NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2021

Connor McDavid calls for consistency from on-ice officials, the Blues bring back Tyler Bozak, the Red Wings re-sign Givani Smith, Jimmy Vesey among three players signing PTOs with the Devils, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is calling for more consistency from the NHL’s on-ice officials. He acknowledged they face a difficult job but wants to see an improvement in the consistency of calls from game to game and throughout the game from period to period.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Oilers general manager Ken Holland agrees with McDavid. “My case to the league is: A foul is a foul,” he said. “If the same guy is able to draw three or four penalties, so be it.” McDavid drew 29 penalties last season but none during the Oilers’ first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

McDavid and Holland are members of the NHL’s competition committee. In July, the committee reviewed 30 incidents of cross-checking, an infraction considered an area of concern by league general managers before the committee convened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman publicly defended his on-ice officials during last season’s playoffs, calling them “the best officials in any sport” despite criticism by fans and pundits. Given the inconsistency we’ve seen over the years, I wouldn’t hold out much hope of any improvement.

My guess is we’ll see what we always see. Early-season games will be called more closely than those later in the season. The quality of officiating will deteriorate over the course of the playoffs.

There will be questionable fouls that could affect how the rest of a game is called.  Blatant attempts to injure will sometimes result in puzzling supplemental discipline or none at all. A bad call or missed call will be offset by another at some point in the game. Wash, rinse, repeat.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have brought back center Tyler Bozak. The 35-year-old unrestricted free agent was signed to a one-year, $750K contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed forward Givani Smith to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s a one-way deal worth $750K per season.

TSN: Jimmy Vesey is among three players joining New Jersey Devils training camp on professional tryout offers. Joining him are Mark Jankowski and Tyler Wotherspoon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vesey was a well-touted prospect who signed with the New York Rangers as a college free agent in 2016. However, he bounced from the Rangers to the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks since 2019.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres fans will require proof of vaccination to attend the club’s home games this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins forward Fred Stanfield passed away at age 77. He played 14 seasons in the NHL, six of those with the Bruins (1967-68 to 1972-73), winning two Stanley Cups. Along with Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge, Stanfield was part of the return the Bruins received in a 1967 trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that turned the club into a champion.

In 914 career games with the Bruins, Blackhawks, Minnesota North Stars and Buffalo Sabres, Stanfield tallied 211 goals and 616 points, along with 56 points in 106 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Stanfield’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Brady Tkachuk, Elias Pettersson, Phil Kessel and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In a recent roundup of notable hockey news, Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres had an “introductory meeting” with Jack Eichel’s new representatives. Thus far, however, no indication of any resolution in the 24-year-old center’s impasse with the team. Friedman believes the club revisited discussions with interested teams to see where they stand.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The issues probably remain the same for those clubs. They’re unlikely to pay the Sabres’ hefty asking price for a talented but expensive player who’s yet to undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

The Ottawa Senators and Brady Tkachuk’s representatives are still working on a long-term deal believed comparable to teammate Thomas Chabot’s eight-year, $8 million per season contract. Both sides hope to have a deal in place before training camp opens later this month.

Friedman feels the Vancouver Canucks have made more progress in contract talks with Quinn Hughes than with Elias Pettersson. He wonders if Pettersson might be waiting to see what Minnesota Wild winger Kiril Kaprizov gets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could end up digging deep to pay Pettersson. Kaprizov reportedly could get $9 million annually on a five-year deal from the Wild.

Sources say Toronto Maple Leafs winger Ilya Mikheyev asked to be traded following last season but the club doesn’t want to accommodate his request. The departures of Zach Hyman and Joe Thornton mean the Leafs envision a bigger role for Mikheyev this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Playing time was apparently the issue for Mikheyev. He should get much more of that this season, providing him a terrific opportunity to prove his worth to the Leafs.

