NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021

Jack Eichel changes agents plus the latest on John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Bo Horvat and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Still in a dispute with the Buffalo Sabres over treatment for his neck injury, center Jack Eichel has changed agents. He will now be represented by Pat Brisson of Creative Artists Agency, who also represents high-profile players such as Sidney Crosby and John Tavares.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s former agents released a statement a month ago that was critical of the Sabres’ handling of their now-former client’s situation. With no end of the stalemate in sight, hiring Brisson has sparked speculation over its effect upon his trade status. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

NHL.COM: Speaking of Tavares, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain said he’s “doing fantastic” in his recovery from a concussion and knee injury suffered during the playoffs. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to hear that Tavares is healthy and gearing up for the start of the new season. He’ll be under considerable pressure this season to lead the Leafs to playoff success after the club’s stunning first-round collapse against the Montreal Canadiens three months ago.

THE SCORE: After signing Sean Couturier to a contract extension on Thursday, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher indicated contract talks with captain Claude Giroux will be held off until the end of 2021-22. Giroux, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher also said both sides are comfortable with that decision. It will allow the Flyers to evaluate their captain’s performance and his future with the club. Giroux will use this season to prove his worth to the Flyers (or other clubs) in his contract year.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is determined to reach the playoffs this season. He believes they have the team to do it. “Enough is enough, we can talk all we want, at the end of the day we have to go out there and prove it on the ice,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expectations were high for the Canucks entering last season after reaching the second round of the 2020 playoffs. A shortened season, an outbreak of COVID-19, the offseason departures Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli, and Elias Pettersson’s season-ending injury were critical factors that scuttled their 2021 postseason hopes.

General manager Jim Benning shook up the roster, bringing in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Jaroslav Halak and Jason Dickinson while shedding Nate Schmidt, Braden Holtby, Loui Eriksson and several others. Time will tell if those moves improve the Canucks, especially their porous blueline.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes some Jets fans are being overly critical of Josh Morrisey. While the 26-year-old defenseman was accused of slacking off last season after landing a big contract, he was in fact dealing with his father’s fight with brain cancer that eventually took his life on Aug. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morrissey didn’t use that as an excuse for his inconsistent play but McIntyre believes it’s a justifiable reason. “How could it NOT have impacted his on-ice performance?”, he asked his readers.

We fans and pundits are quick to criticize players when their performance is not up to their usual standard. Sometimes it’s justified, but more often than not there are genuine reasons behind the decline. Sometimes they’re dealing with a loved one’s life-threatening illness or death. Sometimes they’re trying to play through a serious injury.

Sure, a handful of them can find the physical and mental toughness to overcome those issues and continue playing at a high level of competition. Most, however, will struggle to cope. That doesn’t make them weak. It just makes them normal. We tend to forget that.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed defenseman Jordie Benn to a one-year, $900K contract.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are reportedly close to signing defenseman Libor Hajek.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed center Ryan Poehling to a two-year contract. That leaves Jesperi Kotkaniemi as their only remaining restricted free agent.










NHL Trades – Monday, April 12, 2021

NHL Trades – Monday, April 12, 2021

Check out the details of all the significant trades that took place on deadline day:

Buffalo Sabres trade forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar to the Boston Bruins for winger Anders Bjork and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. The Sabres retain half of Hall’s $8 million cap hit.

Los Angeles Kings trade forward Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 2022 third-round pick and a conditional fourth in 2023. The Kings retain half of Carter’s $5.273 million cap hit.

Washington Capitals trade Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 second-rounder to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for winger Anthony Mantha.

Calgary Flames trade Sam Bennett to the Florida Panthers for a 2022 second-round pick and prospect winger Emil Heineman. 

Philadelphia Flyers trade forward Michael Raffl to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

Ottawa Senators trade defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Nashville Predators for a seventh-rounder in 2023. 

Montreal Canadiens acquire defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2022. 

Colorado Avalanche re-acquire center Carl Soderberg from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for minor-league center Josh Dickinson and prospect winger Ryder Rolston. 

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire defenseman Ben Hutton from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2022. 

