NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2021

The Canucks crush the Senators, last week’s three stars are announced, the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and David Pastrnak, plus injury/illness updates and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brandon Sutter tallied his first career NHL hat trick and Thatcher Demko made 35 saves as the Vancouver Canucks thrashed the Ottawa Senators 7-1. Bo Horvat collected two assists while Tanner Pearson had a goal and an assist. The Senators have dropped five straight games.

Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Canucks as their recent struggles were cause for concern among their followers. The two clubs meet again on Wednesday and finish their three-game series on Thursday.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli, Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski and Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 24.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen refuted any notion that last year’s contract negotiations with Pierre-Luc Dubois led to the 22-year-old center being traded on Saturday to the Winnipeg Jets.

Dubois suggested in a recent interview that those discussions led in part to his trade request. “That’s just flat out not true at all and he knows that, so I don’t know why he would say that or even insinuate something like that, because it’s not true,” said Kekalainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The real reason for Dubois’ trade request will be a hot topic for some time. Some believe it was his relationship with Jackets coach John Tortorella but Dubois has denied this.

There are also lots of guessing behind the trade request of Patrik Laine, who the Jackets swapped for Dubois. Some condemn Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, head coach Paul Maurice and Jets leaders Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele for creating a supposed toxic atmosphere that drove Laine away. Others blame the winger’s perceived lackadaisical approach.

CBS SPORTS: David Pastrnak could return to action with the Boston Bruins as soon as Saturday. The 24-year-old winger has been sidelined by offseason hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for a Bruins’ offense that has been inconsistent without their leading goal scorer.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Adam Boqvist were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Monday. There’s no confirmation either player has tested positive for the coronavirus.

THE SCORE: The NHL postponed Tuesday’s games between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s the fourth consecutive Hurricanes game to be postponed. The club currently has five players on the COVID-19 protocol list with three confirmed to have tested positive. The league has released new dates for each of the postponed contests.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Greg Pateryn were placed on waivers Monday. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mitchel Stephens is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury while defenseman Erik Cernak is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evan Rodrigues is sidelined indefinitely with an apparent lower-body injury suffering during a collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil on Sunday.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Former Coyotes GM John Chayka has been suspended to the end of 2021 by the NHL for conduct detrimental to the league and the game. The suspension is reportedly due to Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes last summer.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators goaltender Connor Ingram will be away from the club for an indefinite period as he voluntarily entered the league’s player assistance program.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Goaltender Scott Darling has signed a professional tryout offer with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford, Illinois. Darling spent three seasons with the Blackhawks from 2014-15 to 2016-17, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2015.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2020

The Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put off contract discussion, Mikael Granlund returns to the Predators, the Lightning sign Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta, the Capitals sign Conor Sheary, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have agreed to put contract talks on the back-burner. The 27-year-old forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. There were reports in October that the two sides were making progress on a contract extension.

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two sides could resume negotiations at some point during the season. The flattened salary cap for the foreseeable future will affect the value of Nugent-Hopkins and his peers in next summer’s UFA market. He’s earning $6 million per season on his current contract. The longer he goes unsigned, however, the more likely his name could pop up in trade rumors.

TSN: The Nashville Predators signed winger Mikael Granlund to a one-year, $3.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m surprised by this signing because of Granlund’s offensive struggles during his previous season and a half with the Predators and reports he was seeking a long-term deal. It was rumored the Preds were interested in winger Mike Hoffman to boost their scoring punch. Both sides evidently decided it would be worthwhile to give it another go.

It’s an affordable deal for the Predators that would leave them with $9 million in cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly) for the coming season. That will provide general manager David Poile with considerable flexibility to put toward another UFA signing or to make trades as needed over the course of the season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed restricted free agent defenseman Erik Cernak to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $2.95 million. They also signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Jan Rutta to a two-year deal worth $1.3 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These signings push the Lightning above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $6.15 million with RFA center Anthony Cirelli still to be signed. The Bolts have until Jan. 13 to become cap compliant. They’re expected to make a cost-cutting trade or two but could get some flexibility if winger Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million AAV) ends up on long-term injury reserve because of a nagging hip ailment.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed UFA winger Conor Sheary to a one-year, $735K contract. He’s expected to skate on their third line. The signing leaves the Capitals with $2.2 million in cap space.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland announced his NHL retirement yesterday. He was one of the original Golden Knights selected in the 2017 expansion draft and the club’s unofficial leader. The 38-year-old blueliner also played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames during his 11 NHL seasons, tallying 127 points in 671 regular-season games. He won the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2018 as the Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Engelland in his future endeavors.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports former Toronto Maple Leafs center Frederik Gauthier is considering a professional tryout offer with the Arizona Coyotes. He spent parts of the last five seasons with the Leafs.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins signed UFA forward Jordan Nolan to an AHL contract earlier this month. He could have a shot at cracking the roster in training camp next month. Nolan spent six seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, winning two Stanley Cups. He also played for the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. He spent last season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings intend to name their first captain in three years. Dylan Larkin is considered the front-runner for the captaincy. The role has been vacant since former captain Henrik Zetterberg’s playing career was ended by nagging back injuries in 2018.

