NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 9, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 9, 2024

The Leafs’ Auston Matthews tallies his 65th goal, Canucks forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser reach personal scoring milestones, the three stars of the week are announced, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored his league-leading 65th goal of the season in a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jake McCabe scored in overtime with Matthews picking up the primary assist for the 45-23-9 Leafs as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 99 points. Rickard Rakell and Drew O’Connor replied for the Penguins (36-30-12) as they extended their points streak to nine games. With 84 points, they’re just outside the final Eastern Conference wildcard berth.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is tied with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in a single season in the salary-cap era. Meanwhile, the Penguins have the same amount of points as the Detroit Red Wings but the latter holds that wildcard berth with a game in hand.

The Vancouver Canucks overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. Conor Garland scored twice, J.T. Miller reached the 100-point plateau and Brock Boeser netted his 40th goal of the season for the Canucks (48-22-8) as they sit fifth in the overall standings with 104 points. Jack Eichel scored twice and Tomas Hertl collected an assist in his first game with the Golden Knights (42-27-8) as they hold the final Western Conference wildcard spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller leads the Canucks in points. It’s the first time he’s reached 100 points. He fell one point short of the plateau in 2021-22. Boeser leads the Canucks in goals this season in what’s been a career-best performance for the 27-year-old winger.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 7, 2024.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Mayor of Scottsdale, Arizona opposes the Coyotes’ plan to purchase a plot of land in North Phoenix for a new arena and entertainment complex. David Ortega believes the proposed arena would not be feasible on that 95-acre piece of land because of a lack of infrastructure. He also stated that Scottsdale water assets “are absolutely not available.”

The auction date for the land is scheduled for June 27 with a starting price of $68.5 million. Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo issued a statement last week emphasizing the team’s intent to win that auction.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev returned to practice yesterday in a non-contact jersey participating in offensive drills. He’s been sidelined since Feb. 7 after breaking the tibia and fibula in his left leg during a game against the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no timetable for Sergachev’s return. He’s not expected to be ready for the opening round of the playoffs.

TSN: Florida Panthers winger Carter Verhaeghe is currently listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. However, he is expected to be ready for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPORTSNET: Calgary Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Colorado Avalanche forward Brandon Duhaime pranked former teammate Marc-Andre Fleury last week by “TPing” his vehicle. Fleury got his revenge on Duhaime this week by placing flowers and dirt on the bonnet of his vehicle, removing all four tires, and placing a “for sale” sign on the window.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2023

Milestone performances for Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Chicago’s Connor Bedard while the Sabres sign Owen Power and the Devils ink Lindy Ruff to contract extensions. Get the details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews collected a hat trick, including his 300th career goal, in a 6-5 season-opening win over the Montreal Canadiens. Mitch Marner netted the winner in a shootout after the Leafs overcame a 5-3 deficit in the third period while John Tavares had three assists. Alex Newhook scored twice in his first game with the Canadiens after being acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in the offseason.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was sloppy defense and goaltending by both clubs in this game. However, it proved more costly to the Canadiens as they also blew an early 2-0 lead.

Speaking of the Canadiens, Cap Friendly indicates they demoted winger Joel Armia to their AHL affiliate in Laval and recalled defenseman Arber Xhekaj, who collected an assist and got the better of Leafs enforcer Ryan Reaves during their first-period tussle.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard tallied his first-ever NHL goal but his club fell 3-1 to the Boston Bruins. David Pastrnak scored the tying and winning goals for the Bruins while Linus Ullmark stopped 20 shots for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks winger Taylor Hall suffered an upper-body injury following a hit by Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo. He’s listed as week-to-week.

