NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

Jack Eichel’s agents issue a statement critical of Sabres management, David Krejci will finish his playing career in the Czech Republic, and surgeries for Alex Tuch and Paul Byron top today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The agents for Jack Eichel released a statement yesterday expressing their displeasure over the Buffalo Sabres’ handling of their client’s medical treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. Eichel prefers surgery but his representatives accused the Sabres medical staff of preventing him from undergoing the procedure. “This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and is not working,” they conclude.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This statement was released in response to a recent press conference by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams where he said he’s not feeling pressure to trade Eichel. It’s apparent they intend to turn up the heat on Adams to speed up the “process”. Time will tell if it has the desired effect but it’s apparent the pending divorce between Eichel and the Sabres is growing acrimonious.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Krejci brought his 15-season NHL career to a close yesterday. The long-time Bruins center issued a statement indicating he was finishing his playing career back home in the Czech Republic.

Krejci, 35, spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins, playing in 962 career games and scoring 215 goals, 515 assists and 730 points. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Cup Final in 2013 and 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci was sometimes overshadowed by teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand but was an invaluable part of their success during most of his tenure in Boston. He ranks among their all-time leaders in games played, assists and points.

His departure leaves a big hole in their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill in the short term. Best wishes to Krejci over the remainder of his playing career and beyond.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch will be sidelined for six months after undergoing shoulder surgery last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest he could return to the lineup is late January. This could explain their acquisition of Evgeni Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators this week.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron underwent hip surgery this week and is expected to be out for five months. He could be out until January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain their signing of Mathieu Perreault this week to a one-year, $950K contract.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed forward Ivan Barbashev to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Tyson Jost to a two-year, $4 million contract.

NHL NETWORK‘s Kevin Weekes reports the New York Rangers signed recently acquired winger Ryan Reaves to a one-year, $1.75 million contract extension.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed winger Ondrej Kase to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings acquired forward Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2022.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens hired Eric Raymond as their new goalie coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

Alex Ovechkin looks forward to chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Blue Jackets sign Zach Werenski to a long-term contract extension, and the Blues sign Brandon Saad. Get the details plus other notable trades and signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Alex Ovechkin said the opportunity to pursue Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record factored into his recent signing of a five-year contract with the Capitals. Ovechkin, 35, has 730 career goals and needs 165 more to break Gretzky’s record. To do it, he needs to average 33 goals per season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The all-time goal-scoring record is the most reachable of Gretzky’s significant offensive achievements. Nevertheless, it’ll a daunting challenge for Ovechkin, who turns 36 in September.

Ovechkin’s still among the league’s elite scorers, tallying 24 goals in 45 games last season and 48 in 68 games in 2019-20. If not for the pandemic (and a half-season lost to a lockout in 2012-13), he’d be much closer to Gretzky’s record by now. However, he’s also at an age when his production will begin to decline.

The Capitals captain is currently sixth on the all-time list. A 37-goal performance this season would vault him over Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766) into third overall, 34 behind Gordie Howe (801).

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension. The annual average value is $9.583 million and takes effect in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets consider Werenski among the NHL’s top defensemen over the past five seasons and are paying him accordingly. He’s tallied 189 points in 335 career games. Starting in 2022-23, he’ll be the third highest-paid defenseman in the league with a higher annual cap hit than Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar’s $9 million and just ahead of former defense partner Seth Jones’ $9.5 million AAV with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Werenski’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman but I don’t consider him worth more than Makar, a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 who was a Norris Trophy finalist last season. But after enduring a steady parade of talent departing Columbus via trades and free agency in recent years, the Jackets had to pay the price to keep Werenski in the fold.

His new contract lacks no-trade protection in 2022-23 and a full no-movement clause in 2023-24 through 2026-27, dropping to a modified no-trade in the final season.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed winger Brandon Saad to a five-year, $22.5 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million. The deal also comes with a full no-trade clause in the first four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad took a pay cut from the $6 million AAV he earned over six seasons on his previous contract. He joins a club undergoing a retooling of its roster since winning the Stanley Cup two years ago. He fills the vacant left wing spot on the Blues’ first line following the departure of free agent Jaden Schwartz to Seattle on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights trade winger Ryan Reaves to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers acquired enforcer Reaves in yet another move to bolster their toughness. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, made this move to free up salary-cap space by shedding his $1.75 million cap hit.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed winger Corey Perry to a two-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry said he wanted to return to the Montreal Canadiens for another season. The opportunity to play two seasons with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, however, was too good to pass up.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Zach Werenski wasn’t the only defenseman the Blue Jackets signed yesterday, inking Jake Bean to a three-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.33 million. The Jackets acquire the 23-year-old blueliner from the Carolina Hurricanes last week.

MLIVE.COM: Long-time Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Helm and Valtteri Filppula were the last remaining active members of the Wings last Stanley Cup championship in 2008 still with the team last season. Filppula is also an unrestricted free agent and isn’t expected to be brought back.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Mathiew Perreault to a one-year, $950K contract.










