NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel (yes, again!), updates on the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, and the latest on the Canadiens and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there are some NHL teams interested in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel who are willing to let him undergo disc replacement surgery, others not so much.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Those teams are also telling the Sabres they want a conditional component to any trade because we don’t know what Eichel will be like when he returns from surgery, which could involve four months of recovery. LeBrun said the Sabres are willing to have a conditional part to a potential trade. It doesn’t mean a deal is imminent but another step in the process.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun said, a conditional component is a big deal as that could help to facilitate a trade. What that could look like is anyone’s guess. It could involve additional draft picks or prospects, perhaps some money retained by the Sabres, or something else. What’s also important is there are clubs willing to let Eichel get the surgery he wants. Whether those clubs can work out a suitable swap with the Sabres remains to be seen.

EKHOLM AND FORSBERG

LeBrun reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and his agent have told general manager David Poile that they would like to shelve contract talks for the season if a deal cannot be reached when the season opens next week. Talks are expected to continue before next week.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan reports Filip Forsberg’s agent told him contract talks with Predators management have not started.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg didn’t sound like he was in a rush to start contract discussions during a recent interview. Ekholm, on the other hand, appeared keen last week to get a deal done as soon as possible.

The issue here is whether either player fits into the Predators’ long-term plans. Ekholm is 31 and signing him to a long-term deal might not be the wisest course of action for a club in the midst of what Poile deemed “a competitive rebuild”.

Forsberg, 27, will command much more on the open market, perhaps $8 million per season. That’s a lot of money to invest in a player during a time when the club is undergoing a transition. Besides, Forsberg might not be keen to stick around with a rebuilding club as he enters his playing prime.

CANADIENS AND SENATORS SPECULATION

TSN: LeBrun believes the Montreal Canadiens announcement that the future of general manager Marc Bergevin wouldn’t be addressed until after this season suggests he could be a lame-duck GM. He points to the fact Bergevin and team president Geoff Molson spoke about his future in January and an offer was made in July that didn’t produce an agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergevin is a lame-duck one wonders how long it will take for Molson to find a suitable replacement. It could depend upon the club’s performance this season.

The possibility of Bergevin’s departure will get a mixed reaction from Canadiens fans. Some have long wanted him gone, even after the club reached the Cup Final last season. Others have fully supported most of his moves and decisions. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the long-term absence of center Colin White to shoulder surgery could have the Senators seeking a short-term replacement via the waiver wire or trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s confirmed White could be out four to six months. Don’t be surprised if the Senators make a move via waivers or trade in the coming days.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

Carey Price enters the league’s player assistance program, the USA, Finland and Czech Republic name their first players to their respective Olympic men’s hockey teams, Blake Coleman suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price entered the NHL’s player assistance program. The 34-year-old had been recovering from offseason knee surgery. General manager Marc Bergevin said Price could be absent from the team for at least 30 days but didn’t rule out a longer absence.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Bergevin said Price has the support of the club and his teammates. “Today, I’m not thinking about Carey Price, the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but Carey Price the human being,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will miss Price between the pipes while some fans are wondering why he’s reached out for assistance. None of that is important and the latter is none of our business. What matters is Price gets the help and time he needs to get his life and health back on track.

Speaking of the Canadiens, winger Jonathan Drouin missed Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators with a non-COVID-related illness.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens don’t intend on providing any updates on GM Bergevin’s contract situation until the end of the season. His deal is slated to expire at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read more about Bergevin’s contract status in today’s Rumor Mill. 

TSN: Team USA named Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones to their 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team on Thursday.

Finland named Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, and Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen to their men’s Olympic squad.

NHL.COM: The Czech Republic named Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek to their Olympic team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The IIHF requested countries submit the names of their first three players several weeks ago. Canada and Sweden submitted theirs earlier this week.

NHL.COM: Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman was suspended for the club’s final preseason game and their first regular-season contest for boarding Winnipeg Jets forward Jansen Harkins during Wednesday’s preseason game.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz will miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. He also suffered a lower-body injury in the 2020 playoffs and missed all of last season. The Avs also announced head coach Jared Bednar tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the club’s final two preseason games. It’s unclear when he’ll return behind the bench.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Colin White requires surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder. He’s expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months. Meanwhile, the club announced they’ve signed winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $900K contract.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers winger Noel Acciari could miss significant time with an upper-body injury.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian struck his head on the ice during a fight with Vancouver Canucks’ Zack MacEwen in last night’s preseason game between the two clubs. Kassian had to be helped from the ice but was reportedly talking to teammates in the dressing room and in good spirits.

