NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 30, 2020

Jonathan Toews sidelined by a mysterious illness, P.K. Subban and Lindsey Vonn end their relationship, Nico Hischier sidelined, Jack Roslovic asks for a trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jonathan Toews has been sidelined by a mysterious illness that’s left him “drained and lethargic,” according to a statement released yesterday by the Blackhawks captain. There’s no timetable for his return.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews sidelined indefinitely (NHL Images).

Toews indicated he’ll be working with doctors to better understand his condition. He said he won’t join his teammates until his health and fitness levels return to where he feels he can play at an elite level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Toews can make a complete recovery and return to action soon.

This is terrible news for a Blackhawks club already reeling from the recent loss of promising center Kirby Dach (fractured wrist) and Alex Nylander (knee surgery) for the next four-to-six months.

Toews’ absence is a major setback for the Blackhawks entering this season. Instead of challenging for a playoff berth, they could become a lottery team in the 2021 draft. I’ll have more about the Blackhawks in the rumors section.

ESPN.COM: One of pro sports’ notable power couples is no more. New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and former Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn ended their relationship after three years together.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban won’t be looking back on 2020 with any fondness. In addition to splitting up with Vonn, his declining performance dropped him out of the ranks of the NHL’s all-star players.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Devils, center Nico Hischier will miss the upcoming start of training camp with an injured leg. Fortunately, the issue isn’t expected to be long term.

TSN: Jack Roslovic has asked the Winnipeg Jets for a trade. The restricted free agent forward is reportedly home in Columbus and won’t be joining his teammates in training camp when it opens on Sunday. If he returns to the Jets, he’ll have to undergo a seven-day quarantine and have four negative COVID-19 tests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic frequently surfaced in trade speculation during this offseason. I’ll have more about his status in the Rumors sections.

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Kings officially announced they’ve signed forward Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

The Buffalo Sabres are bringing veteran center Riley Sheahan to training camp on a PTO.

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Devin Shore and defenseman Ryan Stanton to professional tryout offers.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed goaltender Scott Darling to a professional tryout offer (PTO).

TSN: Speaking of the Panthers, they’ve informed their season-ticket holders that they are allowing 25 percent capacity at the BB&T Center when the season begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Insert tired joke about the Panthers’ usually woeful attendance here.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators are working on a plan to allow a limited number of fans at Bridgestone Arena after receiving approval from Nashville’s Board of Health.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2020

Henrik Lundqvist to undergo open-heart surgery, Kirby Dach sidelined by wrist surgery and a roundup of Monday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist announced yesterday he’ll be undergoing open-heart surgery to address the condition that has sidelined him for this season. The 38-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals after being bought out by the New York Rangers in September.

Henrik Lundqvist will undergo open-heart surgery (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik for a swift and complete recovery.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Kirby Dach could miss the entire upcoming season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. The timeline for his recovery is four-to-five months. The 19-year-old center suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada during an exhibition game against Russia during the World Junior Championships in Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Blackhawks heading into this season. Dach was expected to play a bigger role with the club following a solid debut in 2019-20. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup by the time the playoffs begin in May, provided the Blackhawks qualify for the postseason.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed free-agent winger Corey Perry to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the high-scoring right winger he was during his playing prime with the Anaheim Ducks. Nevertheless, he played a key role in the Dallas Stars’ march to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The 35-year-old Perry should provide the Habs with experienced depth and leadership on their checking lines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Former New York Islanders forward Derick Brassard is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Coyotes. Meanwhile, SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports they also signed Jordan Schmaltz to a professional tryout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes freed up cap space over the weekend by shipping Derek Stepan ($6.5 million annual average value) to the Ottawa Senators. That’s given them just over $3 million in cap space, with a portion going to replace Stepan with the more affordable Brassard.

SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a good opportunity for Athanasiou to get his career back on track following last season’s disappointing performance with the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers. A former 30-goal scorer, the 26-year-old should get plenty of playing time with the rebuilding Kings.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Ethan Bear to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $2 million. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inking the promising Bear to a short-term deal was a good cost-effective move by the Oilers. If his development continues as hoped he’ll be in line for a big raise in two years’ time. Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sitting over $2.19 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, they’ll be cap compliant once they place sidelined Oscar Klefbom ($4.16 million AAV) on long-term injury reserve.

The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a professional tryout offer.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports goaltender Garret Sparks is heading to the Calgary Flames on a PTO.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were the only club among 123 teams of North America’s “Big Four” professional men’s sports leagues to receive a loan through a COVID relief program. The Penguins received a $4.82 million loan through the CARES Act.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2020

Check out the latest on the Jets, Canadiens, Red Wings and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre reports the status of Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic are among the pressing matters facing the Winnipeg Jets as they prepare for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

What will the Winnipeg Jets do with winger Patrik Laine?(NHL Images)

Earlier this fall, Laine’s agent suggested a trade might be “mutually beneficial” for his client and the Jets. However, the winger remains with the Jets. He has a year remaining on his contract. McIntyre wonders if this will become a season-long distraction or if it’ll blow over quickly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether Laine can rediscover the chemistry he had with center Paul Stastny, who was reacquired by the Jets following a two-year stint with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn’t have to rush into trading Laine, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. He can afford to wait for the right offer if he decides to shop the talented winger.

