Laviolette Latest To Find A Ride On NHL Coaching Carousel
The Wild trade Eric Staal to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson, Canadiens re-sign Joel Edmundson, and the latest on Brayden Point, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Clifford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal last evening to the Buffalo Sabres for center Marcus Johansson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a straightforward one-for-one swap with no salary retention by either club. Cap Friendly indicates Staal, 35, has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. He has a 10-team no-trade list but the Sabres reportedly weren’t on it. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Staal was stunned by the news.
Johansson, 29, also has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million AAV. He’s a versatile forward (when healthy) who can play center or on the wing. However, he managed just 30 points in 60 games last season as a center with the Sabres. Staal netted 47 in 66 contests.
Wild general manager Bill Guerin made no secret of his intentions to shore up his depth at center. Last week, he acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, I don’t see the trading away Staal for Johansson as an improvement.
Staal may be older but he was more productive than Johansson, who seems better suited for the wing. Guerin’s recent re-signing of Jonas Brodin has sparked speculation he’s shopping defenseman Matt Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center.
The Sabres, meanwhile, are reportedly going to set an internal cap of $70 million for 2020-21. Shedding Johansson for Staal shaves $1.25 million off their payroll. He’ll play a second-line role behind Jack Eichel and perhaps help out in a leadership role.
Speaking of the Wild, StarTribune.com’s Sarah McLellan reported Guerin said it’s unlikely pending free agent center Alex Galchenyuk returns. He also declined to comment on the future of captain Mikko Koivu, who’s also a pending UFA.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Joel Edmundson to a four-year, $14-million contract extension. The Habs acquired the 27-year-old defenseman last week from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.5 million, making Edmundson an affordable, physical addition to the Canadiens’ defense corps. The deal also comes with a 10-team no-trade list for all four seasons.
Adding Edmundson provides experienced depth on the left side of the Habs’ blue line. It’s also sparked suggestions Brett Kulak or Victor Mete could be packaged in a deal for a scoring forward. The Habs now have over $10.2 million in cap space invested in 19 players for 2020-21.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point’s status for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final remains uncertain. Point missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice yesterday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn’t know if Point will be available but remains hopeful he’ll be in the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning lost both games Point missed due to injury.
NEW YORK POST: The return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk provided a big lift for the New York Islanders in their Game 5 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. Boychuk returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in the opening game of the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers.
TORONTO SUN: Agent Todd Reynolds said client Kyle Clifford will be testing the unrestricted free agent market. The 29-year-old left wing was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last February. If Clifford doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, the Kings will receive a third-round pick from the Leafs.
THE SCORE: The St. Louis Blues announced former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be joining them as an assistant coach on a two-year deal. He’ll replace Marc Savard, who stepped down earlier this month.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are expected to make interim head coach Bob Boughner their full-time bench boss.
TSN: A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against North America’s most powerful hockey leagues (including the NHL, AHL, and the Canadian junior leagues) alleging conspiracy to limit opportunities for young players. The suit was filed by Kobe Mohr, who played in the WHL from 2015 to 2020.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins president Jack Kelley died Tuesday at age 93. Kelley was the Penguins president from 1993 to 1998. He was also inducted in the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelley’s family and friends.
NHL players could forego their final paychecks, the latest on Dustin Byfuglien, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports one of the options for the players to deal with the impact of the coronavirus upon the NHL is foregoing their final paychecks of the season. The gross amount is around $140 million, which is due on April 15. Player reps are canvassing their individual teams to determine what they want to do. They could also take only part of their paychecks, or take the entire payment and put it toward the escrow fund. A decision is required by April 7.
Darren Dreger reports the NHL has scheduled discussions with the Winnipeg Jets soon regarding their plans for Dustin Byfuglien. The NHLPA, the league, the team, and Byfuglien are all aligned toward a contract termination. It hasn’t been executed yet because of the current situation and the Jets aren’t in a position to announce it. Dreger expects details to be ironed out soon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien has probably played his final game with the Jets. He missed this season with an ankle injury that resulted in a disagreement with Jets management over the severity and treatment of the injury.
Whether Byfuglien continues his NHL career as an unrestricted free agent or retires remains to be seen. He has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.6 million. A mutual agreement to terminate his contract will free up that cap space for the Jets.
