NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2020

Islanders get their first win of the Eastern Conference Final, Nathan MacKinnon wins the Lady Byng Trophy, the Penguins trade Nick Bjugstad to the Wild, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brock Nelson’s tie-breaking goal late in the third period powered the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third before Nelson scored and Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted the insurance goal. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves for the win.

The Lightning leads the best-of-seven series two games to one. They were without two regulars in this contest. Winger Alex Killorn served a one-game suspension for boarding Nielsen in Game 2. Center Brayden Point was unfit to play following an undisclosed injury in Game 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Isles to avoid falling behind 3-0 in the series. It appeared the Lightning were going to pull off a come-from-behind victory but the Isles proved their mettle in this one. Their top-six forwards led the way with Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier each netting a goal and an assist while Josh Bailey collected two assists.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is this year’s winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best displays sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability. He took just five minor penalties during the regular season while finishing fifth in points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded Nick Bjugstad last night to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2021. The 28-year-old center has a year remaining on his contract. Cap Friendly indicates they’re retaining $2.050 million of Bjugstad’s $4.1 million salary-cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired by the Penguins from the Florida Panthers in February 2019, Bjugstad was frequently sidelined by injuries, limited to just 13 games this season. He’ll get a chance to get his career back on track in his hometown next season. This is a salary dump by the Penguins as they attempt to clear some cap space, perhaps for other offseason moves.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner rejected a report yesterday claiming he and the Golden Knights agreed to a five-year, $25-million contract back in June. “Yeah, well, it’s not true,” said Lehner. “You know, you have some talks and kind of (discuss) where you’re at, what you want to do. Nothing has been finalized.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report might not be true but Lehner seems to suggest his camp has had some discussions with Golden Knights management. We know Lehner seeks stability after bouncing from Buffalo to the Islanders to the Blackhawks to Vegas since 2018. Perhaps he’ll find it with the Golden Knights. If so, that will only stoke speculation about Marc-Andre Fleury’s future with the club.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually from Oct. 6 and 7. The first round begins at 7 pm ET on Oct. 6, with rounds 2 through 7 taking place the following day beginning at 11:30 am ET. Broadcast times to be determined.

The NHL free-agent market opens at noon et on Friday, Oct. 9.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed defenseman Sean Walker to a four-year, $10.6 million contract extension. The annual average value is $2.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable move by the Kings. As the report observed, Walker’s blossomed into a speedy, productive two-way blueliner. He’ll be a key piece of their rebuilding roster.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2020

Golden Knights down the Stars to tie the Western Conference Final, the latest on Mathew Barzal and Kevin Shattenkirk, the dates for the draft and free agency are adjusted, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Dallas Stars 3-0 to even the 2020 Western Conference Final at a game apiece. Robin Lehner turned in a 24-save shutout while Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist. Game 3 is Thursday, Sept. 10 at 8 pm ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights took control of the game in the second period with three goals as they outshot the Stars 19-7. If not for Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin it would’ve been a more lopsided result. The Stars made things worse for themselves by taking six penalties, resulting in William Karlsson’s power-play goal that put Vegas up 2-0.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal has matured as a player during his club’s postseason run. He played a crucial role in eliminating the Philadelphia Flyers with two goals and four assists in that seven-game series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barzal sits third among Islanders scorers with 14 points, but it’s his all-around play that’s garnering attention in this postseason.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has nine points in this postseason, sitting second among Bolts blueliners behind Victor Hedman. Five of those points came in the last two games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk downplayed his recent production but he’s been quite effective for the Lightning in these playoffs. All but one of those points came at even strength.

TSN: The 2020 NHL Draft is slated for Oct. 6-7. The free-agent market opens on Oct. 9 at noon ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s shaping up to be a busy, interesting October.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The Devils have hired Mark Recchi as an assistant coach.

SPORTSNET: Calgary’s Dampy Brar is the winner of the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, presented to the individual “who best utilizes hockey as a platform to help people build character and develop important life skills for a more positive family experience.” Brar, who played minor pro in the IHL and West Coach Hockey League, now coaches and mentors youth, and co-founded the APNA Hockey program.










Teams Continue to Prepare for NHL Draft

Teams Continue to Prepare for NHL Draft

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2020

Updates on the return-to-play and CBA extension talks, Edmonton could host Stanley Cup Final and the latest on Oskar Lindblom and Mike Ribeiro in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST ON THE NHL RETURN-TO-PLAY & CBA EXTENSION TALKS

TSN: Bob McKenzie last night reported the NHL and NHL Players Association continue to work toward finalizing a return-to-play plan and an extension to the collective bargaining agreement. A joint announcement by the two sides could come soon, though it will require ratification by the league board of governors and the PA membership, with the latter vote likely to take two or three days. McKenzie anticipates it could be approved by early next week.

The NHL and NHLPA could be close to a return-to-play and CBA extension agreement (Image via NHL.com).

A potential timeline could look like this:

July 13 – Phase 3 (training camp) opens,

July 26 – Approximate travel date for teams to head to their respective hub cities (Edmonton or Toronto),

Aug. 1 – Phase 4 begins with the best-of-five qualifying round,

Aug. 10 – Approximate date for the second and final phase of the NHL Draft Lottery to determine the club that gets the first-overall pick,

Early October – Stanley Cup awarded,

Mid-October – 2020 NHL Draft is held, and

Nov. 1 – The first business day of 2020-21 begins as the free-agent market opens.

McKenzie also reported it sounds like Edmonton will host the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final, likely because of public health/safety/numbers.

TVA SPORTS: Louis Jean reports the initial plan to have all 24 teams play two exhibition games could be reduced to one game apiece.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports it sounds like families won’t be allowed with players in the hub cities, though it’s not yet official.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re getting closer to a deal when we see a potential timeline for completing the season. The time crunch to begin Phase 4 explains the reduction in the exhibition games.

Barring families from the host-city bubbles will be challenging for the players. It won’t be so bad for those on teams eliminated from the qualifying round as they could be apart from their loved ones for between one-two weeks, while those eliminated from the first round of the playoffs could be apart from their families for between three-four weeks.

The further a club advances, however, the longer the separation. Some players whose spouses/partners have health conditions (pregnancy, illness, etc) could opt-out of the tournament.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reports a source claims the NHL and NHLPA have essentially agreed to a memorandum of understanding on all issues about the return-to-play plan and an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

Campbell focuses on the CBA, claiming the deal would be extended by three years to the end of 2024-25. The framework of the extension would be as follows:

The salary cap would be frozen at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and 2021-22, rising to $82.5 million in 2022-23 and $83.5 million in 2023-24. For the first time since 2005-06, the cap will be delinked from league revenue, though it could re-link in 2024-25,

An escrow cap will be implemented for 2020-21 to a maximum of 20 percent regardless of revenue, though it could end up being less. There will also be a 10 percent deferral of salary and signing bonuses for each player for ’20-’21, which will be returned to them in equal installments (subject to the escrow) over the final three years of the extension. “So in reality, players will have 30 percent deducted from their pay for next season”, writes Campbell.

The escrow cap for 2021-22 would be up to 18 percent, dropping to 12 percent in 2022-23, and nine percent by 2023-24,

Participation in the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics is part of the deal, and

Any player can opt-out of the playoff tournament for any reason without penalty.

Because revenues are split 50-50 between the owners and players, Campbell points out the players could be looking at being $400 million in arrears for this season and potentially as high as $1 billion after next season. If all goes well, the players could pay that all back within three years if league revenue increase with a new US TV deal and a new franchise in Seattle.

