NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2021

Check out the latest on Jonathan Toews, Mark Giordano, Jack Campbell and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Jonathan Toews looked like his old self in his first NHL game since being sidelined with chronic immune response syndrome 407 days ago. Despite a 4-3 preseason shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Blackhawks captain logged 22:48 of ice time, collected an assist, three shots on goal, two takeaways and won 15 of 21 faceoffs.

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A promising start for Toews. The Blackhawks need their captain healthy if they hope to contend for a playoff spot this season.

CALGARY SUN: Former Flames captain Mark Giordano returned to Calgary for his first game since being selected by the Seattle Kraken in July’s expansion draft. He received a warm welcome from Flames fans, scoring a goal in a 4-3 preseason shootout win by the Kraken.

THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell believes there can be no excuses for the club this season. He and his teammates intend to use last spring’s disappointing postseason as motivation to win in the 2022 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs will face tremendous pressure this season following three straight first-round playoff exits.. Their last Stanley Cup title was in 1967 and they haven’t won a postseason series since 2004. Some teams can use previous playoff disappointment to grow and change into a championship team. Whether the Leafs can channel that this season remains to be seen.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Promising prospect William Eklund has a legitimate shot at cracking the San Jose Sharks roster this season. The seventh overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft, Eklund leads the Sharks with three points in two preseason games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still very early in preseason play and Eklund hasn’t yet tasted regular-season NHL action. Nevertheless, the 18-year-old winger could have an opportunity to at least start the season with the Sharks.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson reportedly offered a contract extension to general manager Marc Bergevin in July, but they haven’t reached an agreement yet. Both sides continue to talk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Canadiens don’t want uncertainty over Bergevin’s contract status hanging over the club this season. The Canadiens GM garnered leverage with his club’s surprising march to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, but that could evaporate if they struggle this season.

THE DENVER POST: Former NHL forward and current Colorado Avalanche color analyst Peter McNab has been diagnosed with cancer and is receiving treatment. The 69-year-old McNab will continue his role with Altitude Sports.

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

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Tanner Laczynski will require surgery on his left hip and could be sidelined for the season.

 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

What can the Leafs do to address their short- and long-term salary-cap issues? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons took note of young defensemen such as Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse, Colorado’s Cale Makar, Chicago’s Seth Jones and Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen landing long-term deals worth over $8 million. He believes the going rate for a 27-year-old blueliner like the Leafs’ Morgan Rielly is around $8 million per season, which is a big raise over his current $5 million annual cap hit.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images).

He believes the Leafs face a challenging decision with Rielly. Do they re-sign him? Do they let him depart via free agency next summer? If they re-sign him, how will they clear sufficient cap space for his new contract?

Complicating things further is goaltender Jack Campbell will also become eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer. Simmons speculates it could the Leafs $6 million they don’t have to keep them both.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why some observers believed the Leafs could trade Rielly this summer rather than risk losing him next summer for nothing. However, management is sticking with its core (which includes Rielly, their best puck-moving defenseman) for the coming season.

Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $67.78 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23. Assuming the cap rises that season by $1 million, that’ll leave the Leafs with $14.7 million in projected cap space. If they re-sign Rielly for $8 million annually, they’ll have only $6.7 million left to re-sign Campbell and promising blueliner Rasmus Sandin, leaving nothing to fill out the rest of the roster.

They could let Rielly walk or shop him before the trade deadline. However, that will leave a big hole on their blueline that could prove difficult to fill.

Simmons also observed the Maple Leafs are above the salary cap but don’t have to be cap compliant until the start of the regular season. He wonders which players will be waived in training camp or whether Alex Kerfoot will be moved in a cost-cutting trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are 1.394 million over the $81.5 million cap. They also have 15 forwards under contract. Rather than trade Kerfoot, they’ll likely attempt to demote two or three of those extra forwards or see one or two of them claimed by other clubs via waivers.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked about how things stand with new contracts for Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart. He anticipates new deals for both could be announced later this summer.

Regarding rumors linking the Panthers to Zdeno Chara, Richards believes they want to add another veteran defenseman but he’s not sure if Chara is the right fit. He also acknowledged the trade rumors about winger Frank Vatrano before the expansion draft. While nothing came of them, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a training camp deal.

Richards also predicted Sergei Bobrovsky could be moved out in 2023 “one way or another” but it won’t be a contract buyout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky will have just three years remaining on his contract following 2022-23. However, he must waive his no-movement clause first. The Panthers will also have to pick up a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual average value to facilitate a trade. Even then, they won’t get much interest in Bobrovsky if his performance doesn’t improve by that point.










NHL Playoffs: Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs Game 2 Preview

NHL Playoffs: Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs Game 2 Preview

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2021

The Lightning, Wild and Islanders win the first games of their opening-round series, plus the latest on Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, Nathan MacKinnon and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point scored the game-tying and winning goals as his club squeaked past the Florida Panthers 5-4 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Tampa Bay winger Nikita Kucherov tallied two power-play goals in his first game after missing the regular season recovering from offseason hip surgery. Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists for the Panthers. Game 2 of this series is on Tuesday evening.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the best game of the playoffs thus far. It could end up being the best series of the first round if the Lightning and Panthers maintain the pace this set in Game 1. Kucherov showed no signs of rust in his first game of this season. The Panthers must play a more disciplined style. Three of the Bolts’ goals came with the man advantage.

An overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek gave the Minnesota Wild a 1-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of their first-round series. Cam Talbot kicked out 42 shots for the shutout while Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves. They meet again in Game 2 on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game despite the low score. Both clubs had plenty of good scoring opportunities but the goaltenders were superb. The Golden Knights were without sniper Max Pacioretty. He’s been sidelined since May 1 by an undisclosed injury.

