NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2020

Updates on Phillip Danault and Kasperi Kapanen plus the latest notable contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

TVA SPORTS: Louis-Andre Lariviere reported Phillip Danault’s agent indicated his client wants to engage in contract talks with the Montreal Canadiens before training camp. “It would be Phillip’s preference to negotiate a contract at this point with the Canadiens,” said Don Meehan. “We are making efforts in this regard.” Danault is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The strong postseason performances of young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi raised questions about Danault’s place in the Canadiens lineup next season and his long-term future in Montreal. The longer he goes without a contract, the more we’ll hear his name come up in trade rumors next season.

THE SCORE: cited Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford telling SiriusXM NHL Radio Network he believes Kasperi Kapanen could fit in well on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Kapanen was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in August. Rutherford is hopeful Kapanen’s speed and ability to track down pucks will make him a good fit on Crosby’s right wing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins will have a lethal complete first line if Kapanen plays as well as Rutherford hopes alongside Crosby and Guentzel.

NESN.COM: The Boston Bruins avoided salary arbitration with Matt Grzelcyk, signing the defenseman to a four-year, $14.75 million contract. The annual average value is $3.687 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grzelcyk gets a big pay raise over the $1.4 million annually of his previous contract. He’ll be taking on more responsibilities on Boston’s blue line following Torey Krug’s departure via free agency. Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have over $6.6 million in salary-cap space with restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk to re-sign.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, they signed defenseman Cody Ceci to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ceci’s stock has tumbled as he’s now on his third team after being traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Maple Leafs in 2019. He earned $4.5 million on a one-year contract last season. A right-handed shot, he’ll likely skate on Pittsburgh’s third pairing. The Pens have $80.18 million invested in 23 players for 2020-21.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues signed Jake Neighbours to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old winger was the Blues’ first-round pick (26th overall) in this year’s NHL draft.










NHL Free-Agent Flat Cap Fallout – Atlantic Division

NHL Free-Agent Flat Cap Fallout – Atlantic Division

 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2020

A look at TSN’s listing of this year’s top unrestricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, and Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug top Frank Seravalli’s listing of this year’s top-50 unrestricted free agents.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. Media consensus has those three in exactly those three positions among the top-50.

Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom (fourth) and Vegas’ Robin Lehner (sixth) ranked above Washington’s Braden Holtby (12th) among this year’s top UFA goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby has a Vezina Trophy (2016) and a Stanley Cup (2018) on his resume, but his inconsistent play over the past two seasons sent his stock tumbling. A strong performance in the upcoming playoff tournament, however,  could send him rising on this list.

Former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien ranked fifth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If this was two years ago, I’d have no issue with Byfuglien ranking this high. But the 35-year-old blueliner missed all of this season over a dispute with the Jets regarding the severity of an ankle injury, which ultimately required surgery. We don’t know if he’s keen to return to the NHL following the mutual agreement to terminate his contract in April. Until we get an indication from the Byfuglien camp that he wants to resume his playing career, he should be at the bottom of this list.

Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov, Vancouver Canucks’ versatile forward Tyler Toffoli, and Toronto Maple Leafs rearguard Tyson Barrie round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d rank Toffoli over Hoffman and Dadonov because of his two-way skills, Stanley Cup experience, plus he’s younger than those two. I’d put Holtby over Barrie, who had a rough season with the Leafs and should be ranked much lower than 10th.

Among the surprises was Florida Panthers oft-injured center Erik Haula ranked 11th, aging Washington Capitals winger Ilya Kovalchuk at 23rd, and Leafs blueliner Cody Ceci at 24th.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haula shouldn’t be ranked that high. He hasn’t fully recovered from knee surgery in 2018. Kovalchuk enjoyed a bounce-back performance during a two-month tenure with the Montreal Canadiens, but there’s no certainty the 36-year-old can sustain that effort over a full season. Ceci’s stock was in decline before he was dealt to the Leafs last summer and tumbled further this season.

Defensemen dominate this list. Along with Pietrangelo, Krug, Barrie, and Ceci, the list includes Calgary’s T.J. Brodie (13th) and Travis Hamonic (20th), Carolina’s Sami Vatanen (14th), Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk (15th), Vancouver’s Chris Tanev (17th), Philadelphia’s Justin Braun (19th), and Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz (29th).

Seravalli believes many UFAs could be on edge as this will be a free-agent period like no other thanks to the interruption of the season by COVID-19 and the effect upon league revenue and the salary cap. Players on non-playoff clubs, like Buffalo’s Wayne Simmonds and Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki, could be sidelined for seven months, potentially affecting their future earnings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This year’s UFA class could have difficulty finding lucrative long-term contracts if the salary cap is frozen at $81.5 million for next season. Thirteen teams have payrolls already exceeding $70 million for next season, with a handful of others sitting with payrolls over $65 million.

Some of those notable free agents could end up accepting short-term deals, perhaps for less than market value, in hope of landing more lucrative offers when (if?) revenue rebounds over the next couple of years.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Toronto Maple Leafs

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2020

Recent speculation on the Leafs, Senators, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS MOST LIKELY TO BE ON THE MOVE THIS OFF-SEASON

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle consider Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci as the most likely not to return with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both defensemen are unrestricted free agents who underwhelmed during their one-season tenures with the Leafs. They also considered forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and Alex Kerfoot among the Leafs’ likely trade chips as the club seeks to shed salary and bolster their blueline depth.

