NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, the latest on Patrik Laine, injury updates, waiver news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs got third-period goals by Justin Holl and Ilya Mikheyev to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Leafs center Auston Matthews’ goal streak ended at eight games but he collected an assist to extend his points streak to 11. Teammate Jake Muzzin collected three assists.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Brad Marchand’s overtime goal lifted the Boston Bruins the New York Rangers 3-2. Marchand extended his points streak to nine. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and spent most of the third period on the bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs sit atop the overall standings with 23 points while the Bruins vaulted past the Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning into second place with 20 points.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine said he and the coaching staff have moved on after he was benched during their previous game for disrespecting a member of the staff. He and assistant coach Brad Larsen spoke amicably during practice yesterday. While it’s not confirmed Larsen was the coach in question, Portzline feels their discussion spoke volumes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Laine benching, Mikko Koivu’s retirement and Pierre-Luc Dubois’ recent departure have critics of head coach John Tortorella wondering if he’s on thin ice with the Jackets. I don’t believe that’s the case.

Laine admitted he deserved his benching. The now-retired Koivu was an aging center whose limited effectiveness led to his reduced playing time. Dubois requested a trade for reasons not directly tied to Tortorella. I think management and the players still believe in their coach.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson and Ottawa Senators center Artem Anisimov was placed on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt either guy gets claimed. Their play has declined and they’re carrying expensive salary-cap hits. Eriksson is signed through 2021-22 at $6 million annually while Anisimov’s is carrying $4.55 million for this season.

NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks-Vegas Golden Knight game for Thursday will proceed as scheduled after Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek was pulled from Tuesday’s contest due to a positive COVID-19 test. Nosek was immediately isolated from his teammates and close contact tracing initiated. The Golden Knights didn’t practice yesterday.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers games on Sunday against the New York Rangers has been postponed. The Flyers will be out of commission until Monday when they will resume practicing. Three players – Claude Giroux, Justin Braun and Travis Sanheim – were added to the NHL protocol list earlier this week.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann is sidelined on a week-to-week basis with an undisclosed injury.

TSN: The Washington Capitals hired Michael Peca as a player development coach.

NEWSDAY: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced arenas and stadiums in the state can admit up to 10 percent capacity provided they follow appropriate social distancing and masking protocols.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2021

The Blue Jackets signed Pierre-Luc Dubois but trade rumors persist, plus the latest on the Senators in the first NHL rumor mill of 2021.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline cites colleague Pierre LeBrun yesterday reporting a few NHL clubs were made aware that Pierre-Luc Dubois is looking at a change of scenery after just three seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dubois and the Jackets yesterday reached an agreement on a two-year, $10 million contract.

Despite re-signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, there’s speculation Pierre-Luc Dubois wants to be traded (NHL Images).

Neither general manager Jarmo Kekalainen or Dubois’ agent would comment on the young center’s rumored request for a trade. Portzline cites a source claiming the relationship between Dubois and the organization changed during contract negotiations in the fall.

The Jackets apparently wanted a long-term contract but Dubois sought a short-term deal that would allow management sufficient time to trade him for a return commensurate with his value. It also keeps Dubois from being locked-in long term with the Jackets.

Dubois didn’t sign an offer sheet but Portzline indicates he did speak with other clubs. It was in those discussions that his desire to leave Columbus became clear.

Portzline suggests Kekalainen’s tendency to take a hard line in contract talks with young players has the consequence of damaging the relationship between the two sides. He cites former Jackets Ryan Johansen and Josh Anderson as notable examples.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll probably learn more in the coming days from various league insiders over Dubois’ situation, especially regarding the teams he spoke with during his contract negotiations. It’s also been suggested Dubois might not have the best relationship with head coach John Tortorella, who has a reputation as a tough-minded bench boss.

Whatever the reason, Dubois could become a subject of interest in the rumor mill over the course of this season. If there is friction between the center and Kekalainen and/or Tortorella, it could result in his departure via trade this year or next for a player of equal or potentially better value.

Kekalainen could make a one-for-one deal involving Dubois. He shipped Johansen to Nashville for defenseman Seth Jones in a move that proved to be a winner for the Jackets. Anderson was dealt in October to Montreal for Max Domi. Time will tell which club got the better of that move.

