NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2023
The Kraken avoid arbitration with Vince Dunn while the Leafs and Ilya Samsonov await an arbiter’s decision. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken avoided arbitration with Vince Dunn by signing the defenseman to a four-year contract with an average annual value of $7.35 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn was coming off a two-year contract with an AAV of $4 million. He earned that pay raise by becoming the Kraken’s best puck-moving defenseman, tallying 35 points during their inaugural season in 2021-22 and a career-best 64 points in 81 games.
The term is reasonable for both sides. It’s not overly long for the Kraken while Dunn gets an opportunity at unrestricted free agency at age 30 when he’s still in his prime.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs and Ilya Samsonov failed to reach an agreement on a contract and went into arbitration yesterday. The mediator has until Sunday to decide between Samsonov’s ask of $4.9 million on a one-year deal or the Leafs’ $2.6 million. Whatever the outcome, Samsonov will only get a one-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Going into this process could lead to Samsonov’s departure as an unrestricted free agent next summer regardless of whether the 26-year-old goaltender gets what he wants for a salary. Arbitration is a bruising process for a player’s ego. It’s rare that a player who went through it ends up signing a long-term deal with his club.
CAP FRIENDLY: Only eight players have arbitration hearings upcoming. The most notable are Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman (July 30), Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry (Aug. 2) and Minnesota Wild netminder Filip Gustavsson (Aug. 4).
Samsonov and Chicago’s Philipp Kurashev have gone before an arbiter with the latter’s result expected on Saturday. Most of the others (such as Dunn) have settled before their hearings.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Despite a difficult transition last season from the Vancouver Canucks to the Islanders (especially after linemate Mathew Barzal was sidelined), Bo Horvat is looking forward to his first full season on Long Island.
Horvat said he likes the pressure and intensity of playing for passionate fans on Long Island. “You want to be in a market where they care about the game, and they care about the team, and that’s where I am right now.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The piece also noted that Horvat will face considerable pressure in the first season of his eight-year, $68 million contract. A full season playing alongside a healthy Barzal should result in a productive performance for the 28-year-old center in 2023-24. That could prove crucial for the Isles’ playoff hopes this season.
NHL.COM: Long-time league executive Brian O’Neill passed away at age 94. Hired in 1966-67 as director of administration. O’Neill oversaw the NHL’s expansion from six to 12 teams in 1967. He was named executive director four years later, overseeing the NHL draft, several expansions and regular season and playoff schedules before retiring from that position in 1992.
O’Neill was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1994 and served as an advisor, including helping with the operation of the NHL’s Player Emergency Assistance Fund.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to O’Neill’s family, friends and colleagues.