NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2020

Check out the latest on Sidney Crosby, Cale Makar, Johnny Gaudreau, Jakub Voracek, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

TRIBLIVE.COM: Sidney Crosby was absent from Pittsburgh Penguins practice yesterday after leaving the ice during Saturday’s scrimmage. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan declined to comment, citing the NHL’s new rules withholding player medical information during the coronavirus pandemic. However, a team source said Crosby’s departure was a precautionary measure for an undisclosed ailment.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (Photo via NHL Images).

NHL.COM’s Rick Sadowski reports Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar skipped practice yesterday after leaving the ice on Saturday. Coach Jared Bednar couldn’t comment on Makar’s status citing the league’s new injury protocols.

NEW YORK POST: Pavel Buchnevich’s absence from Rangers practice since Saturday is not expected to be long-term. The winger is suffering from an undisclosed ailment not related to COVID-19. Coach David Quinn doesn’t expect Buchnevich to miss the start of the Rangers’ upcoming qualifying-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the league’s cone of silence on a player’s health during the pandemic, we’ll have to get used to deciphering clues over whether they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus or dealing with something else. It’ll get easier when the games begin. A good indicator a player absence isn’t COVID-related is if he leaves the ice limping or clutching an arm or a shoulder.

CALGARY SUN: Johnny Gaudreau was reunited with linemates Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm yesterday. It’s the first time the winger has skated at his usual spot on the Flames’ top line since training camp opened last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames tried to downplay Gaudreau’s situation, but it sparked whispers among fans and pundits over everything from contracting the coronavirus to concerns about his conditioning to questions about his future in Calgary.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Jakub Voracek returned to practice yesterday after being “unable to participate” on Saturday.

“I feel good,” said Voracek. “Why are you asking? You guys panic so much it’s not even funny, holy f—. You guys are making it sound like I’m dying or something. Everything’s fine.”

Voracek’s absence was due to a delay in the results of his COVID-19 test on Friday, which subsequently came back negative.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins forward Charlie Coyle was held out of practice on Saturday for precautionary reasons following an inconclusive COVID test. A follow-up test came back negative.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland revealed he’s dealing with an issue related to his vestibular system, which is an inner-ear sensory system tied to the brain dealing with balance, eye movement, and spatial transmission. It was originally suspected Ferland’s lengthy absence was related to a concussion suffered earlier this season. He’s attempting to play his way back into the Canucks lineup during Phase 3 training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report noted Ferland’s play still needs improvement, but he managed to play a full scrimmage on Sunday.

TORONTO SUN: Zach Hyman was back on the ice Sunday taking shots on a couple of Maple Leafs’ reserve goaltenders. He missed practice Saturday after blocking a shot on Friday.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny is feeling better following the NHL’s four-month pause. He’d been struggling to regain his form following hamstring surgery in April 2019.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes posed for their annual team photo with everyone wearing masks.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2020

Updates on Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Cale Makar, Jakub Voracek, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby left yesterday’s scrimmage in the second period for “undisclosed reasons.” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan declined to comment citing league protocols, but winger Conor Sheary suggested Crosby’s departure was a “maintenance thing.”

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (Photo via NHL Images).

 THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar left practice yesterday. Coach Jared Bednar said Makar was “unfit” to complete practice. It’s uncertain if he’ll participate in Sunday’s scrimmage.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek didn’t participate in yesterday’s practice. It could simply be a day off for Voracek after participating in every practice since Monday.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins had nine regulars – David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase, David Krejci, Torey Krug, Tuukka Rask, Nick Ritchie, Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner – listed as “unfit to play” on Saturday. Head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t elaborate other than to say the club had no injuries to speak of.

Pastrnak is quarantined after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Krejci, Ritchie, Coyle, Kuraly, Wagner, Krug, and Rask all participated in practices before Saturday.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich left training camp early yesterday for undisclosed reasons. Coach David Quinn declined to comment citing league protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the league’s cone of silence over a player’s health status leaves fans and pundits playing a guessing game. In most of the cases indicated above, it appears a player was either banged up during practice or having a maintenance day following a full week of practice and scrimmaging. Apart from Pastrnak, none of these absences appear tied to COVID-19.

