NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 13, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 13, 2018

Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2018 formally inducted, plus game recaps, three stars of the week and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Martin Brodeur, Martin St. Louis, Willie O’Ree, Alexander Yakushev, Jayna Hefford, and Gary Bettman were formally inducted last night into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

NEW YORK POST:  Larry Brooks received the Elmer Ferguson Award and was also enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the inductees. Fans and pundits have already started speculating over who will form the class of 2019. You can read my take at Featurd.io. 

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist moves into fifth on the NHL’s all-time wins list. (Photo via NHL Images)

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves to pick up his 437th career NHL win as his club edged the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. Lundqvist moves into eighth place on the all-time wins list. The Rangers are unbeaten (6-0-1) in their last seven games, but they lost forward Pavel Buchenich for four-to-six weeks with a broken thumb. 

The Chicago Blackhawks lost their eighth straight game, dropping a 3-2 overtime decision to the Carolina Hurricanes. Sebastian Aho tallied the game-winner. During the first intermission, the Hurricanes honored Blackhawks goaltender Cam Ward, who spent 13 seasons in Carolina and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2006. Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Cam Atkinson collected a goal and an assist and Pierre-Luc Dubois netted the game-winner as the Columbus Blue Jackets downed the Dallas Stars 2-1. The Stars also lost forward Devin Shore for 7-10 days with a lower-body injury.

John Gibson kicked out 34 shots, including 10 in overtime, backstopping the Anaheim Ducks to a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators. Rickard Rakell potted the winner in a shootout. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed winger Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. 

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler, and Philadelphia Flyers left wing Claude Giroux were named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov.11, 2019.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings goaltender Jack Campbell will be sidelined four-to-six weeks as he’ll require surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Campbell joins starter Jonathan Quick, who recently underwent surgery for the same issue. If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Kings would have no luck at all this season. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun is expected to make his season debut tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. He’s been recovering from off-season knee surgery. 

TSN: “The National Hockey League announced a tentative $18.9 million settlement Monday with more than 300 retired players who sued the league and accused it of failing to protect them from head injuries or warning them of the risks involved with playing.” 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2018

Game recaps, including the latest on Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly, Nolan Patrick, Austin Watson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice (his eighth and ninth of the season) while John Tavares collected four assists to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Leafs’ Morgan Rielly set a modern-era NHL record for defensemen by becoming the first to reach 12 points in his first five games in a season.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly set a modern-era points record for NHL blueliners. (Photo via NHL Images)

The Red Wings also announced they will be retiring Red Kelly’s No. 4 on Feb. 1, when the Wings play the Leafs. Kelly, a Hall of Fame defenseman who also played forward, won eight Stanley Cups with both clubs during his NHL career.

Phil Kessel tallied a hat trick, Evgeni Malkin had three assists and Casey DeSmith made 35 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Vegas Golden Knight 4-2.

David Perron’s hat trick powered the St. Louis Blues to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames. Jake Allen made 31 saves for the Blues.

Nathan MacKinnon scored twice, Mikko Rantanen collected three assists and Semyon Varlamov turned aside 30 shots in the Colorado Avalanche’s 6-1 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres. MacKinnon has points in four consecutive games.

Third-period goals by Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-4 victory over the Florida Panthers, spoiling the latter’s home opener. Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin had a four-point night (one goal, three assists) while the Panthers’ Evgenii Dadonov had a goal and two assists. In a pregame ceremony, the Panthers honored their 1993-94 inaugural roster.

Keith Kinkaid turned in a 21-save shutout performance and Kyle Palmieri scored twice as the New Jersey Devils blanked the Washington Capitals 6-0. Palmieri is the first player in Devils history to score two goals in each of the team’s first two games of a season.

Pekka Rinne’s 29-save shutout effort carried the Nashville Predators to a 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets in a penalty-filled contest. Both clubs combined for 76 penalty minutes, with the Jets getting 60 of them. Earlier in the day, the Predators learned an independent arbitrator had reduced forward Austin Watson’s 27-game suspension stemming from his no-contest plea on a domestic assault charge to 18 games. 

Ryan Suter’s game-tying goal set the stage for Jason Zucker’s overtime tally as the Minnesota Wild downed the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Zucker scored twice and set up another, as did Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat.

