NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2023
Check out the latest on Blake Wheeler, Marc Staal, Cam Talbot and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
WINNIPEG SUN: Former Jets winger Blake Wheeler had nothing but good things to say about his former club, the city of Winnipeg and Jets fans during his introductory meeting with the New York media on Monday.
Wheeler, 36, signed a one-year contract with the Rangers on Saturday a day after the Jets bought out the final year of his contract. He was the Jets’ longest-serving player, having moved with the club from Atlanta to Winnipeg in 2011. He is their franchise leader in games played (897), assists (550) and points (812).
“I have nothing but gratitude to that city and organization and that fan base…I’m really proud to leave on great terms.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler handled his departure from the Jets quite well. In time, the franchise will likely honor his accomplishments once his playing career is over.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers signed defenseman Marc Staal to a one-year, 35-plus contract worth $1.1 million. General manager Daniel Briere said the 36-year-old was brought in to add a veteran presence for their younger players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal was the most notable of a quiet day of contract signings with just 14 players inking new deals on Monday. Blame the combination of a flattened salary cap and a free-agent pool already short on big-name talent when the market opened on July 1.
LA HOCKEY NOW: Cam Talbot said he’s excited about playing again for Kings coach Todd McLellan. The 35-year-old goaltender’s best seasons were when he played for McLellan with the Edmonton Oilers. He indicated that was a big selling point in convincing him to sign a one-year, 35-plus contract with the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending was considered a prime issue for the Kings to address this summer. Talbot’s age and recent injury history hampered his performance over the past two years. He will be paired with Pheonix Copley as the Kings’ goalie tandem to start the season.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Drouin is looking forward to a fresh start with the Avalanche after a difficult six-year tenure with the Montreal Canadiens. The 28-year-old winger was hampered by injuries and personal issues during his time with the Habs. He signed a one-year, $825K contract with the Avalanche, reuniting him with his friend and former Junior teammate Nathan MacKinnon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid performance with the Avs this season will help Drouin get his flagging NHL career back on track. It remains to be seen if he’ll be skating alongside MacKinnon but just being his teammate again could have a positive effect on Drouin’s game.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings yesterday placed Filip Zadina on waivers. General manager Steve Yzerman said the move was made after attempting to trade the 23-year-old winger. Yzerman indicated Zadina’s agent has approached him before the draft asking for a trade to provide his client with an opportunity for a fresh start elsewhere.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sixth-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Zadina has struggled to play up to expectations as a scoring winger. His best performance thus far was a 24-point effort in 74 games during the 2021-22 campaign. He’s signed through 2024-25 and could remain with the Wings if he clears waivers at noon ET today.