NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2021

The 2021-22 season opens tonight, the Lightning sign Jon Cooper to a contract extension plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Nicklas Backstrom, Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The puck drops on the 2021-22 season tonight as the Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning while the expansion Seattle Kraken plays their inaugural game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken forwards Jared McCann, Marcus Johansson and Joonas Donskoi and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak joined teammate Calle Jarnkrok in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken will be without five of their better players for tonight’s franchise-opening matchup against the Golden Knights. The latter isn’t untouched by COVID as Mattias Janmark also entered the protocol yesterday.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Speaking of the Lightning, they signed head coach Jon Cooper to a three-year contract extension. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Cooper is making between $3.5 million and $4 million on his current deal.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville is earning a league-leading $5.5 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cooper earns that much, if not more, on his new deal.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is expected to miss the first three games of the regular season as he continues to recover from offseason wrist surgery. Teammate Ilya Mikheyev suffered a broken thumb and is expected to be sidelined for two months. The Leafs also lost forward Adam Brooks as he was plucked off waivers by the Montreal Canadiens.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals listed center Nicklas Backstrom (hip injury) as injured non-roster yesterday. His $9.2 million cap hit continues to count against the Capitals salary-cap payroll but he doesn’t count against their 23-man roster.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane is listed as non-roster pending the completion of two league investigations into allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. Meanwhile, 2021 first-round pick William Eklund earned himself a spot on their 23-man roster to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s off-ice issues and Tomas Hertl’s contract situation has overshadowed Eklund’s solid preseason performance. They could have a promising young star in their ranks if he adjusts well to the NHL pace this season.

THE PROVINCE: The Canucks will open the season with forwards Brock Boeser, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte sidelined. Defenseman Travis Hamonic cleared waivers yesterday and has been loaned to their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed goaltender Ben Bishop on long-term injury reserve to give themselves some salary-cap flexibility to open the season. They also listed forwards Jason Robertson and Blake Comeau as day-to-day.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers won’t have a captain this season. They instead named Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Jacob Trouba, Ryan Strome and Barclay Goodrow as alternate captains.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of them could be named captain following this season as head coach Gerard Gallant evaluates their performance and leadership. They haven’t had a captain since Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The investigation into the July 4 death of Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks continues. The preliminary report concluded his death was a tragic accident but the police turned it over to the county prosecutor’s office on July 12. No criminal charges were request and none have been filed but the prosecutor’s office referred to the matter as a “criminal case”. There’s no timetable for the investigation’s conclusion.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings released winger Bobby Ryan from his professional tryout offer yesterday. However, general manager Steve Yzerman has left the door open for his possible return to the roster at some point.

TSN: Brian Boyle is expected to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins after playing with them during preseason on a PTO.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas created a stir yesterday by golfing with pop star Harry Styles, who’s playing the PNC Center on Tuesday.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators promoted Scott Nichol to assistant general manager.

NBC SPORTS: The American Hockey League will have 10 women among their 17 new on-ice officials this season. They are referees Katie Guay, Kelly Cooke, Jacqueline Zee Howard, Laura White, Samantha Hiller, Elizabeth Mantha and Amanda Tasson and linespeople Kendall Hanley, Kirsten Welsh and Alexandra Clarke.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to them all. Perhaps one or more of them will one day be officiating in the NHL.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

Carey Price enters the league’s player assistance program, the USA, Finland and Czech Republic name their first players to their respective Olympic men’s hockey teams, Blake Coleman suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price entered the NHL’s player assistance program. The 34-year-old had been recovering from offseason knee surgery. General manager Marc Bergevin said Price could be absent from the team for at least 30 days but didn’t rule out a longer absence.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Bergevin said Price has the support of the club and his teammates. “Today, I’m not thinking about Carey Price, the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but Carey Price the human being,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will miss Price between the pipes while some fans are wondering why he’s reached out for assistance. None of that is important and the latter is none of our business. What matters is Price gets the help and time he needs to get his life and health back on track.

