NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

The Wild sign Kirill Kaprizov, the Blues Jackets re-up Elvis Merzlikins and the Blues ink Robert Thomas. Check out the details of these signings plus the latest PTO contracts and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Kirill Kaprizov to a five-year, $45 million contract on Tuesday night. The annual average value of the deal is $9 million. This comes on the eve of the Wild opening training camp today.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report adds Kaprizov is in North America, will travel to Minnesota today and will be in training camp tomorrow. The 24-year-old winger’s one NHL season has raised questions over whether he’s worth that type of contract.

The Wild, however, had no choice. Kaprizov may have a short body of work but he won the Calder Memorial Trophy last season, becoming the most exciting offensive star they’ve had since Marian Gaborik was in his heyday 15 years ago. Cap Friendly indicates they’re also facing a short-term cap crunch over the next three seasons. They needed certainty over how much he’ll cost them per season, especially when the salary cap begins rising again.

Kaprizov now faces the pressure of justifying that hefty raise and building on his promising NHL debut. If he does, the Wild should remain a legitimate playoff contender despite their upcoming salary-cap issues. If not, things could get ugly very quickly for him and for general manager Bill Guerin.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year, $27 million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing cements Merzlikins as the Blue Jackets’ starting goaltender. It also means Joonas Korpisalo could depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent unless he’s moved before the March trade deadline if the Jackets are out of playoff contention.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues inked center Robert Thomas to a two-year, $5.6 million contract with an annual average value of $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s the same deal teammate Jordan Kyrou recently signed but there was speculation Thomas would get less than that because of his struggles last season. The signing pushes the Blues above the cap by around $1.3 million but it’s expected they’ll offset that by placing sidelined forward Oskar Sundqvist (knee injury) and his $2.75 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve to start the season.

The Blues must become cap compliant when Sundqvist returns to action. That could come about via demoting or trading a lower-salaried player or perhaps they’ll find a trade partner for Vladimir Tarasenko by then.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Bobby Ryan to a professional tryout offer. The 34-year-old winger played for the Wings last season.

TSN: Alexander Galchenyuk signed a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes. The 27-year-old forward last played for the Coyotes in 2018-19.

NHL.COM’s Brian Compton tweets the New York Islanders signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a PTO, inked goaltender Cory Schneider to a two-way contract and signed Kieffer Bellows and Michael Dal Colle.

Freelancer Ken Campbell reports Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith is still quarantining after receiving his second COVID-19 vaccination. He’s expected to miss the first week of training camp.

TSN: The Philadelphia Flyers announced center Kevin Hayes underwent abdominal surgery and will be sidelined four to six weeks and defenseman Samuel Morin will be out six to eight weeks recovering from knee surgery. Forward Wade Allison is out indefinitely with a right ankle sprain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll feel Hayes’ absence for the opening weeks of this season. His spot as second-line center could be filled by Morgan Frost.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have barred forward Zac Rinaldo from attending training camp due to his unvaccinated status. He’s on a one-year, two-way contract and has been vocal in his stance against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. He’ll instead attend the training camp of their AHL affiliate in Cleveland later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinaldo can forget about getting called up by the Jackets. The club is taking a firm stance on ensuring all its players are fully vaccinated, operating under the NHL’s COVID protocols for this season.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Motte remains sidelined by an undisclosed injury suffered on April 29 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’ll miss the start of training camp and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

SPORTSNET: After 42 years in broadcasting, Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Jim Hughson has retired. He called his first game on radio in 1979 and become the main play-by-play for the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and national broadcasts on HniC.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hughson and his family for a happy retirement.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2021

Jonathan Drouin reveals the reasons behind last season’s leave of absence, Artemi Panarin doesn’t want to be Rangers captain, Travis Zajac retires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: In a one-on-one interview that aired on RDS on Monday, Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin revealed anxiety and sleep disorder were behind his season-ending leave of absence in 2020-21. “I’ve had anxiety problems for many years,” said Drouin. “Insomnia problems that relate to my anxiety.”

Montreal Canadiens left wing Jonathan Drouin (NHL Images).

Drouin revealed he’d been dealing with anxiety for several years without knowing what it was. He said his problems had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol and he’s never been to a rehab program.

The Canadiens forward said he’d been handling his anxiety issues better in recent years but the restrictions placed on him and his teammates by COVID-19 took a toll on his physical and mental strength. While he never lost his love of the game, he said there were times last season when he went three straight nights without sleep.

