NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2021

The Senators hold off the Stars, Jimmy Hayes’ family reveals his cause of death, plus the latest on Brady Tkachuk, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Karlsson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Chris Tierney scored two power-play goals as the Ottawa Senators held off the Dallas Stars for a 3-2 victory in Sunday’s only game on the NHL schedule. Connor Brown assisted on all three Senators’ goals while Filip Gustavsson made 32 saves for the win. Michael Raffl and Joe Pavelski replied for the Stars.

OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of the Senators, head coach D.J. Smith revealed Brady Tkachuk will make his season debut on Thursday against the San Jose Sharks. The 21-year-old left winger missed training camp and the opening game of the season due to contract negotiations. Signed to a new seven-year deal on Thursday, the Senators felt he needed time to get himself prepared.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, they don’t want to rush Tkachuk into the lineup and risk an injury before he’s in game shape.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The family of Jimmy Hayes revealed Sunday the former NHL forward died on Aug. 23 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. They hope telling his story will help save lives.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This story indicates Hayes got addicted to painkillers dealing with an injury. His father noticed a problem 16-17 months ago and spoke to his son. Hayes subsequently received help and seemed on the path to recovery.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

The opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of age or status, it is destroying lives at an alarming rate.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews makes his season debut tonight against the New York Rangers. He underwent wrist surgery two months ago.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Leafs, they’ve recalled goaltender Michael Hutchison on an emergency basis. Salary cap constraints forced them to bring in University of Toronto netminder Alex Bishop on a one-day amateur tryout as Jack Campbell’s backup during Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Senators.

THE DENVER POST: Nathan MacKinnon remains sidelined by COVID protocol and won’t travel with the team to Washington today. Defenseman Jack Johnson will make the trip following a negative COVID test on Saturday.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson still considers himself among the best players in the game as he looks to bounce back from a down year last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Karlsson in 2018-19 and 2019-20. He missed only four games last season but his production dropped to a career-low 22 points. The Sharks will need a solid effort from a healthy 31-year-old Karlsson if they hope to make the playoffs this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Karlsson’s teammate Nikolai Knyzhov will undergo surgery this week on a lower-body injury. He’s expected to be sidelined eight to 10 weeks.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko suffered an upper-body injury Saturday and was placed on injured reserve yesterday.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for roughing Edmonton Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto on Saturday.

TSN: Former Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Mikko Lehtonen signed a four-year contract with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg. He recently refused assignment to the AHL and he and the Jackets agreed to terminate his contract.

THE PROVINCE: The son of Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning was hospitalized following an alleged assault outside a local nightspot early Sunday morning. The 25-year-old and his sister were reportedly attacked by four men outside the nightclub. He declined assistance from paramedics for facial injuries and went to the hospital himself. Jim Benning and the Canucks declined to comment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Benning’s son is ok. No word yet if anyone has been apprehended.










NHL Trade Roundup: Lots of Big Names Moving After Busy Week of Dealing

NHL Trade Roundup: Lots of Big Names Moving After Busy Week of Dealing

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

The 2020 NHL Draft completes its second and final day, Taylor Hall is heading to free agency, the Blue Jackets re-sign Max Domi, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2020 NHL Draft is now history following a marathon second day in which it took over seven hours to complete rounds two through seven.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the results for each round by clicking the above link to the NHL draft tracker. As for how long it took to go through yesterday’s rounds, the general managers and their staffs were drafting from home instead of at an arena in a host city as is usually done. That gave them a lot more time to evaluate which prospects they intended to select and to move up or down the draft order by swapping picks with other clubs.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said Taylor Hall is heading to tomorrow’s unrestricted free agent market.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall is heading to free agency on Friday (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes gave up three prospects and two draft picks (including a first in this year’s draft) to acquire Hall in a trade with New Jersey last December. Hall played well for the Coyotes, with 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, but his addition did little to significantly improve his new club. Their limited cap space made it almost impossible to re-sign him. His departure could ease the pressure from Armstrong to move captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a cost-cutting trade before the defenseman’s Friday deadline.

THE SCORE: One day after being acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Montreal Canadiens, Max Domi signed a two-year, $10.6 million contract with his new club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a sensible signing by the Jackets. Domi gets a raise over two-year, $6.3-million of his previous deal. The Jackets get a reasonable period of time to evaluate their new center’s performance to determine if he’ll be worth a longer-term deal.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Jackets with just $1.725 million in cap space with first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois to re-sign. However, Dubois’ coming off his entry-level contract and could get an affordable bridge contract. The Jackets could also place Brandon Dubinsky ($5.85 million) on long-term injury reserve as a chronic wrist ailment has likely ended his playing days, providing more cap space for DuBois’ next contract.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators placed center Kyle Turris on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. He had four years and $24 million remaining on his deal. The buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Predators’ salary cap through 2027-28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turris’ contract turned into a costly mistake for Predators GM David Poile. Desperate to free up cap space, he had little choice but to buy out that deal following unsuccessful attempts to trade the 31-year-old center.

