NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2022

Wayne Simmonds, Nazem Kadri and Akim Aliu take issue with a Toronto Sun columnist, an update on David Pastrnak’s contract talks, the Golden Knights sign Nic Hague while the Senators sign Derick Brassard and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

YAHOO SPORTS/TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds and Calgary Flames center Nazem Kadri took issue with Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons regarding an article the latter wrote about former NHLer Akim Aliu. The three players are members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, formed in 2020 by several current and former players of color to eradicate racism in hockey.

Simmons suggested Aliu, chair of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, was using racism as an excuse for not achieving his potential as a player. “By my count, Aliu played for 23 teams in nine different leagues in 12 professional seasons and rarely finished any season with the same team he started with. If that was color-related, how is it that Wayne Simmonds spent just about the same 12 seasons playing in the NHL?”

Aliu replied on social media saying Simmons had “no clue” what he and his family endured physically and emotionally since he started playing hockey. He recounted several instances of racism he faced throughout his career.

Calgary Flames center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Simmonds replied to the Sun columnist on Twitter, saying he didn’t appreciate what Simmons was trying to do. “Do not ever use my name or any other player of color’s name to try and make your point.”

Kadri, meanwhile, said Simmons is the last person who would know about experiencing racism. “He’s always been a writer that’s kind of been on the line and created a lot of controversy so people can read his articles,” said the Flames center. “He’s just a guy who’s a little dated in his writing.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The number of teams Aliu played for or the number of leagues he played in or his ability as a player doesn’t disqualify him from speaking out against racism in hockey. His story and those of other players who’ve endured racism and bigotry in the sport must be heard and their concerns must be addressed. Remember, hockey is supposed to be for everyone.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said contract talks with David Pastrnak are ongoing but offered up no timetable to finalize a deal. The 26-year-old winger said he’s comfortable with negotiations carrying on into the season. Meanwhile, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs said ownership’s mindset in trying to re-sign Pastrnak was “aggressive.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact those discussions are ongoing bodes well for the two sides reaching an agreement before Pastrnak’s eligibility for unrestricted free-agent status next July.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights signed Nicolas Hague to a three-year contract worth an average annual value of $2.294 million. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ limited cap room factored into why it took so long to get Hague under contract. With Shea Weber, Robin Lehner and Nolan Patrick on LTIR, Owen Krepps of Vegas Hockey Now speculates they’ll squeeze under the $82.5 million cap by $700K depending on which players they demote to their AHL affiliate.

OTTAWA SUN: Derick Brassard earned a one-year, $750K contract with the Senators following a professional tryout offer. It’s the 35-year-old forward’s second tour with the Sens, having skated with them from 2016 to 2018.

CBS SPORTS: The New Jersey Devils placed captain Nico Hischier on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. It’s unclear if the 23-year-old center will be ready for the Devils’ season opener on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

TSN: Vancouver Canucks placed Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott and Tyler Myers on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Brock Boeser will start the season on their active roster. Boeser had been recovering from hand surgery.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals placed Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injury reserve. The 34-year-old center is recovering from off-season hip surgery. Carl Hagelin (lower-body injury) and Tom Wilson (knee surgery) are listed as non-roster to start the season.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers placed Anthony Duclair (torn Achilles tendon) on LTIR. They will start the season with a 20-player roster due to salary-cap constraints. They also released Eric Staal from his professional tryout offer but are hoping to find a way to sign him to a contract.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Limited salary-cap space is also delaying the Carolina Hurricanes from signing Derek Stepan. They demoted Jordan Martinook after he cleared waivers but it’s considered merely a paper transaction until Jake Gardiner is officially placed on LTIR to start the season. Martinook will remain with the club and Stepan is expected to be signed shortly.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs demoted Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford after they cleared waivers on Monday.

98.5 THE SPORTS HUB: The Boston Bruins demoted Nick Foligno, Mike Reilly and Chris Wagner after they cleared waivers. It’s expected they’ll be recalled with Brad Marchand (hip surgery) and Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) going on LTIR to start the season.

