NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 26, 2020

Vancouver is out as a possible hub city,  the latest CBA news, an update on the 2020 draft lottery, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST HUB CITY NEWS

VANCOUVER SUN: The city of Vancouver is no longer in the running to become one of the two hub cities for Phase 4 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. Reports indicate the league was looking for some sort of waiver from British Columbia’s positive-test protocols. One example cited was the province of Ontario, where someone who tests positive but is asymptomatic can still return to work. League officials have said one player testing positive shouldn’t be ground to prevent a team from playing on.

TSN: The league is now shifting its focus to hosting bids from Edmonton and Toronto. Alberta’s chief medical officer signed off on a health-and-safety plan for a host city presented by the Oilers Entertainment Group.

Pierre LeBrun reports Los Angeles and Chicago are on standby in case the NHL cannot put a hub city in Canada to go along with Las Vegas. He also said an announcement probably won’t happen until Monday or Tuesday so as not to conflict with tonight’s draft lottery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league seems quite keen for a hub city in Canada. Edmonton looks like the front-runner now. It appears Las Vegas remains a lock as one of the hub cities despite the recent rise of COVID-19 in that city and the state of Nevada. 

UPDATE ON POSSIBLE CBA CHANGES

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the full membership of the NHL Players’ Association will vote on a comprehensive return-to-play proposal. It would include a collective bargaining agreement extension plus the health protocols for training camp and the playoff tournament once negotiations between the league and the PA conclude.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (Photo via NHL Images).

Rangers winger Artemi Panarin raised concern about escrow payments. He said the players cannot resume play until there is an agreement in place.

For nearly two decades, the Players have protected the owners income with escrow, including throughout this pandemic crisis, in which owners equity has continued to grow exponentially,” wrote Panarin. “It is time to fix the escrow.”

Brooks cites sources indicating the proposal generated by the league and the PA would include a cap on escrow on a de-linked flat salary cap expected to be around $83 million for at least the next three seasons as both sides continue to deal with the economic issues caused by the pandemic.

He suggested that the cap number could change over time. The excess could roll over two or three years, but a hard cap on escrow would be gradually implemented throughout the extension. Brooks also said the players would be responsible to make up 14 percent of escrow for this season.

THE SCORE: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler is also calling for changes to escrow.

“It’s about time … the owners need to understand we’re done paying their debts,” Kesler said. “You run your team into the ground it’s on you …. if there’s a pandemic it’s on the owners … figure it out it’s not a free ride.”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cites sources claiming the escrow cap would be at 20 percent for 2020-21. There would also be a one-season-only salary deferral of 10 percent by every player. It would not be a rollback as the players would get that money back in the future, meaning the escrow on that money would be lower.

Friedman also reports the cap could be kept close to $81.5 million for the next three seasons. It could increase by $1 million in 2022-23.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said he wouldn’t feel comfortable having an NHLPA vote right now.

There’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered,” he said. “We have obviously a unique situation right now. The NHL and the NHLPA are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. So moving forward I’d like to play, but we have a lot of questions that need to be answered and a lot of scenarios that need to be covered before I can vote yea or nea.”

The pandemic struck close to home for Price, as the mother of one of his good friends died earlier this year after contracting COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players will determine the fate of the return-to-play plan. The tournament and a possible extension to the CBA could be derailed if they reject the proposal. I don’t blame them for trying to leverage this to their favor, but it remains to be seen if the majority support that power play. 

UPDATE ON 2020 NHL DRAFT LOTTERY

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery will be held tonight at 8 pm ET at the NHL Network studios in New Jersey. For the first time, there won’t be representatives from the various clubs in the lottery because of COVID-19.

McKenzie took to Twitter indicating the league has a Plan B for what will happen to the draft lottery and order of selection if the return-to-play plan doesn’t go through. He doesn’t know what it could be but cited one NHL GM suggesting the league should resort to the rules of the 2005 draft in which all teams would be eligible for the first-overall pick.