Friedman rejected rumors suggesting the Arizona Coyotes could trade defenseman Jakob Chychrun. However, he thinks veteran winger Phil Kessel could draw a lot of attention if he has a hot start to this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan observed, the Coyotes see the 23-year-old Chychrun as a player they can build around. Kessel, on the other hand, becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer and no longer has a future in Arizona. While the Coyotes only carry $6.8 million of his $8 million AAV, it could still be difficult to find takers for that cap hit.

A couple of teams are awaiting Tyler Bozak’s decision on where he’ll play this season. Friedman wonders if the 35-year-old center might land in Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the shelf to start the season.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas scuttled rumors linking his club to New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban. “I can definitively say that we have not thought a single thing about any player that is going to be a free agent a year from now,” said Dubas.

Koshan also reports Dubas did give some thought to trading one of his core players during the offseason. However, it didn’t sound like much serious thought was given to that idea.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban’s $9 million annual average value and the decline in his performance in recent years make him difficult to move right now.

I don’t doubt Dubas and the Leafs’ brain trust gave some thought to shake up their core but it was apparent during their season-ending press conference that they want to keep that group intact for this season. That could change next summer, however, if the Leafs fail again to advance past the opening round of the playoffs. Dubas might not even be part of that decision as another early postseason exit could cost him his job.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2021

Are the Panthers close to announcing a new contract for Aleksander Barkov? Are there other moves the Islanders and Avalanche could make? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: With Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov getting new contracts last week, George Richards wondered if Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov could be next to sign a lucrative long-term extension.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

Richards reports the Panthers are expected to announce a new contract for Barkov in the coming weeks, perhaps before training camp opens on Sep. 22. It’s believed he’ll get more than the $7.75 million per season that Couturier and Svechnikov will receive. The 25-year-old Panthers star is earning $5.9 million annually on his current deal which expires next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is the Panthers’ top player and among the best two-way forwards in the league. I don’t see them letting him go to market next summer. Richards expects it’ll be an eight-year maximum deal. He could pull in over $10 million per season.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple looked at what other moves could be in store for the New York Islanders after officially announcing new contracts yesterday for Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri and Ilya Sorokin.

The Isles didn’t announce a contract for Zach Parise but the winger will be joining them this season. Staple speculates he’ll get a one-year deal for the league minimum with performance bonuses on a plus-35 deal that could earn him over $2 million for the season.

Staple points out general manager Lou Lamoriello still hasn’t replaced Nick Leddy on the left side of the Islanders’ blueline. The Seattle Kraken has a surplus of left-handed defensemen but there hasn’t been much discussion between the two clubs. He doubts the Columbus Blue Jackets will part with Vladislav Gavrikov and it would take a decent-sized offer to pry Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines, the Islanders are $3.7 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. That will increase once they officially announce Parise’s contract.

They’ll address that overage by placing permanently sidelined Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million cap hit on LTIR. However, it still won’t leave much room to add a defenseman unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap or one or two players get demoted.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Peter Baugh was asked if the Colorado Avalanche might add a free agent or two to their bottom-six forwards. He believes they could offer someone like Tyler Bozak a cheap one-year contract or a tryout offer but they aren’t desperate to add someone before training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Baugh’s column was published before the Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a professional tryout offer yesterday. They could do the same for a UFA forward like Bozak though there’s no certainty they will. GM Joe Sakic could see how things unfold in training camp before seeing if he needs another veteran for his bottom-six.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2021

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and an update on the Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON TARASENKO

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports all’s quiet on the Vladimir Tarasenko trade front. He believes it became “painfully apparent” there was no market for the unhappy 29-year-old winger when the Seattle Kraken passed on him in favor of Vince Dunn in last month’s expansion draft. It was assumed they would select Tarasenko and flip him to another club for assets.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images)

It’s become known around the league that Tarasenko has relaxed his no-trade clause completely. Trade options are shrinking as teams filled their needs when the free-agent market opened last week. His poor performance last season after coming back from his third shoulder surgery in two years has adversely affected his trade value.