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: The Blues assigned Jake Neighbours and Josh Leivo to the minors but in reality, they’re not going anywhere. The move is a paper transaction until sidelined defenseman Marco Scandella is placed on LTIR today.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens did the same thing with defenseman Arber Xhekaj. He made the roster due to a strong performance in training camp but the Canadiens must first place forward Paul Byron on LTIR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Clubs can be over the cap during the off-season by 10 percent but must be compliant when the regular season officially opens. Lots of teams with limited cap space were forced to do some creative accounting until they can officially place players on long-term injury reserve to start the season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Juraj Slafkovsky also made the Canadiens’ roster to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 2022 first-overall pick faced considerable scrutiny and criticism from pundits and fans for his play during training camp and preseason games. His improvement over the course of that period garnered him at least a nine-game regular-season tryout.

After that, the Canadiens must decide if they’ll keep Slafkovsky on the roster for the season or send him to their AHL affiliate in Laval. If he’s sent down before his 10th game, the first year of his entry-level contract won’t count against this season and will slide to 2023-24.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2022

The legacy of Carey Price, Nicklas Backstrom opens up about his hip injury, Nazem Kadri expectation for the Flames, and an update on Anton Khudobin in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin believes Carey Price will retire as a legend if he’s unable to play again. The 35-year-old Montreal Canadiens goaltender is expected to miss the upcoming season due to a chronic knee injury that threatens to end his playing career.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Price is the Canadiens’ goaltending franchise leader with 712 games played, 361 wins, shot against (21,059), saves (19,304) and minutes played (42,005). He’s also fifth all-time with a .917 save percentage, eighth in goals-against average (2.51) and third in shutouts with 49.

Larkin suggests Price could be a first-ballot inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In his prime (2013-14 to 2016-17), he won the Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award with a .928 save percentage during that time. He also backstopped Canada to Olympic gold in 2012 and the World Cup of Hockey in 2016. Larkin suggests Price belongs alongside Hall-of-Famers such as Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros and Peter Forsberg whose careers were cut short by injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Price’s playing career is over I believe he will be remembered as the greatest goaltender in Canadiens history to never win the Stanley Cup. He backstopped them to the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals and carried an underdog Habs roster to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Price never had the luxury of a star-studded roster in front of him. Only one of his teammates (Alexei Kovalev) reached 80 points during his career and none of them reached 40 goals in a season. Nevertheless, he made his teams better with his play.

He was highly respected around the league among his peers. Larkin pointed out that Price topped the NHLPA player poll as best goalie or hardest to score against during its first three seasons starting in 2017-18 when he was past his prime. Larkin also cited Price’s charity work and efforts to help break down barriers to mental health.

I’m not sure that Price will get into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Still, I think he will be voted in one day and probably won’t have to wait very long following his retirement for that honor.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom told a Swedish sports magazine that the pain from his injured hip was so severe it was affecting his daily life. He revealed he has difficulty walking, playing with his children, putting on socks and tying his shoes.

Backstrom, 34, underwent hip surgery in 2015 but has been dealing with chronic hip pain for years. He was limited to just 47 games last season and admitted to a loss of mobility, speed and balance.

Having undergone hip resurfacing surgery in June, Backstrom faces a long road of rehab and recovery. The procedure has ended the careers of several athletes, including former NHLer Ryan Kesler. There’s no timetable for Backstrom’s return to action.

Backstrom said his quality of life has improved since the surgery. He’s not giving up on resuming his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Backstrom can make a full recovery and return to the game he loves. At least he’s no longer experiencing pain in his daily life.

Capitals management has indicated Backstrom’s intent to return at some point in the coming season. If he does it’ll likely be closer to the end of the regular-season schedule.

CALGARY SUN: Nazem Kadri’s decision to sign with the Flames last week is a major compliment to general manager Brad Treliving’s efforts to salvage the off-season. Despite the departure of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, Treliving brought in Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving’s blockbuster trade of Tkachuk for Huberdeau and Weegar salvaged what could’ve been a disastrous offseason for Calgary following the departure of Gaudreau and Tkachuk’s unwillingness to sign a contract extension. That move helped convince Kadri to sign with the Flames. Kadri, Huberdeau and Weegar should keep the Flames among the top teams in the Western Conference.

