NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2021

The Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov expected to miss the start of the season, Wild owner discusses his club’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Sharks prepare to start the season without Evander Kane, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports an undisclosed injury could sideline New York Islanders starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov for the upcoming start of the season. It’s uncertain if Varlamov’s condition is tied to a nagging knee injury that hampered him during the 2021 playoffs. His absence would mean Ilya Sorokin becomes the Isles’ start with Cory Schneider as his backup. 

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov wouldn’t be the only noteworthy starter expected to miss the start of this season. Montreal’s Carey Price will also reportedly remain sidelined when the schedule begins next week. Speaking of the Canadiens…

TSN: Habs defenseman Joel Edmundson will be sidelined two-to-three weeks with an undisclosed injury. He’s been day-to-day since training camp opened.

NHL.COM: Bad news for Los Angeles Kings’ Quinton Byfield as the 19-year-old center was diagnosed with a fractured left ankle suffered during Tuesday’s preseason loss to the Arizona Coyotes. He’s been placed on injured reserve and sidelined indefinitely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An unfortunate setback for Byfield. Selected second overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, he was hoping to garner a full-time roster spot with the Kings this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto will miss tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. He could have a concussion after suffering the injury during Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

THE SCORE: New York Rangers enforcer Ryan Reaves is day-to-day with an injured left leg after his skate was clipped by New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban as they went into the corner chasing a loose puck. Reaves had to be helped off the ice.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold told Michael Russo he supported general manager Bill Guerin’s decision to buy out winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter this summer. However, he expressed no regrets about signing the duo to their 13-year contracts back in 2012.

It totally changed our franchise,” said Leipold. “We went from not selling any tickets and having a future that looked bleak to overnight being a sellout team for the next five, six years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The additions of Parise and Suter didn’t translate into a Stanley Cup for the Wild but Leipold’s right about how much they improved the franchise. Before they joined the Wild, the club reached the playoffs just four times in 11 seasons. With Parise and Suter in the lineup, they qualified for the postseason eight times in nine seasons.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said his club is preparing to start the season without Evander Kane in the lineup. The 30-year-old winger has been out of the lineup while under investigation by the league regarding allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2021

Sweden names its first three players to its 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team, more potential trouble for Evander Kane, plus the latest on Robin Lehner, Tyler Bertuzzi and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog are the first names submitted to be part of Sweden’s men’s ice hockey team at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Participating countries were asked to declare their three players last month.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canada’s three were recently revealed as Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. We’ll likely learn more about the other nations’ early three players in the coming days or weeks.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: A report by A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports claims an investigation is underway of San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane over allegations he violated the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols by using a fake vaccination card. In the United States, those who buy a fake vaccination card face six months in jail and a $750K fine.

This news comes following recent reports claiming Kane was being investigated for violating the league’s COVID protocols. The winger was recently cleared of allegations by his estranged wife, Anna, claiming he bet on NHL games. However, they’re also investigating claims of spousal abuse made by Anna.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m assuming this latest report is tied to the earlier one about the league looking into the possibility Kane violated the COVID protocols. If he did use a fake vaccination card, that could become justification for the Sharks to terminate his contract.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner said he’s encouraged about bringing change in hockey following conversations he had with the league and the NHL Players Association. The league reached out to Lehner for an interview after he alleged many teams were giving prescription drugs to players without a doctor’s consent.

This weekend was a cry for help from this league, the league that I love, that has given me so much,” said Lehner. He added the motivation for his recent comments on social media was to protect younger players. Lehner also said he’s encouraged about future discussions on the subject.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Lehner also received support from former NHL enforcer Tom Sestito, who claimed he was given and used “insane” amounts of the painkiller Toradol and Ambien, which is used to treat insomnia. Sestito said it took a year for him to sleep normally again after he stopped using Ambien. He also credited the Pittsburgh Penguins’ medical staff for helping to wean him off Torodol after he joined the club.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi still hasn’t suited up for a preseason game. The club is being cautious in his return to action after he underwent season-ending back surgery in April. It’s uncertain if he’ll see any preseason games before the season opens next week.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz left last night’s preseason game against the Golden Knights with what appeared to be a lower-body injury. He missed all of last season with an injured hip but head coach Jared Bednar said it’s not related to his previous hip problems.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Logan Stanley is listed as day-to-day following a lower-body injury suffered in Sunday’s preseason contest with the Vancouver Canucks.

ESPN.COM: Los Angeles Kings prospect center Quinton Byfield injured his left leg during last name’s exhibition game with the Arizona Coyotes. Linesman Ryan Gibbons was stretchered from the ice following an accidental collision with Coyotes center Liam O’Brien following the national anthem. His condition is unknown.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan suffered a laceration to his forehead after being struck by a puck during last night’s preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. He received several stitches and returned to his duties.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk could be sidelined at least two weeks following an ankle injury suffered during practice yesterday.