Thomas wonders if there’s a Cup contender in need of more offense willing to take a chance on Tarasenko. He pointed out the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes have the cap space to absorb the winger’s $7.5 million annual cap hit through 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers believe Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could be working on a trade. They think that’s why the club hasn’t officially announced the signings of free agents such as Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri because Lamoriello doesn’t want other teams to know how much cap space he’s got. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s up to something but I don’t see how he can absorb Tarasenko’s contract with the Blues absorbing part of that $7.5 million cap hit.

There’s talk Lamoriello could offer up Josh Bailey ($5 million AAV through 2023-24) because he was left exposed in the expansion draft. The Blues, however, could ask for a draft pick or prospect as part of that return to make it worthwhile to retain part of Tarasenko’s cap hit.

The Hurricanes have to re-sign Andrei Svechnikov but they would still have sufficient cap room to acquire Tarasenko. Team owner Tom Dundon could be reluctant to add more salary while Tarasenko’s shoulder surgeries could also be a concern for management.

Another possible destination for Tarasenko is the New Jersey Devils. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford recently pointed out Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald was interested in adding a top-six winger. They have a lot more cap space and depth in promising prospects and young NHL-ready players to dangle as trade bait.

UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens still have some areas to address this offseason. They could use a puck-moving defenseman and an experienced center.

Vince Dunn could address that need on the blueline but the Seattle Kraken probably won’t part with him. Tyler Bozak could be an interesting free-agent option at center.

The Canadiens should also look into acquiring Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The Canadiens have salary-cap space, good prospects and promising young players such as Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Alexander Romanov to offer up as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn recently filed for salary arbitration with the Kraken but I don’t see them moving him unless contract negotiations completely break down. Bozak would be an affordable depth signing but the Habs seem content with Jake Evans and Cedric Paquette as their bottom-six centers.

As for Eichel, the Canadiens are already over the cap by nearly $2.3 million, though they’re expected to get some cap relief for 2021-22 by placing Shea Weber on long-term injury reserve. Nevertheless, I don’t see them pursuing Eichel unless they’re moving significant salary and the Sabres are picking up a big chunk of his $10 million annual cap hit.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2021

What could the future hold for Predators forward Matt Duchene and defenseman Mattias Ekholm? Could Tyler Bozak re-sign with the Blues? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan believes Matt Duchene must prove his worth as the Nashville Predators jockey to hang onto the final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division. Recently returned to the lineup after missing 22 games with a lower-body injury, the 30-year-old winger has not held up his end of his $8 million per season deal.

Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene (NHL Images).

Vingan believes Duchene must earn his keep or risk emboldening critics who feel he’s more of a hindrance than a help to the Predators. Trying to move the winger’s hefty contract this summer could prove difficult. He suggested leaving Duchene exposed in this summer’s expansion draft but admitted convincing the Seattle Kraken to select him will take some work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene’s been a big disappointment for the Predators. He managed 42 points in 66 games last season but only nine points in 26 games this season.

It could take tempting the Kraken with a high draft pick or a top prospect. Even then, the idea of carrying an overpaid 30-something underachiever for five seasons probably won’t be appealing to Seattle general manager Ron Francis.

THE TENNESSEAN: Gentry Estes reports Mattias Ekholm is happy to still be with the Nashville Predators following weeks of speculation leading up to the recent NHL trade deadline. The 30-year-old defenseman was at one point atop TSN’s trade-bait list until the Predators surged in the standings.

No one knows how close Predators GM David Poile came to moving Ekholm. Reports claimed the asking price was a first-round pick, a top prospect and another asset. Poile has suggested Ekholm, who has a year remaining on his contract, isn’t going anywhere, indicating a desire to re-sign the blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm’s strong play was a key factor behind the Predators’ rise over the past month into playoff contention. Depending on how much he wants and for how long, a contract extension could be worked out during the offseason. If he’s not resigned, don’t be surprised if his name pops up in next season’s rumor mill.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas recently reported Tyler Bozak would like to re-sign with the St. Louis Blues. The 35-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent this season. He’s completing a three-year, $15 million contract and was sidelined 21 games this season by concussion issues.

Bozak’s played well centering the Blues’ third line since returning from injury. Whether they can afford to keep him with the salary cap remaining flat is another matter. If they do re-sign him it’ll be a short-term deal for less than his current $5 million annual cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bozak will have to accept a significant pay cut to stay in St. Louis for another season. Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $63.3 million invested in 15 players next season. Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman are also pending UFAs while Vince Dunn, Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford are restricted free agents.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2021

Could the Blues pursue Taylor Hall and trade Mike Hoffman? Could the Kings shop Alex Iafallo? Are teams calling about the Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk? Get the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATES ON HALL, HOFFMAN AND IAFALLO

TSN: Frank Seravalli wonders if St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong might be a buyer and a seller leading up to Monday’s trade deadline. Armstrong has a history of trading pending unrestricted free agents with his club on the playoff bubble.

Could the St. Louis Blues trade Mike Hoffman to make room for Buffalo’s Taylor Hall? (NHL Images)

Winger Mike Hoffman sits at No. 3 on the trade-bait list. Armstrong has also spoken to teams about center Tyler Bozak. There’s no indication if winger Jaden Schwartz is available.

The Blues are also believed among the teams with an interest in Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall. Swapping out Hoffman for Hall might work if the Sabres retain half of Hall’s $8 million salary-cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong could be reluctant to part with Schwartz as he could still help the Blues clinch a playoff berth. As for Hall, Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards believes the Panthers could also be interested in the Sabres winger.

With over $16 million in trade deadline cap space, the Panthers are in a better position than the Blues to acquire Hall. He has a no-movement clause but might be more receptive about joining one of the top clubs in the league in the Panthers (yes, you read that right, check the standings) or a struggling one like the Blues (again, check the standings).

Speaking of Hoffman, Richards shot down the notion of a possible return to Florida. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Panthers GM Bill Zito pursues a defenseman like David Savard of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who remains atop Seravalli’s trade-bait list.

Los Angeles Kings forward Alex Iafallo moved to No. 5 on the list. Seravalli reports Kings GM Rob Blake has taken calls about the pending UFA though the two sides continue to discuss a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake’s ensuring he’s got some trade options in case an agreement on a new contract with Iafallo isn’t reached by Monday. As Seravalli said, this could go either way.

TEAMS CALLING ABOUT DEBRUSK

THE ATHLETIC: listed Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk at No. 21 on the final update to their NHL Trade Deadline Big Board. Teams continue to call the Bruins to find out what it might take to acquire the 24-year-old winger. What makes him intriguing is his playoff production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything I’ve read and heard in the Boston media suggests the Bruins are fearful of trading DeBrusk and watching him blossom as a scorer elsewhere. I don’t dismiss the notion of a DeBrusk trade but the Bruins would probably prefer a young winger of equal or greater value and potential in return.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers GM Ken Holland doesn’t intend to part with first-round picks for rental players. He didn’t rule out making that move if it was for a player with term remaining on his contract. Matheson believes that could also cost a top-prospect, which would probably be a non-starter. Given the Oilers limited salary-cap space, Holland would have to have a trade partner willing to absorb 50 percent of an acquired player’s salary.

OTHER NOTABLE UPDATES TO TSN’S TRADE-BAIT LIST

With their playoff math looking hazy, the Dallas Stars are starting to get calls about some of their pending UFAs. Big-bodied defenseman Jamie Oleksiak is drawing the most interest, moving up to No. 9 on the trade-bait list.

Seravalli also removed Tanner Pearson from the board following the winger signing a three-year contract extension this week with the Vancouver Canucks. Injuries to Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan and Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell takes both players off the list.