The Vancouver Canucks crushed the Edmonton Oilers 8-1. Brock Boeser scored four goals while Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller each had a goal and three assists. Leon Draisaitl netted the sole Oilers goal while goalies Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner each gave up four goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are predicted to be a Stanley Cup contender this season but they were outperformed by the Canucks in every aspect of this contest. They’re obviously better than this and should use this game as motivation for a better effort in their next contest. Meanwhile, the Canucks couldn’t have asked for a better season-opening performance, especially Boeser given his struggles last season.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored twice and collected two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists while Alexandar Georgiev stopped 34 shots for the win. Carl Grundstrom and Quinton Byfield replied for the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I only saw the highlights of this contest but Rantanen and MacKinnon were dominating for the Avalanche. Cale Makar also picked up two points in this game for Colorado. Before this match, the Kings announced that winger Viktor Arvidsson would miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.

The Calgary Flames got a 34-save performance from Jacob Markstrom and two late goals by Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane to upset the Winnipeg Jets 5-3. Lindholm and Mangiapane each finished with three points for the Flames. Kyle Connor, Alex Iafallo and Mark Scheifele replied for the Jets, who outshot the Flames 37-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets deserved a better fate as they were the better team in this game. However, the Flames got outstanding goaltending and clutch scoring to take this one.

Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Brady Skjei and Jaccob Slavin scored in the third period to lift their club to a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Skjei and Jordan Staal each had a goal and an assist while Frederik Andersen made 27 saves. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 37 shots for the Senators.

HEADLINES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: On the eve of their season opener, the Sabres signed defenseman Owen Power to a seven-year, $58.45 million contract extension effective next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nobody should be surprised by this move. The Sabres indicated they were working on re-signing Power after getting Rasmus Dahlin under contract on Sept. 22 for an eight-year, $88-million contract.

Power, 20, is in the final season of his entry-level contract. His salary will jump from an average of just over $916K to $8.35 million per season. Chosen first overall in the 2021 NHL draft, he was a finalist for the Calder Trophy last season.

The Sabres now have their two top defensemen under contract covering them through most of their playing prime. The duo will be crucial factors in this club’s hopes to become a Stanley Cup contender over the next seven years.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils yesterday announced they reached an agreement with head coach Lindy Ruff on a multi-year contract extension that begins in 2024-25. Ruff is currently in the final season of a four-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report didn’t indicate for how many years but wouldn’t surprise me if it’s another three-year contract with a one-year extension option.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: More bad news for San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture as he suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury that will keep him out of his club’s opening games of the season. Sharks coach David Quinn said Couture will undergo more tests and evaluation.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Scott Laughton intends to take a stand against the NHL banning the use of Pride Tape during theme celebrations this season. “You’ll probably see me with the Pride Tape on that night,” said Laughton. “It’s not going to affect the way I go about it. If they want to say something, they can, but it’s not going to make a difference in what I do every night for the Pride community.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league should leave it up to the players if they’ll participate in on-ice support by wearing themed jerseys or using special tape on their sticks during warmups on Pride Night. It’ll be interesting to see if other players around the league follow Laughton’s lead.

NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights forward Brett Howden received a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Seattle Kraken forward Brandon Tanev on Tuesday.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Golden Knights, forward William Carrier could be sidelined with an upper-body injury after leaving Tuesday’s season opener.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Justin Danforth to a one-year, $1.1 million contract extension through 2024-25.

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they named Josef Boumedienne as assistant coach and signed assistant coaches Jared Boll and Steve McCarthy to one-year contract extensions.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues’ current roster retool hasn’t adversely affected them at the gate. Team owner Tom Stillman said the club remains on par in season ticket sales where they’ve been when the club’s come off a playoff run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s because they’ve got a solid fan base in St. Louis that has supported this franchise for years.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 8, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 8, 2023

What will the Hurricanes do with Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei? Could the Leafs lose a goalie to the waiver wire? What’s the latest Canucks speculation? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

HURRICANES COULD RETAIN PESCE AND SKJEI THIS SEASON

NHL.COM: In his Oct. 4 mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked what the Carolina Hurricanes will do with Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei. The duo are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer and the Hurricanes currently have a logjam on the blueline.