NBC SPORTS: has a draft lottery primer, including the top prospects, the odds for the NHL teams, and a brief explanation of the potential two phases of the lottery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Detroit Red Wings have the best singular odds (18.5 percent), but the Ottawa Senators have the second-best odds (13.5 percent) and hold the San Jose Sharks pick (11.5 percent). Rimouski Oceanic forward Alexis Lafreniere is considered the top prospect. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: The NHL could play daily triple-headers if play resumes.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: As of Thursday not a single member of the Winnipeg Jets roster has returned to Winnipeg for Phase 2. They could be kept off the ice by Manitoba’s quarantine protocols for 14 days unless they receive an exemption. It would affect their efforts to resume skating in preparation for the start of training camp on July 10. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is now a major shareholder of Tappara Tempere, his hometown club in Finland. He also claims he and his Panthers teammates are looking forward to resuming the season 

THE SCORE: Seattle’s KeyArena will be renamed Climate Pledge Arena after Amazon bought its naming rights.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2020

Recent speculation on the Canadiens, Penguins, and Panthers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE CANADIENS RE-SIGN TATAR?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey believes re-signing Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher, and Phillip Danault should be an off-season priority for the Canadiens. The linemates are all eligible next summer to become unrestricted free agents. Tatar was quick to credit Gallagher and Danault for the success he’s enjoyed since joining the Canadiens in 2018. He turns 30 in December, which could affect the type of contract offer he gets from the Habs.

TVA SPORTS: If the Canadiens decide to trade Tatar, Jean-Charle Lajoie doubts he’d fetch much of a return. He cites sources claiming the winger didn’t attract much interest before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Will the Montreal Canadiens re-sign or trade Tomas Tatar? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the reason Tatar didn’t draw much interest before the deadline was Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin’s reluctance to trade him? Regardless, if Bergevin were to shop the 29-year-old winger, he’ll probably have to package him with a draft pick to get a quality return.

Bergevin could re-sign Tatar, but I agree it won’t be an expensive long-term deal. I can see him getting a four-year deal with an annual average value of around $5.5 million.

MURRAY OR JARRY FOR THE PENGUINS?

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel recently wondered if the Penguins are due for yet another change of the goaltending guard. Three years after leaving long-time starter Marc-Andre Fleury unprotected in the expansion draft, the Pens could face another crucial goaltending decision.

Starter Matt Murray and backup Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents this off-season with arbitration rights. Murray won two Stanley Cup for the Penguins, but he’s been hampered by injuries and outplayed by Jarry for most of this season. Vensel believes they can afford to keep both in the short term, but he still mused about management perhaps trading one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have over $68.5 million invested in 15 players. They can re-sign both to one-year contracts and take another season evaluating their performances before making a long-term investment in one of them, but it could cost a combined $9 million to do so, leaving little room to re-sign or replace their other free agents. Unless they shed salary elsewhere, they could be forced to trade Murray or Jarry before next season.

COULD THE PANTHERS MOVE BARKOV?

NEW YORK POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Larry Brooks was asked about the possibility of the Florida Panthers trading Aleksander Barkov and what it might take for the Rangers to acquire him. Brooks points out Barkov is signed through 2022 with a no-move clause that kicks in following this season and a modified no-trade in 2021-22. However, if Barkov were willing to waive it and the Panthers shopped him, Brooks considers Adam Fox and Kaapo Kakko, along with players carrying no-trade clauses ( Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and Chris Kreider) as untouchables for the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s media chatter suggesting Panthers ownership could implement cost-cutting measures if the club fails to reach the playoffs this season. That could be as simple as letting Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov depart via free agency following this season, or shopping defenseman Mike Matheson.

I doubt they’ll trade Barkov, but that could depend upon how much of a roster shake-up ownership wants if they don’t qualify for the playoffs. If they take a bolder step by moving Barkov, the asking price will be expensive. Barkov’s among the top two-way centers in the game. The Panthers would want at least a high-quality young NHL player, a first-round pick, and a top prospect in return.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Florida Panthers

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Florida Panthers

 










What Are Dale Tallon’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Florida Panthers

What Are Dale Tallon’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Florida Panthers

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2020

Latest on the Canadiens and Panthers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT COULD BE IN STORE FOR THE CANADIENS THIS SUMMER?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he wasn’t even close to moving winger Tomas Tatar or defenseman Jeff Petry at last week’s NHL trade deadline. He admitted receiving calls about both players, but never intiated any trade talk.

Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t anticipate any difficulty re-signing Max Domi (Photo via NHL Images).

Bergevin declined to say if he would attempt to extend Tatar or Petry, who are eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July. He also doesn’t anticipate any difficulty re-signing winger Max Domi, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He also shot down a rumor that goaltender Carey Price was unhappy and might want out of Montreal. The Canadiens GM will look into the UFA market this summer, though he acknowledged the difficulty of attracting free agents to the hockey hotbed.