Drouin praised the support he received from Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, head coach Dominique Ducharme and his teammates throughout his ordeal. He’s happy with the decision he made last season, wants to remain in Montreal and his mental health is better than ever.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anyone’s who’s ever dealt with anxiety or knows someone who is dealing with it knows how debilitating it can be. Add the pressure of playing for one of hockey’s most iconic teams and it’s no wonder Drouin needed to step away. It’s good to see he’s had the support of his team through all of this. It should help smooth his return to action this season.

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin said he doesn’t want to be captain of the New York Rangers. “I think we have more deserving candidates for that role now,” he said.

Panarin pointed out the job is more than just playing good hockey. “You also have to give your energy between the periods, motivate guys, giving interviews, being the face of the franchise. Overall, it’s a lot of work off the ice.” He felt he wouldn’t be an effective captain, adding his limited English would also be a problem.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Travis Zajac signed a one-day contract with the New Jersey Devils in order to retire with the club that drafted him 17 years ago. The 36-year-old center spent almost the entirety of his 15 NHL seasons with the Devils until traded late last season to the New York Islanders. In 1,037 career games, Zajac tallied 203 goals and 552 points. He will remain with the Devils in an on/off-ice player development and consulting role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Zajac and his family in their future endeavors.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Edmonton Oilers will retire Kevin Lowe’s No. 4 jersey in the rafters at Rogers Place during a Nov. 5 game against the New York Rangers. He played for both clubs during his 19-season NHL career, 15 of those with the Oilers.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes revealed their proposed arena entertainment district in Tempe, Arizona yesterday. The project would cost an estimated $1.7 billion and calls for private funding along with an additional $200 million portion coming from city tax revenues. The city will review the proposal in a process that could take months before a public meeting and a vote to accept or reject the proposal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season is expected to be the Coyotes’ last in Gila River Arena after the city of Glendale announced it would not renew its operating agreement with the club. They are currently in search of a temporary home.

The Coyotes also revealed their new white Kachina coyote road jerseys for the first time since 2003. The popular Kachina logo will also be the club’s primary logo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I always liked the Coyotes’ original logo. Glad to see they’re bringing it back.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The severity of Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin’s recent knee injury remains uncertain. An initial report claimed the injury was “significant” but Morin’s former teammate Riley Cote tweeted a text message exchange with the blueliner who said one of his knees was banged up but it was “nothing major”. Morin’s career has been hampered by two ACL tears in his right knee since 2018.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins signed winger Zach Senyshyn to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets placed defenseman Sami Niku on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens signed blueliner Cody Goloubef to a professional tryout offer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2021

Zdeno Chara is poised to break a record this season, the Golden Knights sign Nolan Patrick, Tyler Ennis joins the Senators on a tryout basis, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Bob Duff reports Zdeno Chara is poised to knock former Red Wing Chris Chelios from the record books. If Chara plays 44 games this season, he’ll set the NHL record for most games by a defenseman. Chelios holds the current record with 1,651. Over the weekend, Chara signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders.

New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 44-year-old Chara is expected to be a third-pairing defenseman with the Islanders this season. Barring injury, he should break Chelios’ record.

TSN: The Vegas Golden Knights signed Nolan Patrick to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.2 million. They acquired the 23-year-old center from the Nashville Predators in July during a three-way trade involving the Predators and Philadelphia Flyers, who sent Patrick and defenseman Philippe Myers to Nashville for Ryan Ellis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The former first-round pick (second overall) of the Flyers in 2017, Patrick is hoping to get his NHL career back on track after struggling to play up to expectations in Philadelphia. The Golden Knights hope he’ll blossom into a first- or second-line center.

Patrick’s signing pushes the Golden Knights above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.237 million according to Cap Friendly. However, they can garner some short-term relief by placing sidelined Alex Tuch on long-term injury reserve until his return from shoulder surgery in January.

OTTAWA SUN: Unrestricted free agent forward Tyler Ennis signed a professional tryout offer with the Senators.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers prospect defenseman Dmitri Samorukov suffered a broken jaw during Saturday’s prospect game against the Calgary Flames. Surgery is not required but he’ll be sidelined for six weeks.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings prospect blueliner Jared McIsaac was briefly knocked unconscious after taking a hit during a prospects game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, evaluated, and reportedly doing well. He wasn’t expected to be hospitalized overnight.

