NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 7, 2021

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin talks about Kotkaniemi offer sheet and the Dvorak trade, plus the latest on Brady Tkachuk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin held a press conference on Monday after declining to match the offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed with the Carolina Hurricanes and his acquisition soon afterward of Christian Dvorak.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL Images).

Bergevin said he was hoping to sign Kotkaniemi to a two-year bridge deal but the Hurricanes offer sheet was too much to match. He didn’t want to wreck his salary structure when he’ll have Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov and Cole Caufield to sign in the near future.

The Canadiens GM admitted he may have rushed Kotkaniemi into the Canadiens lineup before the young center was fully NHL-ready. Nevertheless, he rejected the notion that Kotkaniemi was a flop, pointing out the Hurricanes obviously saw value in him to sign him to an offer sheet.

Bergevin indicated the availability of Christian Dvorak made it easier to let Kotkaniemi walk. He acquired the 25-year-old center from the Arizona Coyotes using the first-round pick he received from the Hurricanes as compensation for the Kotkaniemi signing as a trade chip.

Asked about his future with the Canadiens, Bergevin said he had nothing new to report. He’s entering the final season of his current deal. He also said he wouldn’t name an interim captain this season to replace sidelined Shea Weber.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Few 18-year-old players are NHL-ready only months after being drafted. It usually takes about two years before their minds, bodies and skills have sufficiently matured to make them effective at the big-league level. To the Canadiens credit, they didn’t the same mistake with Suzuki, Caufield and Romanov.

There’s speculation Bergevin has a three-year contract extension on his desk. If that’s true, his decision not to re-sign suggests he might be growing weary of the job after nine seasons. 

TSN: Speaking of Christian Dvorak, he’s looking forward to playing in a hockey-mad city with a team that wants to win now. The 25-year-old center admitted hearing trade rumblings linking him to the Canadiens and felt a trade to Montreal was more of a possibility after hearing of Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet. Dvorak recently closed on a new home in Arizona but shrugged it off as just part of the business of hockey.

OTTAWA SUN: Contract negotiations are expected to resume this week between the Ottawa Senators and restricted free agent winger Brady Tkachuk. GM Pierre Dorion remains hopeful of getting the 21-year-old Tkachuk under contract before training camp opens later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Shawn Simpson reports Tkachuk won’t be traveling to Ottawa until a new deal is in place. Over the weekend, Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculated the winger could get a deal comparable to teammate Thomas Chabot’s eight-year, $64 million contract.

OILERS NATION: Former Edmonton Oilers left wing Dominik Kahun has signed a three-year contract with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League. The deal contains an out-clause each summer allowing him to return to the NHL.

YARDBARKER: Former Winnipeg Jets winger Marko Dano signed a two-month contract with HC Ocelari Trinec of the Czech Extraliga with a team option to extend the agreement for the full season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

The fallout from the Carolina Hurricanes signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens, an update on Jake Gardiner, player milestones to watch this season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell spoke to the media yesterday about his club successfully signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (NHL Images).

Waddell said the Hurricanes weren’t surprised that the Canadiens opted not to match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet. He denied revenge for the Habs’ unsuccessful attempt to sign Sebastian Aho in 2019 was the motivation behind the Kotkaniemi offer. Waddell also dismissed the club’s PR staff trolling the Canadiens over the signing as merely a marketing ploy to keep their fans engaged.

The Hurricanes GM said he initially attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and decided several days later to tender an offer sheet. Waddell indicated he hasn’t had contract extension discussions with the 21-year-old forward and his agent. The earliest they can re-sign him is in January.

Asked where Kotkaniemi would play this season, Waddell indicated the 21-year-old will probably start at left wing. Although the Hurricanes now sit above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.5 million, they intend to place defenseman Jake Gardiner ($4.05 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve. Waddell indicated Gardiner will undergo hip and back surgery and won’t be ready for the start of the season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Kotkaniemi also talked about his new contract with the Hurricanes. He considers it a great opportunity and felt confident his new club has trust in him. He noted the presence of fellow Finns Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and considers it an honor to play for a potential Stanley Cup contender.

Asked about his time with the Canadiens, Kotkaniemi acknowledged there were “ups and downs” but overall felt he had a good run in Montreal. However, he did say he thought his development with the Habs could’ve gone better.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The revenge angle keeps getting played up in the media but I think that’s just a small factor here. The Hurricanes were seeking a young forward who could play center or wing. They had an interest in Kotkaniemi, tried to trade for him and when that didn’t work not only went the offer-sheet route but gave the Habs a heads-up as to their intentions.

