NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2020

Steven Stamkos to miss training camp, Mike Green and Karl Alzner opt-out of return-to-play plan, more tidbits from the new CBA extension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Diana C. Nearhos reports Lightning captain Steven Stamkos suffered a leg injury during recent voluntary workouts and won’t be a full participant when the clubs begin training camp on Monday. General manager Julien BriseBois said Stamkos is expected to be ready when the Bolts begin round-robin play on August 3 in Toronto.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (Photo via NHL Images).

​SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos’ recent injury history will be a concern for the Lightning during the playoff tournament. Nearhos points out he suffered three previous injuries (including two confirmed lower-body) this season.

TSN: Citing family health reasons, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mike Green has decided to opt-out of the return-to-play tournament.

SPORTSNET’s Chris Johnston reports Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner is also opting out. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON:  The Bruins’ Steven Kampfer is also opting out over family health reasons..

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary Flames blueliner Travis Hamonic, Dallas Stars rearguard Roman Polak, and Vancouver Canucks winger Sven Baertschi are also giving it a pass. Players wishing to opt-out without penalty for whatever reason have until 5 pm ET on Monday to so do in writing to the NHLPA and NHL Central Registry.

SPORTSNET: Minnesota Wild defenseman Greg Pateryn is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

THE SCORE: Teams participating in the return-to-play plan aren’t permitted to disclose information regarding player injuries or illness. The NHL cites the unique circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They and the NHLPA are doing so out of respect for an individual player’s right to medical privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That decision will generate plenty of unwanted speculation over a player’s health when he mysteriously goes missing from a game or two or an entire series or the entire tournament, especially if it’s a superstar like Edmonton’s Connor McDavid or Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes something that carries over beyond this season.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Jesse Granger reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Las Vegas was excluded as a host city for the return-to-play tournament because of rising COVID-19 cases in Nevada.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daly confirmed what many of us already suspected.

TSN: Mark Masters reports the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers canceled video conferences scheduled for today to discuss their selection as NHL host cities. The postponement was because the league still has some final details to work out with the Canadian government.

PUCKPEDIA: There’s a special arbitration wrinkle for this off-season only. Within four days of a team walking away from an arbitration award, the team and the player can agree to a contract equal to the offer the team presented at the arbitration hearing. This might give the player an opportunity to rethink things if the arbiter’s award was higher than what the team can afford.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Brad Alberts is the new CEO and president of the Dallas Stars. Former CEO Jim Lites becomes the club’s chairman.

SPORTSNET: The Minnesota Wild hired Judd Brackett as their new director of amateur scouting. Brackett previously held a similar role with the Vancouver Canucks from 2015 until this year, helping them select Elias Petterssen, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we look at several possible buyout candidates plus some recent Blues speculation.

POTENTIAL BUYOUT CANDIDATES

NBC SPORTS: Sean Leahy recently listed Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, and Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson as five prime off-season contract buyout candidates.

Alzner, 31, spent most of the past three seasons buried in the minors. He has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.625 million, plus he’s owed a $1.5 million signing bonus this off-season.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Photo via NHL Images).

Backes, 36, has battled injuries as his ice time and production declined in recent years. A buyout won’t free up much cap room for the Ducks but would open up a roster spot for a younger player.

The emergence of young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev put the 38-year-old Lundqvist’s future with the Rangers into doubt. He has a year left at an AAV of $8.5 million. The Rangers could try to trade him but Lundqvist would have to waive his no-movement clause.

Turris was a health scratch at times this season. He’s earning $6 million annually for the next four years.

Eriksson is another veteran forward whose production and ice time have dropped. He has two years left with an AAV of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have just over $63 million invested in 16 players, with Max Domi and Victor Mete as their notable free agents. Depending on the cost of re-signing those two, the Habs could have sufficient space under a projected $81.5 million cap next season to add to their roster without buying out Alzner. They could retain him for one more season to work with their minor leaguers and buy out his final season.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ducks bought out Backes. The years of physical play have caught up with him. Given his concussion history, retirement would be the best option, but that’s not something he seems to be considering.

Most of the speculation about Lundqvist points to a buyout unless he agrees to be traded or they move Georgiev instead.

