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.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2021

The latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Matthew Tkachuk, Pavel Buchnevich, Reilly Smith and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SERAVALLI UPDATES NHL TRADE TARGETS LIST

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli added some new names to his NHL summer trade targets list.

Debuting at No. 3 is Vladimir Tarasenko. Seravalli reported last month the 29-year-old St. Louis Blues winger provided the club with a list of preferred trade destinations. It’s a mutual parting of the ways. After two botched shoulder surgeries, Tarasenko is now fully healthy after a third surgery conducted by doctors outside the Blues’ organization.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas wondered if the Blues might package their 2021 first-round pick (16th overall) with Tarasenko. He believes the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and possibly the New York Islanders might have an interest in the former 30-goal scorer. He also pondered the possibility of the Blues bundling that first-round with defenseman Vince Dunn and another sweetener to the Calgary Flames for winger (and St. Louis native) Matthew Tkachuk.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple cites two sources claiming Tarasenko would be open to a trade to the Islanders. He also said the winger’s list of teams he’s willing to be traded to is “double digits.” Find room to absorb Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual average value won’t be easy for the cap-strapped Islanders.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

It won’t be as easy as trading winger Jordan Eberle and another player, as Eberle has three more years left on his contract. Acquiring Tarasenko post-expansion if Nick Leddy is traded or selected by the Seattle Kraken would make more sense. A package of Tarasenko and Vince Dunn to the Islanders would also be difficult as there would be a lot of moving parts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko will draw interest in the trade market. However, a limited number of clubs can comfortably afford his cap hit and have sufficient assets to interest the Blues. I’m not suggesting it won’t take place but finding the right fit could take time.

As for the Blues acquiring Tkachuk, reports out of Calgary denied rumors he wanted a trade to St. Louis. It could take more than Dunn, a first and another sweetener to pry him away from the Flames.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith checks in at No. 6. Seravalli believes the 30-year-old winger could be shopped to improve the Golden Knights’ depth at center. He has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas will be seeking someone to center one of their top-two lines and improve their power play. Finding such a forward won’t be easy. Those willing to part with one could prefer Alex Tuch rather than Smith in return.

New York Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich is No. 8. Sources claim Blueshirts GM Chris Drury is talking about the possibility of moving the 26-year-old winger. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a career-best 20-goal, 48-point performance in 54 games. Seravalli anticipates he’d get more than $4.54 million via arbitration, which would also take him up to UFA status next summer.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reports it’s uncertain if Drury is shopping Buchnevich or if teams are making inquiries. The Rangers have over $22 million in projected cap space and will get more when they buy out Tony DeAngelo.

However, Drury must spend that cap room wisely because he must ensure he has sufficient space over the next couple of years to re-sign Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko and Igor Shesterkin. Carpiniello also suggested the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres but dismissed the notion of swapping Buchnevich for Vladimir Tarasenko. They also have two promising wingers in Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drury is willing to examine all his options with Buchnevich. Moving him now while his value is high could fetch a solid return for the Rangers. The deal would also make room for Kakko and Kravtsov to move up on right wing. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Nate Schmidt comes in at No. 12. The Canucks denied a report claiming the 29-year-old blueliner wanted out of Vancouver, but Seravalli notes his first season with the Canucks didn’t go well.

Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi is No. 15. If not for a season-ending back injury, Seravalli believes there would’ve been plenty of suitors for the 26-year-old. His back surgery in April and his RFA status (with arbitration rights) could scare off possible suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently said the Leafs had an interest in Bertuzzi before his back injury. Perhaps they’ll revisit that option if they lose Zach Hyman to free agency.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot is No. 20. It’s believed the Seattle Kraken could select Kerfoot if he’s left exposed in the expansion draft. Seravalli wonders if the Leafs will try to trade him elsewhere before the expansion draft.










What Next For the New York Rangers?

What Next For the New York Rangers?