NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2020

Zdeno Chara signs with the Capitals, seven clubs open training camp today, Ryan Callahan retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday signed Zdeno Chara to a one-year, $795K contract. The 43-year-old defenseman spent the last 14 seasons as captain of the Boston Bruins. He helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final three times (2011, 2013, 2019), winning the Cup in 2011. Chara was a five-time Norris Trophy finalist during his tenure with the Bruins, winning the award in 2009.

Former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara signs a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Chara’s contract also features an additional $730K in performance bonuses. He’s no longer a Norris Trophy contender but the big blueliner is expected to bring accountability to the Capitals roster after two disappointing first-round exits following their 2018 Cup championship. He’ll likely see second- or third-pairing minutes in Washington.

Chara’s departure from the Bruins wasn’t unexpected given their apparent reluctance to bring him back for another season. Nevertheless, his signing with the Capitals was still surprising. While Bruins fans knew Chara was past his prime, management’s unwillingness to bring him back didn’t sit well with some of them. He was one of the greatest defensemen in franchise history. His exit marks the end of an era.

No word yet from the Bruins as to who replaces Chara as team captain, but Patrice Bergeron likely becomes the leading candidate to take over the role.

NHL.COM: Last season’s seven non-playoff clubs – the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks open training camp today. The other 24 teams begin camp on Jan. 3.

TSN.COM: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reiterated that Canada’s seven NHL teams have governmental clearance to hold training camp and open the season in their home arenas.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Callahan announced his retirement as an NHL player yesterday after 13 active seasons with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Renowned for his two-way play, Callahan tallied 186 goals and 386 points in 757 NHL contests. After suffering a back injury in 2019, Callahan was traded to the Ottawa Senators, spending last season on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Callahan and his family in their future endeavors.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially announced the signing of forward Derick Brassard to a one-year contract.

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns might not be playing this season. He’s listed as an injured player not participating in training camp. The Athletic cited sources claiming he’s out for the season but general manager Jim Nill said that would be determined by team doctors. Johns has a history of head injuries, missing 22 months to post-traumatic headaches.

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders haven’t invited Josh Ho-Sang to training camp, sparking another turn in the rocky relationship between the club and the former first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang spent all of last season in the minors. He was the subject of trade rumors but nothing came of them.

NEWSDAY: Speaking of the Islanders, the current ownership has bought the remainder of former owner Charles Wang’s shares from his estate. Wang, who passed away in 2019, held a 15 percent stake in the club.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators have decided to open the season without fans in their arena after getting approval from the city’s health department to allow limited crowds. The club hopes to gradually bring back fans over the course of the season.

THE AHL: yesterday announced a framework to open their season on Feb. 5 has been approved by their board of governors.










Assessing Five Recent Notable NHL Player Moves

Assessing Five Recent Notable NHL Player Moves

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2020

Henrik Lundqvist to undergo open-heart surgery, Kirby Dach sidelined by wrist surgery and a roundup of Monday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist announced yesterday he’ll be undergoing open-heart surgery to address the condition that has sidelined him for this season. The 38-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals after being bought out by the New York Rangers in September.

Henrik Lundqvist will undergo open-heart surgery (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik for a swift and complete recovery.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Kirby Dach could miss the entire upcoming season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. The timeline for his recovery is four-to-five months. The 19-year-old center suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada during an exhibition game against Russia during the World Junior Championships in Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Blackhawks heading into this season. Dach was expected to play a bigger role with the club following a solid debut in 2019-20. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup by the time the playoffs begin in May, provided the Blackhawks qualify for the postseason.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed free-agent winger Corey Perry to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the high-scoring right winger he was during his playing prime with the Anaheim Ducks. Nevertheless, he played a key role in the Dallas Stars’ march to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The 35-year-old Perry should provide the Habs with experienced depth and leadership on their checking lines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Former New York Islanders forward Derick Brassard is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Coyotes. Meanwhile, SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports they also signed Jordan Schmaltz to a professional tryout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes freed up cap space over the weekend by shipping Derek Stepan ($6.5 million annual average value) to the Ottawa Senators. That’s given them just over $3 million in cap space, with a portion going to replace Stepan with the more affordable Brassard.

SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a good opportunity for Athanasiou to get his career back on track following last season’s disappointing performance with the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers. A former 30-goal scorer, the 26-year-old should get plenty of playing time with the rebuilding Kings.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Ethan Bear to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $2 million. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inking the promising Bear to a short-term deal was a good cost-effective move by the Oilers. If his development continues as hoped he’ll be in line for a big raise in two years’ time. Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sitting over $2.19 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, they’ll be cap compliant once they place sidelined Oscar Klefbom ($4.16 million AAV) on long-term injury reserve.

The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a professional tryout offer.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports goaltender Garret Sparks is heading to the Calgary Flames on a PTO.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were the only club among 123 teams of North America’s “Big Four” professional men’s sports leagues to receive a loan through a COVID relief program. The Penguins received a $4.82 million loan through the CARES Act.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2020

The latest Bruins speculation plus some free-agent options available to the Blue Jackets in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean examined what’s left for the Bruins to do during this offseason. They must sign winger Jake DeBrusk, determine if defenseman Zdeno Chara will return and fill a need for depth among their middle-six forwards.

Will Zdeno Chara return to the Boston Bruins? (NHL Images)

Given the Bruins’ limited salary-cap space ($7.35 million per PuckPedia) and DeBrusk’s streaky scoring, Bean believes the 22-year-old restricted free agent should receive a short-term deal worth somewhere in the range of $4 million annually.

Nothing much has happened with Chara, but if the unrestricted free agent wanted to leave, Bean thinks he would’ve done so by now. He feels the Bruins could use him as a third-pairing, left-side defenseman.

Bean believes the Bruins need additional left-wing depth. Possible options could include Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Erik Haula or Andreas Athanasiou. He doubts they have sufficient cap space for Hoffman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Bruins intend to sign DeBrusk on that short-term deal suggested by Bean. It’ll likely happen by the time training camp opens, which could be around mid-December if the NHL begins its 2020-21 schedule on Jan. 1.

Chara is reportedly waiting to see what the schedule forward for ’20-’21 looks like before deciding if he’ll return for another season. I concur with Bean that if the 43-year-old rearguard was signing with another club he would’ve done so by now, though we can’t rule out the possibility he’d get a better offer elsewhere. Nevertheless, I believe his preference is playing for the Bruins.

The Bruins could go the free-agent route to address their need for another left winger. Unless they make a cost-cutting trade, however, they can’t afford Hoffman. They might have to go into the bargain bin.

They could also go the trade route to address that need. Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty reports prospect defenseman Urho Vaakanainen could be a trade candidate.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger examined the free-agent options available to Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen if he wants to bring in additional depth.

The Jackets could use a short-term replacement for Gustav Nyquist, who’s sidelined for five months recovering from shoulder surgery. Options include Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and former Blue Jackets Derick Brassard and Anthony Duclair. However, Hedger believes Kekalainen could instead look at promoting a promising young player.

Hedger feels the Jackets’ blueline depth took a bit of a hit when Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara were traded in cost-cutting deals. He suggests Sami Vatanen would be a good fit on the right side of the third pairing.

Kekalainen might need an experienced goalie if he decides to trade Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for additional cap space. Options could include Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets popgun offense was a concern before Nyquist was sidelined. Kekalainen could go the UFA route or promote from within, but I’ve also read reports suggesting he could instead target a cap-strapped rival in the trade market.

Kekalainen could look to within his system to address his need on the third pairing but I wouldn’t rule out making an affordable short-term free-agent signing. Vatanen might be the best option but might not be cost-effective.

If Kekalainen trades Merzlikins or Korpisalo I believe he’ll promote Matiss Kivlenieks rather than add an aging UFA netminder.










NHL Offseason Lookahead – New York Islanders

NHL Offseason Lookahead – New York Islanders

 










The Best and Worst NHL Unrestricted Free Agent Signings of 2019

The Best and Worst NHL Unrestricted Free Agent Signings of 2019