Don’t expect to see Tyson Barrie with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of Leafs Nation will agree Barrie and Ceci won’t be back. It just didn’t work out for either guy.

Kapanen, Johnsson, and Kerfoot frequently surfaced as trade candidates through this season. General manager Kyle Dubas didn’t have to move them during this campaign but could have no choice during the off-season.

The Leafs have over $76 million invested in 16 players. They desperately need to bolster their defense. Dubas surprised most observers with his slick moves last summer to free up sufficient cap room to re-sign Mitch Marner. Unless he’s got another trick or two up his sleeve, Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be shopped for a top-four defenseman.

COULD THE SENATORS WEAPONIZE THEIR CAP SPACE?

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes a flat or reduced salary cap for next season could work in favor of the rebuilding Senators as cap-strapped clubs attempt to shed salary in the off-season. The Sens only have around $41.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll. They don’t need any more draft picks, but Warren believes they should listen if some promising prospects are packaged into the deal.

NBC SPORTS: Scott Charles believes the Senators should look for short-term players that other clubs no longer have the patience for, such as the New York Islanders’ Joshua Ho-Sang. Charles points out Anthony Duclair turned into a successful reclamation project for the Sens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators also have 13 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, including three in the first round, four in the second, and two in the third. They also hold three second-rounders in next year’s draft.

Their first-rounders are off the table, but GM Pierre Dorion could offer up a couple of those other picks to take on a toxic short-term contract that’s packaged with prospects or young NHL-ready players, or perhaps a player who could accelerate the rebuild. He can even afford to acquire someone like Ho-Sang on an affordable contract that can be easily buried in the minors if that player doesn’t work out.

WILL THE SHARKS MAKE A BIG MOVE THIS OFF-SEASON?

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: During a recent interview long-time San Jose Sharks broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky told Brodie Brazil he believes the club needs to make a big change or two, partly for salary-cap reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s easy to see why Rusanowsky feels this way. Despite spending to the cap ceiling to ice a star-studded roster, the Sharks were among this season’s worst clubs.

Making a big cost-cutting change, however, won’t be easy. The Sharks have over $66.6 million tied up in 13 players for 2020-21. Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Brent Burns, and Martin Jones all have three-team trade lists, while Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have full no-movement clauses.

Timo Meier ($6 million annually through 2022-23) lacks no-trade protection, but GM Doug Wilson could be reluctant to peddle the 23-year-old winger. Winger Tomas Hertl ($5.625 million AAV through 2021-22) also lacks no-trade protection for this season, but his long injury history could scare off potential suitors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2020

Remembering Henri Richard, the Jets move into a wild-card berth and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Henri Richard, who won a record-setting 11 Stanley Cups as a player during his 20-year career with the Montreal Canadiens, died yesterday at age 84 of Alzheimer’s disease. The younger brother of Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Henri carved out his Hall-of-Fame career as a skilled two-way center. A 10-time All-Star, Richard captained the Canadiens from 1971-72 to 1974-75, won the Masterton Trophy in 1974, and was voted one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players in 2017. He also played a franchise-record 1,258 games with the Canadiens and finished third all-time among Habs scorers with 1,046 points.

Henri Richard was one of the Montreal Canadiens’ greatest players (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m old enough to recall seeing Richard play with the Canadiens whenever they appeared on Hockey Night in Canada in the early-70s. With his grey hair, the Pocket Rocket looked so old to my very young eyes back then, but he impressed me with his skating and puck-moving skills. Richard was the quintessential two-way center and one of the Canadiens’ all-time greats. Had the Selke Trophy existed during his playing career, he would’ve won it multiple times. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, and former teammates.

GAME RECAPS

Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 29-save shutout as the Winnipeg Jets (76 points) blanked the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0 to move into the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist. The Golden Knights (82 points) remain two ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.

Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists in the Calgary Flames 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. With the win, the Flames (79 points) to within one point of the second-place Oilers in the Pacific. Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who slip two points behind the Jets.

Zack McEwen tallied twice while J.T. Miller and Antoine Roussel each had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks trounced the Colorado Avalanche 6-3, snapping a four-game losing skid. With 76 points, the Canucks hold the first wild-card berth with two games in hand over the Jets.

Make it three straight losses for the Toronto Maple Leafs in California as they fell 2-1 to the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson made 26 saves for the Ducks before leaving midway through the third with an undisclosed injury. Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci returned to the lineup after being sidelined for a month. With 79 points, the Leafs still hold a playoff spot, sitting third in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If it wasn’t for the inept Florida Panthers, the Leafs would be in real danger of falling out of a playoff spot. Maybe the knowledge that the stumbling Panthers probably can’t catch them explains the Leafs’ lifeless effort in California.

The New Jersey Devils upset the St. Louis Blues 4-2, snapping the latter’s eight-game winning streak. Devils goaltender Cory Schneider kicked out 31 shots. The Blues (90 points) hold a two-point lead over the Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference standings.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier turned aside 32 shots in a 2-1 upset of the Chicago Blackhawks. Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri scored for the Wings, while Patrick Kane replied for the Blackhawks (70 points), who failed to gain ground in the playoff race, sitting six points out of a wild-card spot in the West.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS: Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov won’t face supplemental discipline for elbowing Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo on Thursday night.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers re-signed forward Josh Archibald to a two-year extension worth $1.5 million annually.

THE SCORE: The NHL is urging its players to limit contact with fans due to the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good idea. Too bad the league doesn’t make a similar plea every year during flu season.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed a five-year affiliating agreement that starts next season with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds.