NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2022

The Colorado Avalanche are the 2022 Stanley Cup champions and Cale Makar is named playoff MVP. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are Stanley Cup champions for the first time in 21 years. They defeated the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final to take the best-of-seven series in six games.

Colorado Avalanche win the 2022 Stanley Cup (NHL.com).

Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist and Artturi Lehkonen tallied the game-winner as the Avalanche overcame a 1-0 deficit in the second period. Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves for the win. Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning.

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the postseason. The 23-year-old led the Avalanche with 29 points in 20 games. He’s the third defenseman in NHL history to win the Smythe and the James Norris Trophy as the top blueliner in the regular season, joining Bobby Orr (1970, 1972) and Nicklas Lidstrom (2002). He’s also the third defenseman to win the Smythe at 23 or younger, with Orr (1970) and Serge Savard (1969) as the others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Makar and to his Avalanche teammates for their well-deserved Stanley Cup championship. Their Stanley Cup parade in Denver will be held on Thursday, June 30, starting at 10 am local time.

SPORTSNET: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri revealed he suffered multiple breaks in his thumb in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals with the Edmonton Oilers. He returned to action in Game 4 of this series and scored the overtime winner. Kadri also had some choice words for his critics. “For everyone that thought I was a liability in the playoffs, you can kiss my ass,” he said.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar has now won a championship in three professional leagues. He coached the South Carolina Stingrays to the ECHL’s Kelly Cup in 2009 and the Lake Erie Monsters to the AHL’s Calder Cup in 2016.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bednar’s first season behind the Avalanche bench in 2016-17 saw them finish with a league-worst record of 22-56-4, prompting some critics to suggest he was unsuitable to coach at the NHL level or not the right bench boss for a rebuilding club. The criticism resurfaced last year as the club failed to advance past the second round after winning the Presidents’ Trophy. However, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic stuck with him and was rewarded for his loyalty.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was unavailable to present the Stanley Cup after being diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s the first time since he became commissioner in 1993 that he hasn’t presented the Cup to the winning team. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly did the honors in his absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The presentation wasn’t the same without Bettman getting booed. In all seriousness, here’s hoping he makes a full recovery. The same goes to everyone else out there who’s also currently battling COVID-19.

It took only five minutes for the Stanley Cup to suffer some damage. Avalanche forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel accidentally dropped it as he was joining his teammates for the traditional post-game on-ice team photo, denting the base of the trophy.

THE DENVER POST: Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky revealed he broke his right thumb during Game 2 of the Cup Final, sidelining him for the remainder of the series. Winger Valeri Nichushkin played through an ankle injury that he suffered in Game 5. Team captain Gabriel Landeskog skipped all the postseason morning skates as he continued to recover from the knee surgery he underwent near the end of the regular season.

SPORTSNET: Lightning center Brayden Point missed Game 6 with what was called a “severe injury” by coach Jon Cooper. Point suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of the first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs and missed the next two series. He returned for two games in the Final before leaving the lineup again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper described the number of injuries suffered by his players during this postseason as “mind-boggling”. Details should emerge in the coming days. He said they would’ve had half of their minor-league team playing if it had been the regular season.

THE SCORE: Cooper and Lightning captain Steven Stamkos dismissed the idea that their time as Stanley Cup contenders is over. “Who says we’re done?” he told reporters following the game. Cooper pointed out his club has been to six Conference Finals in the past eight years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on what moves general manager Julien BriseBois makes in the offseason. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumors update.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 26, 2022

An update on Zdeno Chara, Bruins finalize contract extension for GM Don Sweeney, Alex Ovechkin scored in pro soccer debut, the latest on Ondrej Palat and Andre Burakovsky, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Zdeno Chara’s agent said his client intends to make a decision about his NHL future in September. The 45-year-old defenseman is an unrestricted free agent after spending last season with the New York Islanders, setting the league record for most career games by a defenseman with 1,680. He had 14 points and was a plus-8 in 72 games with the Isles.

New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara is no longer the perennial Norris Trophy candidate he was during his playing prime. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if a club signs him to an affordable one-year contract as a third-pairing blueliner if he decides to return for one more season. His preference would likely be to skate for an Eastern Conference club.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: cites the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald reporting the Bruins have finalized the contract extension for general manager Don Sweeney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m sure the Bruins fans who are regular commenters to this site will have some interesting takes on this news. The deal hasn’t been officially announced yet though that could be coming at some point this week. I’ll post the details when they appear.

