NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2022

The Panthers and Wild romp to lopsided wins, the Avalanche tie a franchise record plus the latest suspensions, COVID updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sam Bennett and Jonathan Huberdeau each had four-point performances as the Florida Panthers crushed the Dallas Stars 7-1. Bennett tallied a hat trick while Huberdeau collected three assists. Anthony Duclair scored and set up two others as the Panthers (55 points) reclaimed first place in the overall standings.

Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Score indicates the Stars have one of the worst road records (4-11-1) in the league, with just one regulation win away from Dallas. Head coach Rick Bowness wasn’t pleased with his club’s performance. “We have some guys who are very comfortable playing at home and very uncomfortable playing on the road,” he said.

The Minnesota Wild tallied four third-period goals (including two within four seconds early in the period) to down the Anaheim Ducks 7-3. Mats Zuccarello scored twice and picked up an assist while Kirill Kaprizov had two helpers. With 46 points, the Wild holds the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Ducks (45 points) remain in second place in the Pacific Division but have just three wins in their last 10 contests.

A shootout goal by Nazem Kadri lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Avs tied a franchise record by picking up their 13th straight home victory as they overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. With 49 points, they’re one point back of the Western Conference-leading Nashville Predators. Coyotes goaltender Ivan Prosvetov made 44 saves.

HEADLINES

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders forward Ross Johnston received a three-game suspension from the NHL department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of New Jersey Devils forward A.J. Greer on Thursday.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan was fined $2,500.00 for a dangerous trip (slew foot) on Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield on Thursday.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Connor Brown is listed as week-to-week with a suspected broken jaw.

SPORTSNET: St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich and Toronto Maple Leafs Justin Holl, Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

TSN: Former Arizona Coyotes star Shane Doan is taking over as the general manager of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey team and former NHL coach Claude Julien takes over as head coach.

NBC SPORTS: Aisha Visram is believed to be the first woman to work on the bench during an NHL game as she filled in for the Los Angeles Kings’ sidelined athletic trainer during their 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Visram is the head trainer of the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Ontario, California.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2022

It was a day of hat tricks for the Penguins and Rangers, Nathan MacKinnon extends his points streak, the three stars and rookie of the month for December are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their eighth straight win by holding off the San Jose Sharks 8-5. Penguins forwards Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust led the way with three goals each as the club played its first game in 13 days due to COVID postponements. Rust also collected two assists to finish the game with five points. Sharks forward Timo Meier picked up three assists while James Reimer got the hook after giving up six goals on 17 shots.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust (NHL Images).

Speaking of hat tricks, Mika Zibanejad tallied three times as the New York Rangers blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. Igor Shesterkin made 38 saves for the shutout while Lightning goalie Andre Vasilevskiy gave up four goals on 21 shots in his first game since returning from COVID protocol.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with three assists in a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Linemate Mikko Rantanen also had three points with a goal and two assists as the Avs played their first game in 16 days. Ducks forward Max Comtois and defenseman Cam Fowler returned to the lineup from recent injuries.

A three-point performance by Johnny Gaudreau (one goal, two assists) powered the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Jacob Markstrom turned aside 30 shots for the Flames.

The Boston Bruins scored five straight goals to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Charlie McAvoy and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and an assist as the Bruins (34 points) vaulted over the Wings into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Kyle Connor’s overtime goal lifted the Winnipeg Jets over the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4. Playing their first game in 13 days, the Jets blew a 4-2 lead as Mattias Janmark scored two unanswered third-period goals to force the extra frame.

The New Jersey Devils blew a 3-1 lead but still managed to upset the Washington Capitals 4-3 on an overtime goal by Nico Hischier. It was Hischier’s second goal of the game as his Devils picked up their third straight victory. The Capitals, however, moved past the Lightning into first place in the Eastern Conference.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and Rangers winger Artemi Panarin were among the latest players to enter the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko were the NHL’s three stars for December 2021. Ducks forward Trevor Zegras was named the rookie of the month.

The NHL department of player safety suspended Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett for three games for an illegal hit to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Cedric Paquette during Saturday’s game between the two clubs.

TSN: Speaking of the Canadiens, their search for a new general manager is reportedly underway. Pierre LeBrun reports they’ve been reaching out to NHL clubs to seek permission to speak with potential candidates. Roberto Luongo, Mathieu Darche and Daniel Briere are believed among the Habs targets.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2021

Game recaps include hat tricks by Connor McDavid and Sam Bennett, a record-setting night for Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid tallied his 10th career hat trick to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Calgary Flames by a score of 5-2. Three of those hat tricks have come against the Flames. Leon Draisaitl collected three assists while Jesse Puljujarvi had a goal and two assists. The Oilers also welcomed back Zack Kassian from concussion protocol. The Flames set a dubious NHL record by losing 12 straight season-opening games.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Sam Bennett powered the Florida Panthers to a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Aleksander Barkov and Anthony Duclair also tallied for the Panthers while Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for the win.

