More details on what led the Senators to trade Alex DeBrincat, Zdeno Chara finds a new activity after hockey, the Lightning release Josh Archibald and sign Tyler Motte, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cites sources claiming Alex DeBrincat was unhappy with his role as the Senators’ second-line center behind captain Brady Tkachuk. “If that’s the case then DeBrincat really had to go,” wrote Garrioch, who noted that the 25-year-old winger sounded like he had one foot out the door during his exit interview with the media in mid-April.
Former Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).
The Senators traded DeBrincat to the Detroit Red Wings on July 9. He immediately signed a four-year contract with the Wings worth an average annual value of $7.85 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This comes on the heels of Senators center Tim Stutzle telling the “32 Thoughts” podcast that he wasn’t going to try to convince DeBrincat to stay. “If you don’t want to be there, then good luck on your way,” said Stutzle.
NEW YORK POST: Former NHL star Zdeno Chara has taken up marathon running in his retirement. A fitness fanatic, the 46-year-old future Hall-of-Famer said he never took a break from his training regimen since hanging up his skates.
Chara successfully ran the Boston Marathon in April. He’ll be running in the New York Marathon in November. He’s also indicated an interest in competing in triathlons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is what Chara does for enjoyment. He probably wrestles gators for relaxation.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning announced the termination of forward Josh Archibald’s contract and announced the signing of free-agent forward Tyler Motte to a one-year, $800K contract.
Earlier this summer, the 30-year-old Archibald signed a two-year deal with the Lightning worth $800K annually. Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said that the winger and his agent informed him that he was not planning on playing hockey for the time being and would not be attending training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No reason was given for Archibald’s decision. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the near future. He spent eight seasons in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers, collecting 83 points in 305 games played. He also won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2016-17.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Pittsburgh Penguins signed forward Colin White to a professional tryout offer.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan profiled the Cap Friendly website and the four people behind it. Jamie Davis, his brothers Ryan and Chris, and Dominik Zrim have been running the site since its start in 2016.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly quickly filled the void after the influential CapGeek.com shut down in 2015 as founder Matthew Wuest battled and eventually succumbed to cancer later that year. It’s become one of the most reliable and invaluable resource sites (along with PuckPedia) for tracking NHL salary cap and contract information.
What moves could the Leafs, Avalanche, Red Wings and Oilers make before the trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has made adding a defenseman his priority before the March 21 trade deadline. What type of blueliner and how much he’ll cost will depend upon the healthy of sidelined rearguard Jake Muzzin, whose $5.625 million cap hit is currently on long-term injury reserve. If Muzzin is out for the regular season with concussion symptoms, one imagines Dubas will seek a comparable left-shot defenseman.
TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski examined what Dubas could part with to bolster his roster before the trade deadline. The Leafs GM isn’t afraid to trade draft picks and he’s got his first-, second-and seventh-round picks in this year’s draft. He might be willing to part with his first-rounder for a defenseman like Dallas’ John Klingberg, Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun or Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas has shown a willingness in the recent past to swing big deals with seemingly limited cap room. I don’t dismiss the possibility of him pulling another rabbit out of his hat again.
I wouldn’t expect to see Klingberg, Chychrun or Lindholm joining the Leafs by deadline day. The Stars aren’t sellers as they’re battling for a Western Conference wild-card berth. The Coyotes’ asking price for Chychrun is likely too expensive for the Leafs while the Ducks are reportedly trying to re-sign Lindholm.
Some Leafs followers believe Dubas needs to improve his goaltending. That’s as maybe but the reality is there aren’t many quality goalies available that would be an improvement over the current tandem of Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek. Marc-Andre Fleury seems to be leaning toward finishing the season with the Chicago Blackhawks while there’s no indication the New York Islanders are shopping Semyon Varlamov. The rest of them are career backups or past-their-prime starters.
THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh and Scott Wheeler list prospect defenseman Justin Barron, the Avalanche’s 2023 first-round pick and prospect forward Oskar Olausson among the potential trade chips general manager Joe Sakic could dangle. Others include defenseman Sean Behrens and their 2023 second-rounder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Giroux is the main guy the Avs have been linked to in the rumor mill. Everything depends on whether he’ll waive his no-movement clause to go to Colorado. The Flyers will likely seek a first-rounder, a top prospect and a young player in return.
Hertl could also be an option though he and the Sharks are reportedly engaged in contract extension talks. The Stars are in the thick of the Western wild-card chase so they’re not shopping Pavelski, who’d like to stay in Dallas after this season.