THE SCORE: cited The Athletic’s Joe Smith reporting Steven Stamkos was a full participant in practice yesterday. The Tampa Bay Lightning captain is nursing a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training. Head coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos could get a shot at playing in the club’s exhibition game on July 29 if he’s healthy and feels ready to go.

CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Olli Maatta was back on the ice Saturday after skipping practice on Friday. His absence may have simply been a maintenance day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maintenance means anything from simply having a day off for rest to getting treatment for a nagging injury.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Former NHL linesman Kevin Collins is the president, CEO, principal owner, and clerk of the works of Mass Alternative Care, Inc. It’s a marijuana-based company he started up that employs around 60 people in western Massachusetts. The company using cannabis for a diverse range of products for medical and adult recreational use.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the story suggests, Collins’ post-retirement business is growing like a weed.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 27, 2020

Check out the latest Rangers off-season speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers face a daunting challenge to re-sign Tony DeAngelo this off-season. The 24-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights with 53 points in 68 games this season.

Can the New York Rangers afford a big raise for defenseman Tony DeAngelo? (Photo via NHL Images)

It could cost the Rangers at least $6 million on a long-term contract. The two parties could agree to a short-term bridge deal around $5 million per season. Failing that, DeAngelo could become the first Ranger in over a decade to file for arbitration, but that’s not an alternative favored by anyone.

A cap crunch is coming for the Rangers, with Jacob Trouba earning $8 million annually, Adam Fox due for a big raise down the road, and promising Nils Lundkvist within their system. If signing DeAngelo proves too difficult, Brooks suggested shopping him for a legit top-nine forward with top-six potential.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $67 million invested in 15 players for next season. Assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million, a $6-million annual average value for DeAngelo will eat up almost half of their roughly $14 million in cap space.

If they can find a way to shed the final season of Henrik Lundqvist‘s contract (or a significant chunk of it), it would free up room for DeAngelo’s new deal. Still, it might also be a good idea to sell high on DeAngelo if they’re confident Trouba will improve, Fox won’t regress, and a promising youngster like Lundkvist can make an easy transition to the NHL.

Brooks also reported there was some discussion within the Rangers front office if they would be better off with a prototypical north-south forward (like Columbus’ Josh Anderson) rather than a finesse-oriented one like Pavel Buchnevich. While the 24-year-old winger surfaced in trade speculation, the Rangers weren’t close to moving him.

A primary reason is his compatibility with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider on and off the ice. He also reached career highs this season in assists (30) and points (46).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich also has another season remaining on his contract with an affordable $3.25-million AAV. They can afford to hang onto him for another season and see if that chemistry with Zibanejad and Kreider continues to flourish.

Brooks reports Jesper Fast‘s future with the Blueshirts is in doubt. The 28-year-old winger will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Management had preliminary discussions with Fast’s camp before last month’s trade deadline but failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension.

A lower-than-projected salary cap for next season means fewer dollars for the Rangers, but also for other clubs, which could make it difficult for Fast to find better options elsewhere. Brooks speculates the Rangers could circle back to Fast once the fate of this season is decided.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing RFAs like DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev could leave the Rangers with little room to retain Fast. Unless, of course, they find a way to shed Lundqvist’s contract.


NHL Rumor Mill – February 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 29, 2020

Check out the latest on the Rangers plus recent updates on Shayne Gostisbehere and Tyson Jost in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reported the Philadelphia Flyers weren’t shopping Shayne Gotisbehere contrary to speculation on social media. Even if they were, his trade stock is low due to injuries and a career-worst performance this season.

General manager Chuck Fletcher admitted teams had called about the 26-year-old defenseman. “Nothing really makes sense right now to me to move one of our seven D unless we’re getting a really great impact player back in some area,” he said. “Those types of trades usually don’t happen right now.”

Despite trade speculation, Shayne Gostisbehere remains with the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t just on social media where Gostisbehere surfaced in trade rumors. His name was floated more than once in the press, especially last fall when he was linked to the Montreal Canadiens.