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 Rumor Mill – July 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2021

With the NHL free-agent market opening July 28, here’s the latest on the goalie market, Ryan Getzlaf’s status with the Ducks and updates on the Canadiens and Kraken in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE OFFSEASON GOALIE MARKET

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports talks between the Colorado Avalanche and goaltender Philipp Grubauer are expected to go down to the wire before the free-agent market opens at noon ET on July 28. The Avs are holding firm with an offer of five years and $5 million annually while the Grubauer camp seeks over $6 million per season.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (NHL Images).

The Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs view Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper as a primary trade target but the asking price is high. The Chicago Blackhawks are among several teams with an interest in Vancouver Canucks netminder Braden Holtby. The Vegas Golden Knights have dangled Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury at varying points this season.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports have an interest in Kuemper and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek. They haven’t made a contract offer to former starter Frederik Andersen. He thinks Andersen could be on the Hurricanes’ shortlist.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting a deal for one of the Golden Knights’ goaltenders fell through over the weekend. It was either Fleury going to the Blackhawks or Lehner heading to the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can expect a fair bit of jockeying over the next couple of days as teams attempt to address their goalie needs via trades and/or free agency.

Grubauer’s situation will be interesting. The Avs wouldn’t have clinched this year’s Presidents’ Trophy without him but he was shaky in their second-round series against Vegas. Nevertheless, I don’t see a better option in the trade or free-agent markets.

Kuemper is the best of the bunch after Grubauer but he carries a $4.5 million cap hit for next season, has a recent injury history and is slated to become a UFA next summer. The Coyotes asking price is likely a high draft pick and/or a top prospect or young NHL-ready player.

The Lehner to New Jersey rumor caught my eye. The Devils seemed keen on young Mackenzie Blackwood as their starter. I assumed they’d want a reliable backup to mentor him. Lehner, however, is a full-fledged starter. If the Devils were trying to get him that suggests they have less confidence in Blackwood than originally thought.

It sounds like the Leafs are scouting the market for someone to share the goalie duties with Jack Campbell. If they don’t find anything that fits within their limited cap space perhaps they’ll circle back to Andersen, provided another club hasn’t snapped him up.

COULD GETZLAF HIT THE MARKET?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Anaheim Ducks and captain Ryan Getzlaf aren’t close to a new contract but he doesn’t rule out the possibility that they’ll get one done. Nevertheless, the 36-year-old center is readying himself to hear offers from clubs on Wednesday if he’s still unsigned by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Eric Stephens reports the Ducks want to bring back Getzlaf. He suggested the speculation about the captain leaving might be to put a bit of pressure on the Ducks. We’ll see what transpires. Despite his age and declining production, he will attract plenty of interest in the free-agent market.

WHO COULD THE CANADIENS TARGET IN FREE AGENCY?

TVA SPORTS: Rumors are circulating suggesting the Montreal Canadiens could sign Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman David Savard and Carolina Hurricanes forward Cedric Paquette when the UFA market opens on Wednesday.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston took to Twitter reporting Chris Wideman is a “good bet” to land with the Canadiens via free agency. The 31-year-old defenseman is coming off a productive season in the KHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are looking to fill the gap on defense with Shea Weber sidelined for next season (and possibly longer). They’ll also need some checking-line depth if they lose center Phillip Danault to free agency. One rumor claims Wideman already has a one-year deal in place with the Habs that will be announced tomorrow.

KRAKEN EXPECTED TO BE BUSY IN UFA MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the expansion Seattle Kraken are expected to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. They have lots of cap space to invest. LeBrun believes they’ll circle back on St. Louis Blues’ left winger Jaden Schwartz and make him a concrete offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken have over $30 million in projected cap space. They have sufficient room to re-sign their four restricted free agents (including Vince Dunn) and make a splash or two in the UFA pool for someone like Schwartz.

 










Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021

Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021

Here’s a listing of the notable trades and free-agent signings during the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft. This will be updated throughout the day.

The Sam Reinhart trade reported early this morning is official. The Buffalo Sabres trade Reinhart to the Florida Panthers for prospect goaltender Devon Levi and a 2022 first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s one year away from UFA eligibility. That could explain why the Sabres got a prospect rather than a player as part of the return, though they did get a first-rounder as well.

The Philadelphia Flyers trade Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Cam Atkinson. The Flyers did not retain any of Voracek’s salary in this transaction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers and Blue Jackets are among the busiest teams this weekend in the trade market as they continue shaking up their respective rosters. Voracek and Atkinson were both reportedly seeking a change of scenery. They are still reliable top-six wingers though their best seasons are likely behind them.

Voracek is returning to the team where his NHL career began. He was traded by the Jackets to the Flyers prior to the 2011 NHL Draft as part of the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus. Now 31, he has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.

Atkinson, 32, spent his entire 10-season NHL career to his point with the Blue Jackets. He has four years remaining on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5.875 million. The Flyers are freeing up $2.75 million over the next three years.

The Colorado Avalanche sign defenseman Cale Makar to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the pay raise for the 22-year-old blueliner coming out of his entry-level contract. He quickly became one of the league’s top rearguards, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019-20 and was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy this season.

I’m only surprised that it wasn’t more. Some observers estimated he could receive over $10 million annually. Given his youth and talent, this contract will probably age very well for the Avalanche.