OTTAWA SUN: Earlier this week, Ken Warren examined how the recent moves by the Senators have created a logjam at center and on defense. The additions of Derek Stepan and Cedric Paquette gives them five centers. Because there’s limited room to move a center to the wing, Warren suggested moving on from Artem Anisimov. He also believes they’ll have to make a decision on Logan Brown, who’s heading into his third pro season trying to win a permanent spot on the roster.

Warren also pointed out it’s a packed house on the blueline, “with Thomas Chabot, Nikita Zaitsev, Erik Gudbranson, Braydon Coburn, Mike Reilly, Josh Brown, Christian Wolanin, Erik Brannstrom, Artem Zub, Lassi Thomson and Christian Jaros all searching for playing time.” He speculates some of the veterans could be moved by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Warren believes it could be difficult moving Anisimov because he’s slowed and there might not be many takers for the $1.5 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. Perhaps not now, but he could draw some interest from a playoff contender leading up to the Apr. 12 trade deadline. I expect pending UFA blueliners like Gudbranson, Coburn or Reilly could also hit the trade block later in the season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 20, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 20, 2020

Some recent Bruins and Senators speculation in today’s NHL rumor roundup.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked if there’s any truth to recent rumors linking the Bruins to Mike Hoffman. While Haggerty believes the Bruins could be interested in the free-agent winger he doesn’t believe they’re close to signing him unless he’s willing to accept a one-year, $3.5 million contract. They only have $3.6 million in cap space.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year deal starting at $5.5 million. Haggerty feels he could get something in the $5 million range from somebody. He acknowledged the Bruins could put sidelined winger David Pastrnak on long-term injury reserve to start the season to free up sufficient wiggle room to sign Hoffman. However, he doesn’t see them going that route with Pastrnak due to return in February.

No truth to a rumor linking Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin to the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Hoffman agrees to a more affordable salary or the Bruins make a cost-cutting deal, I don’t see him suiting up for Boston this season. I still think their priority is addressing the left side of their blueline.

Haggerty cites colleague Jimmy Murphy shooting down a rumor suggesting the Bruins ship winger Ondrej Kase to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Noah Hanifin. Murphy indicates that rumor was an idea proposed by a reporter and not actually discussed by the Bruins and Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That proposal would certainly help the Bruins shore up the depth on the left side of their blueline. However, it makes no sense for the Flames.

Kase has one 20-goal season during his short, injury-ravaged NHL career. He really struggled to adjust with the Bruins after they acquired him from the Anaheim Ducks last season, with one assist in six regular-season games and four assists in 11 playoff contests.

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian was recently asked in a mailbag segment who she thought would become the first Ottawa Senators player to be traded this season. She observed they have five potential unrestricted free agents, which are the type of players typically moved before the trade deadline.

She points out goaltender Anders Nilsson is battling concussion issues, defenseman Erik Gudbranson carries a big cap hit ($4 million) for what he brings to the ice, while forward Artem Anisimov also has a significant cap hit ($4.45 million) and struggled with injuries last season.

That leaves Alex Galchenyuk and Mike Reilly. The latter could be the most likely trade candidate as he’s shown he can be a capable puck-moving defenseman with the Senators. Galcheyuk could also attract some interest if he had a good offensive season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We shouldn’t rule out Gudbranson or Anisimov also becoming trade candidates near the deadline. Much will depend upon their performances this season but they could be enticing to a playoff contender.

Everyone writes off Gudbranson’s value but teams still keep trading for him. I can see him landing with a playoff contender if the Sens agree to pick up part of his cap hit. A healthy season could make Anisimov worthwhile as an experienced depth forward.

The Senators won’t get much for any of those UFAs. Nevertheless, they will get some draft picks they can stockpile for off-season deals with cap-strapped clubs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 9, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 9, 2019

The Lightning edged the Sabres in the first game of the 2019 Global Series, 2020 Global Series sites and teams revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in the first of their two-game NHL Global Series in Stockholm, Sweden. Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, and Yanni Gourde scored for the Bolts while Sam Reinhart tallied both Sabres’ goals. Sabres forward Vladimir Sobotka left the game following a low-bridge hit by Kucherov, who could face supplemental discipline.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov was among the scorers in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the 2020 NHL Global Series in Stockholm (Photo via NHL Images).