The Canucks aren’t parting with Miller unless someone makes a substantial offer that involves young NHL players. Colin Miller, on the other hand, would be an affordable pickup for the Avs once he returns from his undisclosed injury.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina to his list of trade targets at No. 12. He said Wings GM Steve Yzerman hasn’t tipped his hand but there’s a sense around the league that the 22-year-old winger could benefit from a change of scenery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sixth-overall pick in 2018, Zadina hasn’t blossomed into the scorer he was projected to become. He’s still young enough to get his career back on track and reach his full potential, which could prove enticing to clubs looking for promising scorers.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers are seeking a dollar-in, dollar-out trade and seek a veteran, big right-shot rental defenseman. He pointed out Oilers winger Josh Archibald is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, suggesting shopping him and his $1.5 million cap hit to an American team.
Archibald has resumed skating with the Oilers after his COVID-related heart-muscle condition cleared up. He also remains unvaccinated, making it difficult for the Oilers to keep him due to Canada-US border restrictions. Matheson acknowledged that could also make American clubs leery of acquiring Archibald.
Friedman on TJMS says if there’s a chance some of Vegas’ injured players won’t be back before the end of the regular season he wonders if they’ll add, missing the playoffs is not an option there.
One recurring theme from talking to a dozen or so NHL front-offices sources over last few days, the buyers keep telling the sellers they need more time (for cap reasons mostly, 16 teams in LTIR). Sellers are getting a bit antsy, they want to get it going… — Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 4, 2022
Canada’s 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team names its first three players, the league reaches out to Robin Lehner over his social media accusations, Jake Guentzel tests positive for COVID-19, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong has notified Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo they will be part of the 2022 Olympic team. The move was made at the request of the International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL, and the NHL Players Association.
This will be Crosby’s third Olympics, the second for Pietrangelo and the first for McDavid.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s no surprise seeing Crosby, McDavid and Pietrangelo being named to Canada’s squad. I daresay Crosby will be named team captain as he was in 2014. It remains to be seen when the rest of the roster will be named.
No word on which three players will be named to the other men’s Olympic ice hockey clubs. Perhaps those will be revealed in the coming days.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The NHL has reached out to Robin Lehner to set up an interview after the Vegas Golden Knights goaltender took to social media accusing several teams of giving players drugs without a doctor’s prescription.
Lehner claimed he knew several teams that gave players sedatives and anxiety pills with a doctor’s consent, singling out the Philadelphia Flyers and head coach Alain Vigneault. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher issued a statement yesterday denying the allegation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner claimed he had proof to back up his allegation against the Flyers though he never played for the club or Vigneault. As I said yesterday, he could end up in hot water if he cannot substantiate his claims. If he can, however, it could force the league to launch an investigation.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed in the NHL’s protocol for the coronavirus. He’s the second Penguin to test positive, joining forward Zach Aston-Reese.
Guentzel must remain in isolation for 10 days following his positive test. If he’s asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, he can be released from isolation if he receives two negative tests during that period.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forward Josh Archibald has been diagnosed with COVID-related myocarditis. It’s the same heart ailment that sidelined Oilers goalie Alex Stalock.
Archibald had contracted COVID during the summer. The unvaccinated forward was in the midst of his 14-day quarantine after traveling to Edmonton from the United States for training camp when he began to not feel well.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Stalock, Archibald’s career is now in jeopardy. Myocarditis causes inflammation of the heart muscle which can prove fatal under physical exertion. Stalock is out for the upcoming season and Archibald could suffer the same fate.
TSN: The Vancouver Canucks officially signed Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to their new contracts yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly has the full details. It’s going to be expensive for the Canucks to re-sign Pettersson at the end of his three-year contract. He’ll earn $10.25 million in actual salary in the final season (2023-24) of that deal, meaning it’ll cost them that much to qualify his rights. Hughes, on the other hand, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of his new six-year contract.
**UPDATE**: I’ve been reminded that rule for contracts signed after July 10, 2020, is now 120 percent of the contract’s annual average value. That means it’ll cost the Canucks $8.82 million to qualify Pettersson’s rights. Still expensive but not as much as $10.25 million.
THE SCORE: The Tampa Bay Lightning have reportedly opened contract extension talks with head coach Jon Cooper. The club recently re-signed general manager Julien BriseBois.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper could become the NHL’s highest-paid coach after guiding the Lightning to consecutive Stanley Cup titles.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov missed yesterday’s practice with a lower-body injury. He’ll be re-evaluated today.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed checking-line forward Jake Evans to a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.7 million.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks goalie Adin Hill left practice yesterday favoring his left wrist. His participation in today’s preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks is in doubt.
The NHL finds no evidence Evander Kane bet on games, several players remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated as training camps open plus the latest contract signings, injury updates & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NO EVIDENCE KANE BET ON GAMES, SAYS NHL
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL announced Wednesday it found no evidence San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on league games. The accusation was leveled by Kane’s estranged wife Anna several weeks ago, prompting the league’s investigation.
San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).
However, the NHL is now investigating “additional unrelated allegations involving potential wrongdoing by Mr. Kane” linked to a domestic violence restraining order filed by Anna on Tuesday. The Sharks released a statement yesterday indicating the 30-year-old winger has agreed not to participate in training camp until further notice.
LATEST NHL COVID-19 NEWS
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith will miss the opening week of training camp. He’ll be in quarantine until Oct. 1 after traveling to the United States to get a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination.
Meanwhile, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said winger Josh Archibald is the only unvaccinated player in training camp. If he remains that way for the coming season, he’ll need a 14-day quarantine to participate in road games in the United States. He will be suspended without pay during that period which won’t count against the club’s salary cap. Archibald could miss 30-plus games and forfeit $600k in wages.
Oilers goaltender Alex Stalock is expected to be sidelined for the entire season due to a heart condition (myocarditis) related to his bout with COVID-19 last November. Holland said there are no plans at this time to seek another veteran goalie.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said winger Tyler Bertuzzi is the only player on his team to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. He’ll be unable to travel to Canada under current border restrictions which require a 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated players traveling into the country. He could forfeit $400K of his salary based on those Canadian road games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland and Yzerman indicated they aren’t going to force anyone to get vaccinated. The league’s COVID restrictions and the prospect of lost wages, however, could eventually convince Archibald and Bertuzzi to change their minds. Their stance has the potential to create a rift among teammates who could consider them a risk to their health and safety.
Most NHL players are well-conditioned athletes with good odds of avoiding the worst serious symptoms of COVID-19. Stalock’s situation, however, should serve as a warning that they’re not totally immune.
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is not yet fully vaccinated but will be when the season opens next month. “I had a couple of medical things that I had to take care of but I’ll be vaccinated by the beginning of the season.”
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic was reportedly not in training camp and his absence isn’t injury-related. That led to speculation his absence was related to the league’s COVID protocols but GM Jim Benning said he’ll be in camp.
Benning also acknowledged winger Justin Bailey has tested positive for COVID-19 before crossing the Canada – US border. He’ll have to wait another 10 days before he can join his teammates in Vancouver.
Speaking of the Canucks, they signed winger Alex Chiasson to a professional tryout offer.
TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Jesse Ylonen has changed his mind and agreed to be vaccinated.
TSN: More than a dozen infectious disease and critical care doctors are calling on the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to drop plans to stage games in full-capacity arenas this season. The province of Alberta is reeling through an unprecedented medical crisis amid the fourth wave of COVID-19.
The Oilers issued a statement indicating fans will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to Rogers Place. They will also insist fans wear masks when not eating or drinking.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to a three-year, $18 million contract. The annual average value is $6 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair signing for both sides. Dahlin gets a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract while the Sabres commit to a short-term bridge deal. His signing leaves Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk as the only remaining notable restricted free agents.
THE SCORE: The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petersen is the heir apparent to long-time Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick. He took over the starter’s role last season, appearing in 35 games to Quick’s 22. The latter is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.8 million.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed right wing Logan O’Connor to a three-year, $3.15 million contract extension.
GOPHNX.com’s Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is sidelined two-three weeks with a foot injury suffered during offseason training.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews will miss the first part of the upcoming season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Cal Foote will be sidelined by a hand injury for the entire training camp and preseason as well as the first two-to-four weeks of the regular season.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TSN: The St. Louis Blues announced they’ve named Peter Chiarelli as their vice-president of hockey operations while Ken Hitchcock rejoins the club as a coaching consultant.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers confirmed their arena will be called the FLA Live Arena for this season. The club is looking for a new naming rights partner for 2022.
The Bruins eliminated the Capitals, the Avalanche sweep the Blues, the Jets rally to put Oilers on the brink, and the Predators tie their series with the Hurricanes. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Tuukka Rask made 40 saves as the Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 to win their opening-round series 4 games to 1. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist for the Bruins
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were strong on the power play and penalty kill in this series. Core veterans like Bergeron, Rask, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak led the way while Charlie McAvoy continues to grow as an elite defenseman.
The first three games of this series were very close and could’ve gone either way, but Washington failed to recover from their double-overtime loss in Game 3. Changes could be in store for the Capitals following three straight first-round playoff exits.
