NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2022

The Hurricanes snuff out the Flames, the Blues defeat the Capitals, plus the latest COVID news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes extended their winning streak to five games by dousing the Calgary Flames 6-3. Brady Skjei had a goal and two assists while teammate Andrei Svechnikov scored twice. With 49 points, the Hurricanes vaulted over the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals into first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flames have lost three straight and sit third in the Pacific Division.

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich (NHL Images).

Pavel Buchnevich scored two goals and set up another as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Goaltender Ville Husso kicked out 26 shots for his first win since Nov. 27. The Blues (45 points) move to within one point of the first-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division. Earlier in the day, the Capitals placed Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie on injured reserve.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier and Edmonton Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto were among the players placed on the COVID protocol list on Friday.

NHL.COM: Two Ottawa Senators games have been postponed. The first is tonight’s match against the Vancouver Canucks and the second is their Jan. 15 contest against the Winnipeg Jets.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets have backed off their suggested plan to play some of their home games in Saskatoon where arena capacity restrictions aren’t as strict as in Manitoba. A survey of the idea among their season-ticket holders found 40 percent against the idea with 30 percent neutral and 30 percent in approval.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov will miss tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals after suffering an upper-body injury on Thursday against the Boston Bruins. There is no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov is enjoying a strong sophomore campaign, sitting among the top-10 scorers with 40 points. A lengthy absence from the lineup could be devastating for the Wild.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced they will be raising a banner to long-time broadcaster Rick Jeanneret during “RJ Night” on Apr. 1 honoring his career. Jeanneret is retiring following this season and will call his final Sabres game on Apr. 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fitting tribute to a fine play-by-play man who’s been part of the Sabres’ history since 1971-72.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 20, 2021

Leon Draisaitl reaches a milestone goal, Joel Eriksson Ek pots his first career hat trick, Alex Ovechkin keeps rising up the all-time goal leaders board, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl scored twice and assisted on two others to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Anaheim Ducks 6-5. Draisaitl also tallied his 200th career goal as the Oilers have won their first three games of the season. Connor McDavid had three points and Zack Kassian scored twice. Mikko Koskinen made 20 saves for the Oilers after Mike Smith left the game with an apparent leg injury in the second period. Kevin Shattenkirk and Sam Steel each tallied twice for the Ducks, who placed forwards Max Jones and Mason McTavish on injured reserve earlier in the day.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek’s scored in overtime to complete his first career hat trick in a 6-5 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Mats Zuccarello scored twice and set up two others and Kirill Kaprizov collected three helpers. Andrew Copp had a goal and two assists for the Jets, who picked up their first point in three games.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 734th career goal into an empty net in a 6-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice and added an assist and Tom Wilson had three helpers for the Capitals. Ovechkin sits seven goals behind Brett Hull (741) for fourth place on the all-time goal-scoring list.

Florida Panthers rookie goaltender Spencer Knight extended his regular-season win streak to five games stretching back to last season in a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Bay Lightning. Knight kicked out 30 shots, Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart each collected two points and rookie Anton Lundell tallied his first career NHL goal. The Lightning played without Nikita Kucherov, who was placed on long-term injury reserve with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The All-Star winger missed the entirety of the 2020-21 regular season recovering from offseason hip surgery. It’s uncertain if his current ailment is tied to that.

The Buffalo Sabres stretching their season-opening record to 3-0-0 for the first time since 2008 by dropping the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons each had a goal and an assist while Craig Anderson picked up the win with 32 saves. Canucks winger Brock Boeser was held scoreless in his season debut while defenseman Quinn Hughes missed the game with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Canucks placed Nic Petan on waivers.

A 4-2 victory by the New Jersey Devils over the Seattle Kraken was overshadowed by Devils center Jack Hughes leaving the game in the first period with an injured left shoulder. Hughes is listed as day-to-day. Ryan Graves collected two assists for the Devils and rookie Dawson Mercer scored his first career goal. The Kraken lost their third straight game despite the season debut of center Yanni Gourde.

Ilya Sorokin’s 39-save performance carried the New York Islanders to their first win of the season as they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1, leaving the latter winless in four games. Oliver Wahlstrom tallied twice for the Isles.