NHL.COM: Anton Khudobin is expected to be ready to participate in the Dallas Stars’ training camp next month. The hero of the Stars’ run to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, the 36-year-old goalie underwent hip surgery in March after struggling through nine games last season. Khudobin has a year remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $3.3 million.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2022

The 2022-23 schedule is released plus the latest on Kirill Kaprizov, Filip Forsberg, Kris Letang, Patrice Bergeron, John Klingberg, Evander Kane and more on the eve of the first round of the 2022 draft in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league released its 2022-23 schedule on Wednesday. The regular season begins in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8 as the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks face off in the 2022 Global Series. The first games in North America will be held on Oct. 11 featuring the New York Rangers facing the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Colorado Avalanche will raise their 2021-22 Stanley Cup banner in Denver on Oct. 12 prior to their home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks. That evening will also see the Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens while the Vancouver Canucks will face the Oilers in Edmonton.

The 2023 Winter Classic will be held on Jan. 1, 2023, between the Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park in Boston. Hockey Day in Canada featuring all seven Canadian teams in action will be on Jan. 21.

The Florida Panthers will host the 2023 NHL All-Star Game with the skills competition on Feb. 3 and the All-Star Game on Feb. 4. The regular season will end on Apr. 13.

THE ATHLETIC: Media reports out of Russia claim Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov is wanted in his native country for allegedly buying a fake military ID card in 2017 while he was playing in the KHL. The Wild and the NHL are gathering information to determine the credibility of the story.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

Reports also claimed Kaprizov had fled Russia but Wild general manager Bill Guerin said he’s still in the country and is safe with family and friends. Guerin said he and the club have been in touch with Kaprizov’s agent and aren’t pushing the panic button.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a result of Russia’s war with Ukraine. Under Russian law, eligible men between 18 and 27 must serve a year in the military, though exemptions are provided for athletes. Russo cited a source claiming Kaprizov’s exemption ended on June 30.

Last week, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov was detained under suspicion of dodging the draft and sent to a remote Arctic naval base. Fedotov broke his contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow to sign with the Flyers in May. It’s generated increasing concern over whether Russian players will be allowed to return to the NHL next season. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Speaking of the Wild, they signed defenseman Jake Middleton to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $2.45 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Middleton was due to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights when the free-agent market opened on July 13. Acquired from the San Jose Sharks before the trade deadline, he proved to be a good fit with the Wild. He skated with Jared Spurgeon on their top pairing, providing an additional measure of grit to their blueline.

NHL.COM: Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said his club is closer to signing Filip Forsberg now than when they made their eight-year contract offer earlier in the offseason. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It looks like Forsberg will stay in Nashville barring a last-minute collapse in negotiations before the free agent market opens next Wednesday. There’s no indication from the Forsberg camp of any disagreement with Poile’s assessment of their contract talks.

I assumed a sticking point was the lack of no-trade protection. Poile indicated Forsberg will get a full no-movement clause and a full no-trade if he signs with the Predators.

The Predators GM said the holdup was over money. It’s rumored that could be between $8 million and $9 million per season on an eight-year deal.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins GM Ron Hextall said he’d be surprised if his club didn’t get defenseman Kris Letang signed to a new contract before July 13. However, he seemed less optimistic about re-signing Evgeni Malkin but said the two sides will continue working on it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang is reportedly seeking a five-year deal worth between $8 million and $9 million annually. The Penguins are also said to have put the priority on re-signing the 35-year-old defenseman before turning to Malkin.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet, but recent discussions indicate he’s considering a return with the Bruins next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An earlier report last month had Bergeron agreeing to come back. Back in May, he indicated that he would either return with the Bruins or retire. If he’s leaning toward playing, I think we’ll see him suiting up for a 19th season in Boston.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports John Klingberg will be hitting the free-agent market next week. Talks between the 29-year-old defenseman and the Dallas Stars have been cordial but they don’t appear to be any closer to working out a new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports last fall claimed Klingberg sought an eight-year deal with the Stars worth between $7.75 million and $8.5 million per season. With Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson due for big raises coming off their entry-level deals, the Stars won’t have enough cap room to pay them and Klingberg.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said his club isn’t close to a deal with Evander Kane. He said they’ll continue to speak with his agent to see if something can be worked out. Kane, 30, is due to become a UFA next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane also has a grievance hearing over his terminated contract with the San Jose Sharks coming up sometime after July 13 unless he and the Sharks can work out an agreement before then. That could affect the Oilers’ efforts to sign him.

