NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2020

The Lightning take a 3-1 series lead over the Bruins, the Islanders and Golden Knights go up 2-1 in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Boston Bruins 3-1 to take a 3-1 lead in their second-round series. Nikita Kucherov collected two assists for the Bolts.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat has four goals in his last three games against the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read my take of this game by following this link. If both teams keep playing the way they have over the past three games, this series could be over on Monday evening.

Three unanswered goals by Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, and Anders Lee gave the New York Islanders a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Semyon Varlamov returned to the net after giving up three goals on 10 shots in Game 2, stopping 26 shots for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong first period by the Flyers was snuffed out by the Isles’ solid defense and opportunistic scoring over the next two periods. In what’s become a running theme in this postseason, the Flyers’ leading scorers weren’t much of a factor. Their playoff bubble will burst if this trend continues.

Robin Lehner picked up his second shutout in three games by kicking out 31 shots to blank the Vancouver Canucks 3-0. Alex Tuch and Zach Whitecloud scored in the first period and Mark Stone tallied in the third. The Golden Knights lead the series 2-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The game was pretty much over in the first period when Vancouver failed to cash in on a 5-on-3 opportunity. Defensive mistakes by the Canucks led to all three Vegas goals, the most egregious being Alex Tuch blazing through the defense to open the scoring.

 

 

THE DENVER POST: The recent two-day protest pause in the schedule could help the Colorado Avalanche, allowing banged-up players like Nikita Zadorov, Joonas Donskoi, and Matt Calvert a chance to heal and return to the lineup.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports former Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be the one to watch as the Florida Panthers narrow their list of contenders for their general manager position.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports NBC Sports hockey analyst Ed Olczyk has interviewed for the GM position.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Panthers job.

SPORTSNET: Kevin Weekes, Mike Futa and Bill Armstrong are also being considered by the Panthers, as well as the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out for the Panthers and Coyotes. Both clubs desperately need quality management.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Joel Kellman to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $750K. The first season is a two-way deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2020

Some suggested free-agent targets for the Sharks plus a rumor linking Peter Chiarelli to the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE SHARKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz recently listed several potential free agents that he could see the San Jose Sharks pursuing in the off-season.

Goaltending targets could include the New York Islanders Thomas Greiss, the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, or the Calgary Flames’ Cam Talbot. Of the three, Talbot could be more affordable.

Could the San Jose Sharks pursue Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli in the free-agent market? (Photo via NHL Images)

Forward options include Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov, and Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund. The Washington Capitals’ Radko Gudas and Winnipeg Jets’ Dylan DeMelo were among his defense targets.

Finding the right fit won’t be easy. With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million, the Sharks have over $66 million invested in their payroll for 2020-21. Nevertheless, Kurz doesn’t expect them to sit idly by in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending depth could be the priority given starter Martin Jones’ struggles and backup Aaron Dell’s expected departure via free agency. Talbot might be the cheapest option on Kurz’s list but he could also be looking for a starter’s job. If he can’t find that role, he could be amenable to another short-term backup role.

While the changing economic landscape could affect this year’s free-agent market, I doubt the Sharks could afford Toffoli or Dadonov. Granlund is a possibility as his stock declined following his trade to the Predators last year, though his play improved when John Hynes took over as head coach in January. Gudas or DeMelo could be more affordable options to shore up the blueline depth.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has a well-earned reputation for making bold moves. He could surprise us this summer, though it’ll mean shedding some salary if he intends to make a splash in the UFA market.

CHIARELLI TO THE COYOTES?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites colleague Jim Matheson and The Athletic’s Scott Burnside reporting speculation linking former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli to the Arizona Coyotes as a possible replacement for now-former GM John Chayka.

Staples points out such a move would reunite Chiarelli with winger Taylor Hall, who was traded by Chiarelli to the New Jersey Devils in 2016. The only way he sees the Coyotes bringing in Chiarelli is if they have no chance of keeping Hall off the free-agent market in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, Chiarelli won a Stanley Cup in 2011 as GM of the Bruins. On the other hand, his tenure with the Oilers was considered disastrous.

The Coyotes must choose Chayka’s replacement very carefully. This is a team dogged for years by ownership instability and mismanagement. They’ve been building in recent years toward playoff contention with promising young talent. Putting the wrong person in the GM’s chair could send them spiraling again, raising questions about their long-term future in Arizona at risk.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2020

The latest on the NHL’s efforts to resume its season and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Burnside reports recent suggestions the NHL’s Return to Play committee might have a plan for restarting the season by this week could be optimistic given the back-and-forth between the players and league on a final format. Both sides appear to favor an expanded playoff format involving 24 teams. “Twelve teams from each of the two conferences would gather in four hub cities, six teams per city,” writes Burnside.