The New York Islanders nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on an overtime goal by Kyle Palmieri, who also opened the scoring. Ilya Sorokin picked up the first playoff victory of his career with a 39-save performance while teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a three-point game. Game 2 of this series is also on Tuesday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry was shaky in this contest. Every goal beat him high to the glove side. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Sorokin got the start as Isles starter Semyon Varlamov was out with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm lifted the Calgary Flames over the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 after the Canucks overcame a 5-1 deficit to force overtime. Brock Boeser scored twice for the Canucks. Both clubs face each other two more times before their regular-season schedule is complete.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Brendan Gallagher have been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Laval on a long-term injury conditioning stint. Both are expected to be in the Canadiens lineup for Game 1 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens followers freaked out on social media over this decision because they’re afraid one or both could get hurt playing a meaningless AHL game. However, the Habs want both players to get in some game action before Game 1 due to their long absences from the lineup.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will be in the lineup when his club faces off tonight against the St. Louis Blues in the opening game of their first-round series. He missed four of the Avs’ final five regular-season contests with minor injuries.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov returned to the ice yesterday for the Capitals optional practice. Both had been on the COVID-19 protocol list since May 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s unclear who will back up Craig Anderson for Game 2 tonight against the Boston Bruins. Anderson replaced Vitek Vanecek in Game 1 when the latter suffered a lower-body injury. Kuznetsov, meanwhile, could be several days away from rejoining the lineup.

TORONTO SUN: Jack Campbell will get the start for the Maple Leafs when they faced the Canadiens on Thursday. Winger Zach Hyman is also expected to return to action after being sidelined since April 18 by a sprained knee.

THE ATHLETIC: John Tortorella reportedly wanted to step down last offseason as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. One of the reasons he stayed was because Nick Foligno convinced him to return for one last season.










Several NHL Teams Going With Unproven Playoff Goalies

Several NHL Teams Going With Unproven Playoff Goalies

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 11, 2021

A record-setting performance for Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell, the NHL extends the end of the regular season as the Canucks get a date to return to action, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell set an NHL record with his 11th consecutive win in a 6-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Toronto center Auston Matthews tallied a hat trick to push his league-leading goal total to 31. The Leafs sit atop the Scotia North Division and the NHL overall standings with 59 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 19 shots as the Winnipeg Jets shut out the Montreal Canadiens 5-0. Nikolaj Ehlers, Mathieu Perreault and Andrew Copp each had a goal and an assist as the Jets (53 points) hold a one-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North.

Speaking of the Oilers, they were blanked 5-0 by the Calgary Flames. Jacob Markstrom made 17 saves for the shutout while Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano each had a goal and an assist. The Flames (37 points) are six points back of the fourth-place Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were listless in this game for a good reason. The NHL rescheduled this game for Saturday despite the fact the Oilers had previously scheduled a memorial service earlier in the day for their late teammate Colby Cave. Cave passed away a year ago today. Oilers captain Connor McDavid and his teammates justifiably questioned the league’s decision to play that game following the service.

A shootout goal by Adam Erne gave the Detroit Red Wings a 5-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Martin Necas and Dougie Hamilton each had a goal and an assist for Carolina. The Hurricanes are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 58 points but hold first place in the Discover Central Division over the Lightning because they hold a game in hand.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had a 36-save shutout performance to carry his Tampa Bay Lightning over the Nashville Predators 3-0. Yanni Gourde had a goal and an assist. Nashville holds fourth in the Central with 45 points. Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis returned to action after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury.

The Florida Panthers (56 points) suffered their third straight defeat by dropping a 4-1 decision to the Dallas Stars. Jason Robertson scored twice and Anton Khudobin made 20 saves as the Stars (40 points) moved to within five points of the fourth-place Predators in the Central Division. The Panthers slipped to third place, two points behind the Hurricanes and Lightning.

A four-goal rally by the Chicago Blackhawks enabled them to overcome a 2-0 deficit and hold off the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks (43 points), who sit two points behind the Predators.

An overtime goal by Ryan O’Reilly lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Mike Hoffman scored twice for St. Louis in his first game after being a healthy scratch from the previous two contests. The Blues regains fourth place in the Honda West Division with 44 points, one ahead of the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman is considered among the top trade targets heading into tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline. It’ll be interesting to see if last night’s performance stokes further interest in his services from contenders seeking forward depth.

Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Andreas Athanasiou each had a goal and an assist as the Los Angeles Kings doubled up the San Jose Sharks 4-2. The loss leaves the Sharks stalled in sixth place in the West with 40 points, four back of the Blues.

Sean Couturier snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as his Philadelphia Flyers edged the Boston Bruins 3-2. Travis Konecny had a goal and an assist and Brian Elliott made 30 saves as the Flyers (44 points) moved within four points of the fourth-place Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury.

The NHL announced the Vancouver Canucks can return to play on Friday, April 16 after having eight games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Canucks last played on March 24. The league also announced it is extending the regular-season schedule to May 16 to allow the Canucks sufficient time to complete those games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The regular season was originally slated to end on May 8. It had been extended once already to May 11.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on injured reserve and recalled James Neal and Tyler Ennis. Both played in last night’s game against the Flames.

THE SCORE: cites a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Los Angeles Kings have opened contract talks with winger Andreas Athanasiou.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks held forward Mattias Janmark out of last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Coach Jeremy Colliton said it was an organizational decision and not based on Janmark’s performance.