NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2021

Catching up on some notable late trades and free-agent signings, including the Avalanche acquiring Darcy Kuemper, plus a look at the notable free-agents still available in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes traded goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Conor Timmins, a first-round pick in 2022 and a conditional third-round pick in 2024.

Arizona Coyotes trade goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche needed a suitable replacement for Philipp Grubauer after he signed with the Seattle Kraken yesterday. They had to move quickly as several teams had some interest in Kuemper. That’s why Avs general manager Joe Sakic paid such a steep price to get him.

In the short term, the 31-year-old Kuemper should offset Grubauer’s absence provided he can stay healthy. He’s been sidelined in recent seasons by a variety of injuries and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong, meanwhile, is doing a superb job trimming payroll while laying the groundwork to restock his prospect pipeline. Timmins is a promising young defenseman who could be a good fit on this rebuilding team. The Coyotes now have two first-round picks and five second-rounders in next year’s draft. They could get more when Armstrong starts shopping some of his pending unrestricted free agents at next year’s trade deadline.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals reacquired goaltender Vitek Vanecek from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Kraken selected Vanecek during last week’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting back Vanecek maintains the Capitals’ goalie tandem from last season. His reacquisition spares them from shopping for a backup goalie that would’ve cost more than Vanecek’s $716, 667 salary-cap hit.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins traded goaltender Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The signing of Linus Ullmark and the emergence of Jeremy Swayman made Vladar the odd man out among the Bruins goaltenders, especially if they bring back Tuukka Rask next year following his recovery from hip surgery.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed veteran goaltenders Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell to one-year contracts.

SPORTSNET: The Sabres also acquired defenseman Will Butcher and a 2022 fifth-round pick from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for future considerations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I published a list yesterday of most of the notable free-agent signings and trades. You can read my take on yesterday’s top-10 signings here.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Krejci, Kyle Palmieri and Brandon Saad are among the best players still available in the free-agent market. Others include Tomas Tatar and Zach Parise.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman ranks the winners and losers from the opening day of free agency.

TSN: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is hopeful of returning to action in 2021-22 once he receives medical clearance to do so. The 39-year-old goaltender signed last season with the Washington Capitals but heart surgery sidelined him for the entire campaign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be interest in Lundqvist if he’s cleared to resume playing. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a contract with a playoff contender.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed head coach D.J. Smith to a two-year contract extension.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

The Canadiens avoid being swept from the Stanley Cup Final, Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks dies in a fireworks accident, Wild re-sign Nick Bjugstad and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination from the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 on Monday night.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Josh Anderson opened the scoring in the first period and tallied the game-winner in overtime. Alexander Romanov scored his first of the playoffs for the Canadiens while Carey Price made 32 saves for the win. Barclay Goodrow and Pat Maroon replied for the Lightning.

The series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Wednesday night with the Lightning holding a 3-1 lead.

TSN: The Canadiens made some lineup changes for Game 4. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was replaced by Jake Evans as their third-line center while Romanov and Brett Kulak replaced Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on their third defense pairing. Anderson moved to the Canadiens’ second line alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Lightning winger Alex Killorn missed his third straight game of this series. He remains day-to-day with a leg injury suffered in Game 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled most of the play in this game. Head coach Jon Cooper lamented several near misses for his club, including several shots clanging off the goalposts.

That doesn’t detract from what was a big win by the Canadiens. Price and his penalty killers were outstanding as they shut down five Lightning power-play opportunities, including a double-minor on Habs captain Shea Weber that stretched from late in the third period into the early minutes of overtime. Price was particularly strong during the opening minutes of the game, shutting down the Lightning as they pushed to open the scoring.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died on July 4 at age 24. It was initially reported that he suffered an apparent head injury during a fall, but an initial autopsy revealed he suffered a percussive injury from a fireworks explosion that led to major damage to his heart and lungs.

The incident took place at the Novi, Michigan home of former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace. Kivlenieks’ death is being investigated as accidental and no charges are under consideration at this time.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets fans gathered at a popular bar near NationWide Arena to mourn Kivlenieks’ passing. It included an 80-second moment of silence in honor of the netminder, who wore No. 80 with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Kivlenieks’ family, friends, teammates and the Jackets organization and fans. This was a tragic ending to a young life and career that held so much promise.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Nick Bjugstad to a one-year, $900K contract. The 28-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He excelled in a depth role with the Wild this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bjugstad’s taking a big pay cut to stay in Minnesota. Cap Friendly indicates he was coming off a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.1 million. That reflects how much his role has changed since signing that deal with the Florida Panthers in 2014.

The signing puts only a slight dent into the Wild’s projected salary-cap space for next season. They have over $15.9 million remaining with restricted free agent stars Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala to re-sign.