THE SCORE: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed forward Chandler Stephenson to a four-year, $11 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephenson fit in well with the Golden Knights after he was acquired from the Washington Capitals last December. However, his new contract pushes Vegas’ cap payroll over the $81.5 million cap by $2.8 million. They are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, but that will complicate any plans to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. A cost-cutting trade or two will be necessary before the start of next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have decided to let winger Anthony Duclair become an unrestricted free agent after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. Duclair was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and wasn’t given a qualifying offer by yesterday’s 5 pm deadline. GM Pierre Dorion declined to go into details but said Duclair chose to represent himself in contract talks. He added the club offered the winger a substantial raise over his previous salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A puzzling development. Duclair made $1.65 million on a one-year deal last season. Dorion didn’t shut the door on the winger possibly returning to Ottawa. Maybe the Senators were concerned Duclair would get more via arbitration.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a four-year, $12 million contract. DeMelo was slated to become a UFA on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Jets. DeMelo joined the Jets before the February trade deadline and quickly adapted to his new team.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers’ long contract standoff with Jesse Puljujarvi is over, re-signing the 22-year-old winger to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.175 million. Puljujarvi spent all of last season playing in Finland hoping to force a trade by the Oilers.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers traded center Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings for the 60th pick in the 2020 NHL draft. Andersson was the seventh-overall pick in the 2017 draft but struggled to crack the Rangers lineup and spent the second half of last season playing in Sweden.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The stock of both young forwards really dropped over the past two years. There was even speculation at one point last season suggesting the two could be swapped for each other in a trade. Both players need a reset if they hope to salvage their NHL careers.

CBC: Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur has undergone a second surgery to address a recurrence of lung cancer just two months following quadruple bypass surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur for a speedy and complete recovery.

 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2020

Check out the latest Canadiens speculation plus updates on Braden Holtby, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Lias Anderson in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Andrew Berkshire was asked if the Montreal Canadiens should attempt to sign Dustin Byfuglien. The 35-year-old defenseman’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets was mutually terminated earlier this year.

Assuming Byfuglien is interested in continuing his NHL career, Berkshire doesn’t see a fit in Montreal. His age, injury history, and questions about his commitment to play are big warning flags.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens must bolster their blueline depth next season, but Byfuglien isn’t the answer here. We don’t know if he’s even interested in playing again. Assuming he is, those factors Berkshire raised will be significant issues.

HOLTBY TO THE FLAMES?

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (Photo via NHL Images).

Berkshire was also asked where he thinks Braden Holtby will end up after this season. The Washington Capitals goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Berkshire said he’d be shocked if Holtby wants more than a one-year deal or if a club is willing to give him one. He points to the 30-year-old netminder’s recent struggles and feels he needs to prove himself again as a starter.

He believes the best option for Holtby is joining a team that is somewhat established but lacking a top-end goalie and with a highly touted prospect who could claim the net by 2021-22. He suggested the Calgary Flames, as Holtby could provide support for David Rittich with the Flames having to rush promising Dustin Wolf. However, that might not be necessary if Cam Talbot wants to return on a short-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap constraints could prevent the Flames from signing Holtby. As per Cap Friendly, they have over $64.5 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. RFAs include Andrew Mangiapane, Mark Jankowski, and Oliver Kylington, while the UFAs include T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Erik Gustafsson, and Michael Stone.

UPDATE ON GOSTISBEHERE

PHILLY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Sam Carchidi was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers were looking for a trade partner for Shayne Gostisbehere. While the 26-year-old defenseman struggled this season, the Flyers aren’t looking to just give him away. If they do try to move Gostisbehere, Carchidi thinks the asking price could be a young forward with 20-goal potential or a second-round draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere has frequently surfaced in this season’s rumor mill. Following the trade deadline, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher denied Gostisbehere was on the trade block. Considering the growing depth on the Flyers’ blueline and their need for secondary scoring, Ghost Bear will probably remain the subject of trade speculation.

LATEST ON ANDERSSON

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Lias Andersson told Rangers president John Davidson he wants to remain a Ranger, but he declined an invitation to attend next month’s training camp leading to the 2020 Stanley Cup tournament. Brooks wonders if Andersson will ever don a Rangers jersey again.

Last December, Andersson returned home to Sweden and demanded a trade, prompting the Rangers to suspend him. Both sides agreed he would be allowed to play for his hometown club for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson has popped up from time to time in trade rumors, usually linking him to Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, who spent this season in Finland after requesting a trade. Most of the trade chatter suggests little or no interest in the once-promising young center.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we look at the latest Oilers speculation and some suggested backup goaltender options for the Ducks.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked if the Edmonton Oilers would be able to trade Kris Russell, and if Matt Benning would be retained and traded or let go.

