NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2020

The NHL seeks more financial concessions from its players, the latest on return-to-play plans for 2020-21, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL RETURN-TO-PLAY UPDATE

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites multiple sources claiming the NHL is seeking financial concessions from its players in the form of a 13 percent deferral on their gross pay for 2020-21. The NHL Players Association agreed to a 10 percent deferral in the recent six-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement. That’s in addition to the 20 percent in escrow payments for this season being deducted from their salaries.

Brooks is unclear if this represents an ultimatum from the league or its initial position for a separate negotiation regarding player salaries for the coming season. He notes the CBA Memo of Understanding rules out prorating salaries for this season. It allows for clubs and players to negotiate additional deferments on a case-by-case basis, but what the NHL seeks is uniform and league-wide.

If the players agree to the 13 percent deferral, they would receive 61.6 percent of their ’20-’21 pay, with 23 percent to be returned at later dates.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cited two sources saying the NHL hasn’t made an official proposal regarding an additional deferral. However, the subject did come up in conversations between the league and the NHLPA. It received a mixed reaction with some questioning altering a deal made several months ago while others believe that not playing is the worst result.

Friedman noted the short timeline to work out an agreement in time to reach the NHL’s tentative Jan. 1 start date. He sees this issue as part of the process of working toward an accord.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Deferral seems the only workable alternative if prorating salaries isn’t an option. While the PA membership has a right to question making changes to a recent agreement, this is not a normal situation.

The MOU was made in early July with an eye on starting the 2020-21 schedule by mid-to-late November. The pandemic, however, has changed those plans. All NHL teams face varying degrees of revenue losses even if they return on what’s expected to be a shortened ’20-’21 schedule with, at best, limited fan attendance.

Deferring payments could be better for the players than prorating their salaries. They’ll eventually get that money in installments over the latter years of the CBA extension as revenue improves once the pandemic has passed.

In a series of tweets, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the league and the PA continue daily calls to put together a plan for this season. The 16-player return-to-play committee has convened internally almost daily over the past week but not with the league. Talks between the NHL and NHLPA remain at higher levels.

LeBrun said both sides still hope for a Jan. 1 start date with an eye on awarding the Stanley Cup by no later than July 15. Most conversations have focused on a 60-game schedule. The next seven-to-10 days will be crucial toward achieving a puck drop on New Year’s Day.

The players on the NHLPA return-to-play committee are David Backes, Darren Helm, David Savard, Justin Faulk, Lars Eller, Sam Gagner, Justin Abdelkader, Ian Cole, Zach Hyman, Ron Hainsey, Claude Giroux, Ryan Dzingel, Andrew Copp, Alex Biega, Chris Kreider and Mark Scheifele.

NOTABLE HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers named Brett Peterson as assistant general manager, making him the first black assistant GM in the NHL. Peterson, 39, played five years as a minor pro defenseman with the AHL, ECHL and IHL from 2004-05 to 2008-09. He spent the last 11 years as a player agent.

THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said he’s recovered from the devastating season-ending knee injury suffered in January. He began skating in August and has been on the ice three days a week. Hertl said he’ll be ready to go for the upcoming season.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Alex Pietrangelo purchased a $6-million mansion in Summerlin, Nevada. The former St. Louis Blues defenseman signed a seven-year, $61.6 million contract last month with the Vegas Golden Knights.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues hired Ryan Podell as their new strength and conditioning coach. Podell was the sports science/conditioning coach with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. He also spent two seasons with the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers and six seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers organization, including four years with the Flyers.

 










Top Three NHL Prospects For Each Central Division Team

Top Three NHL Prospects For Each Central Division Team

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2020

The latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Mike Hoffman plus an update on the Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Tracey Myers was asked about the trade rumors surrounding Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau and if a move to the Philadelphia Flyers would help his production.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau was the subject of trade speculation (NHL Images).

Myers acknowledged last season’s dip in Gaudreau’s production but believes he’ll bounce back in 2020-21. She noted the winger has two years remaining on his contract and his desire to stay in Calgary. While there might be Philadelphia fans who’d welcome seeing the Salem, NJ native in a Flyers jersey, Myers doubts the Flames are ready to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were plenty of calls from many of the Flames faithful demanding Gaudreau be traded following the club’s disappointing performance in the 2020 playoffs. However, Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down that notion and defending his embattled scorer. I agree with Myers’ take, but that situation could change if Gaudreau has another sub-par performance or the Flames make another early postseason exit.

Myers was also asked if the St. Louis Blues could sign free-agent winger Mike Hoffman to a cheap, one-year contract, and if he’d be a good fit in the tight Blues locker room.

She noted they found sufficient offense when winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed most of last season. With Tarasenko sidelined again with shoulder surgery for five months, she suggested inking Hoffman to replace some of his offense might be worth looking into. Hoffman is willing to accept a one-year contract and Myers feels he’d be a good fit with the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues GM Doug Armstrong didn’t rule out making another addition via free agency but suggested it might not make sense dollar-wise. Cap Friendly indicates the Blues sit above the $81.5 million cap by over $1.175 million with defenseman Vince Dunn still to sign.

Armstrong gets some cap relief by placing Tarasenko ($7.5 million) and Alex Steen ($5.75 million) on long-term injury reserve, but he’ll have to clear cap room when they return to the lineup at some point during the season. Hoffman is also believed seeking $6 million on a one-year deal, which could prove too expensive for the Blues to absorb.

Asked if the Chicago Blackhawks could find a buyer for one of their four big contracts, Myers believes Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will finish their careers in Chicago.

