NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2020

Steven Stamkos returns as the Lightning take 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the latest on a potential Patric Hornqvist-for-Mike Matheson trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Steven Stamkos scored in his return to action as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Dallas Stars 5-2 in Game 2 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Stamkos, who’s been dealing with a core-muscle issue that sidelined him since July, played only five shifts in the first period but scored the Lightning’s second goal, eluding Stars defenseman Esa Lindell and sniping a wrister past Anton Khudobin. He spent the rest of the game on the Lightning bench. In his post-game interview, Stamkos said he’s still working through the issue, adding it was too early to tell if he’ll suit up for Game 4 on Friday.

Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists, becoming the third defenseman in Stanley Cup playoff history to score at least 10 goals in a postseason. Only Paul Coffey (12 goals) and Brian Leetch (11) have more. Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos’ brief return in Game 3 still provided a big lift to his teammates. You could see it by the way they played and their reaction to their captain’s goal. They took control of the game in the second period, scoring three goals and outshooting the Stars 21-4.

Hedman, meanwhile, is making a strong case as the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. In addition to his goal-scoring efforts, he’s been the Lightning’s leader during Stamkos’ absence, playing a strong game at both ends of the rink.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports a potential trade in which the Pittsburgh Penguins would send winger Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Mike Matheson could be falling apart over Hornqvist’s no-trade clause and concerns over whether his contract was covered by insurance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal could still go through if those issues are sorted out, but Friedman sounds skeptical. “One hurdle would be challenging enough…but two? Big problem.” If the deal goes through, the Penguins will have a surplus of left-side defensemen, meaning another trade could be likely.

TSN: Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion confirmed his club won’t be re-signing long-time goaltender Craig Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in the 39-year-old Anderson’s performance over the past two years made this inevitable. Nevertheless, it’s the end of an era between the pipes for the Senators. Anderson is their all-time leader in wins, losses, and games-played, and played a big role in their surprising run to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed forward Jake Evans to a two-year contract extension. The first year is a two-way deal paying him $750K at the NHL level. He’ll earn $800K in the second year.

TORONTO STAR: The Canada Revenue Agency alleges former Maple Leafs Shayne Corson and Darcy Tucker participated in a scheme to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The duo claimed millions in business losses related to foreign currency trading during their years with the Leafs, but the CRA alleges it was a sham to claim the losses to lower their taxable income. Corson and Tucker deny the allegations.










Stanley Cup: Lightning Seeking First Series Lead in Game 3

Stanley Cup: Lightning Seeking First Series Lead in Game 3

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2020

Some potential destinations for Alex Pietrangelo plus the latest on the Penguins and Capitals in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD LEAFS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS OR FLAMES TARGET PIETRANGELO?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the St. Louis Blues will consider trading Alex Pietrangelo’s rights if they don’t re-sign the pending free-agent defenseman before Oct. 9. The acquiring team could sign him to an eight-year deal, lowering the annual average value, Pietrangelo would get more money under that scenario, while the Blues could get a good asset in return. LeBrun suggests the Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Calgary Flames as possible destinations if Pietrangelo hits the open market.

TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski acknowledged the Leafs need for a top-shelf blueliner like Pietrangelo, but finding the cap space to sign him will be challenging for general manager Kyle Dubas. They have over $6 million in cap space and would have to shed salary to make it work.

Zwolinski suggests Alexander Kerfoot and Andreas Johnsson as trade candidates, and also felt William Nylander would have to be considered. The risks of acquiring another high-priced player would be high under a flattened salary cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt the Leafs will inquire if Pietrangelo becomes available. As per Cap Friendly, they’ve already handcuffed themselves with over $40.4 million tied up in just four players: Nylander ($6.9 million), Mitch Marner ($10.8 million), John Tavares ($11 million) and Auston Matthews ($11.8 million). Adding Pietrangelo could push that figure to almost $50 million, leaving little room to bolster their depth as needed throughout the rest of the roster. Unless they’re moving out Nylander, they should consider more affordable blueline options.

I don’t see the Golden Knights in the market for Pietrangelo. They have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players. If they re-sign Robin Lehner, they’ll have to shed salary by moving out goalie Marc-Andre Fleury or someone else, leaving little room for a big-ticket defenseman.

With $64.5 million committed to 14 players, the Flames have the cap space to sign Pietrangelo, but that move could push them to $73 million invested in 15 players. That won’t leave much to find a possible replacement for Cam Talbot if he’s not re-signed, let alone fill out the rest of the roster.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe report multiple league sources claim Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has received several inquiries about winger Bryan Rust. Rutherford isn’t shopping Rust and prefers keeping the top-six winger, but wouldn’t rule out trading him if the return was significant, such as at least an NHL-ready player and a top-six prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Rust remains a Penguin.

They also cite multiple sources claiming Rutherford is attempting to clear enough salary-cap space to sign Chris Tanev if the Vancouver Canucks defenseman hit the open market on Oct. 9. The Penguins GM isn’t concerned about Tanev’s age (30) and is willing to offer a five-year contract concurrent to the final five years of brother (and Penguins forward) Brandon Tanev. Chris is said to be seeking a raise over the $4.45-million AAV of his current contract. A Penguins source claims they’d prefer keeping the AAV to $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not a good idea. Tanev’s performance has declined over the last couple of years as the wear-and-tear of his style of play are taking a toll on his body. A short-term deal (two years) might be worth the gamble, but five years at $5 million per is too risky. Meanwhile, TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal reports the Canucks have yet to make Tanev a contract offer.

Rossi and Yohe also report the Penguins and Evgeni Malkin’s camp have expressed interest in a three-year contract extension allowing Malkin to retire as a Penguin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: But…but…Malkin’s supposed to be unhappy as second fiddle to Crosby. No, wait, he’s getting traded to the Kings. Or was it he’s retiring and returning to Russia at the end of his current contract? Dammit, it’s difficult keeping these Malkin rumors straight!

The Pens aren’t against acquiring a third-line center but are content to keep recently re-signed Jared McCann in that role. It doesn’t appear they’ve approached Patric Hornqvist about waiving his no-trade clause.

BACKUP GOALIE OPTIONS FOR THE CAPITALS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Tarik El-Bashir lists the New York Islanders Thomas Greiss, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and Calgary’s Cam Talbot as free-agent backup goalie options for the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Braden Holtby’s expected departure via free agency, the Capitals will need an experienced backup for promising Ilya Samsonov. Greiss, Khudobin and Talbot would be fine choices, though Khudobin’s playoff heroics could put him outside the Caps’ price range. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got $72.6 million invested in 17 players.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2020

The latest on Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Kesler and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov isn’t allowing the Dallas Stars to frustrate him and knock him off his game during the Stanley Cup Final. In the past, opponents would target Kucherov and get under his skin.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov’s taken his lumps from the Stars during the first two games of the series. He was held off the score sheet in Game 1 but the Lightning as a team played poorly for most of that contest. In Game 2, Kucherov got the primary assists on the Lightning’s first two goals and leads all NHL scorers with 28 points.

NATIONAL POST: The Stars need more from Tyler Seguin if they hope to win the Stanley Cup. The first-line center has just two goals and eight points in 22 games, with one assist in the last 12. His last goal was on Aug. 26 against Colorado.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Seguin’s production is troubling but could attributable to an undisclosed injury. He missed an exhibition game against Nashville and a round-robin game against St. Louis. It was a topic of concern in early August but hasn’t been mentioned much as the Stars rolled to the Cup Final.

ESPN.COM: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said the lack of education among NHL players regarding the painkiller toradol led to his chronic digestive problems. Kesler and other former NHL players talked about the overuse of pain medication in the TSN documentary, “The Problem of Pain”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL must do a better job educating its teams, medical staff, and players regarding pain management and the use of pain medication. Failure to do so can lead to addiction or serious medical side effects.

NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators won’t have a captain for 2020-21. They’ll go with three alternate captains on a game-by-game basis. Head coach D.J. Smith said the plan is to transition younger players like Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk into leadership roles.

OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of the Senators, they and the other teams that didn’t qualify for the return-to-play program could be granted a longer training camp leading up to next season if the NHLPA agrees to it.

TSN: The San Jose Sharks named Bob Boughner their full-time head coach. Boughner took over on an interim basis on Dec. 29 after the club fired Peter DeBoer.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Lindsay Hofford.

 










NHL Awards: Draisaitl Captures Hart In Predictable Fashion

NHL Awards: Draisaitl Captures Hart In Predictable Fashion

 










Stanley Cup: Battle For Cup now a Best-of-Five Following Lightning’s Game 2 Victory

Stanley Cup: Battle For Cup now a Best-of-Five Following Lightning’s Game 2 Victory