PuckPedia speculates the Hurricanes could maximize their long-term injury reserve space to the full $4.05 million of Gardiner’s cap hit by demoting two players to put them just under the cap ceiling before the start of the season. They’ll then put Gardiner on LTIR. No word yet on how long he’ll be sidelined but the 31-year-old blueliner could be sidelined for the season.

A contract extension for Kotkaniemi will be decided by his performance this season. It would cost them $6.1 million to qualify his rights but the two sides could agree to a long-term deal for a lower annual average value.

Kotkaniemi’s comments about his development in Montreal and his willingness to accept the Hurricanes offer had some observers suggesting the Canadiens must ensure that issue doesn’t recur with their other younger players. Whether the current management shares that view remains to be seen.

SI.COM: Jason Chen looks at several player milestones to watch in 2021-22. Joe Thornton has an opportunity to move into third place overall for games played, Ryan Getzlaf, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Spezza could reach 1,000 points while Alex Ovechkin is 36 goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third place (766) on the all-time goal-scoring list.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Former Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski sold his Muirfield, Ohio home for $3.75 million.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

The Canadiens don’t match the Hurricanes’ offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi and acquire Christian Dvorak from the Coyotes. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

KOTKANIEMI OFFICIALLY WITH THE HURRICANES

MONTREAL GAZETTE/THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Montreal Canadiens announced yesterday they would not match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canadiens received the Hurricanes’ first and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first time a player has been successfully signed away from another club via offer sheet since the Edmonton Oilers inked the Anaheim Ducks’ Dustin Penner to a multi-year contract in 2007. While the Hurricanes PR department delighted in taunting the Canadiens on social media, at least there were no threats of a barn fight among general managers.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was pressed for salary cap space, the Hurricanes boxed him in with that offer sheet and he couldn’t justify that investment on a promising but inconsistent young forward. Matching the offer would’ve blown his salary structure apart, leaving the Canadiens with limited cap room for the coming season and create a potential cap headache for next season to qualify Kotkaniemi’s rights.

Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes above the $81.5 million cap by over $1.5 million but they’re expected to put defenseman Jake Gardiner on long-term injury reserve for the start of the season. Given their depth at center, Kotkaniemi will likely be a winger on their second or third line.

CANADIENS ACQUIRE DVORAK FROM COYOTES

MONTREAL GAZETTE/ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Canadiens wasted little time finding a replacement for Kotkaniemi, acquiring center Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for two draft picks.

The Coyotes will receive the highest of the Canadiens’ two first-round picks in the 2022 draft plus a 2024 second-rounder. However, if either or both of the Canadiens’ picks are among the top-10, the Coyotes get the lower of the two picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were linked to the 25-year-old Dvorak throughout last week. He’s a skillful underrated two-way center carrying a $4.45 million annual average value for the next four seasons. Dvorak should prove a worthwhile fit as the Habs second-line center.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has been busy this summer rebuilding his club by shipping out veteran assets for draft picks. He now has eight picks in the first two rounds of next year’s draft, including three first-rounders. Armstrong could keep those picks but it wouldn’t surprise me if he uses some of them as trade bait to acquire promising young NHL talent.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness said Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Roope Hintz and Joel Hanley have recovered from the injuries that sidelined/hampered them for much of last season. Goaltender Ben Bishop is skating again but the club remains uncertain if he’ll be available for the coming season. He missed all of 2020-21 recovering from knee surgery.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW‘s Adrian Dater tweeted Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz has returned to full health and is anxious to resume his NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lower-body injury sidelined Francouz for the entirety of last season.

TORONTO SUN: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Gerbe will be sidelined four-to-six months following hip surgery.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild unveiled their jerseys for the 2022 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field on New Year’s Day when they face off against the St. Louis Blues.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2021

NHL players will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Senators sign Drake Batherson, the Red Wings ink Filip Hronek to a new deal, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league has reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. NHL players will be returning to the Olympics for the first time since the Sochi Games in 2014. The league will break from Feb. 3-22 to allow for the 2022 All-Star Game in Las Vegas followed by the Olympics.

NHL players will take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics (NHL.com).

