NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2021

Zdeno Chara is poised to break a record this season, the Golden Knights sign Nolan Patrick, Tyler Ennis joins the Senators on a tryout basis, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Bob Duff reports Zdeno Chara is poised to knock former Red Wing Chris Chelios from the record books. If Chara plays 44 games this season, he’ll set the NHL record for most games by a defenseman. Chelios holds the current record with 1,651. Over the weekend, Chara signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders.

New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 44-year-old Chara is expected to be a third-pairing defenseman with the Islanders this season. Barring injury, he should break Chelios’ record.

TSN: The Vegas Golden Knights signed Nolan Patrick to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.2 million. They acquired the 23-year-old center from the Nashville Predators in July during a three-way trade involving the Predators and Philadelphia Flyers, who sent Patrick and defenseman Philippe Myers to Nashville for Ryan Ellis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The former first-round pick (second overall) of the Flyers in 2017, Patrick is hoping to get his NHL career back on track after struggling to play up to expectations in Philadelphia. The Golden Knights hope he’ll blossom into a first- or second-line center.

Patrick’s signing pushes the Golden Knights above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.237 million according to Cap Friendly. However, they can garner some short-term relief by placing sidelined Alex Tuch on long-term injury reserve until his return from shoulder surgery in January.

OTTAWA SUN: Unrestricted free agent forward Tyler Ennis signed a professional tryout offer with the Senators.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers prospect defenseman Dmitri Samorukov suffered a broken jaw during Saturday’s prospect game against the Calgary Flames. Surgery is not required but he’ll be sidelined for six weeks.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings prospect blueliner Jared McIsaac was briefly knocked unconscious after taking a hit during a prospects game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, evaluated, and reportedly doing well. He wasn’t expected to be hospitalized overnight.

CROSSINGBROAD.COM: Flyers writer Anthony SanFilippo cited sources yesterday claiming Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin has suffered another serious knee injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hopefully we’ll learn more about Morin’s status later today. His NHL career has been hampered by several knee injuries. Another could bring his playing days to an end.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Speaking of the Flyers, winger Wade Allison left Sunday’s rookie game against the New York Rangers with an apparent leg injury. There was no immediate word on his status.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks pulled center Trevor Zegras from a rookie game against the Colorado Avalanche as a precautionary measure after he was slashed on the left leg in the first period. He limped to the bench and had to be helped to the dressing room but was later said to be “fine”.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens hopeful Jesse Ylonen has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 for personal reasons. Under NHL protocols, he could face suspension without pay if border restrictions prevent him from traveling to the United States for road games. He will also face severe restrictions, such as not being able to be in any public place other than arenas and training facilities.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports Jim Hughson is telling people he has retired. Hughson has been Hockey Night in Canada’s lead play-by-play man since 2008-09.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No official word yet from Hughson or HniC regarding his status.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2021

Jack Eichel to travel to Buffalo for Sabres’ pre-training camp medical, Vladimir Tarasenko expected on Blues’ opening-day roster, Zdeno Chara signs with the Islanders, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: cites an Associated Press report indicating Jack Eichel is expected to travel to Buffalo for the Sabres’ pre-training camp medicals on Wednesday. The 24-year-old center has been sidelined since March with a herniated disk in his neck.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Treatment of the injury has created an impasse between Eichel and the Sabres’ front office. He prefers artificial disk replacement while management is against that procedure because it’s never been done on an NHL player before.

If Eichel fails his medical, the Sabres have the option of placing him on injured reserve or long-term injury reserve as his condition is hockey-related. They’ve been trying to trade him this summer but haven’t found any takers yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Eichel passes his medical. If he fails as expected it will prevent the awkward situation of having an unhappy player in camp while management is trying to trade him. However, this won’t be the end of the saga. There’s no indication which procedure Eichel will undergo let alone when it will take place.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues general manager Doug Armstrong believes there’s a good chance Vladimir Tarasenko will be on the club’s opening-day roster. The 29-year-old winger requested a trade early in the offseason because he was reportedly unhappy over how the club’s medical staff handled his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Armstrong said he spoke with Tarasenko about his trade status and the winger understands the situation. He mentioned the flattened salary cap and the limited amount of playing time Tarasenko saw over the last two years as a result of his shoulder surgeries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best opportunity to move Tarasenko was before the free-agent market opened on July 28. There weren’t many teams with the cap space to take on his $7.5 million annual salary cap hit once the dust settled from the usual frenzy of free-agent signings.

