NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2019

Game recaps, Ryan Johansen suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Thomas Greiss made 19 saves as the New York Islanders blanked the Washington Capitals 2-0. During a break in the first period, the Capitals honored Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz, who coached the Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season. With the win, the Islanders take over first place in the Metropolitan Division and extend their win streak to four games. 

Vancouver Canucks rookie goalie Thatcher Demko made 36 saves in his season debut to backstop his club to a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Canucks forwards Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each had two points for the Canucks (50 points), who vaulted over the Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

Two power-play goals by Sam Bennett helped the Calgary Flames defeat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 (Photo via NHL Images).

Three power-play goals and a shorthanded tally carried the Calgary Flames to a 6-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Sam Bennett netted two of their power-play goals. Red Wings center Dylan Larkin also scored twice. The Flames sit first overall in the Western Conference with a three-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets.  Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic returned to action after missing two games tending to his daughter, who became seriously ill last weekend and was rushed to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to the Hamonic family as their daughter recovers from her illness. 

The Florida Panthers snapped a seven-game losing streak by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck made his return after missing 27 games to an ankle injury and assisted on Mike Matheson’s game-winning goal. 

Montreal Canadiens forwards Tomas Tatar and Joel Armia each scored twice in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 34 saves as his club won its fourth straight contest while ending the Jackets four-game win streak. 

The Ottawa Senators collected their fourth win in their last five games by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Anders Nilsson kicked out 33 shots for the win. 

Phil Kessel scored in overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. 

The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen for two games for high-sticking Jets center Mark Scheifele on Thursday. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins forward Anders Bjork underwent season-ending surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. His recovery will last five-to-six months. 

NBC SPORTS: Former Buffalo Sabres forward Patrik Berglund told a Swedish publication he’s at peace with his decision to quit the club just a little over two months into this season. He claimed he lost some of his passion for hockey after being traded by the St. Louis Blues last summer. He added his emotions had nothing to do with playing in Buffalo and he apologized to Sabres fans for betraying them. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2018

Game recaps, Coyotes ownership change “imminent”, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 36 saves to pick up his 300th career NHL victory by defeating the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. Price is the 35th goalie in NHL history to reach 300 wins and only the second Canadiens netminder to reach that milestone. Paul Byron scored the winning goal in the third period.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price picked up his 300th career victory in a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes (Photo via NHL Images).

Speaking of the Coyotes, a report out of Phoenix cites sources claiming a change in ownership “is pending and imminent”. Current owner Andrew Barroway has been exploring potential ownership partners. There’s been speculation he could sell part or all of his shares to one or more possible owners.  

Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 424th career win as his club doubled up the New York Islanders 4-2. Fleury moved into sole possession of ninth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list. Teammate Nate Schmidt had a goal and two assists.

Auston Matthews and Morgan Reilly each collected four points as the Toronto Maple Leafs crushed the Florida Panthers 6-1. Matthews had two goals and two assists while Reilly had four assists. Teammates John Tavares scored twice and Mitch Marner had three points.

Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers tallied a hat trick and teammate Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves in a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks, ending the latter’s five-game win streak. Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected three assists.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller tallied the game-winning goal in the seventh round of a shootout to give his club a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames, extending their points streak to 11 games. Flames forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak had a hand in all his club’s goals in a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Pastrnak had a goal and two assists while Torey Krug had a goal and an assist.

Philadelphia Flyers rookie goaltender Carter Hart picked up his second win in as many games as his teammates killed off six penalties, including two five-on-three situations, to edge the Nashville Predators 2-1.

Bryan Rust scored twice and Casey DeSmith made 40 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins tamed the Minnesota Wild 2-1. The Penguins played without defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who suffered a concussion during his fight with Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson on Wednesday.

The Detroit Red Wings snapped a four-game losing skid with a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier kicked out 38 shots while Niklas Kronwall had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes activated center Jordan Staal (concussion) off injured reserve. 

Cam Atkinson’s second-period penalty shot goal proved the game-winner as the Columbus Blue Jackets held on for a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. It was Atkinson’s 20th goal of the year.

Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had three-point performances to lead their club to a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks have won consecutive games for the first time since late-October.

Jacob Markstrom made 29 saves while Bo Horvat and Jake Virtanen each had a goal and an assist to give the Vancouver Canucks a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: After the Sabres terminated the contract of Patrik Berglund, Swedish club Vasteras IK expressed interest in a reunion with him. Berglund played three seasons with them from 2005 to 2008 and also skated with them during the 2012 lockout. 

DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov will miss the next two games with a lower-body injury. 

OTTAWA SUN: Former Senators executive Randy Lee pleaded guilty yesterday in Buffalo to harassing a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates, Sabres to terminate Patrik Berglund’s contract, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist and goaltender Matt Murray made 31 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Washington Capitals 2-1. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin saw his 15-game point streak come to an end. Washington winger Tom Wilson knocked Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak out of the game with three punches during a first-period fight between the two. An update on Oleksiak’s status is expected today.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals (Photo via NHL Images).

Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Habs goalie Carey Price’s ill-timed pass across his crease led to Rantanen’s game-tying goal. On a plus note for the Canadiens, they got a rare power-play goal. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday placed center Patrik Berglund on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. He was recently suspended by the club for failing to report but there have been few details from either side regarding the situation. Berglund has three years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3.85 million but that will be removed from their cap payroll once his contract is terminated.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHLPA could intervene on Berglund’s behalf, though his refusal to report gives the Sabres justification to end his contract. 

NBC SPORTS: After a slow start with the San Jose Sharks, defenseman Erik Karlsson is getting his offensive groove back. With seven assists in his last six games, he now has 23 points in 35 contests.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg will return tonight from a six-week absence (broken hand) to face the Chicago Blackhawks.

THE SCORE: Los Angeles Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk is expected to return from ankle surgery on Saturday to face the Sharks.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings starting goaltender Jimmy Howard will return to action tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Howard hurt his back during warmups prior to Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes general manager John Chayka said starting goaltender Antti Raanta (lower-body injury) could miss the remainder of the season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta’s been out since Nov. 27. The Coyotes are 5-6-0 in his absence. 

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights placed winger Max Pacioretty (leg injury) on injured reserved and called up Brandon Pirri.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Marcus Kruger became the third Blackhawks to be placed on IR with a concussion within the last 10 days. Artem Anisimov recently returned but goalie Corey Crawford remains sidelined. 

EDMONTON SUN:  Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira received a two-game suspension for a cross-check to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn on Tuesday. Dunn received a $1,942.20 fine by the league for cross-checking Khaira. 

SPORTSNET: Ottawa’s National Capital Commission “is moving to terminate a development deal with Rendez-Vous LeBreton Group, which includes Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, in the wake of bitter legal infighting within the development group.” Melnyk and business partner John Ruddy have filed lawsuits against each other. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as Melnyk is the Senators’ owner, the club seems to have little chance of getting a new downtown arena. 


NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2018

With the NHL holiday trade freeze commencing at 11:59 pm ET tonight, here’s the latest on Jeff Carter, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Patrik Berglund plus some Oilers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETICWith the Los Angeles Kings floundering in the standings, center Jeff Carter has surfaced in recent trade speculation. However, Lisa Dillman reports Carter wants to stay put. 

Jeff Carter hopes to remain with the Los Angeles Kings (Photo via NHL Images).

Carter lacks no-trade protection and has three years remaining on his contract with an annual $5.272-million cap hit, though in actual dollars he’ll earn a total of $7 million over those final three seasons. He missed most of last season with a cut ankle tendon and has just one goal in his last nine games and one even-strength goal since Oct. 11.

