NHL ProteauType: Leafs’ Collapse Another Sign Andersen May Be On His Way Out
The latest on Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Kesler and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov isn’t allowing the Dallas Stars to frustrate him and knock him off his game during the Stanley Cup Final. In the past, opponents would target Kucherov and get under his skin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov’s taken his lumps from the Stars during the first two games of the series. He was held off the score sheet in Game 1 but the Lightning as a team played poorly for most of that contest. In Game 2, Kucherov got the primary assists on the Lightning’s first two goals and leads all NHL scorers with 28 points.
NATIONAL POST: The Stars need more from Tyler Seguin if they hope to win the Stanley Cup. The first-line center has just two goals and eight points in 22 games, with one assist in the last 12. His last goal was on Aug. 26 against Colorado.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Seguin’s production is troubling but could attributable to an undisclosed injury. He missed an exhibition game against Nashville and a round-robin game against St. Louis. It was a topic of concern in early August but hasn’t been mentioned much as the Stars rolled to the Cup Final.
ESPN.COM: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said the lack of education among NHL players regarding the painkiller toradol led to his chronic digestive problems. Kesler and other former NHL players talked about the overuse of pain medication in the TSN documentary, “The Problem of Pain”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL must do a better job educating its teams, medical staff, and players regarding pain management and the use of pain medication. Failure to do so can lead to addiction or serious medical side effects.
NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators won’t have a captain for 2020-21. They’ll go with three alternate captains on a game-by-game basis. Head coach D.J. Smith said the plan is to transition younger players like Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk into leadership roles.
OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of the Senators, they and the other teams that didn’t qualify for the return-to-play program could be granted a longer training camp leading up to next season if the NHLPA agrees to it.
TSN: The San Jose Sharks named Bob Boughner their full-time head coach. Boughner took over on an interim basis on Dec. 29 after the club fired Peter DeBoer.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Lindsay Hofford.
With Kuablik being named to All-Rookie team, he earned an additional $212.5K “A” Performance Bonus. This increases the #Blackhawks carryover overage to $1,090,244, which can be split 50/50 next 2 years. We have assumed the split on the site – $545,122 Hithttps://t.co/JX7VYB4Q5x https://t.co/9Oah6aJm6u
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) September 21, 2020
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.