NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2023

by | Aug 7, 2023 | News, NHL | 15 comments

Reaction to the Erik Karlsson trade, the Coyotes sign Matt Dumba, Radko Gudas explains why he signed with the Ducks and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari believes the Penguins got Erik Karlsson at a bargain price. While some of the assets that were sacrificed (such as a top-10 protected 2024 first-rounder) will sting a bit, it won’t be a crippling blow considering what they got back.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Mark Madden considers Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas a “miracle worker” for getting a superstar such as Karlsson while shedding a combined $14 million in cap space getting rid of players he didn’t want in Mikael Granlund, Jeff Petry, Jan Rutta and Casey DeSmith.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Ron Cook also sang Dubas’ praises for landing Karlsson while shedding the dead weight he was saddled with by the Penguins’ previous management.

Meanwhile, Matt Vensel examined how the addition of Karlsson will affect the bottom of the Penguins’ lineup. He points out that the departures of Petry and Rutta leave the Penguins’ blueline corps smaller while raising questions about their penalty-killing ability. Trading away Granlund also removes needed playmaking from their bottom-six forward lines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng believes the San Jose Sharks didn’t get much back for Karlsson, taking on the unwanted contracts of Granlund and Ruuta from Pittsburgh and of Mike Mike Hoffman from the Montreal Canadiens.

Peng reported that Sharks GM Mike Grier indicated the club didn’t want to retain more of Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap hit than they did ($1.5 million) to facilitate a trade. “Having some cap flexibility and financial flexibility was really important for us going forward, “ said Grier.

Grier added that it was important for the Sharks to have the cap space to acquire players via trades or free agency when the opportunity arises. It also provides them flexibility within the next two years when the contracts of the players acquired in the Karlsson trade to put toward their prospects.

Peng believes we’ll get a better evaluation of this trade from the Sharks’ standpoint within a couple of years depending on what they do with that cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wrote my take on the trade soon after it went down yesterday. You can read it here.

It will be interesting to see how things unfold for the Penguins and Sharks over the next three or four years.

In the short term, the Penguins are the clear winners of this trade. They got the best player in this deal without giving up much to land him. This could work out well for the Pens over the next two or three years if Karlsson remains a reliable 70-80 point producer. It could also go south if his production declines and/or his injury woes resurface.

The Sharks didn’t get very much back because of their unwillingness to retain more of Karlsson’s hefty AAV. The flattened salary cap also worked against them. Had the cap risen by a significant amount this summer (like the projected $4 million increase for 2024-25), they might’ve found more suitors willing to offer up more than the Penguins.

Nevertheless, this could work out for the Sharks over the long run. They managed to get all almost all of Karlsson’s cap hit off their books plus they got a conditional 2024 first-round pick in the deal. As Peng explained, it depends on what they do with their cap flexibility and those promising players within their system.

The addition of Granlund, Hoffman and Rutta helps the Sharks buy a year or two to allow their prospects more time to develop. They could also flip those three at the trade deadline for draft picks or prospects.

As for the third team in the trade, the Canadiens also did a tidy bit of business in this deal which I noted in my analysis yesterday. They shed themselves of Hoffman’s $4.5 million cap hit, got Petry back at a reduced salary, bolstered their goalie depth by adding DeSmith and moved out a player who no longer fit into their roster in Rem Pitlick.

The Canadiens might not be done dealing. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Reports indicate the Coyotes signed defenseman Matt Dumba to a one-year contract worth $3.9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba is coming off a five-year contract with an AAV of $6 million. The recent decline in his offensive game ensured he wouldn’t get anything close to that in this year’s free-agent market.

Dumba remains an experienced top-four defenseman who can log big minutes. Those attributes should provide a boost to the rebuilding Coyotes blueline.

A solid performance in Arizona could turn Dumba into a valuable asset for the Coyotes at the March trade deadline. It will also improve his chances of landing a richer deal in next summer’s free-agent market.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Radko Gudas recently explained why he opted to sign with the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks after leaving the Stanley Cup finalist Florida Panthers as a free agent. He indicated that it had to do with the role he’d play with the Ducks as well as the financial aspect.

Gudas said he received interest from some Canadian teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he didn’t know if he’d feel comfortable dealing with the constant media attention. He also noted the taxes were higher in Canada.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudas isn’t the only player who has spurned signing with Canadian teams because of higher taxes in some provinces as well as media scrutiny. It’s gone on for decades now. Those clubs have still managed to sign notable free agents over the years but it does make it harder for them to attract high-quality talent.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Evgeny Svechnikov is reportedly signing a contract with KHL club AK Bars Kazan. He spent four seasons bouncing between the Red Wings and their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids from 2016-17 to 2020-21. He also played for the Winnipeg Jets in 2021-22 and the San Jose Sharks last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Svechnikov is the older brother of Carolina Hurricanes star Andrei Svechnikov. Chosen 19th overall by the Red Wings in the 2015 NHL Draft, he never reached the same heights as Andrei did.

NHL.COM: Former NHL goaltender Gilles Gilbert passed away on Saturday at age 74. Gilbert spent 14 seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings from 1969-70 to 1982-83. In 416 games, he had a record of 192-143-60 with 18 shutouts, a 3.27 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gilbert’s best seasons were with the Bruins from 1973-74 (when he backstopped them to the Stanley Cup Final) to 1979-80. He almost denied the Montreal Canadiens of a fourth straight Stanley Cup with an outstanding performance in Game 7 of the 1979 semifinal. He was named the game’s first star despite the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime.

My condolences to Gilbert’s family, friends and former teammates.