The Boston Bruins picked up their third straight win by beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Goalie Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves and Brad Marchand scored his first of the season. Connor McDavid tallied the Oilers’ only goal.

The Los Angeles Kings spoiled the Montreal Canadiens’ home opener with a 3-0 win. Jack Campbell made 40 saves for his first NHL shutout while Jeff Carter scored a goal and set up two others. Before the game, the Canadiens honored their 1993 Stanley Cup championship roster.

A four-goal third-period gave the Vancouver Canucks a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Canucks winger Brock Boeser scored his first of the season. Rookie teammate Elias Pettersson also scored to extend his points streak to four games.

New York Rangers head coach David Quinn picked up his first NHL victory as his club edged the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brady Skjei.

NBC SPORTS:  Philadelphia Flyers center Nolan Patrick will be sidelined 7-10 days with an upper-body injury. 




NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2018

Game recaps, 2019 NHL Draft host city revealed plus updates on Patrice Bergeron, Matt Murray and more in your morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Eric Staal’s hat trick powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 beatdown of the slumping St. Louis Blues. Staal had five points in the game, as did teammate Jason Zucker (one goal, four assists). Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals for the Blues.

New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall set a franchise record with a 15-game points streak. (Photo via NHL Images).

 New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall set a franchise record by extending his points streak to 15 games as his club edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray missed the game with a concussion suffered during Monday’s practice and there’s no timetable for his return.

Evander Kane made an immediate positive impression in his first game with the San Jose Sharks, collecting two assists to help his new team defeat the Edmonton Oilers 5-2.

Ryan Hartman made a memorable debut with the Nashville Predators, scoring the winning goal in his club’s 6-5 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Hartman was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. Jets’ trade-deadline acquisition Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist for his new club.

The Boston Bruins scored four unanswered goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit and defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on an overtime goal by Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins were playing without center Patrice Bergeron, who is sidelined at least two weeks with a fractured bone in his right foot.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals to lead the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. With the win, the Capitals (79 points) regained first place in the Metropolitan Division.

An overtime goal by Jared McCann gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Panthers have won seven of their last 10 and sit five points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop made 38 saves as his club blanked the Calgary Flames 2-0. Devin Shore and Tyler Seguin were the goal scorers.

The Los Angeles Kings moved into third in the Pacific Division by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Kings netminder Jack Campbell collected his first NHL victory by kicking out 41 shots.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained knee.

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks are expected to announce today that they’ll be hosting the 2019 NHL Draft.

The Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens hold the most draft picks in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Wings have 11 picks while the Rangers and Canadiens each hold 10. The Rangers also hold the most picks in the first three rounds (seven) while the Wings and Canadiens each have six.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you’re fans of those teams, that’s at least something positive for fans of those clubs to pin their hopes to over the remainder of an otherwise miserable season. 



Unrestricted Free Agents No Sure Pathway to The Stanley Cup

Unrestricted Free Agents No Sure Pathway to The Stanley Cup

Marian Hossa is among the few expensive UFA signings over the last decade to help a team win a Stanley Cup championship.

Considering how much money NHL teams invested in signing each year’s top unrestricted free agents, one can assume those clubs believe these moves will improve their chances of becoming Stanley Cup contenders. But if the notable UFA deals of the last decade are any indication, such efforts do not guarantee championship glory.

In 2007, the biggest UFA signings saw Scott Gomez and Chris Drury join the New York Rangers, Daniel Briere head to the Philadelphia Flyers, Paul Kariya sign with the St. Louis Blues, Ryan Smyth joining the Colorado Avalanche, Sheldon Souray inking a deal with the Edmonton Oilers and Brian Rafalski move to the Detroit Red Wings.

Of these deals, only the Rafalski signing contributed to a team winning the Stanley Cup. Briere would help the Flyers stage their underdog run to the 2010 Cup Final.

2008’s notable signings included Marian Hossa to Detroit, Markus Naslund and Wade Redden to the Rangers, Rob Blake to the San Jose Sharks, Todd Bertuzzi to the Calgary Flames, Mike Commodore to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Brian Campbell to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Hossa helped the Wings reach the 2009 Cup Final. Campbell played a key role in the Hawks 2010 championship.

In 2009, Hossa moved on to Chicago while Marian Gaborik joined the Rangers, Martin Havlat headed to the Minnesota Wild, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta went to the Montreal Canadiens, Mike Komisarek left the Habs for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Alexei Kovalev inked a deal with the Ottawa Senators.