Turris was frequently mentioned as a buyout candidate, but that’s something Predators GM David Poile could be reluctant to do. He doesn’t like carrying dead cap space but might not have much choice if he can’t move Turris in a cost-cutting trade.

There’s talk of trading Eriksson to a budget team after he’s paid his signing bonus for next season, as his actual salary will be lower than his $6 million AAV. If that’s not possible, the Canucks might have to go the buyout route.

LATEST ON THE BLUES

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent chat with Blues fans, Jim Thomas said he doesn’t see them going shopping in the free-agent market even if Alex Pietrangelo departs after this season. General manager Doug Armstrong would only have enough cap space to re-sign RFA defenseman Vince Dunn.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford said he doesn’t see former Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as a possible replacement for Pietrangelo. Currently with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Shattenkirk is 31 and the Blues don’t need him on the right side when they’ve already got Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues (as per Cap Friendly) have over $79.4 million invested in 20 players next season. If Pietrangelo walks they’ll still have to shed some salary to re-sign Dunn. They won’t have enough to jump into the UFA market.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2020

More compliance buyout speculation and how the Canadiens cap space could serve them well in the off-season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HYPOTHETICAL COMPLIANCE BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports the anticipation of the 2020-21 NHL salary cap taking a COVID-19 hit has generated speculation the league and the NHL Players Association could agree to the implementation of compliance contract buyouts. He listed 11 hypothetical amnesty buyout candidates, with Vancouver’s Loui Eriksson ($6 million annual average value through 2021-22) topping the list. With Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli and others to re-sign, a compliance buyout window would help the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were rumored looking into trading Eriksson last summer, but couldn’t find any takers for his contract. Given the complications they’ll face if the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, he’ll be a prime compliance buyout candidate.

Others could include Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader ($4.25 million AAV through 2022-23), Chicago’s Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million AAV through 2023-24) provided he’s recovered from his recent surgeries, Calgary’s Milan Lucic ($6 million through 2023-24), Montreal’s Karl Alzner ($4.625 million through 2021-22), and the New York Islanders’ Andrew Ladd ($5.5 million through 2022-23).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out the Wings can afford to absorb Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen ($5.25 million AAV through 2021-22), but general manager Steve Yzerman could avail himself of the opportunity to shed the expensive contracts of fading veterans.

if Seabrook hasn’t been medically cleared to return to action during the buyout period (whenever that might be), the Blackhawks won’t be able to avail themselves of that option. Lucic, Alzner, and Ladd are probably goners. The Isles attempted to trade Ladd to the Minnesota Wild as part of a complicated deal for Zach Parise at the trade deadline.

Could Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky become a compliance buyout candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo ($6 million AAV through 2022-23), Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky ($10 million AAV through 2025-26), the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist (one year at $8.5 million), Edmonton’s James Neal ($5.75 million through 2022-23) and Anaheim’s David Backes ($6 million for one more season) round out this list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see those guys receiving compliance buyouts. A couple of readers questioned Bobrovsky being a candidate when I wrote about this in an earlier Rumor update, claiming he’s the victim of the Panthers’ woeful defense.

That’s as may be, but there’s no denying the two-time Vezina Trophy winner has struggled over the last two years. His performance this season was not the Panthers’ front office banked on when they signed him to that whopping big contract.

There’s talk that ownership will want to slash payroll if they miss the playoffs this season. An amnesty buyout for Bobrovsky would be the easiest option.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens could be well-positioned to use their cap space to their advantage once the salary-cap figures are determined for 2020-21.They have over $63 million invested in 16 players.

Re-signing restricted free agents Max Domi and Victor Mete and re-signing or replacing other free agents will have little impact upon next summer, when such notables as Tomas Tatar, Joel Armia, Jeff Petry, and Phillip Danault will become free agents. Engels suggested they’d have more flexibility if they traded Domi for a defenseman like Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. 

Engels believes it’s all but assured winger Ilya Kovalchuk will return to the Canadiens on a bonus-laden deal next season. He also anticipates they’ll look to the UFA market for a reliable backup for Carey Price. He doubts they’ll go the offer-sheet route this summer, but they could target cap-strapped clubs looking to make cost-cutting trades before the start of next season, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens fans and pundits have been waiting for Bergevin to use his cap space to provide a significant boost to the roster. This summer could provide that opportunity if the cap remains flat and compliance buyouts aren’t implemented as a cost-cutting measure.