  1. Okay gang, which one of us gets to break the news to Gudas that taxes in California aren’t exactly low.
    Bottom line is that other teams may have had interest but no one else was offering three years at $4m. AAV.
    Is Gudas trying to justify his decision to the rest of us or to himself?

    • Honestly I don’t know why he owes anybody an excuse or explanation. He was an UFA and an adult. He made a life decision.

      And to go a little further, why Canadian teams specifically does he need an excuse? The guy isn’t even from North America.

      Fans tend to talk about life and money decisions of players like it somehow effects them directly?

      “Leave millions on the table and be a team player “ says most people who’d 💩 on their bosses desk after receiving $1.00 more an hour from another employer.

      This is in no way directed at you Howard. Just a general statement.

      • I’m not saying he owes anyone an explanation. Just random comment. Gudas chose to give an explanation when none was necessary. When a player does that, comments follow.

      • Howard to add, why do we hear this about hockey players and not from any other major sports leagues?

        It’s a bit of an old joke right? Something that as bad as it sounds, is still bought. Can you image a player saying no I don’t want to play for the Yankees or the Lakers or The Packers or AC Milan, or… anyone recall any other league where players don’t want to go somewhere due to press? (The taxes are just a sign of poor money management).

      • I think we hear this from hockey players because the NHL has 7 Canadian teams amongst 32. Baseball and basketball each only have one and the CFL is seperate from the NFL.

    • Over the course of his contract he would lose roughly 200-250k total, in just taxes by signing with Toronto or Montreal over Anaheim.
      Doesn’t seem like a lot but at his age, yeah I think it matters.
      And when you start looking at a guy like Matthews, lets say a conservative AAV of 12 Million per year. He is going to pay nearly 1.6 million per year more in taxes, in Toronto, then he would in Dallas, Florida, Tampa, Vegas, etc. and more then 1 million more in most of the US cities like Detroit, Pitt, Zona, St. Louis.
      So yeah its a issue.
      FYI, Cap Friendly has a great Tax calculator tool…..

      • Brian, one things for sure. Neither of us are doing his taxes. So we can’t say for sure.
        I’ve often posted that taxes are less of a factor than most people think. There have been numerous articles written on the subject. We can’t assume that athletes pay at the same rate as us regular folks. Teams and players hire professionals to make sure that their income is structured so as to minimize tax liability. There are many ways in which high income earners avoid taxes. There’s also the issue of where a player lives as well as where he plays. I recall a Canadian based agent tweeting several years ago that for European players, when they leave Canada, a flat rate is paid. Taxes are complicated. That’s why CPAs get paid so well.
        As for the CapFriendly tax calculator, if your accountant handles your taxes that way, get someone else.
        One additional factor that’s never mentioned is that players playing in Canada get paid in US dollars while their expenses are in Canadian dollars. That’s almost like a 25% raise right there. There’s also the vast difference in cost of living in various cities. Montreal is certainly much cheaper than NYC. Quality of life is important too.
        In short, many economic factors come into play. Taxes are only one of them. The way I see it, the deciding factor is usually which team would give a player the best opportunity to maximize his potential and to win, along with which city he’d like to live and work in.

  2. RIP Gilles Gilbert. Too bad for him that his career was defined by the goal he gave up to Guy Lafleur in 1979. On a shot that no goalie would have stopped. The replay of the goal got plenty of hits last year when Lafleur passed away. I imagine it will again now.
    Must be noted that if it hadn’t been for Gilbert’s stellar goalkeeping in the series, it would have been over before Game 7.

  3. There ya go pengy. Dubas didn’t have the option of getting sharks to hold more.

  4. My condolences to the Gilbert family. He was one of my favorite goaltenders back in the day and met him briefly outside the old Boston garden or waived to him because he knew me and my brothers recognized him walking out of causeway street. We were buying tickets for Bruins vs Flyers playoff game. He was a very good goaltender, underrated. Sad to hear! RIP!!!

  5. I find it somewhere in between amusing and bemusing that some declare a winner in a trade that has occurred in early August, short term prognostication or not.

    How does one evaluate such things now? Do the Pens win the trade if Karlsson is sensational but the Pens miss the playoffs, or are eliminated early?

    Or if the 2024 first round pick traded away turns out to be a great NHL player? And they gave up a 2025 second round pick too.

    To me, the Pens have taken a long shot bet to win the Cup with an aging core that hasn’t gotten in done since, what 2017?

    IMO giving picks away for a team that needs young talent now is an unwise move. Dubas is masterful in pulling off complicated trades but none of them have proven successful. At least when he was depleting the Leafs trade picks he could say that Matthews, Marner and Nylander are you and time was on his side. He can’t say that now in Pittsburg.

    Fair enough that a rebuttal that my comments are are in August too. But can anyone say the Pens’ future looks bright now, or in a few years?

    • The only thing that matters now is the next coulple years. And those years are much brighter.

      • Are they, Chrisms? Crosby and Letang are 36, Malkin is 37. The supporting caste includes Carter at 38 and Eller at 34.

        That would be great if they were bottles of bordeaux. Hockey players? Not so much.

        Struggling to share your optimism.

  6. “The Future” – sounds like line from Back To The Future. Since 1991, Penguins won 5 Stanley Cups (most in the NHL). Treasure championships!!!!!

  7. That’s right. They made that decision last summer when the re-upped Letang and Geno to go along with Sid last remaining years. Now you essentially have to be all-in. Forego most picks 2-3 years away, and try and put the best most talented team on the ice that you can. Karlsson is not the last move. With the new found cap space, they’ll be looking for at least another RHD and a scoring forward. This team with a healthy Karlsson will compete favorably with any team in the NHL. Whether they are Cup contenders depends strictly on their long term health and Jarry’s play!