NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 30, 2020

The latest on Evander Kane, Tyson Barrie, Austin Watson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane took to Twitter yesterday to challenge Jake Paul to a fight after Paul knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson in the undercard of Saturday’s boxing match between aging fighters Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.

THE SCORE: Kane’s challenge to Paul prompted taunts from Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves and his brother Jordan, who plays for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. Reaves has a longstanding rivalry with Kane.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sunday was definitely a slow day for hockey news. With the American Thanksgiving weekend now over, here’s hoping we see some definitive news this week on whether the NHL and NHLPA can resolve their escrow and salary deferral differences and reach a decision on a truncated season.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes Tyson Barrie has a great opportunity with the Edmonton Oilers to bolster his stock after last season’s disappointing performance with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Oilers last month. The puck-moving blueliner will be eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer. A bounce-back effort will not only improve his free-agent value but could also entice the Oilers into re-signing him.

OTTAWA SUN: Austin Watson is looking forward to a fresh start with the rebuilding Senators. The 28-year-old forward was acquired from the Nashville Predators last month.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Larry Carriere is stepping away from the Canadiens front office after 10 seasons to explore other options. He’s spent 42 years in pro hockey, seven as a player and the rest in scouting, coaching and front-office roles with the Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals and the Canadiens.

CTV EDMONTON: The government of Alberta paid $4 million to the NHL during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs to advertise in the city of Edmonton. It was seen as an opportunity to showcase the province to millions of viewers from outside Alberta.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 29, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 29, 2020

Updates on the remaining notable unrestricted free agents in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Emily Sadler recently updated the status of the top remaining NHL unrestricted free agents. She noted the UFA market is at a standstill given the uncertainty over the season.

Mike Hoffman remains the top player available in the NHL UFA market (NHL Images).

Mike Hoffman still tops the list of available talent. Sadler noted the Nashville Predators were believed to have an interest in the winger. The Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils could use more scoring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators, Jackets and Devils have the cap space to sign Hoffman to the one-year deal he’s seeking worth between $5.5 million and $6 million. If they are interested in him, however, they’re likely playing the waiting game hoping he’ll lower his asking price. Once we know when (if?) the season will begin, perhaps he’ll sign with one of them.

Sadler believes teams that fail to sign Hoffman could turn their focus toward winger Mikael Granlund. The annual average value on his previous contract was $5.75 million but he’ll have to accept less than that now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund will likely have to accept a lot less given the current economic situation and the decline in his production over the last two seasons. He could be looking at offers of $2.5 million on a one-year deal.

Travis Hamonic’s Manitoba roots, combined with the Jets’ need for blueline depth, makes Winnipeg a potential match. Sadler also suggested the Calgary Flames could use him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are above the salary cap by over $697K but could have the wiggle room to add Hamonic (if they wish) by placing Bryan Little and his $5.29 million cap hit on LTIR. I don’t think we’ll see a reunion between Hamonic and the Flames unless he agrees to a substantial pay cut.

Sadler pointed out winger Anthony Duclair is currently training in Arizona with such notables as Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Matt Dumba and Jonathan Toews.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That might help Duclair’s value if he’s training with some of the league’s top stars. As Sadler points out, he appears determined to be at his best for the coming season.

Noting Ilya Kovalchuk’s brief but successful stint with the Canadiens, Sadler wonders if a return to Montreal is possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That ship sailed when the Habs acquired Josh Anderson and signed Tyler Toffoli last month.

The Vancouver Canucks could still be searching for a defenseman. Sadler suggested Sami Vatanen as a possible fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are over the cap by $1.5 million but could get some relief if Micheal Ferland’s post-concussion issues put him on LTIR. His annual average value is $3.5 million, giving the Canucks some room to add Vatanen or another defenseman at an affordable price.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 24, 2020

The latest on the return-to-play discussions, four Golden Knights test positive for COVID-19, the Bruins sign Jake DeBrusk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cited NHL insider Nick Kypreos saying there were no discussions over the weekend between the league and the NHL Players Association for the first time in weeks regarding the 2020-21 season.

 

The league remains focused on a Jan. 1 start but NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested several times that date is flexible and could be pushed back a week or two.

Garrioch believes it’s been quiet of late because the two sides have likely retreated to their offices to come up with a plausible agreement acceptable to the owners. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk last week indicated not all the 31 owners are on board with the plan put forward because of the losses they’ll face for 2020-21. The players last week rejected two requests from the league for increased escrow and salary deferral rates.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reported “a prominent agent” said talks are currently at a standstill. Three other player agents wondered when is enough with the constant concessions the players have made since the 2004-05 lockout. One accused league commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners of using the pandemic to squeeze more out of the players. Another agent claims he knows of five or six owners seriously questioning if it makes sense to stage a season.