TSN: The Coyotes signed Alex Galchenyuk to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Galchenyuk’s second stint with the Coyotes, having played for them in 2018-19 when he was traded to Arizona by the Montreal Canadiens for Max Domi.

NBC SPORTS: Several prospects are earning positive reviews for their preseason performance thus far. Among them are the Washington Capitals’ Hendrix Lapierre, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Seth Jarvis, and the Ottawa Senators’ Shane Pinto.










What Next For the Los Angeles Kings?

What Next For the Los Angeles Kings?

 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2021

Suggested trade destinations for Pierre-Luc Dubois and what could be holding up the Islanders’ attempt to sign Mathew Barzal in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun listed the Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks among seven teams he believes would make sense as trade destinations for Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center has reportedly sought a trade despite re-signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets last week.

LeBrun feels the Flames could be an attractive trade partner for the Jackets if they seek a return that can help them right away. He spitballs a deal involving Dubois for Sean Monahan. LeBrun suggests Dubois would be the kind of young core piece that would fit into the Blackhawks’ current direction. However, he believes the Jackets would want promising center Kirby Dach as part of the return.

Should the Calgary Flames consider acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also pitched the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets. He discussed them during a recent TSN “Insider Trading” segment. You can get the details and my thoughts on those clubs as Dubois trade destinations by following this link.

As for the Flames and Blackhawks, I can’t disagree with LeBrun’s assessment of Dubois’ impact upon those clubs and the Jackets’ asking price. The Flames could consider shaking things up if this season ends in disappointment so I wouldn’t dismiss a Dubois-for-Monahan swap. I don’t see the Blackhawks moving Dach so Dubois probably isn’t landing in Chicago.

LeBrun’s colleague Lisa Dillman examined the pros and cons if the Kings tried to acquire Dubois. Pros include Dubois filling a need for a No. 1 center as Anze Kopitar ages as well as their depth in promising assets to tempt the Jackets. Cons include what could be an expensive asking price (Quinton Byfield?) by the Jackets and the cap hit required to keep Dubois in Los Angeles after his current deal expires.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Dillman that the Kings should at least explore the option of acquiring Dubois. If the asking price is Byfield, however, that could be a deal-breaker.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes the Senators should contact the Jackets about Dubois’ availability and the asking price. He feels the Sens have the depth in prospects, especially young defensemen, to make a serious pitch. Dubois would address the Senators’ need for a first-line center now and for the future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators and Jackets have a trade history. While the Sens have plenty of promising youngsters to offer up a trade bait, the Jackets probably want a return that provides immediate help to their roster.

The Jackets are not a rebuilding club but one that sees itself building toward Stanley Cup contention. I think they’ll want a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return rather than budding young NHL defensemen unless those prospects are flipped to another team to acquire a scoring center.

The Senators would also want assurances from the Dubois camp that he’ll commit to a long-term deal with them after his current contract expires at the end of next season. Otherwise, it’ll be a waste of assets to acquire a player who doesn’t want to be there.

Turning to Mathew Barzal’s contract negotiations, THE ATHLETIC’s Arthur Staple reports it’s believed New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is trying to unload another contract in order to sign the 23-year-old center to a lucrative long-term deal. Once completed, Staple suggests Barzal could get perhaps a six, seven or even an eight-year contract at an annual average value close to $10 million.

Staple speculates defenseman Thomas Hickey ($2.5 million AAV, $3.75 million in actual salary for this season and next) and forward Leo Komarov ($3 million AAV, $3.5 million in actual cash) as potential trade candidates. Trading Johnny Boychuk’s contract is another option but that would take away the Isles’ long-term injury reserve flexibility for this season. It doesn’t appear anyone’s taking Andrew Ladd and his $5.5 million AAV off their hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello attempting to make a cost-cutting trade to free up cap space for an expensive long-term contract for Barzal would explain why the young center remains unsigned a week into training camp. Perhaps this can be sorted out during this weekend.

However, Barzal’s missed a week of practice and scrimmages with his teammates. That’s not going to help his preparation for the upcoming season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 17, 2020

Joe Thornton signs with the Maple Leafs, the Flames avoid arbitration with Andrew Mangiapane, the Kings sign Quinton Byfield to an entry-level contract, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO SUN: Joe Thornton is joining the Maple Leafs following 15 seasons with the San Jose Sharks. The unrestricted free agent center signed a one-year, $700K contract with the Leafs.

