NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2023

The Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard and the Blue Jackets’Adam Fantilli shine in their rookie tournament performances, Panthers goalie Spencer Knight talks about enrolling in the player assistance program last season, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard and Columbus Blue Jackets center Adam Fantilli made impressive debuts with their clubs during the NHL rookie tournaments.

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Connor Bedard (NHL.com).

The first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, Bedard scored a hat trick in a 5-0 win over the Minnesota Wild at the Tom Kurvers Prospects Showcase on Saturday. Fantilli, chosen third overall in the draft, also netted a hat trick and collected two assists as the Blue Jackets rookies overcame a 4-1 deficit to down the Detroit Red Wings 10-7.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A splendid effort by Bedard and Fantilli suiting up for the first time with their respective NHL clubs. However, they’ll soon face stiffer competition in preseason play later this month.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Florida Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight talked to Ken Campbell about why he enrolled in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program in February. An ongoing case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) made it impossible for him to continue playing.

Knight revealed that his condition began during his freshman year at Boston College in 2019 with excessive hand washing. However, it worsened after giving up three goals in a December game against the Winnipeg Jets. He was plagued by thoughts of contracting diseases, reaching the point where he had trouble sleeping and couldn’t function.

The 22-year-old goaltender has been working directly with an OCD expert and talking to others who are dealing with the condition on a daily basis. As Knight rejoins his teammates for training camp, he’s focused on regaining his form and getting his NHL career back on track.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors were rampant that Knight was dealing with a drug or alcohol problem when he went into the player assistance program. This goes to show that we shouldn’t make assumptions about the reasons behind a player seeking help from the league and the PA.

It’s good to see that this program helps those with mental health issues get the treatment and support that they need. Best wishes to Knight as he goes forward with his life and his playing career.

THE ATHLETIC: Tony DeAngelo shouldered the blame for his disappointing one-season tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers. The 27-year-old defenseman acknowledged the club started last season behind the eight-ball losing Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson sidelined by injuries. However, he said that his inconsistent performance was his own fault.

So that was on me, that wasn’t on them,” said DeAngelo. “But it was something I’ll never trade in.” He felt that playing for the Flyers was a childhood dream come true. “It’s something I can’t say I regret.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers acquired DeAngelo from the Carolina Hurricanes last summer. After efforts to trade him back to Carolina fell through, they bought out the final season of his contract. The Hurricanes subsequently signed him to a one-year, $1.675 million contract.

MAYOR’S MANOR: Promising defenseman Brandt Clarke will not be traveling with the Los Angeles Kings to Australia as the club begins training camp and plays a series of preseason games with the Arizona Coyotes.

Clarke, 20, suffered an injury that isn’t considered serious. However, he requires seven-to-10 days without on-ice contact. It was determined it would be best if he remained in Los Angeles and received treatment.

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting that the Minnesota Wild could be working on something for free-agent center Jujhar Khaira. Russo speculates it could be a professional tryout offer or a contract.

ROTO BALLER: Josh Leivo has signed with KHL club Salavat Yulaev Ufa. The 30-year-old winger played 51 games last season with the St. Louis Blues. He’s totaled 265 games over 10 NHL seasons since 2013-14 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and the Blues, scoring a total of 42 goals and 93 points.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins confirmed and revealed their Centennial jerseys for this season.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2023

Jonathan Toews to take some time away from hockey, updates on Panthers defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour, and long-time Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret passes away. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Toews issued a statement yesterday regarding his plans for the future. The former Blackhawks captain indicated that he is not fully retiring but is taking some time away from the game of hockey.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Toews cited the health issues he suffered through long-COVID and chronic immune response syndrome that sidelined him in 2020-21 and hampered his performance over the past two seasons.

The 35-year-old center became an unrestricted free agent on July 1, bringing to an end his 15 NHL seasons with the Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Toews’ statement, he intends to spend the coming season “to fully heal and enjoy life to the fullest once again”. However, he also seems to be leaving the door open to a possible NHL comeback.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito provided an update on Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour. Both defensemen are recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Zito said both players are healing and on schedule with their respective recoveries. “It’ll be a month or two. Is it four (months)? Probably not Is it one (month)? Probably not. That’s as well as I could get, but every time I check in, I’m told (they’re) on schedule.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A month or two would put both players within range of returning during training camp or the start of the regular season.

BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Long-time Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret passed on Thursday at age 81 from multi-organ failures. The iconic voice of the Sabres began broadcasting their games in 1971 until his retirement at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Jeanneret received the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Award in 2012 for broadcasting. He was also a member of the Sabres Hall of Fame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tributes to Jeanneret are widespread on traditional and social media. He was one of hockey’s greatest broadcasters. His call of Brad May’s series-winning overtime goal against the Boston Bruins in the 1993 playoffs (“May Day!”) ranks among the best in sports history. It still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it.