CROSSINGBROAD.COM: Flyers writer Anthony SanFilippo cited sources yesterday claiming Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin has suffered another serious knee injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hopefully we’ll learn more about Morin’s status later today. His NHL career has been hampered by several knee injuries. Another could bring his playing days to an end.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Speaking of the Flyers, winger Wade Allison left Sunday’s rookie game against the New York Rangers with an apparent leg injury. There was no immediate word on his status.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks pulled center Trevor Zegras from a rookie game against the Colorado Avalanche as a precautionary measure after he was slashed on the left leg in the first period. He limped to the bench and had to be helped to the dressing room but was later said to be “fine”.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens hopeful Jesse Ylonen has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 for personal reasons. Under NHL protocols, he could face suspension without pay if border restrictions prevent him from traveling to the United States for road games. He will also face severe restrictions, such as not being able to be in any public place other than arenas and training facilities.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports Jim Hughson is telling people he has retired. Hughson has been Hockey Night in Canada’s lead play-by-play man since 2008-09.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No official word yet from Hughson or HniC regarding his status.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2021

Jack Eichel to travel to Buffalo for Sabres’ pre-training camp medical, Vladimir Tarasenko expected on Blues’ opening-day roster, Zdeno Chara signs with the Islanders, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: cites an Associated Press report indicating Jack Eichel is expected to travel to Buffalo for the Sabres’ pre-training camp medicals on Wednesday. The 24-year-old center has been sidelined since March with a herniated disk in his neck.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Treatment of the injury has created an impasse between Eichel and the Sabres’ front office. He prefers artificial disk replacement while management is against that procedure because it’s never been done on an NHL player before.

If Eichel fails his medical, the Sabres have the option of placing him on injured reserve or long-term injury reserve as his condition is hockey-related. They’ve been trying to trade him this summer but haven’t found any takers yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Eichel passes his medical. If he fails as expected it will prevent the awkward situation of having an unhappy player in camp while management is trying to trade him. However, this won’t be the end of the saga. There’s no indication which procedure Eichel will undergo let alone when it will take place.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues general manager Doug Armstrong believes there’s a good chance Vladimir Tarasenko will be on the club’s opening-day roster. The 29-year-old winger requested a trade early in the offseason because he was reportedly unhappy over how the club’s medical staff handled his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Armstrong said he spoke with Tarasenko about his trade status and the winger understands the situation. He mentioned the flattened salary cap and the limited amount of playing time Tarasenko saw over the last two years as a result of his shoulder surgeries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best opportunity to move Tarasenko was before the free-agent market opened on July 28. There weren’t many teams with the cap space to take on his $7.5 million annual salary cap hit once the dust settled from the usual frenzy of free-agent signings.

A trade could still materialize before the start of the season but a move around the March trade deadline seems more likely. Interested parties would prefer letting Tarasenko burn off most of this season’s cap hit while taking the time to evaluate his performance.

NEW YORK POST: Zdeno Chara’s NHL career has come full circle as he signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders. Financial terms weren’t disclosed but it’s presumably a plus-35 deal with bonuses.

Chara began his big-league career with the Islanders in 1997-98, spending four seasons with them until traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2001.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 44-year-old Chara will become the first player in NHL history to go 20-plus years between games with one franchise.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed restricted free agent winger Kailer Yamamoto to a one-year, $1.175 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Very affordable signing by the cap-strapped Oilers but Yamamoto will be in line for a more lucrative deal next summer if he has a good performance this season. We’ll take a look at the implications in today’s Sunday rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators signed center Logan Brown to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2021

Patrick Kane says he didn’t know anything about sexual assault allegations against the Blackhawks former video coach, the Canadiens will host the 2022 Draft, James Neal is among the latest PTO signings & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said he has participated in the investigation into allegations the club’s former video coach sexually assaulted two players in 2010. The 32-year-old winger denied having any knowledge about the incidents at the time.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s remarks run counter to those of former teammate Nick Boynton, who claimed everyone knew about the incidents during an interview with the lawyers hired by the Blackhawks to investigate the allegations. “I said talk to Torch (former assistant coach John Torchetti). I called out Brian Campbell, and said talk to Patrick Sharp and talk to Kaner (Patrick Kane),” he told TSN on July 29.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The NHL announced Friday the 2022 Draft will be held in Montreal at the Bell Centre on Thursday, July 7 and Friday, July 8. The 2020 Draft was originally scheduled to be held there but was instead conducted virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The first round will be on Thursday evening and rounds two through seven the following day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Returning to a live venue should significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for teams to make their selections. The recent virtual drafts saw teams take an inordinate amount of time selecting prospects, with each round taking much longer to complete.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues announced the signing of wingers James Neal and Michael Frolik to professional tryout contracts.

TORONTO SUN: Nikita Gusev was invited to Maple Leafs training camp on a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils inked center Fredrik Gauthier to a PTO.