An extended period of training for up to three weeks would be required before the playoffs begin. Burnside cites multiple sources suggesting a round-robin lead-in of five games, using points percentage from that tournament combined with regular-season points percentage would give the top two teams in each division a bye, with the bottom four clubs playing a best-of-three to determine the traditional 16-team postseason field.

Burnside also reports the list of potential hub cities has been narrowed to “Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Vegas, Dallas, and Minneapolis/St. Paul as the front-runners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s was reportedly some pushback against a 24-team playoff format from some quarters, as it would allow the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens – who were all but eliminated from playoff contention when the schedule was paused – into this proposed tournament. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks, however, feels the NHL needs those big-market clubs (as well as the New York Rangers) to make a big splash upon its return and energize more of the league’s fan base.

Brooks also scoffs at critics worried the 24th place Canadiens could win the Stanley Cup under that scenario, pointing out no one had a problem with the 13th-overall Los Angeles Kings winning the Cup in 2012. He also noted the absurdity of the current format in which teams with the best regular-season records meeting in the second round.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reported Friday the NHL Players Association is voting this weekend to determine if they’ll extend their deferral of receiving their final paychecks by another month. He considers it a good sign of healthy dialogue between the players and the league, which could bode well for future CBA negotiations.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently singled out some potential CBA changes proposed by several NHL executives during a survey conducted by The Athletic. They include reducing contract term limits and limiting no-trade/no-movement clauses to players 30 and older, as well as addressing signing bonuses and uneven year-to-year salaries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be some sticky issues for both sides to sort out in the next round of CBA talks, but reports for the past two years indicate preliminary discussions were cordial before the pandemic pause. Bear in mind that while some executive will push for those aforementioned changes, there’s no certainty their views are shared among their peers.

With the two sides working closely together to navigate a path toward returning to action, it could lead to a better labor relationship. The league and the players need each other now. They cannot afford another lockout coming out of this current crisis.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would like to place former Oilers and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli with the Arizona Coyotes. Bettman would also like to see former Coyotes captain Shane Doan return to the club in the front office but there are “apparently some bad feelings about how everything ended for him in 2017.”

Simmons claims there’s word NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire interviewed for the general manager’s job with the New Jersey Devils. McGuire denies it. “They have a GM,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Craig Morgan covers the Coyotes for The Athletic. In a recent mailbag segment, he expressed doubt over Chiarelli joining the Coyotes.

PUCKPEDIA: Part One of a three-part player agents poll examined such issues as the minimum age for drafting players, as well as changes to entry-level contracts and arbitration.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Several notable Blue Jackets sidelined by injuries when the schedule was paused will be ready to go if the season resumes this summer. They include defenseman Seth Jones and forwards Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstand, and Alexandre Texier. Winger Josh Anderson (shoulder) could also be ready to return, depending on when play resumes.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Red Wings, Coyotes, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SUGGESTED FREE-AGENT TARGETS FOR THE RED WINGS

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan recently listed some possible goaltending and blueline free-agent targets for the Detroit Red Wings. He doesn’t expect they’ll have a shot at top-tier options like St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Boston’s Torey Krug, or Vegas’ Robin Lehner.

Could the Detroit Red Wings target Calgary Flames goalie Cam Talbot as a free-agent option? (Photo via NHL Images)

The goalie targets could include Calgary’s Cam Talbot, the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, or San Jose’s Aaron Dell. Defense choices could include someone like Calgary’s TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic, or Erik Gustafsson.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James suggested several affordable short-term free-agent forward options. They include Colorado’s Vladislav Namestnikov, Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov, and the New York Rangers’ Jesper Fast.

SPECTOR’S HOCKEY. According to Cap Friendly, the Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players. They have the cap room to pursue a big-name free agent.

These reports suggest, however, general manager Steve Yzerman could prefer cost-effective secondary talent to augment his roster as it transitions toward younger players. Nevertheless, the Wings will have to overpay a bit to entice second-tier players to join their rebuilding club. 

LATEST ON THE COYOTES AND CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Craig Morgan addressed a recent rumor suggesting former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli might be hired by the Arizona Coyotes for a senior management role. “I don’t think Chiarelli will be joining the organization,” he said.

Morgan shed no light on the status of free agent Taylor Hall, saying he had no gut feeling or best guess about the winger’s status. Regarding the conditional draft picks involved in the trade that brought Hall to the Coyotes, Morgan reported GM John Chayka indicated they don’t have anything to discuss yet because the season remains paused. Chayka also indicated he has multiple plans for dealing with his club’s limited salary-cap space for 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have almost $80 million invested in 16 players next season. They must shed salary to re-sign or replace Hall and fellow UFAs Brad Richardson and Carl Soderberg, as well as restricted free agents like Christian Fischer and Vinnie Hinostroza. 