Under Sweeney’s management, the Bruins reached the playoffs in each of the last six seasons, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 and winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2020. However, the club has declined over the past two seasons, raising questions about his efforts to maintain a contender. The recent firing of head coach Bruce Cassidy raised eyebrows around the league and the ire of Bruins fans.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: It turns out Alex Ovechkin is also a scorer in professional soccer. Signed to a one-game contract with FC Moscow Dynamo, the Capitals captain scored a goal against FC Amkal in a Russian Premier League friendly.

YAHOO! SPORTS: Ondrej Palat’s performance in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs could help him cash in as an unrestricted free agent next month. Coming off a 49-point performance in 77 regular-season games, Palat leads the Lightning with 11 postseason goals and three game winners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palat is completing a five-year contract with an annual average value of $5.3 million. If he and the Lightning fail to reach an agreement on a new deal, he’s bound to draw plenty of interest from contenders looking for a clutch player like him. He leads all active players with 12 playoff game-winners.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said winger Andre Burakovsky (hand injury) remains day-to-day but didn’t rule him out for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday night in Tampa Bay.

PUCK PEDIA (via KUKLA’s KORNER): listed several upcoming key NHL offseason dates, starting with the first contract buyout window opening on July 1 and closing on July 12. July 11 is the deadline for teams to issue qualifying offers to restricted free agents. July 12 is also the deadline for teams to sign their pending unrestricted free agents to eight-year contracts. July 17 is the deadline for players to file for arbitration, which starts on July 27.

SIRIUSXMNHL host Jonathan Davis reports the Vegas Golden Knights have hired Sean Burke as their director of goaltending. Burke held that position with the Montreal Canadiens.

TWINCITIES.COM: The NHL is experiencing significant growth among female and young fans. 37 percent of its fans are female, a growth of 26 percent in that demographic since 2016. Nearly 40 percent of its fans are under 50.

NHL.COM: The Chicago Wolves defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds 4-0 in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals, winning the series in five games to become champions of the American Hockey League. The Wolves are the affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes while the Falcons are affiliated with the St. Louis Blues. Wolves winger Josh Leivo was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first time the Calder Cup has been awarded since 2019. Congratulations to the Wolves on their championship run this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2022

Leafs center Auston Matthews wins the Hart Trophy and Lindsay Award as the NHL hands out the remainder of its annual awards. Check out the list of winners and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

MATTHEWS, SHESTERKIN, MAKAR HONORED AT NHL AWARDS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is the 2021-22 winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. He was also awarded the Ted Lindsay Award as league MVP as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews also won the Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goalscorer for the second straight year, becoming the first player to reach the 60-goal plateau in a decade. He’s the third player in Leafs’ history to win the Hart and the first to do so since Teeder Kennedy in 1955. He is also the first Leaf to win the Lindsay Award.

Matthews garnered praise from Leafs’ greats such as Mats Sundin, Darryl Sittler, Borje Salming, Lanny McDonald and Wendel Clark. He’s now the most decorated player in franchise history, having also won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 2016-17.

The New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin was the winner of the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender for 2021-22. He led the league with a 2.07 goals against average and a .935 save percentage and was third in shutouts with five and sixth in wins with 36.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Shesterkin was clearly this season’s dominant netminder. He’s the sixth Ranger to win the Vezina and the first to do so since Henrik Lundqvist in 2012.

Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche took home the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makar is the first defenseman in Avalanche history to win the Norris. It was a close vote as he narrowly beat out Nashville Predators’ captain Roman Josi.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider won the Calder Trophy. He’s the sixth player in franchise history to take home this honor and the first since Roger Crozier in 1965.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved honor for Seider. He led all rookies with 43 assists, 21 power-play points and 23:02 in time on ice per game. He’s already established himself as a core player with the rebuilding Red Wings and should continue playing a significant role in their future.

Matthews, Makar and Shesterkin were also named to the 2021-22 First All-Star Team along with Josi, Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom were named to the Second All-Star Team.

Seider was also named to the 2021-22 NHL All-Rookie team along with Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman, Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier, Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras, Detroit Red Wings winger Lucas Raymond and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DENVER POST: Nathan MacKinnon’s inability to score in the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final is raising some concern among Colorado Avalanche followers. However, MacKinnon isn’t troubled by that lack of production, having trust in himself that the goals will come. “No time for doubt,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No one was worried about MacKinnon’s goal-scoring drought when Colorado was riding a 2-0 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts are putting more focus on shutting him down because he’s the Avs’ biggest scoring threat. However, that also creates time and space for his teammates to garner more scoring chances.