Alexander Radulov scored in a shootout as the Dallas Stars downed the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. Braden Holtby picked up the win with 27 saves. Michael Raffl also scored for the Stars while John Marino replied for the Penguins.

Two third-period goals gave the Nashville Predators their first win of the season as they nipped the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Juuse Saros made 25 saves for the Predators as Tanner Jeannot potted the game-winner in the third period. Anze Kopitar scored for the Kings.

The San Jose Sharks blanked the Montreal Canadiens 5-0, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Rookie Jonathan Dahlen scored his first two NHL goals, Erik Karlsson and Timo Meier each had a goal and two assists while Adin Hill turned in a 21-save shutout.

Rookie Lucas Raymond netted his first career NHL goal and added an assist as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. Thomas Greiss made 22 saves for the win and captain Dylan Larkin collected two assists.

IN OTHER NEWS…

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights received some good news as team captain Mark Stone won’t require surgery for an undisclosed injury. Coach Peter DeBoer said Stone was between “day-to-day and week-to-week.” There’s no timetable for his return.

SPORTSNET: St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich received a two-game suspension for headbutting Arizona Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse on Monday.

SI/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Hall-of-Famer Mike Bossy is stepping away from his broadcasting duties with TVA Sports after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Bossy makes a swift and full recovery.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2021

The Blues express interest in Zdeno Chara, the factor that enticed Joe Thornton to the Florida Panthers, breakout candidates for 2021-22 and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a league source said the St. Louis Blues expressed interest in unrestricted free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara. The former Boston Bruins captain spent last season with the Washington Capitals.

Free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).

Rutherford believes the Blues landing Chara is a long shot. A source said the 44-year-old blueliner has yet to decide where he’ll play this season. His family remains in Boston and he intends to remain close to them this season. The option remains for Chara to return to the Capitals for another season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bally Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland tweeted he was told the Blues aren’t an option for Chara. If he plays, his focus is to stay in the East to be close to his family.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers general manager Bill Zito credited his players for helping to lure Joe Thornton to the club. The 42-year-old center recently signed a one-year deal with the Panthers. Thornton cited how good the team looks and how well they played last season. He believes they’re close to Stanley Cup contention. Zito also said Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Roberto Luongo spoke with Thornton.

ESPN.COM: Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich, Vancouver Canucks forward Conor Garland and Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark are among Greg Wyshynski’s breakout candidates for 2021-22.

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Cole Sillinger to a three-year entry-level contract. Son of former NHL center Mike Sillinger, the 18-year-old was selected 12th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights will be participating in next month’s Rookie Faceoff tournament. Their rookie squad will face off against those from the Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings from Sept. 17-20 in Arizona. There was no tournament last season because of the shortened schedule and lack of a preseason.

SPORTSNET: Wayne Gretzky recently launches his first NFT collectibles on the new DraftKings platform.










Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 27, 2021

Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 27, 2021

With the NHL free-agent market opening at noon ET on July 28, there’s a flurry of last-minute contract signings taking place. Some involved unrestricted free agents while others are restricted free agents. Here’s the rundown of today’s notable signings.

Washington Capitals signed left winger Alex Ovechkin to a five-year, $47.5 million contract.

Washington Capitals re-sign left winger Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Everyone knew Ovechkin was staying in Washington. The cap hit ($9.5 million) wasn’t a shocker as it’s pretty much what it was on his previous contract. What raised my eyebrows was the term. I’d expected three or four years. Five is a bit of a stretch for a player turning 36 in September. Ovechkin has remained among the league’s superstars well into his 30s, but the final year or two of that deal could prove costly to the Capitals cap payroll as his performance inevitably declines. Such is the price of keeping a franchise player and the greatest goal scorer of his generation.

St. Louis Blues sign right winger Pavel Buchnevich to a four-year, $23.2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues recently acquire Buchnevich from the New York Rangers. This contract is a reasonable deal for a 26-year-old winger who steadily improved as an all-around forward over the past three seasons with the New York Rangers. Now earning $5.8 million per season, Buchnevich will either skate on the Blues’ second-line or take over the first-line role if/when Vladimir Tarasenko gets traded this summer.