The agreement also provides the league and the NHL Players Association the option for a possible later decision to withdraw from the Beijing Games in the event COVID-19 conditions render participation to be impractical or unsafe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some hockey fans and pundits believe the NHL should boycott the Beijing Games for a variety of reasons. That decision, however, isn’t up to the league.

The players wanted Olympic participation as part of the extension to the CBA. As a result, the league had to work with the PA, IIHF and the International Olympic Committee to reach an agreement on the Beijing Games. It appears the only thing that will prevent it will be the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators winger Drake Batherson to a six-year, $29.85 million contract. The 23-year-old winger’s annual average value is $4.975 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Batherson enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020-21 after two short seasons with the Senators, tallying 17 goals and 34 points in 56 games. The report noted that the versatile two-way forward enjoyed terrific chemistry on a line with Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris. That should continue in the coming years as the rebuilding Senators rise in the standings. Batherson’s new contract could also be a cost-effective deal if he continues to improve as management believes he will.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Filip Hronek to a three-year, $13.2 million contract. That’s a $4.4 million annual average cap hit for the 23-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable new deal for Hronek, who developed into the Red Wings’ best blueliner over the past two seasons. He’ll likely be joined on their top pairing by Nick Leddy, who was acquired earlier this summer from the New York Islanders.

STLTODAY.COM: After signing an eight-year contract extension, Colton Parayko assured nervous Blues fans that he’s fully recovered from the back injury that hampered him last season. The 28-year-old defenseman missed 21 games but said he required minimal offseason treatment, relying instead on rest and building up the muscles around it.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins invited forward Brian Boyle and defenseman Matt Bartkowski to training camp on professional tryout offers. Boyle is attempting a comeback after sitting out last season while Bartkowski spent all but one game last season with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Rocky Thompson has stepped down as an associate coach with the San Jose Sharks. Medical reasons prevent him from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, making it difficult for him to perform his duties under the league’s COVID protocols for the coming season.

USA HOCKEY: John Hynes, David Quinn, Todd Reirden and Ryan Miller will serve as assistant coaches to head coach Mike Sullivan for the 2022 USA Men’s Olympic hockey team.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 3, 2021

The league introduces new COVID-19 protocols for the coming season, the Coyotes submit a bid to build a new arena & the Flyers inking Joel Farabee to a long-term deal headline several of Thursday’s contract signings. Details & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported last night the NHL and NHL Players Association finalized COVID-19 protocols for the coming 2021-22 season. Topping the list is a mechanism allowing teams to suspend unvaccinated players unable to participate in club activities, including when a player cannot travel due to local/state/provincial/federal regulations “upon return.” The player will forfeit the equivalent of one day’s pay for each day they’re unable to participate.

Exceptions include medical reasons, religious beliefs or quarantine due to being a high-risk close contact. If a full vaccinated player is confirmed with a positive test his condition will be treated as a hockey-related injury. Unvaccinated players will also face strict rules limiting social contact while on the road.

Players wishing to opt-out of this season can do so by Oct. 1. Their teams will have 30 days to determine if their contract will be rolled over to next season or this season removed from their agreement. They won’t be allowed to play in another league or the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a brief version of Friedman’s report. I recommend following the link for the full story. Needless to say, these rules will be used to strongly encourage unvaccinated players to get their necessary COVID shots if they want to play in the NHL this season. Recent reports indicate 85 percent of NHL players are vaccinated. In other COVID-19 news…

