NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2019

The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Artemi Panarin, Matthew Tkachuk, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Bob McKenzie yesterday reported Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is believed to be pondering his future during his current leave of absence from the club. There’s no timetable as to a decision or a return to the roster. Neither Byfuglien or his agent responded to a request for an interview. McKenzie’s colleague Darren Dreger said the Jets are giving the blueliner as much time and space as he needs to contemplate his future.

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is reportedly mulling his future (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report came as a shock for Jets fans still reeling from the club’s ongoing inability to get forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor under contract and last June’s trade of rearguard Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers. Byfuglien, 34, missed 40 games last season to two ankle injuries, a concussion, and an upper-body injury.

McKenzie indicated he’s not saying Byfuglien will retire or not return to the Jets. Nevertheless, the possibility of either result is generating plenty of commentary over the effect his absence could have upon the Jets’ already depleted blueline this season.

There’s also speculation over how they might try to replace Big Buff. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Artemi Panarin left last night’s preseason game against the New Jersey Devils with a mild groin strain. Head coach David Quinn said it was a precautionary move and expects Panarin will be fine.

LONDON FREE PRESS’ Ryan Pyette tweeted Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is skating with the OHL’s London Knights this week. Tkachuk played for the Knights in 2015-16.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Lar Eller is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and was scratched from last night’s preseason contest with the St. Louis Blues.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday signed former KHL forward Anton Burdasov to a professional tryout offer.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights are the top-selling team on the ticket exchange website StubHub for the third straight season.

THE SCORE: Former Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is returning to the Los Angeles Kings as a part-time advisor to their hockey operations department. Hextall was the Kings’ assistant GM from 2006 to 2013.

Jets Go From Stanley Cup Front-Runner to NHL Question Marks


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2019

Latest CBA news, updates on Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen, the Kings signed Ben Hutton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman said he’s encouraged by the collective bargaining discussions with the NHL Players Association. He’s hopeful of securing labor peace beyond the 2022 expiration of the current agreement and isn’t ruling out an extension. Bettman also expressed his happiness that the players opted not to reopen the CBA, which would’ve moved up the expiration timeline to Sept. 15, 2020.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports negotiations are ongoing. If all goes well, he speculated a tentative CBA extension could be in place within the next two months. He also reports Bettman dismissed the notion that the league might lack the urgency to push ahead with CBA talks now that the players declined to exercise its early opt-out. He also waved off the idea that he’s thinking about his legacy and didn’t want another work stoppage clouding his final years as commissioner.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports sources saying the NHLPA executive leadership favored reopening the CBA but they lacked sufficient support among the membership to do so, especially among the influential veterans in the 30-33 age bracket. The players were concerned taking the early opt-out would make the current amicable negotiations more contentious.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is please by the NHLPA’s decision not to re-open the CBA (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also reported the team owners haven’t been part of the negotiations with the players, who felt continuing talks directly with Bettman and league VP Bill Daly remains the best path. He also said the league’s desire for labor peace is very real, more so than at any point in his coverage of the league over the past 25 years.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine raised eyebrows when he appeared to complain to a Finnish reporter that he’d be a top-line player on other clubs. He spent most of last season on the Jets’ second line with center Bryan Little. “There are top lines and then there is our line. But I play with the guys I’m told to play,” he said. The 21-year-old restricted free agent remains mired in a contract impasse with the Jets and is practicing with SC Bern in Switzerland.

THE SCORE: Jets captain Blake Wheeler said he didn’t have an issue with Laine’s remarks. “I would say those are all good things. You want guys that are hungry for more and not content with where he’s at,” said Wheeler, who praised the youngster’s skills and his contributions to the Jets’ power play.

Meanwhile, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen is joining Laine with SC Bern. Like Laine, he’s yet to sign a new contract with his NHL club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s latest comments fueled speculation over his future with the Jets. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings signed former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan took part in his first training-camp practice with the club. Traded to Chicago by the Carolina Hurricanes this summer, de Haan has been recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and a nagging groin injury.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Speaking of the Hurricanes, they signed defenseman Fredrik Claesson to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. With blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, the move provides additional depth to the Hurricanes’ blue line.

THE SCORE: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Noah Juulsen will consult a specialist for a second opinion regarding his ongoing headache issues.

NHL Coaching Legend Scotty Bowman Finally Relents and Writes a Book


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2019

The NHLPA won’t opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement, the Canucks re-sign Brock Boeser, the Flyers re-up Travis Konecny, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The National Hockey League Players Association announced it won’t exercise its option to reopen the collective bargaining agreement. The decision means the CBA will remain in effect until Sept. 15, 2022.

In a statement, PA executive director Donald Fehr said the players still have concerns about the current agreement. However, they are engaged in discussions with the league to address those issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the league having already decided late last month not to exercise its own early opt-out, the PA obviously felt doing so would be counterproductive. Taking the early out would’ve given the PA some leverage as it would’ve set a target date of next September 15 to get a deal done. That tactic, however, risked derailing the current negotiations. It could’ve antagonized league commissioner Gary Bettman and the team owners into taking a more hardline approach.

The PA’s decision ensures labor peace for three more years but the two sides must still hammer out a new CBA or an extension of the current one. Given the positive tone and lack of rancor of the current discussions, perhaps a deal will be worked out by the end of this season.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks last night re-signed Brock Boeser to a three-year contract with an annual average value of $5.875 million. The 22-year-old winger will make $4 million this season, US$6.125 million in 2020-21 and US$7.5 million in 2021-22.

The Vancouver Canucks re-signed winger Brock Boeser to a three-year deal (Photo via NHL Images).

The Canucks will have to tender a $7.5 million qualifying offer to Boeser at the end of his deal. However, they can avoid that by taking him to arbitration, meaning the qualifying offer would be reduced by 15 percent to $6.375 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks sit above the $81.5-million salary cap by over $1.7 million. They could shed that by trading a salaried player or two or demoting them to the minors.

As for Boeser, he’s accepting less money now on a bridge deal but could be in line for a more lucrative long-term contract in three years. If he overcomes his early injury history and continues blossoming as a scoring winger, I doubt the Canucks will take him to arbitration at the end of this contract. Indeed, they could look at locking him up to an extension by the summer of 2021. 

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers yesterday re-signed Travis Konecny to a six-year, $33-million contract. The annual average value is $5.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a good deal for both sides. Konecny, 22, is coming off consecutive 24-goal campaign, earning himself the security of a profitable long-term deal. If he continues to improve, it’ll be a bargain for the Flyers.

NHL.COM: Jack Hughes scored twice in his first NHL preseason game, including the winner in overtime, to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins. Hughes was the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. 

TSN: Mitch Marner’s agent Darren Ferris claimed the Toronto Maple Leafs winger received two different offer sheets this summer. He declined both because he wanted to stay with the Leafs. Marner recently re-signed a six-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of those offers came from an Eastern Conference club. I’ll have more later this morning in the Rumors section.

TORONTO SUN: Leafs goaltender Michal Neuvirth has been slowed by what coach Mike Babcock called body soreness.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu scrimmaged with the club for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee in February. He’s hoping to return to action in a preseason game later this week.

THE DETROIT NEWS: An autopsy on former NHL forward Greg Johnson revealed he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on July 7 at his home in Rochester, Michigan at age 47.



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