NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2021

Kevin Fiala and Travis Sanheim headed to club-selected arbitration, an update on Igor Shesterkin’s contract talks, the Avalanche sign Ryan Murray, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim are being taken to salary arbitration by their respective teams. Arbitration hearings will be scheduled between August 11-26.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As when a player files for arbitration, the players and teams in these cases can continue to work toward new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings. In most instances, the arbitration date is used as a deadline to working out a new deal, avoiding negotiations dragging on for weeks.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports Igor Shesterkin’s decision not to file for salary arbitration suggests he and the New York Rangers are making progress toward a new contract. The 25-year-old goaltender is two years away from qualifying for unrestricted free agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker indicated Rangers general manager Chris Drury could attempt to sign Shesterkin to a cost-effective four-to-six year deal. Shesterkin is projected to cost between $5 million and $6 million annually. She speculates a new deal for the netminder could come in closer to $5.75 million.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Ryan Murray to a one-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s signing shrinks an already shallow pool of decent free-agent talent.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL and the International Olympic Committee failed to secure an expanded media rights agreement for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Nevertheless, the league still intends to send players to those Games. Talks are reportedly ongoing between the league, IOC, NHL Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

The NHL apparently lost leverage for a bigger media rights deal when it left NBC, which hosts the Winter Olympics, to sign new broadcasting agreements with ESPN and Turner Sports.

THE MERCURY NEWS: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league’s probe into gambling allegations leveled at Evander Kane will be done before the start of training camp next month. Kane’s estranged wife took to social media accusing the 30-year-old San Jose Sharks winger of betting on NHL games, including throwing games to win money.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks intend to publicly release the findings of its investigation into sexual assault allegations against the team’s former video coach. The investigation has been ongoing since June.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Blackhawks, the Kraken’s contract with Philipp Grubauer rejected by the league, Evander Kane denies betting on NHL games, and 17 players file for salary arbitration. Get the details in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Marc-Andre Fleury confirmed Sunday he will report to the Blackhawks this season. “Hey, Chicago, it’s Marc,” he said via the club’s social media account. “Just wanted to let you know: I’m in. Let’s get to work.”

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

The Blackhawks acquired Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights last Tuesday. However, he took several days to discuss his situation with his family and consider his future. The 36-year-old goaltender has a year remaining on his contract with a $7 million salary cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury won the Vezina Trophy for the first time last season with the Golden Knights. He won’t have a solid defense in front of him in Chicago as he did in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could have a shot at a playoff spot in the Central Division this season if Fleury maintains his Vezina form.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken have rectified an accounting error that resulted in the league rejecting the club’s first attempt to finalize its contract with goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The front-loaded contract violated the CBA’s 25 percent cap above the amount in the initial contract year.

Grubauer’s annual average value is $5.9 million for six seasons. He will earn $5 million in actual salary this season. It was originally slated to rise to $6 million in 2022-23 and $7.5 million in 2023-24, an increase of 30 percent. The deal has been restructured by shifting $250K from the third year to the second year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When this was first reported some fans on social media wondered if the contract would be voided. Doesn’t work that way. The team gets the opportunity to fix the accounting error. In this case, it was an easily addressed minor detail.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane denied allegations made by his estranged wife claiming he bet on NHL games. “I have NEVER gambled/bet on hockey, NEVER gambled/bet on Sharks games, NEVER gambled/bet on any of my games and NEVER thrown a hockey game,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

The NHL announced it would investigate Kane based on the allegation made on an unverified Instagram account attributed to Angela Kane. She responded to Kane’s statement via that account yesterday, accusing him of abandoning her and their daughter to party and gamble in Europe. She also claimed he had a gambling addiction and claimed he was trying to use the media to control the narrative.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s personal life has been under growing media scrutiny since applying for bankruptcy in January. He was also the topic of trade speculation following a recent report claiming several of his teammates expressed frustration about him to management during their season-ending exit interviews. The Sharks released a statement on Saturday saying they supported the league’s intent to investigate the gambling allegations.

NHLPA: Seventeen NHL players applied for salary arbitration yesterday:

Zach Aston-Reese (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Ross Colton 
(Tampa Bay Lightning)
Andrew Copp 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Jason Dickinson 
(Vancouver Canucks)
Vince Dunn 
(Seattle Kraken)
Adam Erne 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Dante Fabbro 
(Nashville Predators)
Dennis Gilbert 
(Colorado Avalanche)
Adin Hill 
(San Jose Sharks)
Michael McNiven 
(Montreal Canadiens)
Victor Mete 
(Ottawa Senators)
Adam Pelech 
(New York Islanders)
Neal Pionk 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Zach Sanford 
(St. Louis Blues)
Juuse Saros 
(Nashville Predators)
Jakub Vrana 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Nikita Zadorov 
(Calgary Flames)

The deadline for club-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Monday, Aug. 2. The arbitration period is from Aug. 11 to Aug. 26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several notable names on this list include Dunn, Pelech, Pionk, Saros and Vrana. If history is anything to go by we can expect most, perhaps all of these players to reach agreements with their teams on new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 1, 2021

Evander Kane to be investigated that he bet on games, why Jack Eichel wants a disc replacement, plus a roundup of Saturday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL intends to launch an investigation into an allegation claiming San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane gambled on NHL games. The Sharks also released a statement indicating its support for a full and transparent investigation.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

The allegation was raised on an unverified Instagram account attributed to Kane’s wife, Anna, claiming the winger abandoned her and their two children to go on a European vacation while their home was being repossessed. She then accused Kane of betting on his own games.