Campbell believes the players and NHLPA director Donald Fehr probably hate this deal, but it’s the best they can get under the circumstance. If they reject it, next season’s cap could plummet to $66 million while escrow clawbacks could be 55 and 75 percent, setting the stage for what Campbell calls “the mother of all lockouts” when the current agreement expires in 2022. It would hurt the owners in the short term but they’re in a better position to ride this out over the long term.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports amnesty buyouts will not be part of the CBA extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not a great deal for the players, and in normal circumstances, they wouldn’t take it. They could still vote to reject it, but as Campbell points out, it would lead to potential labor strife during a period when the league will be coping with the economic fallout from COVID-19.

That explains why the extension could be only three years, the league’s shift toward Olympic participation, and other reported lifestyle benefits (such as increased post-retirement health care benefits, mortgage/rental reimbursements for traded or reassigned players) for the players. The league had to give the players something to make this bitter pill a little more palatable.

No amnesty buyouts will squeeze those NHL clubs with limited salary cap space. Thirteen clubs have cap payrolls exceeding $70 million for next season. That 10 percent deferral should provide a little relief, but some clubs could still face significant cost-cutting off-season decisions.

This deal would guarantee five years of labor peace, but those economic issues could become the seeds for another work stoppage in 2025.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom completed his chemotherapy treatments for a rare form of bone cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lindblom as he works toward continuing his life and NHL career. He won’t be participating in the 24-team playoff tournament with his teammates.

LA PRESSE: Former NHL player Mike Ribeiro said turning 40 recently forced him to change his lifestyle. He’s been sober for months since undergoing therapy earlier this year and is now dedicating his life to his children in Nashville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ribeiro was heading down a dark path for a while. Good to see he’s turned his life around.










NHL’s Return-to-Play Format Sparks Puzzlement Over 2020 Draft Lottery

NHL’s Return-to-Play Format Sparks Puzzlement Over 2020 Draft Lottery

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2020

Highlights of the league’s return-to-play plan, the updated draft lottery procedure, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCES RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN

NHL.COM: The NHL yesterday formally announced its’ return-to-play plan with a 24-team tournament to determine the 2020 Stanley Cup champion. the format was approved by a 29-2 vote by the NHL Players’ Association executive board on Friday.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

The tournament will open with a 16-team, best-of-five play-in round, while the top-four teams in each conference will compete in a three-game round-robin to determine their seeding for the playoffs. The 12 qualifying teams in each conference were determined by points percentage.

These rounds will be played at two hub cities, one for each conference. The candidates for those cities include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver.

League commissioner Gary Bettman said the final selection of the hub cities and when play can begin depends on COVID-19 conditions, testing ability, and government regulations. For example, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver would be ruled out as hub cities if the Canadian government maintains its 14-day self-quarantine for non-essential border travel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Las Vegas is believed to be a “near lock” as one of the hub cities. NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger reported the U.S. Acting Director of Homeland Security has signed an order indicating professional athletes are considered essential workers. According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, however, the Canadian government has yet to determine if it’ll follow suit.

Bettman said it’s not required to have Eastern Conference clubs play in an Eastern hub or Western Conference teams to play in a Western hub. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated the league might not allow a team to play in its own city to avoid the appearance of competitive advantage.

Training camps could open in mid-July as part of Phase 3 return-to-play plan. Bettman estimated the games could begin sometime this summer and carry on into early autumn. Teams will be limited to 50 personnel in their traveling parties and will strictly limit the number of support staff.

Bettman stressed the health and safety of the players, coaches, essential support staff, and communities remain the priority.

SPORTSNET: Bettman said the 2019-20 regular season is considered to be over for purposes of record-keeping and awards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means the Boston Bruins are the winners of the 2019-20 Presidents’ Trophy. Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl has won the Art Ross Trophy (becoming the first German-born player to do so), while Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Boston’s David Pastrnak will share the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with the most goals this season (48).