NEW YORK POST: A power failure in part of the Prudential Center led to the cancellation of the preseason game between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2021

Check out the latest on Jonathan Toews, Mark Giordano, Jack Campbell and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Jonathan Toews looked like his old self in his first NHL game since being sidelined with chronic immune response syndrome 407 days ago. Despite a 4-3 preseason shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Blackhawks captain logged 22:48 of ice time, collected an assist, three shots on goal, two takeaways and won 15 of 21 faceoffs.

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A promising start for Toews. The Blackhawks need their captain healthy if they hope to contend for a playoff spot this season.

CALGARY SUN: Former Flames captain Mark Giordano returned to Calgary for his first game since being selected by the Seattle Kraken in July’s expansion draft. He received a warm welcome from Flames fans, scoring a goal in a 4-3 preseason shootout win by the Kraken.

THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell believes there can be no excuses for the club this season. He and his teammates intend to use last spring’s disappointing postseason as motivation to win in the 2022 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs will face tremendous pressure this season following three straight first-round playoff exits.. Their last Stanley Cup title was in 1967 and they haven’t won a postseason series since 2004. Some teams can use previous playoff disappointment to grow and change into a championship team. Whether the Leafs can channel that this season remains to be seen.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Promising prospect William Eklund has a legitimate shot at cracking the San Jose Sharks roster this season. The seventh overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft, Eklund leads the Sharks with three points in two preseason games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still very early in preseason play and Eklund hasn’t yet tasted regular-season NHL action. Nevertheless, the 18-year-old winger could have an opportunity to at least start the season with the Sharks.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson reportedly offered a contract extension to general manager Marc Bergevin in July, but they haven’t reached an agreement yet. Both sides continue to talk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Canadiens don’t want uncertainty over Bergevin’s contract status hanging over the club this season. The Canadiens GM garnered leverage with his club’s surprising march to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, but that could evaporate if they struggle this season.

THE DENVER POST: Former NHL forward and current Colorado Avalanche color analyst Peter McNab has been diagnosed with cancer and is receiving treatment. The 69-year-old McNab will continue his role with Altitude Sports.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to McNab for a speedy and full recovery.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Tanner Laczynski will require surgery on his left hip and could be sidelined for the season.

 

 










Kotkaniemi Offer Sheet Highlights Canadiens Poor Draft Record

Kotkaniemi Offer Sheet Highlights Canadiens Poor Draft Record

The Carolina Hurricanes signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens provided a week of welcome excitement for NHL fans bored by the off-season dog days. It’s the first successful offer-sheet signing since the Edmonton Oilers landed Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

NHL pundits and fans of both clubs will watch with interest over the next several years to determine which club made the right decision.

Former Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

This could blow up in the Hurricanes’ face or prove a shrewd move to take advantage of a cap-strapped rival. It also provides them with a measure of revenge for the Habs failed attempt to sign Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet two years ago.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, could face the humiliation of seeing a promising if inconsistent young player blossoming into a star in Carolina. Then again, they could breathe a sigh of relief if Kotkaniemi fails to develop as hoped.

L’Affaire Kotkaniemi also served as a significant reminder of what a lousy job the Canadiens have done drafting and developing talent.

I wrote about this back in January 2020, reviewing what at that point was 27 years of Canadiens fans futilely waiting for each crop of promising talent to blossom into stars that would carry their club back to Stanley Cup glory.

They came oh-so-close earlier this year. Thanks in part to homegrown stars such as Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher and youngsters such as Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Alexander Romanov, the underdog Canadiens shook off a difficult regular season to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Nevertheless, the Canadiens have a long history of busts among their first-round picks since their last Stanley Cup championship in 1993. As I wrote in 2020:

“From Terry Ryan, Matt Higgins, Eric Chouinard and Alexander Burturlin in the 1990s, through Marcel Hossa, Alexander Perezhogin, David Fischer and Louis LeBlanc in the first decade of this century, to Jarred Tinordi, Michael McCarron and Nikita Scherbak in the last decade, all were once touted as potential foundation pieces for future championship clubs in Montreal. None made much of a mark in their short careers.”