MacKinnon’s limited offense isn’t an issue as long as the Avalanche are winning. It will become a greater concern if the Lightning rally back to tie the series or take over the lead.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri continues to make progress in his recovery from a thumb injury as he joined his teammates in an optional skate on Tuesday. Meanwhile, winger Andre Burakovsky remains in Denver receiving treatment for a suspected hand injury.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper expects Nikita Kucherov and Corey Perry will be in the lineup for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Both forwards were banged up during the Lightning’s 6-2 victory in Game 3. Cooper also indicated center Brayden Point (lower body) remains day-to-day and is doubtful for Game 4.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars officially announced Peter DeBoer has taken over as their new head coach.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers officially announced head coach Jay Woodcroft has signed a three-year deal.

TSN: Former NHL coach Dan Bylsma has been named the first-ever bench boss of the Coachella Valley Firebirds. They are the AHL affiliate of the Seattle Kraken and will make their debut in 2022-23.

TORONTO STAR: Denis P. Gorman has a detailed account of former NHL agitator Sean Avery’s recent trial in New York in which he was found guilty last Thursday of one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief.

The charge stemmed from an incident in Greenwich Village in 2019 regarding a collision involving the scooter he was driving and a minivan.

Avery called proceedings a “kangaroo court” and a “complete waste of resources”. However, he praised the judge for making the “right decision” by sentencing him to time served and ordering him to stay away from the minivan’s driver and his family for five years.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2022

The Lightning defeated the Avalanche in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the latest details on the Stars’ reported hiring of Pete DeBoer, the Canucks sign KHL star Andrei Kuzmenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning avenged their lopsided Game 2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche with a convincing 6-2 win in Game 3 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

A four-goal second period blew the game open for the Lightning, chasing Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper after he gave up five goals on 22 shots. The Bolts also got a 37-save performance from Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Nick Paul scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the second period after returning from a first-period injury. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Pat Maroon each had a goal and an assist while Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman both collected two assists. Gabriel Landeskog scored both Avalanche goals.

Game 4 is on Wednesday in Tampa Bay with the Avalanche holding a 2-1 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As we’ve come to expect, the Lightning once again rose to the occasion in a must-win contest. They didn’t panic when the Avalanche opened the scoring for the third straight game, pouncing on defensive miscues and playing a much more physical style to neutralize their opponent’s speed. Vasilevskiy was outstanding, shrugging off his poor performance in Game 2 and making several big saves to pick up the win.

This game got chippy as it went on. Several roughing penalties were handed out and there was a fight late in the third period between the Lightning’s Ross Colton and the Avalanche’s Logan O’Connor.

It was a potentially costly win for the Lightning as Kucherov left the game in the third period following a cross-check by Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews. No update was given on his condition following the game. They were already playing without Brayden Point, who sat out this contest after returning from a lower-body injury to play in the first two games.

The Avalanche were without forwards Nazem Kadri (thumb injury) and Andre Burakovsky (injured hand) for this game. Both are listed as day-to-day.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Dallas Stars and former Vegas Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer are working on a four-year contract expected to be worth over $4 million per season. The deal hasn’t been finalized and signed yet but it’s expected to be done soon.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have signed KHL star Andrei Kuzmenko to a one-year contract. He’ll earn a base salary of $855K along with bonuses that could take him up to $1.95 million. The contract will be officially filed with the NHL on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzmenko is a 26-year-old left wing who tallied 53 points in 45 games this season with SKA St. Petersburg. He’s considered a smart, gifted playmaker. If he plays up to expectations he’ll provide offensive depth among the Canucks’ top-six scorers.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed forwards Brett Leason and Beck Malenstyn to two-year contracts. Leason’s is a one-way deal worth $750K in 2022-23 and $800K in 2023-24. Malenstyn’s is a two-way deal next season and a one-way deal worth $775K.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators will play the Montreal Canadiens in two Kraft Hockeyville training-camp games in Gander, NL on Oct. 6 and Bouctouche, NB on Oct. 8.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers are reportedly interested in adding Finland’s national coach Jukka Jalonen to their coaching search.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 20, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 20, 2022

The latest on the Avalanche and Lightning heading into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Stars have reportedly hired Pete DeBoer as their new head coach, and an update on top prospect Shane Wright in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST: Sidelined winger Andre Burakovsky did not accompany the Colorado Avalanche as they traveled to Tampa Bay on Sunday for Games 3 and 4 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. Burakovsky suffered a hand injury during Game 2 and was being evaluated on Sunday. He’s expected to rejoin his teammates on Monday.

Colorado Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky (NHL Images).

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said sidelined center Nazem Kadri (thumb injury) traveled with the team on Sunday. He’s skating again and practicing puckhandling and shooting but Bednar isn’t sure if he’ll play in the upcoming two games.