A trade could still materialize before the start of the season but a move around the March trade deadline seems more likely. Interested parties would prefer letting Tarasenko burn off most of this season’s cap hit while taking the time to evaluate his performance.

NEW YORK POST: Zdeno Chara’s NHL career has come full circle as he signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders. Financial terms weren’t disclosed but it’s presumably a plus-35 deal with bonuses.

Chara began his big-league career with the Islanders in 1997-98, spending four seasons with them until traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2001.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 44-year-old Chara will become the first player in NHL history to go 20-plus years between games with one franchise.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed restricted free agent winger Kailer Yamamoto to a one-year, $1.175 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Very affordable signing by the cap-strapped Oilers but Yamamoto will be in line for a more lucrative deal next summer if he has a good performance this season. We’ll take a look at the implications in today’s Sunday rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators signed center Logan Brown to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2021

The Coyotes could need a new home after this season, Auston Matthews to grace the cover of EA Sports NHL 22, an update on Zdeno Chara and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang reported yesterday the city of Glendale informed the Arizona Coyotes it is opting out of its joint lease agreement for Gila River Arena, making the 2021-22 season the club’s last at the facility.

Gila River Arena (NHL.com).

Strang indicates this notice comes following months of stalled negotiations between the two sides regarding terms for a lease extension, arena renovations, and multiple notices of outstanding and delinquent balances owed by the club as part of the current lease agreement.

We’ve reached the point of no return,” said city manager Kevin Phelps, who oversees day-to-day operations and is also responsible for the arena management contract. “There’s no wavering”.

Coyotes president Xavier Gutierrez released a statement expressing the club’s disappointment with the decision. He is hoping the city will reconsider its position and restart negotiations for an extension.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports skeptics such as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman view the city’s position as merely a negotiating ploy. Phelps was adamant that’s not the case.

I’ve made my recommendation and told the (city) council what I was going to do, and I’ve got the full support of our city council,” he said. Phelps maintained the decision is in the best interest of the entertainment district and of the city.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long, tempestuous history between the Coyotes and the city of Glendale could be in its final chapter. The club has signaled its intent to build a new arena in or near downtown Phoenix. Morgan wondered how long Glendale would remain patient with the Coyotes’ year-to-year approach. Barring a last-minute change of heart, their tolerance is at an end.

This news sparked conjecture over whether the NHL will finally relocate the troubled franchise to a market such as Quebec City or Houston. Rest assured Bettman and the league will explore every option to keep the club in Arizona. Those efforts, however, will depend on where and when a new arena will be constructed. They certainly won’t have one built in time for the 2022-23 season.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will grace the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 22. He was also on the cover of NHL 20. Matthews was the winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as last season’s leading goal scorer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The news sparked some criticism on social media from non-Leafs fans. It’s a sign we’ve truly reached the dog days of summer. I doubt his visage on the cover will prevent gamers from buying it.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: A source claims it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a reunion between the Boston Bruins and former captain Zdeno Chara. The 44-year-old free-agent defenseman prefers playing in the Eastern Conference as his family still lives in Boston. Two other sources didn’t rule out Chara returning to the Bruins in a coaching or player management position if he decides to retire.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings bought out the contract of veteran forward Frans Nielsen. It will cost them $4.25 million against their cap this season but drops to $500K next season. The Wings also named Pat Verbeek as the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings can afford to absorb Nielsen’s still-hefty buyout cap hit for this season. Cap Friendly shows them with over $19 million in cap space for 2021-22 following the buyout.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Ryan Reaves has put his home in Summerlin on the market for $1.2 million. He was traded to the New York Rangers in July.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres 2021 first-round pick Owen Power is returning to the University of Michigan for another season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That sparked speculation by some fans on social media suggesting Power didn’t want to play for the troubled Sabres. In reality, the young defenseman indicated he was considering returning to college this season well before the NHL draft.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski takes a deep dive into the NHL’s decision to allow ads on player jerseys. Among the many interesting tidbits:

Ads for alcohol, tobacco and marijuana products won’t be allowed. Ditto anything sexualized.

There will be limitations for sportsbook gaming ads. Fans will be able to buy team jerseys without the ads.

The league is also limiting sales to one sponsor on the jersey. It is also adamant the jerseys won’t look like those in European leagues that feature multiple ads.

