NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2023

Oilers captain Connor McDavid celebrates his birthday with a three-point performance, the Jets’ Cole Perfetti sets a franchise rookie record, Connor Bedard is named the top North American skater in midseason prospect rankings, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid celebrated his 26th birthday with two goals and an assist in a 7-1 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks. Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and two assists as the Oilers (23-18-3) hold the final Western Conference playoff berth with 49 points, opening a four-point lead over the St. Louis Blues. The Sharks fell to 13-23-8 on the season.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is riding a 12-game points streak. He’s currently the league leader in goals (37), assists (45) and points (82) in just 44 games.

The Winnipeg Jets picked up their seventh win in their last eight games by dropping the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. Mark Scheifele scored twice while Cole Perfetti collected three assists. With 57 points, the Jets (28-14-1) are tied with the second-place Dallas Stars in the Western Conference but the latter holds that spot with 22 regulation wins. The 21-14-6 Penguins remain one point up on the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 48 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perfetti became the first rookie in Jets history to have multiple games with three-plus assists in a single season. He’s tied with Arizona’s Matias Maccelli for most assists (19) among this season’s rookies and third in rookie points with 25.

New Jersey Devils forwards Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt each tallied two goals in a 6-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Damon Severson collected three assists while Vitek Vanecek stopped 31 shots for the Devils (27-12-3) as they moved to within two points of the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes with 57 points. Adam Henrique and Trevor Zegras replied for the Ducks as they fell to 12-27-4.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Connor Bedard of the WHL’s Regina Pats is the No. 1 North American skater as NHL Central Scouting released its midseason rankings of the top prospects. The 17-year-old center is the WHL’s leading scorer and was named MVP of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. He could become the first WHL player to be chosen as the NHL’s first overall draft pick since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011.

Leo Carlsson, a center with Orebro HK of the Swedish Hockey League, is ranked No. 1 among international skaters.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is the crown jewel of the 2023 prospect class. He could become the most impressive draft pick since Connor McDavid was chosen first overall by the Oilers in 2015.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks sent winger Lukas Reichel back to their AHL affiliate in Rockford in anticipation of Patrick Kane’s return to the lineup. Kane’s missed three games with a lower-body injury.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered during Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

NHL.COM: Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for cross-checking Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom on Thursday.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was fined $5,000.00 for roughing Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland during Thursday’s game between the two clubs.

THE PROVINCE: The NHL Players Association is looking into concerns raised over treatment received by Vancouver Canucks winger Tanner Pearson for a broken hand suffered earlier this season. Reports emerged claiming Pearson has undergone three or four procedures and could be sidelined for the remainder of this season. That’s raised speculation that the situation could be career-ending.

Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes on Thursday suggested Pearson’s injury “wasn’t handled properly.” He clarified his remarks the following day, saying he wasn’t trying to direct blame at anyone and was expressing concern for his teammate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet reported the Canucks are conducting an internal investigation into the handling of Pearson’s injury.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers coach John Tortorella has banned players from using Ipads on the bench during games to evaluate or review their play. He considers them distracting and wants his players’ attention focused elsewhere, preferring they be more engaged with each other.

Someone mentioned that Tortorella will be perceived as “old school” because of his approach. “I don’t give a flying s**t how I’m perceived,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella made it clear a long time ago that he didn’t care about the perception of fans and media over how he does his job.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Former NHL forward Brian Gionta has joined the Niagara University hockey coaching staff as director of player development. Gionta spent 16 seasons in the NHL and retired as a player in 2018. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2023

The potential effect of top prospect Connor Bedard upon this season’s trade market, the latest on the Blackhawks and Blues, updates on Alexis Lafreniere and Jakob Chychrun, the Predators could consider shopping Mattias Ekholm, and much more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BEDARD’S POTENTIAL EFFECT ON THE TRADE MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports top prospect Connor Bedard’s unbelievable performance at this year’s World Junior Championship could spur clubs considered sellers in this season’s trade market to start shopping players sooner rather than closer to the March 3 trade deadline.

WHL forward Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats (NHL.com).

Doing so could help those bottom-feeding clubs improve their chances of winning this year’s draft lottery. Potential buyers, however, could prefer waiting until March given the limited salary-cap space around the league.

Chris Johnston believes the asking price for this year’s best assets at this year’s deadline will be at least a first-round pick in return. That goes for the high-profile forwards as well as defensemen like Montreal’s Joel Edmundson and Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every club with a shot at winning the 2023 draft lottery will be trying to dump pending free agents that they can’t or won’t re-sign as quickly as possible. However, Cap Friendly indicates there are only seven teams with more than $3 million in salary-cap payrolls right now. Several of those clubs will be sellers.

Most playoff contenders will be trying to accrue as much cap space as they can leading up to March 3. That means most of the buyers will likely want to wait until within a week or two of the deadline to start making moves when they’ve got the cap flexibility to do so.

MORE RUMORS FROM TSN’S LATEST “INSIDER TRADING”

Darren Dreger believes St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has a decision to make regarding Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko when the two return from injury next month. Armstrong will have to consider the trade value of O’Reilly, who would be a hot asset in the trade market. There will have to be a conversation with O’Reilly, and maybe with Tarasenko, regarding contract extensions, and then make the call nearer the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything I’ve read or heard about Tarasenko’s future is that the Blues won’t be part of it. They reportedly could re-sign O’Reilly if he’s willing to accept a pay cut on a short-term deal.