NHL.COM: The league and the NHLPA announced its medical protocols and critical dates for the coming season. They also revealed a change to the offside rule (stick tap to Kukla’s Korner) indicating a player’s skate will not have to be in contact with the blue line in order to be on-side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only change to the previously reported critical dates is the last possible date for awarding the Stanley Cup was changed to July 9 from July 15, though it comes with a note indicating that date could change. The same goes for the May 11th start of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: The Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals are the first teams to unveil helmet ads on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ads are on the side of the helmets where the team logos used to be. They’re not garish or create an unnecessary distraction. Based on the photos provided in the link, I daresay the other NHL clubs will follow their lead.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, the Golden Knights are reportedly trying to trade Max Pacioretty plus the anticipation of increased activity in the trade and free-agent markets as the new season approaches.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Vegas Golden Knights have “doubled down” in recent days and weeks in their efforts to trade Max Pacioretty. The 32-year-old winger has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million. He led the Golden Knights last season with 32 goals.

Vegas Golden Knights reportedly shopping winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images)

The Golden Knights are over the salary cap and attempted earlier in the offseason to shed some salary. Seravalli suggests moving Pacioretty would clear sufficient salary to become cap compliant and perhaps take a run at unrestricted free agents such as Mike Hoffman and former Golden Knight Erik Haula.

KUKLA’S KORNER: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger reports winger Jonathan Marchessault ($5 million AAV) and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury ($7 million) have also come up in Golden Knights’ trade chatter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the first time in weeks we’ve finally got a juicy NHL trade rumor. The last trade was made on Oct. 12, when the Golden Knight shipped defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks in a cost-cutting deal.

The Golden Knights are above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $974K according to Cap Friendly. Moving Pacioretty would indeed free up sufficient space for the Golden Knights to perhaps add a more affordable scorer like Hoffman or a cost-effective center by bringing back Haula.

Pacioretty’s cap hit, age and his 10-team no-trade clause, however, could make finding a suitable trade partner difficult. So will the limited number of clubs with sufficient cap room to comfortably absorb his full $7 million AAV.

Fleury was thought to be a goner when the Golden Knights signed goalie Robin Lehner to a contract extension. GM Kelly McCrimmon denied that speculation but Granger said the Golden Knights are looking into the trade values of Fleury, Pacioretty and Marchessault. Fleury also has a 10-team no-trade list while Marchessault has an eight-team list.

Whether it’s Pacioretty, Fleury or Marchessault on the trade block, the Golden Knights won’t want much (if any) salary in return. Only a handful of teams (New Jersey, Los Angeles, Nashville, Detroit and Ottawa) can comfortably afford any of them. Those clubs might not be on the trio’s lists of preferred trade destinations.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports action is starting to pick up in the free-agent market. UFA winger Mikael Granlund hopes to situate his family and could make a decision in the next few days. So could other notables such as Mike Hoffman and Andreas Athanasiou.

He believes some teams could start talking with the Seattle Kraken to see what they can do about future salary-cap space if the cap remains flattened.

Chris Johnston suggests keeping an eye on the restricted free agent market following the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday signing defenseman Philippe Myers to a three-year contract. He cites Ethan Bear in Edmonton, Oliver Kylington in Calgary and Erik Cernak in Tampa Bay among the blueliners who could be affected by the Myers signing.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2020

A look at the latest speculation involving some of the remaining notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the status of several notable remaining restricted free agents following the Tampa Bay Lightning signing Mikhail Sergachev and the Boston Bruins signing Jake DeBrusk last week.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

Mathew Barzal remains atop the list. Fox reminds us New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello promised to match any offer sheet for the 23-year-old center.

Lamoriello has limited cap space but will garner some extra wiggle room with defenseman Johnny Boychuk headed for LTIR following a career-ending eye injury. It’s believed the Isles GM prefers locking up Barzal for around $7.5 million annually. Barzal reportedly is considering a team-friendly deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like most general managers with key RFAs still to sign, Lamoriello could be waiting for official confirmation of a start date for this season before getting Barzal under contract. It’s not unusual for negotiations with a top RFA to stretch out until the start of training camp and sometimes into the opening days of camp.