TSN: Sven Baertschi faces an uncertain future with the Vancouver Canucks. The 27-year-old winger spent most of this season with their AHL affiliate in Utica while GM Jim Benning attempted to trade him. Baertschi is hopeful he’ll be shipped to another NHL club in the off-season. “I don’t want to be back in the minors,” he said.

Bartschi is a year away from UFA status and carries an annual average value of $3.36 million. He missed most of last season to concussion and felt he wasn’t considered part of the Canucks’ future plans. “I don’t think Vancouver expected me to come back and play,” Baertschi explained. “That’s my personal opinion.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Baertschi showed 20-goal potential but injuries hampered his performance. The Canucks might not be able to move him unless they pick up part of his annual cap hit, or package him with another asset, or take back a contract of equal value. 

 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2019

Updates on Connor McDavid and Mikko Rantanen, the latest contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland said team captain Connor McDavid may not see any playing time during the pre-season schedule. The 22-year-old center continues to rehab a knee injury suffered during the club’s final game last season.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche will open training camp today without Mikko Rantanen. The 21-year-old forward remains in Finland awaiting a new contract with the Avs. Rantanen said he wasn’t panicking, adding he was prepared for this possibility.

As the Colorado Avalanche open training camp, winger Mikko Rantanen remains in Finland awaiting a new contract (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As training camps open, several notable young restricted free agents like Rantanen remain unsigned. It’ll be interesting to see how long negotiations drag on and the effect upon their respective clubs’ training camp plans.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins yesterday announced head coach Bruce Cassidy signed a three-year contract extension worth $3 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. The Bruins made significant strides under Cassidy’ coaching, reaching the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Kevin Fiala to a two-year, $6-million contract with an annual average value of $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a promising 23-goal, 48-point performance in 2017-18 with the Nashville Predators, Fiala’s production tumbled to 39 points split between the Predators and Wild. The 23-year-old must regain his ’17-’18 form if he hopes to ink a more lucrative deal in two years.

CALGARY SUN: After buying out Michael Stone’s contract last month, the Flames signed the 29-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $700K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL CBA continues to reveal interesting surprises. For years, it was assumed a team had to wait a full year from the date of the buyout to bring back a bought-out player. Cap Friendly reveals that’s not the case. Apparently, that one-year wait period only applied to players receiving compliance buyouts in 2013 and 2014.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed winger Brendan Lemieux to a one-year deal worth just over $874K. The Rangers also signed defenseman Joe Morrow to a professional tryout offer.

SPORTSNET: Former Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli will work as a consultant with the St. Louis Blues.

TSN: Former Vancouver Canucks player Chris Higgins has joined the club as assistant director of player development. Dan Cloutier, meanwhile, resigned as goaltender coach after eight seasons.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2019

The Rangers buy out Kevin Shattenkirk, the Flames to buy out Michael Stone, an update on Justin Williams, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The New York Rangers yesterday officially announced they bought out the contract of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk is now an unrestricted free agent and could attract some interest as an affordable short-term pickup. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames yesterday announced they placed blueliner Michael Stone on unconditional waivers to buy out his contract. The move frees up $2.33 million, giving the Flames around $7.75 million in cap space. With restricted free agents Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane to re-sign, they could be forced to shed another salary.

The Calgary Flames will buy out the contract of defenseman Michael Stone (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And I’ll have more on how this move could affect the Flames next cost-cutting move in the Rumors section.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes are still awaiting a decision on captain Justin Williams’ plans. He’s an unrestricted free agent still mulling whether to retire or return to the Hurricanes for one more season.

General manager Don Waddell believes Williams is leaning toward returning. The Hurricanes have around $2.5 million in salary-cap space with Anton Forsberg and Saku Maenalanen to re-sign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because Williams would be signing a 35-plus contract, Waddell indicated it could be a bonus-laden deal. Those bonuses would be charged against next season’s cap if they end up pushing the Canes over this season’s cap.

THE ATHLETIC: The search for the next Minnesota Wild general manager is underway. The club has already interviewed former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall and former Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, but that doesn’t mean they’re front-runners for the job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite managing the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011, Chiarelli’s tenure with the Oilers tarnished his reputation. Word that the Wild spoke with Chiarelli sparked some concern among Minnesota fans on social media.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Alex Meruelo was formally introduced yesterday as the new owner of the Coyotes. He vowed to keep the team in Arizona, is committed to building a winner, and praised team president and CEO Ahron Cohen and general manager John Chayka.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins have hired Matt Cullen as part of their player development staff. Cullen recently announced his retirement as an NHL player after 21 seasons.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward A.J. Greer to a one-year, two-way contract. On July 7, he was arrested in New York on misdemeanor third-degree assault charges. The club has declined to comment until the investigation is complete.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with Remi Elie.

NHL.COM: Former players JP Cote and Stephen Gionta are among the new front-office hires by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Cote becomes their new director of player development while Gionta becomes a professional scout.