Nevertheless, Fletcher admitted teams had made inquiries, but it’s apparent he wasn’t going to get back a solid return. That might not stop rival general managers from seeing if they can get him on the cheap.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers trading Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes at the trade deadline means they won’t have to rip up the roster to accommodate new contracts for restricted free agents such as Ryan Strome and Tony DeAngelo. He also feels they won’t have to trade winger Pavel Buchnevich to get under next season’s salary cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are in a better spot cap-wise for next season, but they’re not out of the woods yet. They have over $67 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21.

With Skjei off the books and Kreider re-signed, they have sufficient room to re-sign RFAs DeAngelo, Strome. Alexandar Georgiev and Brendan Lemieux, as well as UFA winger Jesper Fast if they wish. The arbitration rights held by those RFAs could complicate things. If they seek much more than the Rangers are willing to spend, it’ll quickly eat up that cap space.

They could pass on Fast, or consider trading one of those RFAs this summer if their asking prices prove too expensive. They could walk away from an arbitration ruling, or maybe move Buchnevich or somebody else to make room for the new salaries. If they’re looking at adding someone, that could also lead to a cost-cutting deal.


THE ATHLETIC: Following the trade deadline, Ryan S. Clark wondered if Tyson Jost still has a future with the Colorado Avalanche. The 21-year-old center popped up in the rumor mill leading up to the recent trade deadline. He’s spent 31 games as their fourth-line center this season and has shuffled up on the lineup due to injuries. A healthy roster might not leave much room for Jost.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Jost isn’t traded this summer, next season could prove crucial to his future with the Avs. Clark suggests he could be left unprotected in the 2021 expansion draft.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2020

Stars of the week, Leafs re-sign Jake Muzzin, two Rangers injured in a car accident, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets snapped an eight-game winless skid with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators. Nick Foligno scored two goals for the Jackets, while Connor Brown tallied twice for the Senators. Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins and center Riley Nash both left the game in the second period with injuries. No update was provided post-game on their status. With 76 points, the Jackets hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno scored twice in a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz, New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, and Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane was the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 23, 2020.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin and forward Pavel Buchnevich were injured in a car accident in Brooklyn on Sunday night. Shesterkin suffered a non-displaced rib fracture and well be re-evaluated in two weeks. Buchnevich was shaken up and is listed as day-to-day. The accident occurred when their vehicle struck another that was doing an illegal U-turn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thankfully, neither player was seriously hurt. Losing Shesterkin could be a blow to the Rangers’ playoff hopes. His stellar goaltending since his call-up in early January was largely responsible for the Blueshirts’ recent surge in the standings.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau created a stir when he momentarily left the ice yesterday during practice, sparking speculation he might be getting traded. Turns out he was answering the call of nature. “I had to pee,” Gaudreau said.

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs re-signed defenseman Jake Muzzin to a four-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $5.625 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lost in the hubbub of yesterday’s NHL trade deadline, this is a reasonable deal for the 31-year-old Muzzin. He’s a big, physical defenseman with good defensive skills averaging over 21 minutes per game. Given their blueline weaknesses, the Leafs couldn’t afford to lose their best defensive rearguard to free agency.

The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed defenseman Nick Holden to a two-year extension worth $1.7 million per season.

The Nashville Predators re-upped winger Rocco Grimaldi to a two-year, $4-million contract extension.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes may be without injured goalies Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, and defenseman Brett Pesce for an extended period. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said he wasn’t sure how long they could be sidelined.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Former NHL forward Scottie Upshall has announced his retirement. He spent 15 years in the NHL, scoring 138 goals and 285 points in 759 games with the Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues.

NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 1, 2020

The latest on the Stars, Hurricanes, and Panthers, plus updates on Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Andreas Athanasiou and Pavel Buchnevich in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Mike Heika was asked which players the Dallas Stars could target to bolster their offense before the Feb, 24 trade deadline.

He listed New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad as the three easiest targets, though they’re also going to cost the most in terms of draft picks and prospects. He also suggested Montreal’s Ilya Kovalchuk or Pittsburgh’s Alex Galchenyuk as bargain options.

