NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2023
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.”
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.
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.