Following the Sergachev signing, Anthony Cirelli’s agent said there was nothing new to report on contract talks with the Lightning. The cap-strapped club must shed salary to re-sign Cirelli and fellow RFA Erik Cernak and become cap compliant whenever the season begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning are trying to move winger Tyler Johnson and his $5.5 million annual average value. There’s also speculation winger Alex Killorn ($4.45 million) could be a cost-cutting trade candidate.

Contract talks between Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Columbus Blue Jackets have stalled but GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t concerned. He pointed out Zach Werenski’s contract was signed right before training camp last year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $9 million in cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly), the Jackets have plenty of room to accommodate a new deal for Dubois. That’s without placing injured winger Gustav Nyquist ($5.5 million) on LTIR.

Fox speculates New Jersey Devils goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood may wish to use Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins’ two-year, $8 million bridge contract as a starting point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have plenty of cap space to re-sign Blackwood and fellow RFA Jesper Bratt. They’ll get it sorted by training camp.

St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he and the Vince Dunn camp intend to wait until close to training camp to sign an extension. Placing sidelined forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen on LTIR will free up cap room to sign the 23-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After watching Alex Pietrangelo depart via free agency last month, some Blues fans are concerned over why it’s taking so long to get Dunn signed. Now we know why. They’ll get a deal done.

The Winnipeg Jets have reportedly shopped forward Jack Roslovic during this off-season in search of a top-four, left-side defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some might scoff at the notion of Roslovic fetching that type of return. However, the Jets could target a club in need of shedding cap space. The Jets are above the cap by $697K but are expected to place sidelined center Bryan Little ($5.29 million) on LTIR, giving them sufficient space to swap Roslovic for a decent rearguard.










Latest on the Lightning, Bruins and Islanders in NHL Rumor Roundup

Latest on the Lightning, Bruins and Islanders in NHL Rumor Roundup

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 15, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 15, 2020

The latest on the Jets and Lightning in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman reports a recent poll of Jets fans reveals they don’t want their club to move Patrik Laine, they would prefer if Jack Roslovic was traded, and management should have another season to get things right.

The majority of Winnipeg Jets fans don’t want Patrik Laine to be traded (NHL Images).

Laine, 22, is rumored to be on the trade block as he enters the final season of his contract. It could prove difficult re-signing him, but almost 80 percent of Jets fans surveyed believe he shouldn’t be traded. 75 percent want the Jets to re-sign him though most wouldn’t want to overspend to do so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will have to overspend if they want to keep Laine. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights who’ll demand a big raise, especially if he regains his 40-goal form. The current economic uncertainty facing the NHL might work in the Jets’ favor. Nevertheless, there could be a club willing to pay Laine whatever he wants that could be willing to meet the Jets’ asking price in the trade market.

Almost 60 percent of Jets fans believe the club should trade Roslovic. He’s reportedly been shopped in recent weeks in an attempt to land a top-four defenseman. Just over 50 percent would like to see Sami Niku traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic is believed to be unhappy with his current role and prefers regular top-six minutes. The 23-year-old is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or on right wing.

He’s currently a restricted free agent without arbitration rights who’s likely to get an affordable short-term bridge contract. The Jets aren’t in any hurry to move him. That could change if they get a suitable offer from a team with depth in defenseman seeking an affordable young forward with upside.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith was asked about the possibility of the Tampa Bay Lightning trading a bad contract, like Tyler Johnson’s $5 million annual average value, for a bad contract with a lower AAV. He doubts that happens as the Lightning must clear around $10 million in cap space.

Smith can’t confirm if it would cost the Bolts a first-round pick to move Johnson but he feels they’ll have to add a sweetener. He also doesn’t get the sense Johnson has expanded his list of trade destinations beyond 8 – 9 clubs.

Smith said Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois is working the phones seeking cost-cutting deals. However, the market is quiet right now because of the flattened cap and uncertainty over the start of the season.

While they could start the season with one of their restricted free agents (Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak) still unsigned, Smith feels they’ll get them signed before then. He also hasn’t heard anything suggesting a rival club could attempt to sign one of them to an offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning’s efforts to clear cap space by moving someone like Johnson to re-sign those RFAs will likely increase once the start of the season has been confirmed. For now, there’s no reason to rush into anything. If the season begins sometime in January, expect business to pick up in December.