THE ATHLETIC: Sean Shapiro suggests it could cost the Stars a first-round pick or a young NHL-ready forward for Kreider. The New Jersey Devils could seek a return for Kyle Palmieri comparable to what they got for Taylor Hall. In other words, a first-round pick or a conditional pick that could become a first, a good prospect or young player, and perhaps a second-round selection.

The asking price for Toffoli could be a second-round pick and a B-level prospect. Galchenyuk could cost a conditional fourth-rounder. It could take a first-round pick to get winger Josh Anderson from the Columbus Blue Jackets or center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars GM Jim Nill doesn’t sound keen to part with first-round picks. He also lacks second- and third-round picks in this year’s draft. I don’t doubt he’s monitoring the trade market, but he could be looking for bargains.

What type of return could the Ottawa Senators receive for Jean-Gabriel Pageau in the trade market? (Photo via NHL Images)


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently examined the potential trade market for Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He’s skeptical the Sens could get a first-round pick in return because many GMs are reluctant to part with such picks this year.

Some clubs that could be a good fit for Pageau, such as the Edmonton Oilers, aren’t guaranteed to reach this year’s playoffs, making them unwilling to part with a first-rounder for a rental player. LeBrun speculates they could try to make it work with a conditional second based on how far the Oilers advance in the 2020 playoffs.

LeBrun also listed the New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, and Calgary Flames as possible landing spots for Pageau. Conditions could also apply with those clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pageau is enjoying a career season in his contract year, but the ongoing assessment among observers is he’s best suited for second- or third-line duty. A legitimate playoff contender won’t give up a first-round selection for a depth player, or at least, they shouldn’t give up that much. If the Senators shop him, perhaps they’ll attempt to land a promising young player and a decent prospect.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if Pavel Buchnevich could be part of the Rangers’ trade-deadline plans. He speculates they could opt to trade the 24-year-old winger’s skill game for one “with a more north-south, hard-hat mentality.” Brooks also acknowledged Buchnevich’s talent and affordable $3.25-million annual average value could make him worth retaining.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After tallying career-high 21 goals last season, Buchenvich is on pace for 15 in 2019-20. He’s also on track for 45 points, which would be eight more than what he had in 2018-19. He’s in the first year of a two-year contract and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer.

Rangers management isn’t under any pressure to move him. One can’t dismiss the possibility of Buchnevich getting traded, but that move might be better suited for the off-season when he might fetch a better return.


KUKLA’S KORNER: cites tweets by Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson linking the Oilers to Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou. He thinks Oilers GM Ken Holland wants to add more speed to his forward lines. Athanasiou is having a lousy year in Detroit, but Matheson considers him a top-six forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As former Red Wings GM, Holland also knows Athanasiou’s strengths and weaknesses. The versatile 25-year-old tallied a career-high 30 goals last season. He’s currently sidelined by a lower-body injury but could be a good addition to the Oilers once he returns to action. He’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer, which could complicate his future in Detroit, Edmonton, or wherever he finishes this season.


THE ATHLETIC: George Richards took note of recent speculation suggesting the Florida Panthers could move either Mike Hoffman or Evgenii Dadonov at the trade deadline. Both are unrestricted free agents in July and the Panthers might not be able to re-sign them both.

With the Panthers jockeying for playoff positioning, Richards doesn’t see either winger getting shopped unless it’s for a return (such as a defenseman) that will be important for the club going forward. He also points out the Panthers’ limited salary-cap space will affect any attempts to make a move or two at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers only have over $892K in deadline cap room. If they swing a deal for a defenseman, it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out. It’ll take a considerable offer to convince GM Dale Tallon to part with Hoffman or Dadonov.


NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined how losing defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a fractured fibula could affect Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell’s trade plans. Waddell admitted he was in the market for a defenseman before Hamilton’s injury, but his absence could change the type of player he could target in the trade market.

Gretz observes there are limited options in the trade market to address even a fraction of the offense Hamilton brought to the Hurricanes’ blueline. The best rental option could be New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen. Waddell is reluctant to place Hamilton on long-term injury reserve as he could return before the end of the season.

Turning to the forward lines, the return of Justin Williams provides a boost, as could a bounce-back second half from winger Nino Niederreiter.