NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2022
The Devils believed they were a destination for Johnny Gaudreau, plus the latest on Ondrej Palat, Mitch Marner, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald believed Johnny Gaudreau was going to sign with his club before shocking the hockey world by joining the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gaudreau, who grew up in Carney’s Point, N.J., was reportedly looking to sign with a club closer to home.
Fitzgerald said he thought he’d really connected with Gaudreau and his wife during his conversation with them. He also cited a personal connection as his son played with Gaudreau at Boston College.
“We put our best foot forward,” said Fitzgerald. “He chose to go to Columbus for the reasons he chose. He could have gone anywhere. We wish him all the best.” The Devils GM subsequently signed former Tampa Bay Lightning winger to a five-year, $30 million contract.
THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Palat, he admitted to feeling sad over leaving the Lightning after 10 seasons. “I was kind of preparing myself there was a chance I was leaving Tampa,” he said. “But it’s a business and now when I signed with New Jersey, I’m not as sad.”
Palat admitted the past several weeks had been an emotional roller coaster, going from losing in the Stanley Cup Final to the Colorado Avalanche to free agency. However, he’s excited about bringing his experience to a promising team with younger talent.
TSN: Speaking of the Devils, they hired former Florida Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette as an associate coach for Lindy Ruff.
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner admitted he endured flashbacks of being carjacked in May. He and his fiancee were unhurt in the incident but he said there were a couple of weeks where it came back to him whenever he was driving.
“We were lucky enough to have people around that we can talk to and have these stories to tell and get feedback,” said Marner. “So, definitely mental health is something important to me and my family – and something that we really take serious.”
TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, they signed forward Calle Jarnkrok to a four-year contract worth an average annual value of $2.1 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Leafs fans see Jarnkrok as a replacement for Alex Kerfoot should GM Kyle Dubas trade him during this summer or in the regular season. Kerfoot has been rumored as a cost-cutting trade candidate for some time.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t going down the trade-rumor rabbit hole with Vladimir Tarasenko like last summer. Despite Armstrong’s recent claim that the winger’s “trade demand” was no longer an issue, a report emerged during the 2022 NHL Draft indicating that Tarasenko hadn’t rescinded the request. “He’s under contract and I expect (to have) him,” said Armstrong.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. He carries a $7.5 million average annual value but will earn $5.5 million in actual salary. He also carries a full no-trade clause.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Mike Sielski doesn’t buy into the theory among Flyers fans that their club went downhill after team owner Ed Snider passed away and Ron Hextall became general manager followed by Chuck Fletcher. He believes the rot within the front office extends back to 2006, long before Snider’s death and before Hextall and Fletcher came along.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the reason, there’s no denying the Flyers are a mess. Another poor performance by this club will mean the end of Fletcher’s tenure as general manager. However, the on-ice product won’t change much unless ownership charts a new, clearer direction and hires the right people to make it happen.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: On the topic of the Flyers, they signed former first-round pick Morgan Frost to a one-year, $800K contract.
TSN: The Nashville Predators signed forward Zach Sanford to a one-year, $850K contract.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Brad Hunt to a one-year, $800K contract.