He also indicated it hasn’t been decided if the winners of the qualifying round will be re-seeded for the playoff rounds, or if it will follow a bracket-style format. The qualifying round would be as follows:

Eastern Conference (standings seeding in brackets)

(5)Pittsburgh vs Montreal (12)

(6 )Carolina vs NY Rangers (11)

(7)NY Islanders vs Florida Panthers (10)

(8)Toronto vs Columbus (9)

Western Conference

(5)Edmonton vs Chicago (12)

(6)Nashville vs Arizona (11)

(7)Vancouver vs Minnesota (10)

(8)Calgary vs Winnipeg (9)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s formal announcement of the 24-team tournament generated plenty of buzz among hockey fans. While this is a step toward returning to action, plenty of potential obstacles must be overcome before this tournament takes place. As TSN’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted, the league and the PA continue to negotiate about the location of the hub cities, testing, protocols, etc.

Responding to questions from fans on Sportsnet, Bettman suggested the start of the 2020-21 season could be pushed ahead to November or December.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reports this plan will cost the league tens of millions of dollars and involve 30,000 COVID-19 tests. Bettman indicated the league’s medical advisors said that by the time they’re doing that testing over the summer, it will be a relatively insignificant number compared to the tests that will be available.

The league stated a single positive test or several isolated positives during tournament won’t shut things down, but weren’t as optimistic in the event of a team suffering a COVID-19 outbreak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One or two players with positive tests can be isolated, but I’m assuming that means their teammates would have to go into self-quarantine. If not, there’s a real risk of the virus spreading quickly among their teammates and to other clubs they’ve faced in the tournament.

THE ATHLETIC‘s Michael Russo reported via Twitter that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league’s position remains no contracts can be signed for 2019-20. However, the issues remain to be resolved with the NHLPA.

NHL DRAFT LOTTERY PROTOCOL REVEALED

NHL.COM: The league also announced the protocol for the 2020 NHL Draft, with the first phase slated for June 26. That phase will consist of three drawings and include the seven teams (Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, and Buffalo Sabres) that didn’t qualify for the 24-team playoff tournament, plus eight placeholder spots for the eight clubs that fail to advance in the tournament’s play-in round. The lottery odds for those clubs were determined by their points percentage in the final standings

Detroit Red Wings — (.275) 18.5 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Ottawa Senators — (.437) 13.5 percent

Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks, .450) — 11.5 percent

Los Angeles Kings — (.457) 9.5 percent

Anaheim Ducks — (.472) 8.5 percent

New Jersey Devils — (.493) 7.5 percent

Buffalo Sabres — (.493) 6.5 percent

Qualifying Round Team A — 6.0 percent

Qualifying Round Team B — 5.0 percent

Qualifying Round Team C — 3.5 percent

Qualifying Round Team D — 3.0 percent

Qualifying Round Team E — 2.5 percent

Qualifying Round Team F — 2.0 percent

Qualifying Round Team G — 1.5 percent

Qualifying Round Team H — 1.0 percent

After the first drawing, the odds for the remaining teams “will increase on a proportionate basis for the second drawing, and again for the third drawing, based on which team wins the second drawing.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy provides a detailed breakdown of how the draft lottery will unfold through each phase to determine the final placements. He noted this format will eliminate the possibility of the Stanley Cup champion also winning the draft lottery.

The Red Wings still have the best odds of winning the lottery, but there’s a real possibility the Senators, holding the second and third overall picks, could also win it. A club eliminated from the play-in round could also have a chance (albeit slim) of winning the lottery.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depending on the outcome of the play-in round, determining those placeholders spots can get complicated. Kennedy’s breakdown provides a clearer picture.

IN OTHER NEWS…

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula announced Jason Botterill will remain general manager for 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather curious timing by Pegula, given all the news coming down from the league yesterday. Coincidence? You make the call!

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights will unveil the new name and logo of its AHL affiliate on Thursday. Earlier this season, they purchase the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage with the intent of moving it to Henderson, Nevada.