Vancouver Canucks sign forward Conor Garland to a five-year. $24.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After two solid seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, Garland was acquired by the Canucks last week in the multi-player deal that also landed them Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 25-year-old winger earned a substantial pay raise, going from $775K per season on his previous deal to $4.95 million annually. His impressive play with Team USA at this year’s World Championships suggests he could thrive alongside talented linemates. He’ll get that opportunity with the Canucks alongside Elias Pettersson or Bo Horvat.










Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

A list of the noteworthy trades that took place leading up to, and including the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft along with my hot take on each. I will update this throughout the evening.

The Columbus Blue Jackets trade defenseman Seth Jones, the final pick in the first round of the 2021 draft (32nd overall) and a sixth-round pick in 2022 to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Adam Boqvist, a first-round pick in 2021 (12th overall), a second-round pick in 2021 and a first-round pick in 2022. If the latter pick is top-two, it becomes a 2023 first-rounder.

Jones also signs an eight-year contract extension with the Blackhawks worth an annual average value of $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t say I’m surprised that Jones wound up in Chicago. The Blackhawks were among the early suitors and really wanted to bolster their defense, especially after shipping Duncan Keith to Edmonton earlier this month.

What I am surprised by is the shock on social media that Jones got that expensive contract extension. Folks, if I’ve said it once, I said it a thousand times: never underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to spend too much on talent. Even under a flattened salary cap, some just can’t help themselves.

Some believe this is a lousy deal for the Blackhawks, pointing to the decline in Jones’ play over the past year, or the drop in his offensive numbers over the last two years. I believe Jones’ play suffered last season because the Blue Jackets were falling apart. Maybe the reason behind the decline in his production was playing for a club with a popgun offense.

Jones is 26, still in his playing prime, with a contract taking him up to age 35, skating for a team with a lot more talent than the one he just left. True, the Blackhawks are rebuilding, but they’ve got a mix of established and promising talent. Adding Jones to their lineup could help him regain his form and accelerate their rebuild.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, got the best return they could for a player who wasn’t going to re-sign with them before next season. Boqvist, 20, is coming off his NHL sophomore season. He’s a promising offensive blueliner who could be very effective on the Blue Jackets power play.

Landing the Blackhawks’ first-rounder while giving up the 32nd selection still gives the Jackets three selections in that round. They’re in a good position to land some promising prospects as they commence their rebuild in earnest this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for winger Loui Eriksson, winger Antoine Roussel, center Jay Beagle, the Canucks first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, their second-rounder in 2022 and a seventh-rounder in 2023. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be the blockbuster of the day. The Canucks were one of just two teams Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for when the Coyotes tried to trade him last October. The two sides ran out of time to hammer out a deal before the blueliner’s deadline on Oct. 9.

Ekman-Larsson’s performance has declined over the past three seasons. The Canucks are betting he’ll regain his form on a promising team in Vancouver. The Coyotes retained 12 percent of his $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit but that could still be an expensive gamble with six years remaining on his contract at $7.26 million per season.

Garland, 25, is coming off back-to-back 39-point performances and should provide a boost to the Canucks’ secondary scoring. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, he was pursued by several clubs in recent weeks.

The Canucks tried shedding Eriksson’s $6 million cap hit for the past two years. They’re finally rid of it when there’s just one year remaining. Beagle has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $3 million. There was speculation he could miss 2021-22 with an undisclosed injury. Roussel also has a year left on his deal with a cap hit of $3 million. The Coyotes could use the physical winger as a trade chip at next year’s trade deadline. 

For the Coyotes, the real prize was that first-round pick. They forfeited theirs for violating 2020 Draft Combine rules under former general manager John Chayka. Current GM Bill Armstrong was willing to eat the remaining year on Eriksson’s and Beagle’s contracts to get a top-10 pick.

Canucks GM Jim Benning is getting roasted on social media for this move. If Ekman-Larsson improves in Vancouver and Garland bolsters their scoring he’ll come out of this smelling like a rose. If not, he’ll be smelling of something rather unpleasant.

The Buffalo Sabres trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Robert Hagg, a first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher continues to shore up his defense after acquiring Ryan Ellis last Saturday from the Nashville Predators. Expect Ristolainen to slot in behind Ellis as their second-pairing right-side defenseman. 