Dillman notes Carter and his family are “solidly entrenched in Southern California.” Still, if the Kings want to rebuild and if there’s interest in the veteran center, they would have to find a way to make it attractive for Carter to accept a move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings can send Carter anywhere they want without his permission. But if they do that, there’s speculation suggesting he could decide to retire. That would leave the Kings facing a $2.75-million annual salary-cap recapture penalty over the remaining term of his contract. He never hinted at that during his interview with Dillman but it’s clear he’s not warm to the idea of a trade.


NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During an interview Monday with Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, Elliotte Friedman talked about the recent trade speculation surrounding St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Citing Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit over the next four years, Friedman suggests that’s now a good contract for a player who can score as he can.

Friedman also cited a former Blue saying Tarasenko is a great player on the ice but he’s not a leader, which some people on the team use to deflect away from their own issues. Friedman said he could see a club in need of scoring, such as the Carolina Hurricanes, pursuing the winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko would help a team struggling to score, though it appears he’s not suited for a leadership role. However, moving players with hefty contracts like him usually doesn’t happen during the season.

The Blues will want a substantial return, probably comparable to what the Toronto Maple Leafs got from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade three years ago. They won’t just give him away.

Tarasenko’s no-trade clause kicks in next July. If the Blues trade him, they’ll likely do it in late-June, when teams have more cap space and a willingness to swing deals for expensive talent. 


THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently examined some possible options for the Edmonton Oilers to replace sidelined defenseman Oscar Klefbom. He notes there’s plenty of internet proposals suggesting a deal involving St. Louis Blues rearguard Colton Parayko. Most involve swapping Darnell Nurse for Parayko but that won’t address the Oilers’ blueline needs. “A deal for Parayko could be made with a young forward (Jesse Puljujarvi?) and a pick (first rounder in 2019?) that might satisfy the Edmonton side, but there’s no evidence the Blues are entering a rebuild phase,” said Mitchell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mitchell advocates exploring all options, including a trade, but didn’t propose any trade targets. I agree with his take on a Parayko swap.

The Carolina Hurricanes are loaded with defensemen but they need a proven scoring forward. The Oilers don’t have much depth to offer up in that regard. Feel free to weigh in with your suggestions in the comments section, Oilers fans.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington took note of forward Patrik Berglund’s ongoing suspension by the Buffalo Sabres over his refusal to report. Berglund saw reduced playing time as the season progressed and was a healthy scratch at times for his poor play. Neither the Sabres or Berglund’s agent have shed any light on his situation.

If it’s a case of Berglund being unhappy with the Sabres, Harrington suggests Sabres GM Jason Botterill should attempt to trade him. However, he acknowledged Berglund’s contract ($3.85-million annual cap hit through 2021-22) and poor play probably has his trade value close to nil. “Skipping out on a winning team might force the Sabres to keep some of his money to get rid of him,” writes Harrington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could become a difficult situation to sort out. Harrington also suggests the Sabre could attempt to void Berglund’s contract but notes the NHLPA is watching this closely and could step in on his behalf if needed. If they can’t trade him or void his contract, they could attempt to buy him out in June. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates, Sabres suspend Berglund, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each scored twice and linemate Nathan MacKinnon had a four-point game as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 6-4. Rantanen’s personal point streak has reached 14 games. Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There seems no stopping the Avalanche’s top line. Rantanen (56 points) and MacKinnon (52 points) sit one-two in the NHL scoring race while MacKinnon and Landeskog (21 goals apiece) sit among the league’s leading goal scorers. 

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov’s first career hat trick powered his club to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo via NHL Images)

Aleksander Barkov’s first career hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime, lifted the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs, who overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to force the extra frame. The Leafs have dropped four of their last five games, including two overtime defeats.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal in his last three games to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Ovechkin now has a league-leading 29 goals. Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice in a losing cause. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced forward Patrik Berglund was suspended indefinitely for failing to report to the teams. It’s unknown when or if he’ll return and the reason behind the suspension is unclear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berglund joined the Sabres this summer from St. Louis as part of the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Blues. He has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.85 million. Berglund spent most of this season on the checking lines and was a healthy scratch for a couple of games. It remains to be seen if he’ll return to the club later this season or if we’ll find out the reason behind his suspension. 