Russell’s annual average value is $4 million through 2020-21. The 33-year-old defenseman is seeing third-pairing minutes on the Oilers’ blueline. Benning, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Spector feels general manager Ken Holland’s ability to move Russell will impinge on what he’ll offer Benning. He doesn’t see much sense in cutting Benning loose but expects he or Russell is likely to be moved to make way for a younger rearguard like Caleb Jones or Evan Bouchard.

Speculation persists linking Jesse Puljujarvi to the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

Asked if the Oilers could buy out Russell or winger James Neal, Spector doesn’t expect that to happen unless the NHL offers up compliance buyouts in the off-season.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Russell’s play and his cap hit will make him difficult enough to move. It gets tougher when his 10-team no-trade list climbs to 15 teams for 2020-21. They also can’t bury him in the minors because he has no-movement protection. Maybe they find a taker in the off-season, but I doubt it. I also agree with “Cousin Mark” about the buyout option.

Benning, meanwhile, could end up on the trade block if his contract talks become contentious. With Cap Friendly indicating the Oilers carry over $71 million invested in 16 players for next season, Holland can only offer Benning at best a modest raise over his current $1.9 million salary-cap hit.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports the New York Rangers would potentially part with a high draft pick to facilitate a swap of Lias Andersson to Edmonton for Jesse Puljujarvi. However, he’s been told the Rangers have more interest in Puljujarvi than the Oilers have in the slow-footed Andersson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Andersson-for-Puljujarvi rumor has floated around for a while, but I’m not convinced this is going to take place. Stranger things have happened but I don’t see the Rangers giving up a high draft pick to make this happen.

DUCKS BACKUP GOALIE OPTIONS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Eric Stephens recently examined several possible backup goalie options for the Anaheim Ducks if Ryan Miller isn’t re-signed or retires. Among them are Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Edmonton’s Mike Smith, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens does a good job breaking down the pros and cons of each netminder. Khudobin and Greiss could prove too expensive as both will be in demand. Smith and Anderson are coming to the end of their respective careers. Talbot could seek a starter’s job after regaining his form this season with the Flames.

The Ducks could be forced to consider more affordable short-term options to spell off John Gibson, but that might not be suitable to ease his heavy workload.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2020

Check out the latest on the Leafs and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE LEAFS PURSUE MURRAY OR HEISKANEN?

SPORTSNET: During a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked what a contract extension for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen might look like, and if the Leafs should attempt to acquire Matt Murray. He believes they could push Andersen’s extension to 2021 and dismissed the notion of acquiring Murray.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs dump Frederik Andersen in favor of Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray? (Photo via NHL Images)

Despite Murray’s two Stanley Cup rings, Fox is not convinced that the Pittsburgh Penguins netminder is better than Andersen, pointing out the latter has more wins over the past four seasons and a better career save percentage. Murray is also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forget about the comparisons of Andersen’s and Murray’s career stats, the Leafs can’t afford the latter even if they wanted to acquire him. As per Cap Friendly, they have almost $77 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, with $6.65 million going to Andersen and Jack Campbell. Unless they intend on trading Andersen (and I don’t believe they do), there’s no room to take on Murray. 

Fox was asked if the Leafs should trade Mitch Marner to the Dallas Stars for Miro Heiskanen. He doesn’t see the Stars parting with their 20-year-old stud defenseman. He also cites Stars beat reporter Sean Shapiro declaring Heiskanen untouchable but speculates they could be willing to part with blueliner John Klingberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, Marner for Klingberg, Leafs fans? Discuss! 

LATEST PULJUJARVI SPECULATION

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins cited a New York source claiming there was “renewed smoke” over the possibility of a trade that would see the Oilers ship winger Jesse Puljujarvi to the New York Rangers for center Lias Andersson. However, word out of New York is Oilers general manager Ken Holland would also demand a first-round pick from the Rangers, with the Oilers including another mid-level prospect in a two-for-two swap. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under that scenario, I envision it ending with Rangers GM Jeff Gorton rolling his eyes skyward, politely thanking Holland for his offer, and hanging up the phone. 

Jim Matheson doesn’t expect to see the Oilers trading Puljujarvi to the Florida Panthers for center Henrik Borgstrom. The Panthers currently value centers over wingers, especially after trading away Vincent Trocheck. The Panthers also don’t need Puljujarvi when they’ve got Owen Tippett and Grigori Denisenko in their pipeline. Speaking of Tippett, sources consider swapping him for Puljujarvi a non-starter.

Regarding a recent suggestion of the Oilers shopping Puljujarvi to the Ottawa Senators for their third first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Matheson said sources indicate the Senators are lukewarm on the Oilers winger because they’re deep in farm forwards ready to make the jump to the NHL. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson also indicates Holland won’t be talking to other GMs about Puljujarvi’s rights until hockey resumes. In other words, the aforementioned rumors are probably just media spitballing.