The Colorado Avalanche swept the St. Louis Blues in four games with a 5-2 victory. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist. Vladimir Tarasenko scored both goals for the Blues, who played without sidelined forward David Perron and defensemen Justin Faulk, Robert Bortuzzo and Vince Dunn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The absence of those key players contributed to the Blues’ demise. Even if they had been in the lineup, however, they might’ve only delayed their club’s elimination by a game or two. Led by MacKinnon, Landeskog, and Rantanen, a deep blueline corps featuring Cale Makar and goaltender Philipp Grubauer, the Avalanche were just too powerful for St. Louis.
An overtime goal by Nikolaj Ehlers capped a four-goal rally as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round series. Ehlers scored twice while Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 44 saves. Leon Draisaitl scored two goals and Connor McDavid collected three assists. The Jets can close out the series in Game 4 tonight. Oilers forward Josh Archibald faces a hearing with the NHL department of player safety for clipping Jets defenseman Logan Stanley.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a stunning collapse by Edmonton. They had a 4-1 lead early in the third period and seemed to have this game under wraps.
The turning point was the Archibald penalty. The Jets tallied three goals in just over a three-minute span, including two goals 16 seconds apart by Blake Wheeler and Josh Morrissey to force the extra frame. The Oilers now face the daunting challenge of trying to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.
Nashville Predators winger Luke Kunin’s double-overtime goal gave his club a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes to even their series at two games apiece. Kunin also scored the game-opening goal while teammate Juuse Saros made 58 saves for the win. Brock McGinn scored twice for the Hurricanes. The series shifts back to Carolina for Game 5 on Tuesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of the day for me. It was a see-saw contest as both clubs pushed hard for the win. With back-to-back double-overtime victories, the Predators overcame a 2-0 series deficit.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri will appeal his eight-game suspension for his hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber was fined $5,000.00 by the league for crosschecking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds in Game 2 on Saturday.
Remembering Henri Richard, the Jets move into a wild-card berth and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Henri Richard, who won a record-setting 11 Stanley Cups as a player during his 20-year career with the Montreal Canadiens, died yesterday at age 84 of Alzheimer’s disease. The younger brother of Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Henri carved out his Hall-of-Fame career as a skilled two-way center. A 10-time All-Star, Richard captained the Canadiens from 1971-72 to 1974-75, won the Masterton Trophy in 1974, and was voted one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players in 2017. He also played a franchise-record 1,258 games with the Canadiens and finished third all-time among Habs scorers with 1,046 points.
Henri Richard was one of the Montreal Canadiens’ greatest players (Photo via NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m old enough to recall seeing Richard play with the Canadiens whenever they appeared on Hockey Night in Canada in the early-70s. With his grey hair, the Pocket Rocket looked so old to my very young eyes back then, but he impressed me with his skating and puck-moving skills. Richard was the quintessential two-way center and one of the Canadiens’ all-time greats. Had the Selke Trophy existed during his playing career, he would’ve won it multiple times. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, and former teammates.
Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 29-save shutout as the Winnipeg Jets (76 points) blanked the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0 to move into the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist. The Golden Knights (82 points) remain two ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.
Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists in the Calgary Flames 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. With the win, the Flames (79 points) to within one point of the second-place Oilers in the Pacific. Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who slip two points behind the Jets.
Zack McEwen tallied twice while J.T. Miller and Antoine Roussel each had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks trounced the Colorado Avalanche 6-3, snapping a four-game losing skid. With 76 points, the Canucks hold the first wild-card berth with two games in hand over the Jets.
Make it three straight losses for the Toronto Maple Leafs in California as they fell 2-1 to the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson made 26 saves for the Ducks before leaving midway through the third with an undisclosed injury. Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci returned to the lineup after being sidelined for a month. With 79 points, the Leafs still hold a playoff spot, sitting third in the Atlantic Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If it wasn’t for the inept Florida Panthers, the Leafs would be in real danger of falling out of a playoff spot. Maybe the knowledge that the stumbling Panthers probably can’t catch them explains the Leafs’ lifeless effort in California.
The New Jersey Devils upset the St. Louis Blues 4-2, snapping the latter’s eight-game winning streak. Devils goaltender Cory Schneider kicked out 31 shots. The Blues (90 points) hold a two-point lead over the Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference standings.
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier turned aside 32 shots in a 2-1 upset of the Chicago Blackhawks. Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri scored for the Wings, while Patrick Kane replied for the Blackhawks (70 points), who failed to gain ground in the playoff race, sitting six points out of a wild-card spot in the West.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS: Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov won’t face supplemental discipline for elbowing Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo on Thursday night.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers re-signed forward Josh Archibald to a two-year extension worth $1.5 million annually.
THE SCORE: The NHL is urging its players to limit contact with fans due to the coronavirus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good idea. Too bad the league doesn’t make a similar plea every year during flu season.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed a five-year affiliating agreement that starts next season with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds.