The latest on J.T. Miller, how David Krejci’s return to the Bruins helps Taylor Hall, the Blackhawks sign their final two RFAs, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Canucks star J.T. Miller wants to stay in Vancouver but he isn’t sure that’s going to happen. Appearing on John Scott’s “Dropping The Gloves” podcast, the 29-year-old forward said he wants a new contract with the Canucks but he understands if it’s not meant to be.
Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).
Miller is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. “Trust me, I’d like to have a deal done in Vancouver and be there, but I have to respect everybody’s vision and if it doesn’t line up, it kind of is-what-it-is,” said Miller. He also indicated that the two sides aren’t as close in contract talks as they’d like to be.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller will be 30 by the time his current contract expires. It could cost up to $9 million per season on a seven-year deal to keep him in Vancouver.
If Miller was between 25 and 28 years old perhaps he’d have that contract extension by now. However, there’s a legitimate concern that his performance will decline once he reaches his mid-30s, which would turn that contract into a salary-cap burden for the Canucks.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Much of the linemate talk about David Krejci’s return to the Bruins is focused on David Pastrnak but left wing Taylor Hall could benefit more from the 36-year-old center’s NHL comeback.
Joining the Bruins late in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, Hall had 14 points in 16 regular-season games skating alongside Krejci on the second line. He had 20 goals last season with Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula as his center. Hall could reach 30 in the coming season with Krejci as his linemate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could have two potent scoring lines with Krejci centering Hall and Pastrnak while Patrice Bergeron returns to the first-line center position with Jake DeBrusk on right wing and Brad Marchand on the left side once he returns from offseason surgery by late November.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks signed their last two restricted free agents in Caleb Jones and Philipp Kurashev. Jones agreed to a one-year, $1.35 million contract while Kurashev inked a one-year deal worth $750K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Blackhawks have all their roster players under contract for the coming season with $8.49 million in projected salary-cap space when the regular season begins in October.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Sharks announced Scott Gordon and Ryan Warsofsky as their new assistant coaches. Thomas Speer is their new goalie coach while Nick Gialdini will be their video coach.
The Blackhawks win their fourth straight, the Canucks woes continue, plus the latest injury updates and supplemental discipline in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks remain undefeated under interim coach Derek King, doubling up the Seattle Kraken 4-2 for their fourth straight win. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and an assist while Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves to hold off a late rally by the Kraken.
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks (5-9-2) still have a ways to go if they hope to climb out of the early-season hole they dug for themselves. Another lengthy losing skid could undo their progress and damage their postseason hopes. Nevertheless, there’s no question they’re a different team under King. They’re also getting better goaltending from Fleury and backup Kevin Lankinen, which has been crucial to their recent improvement.
Caleb Jones made his season debut after being sidelined by a wrist injury, joining Seth Jones as the fifth set of brothers to play for the Blackhawks simultaneously in the franchise’s history. The others were Bobby and Dennis Hull, Doug and Max Bentley, Brent and Rich Sutter as well as Steve and Jeff Larmer.
Three unanswered third-period goals by Nazem Kadri, Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog rallied the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and two assists for the Avs, who tallied all but one of their four goals on the power play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks’ league-worst penalty kill was once again their undoing. Team owner Francesco Aquilini will reportedly remain patient with this club following a meeting on Tuesday with general manager Jim Benning, but a few more losses like this one will test his patience.
Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov kicked out 34 shots to blank the Los Angeles Kings 2-0, snapping the latter’s eight-game points streak. Two late goals by Garnet Hathaway gave the Capitals the win.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is listed as week-to-week following a knee-on-knee collision with New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield on Tuesday. Head coach Andrew Brunette said Barkov won’t require surgery.
NEW YORK POST: Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher was fined $2,500.00 by the NHL department of player safety for sucker-punching New York Rangers forward Barclay Goodrow on Tuesday. Head coach Dominique Ducharme said forward Mathieu Perreault will require a second surgery on his injured eye, pushing back his return date by a couple of weeks.
NHL.COM: Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny on Tuesday.
CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights forward Michael Amadio entered COVID protocol on Wednesday.