Rosen believes the Hurricanes don’t have to rush to make a decision on Pesce, Skjei or fellow pending UFA blueliners Tony DeAngelo, Caleb Jones and Jalen Chatfield. He pointed out that Pesce and Skjei are a solid defense pair and trading one could hurt the other.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (NHL Images).

The Hurricanes aren’t facing a salary-cap crunch this season and can ice a full 23-man roster. They’re in “win-now” mode and it might make more sense to retain Pesce and Skjei for this season and deal with the contract issues later.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pesce was a frequent topic of trade speculation over the summer as the Hurricanes were said to be listening to offers for him. However, it’s apparent now that they either didn’t receive any worthwhile trade proposals or they’ve opted to maintain their deep defense corps for a Stanley Cup run this season.

That could change, of course, if the Hurricanes’ season goes off the rails and they end up becoming sellers at the trade deadline. Nevertheless, I agree with Rosen that they’ll likely retain Pesce and Skjei for the coming season and deal with their contract negotiations afterward.

COULD THE MAPLE LEAFS LOSE MARTIN JONES TO WAIVERS?

TORONTO STAR: Nick Kypreos recently speculated that the Maple Leafs could lose third-string goaltender Martin Jones to waivers. He thinks the 33-year-old netminder could be a target for the Tampa Bay Lightning if he’s still available as a short-term replacement for sidelined starter Andrei Vasilevskiy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All eyes will be on the Lightning once teams make their final cuts and place their extra goalies on waivers for the purpose of sending them to the minors. Jones might not be the only tempting option for the Bolts. Others could include Detroit’s Alex Lyon and Buffalo’s Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

The Lightning could also surprise us by sticking with their preseason tandem of Jonas Johansson and Matt Tomkins. Johansson won all three of his starts (two by shutout) while Tomkins won two of his three contests.

LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION

TORONTO STAR: Kypreos believes the Vancouver Canucks would really like “in a perfect world” to trade for a defense partner for captain Quinn Hughes. Their trade chips remain forwards Brock Boeser and Conor Garland. Kypreos claims he’s heard the Canucks are more open to retaining some salary of certain players than they were in the past.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser carries an AAV of $6.65 million through 2024-25 while Garland has an annual cap hit of $4.95 million through 2025-26. It would likely take retaining part of either forward’s salary to move them under a flattened cap this season. If they intend to move one or the other, they’ll likely have better luck next summer when the cap is expected to jump to between $87.5 million and $88 million.

The Canucks seem headed to starting the season with their current roster regulars. That could change depending on the club’s performance as the schedule rolls on.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 24, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 24, 2023

Could the Hurricanes land Patrick Kane? Is a new contract coming for the Flames’ Mikael Backlund? Will the Canucks shed more contracts? Who could be a cost-cutting candidate for the Senators? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

COULD THE HURRICANES BECOME PATRICK KANE’S NEW TEAM?

SPORTSNET: That’s the question Ryan Dixon asked among his biggest questions for each team this season in the Metropolitan Division.

Patrick Kane is still rehabbing from an offseason hip resurfacing procedure. Dixon believes the Hurricanes are in no danger of missing the playoffs but felt they could use another offensive player to get them over the postseason hump.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dixon noted the Hurricanes’ experiment with Max Pacioretty last season failed when he was sidelined for all but five games by a twice-torn Achilles.

During the summer, Kane’s agent said his client was expected to be ready to return to action by December. By that point, he’s supposedly going to weigh offers from clubs that he believes will give him the best shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

The Hurricanes could be among that group as they’re considered among the Cup favorites. Finding the cap dollars, however, could be difficult as they’re entering the season with just over $920K in cap space.

IS A NEW CONTRACT COMING FOR BACKLUND?