Murphy feels the longer negotiations drag on, the more NHL and AHL players could head overseas to play in Europe, particularly those on two-way contracts who finished last season in the AHL. He also cites a league source suggesting a Feb. 5 start date for the season remains an option.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports Bettman is dealing with a handful of disgruntled owners, with some believing they got a bad deal in the new collective bargaining agreement and a few telling the commissioner they’d prefer not to play if there are no fans because of operating losses.

According to a source, Bettman is “managing” those owners, telling them sitting out the season isn’t an option because of the damage to the league’s long-term health. However, he is trying to address their concerns, which include an infusion of cash to start the season, hence the league’s requests to the players last week.

Kaplan reports sources indicated the players remain willing to work with the league because it’s in everyone’s best interest to stage a season. If the league is trying to borrow money from the players, the PA could seek concessions such as increased health insurance for players in retirement. Kaplan also notes the NHL owners will be getting $650 million in expansion fees in 2021-22 plus a new U.S. Television deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This stalemate between the league and the PA could stretch on for weeks and put the 2020-21 season into jeopardy. But as long as Bettman and the players remain determined to return to play, the less likely the season will be canceled. There appears a genuine desire on both sides to get this done, though there’s no denying the league’s recent requests have stalled negotiations.

Barring a significant breakthrough by the end of this week, I think we can forget about the Jan. 1 start date. As Garrioch pointed out, Daly has previously suggested that start date was flexible. It could be anywhere between mid-January and mid-February, though the earlier the better if they hope to stage a meaningful schedule.

OTHER NOTABLE NHL HEADLINES

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Four Vegas Golden Knights players have tested positive for COVID-19. The club confirmed their status but declined to identify them. The four are in self-isolation and “recovering well.” The club is taking precautionary measures by closing their off-ice training facilities and player areas to players and staff through Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This serves as a reminder that the pandemic will still affect the players if the 2020-21 season takes place. Without playing in a quarantine bubble as they did during the 2020 playoffs, they risk exposure to the coronavirus even with increased testing and strict health and safety protocols.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.675 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk had the bad luck to complete an entry-level contract in the midst of a pandemic that adversely affected the NHL salary cap. While his agent had suggested his client was worth $6 million per season, there was no way he was going to get that much from the Bruins or from another club via an offer sheet under the current economic conditions.

It’s a good deal for the Bruins because they get DeBrusk under contract at a reasonable short-term deal that also leaves enough cap space for other moves. The young winger still gets a decent raise and a chance for a much better deal in two years times when he’ll have arbitration rights in a potentially better economic climate.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is leaving Finnish club Pori Assat and returning to Montreal in what’s considered a sign the club is preparing to stage its training camp soon. Kotkaniemi will begin a 14-day quarantine upon his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s not the only player skating in Europe coming back to North America. If more players follow suit it’ll signal the league and the PA are close to a return-to-play agreement.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks hired Kendall Coyne Schofield as a player development coach and youth hockey growth specialist. She’s the organization’s first-ever female development coach. They also hired former NHL player Erik Condra as a player development coach.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets hired Dave Lowry as an assistant coach. The father of Jets center Adam Lowry said he doesn’t expect any issues with the two working for the same team.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers hired Shane Churla as their director of amateur scouting. The former NHL player spent the past seven seasons with the Canadiens scouting staff. He also spent seven seasons as an amateur scout with the Dallas Stars and another five in the same role with the Arizona Coyotes.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 9, 2020

The latest update on the notable unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Emily Sadler provided an updated list of the best remaining NHL unrestricted free agents.

Mike Hoffman remains the best player available in the 2020 UFA market (NHL Images).

Mike Hoffman remains atop the list, with Sadler reporting his agent recently indicated 13 clubs expressed an interest in his client since the market opened a month ago. The winger also isn’t opposed to accepting a one-year contract. The Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators are seeking scoring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not really much new here on Hoffman or the others on this list. Nevertheless, I’ll point out some of the more noteworthy tidbits.

Nothing new to report on winger Mikael Granlund. He could be another candidate for a short-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund struggled during his brief tenure with the Nashville Predators but he had five seasons with 41-or-more points in six seasons with the Minnesota Wild. The 28-year-old could be a good addition for a club seeking an affordable playmaker.

Defenseman Travis Hamonic would prefer to remain in the Western Conference. Talks with the Vancouver Canucks broke off once they acquired Nate Schmidt. Sadler suggests Hamonic’s former team, the Calgary Flames, could really use a right-side stay-at-home blueliner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Cap Friendly indicates the Flames have just over $1 million in cap space. I doubt Hamonic returns to Calgary unless he accepts a substantial pay cut.

Sadler believes it’s still possible Ilya Kovalchuk could return with the Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never but the Canadiens’ recent acquisitions of wingers Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffolli makes Kovalchuk’s return to Montreal unlikely.

Early speculation had center Erik Haula reuniting with the Vegas Golden Knights, but they’re now above the cap ceiling after signing Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haula won’t be returning to Vegas unless the Golden Knights make a cost-cutting trade.