The Calgary Flames picked up their seventh win in their last eight games by downing the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a fight-filled contest. Matthew Tkachuk tallied the winner in the third period. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. An update on his status is expected later today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins blew a two-goal lead but Phil Kessel’s overtime tally gave them a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 38 saves in his first start since Nov. 17. Penguins winger Tanner Pearson commemorated his first game against his former club with a goal. Earlier in the day, the Penguins revealed defenseman Kris Letang (left-leg injury) is listed as day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news on Letang comes as a relief for the Penguins, as there were fears his injury would sideline him for a lengthy period. With Justin Schultz out of the lineup until March, they cannot afford to lose their best defenseman. 

Four unanswered third-period goals gave the Montreal Canadiens a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and head coach Claude Julien his 600th career NHL victory. Habs captain Shea Weber potted the game-winning goal after Artturi Lehkonen’s goal was overturned on a questionable diving call.

A three-goal first period enabled the Vancouver Canucks to cruise to a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Canucks winger Brock Boeser had a goal and an assist. Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. The loss is stoking speculation over head coach Dave Hakstol’s future with the struggling club.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal scored the only goal in a shootout to give his club a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Barzal also had a goal and an assist in regulation play. Red Wings winger Thomas Vanek had a three-point night, including the game-tying goal.

Daniel Sprong scored twice to give the Anaheim Ducks a 2-1 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling to crack the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, Sprong seems rejuvenated with the Ducks, netting three goals in five games. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Jusse Saros kicked out 33 shots in regulation and overtime and Ryan Johansen potted the game-winner in a shootout to defeat the New Jersey Devils 2-1.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom will miss six-to-eight weeks following surgery to repair an injured finger. 

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1.375 million. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight pay bump from the $1.15-million AAV of his current contract. This should also put to rest any speculation suggesting he could be a trade candidate. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center Erik Haula underwent knee surgery last month and is unlikely to return this season. 

THE SCORE: A fan at the United Center got into a scrap with Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk following the club’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Police were notified and the team is looking into the incident. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tommy Hawk gave a good account of himself in this slobber knocker. You know the Blackhawks season is going poorly when a fan starts taking out his frustrations on the mascot. 


Sabres Trade O’Reilly to the Blues

Sabres Trade O’Reilly to the Blues

The Buffalo Sabres have traded center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund and Tage Thompson, plus a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a second-rounder in 2021.

The Buffalo Sabres trade center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues (Photo via NHL Images

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues get themselves one of the best two-way centers in the league. The Sabres get a return that helps them now and for the future.

The Blues had already taken steps to bolster their depth at forward via free agency today by bringing back left wing David Perron and signing center Tyler Bozak. They now have O’Reilly, Bozak and Brayden Schenn at center, with promising Robert Thomas waiting in the wings. In one day, they’ve turned a weakness into a strength.

O’Reilly, 27, plays well at both ends of the ice and has exceeded 50 points in six of the last seven seasons. The former Lady Byng Trophy winner can also play on the power-play or penalty kill. He should be a welcome addition to a Blues team trying to get back into Cup contender status following a disappointing 2017-18 performance. 

Sobotka and Berglund should provide some much-needed veteran depth to the Sabres’ checking lines. The 31-year-old Sobotka is a hardworking defensive forward. Berglund,30, can play center or either wing and has decent offensive skills, though he does have an injury history.

Thompson,20, could become part of the Sabres’ long-term future. He made his NHL debut last season, tallying just nine points in 41 games. A promising young winger with good size (6’5″, 215 pounds) and offensive potential, Thompson could get an opportunity to shine in Buffalo. 

Even though the Blues take on O’Reilly’s $7.5-million annual cap hit, by shedding the combined salaries of Berglund, Sobotka and Thompson, they actually save $775K in cap space. They now have just over $71 million invested in 18 players for 2018-19.