TVA SPORTS: In a recent interview, Bergevin indicated he has no interest in trading a promising youngster like Jesperi Kotkaniemi for a veteran player who would only be with the team for two or three years. He also doesn’t rule out going the offer sheet route again. He made a failed attempt last summer to sign Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer is a crucial one for Bergevin. He must bolster his backup goaltending, the left side of his blueline, and find an impact scorer. He’s got 14 picks in the 2020 NHL draft, 10 of those between rounds two and five. I expect he’ll draw upon some of those picks for trade bait, but I doubt he dangles his first-round pick.

Should the salary cap rise to between $84 million to $88 million as projected, Bergevin will have between $20-$24 million to re-sign Domi and fellow RFA Victor Mete and bring in help via trade or free agency. That’s also sufficient room to make an offer sheet, perhaps one that won’t be so easily matched as the one he signed Sebastian Aho to last summer.

COULD BIG OFF-SEASON CHANGES BE COMING FOR THE PANTHERS?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman wonders what the consequences will be for the Florida Panthers if they miss the playoffs again. Owner Vinny Viola spent more than $100 million to improve the club, including signing Sergei Bobrovsky and Anton Stralman and hiring Joel Quenneville as head coach. Rival general managers suspect the Panthers could break up their core if they fail to reach the postseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those changes to the core could include captain Aleksander Barkov, winger Jonathan Huberdeau, or defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Of the three, Barkov and Ekblad lack no-trade protection, while Huberdeau has a full no-movement clause.

I realize this sounds extreme, but things simply aren’t working out with the current core. If they decide to shake things up, one of those three could hit the trade block. Mike Matheson also surfaced in trade speculation this season. Like Barkov and Ekblad, he lacks a no-trade clause in his contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2020

Game recaps, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jack Campbell made 26 saves in his Toronto Maple Leafs debut to backstop his new club to a 5-4 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks. Campbell and Kyle Clifford were acquired on Wednesday night from the Los Angeles Kings. John Tavares scored twice (including the game-winner), Auston Matthews tallied his 40th goal of the season, and Mitch Marner collected three assists. With the win, the Leafs vault into third place (65 points) in the Atlantic Division. They played without Frederik Andersen (neck injury) and William Nylander (flu). The Leafs also recalled defenseman Timothy Liljegren to replace sidelined Cody Ceci.

A two-goal performance by John Tavares carried the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks (Photo via NHL Images)

The Buffalo Sabres kept their playoff hopes alive by edging the New York Rangers 3-2. Sabres goalie Carter Hutton made 37 saves, Sam Reinhart scored his 20th goal while Jack Eichel and Jimmy Vesey each collected two points. Mika Zibanejad also netted two points for the Rangers. The Sabres (56 points) are nine points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

A 42-save effort by Jimmy Howard wasn’t enough to prevent the Detroit Red Wings from falling 2-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Zach Werenski and Boone Jenner were the goal scorers, while Elvis Merzlikins picked up his fifth shutout in his last eight games.  It was the 18th consecutive defeat for Howard. The Jackets (69 points) hold third place in the Metropolitan Divison.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Howard deserved better. He played well enough to pick up the win, but the flatlining Wings simply aren’t good enough.

The Minnesota Wild overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the Dallas Stars 3-2. Joel Eriksson Ek scored twice, including the game-winner in the third period. The Wild (58 points) moved to within two points of the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers got some good news as sidelined captain Aleksander Barkov will return from a lower-body injury tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Panthers have dropped three of their last four games and slipped out of a playoff berth. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, rookie defenseman John Marino could be sidelined for a while. He suffered a broken left cheekbone after being struck by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marino will reportedly require surgery that could keep him out of the lineup for several weeks. It’s another blow for the injury-ravaged Penguins. Marino was enjoying a fine debut season, becoming an invaluable part of their blueline.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere tossed his stick and stormed off the ice following practice yesterday, raising questions over the source of his frustration. The blueliner’s trying to work himself back into the roster following a lengthy absence recovering from recent arthroscopic knee surgery.

TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs defenseman Brian Glennie passed away yesterday at age 73. He spent nine seasons in the NHL, most of those with the Leafs. The hard-hitting blueliner netted 114 points and 621 penalty minutes in 572 NHL games. He was also a member of Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series and a bronze medal with Canada in the 1968 Winter Olympics. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

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