NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2022

The latest on Jack Eichel, Eric Staal and Jakub Vrana, the Golden Knights acquire Adin Hill from the Sharks, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Jack Eichel is healthy and looking forward to a better performance in his first full season with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

The 25-year-old center was traded to the Golden Knights last November after disagreeing with the Buffalo Sabres over which surgery to undergo for a herniated disk in his neck. He underwent artificial disk replacement following the trade, made his debut with the Golden Knights on Feb. 16 and played the final six weeks of the season with a non-displaced thumb fracture.

Eichel said he’s looking forward to returning to form. “I just want to get back to being that dynamic force that I was before I got hurt and I know I’ll be there,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel finished with 14 goals and 25 points in 34 games despite coming off a lengthy layoff from his surgery and being hampered by his thumb injury. When healthy, he’s proven he’s an 80-point player and could reach or exceed that plateau with the Golden Knights. If he does, it gives them a good shot at reaching the 2023 playoffs.

Eric Staal is hoping to play his way back into the NHL with a professional tryout offer with the Florida Panthers. The 37-year-old forward last played in 2020-21 with the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens.

Staal played five games last season on a PTO with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and was captain of Team Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. He’ll be joining younger brother Marc Staal at Panthers training camp. Marc signed a one-year contract with the club in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal might not make the cut on a deep Panthers club. However, a strong training camp and preseason effort could help him land a one-year contract with another club.

This is probably Staal’s last chance to earn a roster spot with an NHL club. He’s had a long and productive career and is among the greatest players in Carolina Hurricanes history. However, his best years are now well behind him.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of players looking forward to a bounce-back performance following an injury-shortened season, Jakub Vrana believes the Detroit Red Wings could be a playoff club in 2022-23.

Vrana, 26, missed most of last season recovering from shoulder surgery. He’s now fully healthy and excited over the Red Wings’ off-season additions. “In my opinion, we have strengthened enough, so there is a better chance for the playoffs,” said Vrana. “We will definitely go all out.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana was limited to 13 goals and 19 points in 26 games last season. His lengthy absence contributed to the Red Wings missing the 2022 postseason. A healthy season from him combined with a solid performance from their off-season additions and their promising youngsters should make the Wings a playoff contender.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Sharks traded goaltender Adin Hill to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Vegas’ fourth-round pick in 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s recent remark about going with Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit as his goalie tandem to start the season. Brossoit is coming off hip surgery so perhaps he’s not fully recovered. If he has, McCrimmon probably wants to ensure he’s got sufficient experienced depth among his goalies.

As for the Sharks, this move enables them to go with a tandem of the promising Kaapo Kahkonen backed up by veteran James Reimer for the coming season. It also sheds Hill’s $2.175 million cap hit, giving the Sharks some extra wiggle room under the cap.

Speaking of the Sharks, they re-signed winger Jonah Gadjovich to a one-year, two-way contract. He’ll earn $750K at the NHL level.

THE ATHLETIC: The Chicago Blackhawks last week announced the hiring of Patrick Sharp and Troy Murray as the team’s TV color analysts. They’ll replace Ed Olczyk, who left the job after 16 years to join the Seattle Kraken in a similar role.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 17, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 17, 2022

The latest on Filip Forsberg’s contract talks, more speculation over Semyon Varlamov’s future with the Islanders plus an update on the Sharks in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST ON FORSBERG’S CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there was recently a face-to-face meeting between Nashville Predators general manager David Poile and J.P. Barry, who represents Predators winger Filip Forsberg. It was the first time in a while the two sides had met this way.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Neither side would comment on specifics so it’s difficult to gauge if there’s been any progress in their contract negotiations. However, Friedman considers it significant that this meeting took place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. The 27-year-old left winger is completing a six-year, $36 million contract and is enjoying a career-best performance with 38 goals and 74 points in 69 games.

I’ve speculated that Forsberg could seek over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal to remain in Nashville. Poile, however, could be reluctant to go that high or for that long when he’s already got two forwards (Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen) on long-term deals with annual average values of $8 million.

MORE SPECULATION ON VARLAMOV’S FUTURE WITH THE ISLANDERS

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently suggested the New York Islanders should lean heavily on Ilya Sorokin over the remainder of their schedule for this season to see how well he holds up. He believes that will give the 26-year-old goalie another opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a bonafide NHL starter.

Kurz also thinks that could influence what Islanders management does with veteran netminder Semyon Varlamov. While it’s believed they want to bring him back for another season, they might prefer moving him in the offseason if Sorokin proves he can handle a heavier workload. Trading Varlamov would enable them to patch holes in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov frequently surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to last month’s trade deadline. He’s signed through next season with an annual average value of $5 million and a 16-team no-trade list.

With the Islanders carrying over $70 million invested in 18 active players for next season, shipping out Varlamov’s cap hit would make it easier to add a top-four left-side defenseman or a top-six forward via trade or free agency. However, his no-trade list could complicate things.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka believes a lack of offense is the issue the San Jose Sharks must address in the offseason. They’re 30th out of the 32 NHL clubs in goals-per-game average and last in even-strength goals.

Pashelka believes the Sharks need to add an experienced top-six winger. With limited salary-cap space for 2022-23, they’ll have to shed some salary via trades or contract buyouts to clear sufficient room to bolster their scoring.

Trade candidates include goaltender Adin Hill, forward Kevin Labanc and defenseman Radim Simek. The Sharks could also look into buying out the final four years of blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s contract, which would free up $8.8 million over the next two seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Pashelka pointed out, the oft-injured Hill is expected to be the odd man out as James Reimer and the recently-acquired Kaapo Kahkonen will be their goalie tandem next season. Labanc has slid down the depth chart while Simek’s become a recent health scratch. It won’t be easy to find many takers for those players given their current woes.

Buying out Vlasic will provide some cap relief but it will sting nevertheless because of the way the deal is structured. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll count as over $3.6 million in the first year, $1.4 million in the second, rising to $4.1 million in the third year and $5.1 million in year four before dropping to over $1.6 million over the remaining four years of the deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 7, 2022

An update on Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk and some Sharks trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Jake DeBrusk’s performance has improved since the trade deadline passed. The Boston Bruins winger has exceeded the 20-goal plateau this season and remains on the top line alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

DeBrusk, 25, has not rescinded the trade request he made earlier this season. It’s difficult to know if his recent improvement will carry over into the playoffs or what the future holds despite signing a two-year contract extension before the March 21 trade deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes DeBrusk has made himself too invaluable for the Bruins to trade in the offseason unless his performance tumbles in the postseason. If other general managers come calling this summer, Bruins GM Don Sweeney would set the price higher than it was before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed DeBrusk and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t see eye-to-eye. The winger’s trade request seemed borne out of frustration over his usage on the Bruins’ checking lines rather than as a scorer.

However, DeBrusk’s performance has gotten better since being moved onto the top line with Marchand and Bergeron in mid-February. His production remains streaky as he’ll go on stretches without scoring but he has 14 goals and 19 points in 22 games over that period.

Earlier in his career, DeBrusk showed he could step up in postseason play. If he regains that form in this year’s playoffs, he could indeed make himself too valuable to trade. Then again, he could also improve his value, perhaps to the point where a rival GM is willing to overpay for his services.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka recently reported the San Jose Sharks could be forced to make one or two cost-cutting moves to free up salary-cap space to re-sign Alexander Barabanov. The 27-year-old winger has developed solid chemistry this season with linemates Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier. However, he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Pashelka observes the Sharks have $70.1 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with restricted free agent Mario Ferraro and Kaapo Kahkonen to re-sign. They must also ensure they have sufficient cap space for 2023-24 to sign Meier to a contract extension.

The Sharks could over $2 million in savings by trading James Reimer or Adin Hill this summer as they won’t need three goaltenders with Kahkonen in the fold. They could try shopping winger Kevin Labanc and his $4.725 million contract or defenseman Radim Simek and his $2.25 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks will have an easier time finding trade partners Reimer or Hill and for Simek than they will for Labanc, who’s signed through 2023-24. The 26-year-old winger’s production has plummeted from his career-high of 56 points in 2018-19. He missed five games with COVID-19 last fall and has been sidelined with a dislocated shoulder since Jan. 2.