Mike Sullivan became the all-time wins leader among Pittsburgh Penguins head coaches with 253 as his club rolled over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Chicago goalie Marc-Andre Fleury got the hook in the first period after giving up four goals on 10 shots. Drew O’Connor and Brock McGinn each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Penguins activated Zach Aston-Reese from COVID protocol and placed winger Bryan Rust (upper body) on injured reserve.

Steven Stamkos’ overtime goal lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Washington Capitals 2-1. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring in the second period with his 733rd career goal while Mikhail Sergachev tied it in the third. The Lightning’s win was overshadowed by the departure of first-line winger Nikita Kucherov midway through the third period with an apparent lower-body injury.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand joined Mats Sundin and Chris Kelly as the third player in NHL history to record a team’s season-opening goal on a penalty shot in a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. He also scored the insurance goal late in the third period. Stars goalie Braden Holtby made 37 saves in a losing effort.

Chris Kreider scored in his third straight game as the New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. Alexis Lafreniere picked up the game-winner by snapping a 1-1 tie in the third period. Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. The Canadiens have dropped three straight and scored just three goals with Jonathan Drouin accounting for two of them.

St. Louis Blues winger David Perron scored twice as his club held off a late rally by the Colorado Avalanche for a 5-3 victory. The Avalanche came back from 4-1 to within a goal before Ryan O’Reilly put the game out of reach. Colorado defenseman Jack Johnson missed this contest as he was placed in COVID protocol. Before the game, the Avs honored former general manager Pierre Lacroix, who passed away in December from a COVID-related illness at age 72.

The San Jose Sharks overcame a 2-0 deficit with a shorthanded goal and two power-play markers to beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3. Tomas Hertl and rookie Jasper Weatherby led the way for the Sharks as they each had a goal and an assist.

A 40-save effort by Thomas Greiss carried the Detroit Red Wings over the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 3-1. Greiss made 23 saves in the third period. Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina and Sam Gagner scored for the Wings.

Frederik Andersen kicked out 38 shots as the Carolina Hurricanes held off the Nashville Predators 3-2. Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen scored in the third period to give the Hurricanes the win.

The Toronto Maple Leafs got a 20-save performance from Jack Campbell to beat the Ottawa Senators 3-1. Alex Kerfoot led the way with a goal and an assist. With Petr Mrazek sidelined for two weeks with a groin injury, the Leafs had to sign University of Toronto goalie Alex Bishop to a one-day contract as an emergency backup for Campbell due to salary-cap constraints. They’ll be able to call up Michael Hutchinson on Monday.

Cam Talbot made 29 saves as the Minnesota Wild held on for a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The Wild got second-period goals from Frederick Gaudreau, Victor Rask and Ryan Hartman. Anze Kopitar got the Kings within one in the third period.

An overtime goal by Patrik Laine gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Branden Tanev opened the scoring for the Kraken but Eric Robinson’s goal midway through the third period set the stage for Laine’s game-winner. The Kraken played without Vince Dunn as the defenseman was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed ailment.

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their second-straight win by downing the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on a shootout goal by Arttu Ruotsalainen. Andrew Ladd opened the scoring for the Coyotes in the first period while Cody Eakin replied in the second for the Sabres. Earlier in the day, the Sabres placed defenseman Henri Jokiharju (lower body) on injured reserve and claimed blueliner Christian Wolanin off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.

SPORTSNET: The Vegas Golden Knights got some bad news as first-line left winger Max Pacioretty could be sidelined up to six weeks with a lower-body injury. Linemate Mark Stone remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

The Anaheim Ducks placed center Derek Grant and defenseman Greg Pateryn on waivers.

NHL.COM: Former Boston Bruins defenseman Leo Boivin passed away Saturday at age 89. He spent 19 seasons (1952-1970) in the NHL, starting his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Traded to the Bruins early in 1954-55, he spent nearly 12 seasons in Boston and served as their captain from 1963 to 1966. He also played for the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota North Stars, collecting 322 points in 1,150 games. A three-time All-Star, Boivin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.

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










Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

July 25 to 31 was a busy week in the NHL following the entry-draft weekend with the annual free-agent market opening on July 28.

