NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2024

by | May 22, 2024 | News, NHL | 36 comments

Conference Finals storylines and Conn Smythe Trophy favorites, the Lightning reacquire Ryan McDonagh from the Predators, the Leafs introduce Craig Berube as their new coach, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti looks at the top 10 storylines to follow in the 2024 Conference Finals.

They include New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin and Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky facing each other in postseason competition for the first time since their departures from the Columbus Blue Jackets as free agents in 2019.

Gulitti also wondered if Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl could take the next step and carry the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

The NHL.com staff listed their favorites thus far for the Conn Smythe Trophy. They include Draisaitl and teammate Evan Bouchard, Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin and teammate Vincent Trocheck, and Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen and forward Wyatt Johnston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You could include Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk, though he isn’t the same presence as in last year’s postseason. Stars goaltender Joel Oettinger deserves a nod but Heiskanen and Johnston have stood out thus far. Rangers winger Chris Kreider’s hat trick in the series-clinching game against the Carolina Hurricanes earns him some recognition heading into the Conference Final with the Panthers.


TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning reacquired defenseman Ryan McDonagh from the Nashville Predators in exchange for two draft picks. The Predators get a seventh-round pick in the 2024 draft and the Lightning’s second-rounder in 2025. They also sent the Lightning a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft that originally belonged to the Edmonton Oilers.

McDonagh, 34, spent nearly five seasons with the Lightning, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021. The Lightning traded him to Nashville in a cost-cutting move in 2022.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said he received a call last week from Predators GM Barry Trotz asking if he’d be interested in reacquiring McDonagh, who requested a trade during his exit interview. BriseBois leaped at the chance to reacquire the veteran blueliner, citing his importance to the Lightning’s defense corps.

McDonagh is signed through 2025-26 with an average annual value of $6.75 million. The Predators did not retain any part of his cap hit.

The move leaves the Lightning with over $5 million in cap space for 2024-25 with 18 active roster players under contract. BriseBois insists he can still work out a new contract for Lightning captain and pending free agent Steven Stamkos. “We still have some cap space to get done what I think we need to get done this off-season,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois must trade to free up sufficient salary-cap space or acquire a player on permanent long-term injury reserve to give him some cap flexibility.

A cost-cutting trade means moving out someone like winger Brandon Hagel ($6.5 million AAV through 2031-32), center Anthony Cirelli ($6.25 million AAV through 2030-31), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev ($8.5 million per season through 2030-31) or blueliner Erik Cernak ($5.2 million annually through 2030-31) for draft picks and/or prospects.

Moving any of those players could create a weakness on their Lightning roster that proves difficult to address.

BriseBois acquired permanently sidelined defenseman Brent Seabrook from the Chicago Blackhawks in July 2021. With Seabrook’s $6.875 million coming off the Lightning’s books, BriseBois could consider making a similar move again. It would keep his current roster of active players intact while providing the necessary wiggle room to re-sign Stamkos, leaving enough to make some affordable additions.

THE TENNESSEAN: Trading McDonagh frees up nearly $7 million from the Predators’ books. They now have over $26 million in cap space. Trotz said he was more concerned with doing right by McDonagh but admitted his club now has salary-cap flexibility to make some moves this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s raised questions over what Trotz will do with his windfall and which players he’ll target. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumors update.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs officially introduced Craig Berube as their new head coach on Tuesday. “I’m going to bring my own style here in how we played the game,” said Berube. “Competitive. We don’t want to get outworked ever.”

Berube expects the Leafs to be a hard-working club that plays a heavy game, wins puck battles, earns their ice time, and moves their feet. “It’s all about the team for me,” he said. “Everyone is used. Everyone has a role. Playing predictable and north and playing as fast as we can.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube is expected to make the Leafs players more accountable. He’ll do his best to fulfill his part of the bargain but management must address the ongoing roster issues (a reliable starting goaltender, improved defensive depth) that have plagued this club during the “Shanaplan.”