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton confirmed on social media he contracted the coronavirus while on his honeymoon. It’s unknown if he was vaccinated at the time. If this had happened a month from now when the new protocols are in place he likely would’ve been suspended.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks fans will require proof of vaccination to attend games this season at the United Center.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights announced their fans won’t need to provide proof of vaccination to attend games at T-Mobile Arena this season. They intend to maintain compliance with state and local health regulations, as well as those of the NHL and the CDC.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes submitted a bid to build a new arena in Tempe, located in metropolitan Phoenix. The city indicated the evaluation process would take months before there will be a vote to approve or reject the project.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes could still be seeking a temporary home if the city of Glendale maintains its decision to end its lease agreement with the club by the end of this season. If the Tempa arena deal is approved, it could take another two or three years before the building is ready for use.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed Joel Farabee to a six-year, $30 million contract extension. The 21-year-old winger lead the club with 20 goals last season and finished with 38 points in 55 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Farabee’s new annual average value is $5 million. That’s a significant raise over the $925K of his current deal, which expires at the end of this season. It’s also a big vote of confidence in the young winger, who managed eight goals and 21 points during his NHL debut in 2019-20. It could prove worthwhile if he builds on the promise of his sophomore campaign.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres inked defenseman Henri Jokiharju and forward Casey Mittelstadt to three-year, $7.5 million contracts. Each will earn an annual cap hit of $2.5 million.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed former Anaheim Ducks forward Carter Rowney to a one-year contract.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins signed goaltender Louis Domingue to a one-year, two-way contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes hired former defenseman Tim Gleason as an assistant coach.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) suspended Canadiens prospect Logan Mailloux indefinitely after he secretly photographed an 18-year-old woman engaged in a sexual act with him while playing in Sweden last year and shared the photo and her identity with his SK Lejon teammates. Swedish police charged him with defamation and offensive photography and fined him $1, 650 USD.

Mailloux will have an opportunity to apply for reinstatement on Jan. 1, 2022.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2021

The Islanders sign five free agents, Colton Parayko inks a lengthy contract extension with the Blues, Jack Johnson gets a tryout with the Avalanche, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: After weeks of speculation, the New York Islanders yesterday officially announced the signings of unrestricted free agents Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas and of restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier.

Anthony Beauvillier was among four players signed to new contracts by the New York Islanders on Sep. 1. (NHL Images)

Palmieri received a four-year, $20 million contract, Beauvillier agreed to a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.15 million while Sorokin accepted a three-year, $12 million agreement. Details of Cizikas’ contract (six years, $15 million) were leaked to the media the day prior.

The Islanders haven’t officially announced a contract for Zach Parise but the former Minnesota Wild winger confirmed he agreed to terms earlier this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Islanders sitting over $3.7 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, they’ll address that issue for the coming season by placing permanently sidelined defenseman Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million annual cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

The annual cap hits of these deals are reasonable. The term of Cizikas’ contract is unusually long for a 30-year-old checking-line center even if he is among the league’s best in that role. As I suggested yesterday, the longer term was probably what it took for the Isles to get him to accept a $2.5 million AAV.

It’ll be interesting to see what Parise’s contract will look like. There’s conjecture it’ll be a one-year deal for between $750K to $1.5 million because of the buyout dollars he’ll be getting from the Wild.

These signings will likely put the kibosh on rumors linking the Isles to St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. However, there are other needs general manager Lou Lamoriello could still attempt to address before the season opens next month. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed Colton Parayko to an eight-year, $52 million contract extension. The 28-year-old defenseman will receive an annual average value of $6.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a major investment in Parayko though the annual cap hit is just $1 million more than his current one. A back injury affected his play last season but the 6’6, 230-pounder is a solid all-around blueliner when healthy. The report indicates he’s fully recovered and ready for the coming season.

Having lost Alex Pietrangelo to the Vegas Golden Knights via free agency last fall, the Blues didn’t want to run that risk with Parayko, who was eligible for UFA status next summer. GM Doug Armstrong said he saw what some defensemen were getting this summer and decided to get him under contract now. A wise decision on Armstrong’s part considering the big rearguard could’ve received offers worth around $9 million on the open market next July.

THE DENVER POST: Jack Johnson will attend the upcoming Colorado Avalanche training camp on a professional tryout offer. He played 13 games with the New York Rangers last season until sidelined by core muscle surgery. The 34-year-old defenseman was bought out last fall by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report suggests Johnson will be a long shot to crack the Avs defense corps. However, a solid training camp and preseason with the Avs could help him land a contract with another club.

TSN: The Seattle Kraken signed unrestricted free agent forward Riley Sheahan to a one-year, $850K contract.

Rick Westhead reports the Chicago Blackhawks have resolved a lawsuit by an Illinois man claiming the club inappropriately used facial recognition software to obtain and store his biometric data. The plaintiff has decided to withdraw the suit.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau remembers the victims of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv plane crash that took place on Sep. 7, 2011. Among those who perished were coaches Brad McCrimmon, Igor Koralev and Alexander Karpovtsev and former NHL players Pavol Demitra, Karlis Skrastins, Ruslan Salei, Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since that tragic day. Writing out their names today, it’s still difficult to acknowledge they’re no longer with us.