I noted the top UFA signings of the opening day of free agency for Bleacher Report. Here’s a quick look at several other notable free-agent signings, plus some interesting trades that caught my eye over the past week.

July 26: Florida Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett to a four-year, $17.7 million contract.

Bennett quickly meshed well with the Panthers following his acquisition from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline. He’ll provide them with solid second-line depth in their quest to become a Cup contender.

July 27: Chicago Blackhawks acquire Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights had to shed salary to improve their roster depth. With a younger Robin Lehner under contract for four more years at $5 million per season, the 37-year-old Fleury and the remaining year of his contract ($7 million) had to go. Unfortunately, he found out about it on Twitter before the club could inform him. His omission of team owner Bill Foley and general manager Kelly McCrimmon in his farewell statement to the team and the fans spoke volumes.

Blackhawks acquire Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning shed Johnson’s contract for the next three seasons. In return, they get the contract of permanently sidelined defenseman Brent Seabrook to put on LTIR. In other words, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois immediately shed $5 million from his books and garnered another $6.875 million in cap wiggle room if necessary.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Points (NHL Images).

July 28: Lightning re-sign Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract.

It’s a big investment by the Lightning but that’s the price to be paid for keeping a core player who is becoming one of the best centers in the NHL. He’s deadly during the regular season and seems to find another gear when the playoffs roll around.

Starting in 2022-23, the Lightning has almost $45 million invested in just five players. Those five, however, are Point, former league MVP and scoring champion Nikita Kucherov, former Norris and Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman, current Smythe winner and former Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, and team captain and former Richard winner Steven Stamkos. They’re the core that helped win back-to-back Stanley Cups. You can argue they’re paying too much to keep that group intact but at least they’ve got true value for those salary-cap dollars.

Colorado Avalanche acquires goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes.

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic turned immediately to the Coyotes and Kuemper after starter Philipp Grubauer signed with the Seattle Kraken. The 31-year-old netminder has a year left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million cap hit. He’s a terrific performer but has been plagued by injuries in recent years. Kuemper must stay healthy throughout this season if the Avs hope to win the Stanley Cup next June.

Calgary Flames sign Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract.

Coleman was an effective and versatile checking-line forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their back-to-back championship runs. His style of play should fit well with head coach Darryl Sutter’s system of grinding defensive hockey. Still, investing that much for six years on a middle-six forward who turns 30 this season could prove costly in the final half of the deal when his skills start to decline.

Boston Bruins sign Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract.

Ullmark put up decent stats during his four years with the sad-sack Buffalo Sabres. Whether he’ll become a reliable starter on a better club in Boston remains to be seen. It’s an expensive gamble that could go sour. This signing also raises questions about the future of long-time starter Tuukka Rask once he returns from offseason hip surgery in February.

July 29: Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension.

After seeing so many core players depart in recent years, the Blue Jackets had to ensure they could keep Werenski in the fold. The 24-year-old is an excellent puck-moving defenseman but they overpaid to keep him in Columbus. His $9.583 million AAV is higher than that of Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar ($9 million), who was a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 and a Norris Trophy finalist last season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

The Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett and trade Anton Stralman to the Coyotes, the Jets re-sign Paul Stastny and acquire Brenden Dillion from the Capitals, the Golden Knights close to re-signing Alec Martinez and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers were busy on Monday. They signed forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.4 million. The club also traded defensemen Anton Stralman and Vladislav Kolyachonok plus a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2023.

The Florida Panthers re-sign forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising the Panthers re-signed Bennett. Slated to become a restricted free agent on July 28, the 25-year-old netted 15 points in his first 10 regular-season games after being acquired at the trade deadline from Calgary. He also had five points in as many playoff games. Bennett should be a key part of their top-two forward lines.

The Stralman trade was a straightforward salary dump by the Panthers. He had a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5.5 million. The 35-year-old blueliner reportedly had to be convinced to waive his modified no-trade to go to Arizona. He’ll likely become a bargaining chip at next season’s trade deadline if the rebuilding Coyotes are out of playoff contention by then.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets also had a busy day, re-signing center Paul Stastny to a one-year, $3.75 million contract and acquiring defenseman Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny isn’t the offensive talent he once was. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old should be an affordable short-term answer to their need for a second-line center while management seeks a long-term solution. Dillon will help address a glaring need for reliable stay-at-home depth on their blueline, though the cost of two second-rounders seems a little high.