Speaking of the Canadiens, winger Jonathan Drouin missed Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators with a non-COVID-related illness.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens don’t intend on providing any updates on GM Bergevin’s contract situation until the end of the season. His deal is slated to expire at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read more about Bergevin’s contract status in today’s Rumor Mill. 

TSN: Team USA named Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones to their 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team on Thursday.

Finland named Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, and Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen to their men’s Olympic squad.

NHL.COM: The Czech Republic named Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek to their Olympic team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The IIHF requested countries submit the names of their first three players several weeks ago. Canada and Sweden submitted theirs earlier this week.

NHL.COM: Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman was suspended for the club’s final preseason game and their first regular-season contest for boarding Winnipeg Jets forward Jansen Harkins during Wednesday’s preseason game.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz will miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. He also suffered a lower-body injury in the 2020 playoffs and missed all of last season. The Avs also announced head coach Jared Bednar tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the club’s final two preseason games. It’s unclear when he’ll return behind the bench.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Colin White requires surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder. He’s expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months. Meanwhile, the club announced they’ve signed winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $900K contract.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers winger Noel Acciari could miss significant time with an upper-body injury.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian struck his head on the ice during a fight with Vancouver Canucks’ Zack MacEwen in last night’s preseason game between the two clubs. Kassian had to be helped from the ice but was reportedly talking to teammates in the dressing room and in good spirits.

NEW YORK POST: A power failure in part of the Prudential Center led to the cancellation of the preseason game between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2021

Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi signs an offer sheet from the Hurricanes. Check out the details plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Mitch Marner and Gerard Gallant in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed a one-year, $6, 100,015 million offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canadiens have seven days to match the offer. If they don’t, the 21-year-old Kotkaniemi joins the Hurricanes and the Habs get the Canes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.

The Carolina Hurricanes sign Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet (NHL Images).

The 15 dollars tacked on to the end of the $6.1 million represents Kotkaniemi’s jersey number with the Canadiens. This offer sheet also includes a $20 dollar signing bonus. That number represents Sebastien Aho’s jersey number. The Canadiens attempted to sign him to an offer sheet two years ago but the Hurricanes matched it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes’ Twitter feed took great delight in trolling the Canadiens once the offer sheet signing was announced. That included issuing a bilingual statement that was almost word-for-word what Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said when he signed Aho to his offer sheet.

The revenge angle and the Hurricanes’ joyful spite provided considerable entertainment for some and annoyance over its pettiness from others. I’m more interested in the effect of this signing upon both clubs.

Kotkaniemi would become the second-highest paid forward on the Canadiens if they match the offer. While he has considerable promise, his play to date isn’t worth $6.1 million. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Habs were talking a two-year deal in the $2.5 million per season range. TVASports’ Renaud Lavoie said $2.2 million annually was the highest suggestion he heard of Kotkaniemi’s worth from sources around the league.

This contract would create a salary-cap headache for the Canadiens. Cap Friendly shows them already above the $81.5 million by over $2.2 million. They can exceed the cap by 10 percent ($89.65 million) during the offseason but must be cap-compliant when the season begins. However, they’ll be allowed to go over the cap by $7.857 million if Shea Weber goes on long-term injury reserve as expected for 2021-22 ($89.357 million). They can exceed it by an additional $3.4 million by putting Paul Byron (hip surgery) on LTIR but would have to free up some space once he returns to action in the new year.

Kotkaniemi’s new salary would also affect the Habs cap payroll for 2022-23. It would cost $6.1 million to qualify his rights. That’s assuming, of course, he plays well enough to earn that type of deal.

The Canadiens already have $69.2 million invested in 12 players for next season, with Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov and Jake Evans as restricted free agents. They could attempt to negotiate a longer-term deal with Kotkaniemi for less than $6.1 million but it would probably still be well over $5 million annually. They could get over $7.8 million in relief if necessary should Weber wind up on LTIR again, but it would still be a cap complication the Habs don’t need.

Do the Canadiens even want to match? Kotkaniemi signing that offer sheet suggests an unhappiness with his role and his contract talks with the Canadiens. If the Habs don’t match, however, his departure will leave them thin at center following Phillip Danault’s decamping for Los Angeles via free agency. 

The joy of revenge aside for the Hurricanes, this is a bit of gamble for them. The Athletic’s Sara Civian indicates this move puts them over the cap by $1.5 million, but she suggested freeing up cap space by trading defenseman Jake Gardiner or someone claims him off waivers. GM Don Waddell undoubtedly has something in mind to address that issue but it remains to be seen if Gardiner is that solution.

Kotkaniemi’s consistency issues could follow him to Carolina. That would leave the Canes with a $6.1 million mistake on their books (albeit for just one year) plus the loss of two picks in next year’s draft.

They’ll also face the $6.1 million qualifying offer, though Friedman believes this offer sheet was made with the knowledge that Kotkaniemi’s next contract would be long term for less money. However, would it really be worth it if he doesn’t crack their top-six next season or show the potential to do so?

Some are already questioning this move, suggesting Carolina would’ve been better off using that $6.1 million to keep Dougie Hamilton rather than lose him for nothing to free agency. That criticism will grow louder if Kotkaniemi doesn’t play up to his salary for this season.

Other interesting factors could be in play here as we await the Canadiens’ decision. I’ll have more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup. Meanwhile, here’s the rest of today’s notable headlines.

THE ATHLETIC‘s Rob Rossi observes Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is wearing the captain’s “C” on Team Canada’s Winter Olympics’ promotional media.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rossi noted that it hasn’t been confirmed Crosby will be Canada’s captain in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Nevertheless, it’s a safe bet he’ll get that honor.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox believes Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner will face intense scrutiny this season following the club’s first-round collapse to Montreal in the 2021 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner bore the brunt of fan and media criticism for his underwhelming postseason play. For the first time, he’ll be facing a much harsher spotlight in Toronto. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Gerard Gallant will bring a physical edge to the New York Rangers in his first season as their head coach. However, Gallant said they’re not plotting revenge on Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson in their season opener. Wilson manhandled Artemi Panarin and now-former Ranger Pavel Buchnevich in a game last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting tougher isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s doesn’t overshadow the club’s skill. If they waste time chasing Wilson it will throw them off their game.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2021

The Bruins take a 2-1 series lead over the Islanders, the Hurricanes narrow the Lightning’s series lead, Mark Scheifele is suspended, the Calder Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand’s overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders in Game 3 of their second-round series. Craig Smith opened the scoring for Boston in the first period but the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal tied it in the third. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 28 saves while Semyon Varlamov turned aside 39 for the Isles. The Bruins hold a 2-1 lead in the series. Game 4 goes on Saturday on Long Island.

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal (NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their first win of their second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 3. Jordan Staal tipped in Sebastian Aho’s shot for the winning goal. Aho had a goal and two assists while Petr Mrazek made 35 shots for the win in his first game in this postseason. Tampa Bay rallied back from a 2-0 deficit on goals by Brayden Point and Alex Killorn. The Lightning holds a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 on Saturday in Tampa Bay.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s penalty for holding the stick of Hurricanes winger Martin Necas set the stage for Staal’s game-winner. Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele left the game with an upper-body injury. The Canes played this game without sidelined forwards Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele received a four-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for charging Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans during Game 1 of their series on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a hefty suspension for a star player with no previous suspensions or fines. Coming in the middle of the playoffs, it’s the equivalent of an eight-game suspension in the regular season. Evans suffered a concussion and could miss the rest of this series.

The absence of their top forward is a big loss for the Jets in this series. They also played Game 1 without center Paul Stastny (undisclosed) and lost defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a lower-body injury. There’s a chance Stastny could return for Game 2 tonight in Winnipeg but DeMelo seems unlikely to play.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson are this year’s finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

SPORTSNET: The NHL hopes to have a decision soon regarding US teams crossing the Canadian border for the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said talks with the Canadian government are ongoing.










NHL Playoffs: Sebastian Aho’s Overtime Goal Eliminates Nashville Predators

NHL Playoffs: Sebastian Aho’s Overtime Goal Eliminates Nashville Predators

 










NHL Playoffs: Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 1

NHL Playoffs: Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 1