THE PROVINCE: The Canucks were among the first NHL teams to briefly have sponsors on their practice jerseys in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Those didn’t last long as the league brain at the time frowned upon it.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2021

The Blues express interest in Zdeno Chara, the factor that enticed Joe Thornton to the Florida Panthers, breakout candidates for 2021-22 and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a league source said the St. Louis Blues expressed interest in unrestricted free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara. The former Boston Bruins captain spent last season with the Washington Capitals.

Free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).

Rutherford believes the Blues landing Chara is a long shot. A source said the 44-year-old blueliner has yet to decide where he’ll play this season. His family remains in Boston and he intends to remain close to them this season. The option remains for Chara to return to the Capitals for another season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bally Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland tweeted he was told the Blues aren’t an option for Chara. If he plays, his focus is to stay in the East to be close to his family.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers general manager Bill Zito credited his players for helping to lure Joe Thornton to the club. The 42-year-old center recently signed a one-year deal with the Panthers. Thornton cited how good the team looks and how well they played last season. He believes they’re close to Stanley Cup contention. Zito also said Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Roberto Luongo spoke with Thornton.

ESPN.COM: Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich, Vancouver Canucks forward Conor Garland and Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark are among Greg Wyshynski’s breakout candidates for 2021-22.

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Cole Sillinger to a three-year entry-level contract. Son of former NHL center Mike Sillinger, the 18-year-old was selected 12th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights will be participating in next month’s Rookie Faceoff tournament. Their rookie squad will face off against those from the Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings from Sept. 17-20 in Arizona. There was no tournament last season because of the shortened schedule and lack of a preseason.

SPORTSNET: Wayne Gretzky recently launches his first NFT collectibles on the new DraftKings platform.










Little Notable Talent Still Available in 2021 NHL Free Agent Market

Little Notable Talent Still Available in 2021 NHL Free Agent Market

Cap Friendly shows slim pickings for talent three weeks after the NHL annual free-agent market opened on July 28. As usual, most of the top players were quickly signed within hours of the market opening, with the remainder snapped up over the next several days.

Several recognizable names remain but almost all are now past their playing prime. With training camps set to open in a little over a month, those still available could end up accepting cheap one-year deals or professional tryout offers in hope of landing a contract.

Still, for teams seeking experienced depth at bargain-bin prices, several noteworthy options remain obtainable.

Tuukka Rask is among several notable players still available in the 2021 NHL free-agent market (NHL Images).

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask is sidelined until the New Year recovering from off-season hip surgery. It’s believed he’s only interested in returning with the Boston Bruins, who could keep a spot open for him. The former Vezina Trophy winner could be worth pursuing later this season if he and the Bruins part ways before the trade deadline.

Devan Dubnyk is still waiting for a contract. The 35-year-old struggled as a backup last season with the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. Still, he could be worth the gamble on a PTO for teams with a young starter seeking an experienced mentor.

Henrik Lundqvist hinted he’d be up to a comeback if he receives medical clearance. Heart surgery sidelined him for all of last season. The 39-year-old “King Henrik” is no longer an elite netminder but could be a worthwhile backup if he gets a clean bill of health.

Defensemen

Zdeno Chara had a good performance last season as a third-pairing defensemen with the Washington Capitals. The 44-year-old future Hall-of-Famer is training in Slovakia and hasn’t made any decisions about this season. He’d bring plenty of experience and leadership to any blueline if he decides to return for one more year.

Jason Demers could be a worthwhile addition for teams seeking an experienced third-pairing right-shot defender. The same goes for Sami Vatanen though his long injury history hurts his value.

Erik Gustafsson’s puck-moving abilities could be useful for teams looking for a power-play specialist on the blue line. Erik Gudbranson’s toughness and leadership keep earning him work despite the decline in his defensive game.

Forwards

Zach Parise, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac and Casey Cizikas are still available but speculation suggests they’ve already been signed by the New York Islanders. It’s believed Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello doesn’t want his rivals to know how much cap space he’s actually got left as rumors persist he’s shopping for a top-six forward.

Assuming those four are off the market, well-known but fading forwards such as Patrick Marleau, Eric Staal, Bobby Ryan and James Neal are available. Other noteworthy forwards among the 30-plus gang include Tyler Bozak, Artem Anisimov, Tyler Ennis, and Alex Chiasson.

Alex Galchenyuk heads the list of younger options in the mid-to-late twenties. There was talk the Toronto Maple Leafs could bring the 27-year-old forward back but it appears he’ll be seeking work elsewhere. Ryan Donato, Dominik Kahun, Riley Sheahan and Jimmy Vesey round out this group.










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.