Long-time San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an affordable move by the Leafs bringing years of experience to their third-line center position and considerable leadership to the lineup. However, I remain skeptical that adding a past-his-prime Thornton moves the Leafs significantly closer toward Stanley Cup contention. I remain concerned about their blueline depth and the speed on their checking lines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Many Sharks players, including Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane, reacted with sadness over Thornton’s departure while praising his leadership and expressing their best wishes to their former teammate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many Sharks fans shared similar sentiments following the news of Thornton signing with the Leafs. He and Patrick Marleau are the two greatest players in Sharks’ history. Thornton spent the bulk of his playing prime in San Jose and was instrumental in turning them into a long-time Western Conference powerhouse. He was beloved by Sharks fans and his contributions won’t be forgotten by them or the franchise.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames avoided salary arbitration with Andrew Mangiapane as the winger signed a two-year contract worth $2.425 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair deal for Mangiapane following a 17-goal, 32-point performance in 68 games as an NHL sophomore in 2019-20. He’ll be in line for a significant raise if he can build last season’s effort.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The King signed Quinton Byfield to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old Sudbury Wolves center became the highest-selected black player in NHL history as the Kings picked him second overall in this year’s NHL draft.

TSN: cites a report by The Athletic’s Arthur Staple indicating the New York Islanders are working toward a new contract with Matt Martin. The 31-year-old winger became an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. While several teams have contacted Martin, he prefers returning to the Isles.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Center Nolan Patrick has accepted the Flyers’ qualifying offer. He missed all of last season with a migraine disorder.

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks enforcer Gino Odjick is once again battling a rare heart condition called amyloidosis which nearly killed him six years ago. He’s confident that early detection this time around improves his chances of overcoming the ailment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Odjick for a speedy and full recovery.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2020

The latest Rangers’ speculation involving Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Strome, Alexandar Georgiev, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

NEW YORK POST: With the Rangers’ season over, Larry Brooks believes Henrik Lundqvist’s long goodbye with the Blueshirts is over. He wonders how the goaltender and the club will part ways after 15 seasons as it transitions toward a tandem of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

Has Henrik Lundqvist’s long career with the New York Rangers drawing to a close? (Photo via NHL Images).

Lundqvist has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $8.5 million. Brooks praised his handling of this situation, but he doesn’t know if the former Vezina Trophy winner will accept being a backup with the Rangers or another club.

The Rangers must shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents like Georgiev, Ryan Strome, and Tony DeAngelo. Brooks doesn’t see a legitimate Stanley Cup contender pursuing Lundqvist at this stage in his career, or another club taking him on even if the Rangers absorbed half of his cap hit. The other option is buying out his contract once the playoffs are over. Retirement is also a possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A difficult decision faces Lundqvist and the Rangers. I agree with Brooks’ take regarding his trade value. The 38-year-old netminder has enjoyed a stellar career but he’s no longer the type of starting goaltender a contender would covet. Even if the Rangers absorbed half his cap hit, it would make him an expensive backup.

As Brooks observed, if Lundqvist retires his $8.5 million cap hit won’t count against the Rangers’ cap payroll for next season, but he’d forfeit the $5.5 million he’s owed in actual salary. If they can’t trade him to another club, a buyout would create $3 million in savings but still leave some dead cap space.

Brooks indicates the Rangers received no significant offers for Georgiev before the February trade deadline, nor did management especially dangle him in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev’s name surfaced a lot in this year’s rumor mill, though most of it was pundits dreaming up potential destinations for him. Barring a surprising swerve where the Rangers keep Lundqvist, Georgiev appears destined to be Shesterkin’s backup next season.

Brooks examined other possible off-season moves for the Rangers. Popular check-line winger Jesper Fast is expected to depart via free agency. They must decide whether to sign Ryan Strome to a one-year contract that might be worth $5 million. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Strome didn’t improve his chances for a long-term deal or his trade value with a dismal performance against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome had a couple of assists against the Hurricanes but his overall performance was disappointing. Maybe they consider trading him if they anticipate a difficult contract negotiation. Then again, perhaps the flat cap works in their favor if comparable players on other clubs start accepting less money on one-year deals.

The Rangers now have a shot at winning the upcoming second draft lottery and the right to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere. Brooks, however, suggests the Rangers could instead consider selecting big Sudbury Wolves center Quinton Byfield. He points to a looming top-six opening at center over the next couple of years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks could be talking about Strome if the Rangers ink him to a one-year deal in the off-season. However, I suspect he’s referring to Mika Zibanejad, who becomes eligible for UFA status in 2022 and could seek a pay raise that proves too hefty for the Rangers to carry.

Landing Byfield might be a more sensible pick if the Rangers win the draft lottery. They already have Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider at the left wing, with both guys carrying expensive contracts and full no-movement clauses.

Playing Lafreniere on the third line isn’t a good option, and shifting him to the right side takes him out of his comfort zone. They could move Panarin or Kreider to the right side but could face the same problem.

If the Rangers win the first-overall pick, maybe they trade down with another club to ensure they get Byfield and something else.

What say you, Rangers fans? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.