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports there are rumblings of contract extension discussions heating up between the Flames and Mikael Backlund. The 34-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

We’ll see what happens,” said Backlund on Saturday. “It’s pretty quiet right now, but we will see what happens. We haven’t made a decision yet.”

Gilbertson cited reports from earlier in the week suggesting Backlund is open to re-signing with the Flames. He also indicated that his teammates believe he should be wearing the captaincy. He noted that the Flames intend on naming a new captain before their season opener on Oct. 11.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gilbertson pointed out, that date for naming their next captain could also be the deadline for getting a new contract done for Backlund if he is to wear the “C”.

MORE COST-CUTTING MOVES IN STORE FOR THE CANUCKS?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: In the wake of the Vancouver Canucks trading Tanner Pearson to the Montreal Canadiens, Jeff Paterson reported Canucks hockey ops president Jim Rutherford indicated his club is “probably a contract or two away” from unraveling their salary-cap issues.

Rutherford didn’t single out any specific contracts but Paterson believed he was referring to Tyler Myers, Brock Boeser and Conor Garland. Myers is on an expiring deal with an average annual value of $5 million, Boeser has two years remaining with an AAV of $6.65 million while Garland has three years left at $4.95 million AAV.

Paterson pointed out that Myers, Boeser and Garland have floated repeatedly in the rumor mill. However, Rutherford blames the flattened salary cap for the Canucks’ difficulty in shedding unwanted contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Myers could still come off the Canucks’ books before the end of this season. All but $1 million of his $6 million AAV was paid out in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs seeking an experienced playoff rental defenseman.

If the Canucks still intend to move Boeser and/or Garland, they might have better luck next summer. That’s when the salary cap is projected to rise by at least $4 million.

WHO COULD THE SENATORS TRADE TO CLEAR CAP SPACE FOR PINTO?

SPORTSNET: Limited salary-cap space is complicating the Ottawa Senators’ efforts to sign restricted free-agent center Shane Pinto. They’d prefer not to part with the 22-year-old center, especially with Josh Norris starting training camp wearing a non-contact jersey.

They’ll have to trade somebody else to make room for Pinto. Mathieu Joseph keeps popping up as a trade candidate. The 26-year-old winger carries an annual cap hit of $2.95 million through 2025-26. They might have to include a sweetener in the deal to make it work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also cited Elliotte Friedman saying the Philadelphia Flyers “have been buzzing around the situation.” It was rumored they (and the Boston Bruins) were interested in Pinto. Perhaps the rebuilding Flyers would take Joseph off the Senators’ hands if he comes with a pick or a prospect.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2023

A special honor for Nathan MacKinnon plus the latest on Sam Reinhart, Martin Necas, Brock Boeser and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

TSN: The Halifax Mooseheads announced they will be retiring former star Nathan MacKinnon’s No. 22 during their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League home opener on Sept. 22 against the Charlottetown Islanders.

MacKinnon played his junior hockey with the Mooseheads from 2011-12 to 2012-13 before being chosen first overall in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. He led them to the 2013 Memorial Cup and was named tournament MVP.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

It’s a true honour to have my jersey retired by the Mooseheads,” he said in a statement. “I can’t wait to share this moment with everyone back home in moose country.”

MacKinnon is the first member of the Mooseheads to be a first-overall NHL draft pick. He also joins Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Alex Tanguay and Jody Shelley as the only Mooseheads to have their numbers retired.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Sam Reinhart is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. However, the 27-year-old Panthers winger hopes to stay in Florida. “It’s not something I stress over or lose sleep over too much,” said Reinhart. “They know I want to be here, I know they want me here.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart is in the final season of a three-year contract worth an average annual value of $6.5 million. He scored 31 goals last season, marking the second straight year that he exceeded the 30-goal plateau. Reinhart also had eight goals and 13 points in 21 playoff games during the Panthers’ Stanley Cup run last spring.

CAROLINA HOCKEY NOW: Martin Necas is in the final season of his two-year, $6 million contract. The 24-year-old forward will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer.

