NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2023

The opening round of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs begins tonight. Check out the latest on the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron, the Golden Knights’ Jack Eichel, the Jets’ Nikolaj Ehlers and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The opening round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs kicks off tonight with the Florida Panthers facing off against the Bruins in Boston, the New York Islanders traveling to Carolina to meet the Hurricanes, the Minnesota Wild squaring off against the Stars in Dallas, and the Los Angeles Kings journeying to Edmonton to face the Oilers.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery acknowledged it’s possible captain Patrice Bergeron could miss Game 1 against the Panthers tonight. Bergeron suffered an upper-body injury during the last game of the regular season and has missed practices for precautionary reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best for the Bruins not to rush Bergeron into the lineup and worsen his condition. They’ve got sufficient depth to skate without him until he’s ready to return later in this series.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights center Jack Eichel is looking forward to playing in his first playoff series in his eight-year NHL career. He spent six seasons with the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres before being traded to the Golden Knights last season.

Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel was in a difficult situation during his tenure with the Sabres given the haphazard way the club was managed and coached during those years. He miss over half of last season recovering from neck surgery before debuting with a struggling Golden Knights club and ended up playing through a wrist injury that hampered his performance.

TSN: A day after declaring himself good to go, Nikolaj Ehlers (upper-body injury) missed Sunday’s practice with his Winnipeg Jets teammates. He skated prior to practice but he’s listed as day-to-day.

CBS SPORTS: Minnesota Wild defenseman John Klingberg’s availability for tonight’s game against the Stars is unclear due to a lower-body injury. He skipped practice yesterday after suffering the injury during practice on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg played most of his NHL career with the Stars before departing for the Anaheim Ducks last summer as a free agent. He was acquired by the Wild at the trade deadline.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: New York Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov will miss Game 1 tonight against the Hurricanes with an upper-body injury. He’s listed as day-to-day and will be replaced tonight by Samuel Bolduc.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland anticipates sidelined defensemen Cale Makar and Josh Manson will return for their upcoming series with the Seattle Kraken. Manson took part in the optional skate on Sunday.


WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Kyle Okposo hasn’t made any plans yet regarding his future after 16 NHL seasons. The 35-year-old forward is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He indicated if he does continue his career he would like to do so with the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo had 11 goals and 17 assists in 75 games this season as a bottom-six forward. He’s coming off a seven-year, $42 million contract and won’t get anything like that again if he intends to continue playing in the NHL.

With over $19 million in cap space and 20 roster regulars under contract for 2023-24, the Sabres have the cap space to bring him back if they wish on an affordable short-term deal.

DAILY FACEOFF: San Jose Sharks defenseman Markus Nutivaara was sidelined for the entire season by a potentially career-ending hip injury. He suffered the injury prior to the 2021-22 season while with the Florida Panthers. He underwent surgery and has been recovering ever since.

Nutivaara, 28, signed with the Sharks last summer as a UFA and played some preseason games but the injury still nagged him and he was unable to fully heal, remaining on long-term injury reserve for the season. He’s played 275 games over six seasons with the Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals winger Carl Hagelin still hopes to resume his NHL career following an eye injury and four hip procedures in 12 months that sidelined him for the entire 2022-23 season. The 34-year-old winger is an unrestricted free agent in July.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Nashville Predators signed forward Michael McCarron to a one-year, $775K contract extension.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Detroit Red Wings have shaken up the coaching staff of their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids after the club missed the Calder Cup playoffs for the second straight year. Head coach Ben Simon, assistants Matt MacDonald and Todd Krygier and goalie development coach Brian Mahoney-Wilson will not have their contracts renewed for next season.

First-Round Predictions For The 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

First-Round Predictions For The 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 2022-23 NHL regular season has ended with 16 of the 32 clubs having qualified for the playoffs. Here are my predictions as to which clubs will emerge victorious in the first round beginning Monday, April 17. Feel free to make your prognostications in the comments section below.


Boston Bruins vs Florida Panthers

The Bruins dominated the regular season, setting records with 65 wins and 135 points. They were the league’s best defensive team and among the highest-scoring led by 61-goal scorer David Pastrnak. Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov lead the Panthers’ offensive attack but they lack the goaltending and blueline depth to win this series. BRUINS IN FIVE.

Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Islanders

Possessing solid goaltending and a deep defense corps featuring Brent Burns and Jaccob Slavin, the Hurricanes finished second overall this season. The Islanders play a grinding defensive style tailor-made for the playoffs while goalie Ilya Sorokin can steal a series. Nevertheless, the Hurricanes’ offense led by Sebastian Aho gives them the edge. HURRICANES IN SIX.

New Jersey Devils vs New York Rangers

The Battle of the Hudson River resumes for the first time in 11 years in one of the most anticipated series in this round. Led by young stars Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, the Devils are a fast, exciting team. However, the Rangers have the advantage with a deep, experienced roster backstopped by Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin. RANGERS IN SEVEN.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning

For the second straight year, the Leafs and Lightning face off in the first round. The Lightning still possess a strong core of talent in Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brayden Point. However, their supporting cast isn’t as deep this time. The Leafs are overdue to at least win a playoff series. Leading scorers Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares and William Nylander will be determined to finally silence their critics. LEAFS IN SIX.


Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets

Despite an injury-ravaged roster, the Golden Knights finished atop the Western Conference. Led by Jack Eichel and workhorse defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, this club spreads its offense throughout the lineup. The Jets were inconsistent this season but rode the goaltending of Connor Hellebuyck into the postseason. I’ve got a feeling they can pull off the upset if Hellebuyck stays hot and their scorers regain their early-season form. JETS IN SEVEN.

Colorado Avalanche vs Seattle Kraken

The defending Stanley Cup champion Avs surged up the standings in the second half to win the Central Division title. Powered by Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, they did it despite superstar defenseman Cale Makar being hampered by injuries. The Kraken significantly improved their offense and defense this season but it won’t be enough to overcome the more experienced Avs. AVALANCHE IN FOUR.

Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild

The Stars possess a well-balanced roster anchored by winger Jason Robertson, defenseman Miro Heiskanen and goalie Jake Oettinger. Led by winger Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy, the Wild possess scoring skills as well as good goaltending in Marc-Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson. However, their depth at center got thinner with Joel Eriksson Ek likely sidelined for this series. STARS IN FIVE.

Edmonton Oilers vs Los Angeles Kings

Another 2022 first-round rematch pit the high-octane Oilers offense and its one-two punch of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl against the Kings’ improved two-way game led by Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty. The Oilers were bolstered by the addition of Mattias Ekholm at the trade deadline. However, the Kings got a boost from trade deadline acquisitions Joona Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov. It should be another closely-contested series but the Oilers’ offense will carry them through. OILERS IN SIX.