DAILY FACEOFF: Mathieu Schneider and the NHL Players Association are parting ways after 12 years. He began working with the PA after his playing career ended, going on to become second-in-command to former executive director Donald Fehr. The move comes several months after Marty Walsh took over from Fehr.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks top prospect Connor Bedard isn’t the only member of his family to skate for the club. His great-great uncle, James Bedard, played 22 games as a defenseman for the Hawks from 1949 to 1951.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2023

Johnny Gaudreau expresses optimism over the Blue Jackets’ upcoming season, the latest on the Rangers, and the NHL Network’s top 50 prospects in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Johnny Gaudreau feels a lot more comfortable entering his second season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He now knows the team and the city better, saying it’s starting to feel more like home.

Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Gaudreau joined the Blue Jackets last summer as a free agent but he and the club went through a difficult season, in part due to injuries to key players like Zach Werenski. His production dropped from a career-best 115 points in 2021-22 with the Calgary Flames to 74 points in 80 games.

Nevertheless, Gaudreau is optimistic about the club’s chances this season. “The amount of skill we have on our team with some of the young guys, it’s pretty fun to watch every day in practice and in games,” he said, adding that he hopes teams continue to underestimate the Jackets.

Gaudreau also believes the club’s hiring of Mike Babcock as head coach will improve their performance. “We need that hard-nosed coach that’s going to push us in practices and in games,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A return to form by Gaudreau will be crucial to the Blue Jackets’ hope for improvement this season. How well they adjust to Babcock’s coaching and the overall health of the roster will also be important.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are hoping that veteran additions Blake Wheeler and Jonathan Quick will have a positive effect on the roster this season.

Both players signed bargain contracts with the Rangers. Wheeler inked a one-year, $1.1 million deal after being bought out by the Winnipeg Jets. Quick accepted a one-year, $925K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are past their prime but their experience and leadership could be helpful to the Rangers in their quest to win the Stanley Cup this season. Wheeler still has effective playmaking skills and might benefit from skating as a right wing on the Blueshirts’ top-two forward lines.

Quick could be useful in a backup role to spell off starter Igor Shesterkin. If he sees around 25-30 games of action it would ensure Shesterkin isn’t overworked before the playoffs begin.

LA PRESSE: Speaking of the Rangers, Alexis Lafreniere shed some light on his contract negotiations. The 21-year-old left winger is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights.

Lafreniere said talks are ongoing between his agent and Rangers management. He’s hopeful that an agreement will be reached within the next several weeks. “You have to be patient, sometimes it takes longer,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lafreniere has been occasionally mentioned in the rumor mill as a potential offer sheet candidate. Based on his comments, however, that appears to be a remote possibility. He’s likely to be signed before training camp opens in late September.

Lafreniere’s lack of arbitration rights gives him little leverage with the Rangers. The threat of an offer sheet would be his most effective weapon. Given the high number of teams with less than $5 million in cap space for the coming season, it’s unlikely he’s going to get one, assuming he’s willing to entertain that option.

NHL NETWORK: Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard sits atop the NHL Network’s recent ranking of the league’s top 50 prospects.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Adam Fantilli, Anaheim Ducks forward Leo Carlsson, Philadelphia Flyers winger Matvei Michkov and New Jersey Devils defenseman Luke Hughes round out the top five.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As expected, this generated plenty of responses from hockey fans. Check out the full list and feel free to respond in the comments below.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2023

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin on his chances of breaking Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Canucks sign Pius Suter, a new endorsement deal for Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin remains uncertain if he’ll eclipse Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL goals record of 894. The 37-year-old left winger has 822 goals and needs 73 to pass Gretzky.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

In an interview with MatchTV, Ovechkin admitted he’d like to break Gretzky’s record. “I still doubt that this is possible, but I will make every effort to get to this number.” Ovechkin also said that his summer training for the coming season is going well.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin has three seasons remaining on his contract with the Capitals. He’ll break the goals record by averaging just over 24 per season. He tallied 42 goals in 2022-23 despite missing nine games to injuries.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed center Pius Suter to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A nice affordable signing by the cap-strapped Canucks to boost their checking-line depth at center. Suter should help them improve their penalty-killing. He’s also taken a significant pay cut, down from the $3.25 million AAV he earned with the Detroit Red Wings.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard signed an exclusive deal with Sherwood Hockey.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ian Kennedy reports sources saying Brian Burke will take a leadership role with the Professional Women’s Hockey League Players’ Association. Burke recently served as President of Hockey Operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Anders Bjork signed a one-year contract with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He netted eight points in 13 games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season following a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins named Marty Lauzon as director of high performance.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2023

Connor Bedard signs his entry-level contract with the Blackhawks, Ross Colton inks a four-year deal with the Avalanche, Anton Stralman is no fan of today’s NHL, and more in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Chosen first overall by the Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Draft, Connor Bedard celebrated his 18th birthday on Monday by signing his three-year entry-level contract.