The Sabres begin what appears to be another rebuild. Ristolainen’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for a couple of years now. Prying a 13th overall pick from the Flyers was quite a coup by GM Kevyn Adams, especially for a player who’s slated to become a UFA next summer. Flyers fans are taking to social media expressing their unhappiness with Fletcher for parting with that pick for Ristolainen. 

The New York Rangers trade right wing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for winger Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could set the table for the Blues to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It could also set the stage for the Rangers to make their much-rumored deal for Sabres center Jack Eichel. Or, it could simply be the Blueshirts being unwilling to invest too much for too long in Buchnevich when they’ve got two key players to re-sign next summer in Mika Zibanejad and 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believed the Rangers had to bring in another physical winger to skate on the third line with recently-signed Barclay Goodrow. Blais will fill that role at an affordable cap hit of $1.5 million. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

The 2021 NHL Draft begins tonight at 8 pm ET. Check out all the latest speculation leading up to the start of round one in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLACKHAWKS STILL TRYING TO LAND SETH JONES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks are taking another run at acquiring defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets without parting with Alex DeBrincat or Kirby Dach in return. It’s believed the Blackhawks are one of the teams that could secure a long-term contract extension from Jones.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

RECENT RANGERS SPECULATION

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the New York Rangers are trying to put together an offer for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. They’ve been calling teams that hold a pick in the top-10 in this year’s draft.

In other Rangers speculation, they’ve been trying to move Pavel Buchnevich for some time. Ryan Strome has been linked to the Seattle Kraken. Seravalli wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights might be interested given their need for centers.

The Rangers have sought suitors for backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev with a first-round pick as the asking price. He pondered the possibility of the Rangers attempting to acquire Jonathan Marchessault or Reilly Smith from the Vegas Golden Knights.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also reported the Rangers are shopping Buchnevich, in part to ensure sufficient long-term cap space. He believes they must find suitable linemates for third-line forward Barclay Goodrow after signing him yesterday to a six-year contract.

TARASENKO COULD STAY IN ST. LOUIS

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he can envision a scenario whereby Vladimir Tarasenko returns with the club next season. Armstrong is attempting to fulfill Tarasenko’s trade request but this could be his way of signaling to the Tarasenko camp and the rest of the league that he’s not giving the winger away.

SABRES SET ASKING PRICE FOR REINHART

WGR 550: Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres are receiving plenty of interest in center Sam Reinhart. Their asking price is said to be a first-round pick and a prospect. Reinhart, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports contract discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and winger Zach Hyman but some believe the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t out of it yet. If the Oilers want that eighth year in Hyman’s contract it will have to be a sign-and-trade with the Leafs.

Dreger also reports they’re continuing to discuss a possible re-signing with defenseman Tyson Barrie. The Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all have interest in Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the Oilers could be a dark horse candidate for Carolina Hurricanes free-agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton. They’re expected to clear cap space by buying out James Neal and there’s talk of moving winger Zack Kassian. He’s also not sold on Ethan Bear being in Edmonton for the long haul.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Tampa Bay Lightning are once again trying to trade winger Tyler Johnson. He has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million and 22 teams on his partial no-trade list.

The Montreal Canadiens have spoken to the Sabres about Rasmus Ristolainen. They could also have some interest in the Lightning’s pending UFA defenseman David Savard if his asking price isn’t too costly. The Habs are looking to plug a hole in their blueline with Shea Weber expected to be sidelined for all of next season and possibly longer.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez is mulling a contract offer from the club. He’s slated to become a UFA on July 28.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports free agent Ryan Suter could decide as early as Monday over which team he’ll sign with. The former Minnesota Wild defenseman has drawn interest from the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

It’s believed the Vancouver Canucks have given Braden Holtby’s representatives permission to speak with other teams about a possible trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports hearing San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier could be in play. He wondered if the New Jersey Devils might be interested in uniting Meier with countryman Nico Hischier.

THE PROVINCE: Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted he’s had teams calling to inquire about defenseman Nate Schmidt. He said he didn’t put Schmidt out there in the trade market nor has the blueliner requested to be dealt.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Carolina Hurricanes are working to find a new home for defenseman Jake Bean. There’s also interest in Hurricanes winger Warren Foegele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick and dirty rumor list today as I prepare for the opening round of the draft this evening. As always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on today’s speculation.