The Edmonton Oilers sign goaltender Mike Smith to a two-year, $4.4 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith played well for the Oilers over the last two seasons…when healthy. The 39-year-old has had injury issues in recent years. He missed 12 games at the start of this season with an undisclosed injury. The annual cap hit is affordable but a two-year deal for a goalie who turns 40 next March seems one year too long.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2021

Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, Gabriel Landeskog are among the notables to be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft, Miro Heiskanen among several players inking new contracts, and a roundup of yesterday’s notable trades in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NOTE: The NHL expansion draft roster freeze went into effect at 3 pm ET on Saturday. It will remain in effect until 1 pm EST on Thursday, July 22.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has agreed to waive his no-movement for the upcoming NHL expansion draft. He made that decision to enable the Canadiens to protect backup goalie Jake Allen.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The gamble here for Price and the Canadiens is the Kraken could be put off by his contract, which has five years remaining at an annual average value of $10.5 million.

There are a couple of poison pills in this contract. If the Kraken select Price, they’ll have to pay him the $11 million signing bonus due in September. His no-movement clause would follow him to Seattle as he’s only waiving it in this instance for the expansion draft, not a trade. In other words, the Kraken would need his permission to trade or demote him.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche will expose Gabriel Landeskog in the expansion draft. The 28-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. This allows the Kraken to exclusively negotiate with Landeskog and perhaps sign him to a new contract before the draft on Wednesday night. If he does, he would become the Kraken’s expansion draft selection from the Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation Landeskog seeks a long-term deal worth between $9 million and $10 million annually. That would be a big contract for the Kraken to take on so early in their existence. They could, however, try to ink him to a multi-year deal worth around $7 million annually. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues are believed to have left winger Vladimir Tarasenko exposed in the expansion draft. They could also leave defenseman Vince Dunn unprotected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have been shopping both players. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports a source said Tarasenko can’t believe he hasn’t been traded yet. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has told the winger’s camp that no teams are interested in him.

The source also said several teams have an interest in Tarasenko but Armstrong hasn’t found a suitable return. Another source told Rutherford there’s limited interest in the winger, who’s coming off three shoulder surgeries and carries a $7.5 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons.

SPORTSNET: cites Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the Los Angeles Kings will expose goaltender Jonathan Quick in the expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. The Kings want to protect Quick’s heir apparent Cal Petersen. The 35-year-old netminder has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Kraken are reportedly close to signing Chris Driedger. The 27-year-old goaltender is slated to become a UFA on July 28. His camp received permission from the Panthers to speak to other clubs. If the Kraken sign Driedger, he’ll count as their selection from the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’ll be a big win for the Panthers as they won’t have to worry about losing another player from their expansion list. They had to protect goalie Sergei Bobrovsky because of his no-movement clause. Promising netminder Spencer Knight is exempt from this draft.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets will expose Max Domi in the expansion draft. They’re betting Domi’s injured shoulder will deter the Kraken. He’s recovering from shoulder surgery and could miss the opening month or two of 2021-22.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars signed defenseman Miro Heiskanen to an eight-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $8.45 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a wise long-term investment by the Stars. Heiskanen, 21, is completing his entry-level contract but he’s earned this new deal.

Over the past three seasons, he’s become the Stars’ best all-around defenseman. He regularly leads them in ice time, plays in every situation, and was their leading scorer in the 2020 postseason during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. This kid is a future Norris Trophy contender. His new contract will look like a bargain in a few years.

In other signings yesterday, the New York Islanders re-signed defenseman Andy Greene to a one-year, $1 million contract, the Anaheim Ducks signed winger Alexander Volkov to a one-year, $925K contract extension, and the Tampa Bay Lightning inked defenseman Fredrik Claesson to a one-year, two-way contract.

Several trades were made yesterday, the biggest being the Nashville Predators shipping Ryan Ellis to the Philadelphia Flyers in a three-team deal. You can read my take here. Other deals of note:

The New York Rangers acquired forward Barclay Goodrow from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for their seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft. The Rangers also traded forward Brett Howden to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft (originally belonging to the Winnipeg Jets) and impending free-agent defenseman Nick DeSimone.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first piece of the Lightning’s 2021 Stanley Cup championship roster has departed. Expect more cost-cutting moves by the Bolts in the coming days/weeks as they attempt to become cap compliant for next season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired forward Jared McCann from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for prospect forward Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick in 2023.

The Vancouver Canucks acquired forward Jason Dickinson from the Dallas Stars in exchange for their third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

The Arizona Coyotes acquired winger Andrew Ladd, a second-round pick in the 2021 draft, a second-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2023 from the New York Islanders. The Coyotes also traded goaltender Adin Hill to the San Jose Sharks for goaltender Josef Korenar and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move comes on the heels of the Islanders shipping Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday. They have been trying to move Ladd’s contract for some time. He spent all of this season with their AHL affiliate. He has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.5 million, giving the Isles some much-needed cap space for other moves, such as re-signing restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin.

It’s interesting that there was nothing listed in the Ladd trade report of the Coyotes sending anything the other way to the Isles. Perhaps they’re getting “future considerations.”