Roslovic is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. His agent told McIntyre there’s been no progress in contract talks with the Jets. The 23-year-old forward has been the subject of trade speculation. Cheveldayoff has explored Roslovic’s trade value but hasn’t found a deal to his liking.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic seems more likely to be traded than Laine right now. Cheveldayoff could have better luck finding a suitable trade partner now that the start of the season has finally been announced. The Jets could use more depth on the blue line so I wouldn’t be surprised if Cheveldayoff seeks a defenseman in return.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Montreal Canadiens might not be done dealing following a busy offseason of player movement. He cites a source claiming Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is still looking to improve his roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canadiens with over $383K in cap space. If Bergevin is looking at improving his roster it could be a dollar-for-dollar swap or a deal in which he ships out a player for one with a more affordable cap hit.

Tomas Tatar ($4.8 million), Paul Byron ($3.4 million AAV through 2022-23) and Philip Danault ($3.083 million) have come up as potential trade candidates. Bergevin could be loath to move any of them but he does have a history of making bold moves.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said he might make another move before the season begins. The Wings have over $9 million in salary-cap space for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation linked the Wings with Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV) or Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV) as the Bolts look to shed salary. A report out of Europe suggested the Lightning could acquire Henrik Zetterberg’s $6.083 million cap hit. A bad back put Zetterberg on permanent long-term injury reserve since 2018.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2020

A look at a recent update on the notable unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Emily Sadler recently published her updated list of the top remaining unrestricted free agents.

Mike Hoffman remains atop the list, with the Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils among possible destinations.

Could Mike Hoffman soon have a new contract? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports talks have heated up with Hoffman, with as many as six clubs involved. With the dates for training camp and the start of the season now official, Hoffman won’t be the only UFA whose contract discussed will intensify.

Sadler cited Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland earlier this month linking winger Mikael Granlund to the Predators, Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes, among other clubs. She doubts there will be a reunion between the Predators and Granlund, who struggled during his brief tenure in Nashville.

Manitoba-born defenseman Travis Hamonic could be a fit with the Winnipeg Jets. The Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers had had some interest in Hamonic. Sadler also notes his former team, the Calgary Flames, could use him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation persists linking Hamonic with the Canucks, but they’ll have to clear some cap space to do it. One way could be placing Micheal Ferland (head trauma) on long-term injury reserve as well as demoting someone like winger Sven Baertschi. The Flyers no longer seem interested while the Flames seem to be going with younger, more affordable blueliners.

Speculation persists of a possible reunion between center Erik Haula and the Vegas Golden Knights. Given their cap constraints, they’ll have to shed a salary to get under the salary cap and to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent trade chatter about the Golden Knights shopping Max Pacioretty or Jonathan Marchessault was based on them cutting cap payroll and perhaps add an affordable forward like Haula.

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley denied Pacioretty was being shopped but we haven’t heard any denials about Marchessault’s trade status. I think the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup hopes are better with those two in the lineup. They’ll have to consider other options if they want to bring back Haula.

Other notables on Sadler’s list include center Carl Soderberg, defenseman Sami Vatanen, forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Derick Brassard and Corey Perry and blueliner Zdeno Chara, as well as winger Matt Martin, defenseman Andy Greene and goaltender Cory Schneider, plus defenseman Ron Hainsey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed Martin, Greene and Schneider already have deals with the New York Islanders that will be officially announced once center Mathew Barzal is re-signed.

Anthony Duclair, Ilya Kovalchuk and Melker Karlsson also appeared on Sadler’s list. Since its publication last week, Duclair signed with the Florida Panthers, Kovalchuk is reportedly signing with a KHL team while Karlsson is under contract with a Swedish team for the rest of this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2020

How will the Capitals replace Henrik Lundqvist? Will the Blues go the free-agent route to replace retired Alexander Steen? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir wonders how the Washington Capitals will replace Henrik Lundqvist as a heart condition has sidelined the 38-year-old goaltender for this season.

Could Ryan Miller be an option for the Washington Capitals to replace Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images).

Among the options is signing an unrestricted free agent. Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard are available. It’s believed Miller prefers to remain out west with his family but El-Bashir wonders if he’d be tempted by the opportunity to play for a contender during a shortened season.

The Capitals could go the trade route or bring in Vitek Vanecek or Pheonix Copley to back up Ilya Samsonov.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen believes the Capitals’ limited cap space makes it difficult to trade for a goaltender. In addition to Miller and Howard, he listed Craig Anderson and Cory Schneider as UFA options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller prefers staying in California and could sign a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks. If that’s not possible, maybe he’d consider joining the Capitals.

Anderson is 39 and it appears his NHL days are over. Schneider is believed to have an agreement with the New York Islanders to be officially announced once they’ve signed Mathew Barzal.

Howard is keen for a bounce-back season following a poor 2019-20 performance with the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings. He could be the Capitals’ best bet if they cannot find a suitable replacement for Lundqvist via trade or from within.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports Alexander Steen’s retirement due to a back injury will provide the St. Louis Blues with salary-cap flexibility. They’re sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.2 million but will get some wiggle room by placing Steen and his $5.75 million cap hit for this season on long-term injury reserve. They will use part of it to sign restricted free agent defenseman Vince Dunn, who might cost approximately $2.5 million.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin suggests the Blues could also use that cap relief to add a scoring winger. His suggested free-agent options include Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund and Andreas Athanasiou.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz also suggested Hoffman, Granlund and Athanasiou, as well as forward Erik Haula as UFA targets for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues could get additional cap relief by placing sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko on LTIR. However, he’s expected to return later this season, prompting Rutherford to speculate they probably won’t “borrow” from his $7.5 million cap hit.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year deal starting at $5.5 million. Maybe he’d accept a lower price to play for a contender but I think he’ll try to stick to his guns. Granlund, Athanasiou and Haula could be more affordable options.










NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life

NHL Trade and Free-Agent Markets Could Soon Stir to Life