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins captain Brad Marchand hopes to sign a contract extension “at some point.” The 36-year-old winger has a year remaining on his deal with an AAV of $6.175 million. He had 29 goals and 38 assists in 82 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand could get a two or three-year contract. It’s unlikely he’ll get a raise over his current AAV but it could be between $5 million and $6 million given his performance this season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators hired Rob DiMaio as their director of player personnel and head of pro scouting. DiMaio spent the past two seasons as assistant general manager with the Anaheim Ducks and GM of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Before that, he spent 13 seasons with the St. Louis Blues as director of player personnel from 2015 to 2022 and was named their director of scouting in 2012. His work contributed to the Blues’ Stanley Cup championship in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a smart hire by GM Steve Staios. DiMaio’s hiring should improve the Senators’ drafting and development of young players.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Martin Pospisil suffered a shoulder injury on Tuesday while playing for Slovakia in the ongoing IIHF World Championships. An X-ray revealed no fracture or dislocation. A further update is expected following an MRI.


  1. I will state the obvious, that a prime target for the Bolts will be Price’s contract.

    • Utah may not need Webber’s contract this coming year at $7,857,143 x 2

    • Bolts, Johnny. Not Utah.

      • LJ, I think perhaps johnny is referring to Weber’s contract as another option for TB if it’s not need by Utah

      • Doh!

        Sorry, Johnny.

  2. I don’t know why, but I thought
    Marchand was making closer to 9 million or above, just based on what he does for, and means to that team. That has to have been the best contact in hockey for the last 7 years. That man deserves to get paid. I mean Pavelski is at 7 million (I think) and he’s 39.

    • Joe is 6M x1, his last contract was 7M AAV
      He will be a UFA

      • Thank you for the correction… either way, he needs to win the cup this year. But I would still argue that Marchand was more valuable to his team during these past few years, than Pavs was at his 7 million for the 3 previous years.

    • Scheifele at just over $6M the past 8 seasons was a huge deal for the Jets.

  3. What does “Playing predictable and north” mean? I can’t help but question whether the Leafs faithful are over-hyping Berube. Is it really an accountability issue? That just stinks of senior leadership scapegoating the players rather than taking responsibility for the roster decisions. How is Berube’s ‘accountability’ gonna fix JT’s lack of speed? The week goal tending? The lack of forward and defensive depth? It’s kinda insulting to the players on that team who have litterally given their all, only to have a desperate leadership hire a new coach to tell the world that the reason this team hasn’t got over the hump is because of a lack of accountability.

    I get it. Some of the well-paid players didn’t look spectacular in the playoffs, but that’s the playoffs. Teams focus more on shutting down the star players. THAT’S WHY YOU NEED DEPTH. Sheesh!

    FWIW: Nylander is welcome on my team all season long. And that includes the playoffs.

    • @Everydayboots

      I think the Leafs do have forward depth but the former coach, and to some extent, the GM, did not utilise it properly. Defensive depth, not so much.

      Alex Steeves was having a very good year with the Marlies. Did he get any games with the big club?
      When McMann went down, why not bring up Keifer Bellows? He was having a good year as well and plays a similar game to McMann.

      The GM wasted valuable cap space on unnecessary forward signings like Reaves and Kampf. That’s nearly $4M in cap space they could have allocated to the back end.

      The GM also allowed Erik Gustafsson to walk as a UFA and signed Klingberg for $4.1M.

      Using just those three players as an example, there is $8M of wasted cap space. When they talk accountability, they should look in the mirror

      • I’ll take a stab at what “Playing predictable and north” means.

        Predictable – stay in the structure defensively. Can’t have freelancers out there or people start covering for each others mistakes, leaving open guys for high danger scoring chances against. D need to know where the forwards are going to be when trying to exit zone. They often don’t have time to scan the zone because they are about to get their face pushed into the glass by a winger with speed.

        Stop throwing hope passes to the front of the net in the O zone, and the Leafs do this a lot. Your just giving up possession and the play goes the other way. If it’s their take it, if it isn’t, or you don’t know, keep possession or at vary least keep it deep to a place where you cabn stay in the battle. Everybody on the same page.

        North simply means fewer D to D passes, move the puck forward and do it fast, unless you have no choice. Forwards need to stop trying to stickhandle by a guy or making passes through the neutral zone that are low probability. If it isn’t their get it deep/north, take the fight to their end. And it’s everybody, not just the bottom 6.

        The Leafs have the talent to make more plays than the team they are playing when there is time and space. Those opportunities still happen in the playoffs, just less often. Need to keep the other guys from getting more of those chances than you do.

        Oil had the same issues, they still crop up, but way less often and now are in their 2nd WCF in the last 3 years because the top guys figured it out and led the way. They play predictable and north.

        I also think the Leafs beat the B’s if they had Nylander and Matthews all series. FLA nope, but maybe a different conversation if they had played them tough.

      • Agree wholeheartedly there. Ray. With Nylander and Matthews – as well as Marner – at full health that series would have gone to the Leafs.

        And for those who cast doubt on Marner’s lack of full mobility, regardless of post-season non-reference, unless YOU have suffered a high ankle sprain you can have NO idea as to how it can still impede aspects of your mobility for months after suffering the injury.

        When I played football there were 4 injuries you did not want to experience outside of broken bones – a Charley Horse, a ham-string, a groin pull and a high ankle sprain.


      • @Daryl Bellows wasn`t under contract to the Leafs, so they couldn`t bring him up even if they wanted to. Gustafsson didn`t play very well during his stint in Toronto and he was a UFA. So he might have decided not to resign in Toronto. Klingberg was signed as a PP specialist and nobody knew about his hip problems at the time of the signing. There wasn`t a lot to choose from in last years UFA class of RHD and there`s no way you can hang this years failure on Kampf and Reaves. If you get rid of Kampf and Reaves it still doesn`t give you 4 million for the back end. You still have to replace the 2 forwards don`t you. Maybe in your world you say I need a top pairing RHD and other teams just hand them over to you. It just doesn`t work that way in real life. You sign whats available and what a team can afford. If it works, you`re a genius. If it doesn`t then people offer their hindsight. It would be nice to see Steeves get a longer look, his play on the Marlies has been great

    • but the coach stopped playing Erik Gustafsson vs the Panthers where the Leafs D struggled to outlet the puck with the Panthers aggressive forecheck last spring.
      not sure what Sheldon was seeing…..so why GM going to resign him?

    • @Everydayboots You`re either a huge Marner fan or you haven`t watched a Leafs game the past few years. Most Leaf fans picked Berube as the best choice over the known candidates. Most Leaf fans didn`t have Berube as their first choice to coach this team. The media seemed to be in the same boat. Most of the Berube hype seems to be from former players, not us fans. Is Berube the best choice, only time will tell. Accountability is everything in sports, from the top to the bottom. Knowing what your role is on the team and buying into it, is what is needed to win. Shanahan should be held accountable for not holding the players accountable for their failures. You have to be a total idiot to to give the core 5 over 50% of the cap and then say it`s a lack of depth or weak goaltending. The oilers don`t have the strong goaltending and they`re playing in the conference finals, weird eh. I guess teams aren`t focusing on McDavid or Draisaitl You can whine and cry all you want about the lack of depth or the goaltending in Toronto, but that`s not the real reason that they lost. A powerplay that stunk to high hell was the biggest reason and a PK that was just as bad. That`s 100% on the core and the coaches. Keefe owned up to it, now it`s the core 5`s turn. Accountability baby, that`s what it`s all about

  4. After the April sacking of two of their main scouting personnel (Jim Clark and Rob Murphy – both Dorion hires) Staios continues with the behind-the-scenes moves with the hiring of Rob DiMaio as director of player personnel and, perhaps more importantly, head of pro scouting – just ahead of the entry draft.

    Over the better part of 8 years, under the overall direction of Pierre Dorion, there were 46 players drafted by the Senators, 25 of them taken from 2020 to 2023 and, with 3 exceptions, 22 still in the prospect stage either at the minor league level or still in college/junior. The exceptions are current NHLers Tim Stutzle, Jake Sanderson and Ridly Greig.

    From the time Dorion took over as GM in 2016 to 2019, there were 21 players drafted, 4 of whom are currently part of the major league roster: Drake Batherson, Brady Tkachuk, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Mark Kastelic. another 4 are still considered prospects: RW Angus Crookshank, Kevin Mandolese, Mads Soggard (the last 2 goalies) and D Maxence Guenette. The rest can now be considered busts, including Logan Brown, a C taken 11th overall in 2016, Jonathan Dahlen, a C taken 42nd that same year; Shane Bowers, another C taken 28th in 2017, Alex Formenton, a LW taken 47th in 2017 (but a bust for non-hockey related reasons); Johnny Tychonik, a D taken 48th in 2018; Lassi Thompson, a D taken 19th overall in 2019.

    In terms of drafted players becoming full-fledged roster players there has been a 15% success rate, with legitimate busts at 28%. The remaining 57% are still regarded as prospects.

    The thing is, how that record stacks up against the other teams an only be determined by going through the same systematic drafting records for each … and I ain’t going down that road. So, it’s hard to see what can be expected from DiMaio in terms of % of successful drafting to conclude that his hiring represents a significant improvement.

    • From 2012 to 2021 with DiMaio as the Blues’ chief scout, they selected Colton Parayko, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, and Jake Neighbours, who are still with the Blues as part of their roster core

      They also selected such notables as William Carrier, Robby Fabbri, Ivan Barbashev, Ville Husso, Sammy Blais, Vince Dunn, Tage Thompson, Scott Perunovich, Joel Hofer, and Zach Bolduc.

      Most of these players were chosen beyond the first round. Those who were first-rounders went 20th or lower.

      • Thanks Lyle, Pretty impressive. We here in Ottawa can only hope that type of success follows.

      • Makes you wonder – with that record of success – why the Blues didn’t keep him around? Was the Anaheim job a promotion of sorts?

        Tried to find an explanation for his departure from the Blues in 2022 but so far nada.

      • The Ducks hired him as assistant GM and GM of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Perhaps that was the reason.

  5. Lightning have used LTIR for the last few years (Seabrook) but have thin assets to gain more; perhaps Stamkos is VERY team friendly. Consider; he might get 10MM for three years to go to another team to be “the guy” — either for rebuilding or to put a team over the top. Can he, would he? Three years of high pressure, then retire. Or he can net the same with 3.8 for 7 in Tampa, two or three more runs at the cup especially if McD and Heddy can hold back father time, then several years of low minutes/power play specialist as a beloved captain and icon on a still competitive rebuilding team. no family move, good tax situation, One Team Career, Number retired at last game and all of that. Hedman Might Feel the same way as they cooperated before the three successive finals. The core is not terrible;
    Kuch, Point, Hegel, Paul, Cirelli, Sergechev, and, of course, Vasi. BrisBois has been a good GM, but perhaps a big part of it has been the luck of team oriented players and agents to work with.

  6. Re; Tampa

    Im not sure what way they are going adding a $6.75.M d/man McDonagh is signed 2 more yrs

    That Leave TB with $5 million in cap space for
    2024-25 with 18 active roster players under contract Thats not including Stamkos…..
    He is going to be looking for $5-6.M minimum, the other 4 players to bring the roster up to 23 players $3-4 M.

    So TB is going to have to move out a $$6.M player
    to make it work if he want to bring Stamkos back next season to TB like,
    A Brandon Hagel $6.5M or Anthony Cirelli’ $6.25M
    or maybe they are not brining him back….❓🤔

    • The Mcdonagh trade is a little weird. Something else seems to be brewing, I’m guessing Stamkos Informed them he’s testing the market or moving on. Or they’re trading Hedman?

      I’m not buying that they’re looking for another LTIR contract. They’d still have to move out money regardless, and ltir deal alone doesn’t help at all.

      If they’re considering moving Sergachev, Hagel, Cirelli etc. to make room Stamkos/ Mcdonagh, this team is headed in the wrong direction.

      • True that Captain.

      • Cernak is the obvious big dollar candidate, as he’s likely a 50 game player based on his injury history. Since you’re planning on 30 games from
        Perbix or Raddysh in your top 4 anyhow move him on draft day to refill the pipeline & fix the cap – also have Lillenberg & Crozier & perhaps Fleury to fill in. You have three good (two aging)
        D to match with, & now 11MM in cap space which likely solves things. McD has two years to finish the contract he originally signed with the Lightning & will likely be a useful stay-home and stabilizing Dman for a couple of years ; his play last year was up to his traditional standard.
        Cooper likes the 7 D configuration and can limit minutes early on for both Hedman and McD if that seems the way to go.

    • I like both Stamkos and Mcdonagh. But I don’t like Mcdonagh at 6.75 for two more years. And I certainly don’t like him at the expense of Hagel, Sergachev etc.

      All that being said about Cernak, he’s not likely to have much interest. And he’s a right side guy anyway. Mcdonagh can play left or right side, but he’s better on the left side.