Kane, 29, was sued by a Las Vegas casino in 2019 over $500K in unpaid gambling debts but the suit was dropped the following year. In January, he filed for bankruptcy claiming nearly $27 million in debts, including $1.5 million in gambling losses. He’s also facing six active lawsuits from lenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s bankruptcy and previous gambling issues are well-documented but his wife’s allegations raise that issue to an entirely different level. Sharks management stood by him during his bankruptcy. He recently claimed in an interview that fatherhood had changed and matured him. His wife’s comments, however, paint a very different picture.

Kane’s personal issues didn’t affect his on-ice performance as he led the Sharks in scoring this season with 49 points in 56 games. However, reports emerged indicating significant friction between the winger and his teammates this season, with several expressing frustration to management in their season-ending exit interviews.

Kane has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million. The outcome of this investigation, however, could determine whether he’ll get the opportunity to complete that contract.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman interviewed Colorado neurosurgeon Dr. Chad Prusmack, who provided Jack Eichel with a recommendation to correct a herniated disc in his neck with artificial disc replacement surgery. Prusmack explained the procedure, the risk and recovery and why it would be more beneficial than neck fusion surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel and Sabres’ management are in disagreement over whether he can undergo this procedure. Under the CBA, the Sabres have the final say but that’s become an area of contention between the two sides, prompting considerable speculation over his future.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed winger Warren Foegele to a three-year contract worth $2.75 million per season. Foegele was acquired last week from the Carolina Hurricanes

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed winger Tyler Bertuzzi to a two-year contract worth $9.5 million. Bertuzzi has resumed off-ice training following back surgery in April and is expected to be ready for training camp next month.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed Nick Ritchie to a two-year contract worth $2.5 million per season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed winger Artturi Lehkonen to a one-year, $2.3 million contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed forward Joel Kiviranta to a two-year, $2.1 million contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed Derek Stepan to a one-year, $1.35 million contract.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed forward Riley Nash to a one-year deal worth $750K.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

Jack Eichel’s agents issue a statement critical of Sabres management, David Krejci will finish his playing career in the Czech Republic, and surgeries for Alex Tuch and Paul Byron top today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The agents for Jack Eichel released a statement yesterday expressing their displeasure over the Buffalo Sabres’ handling of their client’s medical treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. Eichel prefers surgery but his representatives accused the Sabres medical staff of preventing him from undergoing the procedure. “This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and is not working,” they conclude.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This statement was released in response to a recent press conference by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams where he said he’s not feeling pressure to trade Eichel. It’s apparent they intend to turn up the heat on Adams to speed up the “process”. Time will tell if it has the desired effect but it’s apparent the pending divorce between Eichel and the Sabres is growing acrimonious.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Krejci brought his 15-season NHL career to a close yesterday. The long-time Bruins center issued a statement indicating he was finishing his playing career back home in the Czech Republic.

Krejci, 35, spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins, playing in 962 career games and scoring 215 goals, 515 assists and 730 points. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Cup Final in 2013 and 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci was sometimes overshadowed by teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand but was an invaluable part of their success during most of his tenure in Boston. He ranks among their all-time leaders in games played, assists and points.

His departure leaves a big hole in their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill in the short term. Best wishes to Krejci over the remainder of his playing career and beyond.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch will be sidelined for six months after undergoing shoulder surgery last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest he could return to the lineup is late January. This could explain their acquisition of Evgeni Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators this week.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron underwent hip surgery this week and is expected to be out for five months. He could be out until January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain their signing of Mathieu Perreault this week to a one-year, $950K contract.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed forward Ivan Barbashev to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Tyson Jost to a two-year, $4 million contract.

NHL NETWORK‘s Kevin Weekes reports the New York Rangers signed recently acquired winger Ryan Reaves to a one-year, $1.75 million contract extension.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed winger Ondrej Kase to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings acquired forward Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2022.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens hired Eric Raymond as their new goalie coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

Alex Ovechkin looks forward to chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Blue Jackets sign Zach Werenski to a long-term contract extension, and the Blues sign Brandon Saad. Get the details plus other notable trades and signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Alex Ovechkin said the opportunity to pursue Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record factored into his recent signing of a five-year contract with the Capitals. Ovechkin, 35, has 730 career goals and needs 165 more to break Gretzky’s record. To do it, he needs to average 33 goals per season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The all-time goal-scoring record is the most reachable of Gretzky’s significant offensive achievements. Nevertheless, it’ll a daunting challenge for Ovechkin, who turns 36 in September.