The Capitals, meanwhile, freed up $3.9 million in annual cap space for the next three seasons. They now have over $12 million in cap room if they call up Martin Fehervary as expected for next season. That gives them some additional wiggle room to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly close to signing Alec Martinez to a three-year contract extension. The 35-year-old defenseman would receive an annual cap hit close to $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez proved his worth to the Golden Knights this season, especially in the playoffs where he was their best all-around blueliner. The contract is a bit long for a shot-blocking rearguard of his age but that seems the price the Golden Knights are willing to pay to remain in Stanley Cup contention.

That signing could push them over the $81.5 million salary cap. They could make a cost-cutting trade before the start of next season involving Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes expected to sign forward Dmitrij Jaskin to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. The 29-year-old spent seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals before spending the past two seasons playing for the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have been everyone’s favorite dumping ground for unwanted contracts this summer. General manager Bill Armstrong has been clearing up long-term cap space while restocking with draft picks and prospects.

Most of the contracts he’s taken on have only a year or two remaining, with most belonging to still-serviceable players who could become trade bait to playoff contenders later next season. He also did a great job shedding Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s hefty contract by shipping that off to Vancouver during the recent NHL draft.

THE SCORE: Several notable restricted free agents didn’t receive qualifying offers at yesterday’s deadline. Among them were Boston’s Nick Ritchie, Chicago’s Pius Suter, Edmonton’s Dominik Kahun and Anaheim’s Danton Heinen. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because they didn’t get qualifying offers doesn’t mean they can’t re-sign with their now-former teams. Sometimes teams don’t offer a QO because they want to sign those players to a more affordable contract. That’s what the Blackhawks did with Adam Gaudette, inking him to a one-year deal worth just over $997K.

TORONTO STAR: Defenseman Zach Bogosian won’t be back with the Maple Leafs. He’s likely headed to an American market via free agency on July 28.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are expected to sign Patrik Nemeth when free agency opens tomorrow. The Colorado Avalanche allowed the pending UFA defenseman to speak with other teams.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils traded forward Nick Merkley to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Christian Jaros. The Devils signed Jaros to a one-year, two-way contract.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed defenseman Sam Morin to a one-year, $750K contract.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is expected to be named head coach of the United States’ Men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury hopes to remain with the Vegas Golden Knights, Alec Martinez played through injury, Canadiens coach Ducharme should return during Stanley Cup Final and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Marc-Andre Fleury wants to end his playing career with the Vegas Golden Knights and hopes Robin Lehner does too. He said he’s developed a good relationship with Lehner and is proud of what they accomplished this season. The duo combined to win the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed (124) during this season.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Lehner also said he and Fleury have grown closer, adding it’s been a privilege to play alongside him. Fleury is entering the final season of his three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury surfaced again as a cost-cutting trade candidate following the Golden Knights’ playoff elimination. He has a 10-team no-trade clause, giving the club some flexibility if they wish to shed his $7 million cap hit. Lehner, meanwhile, just completed the first season of a five-year contract.

SPORTSNET: Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez said he played through a broken foot for over a month. He still averaged over 22 minutes per game and has a playoffs-leading 72 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. That performance will boost his stock in the free-agent market. It could also earn him a new contract with the Golden Knights if they can free up sufficient cap room to re-sign him.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme expected to return for Game 3 of his club’s Stanley Cup Final series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ducharme’s been in self-isolation following a positive COVID-19 test before Game 3 of the semifinal against the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some wonder if Ducharme’s return behind the bench could upset the coaching dynamic since the Canadiens advanced to the Final under assistant coach Luke Richardson. They forget it was his coaching that got the Habs to the semifinal in the first place. He’s been in regular contact with his coaching staff and players through videoconferencing between games.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin denied a report claiming contract talks with winger Kirill Kaprizov have gone cold. He said both sides continue working toward a new deal.

TSN: Former Chicago Blackhawks associate coach John Torchetti confirmed a meeting took place during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs to discuss the alleged sexual assault of two of their players. One of those players recently filed a lawsuit against the team alleging he and a team were sexually assaulted by then-video coach Bradley Aldrich.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning owner Jeff Vinik could miss Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final if it goes that far. He’ll be in Rhode Island as his son is getting married the following day.

CBS PITTSBURGH: Former Penguins forward Beau Bennett announced his retirement. A first-round pick of the Penguins in 2010 (20th overall), he spent four seasons (2012-13 to 2015-16) with the organization followed by one with the New Jersey Devils and another with the St. Louis Blues. In 200 NHL games, Bennett tallied 20 goals and 64 points and won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2016.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bennett in his future endeavors.