TSN: Speaking of the Golden Knights, they claimed forward Adam Brooks off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks hired Rob Cookson as an assistant coach and elevated Marc Crawford to associate coach.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews was saddened by the flooding that has devastated his hometown of Abbotsford, B.C. “People literally rescuing livestock from drowning is quite sad to see,” said Toews. “It’s a resilient community and I know the people will bounce back and figure it out. But it’s pretty unfortunate and sad to see some of these videos.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daily Hive News has a list of links and information if you want to help British Columbia residents affected by this week’s flooding.
The Panthers signed Aleksander Barkov to a lucrative extension, more nations name their first players to their respective Olympic teams, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Mackenzie Blackwood & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers yesterday signed Aleksander Barkov to an eight-year, $80 million contract extension. The 26-year-old center will earn an annual average value of $10 million.
Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the deal is heavy with signing bonuses, starting at $11 million annually in the first three seasons, dropping to $10.6 million, $9 million, $7 million and finally $6.2 million in the final two seasons. Barkov also gets a full no-movement clause in the first eight seasons, becoming a modified no-trade for the final two seasons.
Barkov earned this contract as the Panthers’ captain and franchise player. He’s one of the NHL’s elite two-way forwards, earning the Selke Trophy last season. He’s crucial to their hopes of becoming a Stanley Cup contender.
TSN: More countries yesterday named their first players to their respective 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics mens’ hockey teams.
Russia (also known as the “Russian Olympic Committee” since they’re barred from competing under their country’s name and flag due to a doping scandal that has “banned” their athletes from international competition) named Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider joins Germany’s team.
Denmark named Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seattle Kraken center Alexander True.
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier, and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier were named to Switzerland’s squad.
Slovakia named Dallas Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera, Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Erik Cernak and Vancouver Canucks goalie Jaroslav Halak to their roster.
Latvia added San Jose Sharks winger Rudolfs Balcers, Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Kristians Rubins.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Speaking of Ovechkin, the Capitals captain will be re-evaluated for a lower-body injury suffered during Friday’s preseason contest with the Philadelphia Flyers.
THE ATHLETIC: Mackenzie Blackwood underwent two inconclusive COVID-19 tests on Thursday and Friday. The New Jersey Devils expected to know by Sunday whether their unvaccinated goaltender has contracted COVID for the second time.
If he tests positive on Sunday, he’ll be unavailable to the Devils for 14 days and ineligible to play or practice until Oct. 21. The Devils could also suspend him without pay during that period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackwood’s about to learn the consequences of being an unvaccinated player in the NHL. The league has implemented strict protocols to protect its players and staff and to avoid a repeat of the outbreaks last season that wreaked havoc on its schedule.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken forward Calle Jarnkrok has entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. It doesn’t necessarily mean he has the coronavirus but could instead be a close contact of someone who is infected. The Kraken recently announced all their players were fully vaccinated.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Max Domi could be returning to the Blue Jackets roster much sooner than expected. Told he’d require five months to recover from shoulder surgery in June, he could be in the lineup for their season-opener next week against the Arizona Coyotes.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Caleb Jones is expected to miss six weeks with a left wrist strain.
TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will be in concussion protocol for the next several days after striking his head on the ice during a fight with Vancouver Canucks forward Zack MacEwen on Thursday night.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins forward Curtis Lazar is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Auston Watson suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. There’s no timetable for his return.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators assistant coach Todd Richards could be back behind the bench for the club’s season-opener against the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 14. Richards suffered a heart attack on Oct. 1 and has been resting at home.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s great news for Richards. Here’s hoping he continues making a full recovery.
NHL.COM: The Devils signed center Frederik Gauthier to a one-year, two-way contract.
TSN: The Colorado Avalanche released forward Artem Anisimov from his professional tryout offer.
SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have approval from the Ontario government to host full capacity in their respective arenas for their home games this season.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes played only four preseason games instead of the mandatory six as per the CBA. However, they were among several teams granted an exemption this year due to the pandemic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A supposedly juicy aspect of this is the Montreal Canadiens apparently brought the number of Hurricanes’ preseason games to the attention of league officials. It’s something else that some observers believe could stoke the recent rivalry between the two clubs.