SPORTSNET: Zack Smith is hanging up his skates after 12 NHL seasons, all but one with the Ottawa Senators from 2008-09 to 2018-19. He spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Smith, 33, tallied 98 goals and 204 points in 662 career regular-season games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Smith and his family in his future endeavors.

PHILLY.COM: Former NHL forward Lou Angotti passed away Thursday at age 83. He spent 10 seasons in the league from 1964-65 to 1973-74 with the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues. Angotti was the Flyers’ first-ever captain. He had 103 goals and 289 points in 653 career NHL contests. He also went on to coach the Blues for two seasons (1973-74 to 1974-75) and the Penguins in 1983-84.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Angotti’s family, friends and former teammates.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

98 percent of NHL players expected to be vaccinated for the coming season, Sidney Crosby hopes Alex Ovechkin breaks Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, plus the latest on Evander Kane, Carey Price, P.K. Subban and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly estimates 98 percent of players will be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the 2021-22 season opens on Oct. 12. That will leave between 10 and 15 players unvaccinated among 700 players on 32 teams.

The NHL and NHL Players Association didn’t impose a vaccine mandate on players, but restrictions (including restrictions at the Canada – US border requiring lengthy quarantine) contributed to the high number of vaccinations. Teams can also suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of its protocols.

Fully vaccinated players will have any positive COVID-19 tests treated as hockey injuries and continue to be paid. Unvaccinated players will have their movements restricted during road trips. Regular COVID testing will remain in place for vaccinated players. Coaches and staff must be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Daly confirmed that teams who suspend players without pay under the terms of the league’s COVID protocols will receive salary-cap relief from that player’s daily salary-cap hit.

Unvaccinated players can be ruled exempt from suspension if they have legitimate medical reasons for avoiding vaccination or if it conflicts with “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Johnston also reported at least one Caucks remains unvaccinated but the team declined to comment citing medical privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL isn’t fooling around with its protocols this season after a number of game postponements due to COVID-19 outbreaks over the course of last season led to a series of scheduling changes. It took a physical toll on the players as they endured multiple games within a much more compressed period of time.

Unvaccinated players will have a more difficult time navigating through those strict protocols this season. Those restrictions could encourage the remainder who lack medical exemption to get vaccinated. The risk of suspension without pay for a positive test is too great over the course of the season.

SPORTSNET: Daly indicated the salary cap for the 2022-23 season is expected to increase by $1 million to $82.5 million.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has the support of a long-time rival in his quest to break Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he told Ovechkin he hopes he does it. “It would be awesome. He’s in range, “ said Crosby. “He can score anywhere from insider the blue line.”

Crosby added one caveat. “I just hope that all his goals that he gets are against the other teams as he’s trying to add toward it.” Gretzky has 894 goals while Ovechkin sits at 730 to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s legacy is secure as this generation’s greatest goal scorer and one of the all-time greats. Most of Gretzky’s records are out of reach of today’s players, so the opportunity for the Capitals superstar to break the goal record would be a phenomenal achievement.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Evander Kane remains confident that the league will clear him of allegations by his estranged wife that he gambled on NHL games. In an interview with ESPN’s Linda Cohn, the San Jose Sharks winger called the allegations “incredibly false”, claiming he’s never bet on any NHL games or intentionally altered the way he plays.

The NHL opened an investigation into the allegations in July. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he anticipates it will wrap up soon and to have a full report by the start of training camp.

Kane admitted he has a gambling addiction which led to his filing for bankruptcy in July. He also downplayed reports claiming some of his Sharks teammates don’t want him back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz believes it’s what’s Kane didn’t say during the interview that’s newsworthy. “This was a missed opportunity for him to signal to his teammates/organization that he’s ready to come back, change his ways, and be a solid teammate. Instead, nothing’s changed.”

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took to the ice yesterday in full equipment with a member of the team’s training staff. It’s believed the first time he’s skated since undergoing knee surgery in July. He spent 10 minutes on the ice doing stretching and skating drills.

TORONTO STAR: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is an executive producer on an upcoming docuseries entitled, “Black Life: A Canadian History.”

THE ATHLETIC: Andrew Ladd is looking forward to the opportunity to play in the NHL again. He was traded this summer to the Arizona Coyotes by the New York Islanders. He played just 30 NHL games over the past three seasons with the Islanders.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres will face off in the 2022 Heritage Classic on March 13 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

THE SCORE: Two suspects were arrested in the robbery of a St. Louis Blues prospect and a woman on the grounds of the Gateway Arch. The name of the prospect has not been released.