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 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2021

The first round of the 2021 draft is completed, Carey Price undergoes knee surgery, Sam Reinhart reportedly traded to the Panthers, Taylor Hall re-signs with Bruins, Zach Hyman heading to the Oilers, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres selected University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power with the first-overall selection in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft. The Seattle Kraken selected Powers teammate, center Matthew Beniers, with the second-overall pick, and the Anaheim Ducks took center Mason McTavish of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes third overall.

The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft is complete (NHL.com).

Defenseman Luke Hughes of the USA U-18 National Team Development Program is joining his older brother Jack Hughes with the New Jersey Devils as the fourth overall pick. Center Kent Johnson, another University of Michigan player, was taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the fifth overall pick.

The remaining rounds (two through seven) will be held today starting at 11 am ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the full list of first-round selections by following the link above. I offer my sincere congratulations to all the players taken in this round except for the Montreal Canadiens’ selection with the 31st overall pick.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens made a controversial selection with defenseman Logan Mailloux of the OHL’s London Knights. Mailloux had withdrawn from this year’s draft after being fined for invasion of privacy and defamation in Sweden. He took a photo of himself and an 18-year-old woman engaged in a consensual sex act and shared that photo with his teammates without the woman’s consent.

The Canadiens issued a statement acknowledging the severity of Mailloux’s actions but also felt his decision to renounce himself from the draft was an acknowledgment of his poor behavior. They expressed their willingness to help him become a better person and player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are trying to justify this by claiming he was the best available player at that stage in the draft from a hockey standpoint. They also reportedly took him that high because several teams intended on taking him in the second round before the Canadiens would select with the 63rd overall pick.

The young woman victimized by Mailloux hasn’t forgiven him because she doesn’t believe he’s genuinely remorseful for what he’s done. “I do not think Logan has understood the seriousness of his behavior,” she told The Athletic’s Katie Strang in an e-mail, adding all she wanted was a heartfelt apology. Multiple sources told The Athletic that Mailloux has portrayed her as vindicative during interviews with some NHL teams.

This is inexcusable by the Canadiens. An organization that prides itself on class and character has been stained by this decision. And shame on the teams that were still willing to select him later in the draft before the Canadiens did.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price underwent knee surgery on Friday in New York. His expected recovery period is 10-12 weeks and he’s expected to return in time for the start of the 2021-22 season. Price was also evaluated for a hip injury but it will not require surgery.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins signed winger Taylor Hall to a four-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall was a good fit with the Bruins following his acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres at the April trade deadline. He was seeking some stability after playing for four teams in the past two years. Cap Friendly indicates he gets a no-movement clause throughout the deal and a modified no-trade clause starting in 2022-23.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres have reportedly traded center Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers. It’s believed the Sabres will receive prospect goaltender Devon Levi and the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade is expected to be officially announced later today during the remaining rounds of the draft. 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.

Speaking of trades, several notable moves took place before the first round of the draft. They include the Columbus Blue Jackets trading Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes engaged in a multi-player swap involving Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Sabres shipping defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers dealing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues. You can read my take on those deals by following this link.

TORONTO SUN: Zach Hyman’s days with the Maple Leafs are done. The pending UFA winger has verbally agreed to sign with the Edmonton Oilers. If a trade can be worked out between the two clubs before noon ET on July 28, Hyman will sign an eight-year contract with the Oilers. If not, it’ll be a seven-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are seeking draft picks from the Oilers. If a trade cannot be worked out today those picks will have to be in future drafts. It’s expected Hyman’s new contract will be worth between $5 million and $5.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The Carolina Hurricanes traded defenseman Jake Bean to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a second-round pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: That’s the second young defenseman the Blue Jackets added yesterday. They also got promising Adam Boqvist as part of the return from Chicago in the Seth Jones trade.

TSN: The New York Rangers yesterday placed defenseman Tony DeAngelo on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

Are big offseason moves in store for the Flames and Kings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently looked at some key offseason questions facing the Calgary Flames following a disappointing season. He wondered if Brad Treliving will return as general manager. While Treliving isn’t afraid to make big decisions, the Flames under his watch have proven incapable of winning when it matters most.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis feels they need an overhaul more than a roster teardown. That could involve winger Johnny Gaudreau, who is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. They cannot afford to lose him for next to nothing the way they did when they gave away Jarome Iginla.

The Flames won’t have any limitations on trading Gaudreau until July 28, when his modified no-trade clause kicks in. It won’t be easy trading him in a flat-cap era when his stock has declined.

Francis wondered if the Flames will leave defenseman Mark Giordano exposed in the expansion draft. He also downplayed the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres, pointing out the Flames lack sufficient depth in star players and top prospects to make a competitive pitch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Changes are coming for the Flames. They have to. They cannot return with the same roster and expect better results.

They could replace Treliving though I suspect if they were thinking of doing so it would’ve happened by now. He’s got two more years left on his contract. They could give him at least one more year to dig his way out of this mess.

Whoever sits in the GM’s chair this summer will have to make one or two moves to shake things up. Moving Gaudreau seems the most obvious move but only if there’s a decent return to be had this summer. Otherwise, it might be best to keep him for next season and see if his trade value improves.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, Flames fans, feel free to offer up your views in the comments section below.

LATEST ON THE KINGS

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott believes Kings GM Rob Blake is on the clock to transform his club into a playoff team. He’s under pressure to use his $20 million in salary-cap space and the young talent he’s accumulated and turn the Kings into a Stanley Cup contender.

Team captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty last week expressed their hope that Blake will add impact players this summer. Elliott feels he has several paths toward doing so, either via free agency, leveraging assets in trades, or targeting cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Blake acknowledged Doughty’s comments, adding that making the playoffs next season is a must. He also said this season provided a better understanding of where certain holes in the roster may be and the progression of some of their younger players.

THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman believes adding one or two top-six wingers for Kopitar’s line should be among the Kings’ priorities this summer. They should target clubs that risk losing a quality player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Given their prospect depth, Dillman proposed they consider shopping their first-round pick if it remains at eighth overall following the draft lottery.

They could also use some help on the left side of their defense. She suggested checking into the availability of Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm or the Carolina Hurricanes’ Jake Bean. Perhaps Vegas Golden Knights pending UFA Alec Martinez might be willing to return to the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is sitting in a good position to make a couple of significant additions. The Kings GM has five picks in the first three rounds in this year’s draft plus plenty of promising prospects to draw upon for trade bait. He can also put his cap space to good use in the trade and/or free-agent market.

The trade market could include forwards like Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, and Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and defensemen such as Ekholm, Bean or St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. Free agency could feature Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boston’s Taylor Hall, Colorado’s Brandon Saad and Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman.

Finding the right players, however, will be the challenge. The nightmare is wasting assets and valuable long-term cap space on players who fail to move the needle.