Tinordi, McCarron and Scherbak were selected by current Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and his scouting staff. Since becoming GM in 2012, the Habs’ first-round picks also included Alex Galchenyuk (2012), Noah Juulsen (2015), Mikhail Sergachev (2016), Ryan Poehling (2017), Kotkaniemi (2018), Caufield (2019), Kaiden Guhle (2020) and this year’s unfortunate choice of Logan Mailloux.

Galchenyuk showed promise as a scorer but eventually played his way out of Montreal and has bounced among several NHL clubs. Juulsen’s career was nearly ended by an eye injury before being claimed off waivers by the Florida Panthers earlier this year. Swapped for Jonathan Drouin in 2018, Sergachev blossomed into a star with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Poehling has yet to crack the Habs roster on a full-time basis while Kotkaniemi’s struggles were well-documented during his three years in Montreal.

Caufield made the jump from college hockey last season, becoming a key ingredient in the Canadiens run to the 2021 Cup Final. Guhle is a big, promising defenseman who appeared in three games with the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval last season. Mailloux, meanwhile, is suspended indefinitely from the OHL this season after being fined last year by Swedish police for sharing a photo among his teammates of an 18-year-old woman engaged in a consensual sexual act with him without her permission.

Bergevin’s predecessors didn’t have a stellar record of first-round selections but they could at times strike gold in the first round (Price, Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty) or subsequent rounds (Jose Theodore, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Gallagher). Of his selections, only Sergachev has truly panned out but that was after he was traded to the Lightning. Caufield has the makings of a star but it’s too early to determine what he’ll truly become based on his short NHL career to date. 

It’s too early to tell how things will work out for his selections over the past three years. It takes time for promising youngsters to reach their full potential, with some taking longer than others. Still, there’s no denying the Canadiens haven’t been getting much bang for their buck from their prospect pipeline.

Some of that could be down to poor scouting. Some of it could also be because the Canadiens are doing a poor job preparing those young players for NHL duty.

Bergevin’s saving grace is his ability to win more trades than he loses. Suzuki, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Phillip Danault, Josh Anderson, Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson and Joel Armia were among the notable acquisitions on the roster during their deep postseason run last season.

Nevertheless, Kotkaniemi’s struggles with the Canadiens cast a harsher spotlight on how the Habs draft and develop talent. If he goes on to improve and his full potential in Carolina it will only stoke criticism of Bergevin and his staff. It could eventually lead to changes in the front office, starting with the general manager.










Were The Canadiens Good Or Just Lucky?

Were The Canadiens Good Or Just Lucky?

Are the Montreal Canadiens a stronger team than we thought, or did they just get lucky and go on a five-week hot streak?

The Canadiens enjoyed an impressive run in the 2021 playoffs. The lowest overall postseason seed, they upset the heavily-favored Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

They came a cropper against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, falling in five games. However, the clubs the Habs eliminated wouldn’t have fared any better against the powerful Bolts.

The Canadiens’ playoff success papered over the fact they barely qualified in the first place.

They cooled off after a hot start, replaced most of their coaching staff by midseason, saw starting goalie Carey Price endure one of the worst regular seasons of his career, endure a 25 game in 44-night second-half stretch following a COVID-19 outbreak, lost playmaking winger Jonathan Drouin for the remainder of the season for personal reasons, and endured a shaky stretch drive with Price, captain Shea Weber and alternate captain Brendan Gallagher sidelined by injury.

Little wonder no one gave them a chance of defeating the Leafs, Jets and Golden Knights in each successive round. And yet, they defied the critics and overcame the odds.

Montreal Canadiens pose with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl (NHL.com).

But which team are the real Canadiens? The one that took their fans on a dazzling run that came within three games of the Stanley Cup? Or the one that stumbled through a shortened season and backed into the playoffs?

On the one hand, the Habs seemed to finally adjust to interim coach Dominique Ducharme’s system in the postseason. They played a strong team game with an emphasis on solid defensive play, quick zone transitions, and in-close scoring chances. Their penalty-killing was the best throughout this postseason.

Price bounced back, reminding everyone why he’s still among the best goalies in the game. Weber, Jeff Petry, Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson formed a solid top-four defense that cleared traffic from around Price’s net and took away the opposition’s scoring lanes.

Young forwards Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Jesperi Kotkaniemi continue to blossom into future stars. Josh Anderson provided size, speed and clutch scoring. Tyler Toffoli was strong at both ends of the rink. Phillip Danault was superb in a shutdown center role. Greybeards Corey Perry and Eric Staal provided invaluable depth experience and leadership.

On the other hand, Price admitted he didn’t play well during the first three games against the Lightning. Anderson’s scoring was inconsistent for most of the playoffs. A thumb injury robbed Weber of his fearsome point shot. Alexander Romanov’s limited postseason appearances raised questions over Ducharme’s faith in the promising defenseman. The power play often looked like they were playing with a live grenade.

So, are they an emerging Stanley Cup contender or an overachiever that crashed to earth in the Final?

Marc Bergevin was a finalist for GM of the Year, which for some weird reason is voted on following the second round of the playoffs. He wouldn’t have even been among the candidates had that vote occurred following the regular season.

The Canadiens’ playoff run probably saved Bergevin’s job (should he still want it) and should remove the interim label off Ducharme’s title. Having gotten their team to the Final, can they avoid the pitfalls that doomed many Cup Final underdogs of the past?

Everything depends on several factors.

Bergevin was able to use plentiful cap space to add Toffoli, Anderson, Perry, Staal, Edmundson and backup goalie Jake Allen. Making similar acquisitions won’t easy with a salary cap expected to remain flat for the next several seasons.

More promising youngsters must begin to crack the lineup. Ryan Poehling, Mattias Norlinder, Cayden Primeau, Jan Mysak, Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris have to make a positive impression within the next several years.

Price must maintain his strong playoff form throughout the regular season, something he’s had difficulty doing in recent years. The 36-year-old Weber must begin accepting a reduced role as a second-pairing defenseman, allowing Petry to take the first-pairing role on their right side.

Toffoli and Gallagher must remain healthy. Danault should be brought back but that could prove difficult given his earlier rejection of a six-year, $30 million deal. If not, a suitable replacement must be found. Perry should be an affordable one-year signing.

Suzuki, Caufield, Kotkaniemi and center Jake Evans must keep improving and take on greater roles and responsibilities. Romanov must be given more playing time and room to allow for his development. Anderson needs to find the back of the net more often. They need more from Drouin than what he’s given them in the past, assuming he can continue his playing career.

Ducharme must prove he can still make the right moves as he did through most of this postseason. He has to ensure the players still buy into his system. He must also silence critics who feel he’s slow to trust his youngsters given his seeming reluctance to insert Kotkaniemi, Caufield and Romanov into the lineup earlier in this postseason.

Even if all those factors pan out, will the Canadiens be deep enough and strong enough to match up well in an Atlantic Division? Can they compete on an even footing with the powerhouse Lightning, the improving Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators, the still-talented Maple Leafs and still-dangerous Boston Bruins?

Can they do more than just hold their own against Eastern Conference teams like the veteran-laden Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals? Will they be able to handle the rising Carolina Hurricanes, the promising New York Rangers, and the hard-working New York Islanders?

Can they keep pace with the best of the west in the Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche? Or the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers? The suddenly improved Minnesota Wild?

This year was a heckuva run for the Canadiens but they have a long way to go to prove they’re more than a one-year wonder.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens, Charlie Coyle undergoes surgery, key offseason dates, latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reported Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin admitted the past year was difficult for him mentally as he thanked his players for pulling through a tough season to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL Images).

Bergevin has one year remaining on his contract. He indicated his intention to honor that but declined to say if he would sign an extension if presented to him. That’s generated speculation over whether he wanted to continue in the job after nine seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin may simply be exhausted after a trying year in which he made several notable roster additions, replaced most of his coaching staff midway through the season, saw his club sidelined for 10 days by a COVID-19 outbreak, watched them struggle to clinch a playoff berth and overcome long odds to reach the Cup Final.

Perhaps his comment was a subtle way of angling for better terms on an extension. Or maybe he’s truly burned out after nearly a decade in one of hockey’s highest-pressure markets and intends to move on after next season.

Whatever the reason, his future with the Canadiens will become a hot topic for conjecture in Montreal throughout this offseason.

Speaking of uncertain futures, pending unrestricted free agent Phillip Danault expressed his wish to remain with the Canadiens. He also admitted he rejected a six-year, $30-million contract offer last fall, adding it affected his game during the regular season when the story was leaked to the press. He also said he was worried about losing ice time to younger centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault should be commended for his honesty. Most players in his situation would just mumble cliches to dodge the question. His strong defensive play throughout the postseason earned him the most ice time among Habs forwards. He garnered praise for shutting down his opponents’ top offensive players. He’s in line for a big raise, either with the Habs or another club via free agency.

Defenseman Jeff Petry revealed the reason behind his bloodshot eyes during Game 2 of the semifinal series against the Vegsa Golden Knights. It was tied to the broken pinky finger suffered during Game 3 of the previous series with the Winnipeg Jets. Petry said he passed out when his finger was being set in place before putting it in a cast, causing the blood vessels in his eyes to burst.

Petry jammed the finger into a photographer’s hole in the glass in a freak accident, which turned his finger sideways. He played the remainder of the playoffs with two fingers taped together. He hopes to avoid offseason surgery but will learn more when he revisits the doctor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry faced surgery that would’ve sidelined him six to eight weeks. He instead opted to immobilize the finger and rest for one-to-two weeks and return to action.

Canadiens captain Shea Weber could require surgery on his left thumb to repair damaged ligaments. If he goes under the knife it’s expected he’ll be ready for the start of next season.

Corey Perry hopes to return to the Canadiens next season. He joined them on a one-year, $750K contract and was placed on waivers earlier in the season to be placed on the taxi squad. There were three teams hoping to put in a claim for Perry but his agent advised them against it because he wanted to stay in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the superstar he was a decade ago but he was an invaluable and respected part of the Canadiens’ lineup this season. He had 21 points in 49 regular-season games and finished fourth among their postseason scorers with 10 points in 22 contests. He should be an affordable re-signing for the Habs. If they don’t bring him back he’ll draw plenty of interest from other playoff contenders.

NBC SPORTS: It’s still unclear if the Canadiens will lift the interim tag off Dominique Ducharme and make him the full-time head coach next season. Bergevin indicated it’s one of the first things he intends to sort out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme was criticized by many observers (including me) for the Canadiens’ struggles over the second half after he replaced Claude Julien. That tune changed with the Habs’ march to the Final.

I expect Ducharme will return as the Canadiens’ full-time bench boss. Still, there are legitimate questions about whether he belongs in that role. Much of their playoff success was due to Carey Price returning to his dominant form. Ducharme also seemed reluctant to give more ice time to his younger players, especially promising defenseman Alexander Romanov. The Habs also played well under assistant coach Luke Richardson when Ducharme was sidelined for two weeks by COVID-19.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks hired Joel Bouchard as the new coach of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Bouchard spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Canadiens AHL club in Laval.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens received some criticism for not retaining Bouchard, who did a fine job developing their promising players. They offered him the opportunity to remain in Laval or become one of their assistant coaches. But he opted to go to San Diego.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Charlie Coyle recently underwent two surgeries on his left knee. His agent said the 29-year-old Bruins center is recovering well and expects to be ready in time for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why Coyle struggled throughout this season.

SPORTSNET: The key dates for the NHL offseason are as follows:

July 8: NHL buyout window opens (24 hours after Stanley Cup is awarded). Window closes July 27.
July 17: Deadline for teams to submit protected lists for Seattle Expansion Draft (5 p.m. ET).
July 18-20: Seattle’s exclusive window to interview teams’ unprotected pending free agents.
July 21: Seattle Expansion Draft (8 p.m. ET).
July 23: 2021 NHL Draft, Round 1.
July 24: 2021 NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7.
July 28: NHL free agency opens. RFA & UFA signing period begins (noon ET).

NEW YORK POST: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to a two-year, $2.25 million contract.

The Rangers signed restricted free agent forward Brett Howden to a one-year contract worth $885K.

SPORTSNET: The Seattle Kraken will play six preseason games against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. The three home games will be played in Spokane, Everett, and Kent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a good way for the expansion club to make itself known throughout the state of Washington. It will also be the first games they’ll play against their regional NHL rivals.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL defenseman Bryan “Bugsy” Watson passed away on Thursday at age 78. He played 1,009 NHL games from 1963 to 1978 with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Washington Capitals.

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