Only the Hossa deal panned out. He played a significant part in the Blackhawks’ Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

It was a shallow pool of notable UFA talent in 2010. Sergei Gonchar went to Ottawa, Paul Martin moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alex Tanguay went to Calgary, Antti Niemi to San Jose and Dan Hamhuis joined the Vancouver Canucks. 

Hamhuis was an important part of the Canucks blueline for several years. He also helped them reach the 2011 Cup Final.

Brad Richards headlined the 2011 UFA class, signing a long-term deal with the Rangers. Other notables included Jaromir Jagr returning to the NHL with the Flyers, Erik Cole head to Montreal, Ed Jovanovski to the Florida Panthers, Mike Smith to the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes, Simon Gagne to the Los Angeles Kings and J.S. Gigeure join the Avalanche.

Richards helped the Rangers advance to the 2014 Cup Final. He was later bought out by the Rangers, signed with the Blackhawks as a free agent and helped them win the Cup in 2015.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signing with Minnesota were the biggest UFA moves of 2012. Others included Ray Whitney going to the Coyotes, Jason Garrison to Vancouver, Jiri Hudler heading to Calgary, Matt Carle joining the Tampa Bay Lightning and Alexander Semin signing with the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Following a lockout shortened season, the summer of 2013 saw Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss go to Detroit, Jarome Iginla to the Boston Bruins, Nathan Horton to Columbus, David Clarkson to Toronto and Valtteri Filppula to Tampa Bay 

The summer of 2014 saw Ignila on the move again, this time to Colorado. Paul Statsny went to St. Louis, Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik joined the Washington Capitals, Dan Boyle went to the Rangers, Thomas Vanek to Minnesota, Dave Bolland and Jussi Jokinen signed with Florida, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin headed to the New York Islanders and Anton Stralman signed with the Lightning.

Stralman played a key role in Lightning’s march to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

In 2015, the notable signings included Mike Green to Detroit, Justin Williams to Washington, Andrej Sekera to Edmonton, Alex Semin to Montreal and Joel Ward to San Jose. Ward helped the Sharks reach the 2016 Cup Final.

Last summer saw Milan Lucic sign with Edmonton, Eric Staal head to Minnesota, Loui Eriksson sign with Vancouver, David Backes moving to Boston, Troy Brouwer going to Calgary, Andrew Ladd join the Islanders, Frans Nielsen land with Detroit and Kyle Okposo shuffle off to the Buffalo Sabres.

So far none of those moves pushed their respective clubs any closer to championship contention, though some of these deal could pan out over time.

As we can see, very few notable UFAs played a significant role in helping their new clubs reach the Stanley Cup Final. If that trend continues, this summer’s big signings – Kevin Shattenkirk to the Rangers, Patrick Marleau to Toronto, Alexander Radulov to Dallas, Karl Alzner to Montreal – could become costly moves that fail to push those teams any closer to a championship.

The argument can be made that the salary-cap era has drained the UFA market of any significant talent. Teams tend to re-sign their best players, leaving mostly second-tier talent available in the free-agent pool. However, that was usually the case before the advent of the cap.

But as I noted in May 2014, teams from that era rarely had success landing talent that carried them to championships. The Dallas Stars’ signings of goaltender Ed Belfour (1997) and Brett Hull (1998) and the Red Wings’ additions of Hull and Luc Robitaille in 2001 are the only notable examples from that period.

The UFA market does have some value for clubs seeking depth in talent. Over the years, teams have added players that improved their rosters to various degress. Championship teams also benefited from free agency, usually through the addition of affordable depth players.

Free agency can help an NHL club build a contender, but it’s never been a sure path to a championship. In today’s salary-cap world, pursuing expensive, often overhyped veterans can do more harm than good, tying up invaluable salary-cap space necessary for retaining homegrown talent. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2017

Defenseman Brian Campbell announced his retirement after 17 NHL seasons,

Brian Campbell retires, latest notable contract signings & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: After 17 NHL seasons, defenseman Brian Campbell is hanging up his skates. The 38-year-old announced his retirement yesterday to take up a front-office job with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Campbell played 1,082 games and collected 504 points with the Blackhawks (helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2010), Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Campbell in his new role. 