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Connor Bedard (NHL.com).

The deal earns Bedard a maximum average annual value on entry-level deals of $950K. However, he could earn up to $4.45 million annually in performance bonuses.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is the most highly touted prospect since Connor McDavid was drafted first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015. He’s also the latest first-rounder in this year’s draft class to sign their entry-level contract, bringing that number up to nine thus far.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche avoided arbitration with Ross Colton by signing him to a four-year, $16 million contract with an average annual value of $4 million. The Avalanche acquired the 26-year-old forward from the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colton is coming off a two-year contract with an AAV of $1.125 million. He’s also getting a full no-trade clause for 2024-25 and a modified no-trade for the final two seasons. This deal is a significant raise for Colton and an indication of how highly Avalanche management thinks of him. He could be slated for a larger role than the third-line spot he filled with the Lightning.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Anton Stralman is not a fan of how his NHL career ended because of the salary cap. “It’s not a dream employer regarding how you are treated and all that; it is a cut-throat business,” said the 37-year-old defenseman, who will play this season with HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League.

Stralman also cited the “difficult dynamic” of balancing a family with his NHL career. “No, there is no glamor in it really. It’s hard work and no glamor at all in being an NHL player.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stralman is coming off a 16-season NHL career, tallying 293 points in 938 career regular-season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes and Boston Bruins.

There’s no question that it took a lot of hard work for Stralman to maintain a long NHL career. The movement involved in playing for seven teams combined with the games away from home would be stressful for his family. Nevertheless, the money Stralman earned during his NHL career should provide him some measure of comfort. Cap Friendly indicates his total career earnings at over $47 million.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom has signed his qualifying offer. It’s a one-year contract worth $875,125.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It had been reported that Wahlstrom had rejected his QO from the Islanders when there was no indication that he’d accepted it by Saturday’s 5 pm ET deadline. However, there was no deadline for the club to make the announcement.

TSN: Ondrej Kase has signed with HC Verva Litvinov in Czechia. He’d played 258 NHL games with the Anaheim Ducks, Bruins, Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes, netting 124 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A series of injuries, including concussions, derailed Kase’s once-promising NHL career.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets avoided arbitration with forward Morgan Barron as they agreed to a two-year contract with an AAV of $1.35 million.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Martin Kaut has decided to play for HC Dynamo Pardubice in the Czechia Extraliga rather than re-signing with the San Jose Sharks. He claimed that, during his tenure with the Sharks AHL affiliate, their coaches encouraged him to fight opponents as a way of getting into the NHL. The Sharks released a statement denying Kaut’s claim.

CBC NEWS: Nike announced it will permanently end its sponsorship of Hockey Canada in the wake of its handling of a high-profile alleged group sexual assault case.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing a major sponsor like Nike should be a major shot across the bow for Hockey Canada to get its act together and address its toxic culture.

As the report noted, it had used money drawn from player registration fees to quietly pay $8.9 million to 21 complainants since 1989. The entire board of directors and CEO all resigned last fall following months of public scrutiny.

The results of an NHL investigation into the alleged sexual assault involving members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior team are expected to be released this month. Several of those players may have gone on to NHL careers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2023

Results and reaction from the first round of the 2023 Draft, Jim Nill is named NHL GM of the Year, Mike Babcock receives a two-year contract from the Blue Jackets, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: To no one’s surprise, the Chicago Blackhawks chose top prospect Connor Bedard with the first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft on Wednesday evening in Nashville.

Chicago Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson (left) poses with 2023 first-overall pick Connor Bedard (NHL.com).

With the second-overall pick, the Anaheim Ducks chose Swedish center Leo Carlsson. The Columbus Blue Jackets chose Hobey Baker Award-winning center Adam Fantilli with the third-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is the most highly-touted prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015 and Auston Matthews in 2016. He’s considered a potential generational talent who could form the foundation of a Blackhawks resurgence over the next several years.

The Ducks choosing Carlsson over Fantilli was a bit of a surprise as the latter was expected to go second overall. Nevertheless, both players have the potential to become future stars with their new NHL clubs.