Ovechkin’s still among the league’s elite scorers, tallying 24 goals in 45 games last season and 48 in 68 games in 2019-20. If not for the pandemic (and a half-season lost to a lockout in 2012-13), he’d be much closer to Gretzky’s record by now. However, he’s also at an age when his production will begin to decline.

The Capitals captain is currently sixth on the all-time list. A 37-goal performance this season would vault him over Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766) into third overall, 34 behind Gordie Howe (801).

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension. The annual average value is $9.583 million and takes effect in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets consider Werenski among the NHL’s top defensemen over the past five seasons and are paying him accordingly. He’s tallied 189 points in 335 career games. Starting in 2022-23, he’ll be the third highest-paid defenseman in the league with a higher annual cap hit than Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar’s $9 million and just ahead of former defense partner Seth Jones’ $9.5 million AAV with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Werenski’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman but I don’t consider him worth more than Makar, a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 who was a Norris Trophy finalist last season. But after enduring a steady parade of talent departing Columbus via trades and free agency in recent years, the Jackets had to pay the price to keep Werenski in the fold.

His new contract lacks no-trade protection in 2022-23 and a full no-movement clause in 2023-24 through 2026-27, dropping to a modified no-trade in the final season.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed winger Brandon Saad to a five-year, $22.5 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million. The deal also comes with a full no-trade clause in the first four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad took a pay cut from the $6 million AAV he earned over six seasons on his previous contract. He joins a club undergoing a retooling of its roster since winning the Stanley Cup two years ago. He fills the vacant left wing spot on the Blues’ first line following the departure of free agent Jaden Schwartz to Seattle on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights trade winger Ryan Reaves to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers acquired enforcer Reaves in yet another move to bolster their toughness. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, made this move to free up salary-cap space by shedding his $1.75 million cap hit.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed winger Corey Perry to a two-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry said he wanted to return to the Montreal Canadiens for another season. The opportunity to play two seasons with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, however, was too good to pass up.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Zach Werenski wasn’t the only defenseman the Blue Jackets signed yesterday, inking Jake Bean to a three-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.33 million. The Jackets acquire the 23-year-old blueliner from the Carolina Hurricanes last week.

MLIVE.COM: Long-time Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Helm and Valtteri Filppula were the last remaining active members of the Wings last Stanley Cup championship in 2008 still with the team last season. Filppula is also an unrestricted free agent and isn’t expected to be brought back.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Mathiew Perreault to a one-year, $950K contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2021

Catching up on some notable late trades and free-agent signings, including the Avalanche acquiring Darcy Kuemper, plus a look at the notable free-agents still available in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes traded goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Conor Timmins, a first-round pick in 2022 and a conditional third-round pick in 2024.

Arizona Coyotes trade goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche needed a suitable replacement for Philipp Grubauer after he signed with the Seattle Kraken yesterday. They had to move quickly as several teams had some interest in Kuemper. That’s why Avs general manager Joe Sakic paid such a steep price to get him.

In the short term, the 31-year-old Kuemper should offset Grubauer’s absence provided he can stay healthy. He’s been sidelined in recent seasons by a variety of injuries and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong, meanwhile, is doing a superb job trimming payroll while laying the groundwork to restock his prospect pipeline. Timmins is a promising young defenseman who could be a good fit on this rebuilding team. The Coyotes now have two first-round picks and five second-rounders in next year’s draft. They could get more when Armstrong starts shopping some of his pending unrestricted free agents at next year’s trade deadline.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals reacquired goaltender Vitek Vanecek from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Kraken selected Vanecek during last week’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting back Vanecek maintains the Capitals’ goalie tandem from last season. His reacquisition spares them from shopping for a backup goalie that would’ve cost more than Vanecek’s $716, 667 salary-cap hit.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins traded goaltender Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The signing of Linus Ullmark and the emergence of Jeremy Swayman made Vladar the odd man out among the Bruins goaltenders, especially if they bring back Tuukka Rask next year following his recovery from hip surgery.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed veteran goaltenders Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell to one-year contracts.

SPORTSNET: The Sabres also acquired defenseman Will Butcher and a 2022 fifth-round pick from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for future considerations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I published a list yesterday of most of the notable free-agent signings and trades. You can read my take on yesterday’s top-10 signings here.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Krejci, Kyle Palmieri and Brandon Saad are among the best players still available in the free-agent market. Others include Tomas Tatar and Zach Parise.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman ranks the winners and losers from the opening day of free agency.

TSN: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is hopeful of returning to action in 2021-22 once he receives medical clearance to do so. The 39-year-old goaltender signed last season with the Washington Capitals but heart surgery sidelined him for the entire campaign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be interest in Lundqvist if he’s cleared to resume playing. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a contract with a playoff contender.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed head coach D.J. Smith to a two-year contract extension.