Toews, Kane and Keith are signed through 2022-23, Seabrook through 2023-24. They all have full no-movement clauses. She noted Toews recently said he has no interest in playing anywhere else and would be surprised if Kane and Keith felt differently. The Blackhawks have given no indication they’re trading Seabrook. Given his contract, Myers considers it unlikely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe one or more of those four will feel differently in a couple of years if the rebuilding Blackhawks haven’t made sufficient progress. For now, I don’t expect either of them to be changing teams. Their contracts remain tough to move and their no-movement clauses give them full control over their futures.










The Hoffman Watch Continues In Latest NHL Rumor Roundup

The Hoffman Watch Continues In Latest NHL Rumor Roundup

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 1, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 1, 2020

A look at seven teams that could weaponize their cap space plus an update on Mike Hoffman in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently listed the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and Los Angeles Kings as seven teams that could use their cap space to target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Could the New Jersey Devils attempt to move P.K. Subban? (NHL Images)

All have $11.5 million or more in cap room. Some have already put that available cash to good use, as the Wings acquired defenseman Marc Staal while the Senators landed goaltender Matt Murray.

Dixon noted the rumors linking the Predators to unrestricted free agent winger Mike Hoffman but felt if they were going to sign him it would’ve happened by now. He also wondered if the Devils would use their cap room to absorb a healthy chunk of P.K. Subban’s salary if it would land them a decent draft pick or prospect.

The Blue Jackets must re-sign Pierre-Luc Dubois, who’s a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights. However, Dixon feels there could be enough space after he signs to perhaps make a bold move.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan mused over whether the Predators would weaponize their cap space. An obvious target is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who must shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, and Erik Cernak. Trade options could include Alex Killorn or Yanni Gourde. Vingan also suggested trying to sign one of those RFAs to an offer sheet.

Vingan also suggested the Predators target Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault. He also proposed taking a bad contract from the New York Islanders (such as Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ladd or Leo Komarov) for picks and prospects, then burying the veteran in the minors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those seven teams may have the cap space but that doesn’t mean they will target a club looking to dump salary. The Wings and Senators could wait until training camp to see if any teams get desperate to become cap compliant. For now, however, it seems like they’ve made their big moves.

Dixon made an interesting suggestion about the Devils picking up part of Subban’s $9 million annual salary-cap hit to facilitate a deal. At this stage, however, I believe they would prefer acquiring a player that can help them now rather than stocking up further on futures. That’s a move I can see them doing, provided they can drum up interest in Subban, whose stock has declined over the last couple of seasons.

The Jackets could go after another forward once they re-sign Dubois but I think shipping Josh Anderson to Montreal for Max Domi has addressed that issue. GM Jarmo Kekalainen might prefer leaving some cap space available for later in the season.

Panthers GM Bill Zito could also be operating under a cap ceiling lower than the league’s $81.5 million, which would explain why he hasn’t made a big splash yet. Kings GM Rob Blake could make another move or two but so far seems content building up his roster from within.

The Predators reportedly have a serious interest in Hoffman. Maybe general manager David Poile is considering other options, but he could be playing the waiting game in the hope the veteran winger lowers his asking price. And speaking of Hoffman…

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting the offers Hoffman has received thus far are “bargain city.” However, his agent claims his client is willing to wait for the deal he believes he deserves.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports the Boston Bruins are among a half-dozen teams interested in Hoffman. He also cited LeBrun’s report, noting the winger’s received one-year offers between $3.5 million and $4.5 million. Haggerty said it sounds like the Predators, Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers are also interested in Hoffman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t expect Hoffman will put pen to paper with one of those clubs until around the start of training camp. Time will tell if he gets a one-year, $6 million deal or settles for less.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2020

Could the Flyers or Blues attempt to sign Mike Hoffman? What’s the deal behind the Sabres’ recent short-term RFA signings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall noted a recent report by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun indicating a “dozen or so” teams have expressed an interest in Mike Hoffman. However, a source told Hall the Flyers aren’t among the clubs pursuing the unrestricted free-agent winger.

Free-agent winger Mike Hoffman (NHL Images).

Hall notes Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher likes his club’s prospects on the wing and he still has defenseman Philippe Myers to re-sign. They’re also hoping for a better performance by veteran winger James van Riemsdyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have $4.8 million in cap space, which will shrink after Myers is signed. Unless they make a cost-cutting move to clear room for Hoffman, don’t expect to see him suit up for the Flyers in 2020-21.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong wouldn’t rule out adding a player like Hoffman. However, such a move would have to make sense dollar-wise for the Blues.

Rutherford noted the Blues already sit $1.2 million above the $81.5 million salary cap with restricted free agent defenseman Vince Dunn to be signed. They can put sidelined forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen (combined AAV of $13.25 million) on long-term injury reserve next season to exceed the cap by that amount, but they must also be cap compliant when those players are ready to return to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t look like the Blues will be among Hoffman’s suitors. Rutherford reported Armstrong wants to give more playing time to forwards Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. The Blues GM also remains confident Tarasenko will return at some point in 2020-21.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined the Buffalo Sabres signing Sam Reinhart, Taylor Hall and Brandon Montour to one-year contracts, as well as their acquisition of Eric Staal, who has a year left on his contract.

O’Brien considers those “prove it” moves in which the players will have to justify longer deals through their performance in 2020-21. He also points out the flexibility it gives the Sabres at the 2021 trade deadline.

If the Sabres are non-contenders by then, they could peddle Hall to wherever he’s willing to accept getting dealt to. O’Brien also doesn’t rule out the possibility of shopping Reinhart by inflating his value, trading him before they have to pay up, and coming out on the better side of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could use the same approach with Staal and Montour. Of course, that depends on how next season shakes out. If the Sabres are contenders, they won’t be sellers even at the risk of losing Hall, Staal and Montour to next year’s UFA market.