Bob McKenzie reports several clubs have not yet taken their annual team photograph. They include the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators. The season could end without a commemorative photo for those clubs, though some could use Photoshop to include pictures of players who depart in the off-season.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston, with an assist from Cap Friendly, listed 10 critical unanswered questions raised by the current NHL hiatus. Sorting out the salary cap, performance bonuses, trades with conditions or clauses, the draft lottery, and expiring contracts are among the issues facing the teams and players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting list that provides considerable food for thought. Much will depend on whether the league resumes the remainder of the regular-season schedule, jumps directly to the playoffs, or cancels the entire season. Once they know for certain how this will end, they’ll begin to address those issues.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson praised the work of interim head coach Bob Boughner and his staff. Wilson admits Boughner has the upper hand to remains the Sharks’ bench boss.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Wilson truly feels that way, why not just say Boughner will return next season as head coach? Maybe he’s keeping his options open if a better coach becomes available this summer.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators announced temporary layoffs and several staff members were placed on furlough because of the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, the club is hopeful no more members of their team test positive for the illness. Five unnamed players, a staff member, and broadcaster Gord Wilson tested positive for COVID-19.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli will continue to pay 2,100 part-time employees through June 30.
NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders players pooled funds to donate 3,500 N95 masks to Northwell Health.
University of North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi, University of Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich, and University of Maine goaltender Jeremy Swayman are the three finalists for the 2020 Hobey Baker Award.
No decision yet on the fate of the 2020 regular season and playoffs, more speculation over the format of the 2020 post-season, interim coaches facing an uncertain future, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The NHL has not yet decided whether the remainder of the 2019-20 season will be played, or what format the 2020 playoffs might take. In a press release, the league indicated the resumption of play and format would depend upon what transpires between now and when it is permitted to resume play.
The league reiterated it doesn’t anticipate any resumption that would affect its ability to stage the 2020-21 season in its entirety. It also stated it was premature to assume games would be closed to the public whenever the schedule recommences.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the league told the board of governors it is too soon to determine when the schedule will resume, adding it is considering every option. Sources said some team executives prefer the usual 16-team playoff field, while others like an expanded one. A larger playoff format could also affect the draft lottery.
LeBrun speculates the likely postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics (July 24 to Aug. 6) could provide the league more flexibility to return to action this summer. He also said he couldn’t recall a higher level of cooperation between the league and the NHL Players Association than he’s seen right now, but that collaboration could be tested as both sides consider difficult financial decisions that affect both sides.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams on the playoff bubble would prefer an expanded playoff format if the regular season cannot be staged. Whatever that might look like remains to be seen. It will depend upon when they’re approved to resume by health officials in Canada and the United States.
NBC Sports provides national US TV coverage of the NHL. They’re also scheduled to cover the Tokyo Olympics. Postponing the Olympics ensures no broadcast scheduling conflict for the league.
It’s in the best interest of the league and the PA to cooperate during this crisis. They cannot allow petty squabbles of the past to derail efforts to find a workable solution to the anticipated decline in hockey-related revenue brought about by this pandemic. If they can successfully navigate through this, the stage could be set for a rancor-free extension of the current collective bargaining agreement.
STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon observes the pause in the NHL schedule leaves the league’s interim coaches in limbo. They include the Calgary Flames’ Geoff Ward, the Dallas Stars’ Rick Bowness, the San Jose Sharks’ Bob Boughner, the New Jersey Devils’ Alain Nasreddine, and the Minnesota Wild’s Dean Evason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nasreddine could face the most uncertain future. He was hired by Ray Shero, who lost his job a month later. There’s talk the Devils could replace interim GM Tom Fitzgerald. If so, that person could bring in his own bench boss.
TSN: Mark Master reports ice makers in the 31 NHL arenas will face a daunting challenge if the league returns to action this summer.
THE SCORE: The 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League playoffs and the 2020 Memorial Cup have been canceled. It’s the first time in the Cup’s 102-year history that it won’t be awarded to Canada’s top junior team.
Latest scheduling speculation, the effect of lost revenue upon players’ salaries, no front office or coaching changes for the Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
COVID-19 AND THE NHL
TSN: Pierre LeBrun said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly maintains the league must stage a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21. However, Daly told LeBrun that wouldn’t preclude delaying the start of next season into November if the 2020 playoffs are staged in July and August.
Bob McKenzie reports International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel isn’t optimistic about staging the 2020 World Championships in Switzerland. Fasel’s still awaiting official word from the Swiss government, but McKenzie believes it’s obvious the tournament will be canceled.
The Memorial Cup, set for Kelowna from May 22-31, probably won’t be held at that time. Nevertheless, the CHL isn’t writing off the playoffs. The Kelowna Rockets have reserved ice space for June if the tournament is to be moved back a month.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL informed the NHL Players Association that revenue losses stemming from the current schedule pause over coronavirus concerns could be a best-case low of a couple of hundred million to a worst-case $1 billion.
Escrow clawbacks under the best case would rise by four percent but would surge as much as 21 percent under the worst case. That would be added to the 14 percent already clawed back from players’ salaries this season. Under the best case, the players would receive 82 percent of the face value of their contracts for this season, or 65 percent under the worst case.
Brooks believes that’s why some players are pitching the idea of resuming the season, with the Stanley Cup playoffs held in August and September. The PA is exploring options to mitigate that increase to put before its membership. They include rolling this year’s escrow into next season, returning the refund due for 2018-19, adding the projected increase to the remaining two paychecks owed to the players this season, or deferring escrow over a period of years when the new US television deal kicks in.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how responsive the league will be to whatever escrow proposal the PA puts forward. Given the unique situation, perhaps the league will be receptive. After all, they’ll still get their escrow money, it’s just that the PA wants to lessen the hit to their membership.
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports uncertainty over COVID-19 and its effect upon the sports world has NHL players leaning more than ever on their agents for support and guidance.
TORONTO SUN:. With leagues’ schedules paused or canceled and travel limited, Michael Traikos reports the coronavirus has affected how NHL scouts evaluate prospects. It could turn the 2020 NHL Draft into more of a crapshoot.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers yesterday reported Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said there will be no changes to the front office or coaching staff following yet another disappointing season. President John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, and head coach Jeremy Colliton will all return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers, like Powers’ colleague Mark Lazerus, doesn’t see any significant improvement ahead for the Blackhawks. “When the Blackhawks are ambivalent, you potentially get years of mediocrity, with no end in sight,” he wrote. I’ll have more on the Blackhawks in the Rumors section.
NHL.COM: San Jose Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner expects to return as head coach next season. Boughner took over after Peter DeBoer was fired on Dec. 11. Their record since the coaching change was 14-20-3 before the schedule was paused on March 12.
Game recaps, the Sharks fire head coach Peter DeBoer, Forbes releases its annual evaluation of NHL franchises, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: T.J. Oshie scored two goals as the Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2. John Carlson scored the game-winner, snapping a 2-2 tie in the third period. Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 26th goal of the season,
Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen tallied twice in a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Avs center Nazem Kadri returned to action after being sidelined for three games. The Avalanche are unbeaten in their last eight contests (7-0-1). Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers.
An overtime goal by Ben Chiarot lifted the Montreal Canadiens over the Ottawa Senators 3-2. The Senators made things interesting by overcoming a 2-0 deficit. Max Domi collected two assists while rookie goaltender Cayden Primeau picked up his first NHL victory. Brady Tkachuk picked up two points for the Senators. The Canadiens played without Matthew Peca. They also placed center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (upper body) on injured reserve.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks yesterday fired head coach Peter DeBoer and three of his assistant coaches. Bob Boughner takes over for DeBoer on an interim basis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are struggling to score and the defense hasn’t played well, but poor goaltending is the real reason DeBoer lost his job. Martin Jones and Aaron Dell have been terrible, sporting the league’s third-worst goals-against per game (3.42). Boughner might improve their defense, but I doubt he’ll be able to elevate the goaltending.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Speaking of coaches on struggling teams in danger of losing their job, Jeff Blashill’s performance is under the microscope as the Red Wings approach the longest losing skid in franchise history.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The record is 14 straight games. The Wings are in a death spiral, sparking comparisons to the “Dead Things” of the early-’80s. General manager Steve Yzerman’s been patient, but one wonders how much longer he’ll wait before shaking up the coaching staff.
FORBES.COM: For the fifth straight year, the New York Rangers top the magazine’s annual evaluation of NHL franchises. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, and Boston Bruins round out the top five. The Arizona Coyotes came in last in the rankings.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lapointe is undergoing treatment for oral cancer. A team statement indicates this form of cancer has a high cure rate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to “Pointu” for a speedy recovery.
CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets center Emil Bemstrom will miss the next 6-to-8 weeks due to a dislocated rib and broken cartilage.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks trainer Mike Gapski will work his 2,500th NHL game tonight against the Arizona Coyotes.
THE SCORE: The Colorado Eagles’ equipment manager had been placed on administrative leave after former NHL player Akim Aliu revealed he attended a team Halloween party in blackface dressed as Aliu. The incident took place in 2011.