OTTAWA CITIZEN: The Senators avoided arbitration with forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau by re-signing him to a three-year, $9.3 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pageau emerged as an unlikely postseason scoring hero for the Senators this spring, tallying eight goals (four in one game) and 10 points in 19 playoff games. In 2015-16, he netted a career-high 43 points. If he returns to that 40-point pace, it’ll be worth the $3.1 million annual cap hit for the Sens. 

TSN: The Nashville Predators re-signed forward Frederick Gaudreau to a three-year contract. The first two years of the deal are two-way and he’ll earn $650K at the NHL level. He’ll earn $700K in 2019-20. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Speaking of the Predators, one of their fans missed out on two free tickets to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final because he infrequently checks his Twitter account. 

PHILLY.COM: The Flyers signed 2017 first-round pick (second overall) Nolan Patrick to an entry-level contract. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres hired Chris Hajt as an assistant coach. 

SPORTSNET: Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley claims his expansion franchise will be among the NHL’s top revenue generators in ticket sales for 2017-18. Foley said the Knights are ahead of the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins in season-ticket sales and on par with the Montreal Canadiens. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s an impressive start for the Golden Knights. Management must ensure the team can be competitive enough to maintain that fan interest beyond 2017-18. 

MLIVE.COM: Little Ceasars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings, will feature the world’s largest, seamless suspended scoreboard. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Carter Casey, who signed a one-day contract with the Minnesota Wild on March 5 when he visited the team as part of his Make-A-Wish Foundation request, passed away over the weekend of spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma. He was 17 years old.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Casey’s family, friends and the Wild organization. 


NHL UFA Update – July 15, 2017

NHL UFA Update – July 15, 2017

Andrei Markov is among the notable players still available in the NHL UFA market.

Reviewing Sportsnet’s latest breakdown of the NHL’s top-10 remaining unrestricted free agents. 

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the NHL’s top-10 remaining UFAs. Topping the list is defenseman Andrei Markov, who is representing himself and sought a two-year, $12 million contract from the Montreal Canadiens, who countered with a one-year deal. A rumored report out of Montreal linking the 38-year-old to the Philadelphia Flyers were quickly refuted by Philly GM Ron Hextall. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers are going younger on the blueline so there’s no fit there for Markov. The Canadiens’ recent offer of a one-year deal to 39-year-old Mark Streit cast further doubt on the possibility of Markov returning to Montreal unless he’s willing to lower his asking price. 

Left wing Thomas Vanek remains in contact with the Detroit Red Wings, but they could lack sufficient salary-cap space to bring him back. They still must re-sign restricted free agents Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou. A reunion with the Buffalo Sabres isn’t likely.  Right wing Jaromir Jagr attracted some interest from NHL teams but no serious offers yet. If he’s unable to land with an NHL club, the ECHL’s Florida Everblades are keen to sign him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings will have around $6 million in cap space (once they place Johan Franzen on LTIR). Unless they free up more space, I doubt they’ll have enough room to re-sign Tatar and Athanasiou and still bring back Vanek. It could take a while for Vanek and Jagr to land with new NHL clubs. Wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t signed until September. 

Nashville Predators center and captain Mike Fisher is taking time to decide if he’ll return or retire. The Predators would likely bring him back on a one-year contract at a reduced rate. Teams have contacted defenseman Cody Franson, who could be a good third-pairing rearguard. Fox wonders if the Chicago Blackhawks would try to bring back blueliner Brian Campbell if they can find the cap room. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it’s either returning with the Preds or retirement for Fisher. I don’t see him signing elsewhere. Looks like another long summer searching for a contract for Franson. Two years ago, it took until September before he landed a contract. Could take that long again this year. I don’t see Campbell returning to the Hawks, who are pressed against the cap ceiling. 

The Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild reportedly have some interest in winger Drew Stafford. The Montreal Canadiens pitched a one-year contract to blueliner Mark Streit. The Buffalo Sabres and winger Brian Gionta haven’t fully closed the door on his possible return, but the recent return of Jason Pominville makes that unlikely. Right wing Jarome Iginla is taking the summer to spend with his family and using the time to decide if he wants to return next season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Stafford will land with an NHL club at some point this summer. If the Habs can’t work out a deal with Markov, Streit is their obvious “Plan B”. The playing careers of Gionta and Iginla could be over.