      Tampas right side is already thin. I’m thinking someone else will be on the move.

      As much as I like Mcdonagh. This trade is a little bizarre. Unless they can move a guy that they probably shouldn’t move, I can’t see how they re-sign Stamkos and still sigh an additional 4 roster players.

      I don’t see Stamkos signing for less than 6 per.

  7. Here is an article i found on ltir, if interested give it a read.


    2 things, I always thought you couldn’t use ltir until open day.

    Getting as close as possible to the cap before using ltir.

  8. Re; The Preds after the Ryan McDonagh Trade

    Predators did not retain any part of his cap hit, $6.75 for 2 more years, Great for them 👍…
    Now it Looks like A Re-build..❓with $26.M in cap space now,

    They are also on the Hock for $16M
    Preds have $4.M in Ryan Johansen Retained 2024/25
    and 2 years of Matt Duchene $5.5M & 6.5M
    and Turris, Kyle $2.M, over 2 yrs $16.M 🤔

    My guess is they Trade Saros and look for a Top 10 Pick in the draft and a young Roster player back in Return…like NJ players, Kevin Bahl, or young Goaltender Nico Daws ❓

  9. Berube intends to have hard-working club that plays a heavy game, wins puck battles, predictable and fast.

    Go figure.

    Does he have the players for the type of game he wants to see?
    He’s the kind of coach who burns his players out, who thinks puck battles means hard on the boards, that takes a certain type of player.

    Often overlooked is small speedy skilled players are pretty successful in puck takeaways and puck retrieval but it’s a different dynamic.

    Many different systems and styles are out there but they aren’t plug and play and the best one for your players has to be chosen.

    • Who did Berube burn out? Comments from a few of the Blues players don`t support what you`re saying. Blues fans would be the one`s that are in a better position to make that kind of judgement. There aren`t many systems in hockey and smaller players can be just as aggressive as big guys. The theory of creating a system to match the type of players you have doesn`t hold any water. The team has a system, players either buy into the system or they don`t. Size is not as big a factor as your saying

  10. Bruins need to extend #63 a year after this year at same price no more … BM took a step back after the mid point of the season and playoffs … went long stretches without pts… at 38 years old it will be time for him to retire

    • I like Marshy but Don t do to him what you did with Bergeron and Krecji,prolonging the inevitable! They better get a solid1st line center this summer! Sweeney not doing anything about this is way too late!Of all the teams left in the playoffs,Coyleand Zacha would slot in as a third line center!

  11. McDonnaugh and $6.75 M cap hit to the Bolts????

    I don’t get it

    That means “forced subtraction dur to addition”

    Don’t get me wrong; I like McDonnaugh. Good player. Good impact

    I just don’t get why?

    Lightning already in Cap trouble

    Going out and acquiring Price ($10M) or Weber ($7.8 M) will cost in assets; but more importantly; they can’t be used unless there IS a lightning player on LTIR (has to be on roster game 1) so that the Price/Weber “space” can be used when the other player returns.

    In addition they have to have space at all times through the season

    Not enough space (what I believe happens now with the addition of McDonnaugh) and

    At least one of the following won’t be on roster next year:

    Stamkos, Cirelli; Serg; Hagel

    McDonnaugh in while just onr if those leave; certainly doesn’t make Lightning better; and they were already ousted round 1?

    Nashville freed up big space and got assets.

    I just don’t this move

    • 8787, Sergachev has a full NTC, Hedman has a modified NTC and is 8 years older. If a high salaried D-man is moved, I would expect Tampa to go with Victor Hedman, even though he had a fantastic year. However, I belive it is much more likely that either Cerelli or Hagel is traded. Both forwards will receive large signing bonuses in July,easing the cash outlay for an acquiring team.

      At the draft, Cerelli for a 3rd liner and a pick?

      • From the outside Cirelli does seem like a guy they would move if forced to HOG. And now it seems like they have to.

        He does seem a bit overpaid, but not crazy. But young and lots of term, so likely looks better over time.

        At first it seemed like a strange move by TB, but they got him for cheap because he asked for a trade and Trotz did him a solid.

        So simple answer is most likely IMO. I think they got McDonnaugh because they really like him as a player, because he is a really good player.

        Have to admit, their top 4 D looks pretty darn solid now.