Chicago Blackhawks trade Mattias Janmark and a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a second-round pick in 2021 and a third-round pick in 2022. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks will receive a fifth-round pick from the Golden Knights for brokering the deal. The Blackhawks and Sharks retain 50 percent of Janmark’s salary. 

Edmonton Oilers acquire defenseman Dmitry Kulikov from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. The pick becomes a third-rounder if the Oilers win a playoff round (as per TSN’s Gord Miller and Bob McKenzie)

Vancouver Canucks trade defenseman Jordie Benn to the Winnipeg Jets for a sixth-round pick. 

Chicago Blackhawks acquire forward Adam Gaudette from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for center Matthew Highmore.

Carolina Hurricanes trade defenseman Haydn Fleury to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Jani Hakanpaa.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 24, 2021

Check out the latest on Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Conor Garland, Nick Foligno and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST PREDATORS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Nashville Predators could face a decision between trading Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis, who is currently sidelined. The latter was considered among their untouchables but there could be considerable value in the highly-regarded defenseman.

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (NHL Images).

Players with Ellis’ contract (six years remaining with an annual average value of $6.25 million) are difficult to move now but Friedman suggests the Preds blueliner could be an exception. He believes Ellis could be a good long-term fit with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Friedman is also curious about what the Predators might do with Calle Jarnkrok. He has one season remaining on his contract worth $2 million and was last week’s NHL player of the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Ellis would attract plenty of interest if Predators general manager David Poile is willing to listen to offers. However, I don’t believe they can move him during the trade deadline with so many capped-out clubs seeking affordable rentals. If Ellis is to be traded that move probably happens in the offseason when interested clubs have more cap space.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Mattias Ekholm remains the big name on the trade bait list. Sources tell LeBrun the Predators are seeking three assets in return: a first-round pick, an elite prospect and a third asset that could take on different forms.

Part of the reason behind that asking price is Ekholm’s under contract for another year. They must determine if the best offer they’ll get is at this trade deadline or after this summer’s expansion draft when interested clubs no longer have to worry about protection lists.

Frank Seravalli believes Predators winger Mikael Granlund is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primary target in their search for a top-six forward. However, there are some complicating factors.

The Leafs are awaiting clarity on whether the current 14-day quarantine period for players from American teams joining Canadian clubs will be reduced to seven games. There could also be some hesitation by the Predators to sell as they’re gaining ground on the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile isn’t under pressure to move Ekholm at this trade deadline. Interested clubs could be more willing to pursue him in the offseason following the expansion draft.

Granlund is probably the most affordable forward linked to the Leafs in terms of return and salary. If that quarantine period isn’t reduced they’ll have to acquire him before the end of this month if he’s to be effective for them over the remainder of the season.

TRADE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Leafs have checked around on goalies (“Arizona makes sense”) but doesn’t see a long list of potential healthy options to acquire in a sensible trade. He also dismissed the rumors linking the Leafs to Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Darcy Kuemper is a terrific starter but the Coyotes netminder remains week-to-week with a lower-body injury. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Kuemper’s certain to be back before the trade deadline but there’s no certainty he’ll be moved before the trade deadline. He’s under contract for another season and Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Oft-injured backup Antti Raanta was recently placed on injured reserve.

The speculation about the Leafs acquiring Quick sounds like a desperate fever dream from the more deranged of Frederik Andersen’s critics. The 35-year-old Kings goalie is past his prime, carries a $5.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two years and has a long injury history.

Acquiring Quick would make the Leafs older, eat up valuable cap space for next season that could be better invested in a younger player, and wouldn’t resolve their goaltending concerns.

Following on his report from last Saturday that the Coyotes could consider moving winger Conor Garland, Friedman said they’re not interested in multiple late-round picks. The Boston Bruins need scoring depth and he speculates they could have interest in the former junior Bruin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garland is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could wait until the offseason if he doesn’t find any suitable offers before the trade deadline.

Friedman wonders if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello will consider acquiring Kings winger Dustin Brown to replace sidelined captain Anders Lee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 36-year-old Brown is having a good bounce-back performance from last season’s disappointing effort. He’s got a year remaining on his contract ($5.875 million cap hit) but I don’t think he’s a fit with the Islanders from a contract standpoint.

Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got $75.9 million invested in 15 players next season. Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin are restricted free agents seeking raises on their next contracts.

The Columbus Blue Jackets must decide if they’ll shop pending UFA defenseman David Savard at the trade deadline or hold onto him for the playoffs. The Jackets have risen back into the postseason chase in the Discover Central Division. Friedman also isn’t sure the Jackets want to trade captain (and pending UFA) Nick Foligno.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could move Savard for the right price if his club slides further out of playoff contention. I’ll be surprised if he shops Foligno, who is believed keen to re-sign with the Jackets. Trading their captain at the deadline would be a gut punch to their playoff hopes.

The Vancouver Canucks playoff math isn’t good but they want to compete as long as they can before becoming deadline sellers. They’ve taken calls on pending unrestricted free agent defenders Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic (both have no-move clauses) and Jordie Benn, who has a five-team no-trade clause. There’s been some action on Benn and at least one Eastern American club asked about Hamonic.

They also have pending UFA forwards Tanner Pearson and Brandon Sutter to deal with as well as winger Jake Virtanen’s situation to sort out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s assumed Edler could be unwilling to leave Vancouver. The Jets have been linked to Hamonic, who might entertain the opportunity to play in his home province. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Canucks could soon start contract extension talks with Pearson.

Friedman thinks the Flyers could consider someone like Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal if they don’t go the Ryan Ellis route.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Flyers are buyers. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor makes the case that the slumping club hasn’t done much to warrant being aggressive shoppers before the trade deadline. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher might even become a seller if his club doesn’t reverse its fortunes soon.










Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season

Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s game, the Leafs remember the late George Armstrong and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Morgan Rielly collected three assists and Auston Matthews netted the game-winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs held on for a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Before the game, the Leafs mourned former captain George Armstrong, who passed away yesterday at age 90.

Hall-of-Famer George Armstrong passed away Sunday at age 90. (NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong spent his entire 21-NHL career with the Leafs, 12 of those as captain. He led the Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the 1960s, finishing his career with 296 goals and 713 points in 1,188 games. Armstrong was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975 and went on to work for the Leafs in various front-office roles and was a long-time scout and team ambassador. My condolences to Armstrong’s family, friends, former teammates, and the Leafs organization.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their second win of the season by thumping the Detroit Red Wings 6-2. Blackhawks rookie Pius Suter tallied a hat track, becoming the second player in franchise history to score his first three NHL goals in one game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a well-deserved victory by the Blackhawks. The Red Wings certainly didn’t help their cause, looking every bit as horrible as they did last season.

Jack Eichel’s shootout goal lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-3 decision over the Washington Capitals. Sabres defensemen Colin Miller and Rasmus Ristolainen each had two points, as did Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom and blueliner Justin Schultz.

A controversial goal by William Karlsson late in the third period lifted the Vegas Golden Knights over the Arizona Coyotes 1-0. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 16 saves for his 62nd career shutout, moving into 17th place on the all-time list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet wasn’t pleased by Karlsson’s goal, believing play should’ve been whistled down for icing.

The New Jersey Devils got goals from Jack Hughes and Pavel Zacha to blank the New York Islanders 2-0. Scott Wedgewood kicked out 28 shots for the shutout. Devils blueliner Ty Smith became the sixth rookie defenseman in NHL history to collect points in his first five games.

Jake Guentzel tallied his 100th career NHL goal, breaking a 2-2 tie as the Pittsburgh Penguins nipped the New York Rangers 3-2. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby picked up two assists. Rangers center Filip Chytil left the game with an upper-body injury following a second-period collision with Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues.

The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 thanks to a 32-save performance by goaltender John Gibson.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the St. Louis Blues 6-3. Brayden Schenn scored twice for the Blues.

Brent Burns’ goal late in the third period was the game-winner as the San Jose Sharks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3. Sharks forward Ryan Donato had a goal and an assist, as did Wild winger Zach Parise.

The Dallas Stars tallied three power-play goals to hold off the Nashville Predators 3-2. Stars forwards Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz each tallied a goal and two assists. The Stars were playing without captain Jamie Benn, who’s been sidelined with a lower-body injury since Friday’s season-opener.

