

      That’s what Toronto put out in the media; the actual truth of the matter may well have been far different.

    • Jamie Oleksiak? Straight up? Oleksiak with 100 pts in 500 games and a career -3?
      Seattle would need to throw in 3 or 4 picks/prospects to make that realistic for Toronto to even consider.

      • Well it doesn’t make sense to trade a dynamic winger who been an 80pt player the past two seasons, shows up during playoffs…uhm, good puck carrier, can skate and score 40 like last season and can drive a line.
        Well as a one for one, Jamie Oleksiak, you see, is a split mirror image and depending who you speak with, better!
        Why not straight up if you can. Kraken for the cup!

      • Hi Foleyd7

        Kraken definitely would get more for sign and trade;

        But WW coming over with 1 year left; with his history (well, his Dad’s history) of contract sticking pig-headed stance and waiting until he gets his way…. Then….Big Oleksiak …. 2nd pairing D…. Locked at only $4.6 M for 3 years; and last year his best year ever…. Yes…. Straight up trade is fair IMHO

        WW’s value in trade (sans extension) is limited to few teams with (1) space; (2) need/want; (3) Asset(s) Leafs can use presently; is much lower now (than pre Draft and pre 1/7)

        IF WW comes over as an already extended (by 8 years… so 9 total)…,, then the pick/prospect chequebook comes out in force

        Tre is backed into a corner re Cap and how to deal with WW

        Tre has to do something , pronto

        WW for Oleksiak is quick; massively improves D; saves $2.4 M in Cap space; let’s Tre move on from a potentially lengthy, acrimonious, public and distracting negotiating period with WW camp and with the reality that this may end with WW singing elsewhere 1/7/24…. With Leafs getting squat…. And finally, and most importantly…. Tre could then focus on the here and now and the AM extension

      • This guy gets it. No way star players with or without NTC can determine where they can be traded to or know how other organizations or cities are once they are part of it.
        Seen that before. 🥳

    • What? No “Pens should trade for Murray” today? Oh, he’s on long term IR.

      • SOG, a team could trade for him nonetheless, wanting cap relief from his LTIR status.

      • Hi SOG

        No team should nor will trade for Murray

        If he was bought out…. Signing him then for 1 year at $1.17 M of less would be a good strategy….

        If he goes on LTIR…. Insurance pays; off the Cap

        If he is healthy and plays like he can.. uber cheap back up ((@ level he can play at)

        Very limited risk move….

        Healthy , playing crap….. then you waive him; off the Cap… if someone picks him up….. gone completely; absolute worst case…. Owners are paying big $’s for an AHLer (happens all the time…. Owners are rich…. Rounding error)

    • Oilers did the same with Mike Smith a few years back. He played all their playoff games the year before and then disappeared from their roster the next year and was put on LTIR.

      • Re; The Leafs
        Still over the cap by $2.050M after adding Murray to LTI
        so the need to move One or Two player to save cap space who would that be🤔

        1st thought is
        Calle Järnkrok’s salary is $2,100,000
        would clear it out in 1 move ……. But he is a valuable 3rd line player the Coach really likes to use…..

        2nd Option
        is do they wave a player or 2 in the same move too or send down the the minions to save $…❓
        like, A
        4th line Goon Ryan Reaves @1.35M & 4th liner Dylan Gambrell @ $775,000 would let them clean enough cap space

        3rd/ option
        to much to lose a 3rd line centre like David Kämpf @$2.4M


        Top 4 d/man TJ Brodie’s @ $5.M
        Leafs d is already on the Mediocre side

        Not a lot of teams have $5.M cap space to take on $5.M, at present teams that are close still have to re-sign there curent players like the oilers Bouchard & McLeod they have $5.6M

        They would have to move a good pick or A good prospect to get this done….
        and they have traded ALL there 2nd round picks Away for the next 3 years…‼️

        Thoughts on who could they move….❓

  3. Would like Comtois on Pens

    I believe with change of scenery he could be a needed producer on the 3rd line

    Useless for Pens though if they don’t get a 3C (Eller not really the answer)

  4. Hope Meyers can be fruitful as 4th liner!! He can skate and is good forchecker but needs to finish when he gets the chance. GO AVS!!!!

  5. as for Murrays LTIR……very convenient.
    The league is far too lax on LTIR at times….again very convenient.
    Just another way of helping the Leafs to continue their cup quest.

    • I have a bizarre way of looking at it, admittedly.

      It seems so obvious that it’s cap circumvention that there’s no way it can be cap circumvention.

    • Cup quest? Aren’t they still on get out of the 2nd round quest?

      • True, true!🤣

  6. I get folks want to see conspiracy everywhere these days. Without evidence.

    A few things that make me skeptical that this is nefarious, other than what Whalercane states below, which I get, and I think he’s right about that too.

    1 – The vast majority of large NHL contracts are insured, the one example of not, was Horton, which was not insurable due to his health issues. So the insurer is just gonna pay his full cap hit to play along with the Leaf’s scheme?

    2 – Murray is a 2 time cup winner who is only 29. You don’t win cups by wanting to sit on the sidelines and watch. NHL players want to play and compete, especially on a team that has a legit shot at winning.

    3 – Murray has been injured over and over again. Nobody said a peep. Is it really that hard to fathom a guy who has been injured that often, while continuing to play pro hockey every year, hasn’t accumulated enough damage to have some long term issues?

    So you either believe that Leafs management, the NHL big wigs and staff, the rest of the teams and staffs, the Doctor and staff, the insurance company ownership and staff, and the competitive NHL player, agent are all in on this scheme to defraud the NHL.


    He has an injury or accumulation of injuries that are keeping him out of the lineup.

    You pick.

    • Yeah, Ray, nice catch on the insurance issue.

      I’m still of the belief that’s there’s nothing sketchy here, but the optics and timing sure are terrible.

      The NHL will of course come out with a highly detailed report of the circumstances…. oh wait, sorry, fell off my chair laughing.

      • The timing I’d say is spot on no? The buy out window opens, the Leafs need to figure out if Murray can be bought out.
        Tests are done and he is ruled unfit, so no buy out.
        He is unfit = LTIR.

  7. Little late to the game but I just saw LJ’s comment from yesterday about the Habs blundering by taking Kostitsyn over Bergeron. That wasn’t the blunder. Kostitsyn and Bergeron were taken about where they had been ranked and Kostitsyn did give the Habs a few good years. The blunder was picking Cory Urquhart 5 spots ahead of Bergeron.

    • He shoots….

      And a miss.

    • Salami, pastrami, baloney, Howard.

      The Habs’ search for a center has been going on longer than time itself. You should know that experts rankings are not the same as the teams ‘rankings, nor their choices during draft day. Just one example, look at how many experts picked Leonard before Reinbacher this year.

      The Habs also could have picked Carter, Getzlaf, Kesler and Richards as renters that day too.

      So that’s 5 good to great centres the Habs could have had that day. Their roster in 2002 was – surprise – thin as pea soup at center with only Koivu as a quality center. Kostitsyn’s performance was just okay for a few years and in no way made up for all those misses. End of, Howard.

    • Cory who???

      • My point exactly Habman. He and I have the same NHL stats. GP 0, G 0, A 0, P 0. Second rounders are hit or miss. That year, the Bruins hit big. The Habs missed.

  8. The Leafs have found a brand new way to screw with the Sens uggh.

    The buyout would have helped Ottawa’s cap this year AND next because even though the retained fraction of cap hit goes up next season, we would be balanced out by the (baffling) negative cap hit from Colin White.

    Now they get reprieve and Ottawa nothing. Murray will always be a solid argument against Dorion trade decisions. Among many others.

  9. Sens have Tarasenko.