The Montreal Canadiens had the highest pick among the Canadian teams at No. 5 overall. They chose Austrian defenseman David Reinbacher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reaction on social media among Canadiens fans ranged from disappointment to outrage. Most were hoping the Habs would select Russian winger Matvei Michkov, who was subsequently chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers with the No. 7 selection.

Reinbacher is considered the top defenseman in this year’s draft class. Canadiens GM Kent Hughes explained that their selection was based in part on roster need (depth among right-handed defensemen) and the inability to scout Michkov in person because of NHL and IIHF travel restrictions to Russia due to that country’s ongoing war with Ukraine.

With the sixth overall pick, the Arizona Coyotes chose KHL defenseman Dmitriy Simashev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This choice was a bigger surprise than the Canadiens taking Reinbacher. Simashev is a promising blueliner who was considered a top-10 prospect by some experts while others had him going outside the first round.

Others who went higher in the draft than I expected included the Coyotes selecting forward Daniil But at No. 12, the Nashville Predators choosing defenseman Tanner Molendyk at No. 24 and the Toronto Maple Leafs taking forward Easton Cowan 28th overall.

The St. Louis Blues held three picks in this round. They chose center Dalibor Dvorsky at No. 10, center Otto Stenberg at No. 25 and defenseman Theo Lindstein at No. 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was expected the Blues might trade one or two of their lower first-rounders for more immediate roster help. However, they couldn’t find any suitable deals and opted to retain those picks.

Here is the complete list of first-round selections:

1. Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard, C

2. Anaheim Ducks: Leo Carlsson, C

3. Columbus Blue Jackets: Adam Fantilli, C

4. San Jose Sharks: Will Smith, C

5. Montreal Canadiens: David Reinbacher, D

6. Arizona Coyotes: Dmitriy Simashev, D

7. Philadelphia Flyers: Matvei Michkov, RW

8. Washington Capitals: Ryan Leonard, RW

9. Detroit Red Wings: Nate Danielson, C

10. St. Louis Blues: Dalibor Dvorsky, C

11. Vancouver Canucks: Tom Willander, D

12. Arizona Coyotes (from Ottawa Senators): Danill But, LW

13. Buffalo Sabres: Zach Benson, LW

14. Pittsburgh Penguins: Brayden Yager, C

15. Nashville Predators: Matthew Wood, RW

16. Calgary Flames: Samuel Honzek, LW

17. Detroit Red Wings (from New York Islanders via Vancouver Canucks): Axel Sandin Pellikka, D

18. Winnipeg Jets: Colby Barlow, LW

19. Chicago Blackhawks (from Tampa Bay Lightning): Oliver Moore, C

20. Seattle Kraken: Eduard Sale, LW

21. Minnesota Wild: Charlie Stramel, C

22. Philadelphia Flyers (from Los Angeles Kings via Columbus Blue Jackets): Oliver Bonk, D

23. New York Rangers: Gabriel Perreault, RW

24. Nashville Predators (from Edmonton Oilers): Tanner Molendyk, D

25. St. Louis Blues (from Toronto Maple Leafs): Otto Stenberg, C

26. San Jose Sharks (from New Jersey Devils): Quentin Musty, LW

27. Colorado Avalanche: Calum Ritchie, C

28. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Boston Bruins via Washington Capitals): Easton Cowan, RW

29. St. Louis Blues (from Dallas Stars via New York Rangers): Theo Lindstein, D

30. Carolina Hurricanes: Bradly Nadeau, LW

31. Colorado Avalanche (from Montreal Canadiens via Florida Panthers): Mikhail Gulyayev, D

32. Vegas Golden Knights: David Edstrom, C

DAILY FACEOFF’s Frank Seravalli tweeted that this was the first draft since 2007 in which no trades were completed in the opening round.

Steven Ellis listed the best prospects available during Day 2 of the NHL Draft. They include WHL winger Andrew Cristall, University of Michigan winger Gavin Brindley, and QMJHL winger Ethan Gauthier.

Rounds 2 through 7 go today at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville beginning at 11 am ET.

NHL.COM: Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill was named the winner of the James Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets will officially name former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock as their new bench boss on Saturday. He will receive a two-year contract worth $4 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement comes Saturday because Babcock’s contract with the Leafs officially expires at midnight on Friday, June 30.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames signed forward Yegor Sharangoivich to a two-year, $6.2 million contract. He was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday as part of the return for Tyler Toffoli.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said his team is focused on multiple sites for a new arena in the East Valley (Phoenix) area. They will be seeking locations that will not be subject to a public vote for approval.

The Coyotes recently lost a public vote on a proposed arena project in Tempe. They do not have a hard deadline from the NHL for locking down a new location.