Clubs that lost out on signing T.J. Brodie and Tyson Barrie could have an interest in blueliner Sami Vatanen. Sadler suggested the Vancouver Canucks as a destination.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.5 million. They could get some wiggle room if winger Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million annual average value) goes on long-term injury reserve next season. That would give them room for Vatanen if he’s willing to accept a cost-effective one-year deal.

Gritty winger Matt Martin is still available but there are reports he and the New York Islanders were working on a new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed Martin and the Isles have an agreement in place but the club is waiting until they’ve signed Mathew Barzal and shed another salary or two to officially announce the deal. The same goes for blueliner Andy Greene and goaltender Cory Schneider.










NHL Morning Headlines and Rumors – November 8, 2020

NHL Morning Headlines and Rumors – November 8, 2020

The Bruins’ Stanley Cup odds, the Ducks sign another first-rounder and the latest Red Wings, Canadiens and Capitals speculation in today’s NHL morning headlines and rumors.

HEADLINES

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins aren’t as good as they were last season but they remain a Stanley Cup contender. They lost defenseman Torey Krug to free agency, Zdeno Chara has yet to sign, and forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak could miss the start of the season recovering from offseason surgeries. Nevertheless, oddsmakers in Las Vegas give them 14-1 odds to win the Cup. Only the Colorado Avalanche, the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Vegas Golden Knights have better odds.

The Boston Bruins remain a Stanley Cup favorite in 2021 thanks to stars like David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins still have a solid goalie tandem in Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, one of the top offensive lines in Marchand, Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron, two very good young defensemen in Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, and a solid supporting cast featuring David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk, and Charlie Coyle. They’re not an overwhelming Cup favorite anymore but we shouldn’t underestimate them.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Jamie Drysdale to a three-year entry-level contract. They selected Drysdale with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the second signing of a top prospect by the Ducks in recent days. On Thursday, they signed winger Jacob Perreault (26th overall in this year’s draft) to an ELC.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Defenseman Ian Mitchell, winger Lukas Reichel, and center Philipp Kurashev sit atop Ben Pope’s ranking of the Blackhawks’ top-10 prospects.

RUMOR MILL

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons wonders why the Detroit Red Wings haven’t attempted to sign Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli to an offer sheet. He suspects Red Wings general manager (and former Lightning GM) Steve Yzerman has too much respect for his former employer, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could be one reason. Another could be Cirelli might not be interested in an offer sheet. If he was, perhaps he’s not keen to join a rebuilding team when he’s currently a member of a Stanley Cup champion that has a good chance of winning again over the next two or three years. Maybe Yzerman isn’t keen to invest most of his remaining cap space into one player and give up the compensatory draft picks if the Bolts fail to match the offer.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked what he thought Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin intends to do with Paul Byron. He was also asked if the Habs might pursue a gritty veteran winger like Corey Perry.

While Byron has dropped down the Canadiens’ depth chart, Engels doesn’t see him getting traded. He feels the veteran forward has more value to the Habs as a player than what he might fetch in a trade. However, Bergevin could attempt to package him with a draft pick to the Seattle Kraken to ensure another player on the Habs roster isn’t selected in the expansion draft.

As for Perry, Engels thinks he’s the type of player who could help the Canadiens. He’d be an affordable addition who could be a fringe player in the regular season to save him for the playoffs when they’d need him the most.

Engels was also asked if the Canadiens might bring back Ilya Kovalchuk. Unless one or two of their forwards are sidelined during training camp, he’d be shocked if Kovalchuk returned to Montreal. He also doesn’t expect the Habs will try to trade defenseman Brett Kulak given Bergevin’s preference for as much NHL-quality depth on the blueline as possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Engels on most of his assessments here. My only quibble (and it’s not much of one) is regarding Perry, as I suspect he’ll be back with the Dallas Stars next season.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked which member of the Washington Capitals was most likely to be traded. He feels the Caps don’t have to make a trade but if forced to weigh salary versus role, Nick Jensen could be the likely candidate, though he stressed he’s not saying Jensen will be shopped.

Asked about any news on trading Jensen or Richard Panik, El-Bashir notes it won’t be easy to move their contracts. Jensen ($2.5 million annual average value) and Panik ($2.75 million AAV) each have three years remaining on their deals. He also doesn’t see the Capitals signing a free-agent forward like Anthony Duclair without freeing up some cap space first.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals are above the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.024 million. However, there’s no reason to make a salary-dumping deal because Michal Kempny ($2.5 million cap hit) is sidelined six-to-eight months following Achilles tendon surgery. They’ll simply place him on long-term injury reserve to become cap compliant for 2020-21.










NHL Prospects: Top 3 Atlantic Division Organizational Rankings

NHL Prospects: Top 3 Atlantic Division Organizational Rankings