NHL.COM: Swedish prospect forward William Eklund received the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence. The award, presented by NHL Central Scouting, goes to the candidate who best displays a commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism. Previous winners include Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eklund overcame an emergency appendectomy and a positive COVID-19 test to become this year’s top European skater as ranked by NHL Central Scouting. He’s projected to go in the top five of this year’s NHL Draft.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The AHL’s Providence Bruins will be seeking a new head coach as Jay Leach has joined the NHL’s Seattle Kraken as an assistant coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2021

The Canadiens stun the Golden Knights with a Game 3 OT win, Aleksander Barkov win the Selke Trophy, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored the tying and winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their semifinal series. Anderson made it 2-2 late in the third period when Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury mishandled the puck beside his net, giving Anderson a wide-open net for an easy goal. Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 43 saves for the win. Game 4 goes Sunday night in Montreal.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights opened the scoring in the second period as Nicolas Roy cashed in on an errant pass by Canadiens center Eric Staal. Cole Caufield quickly tied it with his second goal of the playoffs. Alex Pietrangelo restored the Golden Knights’ lead early in the third period before Fleury’s blunder cost them the game.

Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson made his NHL head-coaching debut filling in for Dominque Ducharme after the Habs bench boss tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day. All of his players tested negative for the coronavirus. Ducharme appears to be asymptomatic but is expected to be sidelined for the next 10 days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hockey gods were smiling on Montreal in this game. Vegas should’ve easily taken it after outshooting the Habs 45-27 and controlling most of the play throughout this contest. It’s becoming repetitive to type this, but Price was the difference once again. Still, the Golden Knights appeared poised to skate away with a narrow victory until Fleury’s costly turnover changed the script.

Questionable officiating continues to plague the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. A prime example was the referees missing Jonathan Marchessault high-sticking Montreal’s Corey Perry in the face during overtime, cutting the Habs forward and forcing him from the game for repairs.

The Golden Knights played without center Chandler Stephenson, who was also a late scratch from Game 2. He’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion-related symptoms.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is the 2021 winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

NEWSDAY: Oliver Wahlstrom could be in the New York Islanders’ lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 4 of their semifinal series. Wahlstrom was sidelined during Game 5 of the Isles’ first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need something to give them an offensive lift after their offense was stifled by the Lightning in the last two games.

WGR 550: Former Buffalo Sabres star Rene Robert is in a Florida hospital after suffering a severe life-threatening heart attack yesterday. Few details have been revealed as Robert’s family has requested privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here hoping Robert, 72, makes a full and swift recovery. He was a member of the Sabres’ famed French Connection Line with Gilbert Perreault and the late Richard Martin in the 1970s.

OTTAWA SUN: Goaltender Marcus Hogberg has signed a four-year contract with Linkoping HC in Sweden after the Senators informed him last month that they wouldn’t qualify his rights. He spent three seasons with the Sens from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Liam Kirk to a three-year entry-level contract. He’s the first player born and trained in England to be drafted by an NHL team.

 










NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Draw First Blood Against Leafs

NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Draw First Blood Against Leafs

 










NHL Playoffs: Underdog Canadiens Face Uphill Battle Against Maple Leafs

NHL Playoffs: Underdog Canadiens Face Uphill Battle Against Maple Leafs

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2021

Capitals down Bruins for a series-opening win, Connor McDavid wins the scoring title, David Perron on COVID-19 protocol list, plus updates on Brayden Point, Zach Parise and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Nic Dowd gave the Washington Capitals a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Washington goaltender Craig Anderson made 21 saves on 22 shots in relief of Vitek Vanecek, who left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist for the Capitals. Game 2 is Monday night in Washington.

Washington Capitals goaltender Craig Anderson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 39-year-old Anderson struggled a bit finding his rhythm but eventually settled in well spelling off Vanecek. No word on Vanecek’s status for Game 2.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected an assist in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid finishes the season with 105 points in 56 games to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is only the third player in league history to win the Art Ross Trophy by age 24. Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky were the others.

With their regular season over, the Oilers will face the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger David Perron is on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, casting doubt on his availability for his club’s upcoming first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche. He joins teammates Jake Walman and Nathan Walker on that list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This doesn’t necessarily mean Perron had COVID-19. It could be a false positive. So far, there doesn’t appear to be a surge in cases among the Blues. An outbreak would have significant consequences for the NHL’s playoff schedule. Players remain at risk of contracting the coronavirus despite COVID cases dropping in the United States as more people are vaccinated.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning coach Jon Cooper downplayed Brayden Point’s departure from practice yesterday. “He got nicked up. He’s fine. No alarm bells,” said Cooper. Point was their leading scorer this season. The Lightning face off this evening against the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of their opening-round series.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise is slated to be a healthy scratch when his club opens their first-round series this afternoon against the Vegas Golden Knights. He was a healthy scratch in three straight games before the Wild’s final regular-season contest.

THE PROVINCE: Reports indicate the Vancouver Canucks could bring in former Canucks star Geoff Courtnall to serve in an undetermined front-office position. Courtnall is a friend of the Aquilini family, who owns the Canucks. It’s assumed it would be an advisory position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And perhaps, as a potential successor to Jim Benning as general manager? Time will tell.