As for the suggestion of trading Domi for Dumba, the latter lacks no-trade protection, but it could be premature to believe Wild GM Bill Guerin will go that route. If he does, he’ll be shopping Dumba to the highest bidder, meaning Domi might not be enough to pry him away from the Wild. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2020

Jordan Eberle and Jared Spurgeon each tally hat tricks, the Jets acquire Cody Eakin from the Golden Knights, the Avalanche re-sign Pavel Francouz, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: On the night the New York Islanders honored John Tonelli, Jordan Eberle netted a hat trick to lead them to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Islanders (74 points) hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Earlier in the day, the Isles placed Cal Clutterbuck on injured reserve, while the Red Wings claimed defenseman Cody Goloubef off waivers from the Ottawa Senators.

Jared Spurgeon’s natural hat trick gave the Minnesota Wild a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers (Photo via NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon netted a natural hat trick to beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected three points for the Oilers. The Wild (65 points) sit three points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Goaltender Pavel Francouz celebrated his two-year, $4-million contract extension with the Colorado Avalanche by kicking out 26 shots to blank the Anaheim Ducks 1-0. J.T. Compher scored the only goal as the Avs (77 points) move one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for second in the Central Division.

The St. Louis Blues (80 points) opened a three-point lead atop the Western Conference by beating the Stars 5-1, leaving the latter four points behind them. Blues defenseman Colton Parayko had a goal and two assists.

Mika Zibanejad scored and set up two others to lead the New York Rangers over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho tallied his 35th goal of the season. With 68 points, the Rangers sit five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Hurricanes (72 points) are one point behind the Jackets.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat scored twice in a 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 42 saves for the win. The Predators (68 points) sit two behind the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Blackhawks made defenseman Erik Gustafsson a late scratch, prompting speculation he could be moved before the upcoming Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Speaking of the Flames, they blew a 3-1 lead to drop a 4-3 decision to the Boston Bruins. Patrice Bergeron scored twice and David Pastrnak had two assists as the Bruins (90 points) won their fifth straight and widened their lead atop the overall standings by five points over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mikael Backlund scored two goals for the Flames.

HEADLINES

WINNIPEG SUN/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Winnipeg Jets acquired center Cody Eakin from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eakin is expected to center the Jets’ fourth line, providing an additional measure of experienced depth to their bottom-six forward lines. By shedding Eakin’s $3.85 million salary-cap hit, the Golden Knights freed up cap room for perhaps another deal before the upcoming trade deadline.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres yesterday placed defenseman Zach Bogosian on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. If unclaimed by noon today, Bogosian will become an unrestricted free agent.

TSN: Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan opened up about his alcohol addiction and his ongoing treatment. He’s returning to the lineup after being out of action for three months participating in the NHL player assistance program.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Ryan on his path forward.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand will be sidelined eight-to-ten weeks with a sprained and factured ankle.

The NHL Department of Player Safety fined Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen $5,000.00 for slashing and Senators forward Scott Sabourin over $1.881.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

TVA SPORTS: With Victor Mete and Xavier Ouellet sidelined by injuries, the Montreal Canadiens recalled defenseman Karl Alzner.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2019

The latest on P.K. Subban, Cody Ceci, Rasmus Dahlin, Karl Alzner, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and former U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn announced their engagement on Friday.

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is engaged for former Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the happy couple.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci and his partner Jamie Thompson filed a statement of defense Friday against an $8.6-million lawsuit filed by a woman who was injured during an incident at Ceci’s home last year. She suffered third-degree burns during an accident with a tabletop fireplace.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin feels better prepared and is more driven to help his club become playoff contenders this season. A Calder Trophy finalist in 2018-19, Dahlin wasn’t happy with the Sabres’ second-half collapse. He’s hoping for a better result in his sophomore campaign. “I feel more prepared. I feel more mature,” said the 19-year-old blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong performance from Dahlin will be crucial to the Sabres’ postseason hopes in ’19-’20.  Having gone through the rigors of his first NHL season, he now knows what to expect and how to adjust to a long schedule.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner hopes to avoid spending another season in the minors. He saw action in just nine games with the Habs in 2018-19. Alzner hasn’t requested a trade but that could change if he’s demoted again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For most of Alzner’s NHL career he was a steady stay-at-home defenseman. However, the increased pace of the NHL game in recent years made it difficult for slower players like Alzner to contain fleet-footed opponents. Unless he’s somehow found a gear we never knew he had, he might not crack the Canadiens’ blueline this season.