Necas said he’s putting his focus on improving his play rather than on a new deal. “Whatever is going to come is going to come,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Necas enjoyed a breakout regular season with a career-best of 28 goals and 43 assists for 71 points in 82 games but was limited to just seven points in 15 playoff contests. He’s hoping to build on last season’s efforts and improve his postseason performance.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser said he and his teammates are “sick and tired of having these expectations and not following through” after missing the playoffs in the last three seasons.

Boeser, 26, also understands he needs to be better than last season’s 18-goal performance. He was hampered by a broken hand at the start of training camp and was still grieving the death of his father earlier in the year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season will be a crucial one for Boeser and the current core of Canucks players. He could be among some big changes for the club if they miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Kasperi Kapanen has been accused of aggravated drunken driving in Finland. The case was brought to court in late August but few details were provided. Further information is expected following a court hearing in February 2024. Kapanen, 27, made a statement indicating he made “an unacceptable error in judgment” and would take “full responsibility.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t sound like Kapanen will face a suspension by the Blues or the NHL. St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong released a statement indicating the club was aware of the incident. He expressed disappointment in Kapanen’s “lapse of judgment” but is “entrusting him to make the necessary changes to avoid putting himself in a similar situation in the future.”

DAILY FACEOFF: The Philadelphia Flyers hired former Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray as a Senior Advisor. They also formally announced the hiring of former NHL winger Dany Heatley as a pro scout.

CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios will have his No. 7 retired by the Blackhawks during a Feb. 25 game against the Detroit Red Wings.

A three-time winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy (twice with the Blackhawks), he spent nearly nine seasons with the Hawks from 1990-91 until traded to the Wings in Feb. 1999. Chelios also spent over nine seasons (1998-99 to 2008-09) with the Red Wings, winning two Stanley Cups.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2023

Canucks wingers Brock Boeser and Anthony Beauvillier are on the hot seat this season plus an update on Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

BOESER AND BEAUVILLIER ON THE HOT SEAT IN VANCOUVER

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes it’s within the realm of possibility that the Vancouver Canucks move on from winger Brock Boeser and Anthony Beauvillier this season. The former is signed through 2024-25 with an average annual value of $6.65 million while Beauvillier is entering the final season of his contract with an AAV of $4.15 million.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

Proteau thinks Boeser and Beauvillier could hit the trade block if the Canucks get off to another struggling start. Their contract numbers are reasonable for teams in the market for experienced, above-average help on the wing. They also lack no-trade/no-move protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t dismiss the possibility of Boeser and/or Beauvillier getting shopped if the Canucks stumble through another season. Moving either guy, however, won’t be easy even if they play well this season.

With just six teams carrying $5 million or more in projected cap space, there aren’t many potential destinations for Boeser or Beauvillier during the first couple of months into the regular season. The market could improve by the trade deadline as teams that aren’t using LTIR can accrue cap space over the course of the season.

Tyler Myers is in the final year of his contract. The Canucks aren’t expected to re-sign the 33-year-old defenseman. His size, physicality and ability to log around 20 minutes of ice time per game could prove worthwhile to a true contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was rumored that the Canucks had a deal in place to send Myers to the San Jose Sharks after his $5 million signing bonus was paid in September. We’ll find out in due course if that’s the case.

JAKE ALLEN TO REMAIN WITH THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: Raphael Doucet cited a well-placed source claiming that Jake Allen has received confirmation from Montreal Canadiens management that he will not be traded.

The 33-year-old goaltender was the subject of some trade speculation after the Canadiens acquired Casey DeSmith last month from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s goalie partner Sam Montembeault recently told reporters that he’d also received assurances from Canadiens GM Kent Hughes that he wouldn’t be traded.

Hughes has said he would look into trading DeSmith. Perhaps he has something lined up to flip the former Penguins netminder to another club before training camps open later this month.