Leon Draisaitl scored with one second remaining in the game to give the Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected three assists in this contest.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson has changed agents, moving to Pat Brisson at CAA Hockey. Brisson also represents Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brisson is among the NHL’s most powerful agents. Pettersson and Hughes are in the final seasons of their entry-level contracts. Both will be seeking significant raises this summer.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets placed center Brandon Dubinsky on long-term injury reserve. He’s been sidelined since the 2019 playoffs with a chronic wrist injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubinsky’s playing career is likely over. He’s in the final season of his contract and becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the fallout from the Dubois-for-Laine trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price picked up his 350th career victory backstopping his club over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The Canadiens (4-0-2) sit atop the North Division with 10 points. Jonathan Drouin had a goal and an assist while Corey Perry scored his first goal for the Canadiens after being activated from their taxi squad on Friday.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens completed a successful season-opening road trip with points in all six games. They’re also currently the league’s highest-scoring team with 29 goals.

Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Charlie Coyle, Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith each had two points for the Bruins, who’ve tallied 10 regulation goals in their last two games after managing just three goals in regulation time during their opening three contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Bruins, who played without sidelined defenseman Matt Grzelcyk as he remains hampered by a lower-body injury. It was a tough outing for Flyers goalie Carter Hart, who apologized following the game for breaking his stick in frustration following this contest. To be fair to Hart, he and backup Brian Elliott haven’t had much help from their teammates over the last three games.

Defenseman Torey Krug tallied his first goal with the St. Louis Blues as they doubled up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly and teammates David Perron and Robert Thomas each collected two points.

Winnipeg Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny each had a goal and two assists while Andrew Copp scored twice to down the Ottawa Senators 6-3. Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected three assists in this contest. Earlier in the day, the Senators placed rookie Tim Stuetzle on injured reserve for an undisclosed minor injury.

First-period goals by Nick Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko and Vladislav Gavrikov powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 30 save for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets and Blue Jackets showed no ill-effects from yesterday morning’s blockbuster trade that saw the Jets ship Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to the Blue Jackets for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a draft pick. None of the players involved in the deal have joined their new clubs yet. COVID-19 protocols could further delay their arrivals.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The Canadian government will decide how long Dubois must remain in self-quarantine before joining his new teammates after traveling from Columbus to Winnipeg on Saturday. The standard quarantine period for travelers arriving in Canada is 14 days but the Jets are lobbying the federal government to have that period reduced by seven days. All seven Canadian clubs would prefer to have that seven-day period, which was similar to the one during training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rationale behind that request is NHL players live and work under stricter COVID-19 protocols than other international travelers. That includes the requirement for four consecutive negative COVID tests before joining their teammates. It will significantly reduce the wait time for Canadian teams that acquire players via trade or waivers from American clubs.

THE SCORE: Dubois didn’t reveal the exact reason behind his trade request during an interview with Sportsnet’s Ron MacLean on Saturday. However, he indicated Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella wasn’t a factor in his decision. Dubois acknowledged Tortorella is a tough coach to play for but praised his style and never took criticism of his play personally.

Meanwhile, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has already engaged in preliminary contract-extension talks with the Laine camp. “We’re going to try to build a long-term relationship with him,” said Kekalainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Building that relationship will depend upon how well Laine adjusts to playing for Tortorella and how much the Jackets are willing to invest in him. The 22-year-old winger is earning $7.5 million in actual salary this season and could seek around $10 million annually on his next contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars captain Jamie Benn missed Saturday’s practice with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

THE NEW & OBSERVER: Jesper Fast has been added to the Carolina Hurricanes’ COVID-19 protocol list, bringing that number to six players. The Hurricanes have had their past three games postponed and their training facility closed as they deal with this issue.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks will be playing the first two of their home games in Glendale, Arizona. They’d hoped to return to SAP Center in San Jose for those games but the ban on contact sports in Santa Clara County remains in place.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report several NHL clubs are looking at moving the 2021 NHL Draft from July to December or January because the pandemic has made it difficult for draft-eligible players to be properly scouted. One solution could be staging a tournament this spring to showcase some of this year’s prospects for evaluation. Any changes to this year’s draft format require approval from the NHL and NHLPA.