NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2022
Nazem Kadri hoping to remain with the Avalanche, the aftermath of the Kevin Fiala trade, Anthony Duclair suffers a major Achilles injury, an update on Ryan Ellis, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Nazem Kadri said he’d love to return with the Colorado Avalanche. The 31-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and is coming off a career-best 87-point regular season. He was also a key contributor to the Avs’ march to the 2022 Stanley Cup.
Kadri indicated his first choice is signing with the Avalanche. He called the club’s ownership “great supporters of mine”, going on to say both sides will try to work together toward a new contract. However, he intends to make the most of his free-agent opportunity. “I’ve shown what my worth is and I’m just looking forward to watching this all develop,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri is completing a six-year contract worth an annual average value of $4.5 million. He’s set to cash in next month either with the Avalanche or another club, perhaps landing a five-year deal worth over $7 million per season on the open market.
Kadri could price himself out of Colorado. Cap Friendly shows the Avalanche with over $25 million in cap space and 14 players under contract for 2022-23. Darcy Kuemper, Valeri Nichushkin and Josh Manson are also slated to become UFAs while Artturi Lehkonen is a restricted free agent who’s also a year away from UFA status. The Avs must also ensure long-term cap space to pay Nathan MacKinnon the massive raise it’ll take to keep him out of next summer’s UFA market.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin explained why he traded Kevin Fiala yesterday to the Los Angeles Kings for a 2022 first-round pick and University of Minnesota defenseman Brock Faber.
Guerin admitted a lack of salary-cap space made it impossible for the Wild to sign Fiala to the big raise he would seek coming off a career-best 85-point season. While other clubs were also interested in the 25-year-old winger, the Wild GM said only the Kings were willing to meet his asking price.
“We need younger guys,” said Guerin. “We need guys that don’t make millions and millions of dollars. We just have to do it that way.”
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reported the New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders also showed interest in Fiala. With only $7.8 million in cap space, they need to add two forwards (one could be promising Marco Rossi), sign defenseman Jake Middleton and either bring back Marc-Andre Fleury or find another goaltender to share the duties with Cam Talbot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That limited cap space is due to the $12 million in dead cap space from buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last summer. It jumps to $14 million for 2023-24 and again for 2024-25. That means Guerin might not be done trading some key players over the next two years.
TSN: Florida Panthers winger Anthony Duclair faces potential surgery for an Achilles tendon injury suffered during his offseason training. The recovery would require several months.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair could end up missing the opening weeks of the 2022-23 season. That might force the Panthers to find a short-term replacement via trade or free agency.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher provided an update on Ryan Ellis’ lengthy rehab from a “multilayered” core injury. While the 31-year-old defenseman is progressing with his recovery, there’s still no timeline as to when he’ll return to action next season.
Fletcher also indicated Sean Couturier (back injury) and Kevin Hayes (groin) are doing well and are expected to be ready for training camp in September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher is hoping for a clearer picture of Ellis’ return before the start of next season. I anticipate he’ll miss the opening weeks of the 2022-23 campaign if he hasn’t recovered by the time training camp opens.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell is pleased with what he’s heard regarding upgrades to his club’s home arena. The team would like to add a sportsbook into the arena plans but an online gambling bill failed to pass last week in the state’s general assembly.
Waddell indicated the Hurricanes definitely want to bring back restricted free agent defenseman Tony DeAngelo. He sounded less certain over whether UFA forwards Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter will return.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken intend to lower their entry-level ticket pricing following “listening sessions” with their fans. They intend to make more single-game seats available at $40 and lower to broaden the team’s appeal.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Saint John Sea Dogs are the 2002 Memorial Cup champions. The tournament hosts defeated the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 in the championship game. Eight NHL prospects make up the Sea Dogs, including tournament MVP (and New York Islanders prospect) William Dufour.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Sea Dogs on winning the Memorial Cup for the second time in franchise history.
SPORTSNET: Former NHL forward Jim Pappin died Wednesday at age 82. He spent 14 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, California Golden Seals and Cleveland Barons from 1963-64 to 1976-77.
Pappin won two Stanley Cups with the Leafs in 1964 and 1967. His best seasons were with the Blackhawks on a line with Pit Martin and Dennis Hull. He reached or exceeded 70 points three times with the Hawks, including a career-best 92 points in 1972-73. In 767 career regular-season games, Pappin scored 278 goals and 573 points, as well as 33 goals and 67 points in 92 playoff contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Pappin’s family, friends and former teammates.