NHL.COM: Fourteen years after winning the Stanley Cup in 2008 as a rookie with the Detroit Red Wings, center Darren Helm is relishing this opportunity to win it again with the Avalanche. If he does, he’ll become the fourth player in NHL history to go at least 14 years between championships.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Tampa Bay Lightning are hoping to once again overcome an 0-2 deficit in a playoff series. They have an opportunity to shake things up at home for the next two games. However, they’re facing a much tougher opponent in this Stanley Cup Final than they did against the Dallas Stars in 2020 and the Montreal Canadiens last year.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos wonders if the wear and tear of three straight trips to the Stanley Cup Final might be taking its toll on the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fatigue could be an issue for the Lightning. However, the real problem is that the Avalanche are the most formidable opponent they’ve faced since beginning their march as consecutive Cup champions in 2020.

The Avs are faster and possess impressive depth on their forward lines and blueline. They’ve adjusted to the absence of sidelined key players like Kadri and Samuel Girard without missing a beat. They lack a superstar goaltender but their tandem of Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz has been solid throughout this postseason.

It would be foolish to write the Lightning off. They’ve shown a remarkable ability to bounce back from adversity. Nevertheless, they must win Game 3 tonight or risk being swept away by the Avalanche in Game 4.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks cited a Sportsnet report claiming the Stars have hired Pete DeBoer as their new head coach. He’s coaching the Florida Panthers (2008-2011), New Jersey Devils (2011-2015), San Jose Sharks (2015-2020) and Vegas Golden Knights (2020-2022).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Neither the Stars nor general manager Jim Nill has confirmed the hiring, though that could come later today. DeFranks anticipates DeBoer would focus on increasing their shots (especially from the point) while still maintaining a solid defense.

SPORTSNET: Projected top prospect Shane Wright believes he can make an immediate impact in the NHL next season. He intends to put in a lot of work this offseason and in training camp to step in right away and make a difference.

The Montreal Canadiens hold the first-overall pick in this year’s draft. Wright recently met with the Canadiens brass and would love to suit up for the historic franchise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wright isn’t considered a generational superstar but has drawn favorable comparisons to Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron and New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad. Even if he doesn’t reach the big league next season, he’s still projected to be a future NHL star.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at five pending unrestricted free agents who could turn strong postseason performances into big paydays this summer.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ian Kennedy believes Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell and Ilya Mikheyev, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues, Colorado Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky and New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp could cash in big this summer if they have strong performances in the upcoming 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While regular-season performance is often the benchmark in contract negotiations, a strong postseason effort is also a determining factor in what the final deal looks like.

With an annual cap hit of $1.65 million, Campbell is already underpaid as a bona fide NHL starter. While there’ve been some health concerns, the 29-year-old goaltender could earn a considerable raise if he backstops the Maple Leafs on a deep playoff run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Campbell is going to earn a significant pay increase. How much he gets (and whether he gets it from the Leafs) could depend on his performance in the 2022 playoffs. Winning their first series since 2004 could earn him $6 million annually on a long-term contract. If he backstops the Leafs to their first Stanley Cup since 1967, he could push for $8 million annually, forcing the cap-strapped club to choose between slashing payroll to retain him or watch him get signed by another club.

Mikheyev ($1.645 million) has shown promise as a potential top-six winger this season. However, he’ll have to carry that over into the postseason. He’s played in 12 NHL playoff games but has yet to register a point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $73.6 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23. If the Leafs can sign Campbell to an affordable cap hit (under $5 million annually), they’ll have enough to ink Mikheyev to a decent raise ($3 million?) on his next contract. That would mean shedding salary elsewhere to free up cap room to fill out the remainder of the lineup. Otherwise, Mikheyev will have to seek his raise in this summer’s open market.

Rodrigues is enjoying a career-best with 18 goals and 42 points in 75 games. However, he’s yet to put together consecutive productive campaigns. The 28-year-old forward also has limited playoff action, appearing in just two postseason contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rodrigues is on a one-year, $1 million contract. His biggest annual average value was $2 million on a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres in 2019-20. As Kennedy points out, he could cash in on the open market this summer as a middle-six winger with a solid playoff performance.

Kennedy believes Burakovsky could price himself out of the Avalanche’s market if he has another strong postseason outing as he did in 2020 with 17 points in 15 games. The 27-year-old winger is enjoying a career-high performance this season with 20 goals and 53 points in 70 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky’s annual cap hit is $4.9 million. The Avs have almost $56 million invested in 13 players with Darcy Kuemper and Nazem Kadri also slated to become UFAs this summer and superstar Nathan MacKinnon due for a major raise after next season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s skating with another club next season.

Copp is a consistent, versatile middle-six forward with a current cap hit of $3.64 million. He’s played a solid two-way game in the postseason but he’s managed just 12 points in 34 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Kennedy that Copp’s going to get paid. A strong postseason effort with the Rangers will certainly help him in the UFA market.