Robby Fabbri scored twice as the Detroit Red Wings upset the Boston Bruins 4-2. It was Fabbri’s first game with the Wings since they acquired him in a trade with the St. Louis Blues earlier in the week. Anthony Mantha also tallied a goal and an assist for the Wings. Bruins winger David Pastrnak picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 14 games.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen turned in a 29-save shutout performance in a 4-0 blanking of the New Jersey Devils. Leon Draisaitl scored to extend his points streak to eight games while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson had two points each. Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen left the game in the first period after being elbowed in the head by Chiasson.

The Winnipeg Jets extended their points streak to four games with a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves while Kyle Connor scored and collected an assist. Earlier in the day, the Jets reassigned defenceman Ville Heinola from the Manitoba Moose to Lukko Rauma in the Finnish Liiga.

HEADLINES

The NHL announced it will stage regular-season games next season in the Czech Republic and Finland in the 2020 NHL Global Series and preseason contests in Germany and Switzerland as part of the 2020 Global Series challenge. The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators will take part in the Global Series Challenge while the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets will face off in the Global Series.

THE SCORE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman remains resistant to his league’s participation in the Winter Olympics. “I don’t want to sound like a broken record on the subject, but I think going to the Olympics is a challenge for us,” Bettman said during a press conference Friday at the Global Games in Sweden. He feels the Olympic break is very disruptive to the NHL season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Artem Anisimov was placed on injured reserve with a nagging groin injury. There’s no timetable for his return.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov is sidelined indefinitely after taking a puck to the face during Thursday’s win over the Nashville Predators. He joins sidelined Avs Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Colin Wilson, and Philipp Grubauer.

CBS SPORTS: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno (lower body) is questionable for tonight’s contest against the Arizona Coyotes.

NJ.COM: A New Jersey Devils spectator struck by a puck during a 2017 game filed a lawsuit against the club.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2019

The Oilers set a season-opening record, the Hurricanes winning streak ends, the Wild keep struggling, the Senators upset the Lightning, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers set an NHL record with their fifth straight come-from-behind season-opening victory by beating the New York Rangers 4-1. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another while Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist. Rangers rookie Kaapo Kakko tallied his first NHL goal. The Oilers sit atop the league’s overall standings. Earlier in the day, the Oilers placed center Colby Cave on waivers.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored twice in a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A surprising strong start by the Oilers. I’m interested to see how they do against tougher opposition.

Vladislav Namestnikov tallied twice and added an assist as the Ottawa Senators doubled up the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Senators center Artem Anisimov left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts are blowing hot and cold. They crushed the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 the game before, split a season-opening home-and-home against the Florida Panthers, and dropped an overtime decision to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Los Angeles Kings recovered from blowing a 4-1 lead to down the Nashville Predators 7-4. Alex Iafallo scored the winner with 59 seconds remaining in the game while empty-netters by Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty sealed the deal. In other news, the Kings intend to cover up singer Taylor Swift’s “most soldout performances” banner at the Staples Center during their home games. The banner has been an eyesore for Kings fans, as their club hasn’t won playoff series since it was raised in 2015.

Mark Scheifele’s overtime goal completed a three-goal rally for the Winnipeg Jets as they edged the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets depleted defense remains a cause for concern but their offensive punch has powered them to four wins in their first six games.

Tuukka Rask’s 31-save shutout backstopped the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils, handing the latter their fifth-straight loss. Brad Marchand had the game-winner and set up another.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are struggling despite the presence of a healthy Taylor Hall and the offseason additions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and Jack Hughes. Their lousy special teams haven’t helped. They’ve yet to tally a power-play goal while their penalty-killing percentage (50.0) is the league’s worst.

The Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-2 deficit to upset the St. Louis Blues 6-3. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and two assists while Jonathan Drouin collected two points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin is silencing his critics with his early-season play. He’s tied with Gallagher (six points) for the Habs scoring lead with a five-game points streak.

Ilya Mikheyev had a goal and an assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a three-game losing skid by beating the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Frederik Andersen kicked out 25 shots for the victory. In other Red Wings news, senior vice-president and alternate governor Jimmy Devellano will undergo surgery on Monday to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Devellano on a speedy recovery. As for the Leafs, they can thank their secondary scoring for this victory. John Tavares collected an assist while Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander were held scoreless.

New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov turned aside 35 shots and Brock Nelson tallied the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, handing the latter their third straight loss. Panthers forward Evgenii Dadonov had a goal and an assist. Islanders winger Jordan Eberle left the game with a leg injury.

The Carolina Hurricane’ five-game win streak came to end as they fell 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pierre-Luc Dubois netted the game-winner in the third period. Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes activated defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk from injured reserve.

Tom Wilson and John Carlson each had a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1. The Capitals successfully killed off six penalties to end a three-game losing streak. The Stars have dropped five of their last six games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How long before Stars president Jim Lites publicly dumps on Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin again? Asking for a friend.

The Minnesota Wild are off to their worst start in franchise history, suffering their fourth straight loss in a 7-4 drubbing by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rookie Sam Lafferty had a goal and two assists for the Penguins while Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, and Adam Johnson each had a goal and an assist.

Andre Burakovsky scored in overtime as the Colorado Avalanche nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Michael Grabner and Nick Schmaltz scored for the Coyotes as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame. Coyotes winger Phil Kessel played his 1,000th NHL game.

Shootout goals by Elias Pettersson and Tanner Pearson carried the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves for the win.

Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and William Carrier each had a goal and an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Calgary Flames 6-2. Golden Knights center Cody Eakin made his season debut after suffering a lower-body injury in preseason play. They also called up Oscar Dansk to replace sidelined backup Malcolm Subban.

TSN: Former NHL defenseman and coach Ted Green died on Tuesday at age 79. He spent nearly 11 seasons with the Boston Bruins from 1960-61 to 1971-72, winning the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. He also overcame a gruesome head injury after becoming involved in a stick-swinging incident with Wayne Maki in 1969.

Green finished his playing career with seven seasons in the World Hockey Association. He went on to win five Stanley Cups as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Green’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2019

The Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to the Senators for Zack Smith, plus the latest free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/OTTAWA SUN: The Chicago Blackhawks yesterday traded center Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators for forward Zack Smith. 

The Chicago Blackhawks traded Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators for Zack Smith (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move addresses needs for both clubs. The Senators get some offensive skill in Anisimov while Smith brings more defensive skill and toughness up front for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks also free up an additional $1.3 million in cap space by swapping Anisimov’s $4.55-million annual average value (through 2020-21) for Smith’s $3.25 million. The Senators, meanwhile, will only pay $2 million of Anisimov’s actual salary for this season and $1.5 million in 2020-21. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals re-signed forward Jakub Vrana to a two-year, $6.7-million contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana, 23, completed his entry-level contract and lacked arbitration rights this summer. With the Capitals squeezed for cap space, he’s doing them a favor by accepting this bridge deal. Vrana’s coming off a career-best 24-goal, 47-point performance. If he continues to improve he’ll be in line for a significant raise on his next contract. 

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Connor Carrick to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.5 million. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Ryan Donato to a two-year, $3.8-million contract. He netted 16 points in 22 games after being acquired from the Boston Bruins in a late-season trade. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Teddy Blueger to a two-year, one-way contract worth $750K per season. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks confirmed their signing of defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $750K contract. Blueliner Chris Wideman was inked to a one-year, two-way contract. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed defenseman Haydn Fleury to a one-year, $850K contract and defenseman Gustav Forsling to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay $874,125 at the NHL level.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed UFA forward Josh Archibald to a one-year, $1-million contract. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract worth over $858K per season. It’s a two-way deal for 2019-20 and one-way for the next two seasons. 

SEATTLE TIMES: Hall-of-Famer Ron Francis is set to become the general manager of the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise. Francis is also the former general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The budget-conscious Hurricanes failed to reach the playoffs during Francis’ tenure. However, he brought in young players like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Warren Foegele to Carolina and developed young talent like Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. All played key roles in the Hurricanes’ march to the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.

THE SCORE: U.S. Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are pushing their colleagues to honor Willie O’Ree with the Congressional Gold Medal. O’Ree was the first black player in the NHL and was inducted last year into the Hockey Hall of Fame.