TSN: Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said Nicklas Backstrom is determined to play next season after undergoing hip surgery last month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Uncertainty over Backstrom’s status raised speculation the Capitals could be shopping around for a replacement. His determination to play is admirable but that will be decided by how well he recovers from hip-shaving surgery.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Capitals, they’ll get more clarity on the status of Carl Hagelin’s season-ending eye injury later this summer. Hagelin suffered the injury during practice in early March. He underwent two surgeries which permanently took away some of the vision in his left eye. It also affected his depth perception but that could return in time.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Canucks management indicated there’s not much to report on contract extension talks with J.T. Miller. However, they’re more optimistic about re-signing captain Bo Horvat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players have a year remaining on their contracts. Miller has been the subject of considerable trade speculation this season. There are rumors he could be traded either during the draft or before the start of the UFA market next week.

NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said Jesper Bratt will not be traded and has received a qualifying offer from the team. The 23-year-old winger is coming off a career-best 73-point performance and is slated to become a restricted free agent next Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the recent speculation claiming the Devils could shop Bratt if they couldn’t work out a suitable new contract.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Speaking of the Devils, they hired Kate Madigan as their new assistant GM, becoming the first woman in franchise history to hold that role.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Adam Boqvist to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2.6 million.

NHL.COM: Former NHL defenseman Bryan Marchment died suddenly on Wednesday in Montreal. Marchment, 53, was attending the upcoming draft in his role as a scout with the San Jose Sharks.

A physical blueliner during his playing career, Marchment spent 17 seasons in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Hartford Whalers, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames from 1988-89 to 2005-06. In 926 regular-season games, he had 182 points and amassed 2,307 PIMs. His son, Mason Marchment, plays for the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Marchment’s family, friends, former teammates and the Sharks organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2022

The Avalanche crush the Lightning to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Nicklas Backstrom undergoes hip surgery, the Oilers are on the verge of re-signing head coach Jay Woodcroft, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche holds a 2-0 series lead in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final after drubbing the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 on Saturday. Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar each scored two goals, Mikko Rantanen collected three assists while Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves for the shutout. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4 starting on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was one of the most lopsided Stanley Cup Final games I’ve seen. The Avalanche dominated the defending champion Lightning from the opening whistle to the final buzzer. Their speed made the difference throughout this contest, leaving the Bolts chasing the game and struggling to keep up.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin (NHL Images).

Three years after being bought out by the Dallas Stars, Nichushkin had a career-best performance this season and is enjoying a solid postseason. In this series, he’s taken his game to a higher level, tallying two points in each of the first two games. Eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 13, Nichushkin is on his way to a lucrative new contract.

Following the game, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos called his club’s performance “unacceptable”. Head coach Jon Cooper said the Avalanche were playing at an elite level while his club was not. Andrei Vasilevskiy was in net for all seven goals-against but Stamkos and Cooper laid the blame on the poor defensive play in front of him.

Stamkos and Cooper said all the right things about the need for the Lightning “man up” and not give up. They’re capable of surmounting a 2-0 series deficit as the New York Rangers discovered in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Rallying back this time will be far more challenging for the Lightning. They’re up against the most formidable opponent they’ve faced over the course of their championship reign.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom underwent left hip resurfacing surgery on Friday. He faces a lengthy recovery process with no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom will likely miss the opening weeks of the 2022-23 season and could be sidelined for much longer. His absence leaves a big hole in the second-line center position.

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have $8.9 million in salary cap space with Backstrom carrying an annual average value of $9.2 million. Management could place him on long-term injury reserve to exceed the $82.5 million salary cap in order to find a suitable short-term replacement or to address other roster needs. Should he return to action during the season, however, they’ll have to shed salary to become cap compliant.

DAILY FACEOFF: cites ESPN’s Kevin Weekes and Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now reporting the Edmonton Oilers are on the verge of removing the interim tag from head coach Jay Woodcroft’s job title. They’re expected to reach an agreement on a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Color me unsurprised. Woodcroft did a fine job after replacing Dave Tippett behind the bench. Taking over a struggling Oilers’ team that was in danger of falling out of playoff contention, he coached them to a 26-9-3 record in their remaining 38 games and guided them to the Western Conference Finals.

NBC SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson has earned his degree in general studies at the University of Michigan. He’s fulfilled a promise to himself and Red Berenson, who coached Johnson at Michigan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a special season for Johnson. In addition to earning his degree and appearing in his first Stanley Cup Final, he also became the 21st American-born defenseman to play in 1,000 career NHL games.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have dismissed Chris Brumwell, who was their vice-president of communications and community partnerships for the past nine seasons.

PHILADELPHIA HOCKEY NOW: Flyers senior director of communications Zack Hill is retiring on July 1 after 29 years with the organization.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2022

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff expects Mark Scheifele to return next season, an update on Vincent Trocheck plus the latest collection of Capitals speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHEVELDAYOFF DOESN’T EXPECT TO TRADE SCHEIFELE

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger reports Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff expects Mark Scheifele will return with the club next season. The 29-year-old center made headlines in the Winnipeg media last month when he seemed to question his future with the club after missing the 2022 postseason.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

Cheveldayoff said his exit interview with Scheifele went well, chalking up the center’s comments to the emotion of missing the playoffs. The long-time Jets forward has two years remaining on his contract.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Jets are better off retaining Scheifele than attempting to trade him. He cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on May 7 that the center hadn’t asked management to move him.

Despite a decline in Scheifele’s numbers over the past four seasons, O’Brien still believes it’s worthwhile retaining him for at least the coming season. His performance could improve under a new coach. If the Jets need to clear some cap space. O’Brien suggested moving a defenseman such as Nate Schmidt or Brenden Dillon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets wouldn’t have any problem finding trade partners to take Scheifele off their hands. He’d be much easier to move than Schmidt or Dillon.

Most of the calls for a Scheifele trade were based on the Jets’ need to change a team culture that has eroded since their franchise-best 2017-18 season. Cheveldayoff could be betting on a new bench boss addressing that issue. Former New York Islanders coach (and Manitoba native) Barry Trotz recently interviewed with the Jets and could be just what’s required to reverse their fortunes.

If the problems persist next season, however, the calls for Scheifele (and perhaps other core players) will grow louder. Cheveldayoff might not have much choice by that point. Scheifele could force the issue by calling for a trade.

WILL TROCHECK RE-SIGN WITH THE HURRICANES?

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported re-signing with the Carolina Hurricanes remains an option for Vincent Trocheck. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

The Hurricanes, however, might not be the best financial choice. Friedman said he’d heard the club made an offer to extend Trocheck but it didn’t get done. He pointed out that Hurricanes’ management rarely deviates from their view of a player’s value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trocheck is completing a six-year deal with an annual average value of $4.75 million. He’ll probably want something close to $6 million per season.

The Hurricanes could re-sign Trocheck but they might also seek a more consistent option through trade or free agency. Trocheck won’t be back if they acquire a second-line center before free agency opens on July 13.

LATEST CAPITALS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Andrew Gillis recently listed the health of key players such as Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson among the big three questions facing the Washington Capitals in the offseason. Backstrom has been troubled by a nagging left-hip injury while Wilson could miss up to the first half of next season recovering from knee surgery.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber observed the Capitals could get some cap relief for next season by placing Backstrom and Wilson on long-term injury reserve. That would free up space to add an experienced starting goalie, a reliable top-six forward or more depth at center via trade or free agency.

If Backstrom were to miss significant time, Silber pondered whether Colorado’s Nazem Kadri would be a good fit if he becomes available on the free-agent market. She acknowledged there would be a cap crunch if Backstrom returned during the season after signing a player like Kadri. Silber also suggested Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin as a possible free-agent replacement for the sidelined Wilson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom’s cap hit for next season is $9.2 million while Wilson’s is $5.16 million. That’s a big chunk of change that the Capitals could free up if necessary by placing one or both on LTIR.