SPORTSNET: The NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise could reveal their team name around this season’s All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m partial to the Seattle Expansions or, as the Face Off Hockey Show’s Scotty Wazz suggested, the Seattle Your-Name-Here. 😉










NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2019

Five possible contract buyout candidates, plus the latest speculation on Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri, and William Nylander in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

POTENTIAL BUYOUT CANDIDATES

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Edmonton Oilers winger Milan Lucic, Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera, New York Rangers blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk, and Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson could become contract buyout candidates next month. The buyout period begins June 15 and runs through June 30. 

Could the New York Rangers buy out Kevin Shattenkirk next month? (Photo via NHL Images)

Alzner has three years remaining on his five-year, $23.125-million contract. He spent most of last season in the AHL. Lucic has four seasons left on his seven-year, $42-million contract while Sekera has two years left on his six-year, $33-million deal. Shattenkirk is two years into a four-year, $26.6-million contract, and Eriksson has three years remaining on his six-year, $36-million deal

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract buyouts for those players count as two-thirds the remaining value over twice the remaining term. Of the five, Sekera could be the easiest to buy out. It comes with a $2.5 million cap hit in the first two years, dropping to $1.5 million for the remaining two seasons. Sekera, however, looked good in his recent return from injury. The Oilers could hang onto him for next season.

The others would be more complicated. Alzner’s buyout would count as over $1.069 million against the Canadiens cap, except for 2020-21, when it jumps to $4.19 million. Shattenkirk’s would be $1.43 million, except for 2020-21 when it would be over $6 million. That’s because a significant chunk of their respective salaries for that particular season is paid as a signing bonus. It’s a form of salary insurance for those two in case there’s a lockout in 2020-21.

Signing bonuses also affect the buyout structure for Eriksson and Lucic. An Eriksson buyout counts as over $5.55 million against the Canucks cap for the first two seasons, dropping to $3.55 million in year three, before falling to over $555K for each of the final three seasons. Buying out Lucic counts as over $3.625 million in 2019-20, $5.625 million in 2020-21, $4.125 million in 2021-22, $5.625 million in 2022-23, then tumbling to 625K for each of the final four seasons.

If the league or the NHLPA choose to opt out of the current CBA in September, there could be another lockout in the fall of 2020. Teams considering the buyout option this summer could opt to wait a year and see what happens with the CBA.

A new CBA could see each team allowed two compliance buyouts as they were when the current agreement was implemented. Those buyouts didn’t count against a team’s salary-cap payroll. 

LATEST KESSEL SPECULATION

TRIBLIVE.COM: If the Pittsburgh Penguins trade Phil Kessel, Jonathan Bombulie believes it must be more than addition by subtraction. Despite his age and “quirky personality”, the 32-year-old winger remains a productive scorer. Replacing his scoring would be difficult. If Kessel’s traded, Bombulie believes the player they get back makes the Penguins better away from the puck and improves the chemistry on the second line. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel has an eight-team trade list, which could complicate things unless he’s willing to widen that list. The Penguins reportedly entertained offers for the winger last summer and could do so again this year.

Moving Kessel and his $6.8-million cap hit could be done to free up salary to bring in a more affordable, younger player. That player could come in the return for Kessel, or through a separate trade with another team, or via free agency. 

NYLANDER OR KADRI?

TORONTO STAR: In a recent mailbag, Kevin McGran was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs will consider moving center Nazem Kadri and winger William Nylander. Kadri’s undisciplined play cost the Leafs in the last two seasons while Nylander carries a big cap hit that could affect efforts to re-sign Mitch Marner.

McGran believes Kadri is more vulnerable to a trade. He points out Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas “went through a lot to sign Nylander. He’s not trading him.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree. Kadri is the more likely of the two to get traded. One can’t fully dismiss the possibility of a Nylander trade despite Dubas’ “promise” not to move him. Still, it would’ve been all for nothing to trade Nylander at this point. Kadri’s loose cannon act has proven too costly over the past two years.