Dreger also reports the Chicago Blackhawks still have to determine if pending UFAs Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews want to be traded. If they do, the pair will have to determine who the contenders will be. He also believes they would have to decide whether to accept a trade and then test their luck in this summer’s free-agent market or consider a trade-and-sign scenario.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pat Brisson, who represents Kane and Toews, is expected to meet with Blackhawks management later this month to discuss their futures.

Speaking of Gavrikov, Johnston said a lot of teams like him but so do the Blue Jackets. He doesn’t believe they’ve decided yet if they want to move the blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That decision will depend on how much Gavrikov wants to stay in Columbus. He could seek to double his salary from its current average annual value of $2.8 million.

Pierre LeBrun reports there were teams that looked into the availability of Alexis Lafreniere after the 2020 first-overall pick was a healthy scratch last week. However, the New York Rangers still believe in him and have also told that to the young winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should quiet the media trade chatter about Lafreniere for the time being. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it surfaces again before the March 3 trade deadline, especially if the Rangers decide to pursue a big-name player (hello there, Patrick Kane).

UPDATES ON CHYCHRUN, KLINGBERG, EKHOLM, MCDONAGH AND MERKLEY

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is sticking to his asking price of two first-round picks plus another asset as part of the return for defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He indicated Chychrun still wants to be dealt to a Stanley Cup contender. If the assets are there, said Armstrong, he will certainly make that trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how well Chychrun’s played since returning in November from offseason wrist surgery, I daresay Armstrong feels confident that someone will meet his price by March 3.

Russo also noted that Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg’s full no-trade clause changed to a modified one on Jan. 1 that’s limited to 10 teams. He pointed out that Ducks GM Pat Verbeek scouted the Edmonton Oilers during two games last month. There’s been chatter they could have an interest in Klingberg, though they seem to have more of a need for a left-side defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ preference would be for Chychrun but they could lack the assets to make that deal happen. The Oilers have also been linked to Gavrikov.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm to his list of trade candidates at No. 7. He’s been told that Predators GM David Poile has some uncomfortable decisions to make as his club has regressed this season to a likely non-playoff team loaded with expensive contracts. Seravalli also wondered if defenseman Ryan McDonagh might be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm lacks no-trade protection and is in the first season of a four-year contract. However, he’s also turning 33 in May and carries an annual salary-cap hit of $6.25 million. Good luck moving that contract during a season under a flattened salary cap.

As for McDonagh, Seravalli pointed out he waived his no-trade clause last summer to go from Tampa Bay to Nashville. He believes that requesting the 33-year-old rearguard to waive it again could be a tall ask. Even if McDonagh agreed to be traded again, his age and $6.75 million cap hit through 2025-26 make him very difficult to move in-season.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Max Miller cited Seravalli reporting yesterday that Sharks defenseman Ryan Merkley requested a trade. A first-round pick (21st overall) in 2018, he’s spent much of his tenure with the Sharks organization playing for their AHL affiliate.

Merkley spent 39 games with the Sharks last season and was expected to skate with them again this season. Sharks GM Mike Grier declined to comment.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2023

The Bruins defeat the Penguins in the 2023 NHL Winter Classic, the three stars of the week are announced, plus updates on sidelined stars such as Ryan O’Reilly and John Carlson in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 at the 2023 NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Jake DeBrusk tallied the game-tying and winning goals in the third period for the league-leading Bruins (29-4-4, 62 points) as they extended their home points streak to 22 games. Kasperi Kapanen scored for the Penguins (19-12-6) as they’ve lost five straight games.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. No update was provided on his condition following the game.

The Pens also played without defenseman Kris Letang, who returned home to Montreal following the death of his father. He remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. My condolences to Letang and his family for their loss.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Nicolas Roy scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights held off the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. With the win, the Golden Knights (26-12-2) regained first place in the Western Conference with 54 points and sit two up on the Dallas Stars. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist for the 19-14-3 Avalanche, who’ve dropped four games in a row.

The Philadelphia Flyers (14-17-7) picked up their third straight win with a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Travis Konecny had a goal and an assist while goaltender Samuel Ersson made 28 saves. Ryan Strome replied for the Ducks, who dropped to 10-24-4.

HEADLINES

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg, San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and Carolina Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 1, 2023.

The Seattle Kraken will host the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2024 NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2024, at T-Mobile Field.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m taking a victory lap having predicted this during a Bleacher Report roundtable last week. OK, I picked the wrong stadium where they’d play but I’m not sweating the minor details here.

TSN: Bad news for the St. Louis Blues as captain Ryan O’Reilly (broken foot) will be sidelined for six weeks while winger Vladimir Tarasenko (hand injury) will be out for four weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are struggling to stay in the Western Conference playoff race. Losing their two core forwards for a month could sink their postseason hopes.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir recently reported Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson could be sidelined for months with a head injury suffered against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 23. His estimated return could be late in the regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals will miss Carlson’s presence on the blueline. He had 21 points in 30 games this season before his injury.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings have extended Jakub Vrana’s conditioning stint with their AHL affiliate from three days to the full two weeks. He only played two games with the Wings this season before voluntarily entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program in mid-October.

The New York Islanders activated goaltender Semyon Varlamov off injured reserve.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed defenseman Nick Perbix to a two-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $1.125 million.

DAILY FACEOFF: Top NHL prospect Connor Bedard broke the Canadian World Junior record for all-time goals (16) and points (33) to lead Canada to a 4-3 overtime victory over Slovakia in the quarter-final of the 2023 World Junior Championships.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard was considered the top prospect in the 2023 NHL Draft prior to the 2023 WJC. His performance in this tournament will cement his spot in that position.