Backstrom could be the more likely LTIR candidate if he’s unable to play without pain going forward. He’d be all but retired by that point, alleviating any concern about a cap crunch by bringing in a replacement this summer through trade or free agency. It would be riskier if he has a timetable to return at some point next season should he undergo another offseason surgical procedure on his hip.

For now, there’s no clarity on Backstrom’s status. The Capitals really can’t make any significant moves based on his health until they determine for certain his status for next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2022

The Flames and Rangers advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 7 on an overtime goal by Johnny Gaudreau to win their first-round series four games to three. Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk each had a goal and an assist while Tyler Toffoli also scored for Calgary. Jamie Benn and Vladislav Namestnikov replied for Dallas while Jake Oettinger made 64 saves in a losing cause. Stars center Roope Hintz was a late scratch with an upper-body injury while Flames defenseman Chris Tanev missed this game with an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 6.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

The Flames will face off against the Edmonton Oilers in the first “Battle of Alberta” playoff series since 1991.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau silenced critics of his previous postseason performances by stepping up with his best playoff game in his career. The 28-year-old left winger leads the Flames with eight points in seven games. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom was superb in this series, finishing with a 1.53 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.

Oettinger, however, was outstanding, with a 1.81 GAA and .954 SP. He was the reason the Stars pushed this series to overtime in Game 7 and came close to pulling off the upset. The 23-year-old has emerged as a franchise goaltender.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin’s overtime goal lifted his club to 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of their first-round series, eliminating the Penguins four games to three. Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Chris Kreider and K’Andre Miller also scored and Igor Shesterkin made 42 saves for the Rangers, who will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.

Jake Guentzel, Danton Heinen and Evan Rodrigues replied for Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby, Tristan Jarry and Rickard Rakell returned from injury for this game. Crosby picked up an assist and Jarry made 26 saves. Forward Brian Boyle missed this contest with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some controversy prior to Zibanejad’s game-tying goal in the third period as teammate Alexis Lafreniere wrestled the helmet off the head of Penguins defenseman Marcus Petterson. The incident was uncalled by the on-ice officials.

Under NHL rules, Pettersson had to immediately leave the ice as he cannot play without a helmet, leaving the Penguins scrambling to replace him and creating that scoring opportunity for Zibanejad. The Penguins were upset over that uncalled infraction, which was yet another in a seemingly endless parade of botched or missed calls by NHL officials throughout the first round.

Nevertheless, this was a hard-fought victory by the Rangers. The aging Penguins pushed them to the limit, doing so with key players sidelined at various stretches during this series. Shesterkin shook off a couple of shaky performances and was the difference-maker in Game 7 while Panarin, Zibanejad and Kreider stepped up when it mattered most.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs begins on Tuesday, May 17 with the Florida Panthers facing off with the Tampa Bay Lightning while the Colorado Avalanche tangle with the St. Louis Blues.

The Carolina Hurricanes meet the New York Rangers while the Calgary Flames battle the Edmonton Oilers starting on May 18.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was hampered through this season by a hip injury that caused him to miss the first two months of this season. It’s the same hip he had surgery on in 2015 and there’s some concern it could prove career-ending.

Capitals winger Tom Wilson could be facing off-season surgery to repair a knee injury suffered in Game 1 of their series against the Florida Panthers. Meanwhile, winger Carl Hagelin hopes to continue his career following an injury suffered in practice in March that nearly cost him his left eye.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Backstrom intends to explore all his options in hope of being physically comfortable to play again. The 34-year-old center had 31 points in 47 games and six points in as many games against the Panthers.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Brendan Smith each received fines from the NHL department of player safety for their actions in Game 7 of their first-round series. McAvoy was fined $5,000.00 for tripping Hurricanes rearguard Brady Skjei while Smith was tagged for $2,000.00 for tripping Bruins winger David Pastrnak.

MIAMI HERALD: Florida Panthers forward Mason Marchment could miss Game 1 of his club’s second-round series against the Lightning with an unspecified injury.