NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2019

The Canucks re-sign Alex Edler, Lightning winger Ryan Callahan going on LTIR, Ducks re-sign Ryan Miller and more. Get the details on these and other stories on the eve of the 2019 draft in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver begins at 8 pm ET tonight with the opening round. The remaining six rounds will be held Saturday. 

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks yesterday re-signed defenseman Alex Edler to a two-year, $12-million contract extension. Edler, 33, was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The Vancouver Canucks re-sign defenseman Alex Edler to a two-year deal (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable deal for both sides. Edler gets a raise and a no-movement clause and stays with the only NHL team he’s ever played for. The Canucks, meanwhile, retain their best defenseman on a short-term deal plus he’s agreed to make himself available for the 2021 NHL expansion draft. As in the Vegas draft, players with no-movement clauses on expiring contracts must be protected unless they agree to be exposed in that draft.

TSN: The Canucks are reportedly in talks with former Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli to join their management staff. Canucks GM Jim Benning worked for Chiarelli during their tenure with the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We take you live for a reaction from a Canucks fan.


NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning revealed Ryan Callahan will be placed on long-term injury reserve. The 34-year-old winger is suffering from degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Callahan has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million. When this news broke, some fans felt this was a sneaky way for the cap-strapped Lightning to free up payroll for next season. The timing is merely coincidental. Callahan’s career and his dream of winning a Stanley Cup are over. That’s the real story here.

If the Lightning needs real salary-cap relief they could attempt to trade his rights to a club in need of reaching the cap floor. For now, it appears they’ll go the LTIR route. 

TSN: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed goaltender Ryan Miller, center Derek Grant, and defenseman Korbinian Holzer to one-year contracts. Miller’s deal is worth $1.125 million. Cap Friendly indicates Holzer’s salary is $850K and Grant’s $700K.

SPORTSNET’s Eric Engels reports Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jordie Benn will test the upcoming unrestricted free agent market. 

TVA SPORTS: L.A Lariviere has a two-part series (translation required) listing some interesting behind-the-scenes stories from previous NHL drafts. Among them: Max Pacioretty spiking a proposed deal at last year’s draft that would’ve sent him to the LA Kings. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have hired Jim Playfair as an assistant coach responsible for their defensive play.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes intend to hire former Buffalo Sabres coach Phil Housley as an assistant coach. 

NHL.COM: The league announced rule changes for video review and coach’s challenges. Coaches will now be able to challenge missed stoppage of play calls in the offensive zone that result in goals. On-ice officials will be able to review their work on major penalties (other than fighting), match penalties, and double-minors for high-sticking. 

Oilers’ Rot Begins At The Top

Oilers’ Rot Begins At The Top

Something that really pisses me off as a hockey fan is watching a once-proud franchise being run into the ground by mismanagement or ownership indifference. So you can imagine my disgust over what the Edmonton Oilers have become under Daryl Katz’s ownership.

To be fair, the Oilers’ glory days were already well behind them before Katz took over. But in his decade of ownership, they’ve jumped the track, crashed over an embankment and exploded into a fireball of blunders.

In the days following last week’s firing of general manager Peter Chiarelli last week, pundits were already speculating about his full-time replacement while offering suggestions on how to improve the roster.

None of that will matter, however, if instability persists in the front office and behind the bench.

Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz.

In 11 seasons under Katz, the Oilers went through eight head coaches and four general managers.

Among the coaches were respected bench bosses like Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, and Todd McLellan. They did their best with the rosters provided to them. Management impatience and incompetence, however, did in most of them before they had a reasonable chance to make any sort of positive imprint. 

Following their sputtering start to this season, Ken Hitchcock was lured out of retirement in November to replace McLellan as a stopgap measure to get them back on track. For while, it worked, until their roster weaknesses caught up with them despite Hitchcock’s efforts.

Fortunately for Hitchcock, his reputation among the league’s greatest coaches won’t be too badly tarnished by what could be his brief tenure with the Oilers. 

The widely-hailed hirings of former Hockey Canada honcho Bob Nicholson as team CEO and Peter Chiarelli as GM was supposed to end the Oilers’ culture of losing while removing the supposed influence of an old boys network of former Oilers.

Chiarelli, who built the Boston Bruins into a Stanley Cup champions, failed to do the same for the Oilers. He deserves the criticism he received for his lousy trades but those deals also had the stamp of approval by his employers.

In a press conference following Chiarelli’s firing, Nicholson was trying to be optimistic over the Oilers’ playoff hopes. Most observers instead saw an executive trying to sell hope in a season where little can be found.

Something is definitely wrong when respected hockey men end up chewed up and spat out, some with their reputations in tatters, while the team remains mired in mediocrity.

The Oilers’ ongoing follies could soon take its toll upon the long-suffering fanbase. Perhaps a drop in season-ticket sales might spur Katz into reconsidering how he and his staff are running this franchise.

There’s also dark mutterings among some fans and pundits suggesting the Oilers are wasting the best years of McDavid’s career.

McDavid is currently in the first season of a new contract that runs through 2025-26. So far, the young Oilers captain is expressing defiance of his team’s critics. He’s defended his teammates, believes they can still make the playoffs and wants to be part of the solution.

But if the Oilers fail to turn things around it could eventually take its toll on McDavid, perhaps to the point where he reconsiders his long-term future in Edmonton.

The Oilers are expected to announce a long-term replacement for Chiarelli in the offseason. They could also end up replacing Hitchcock if the new GM wants his own guy behind the bench.

With the fans growing restless and questions being raised over the future of their franchise player, the Oilers better get it right this time.

If they don’t, they will remain the graveyard of careers for coaches, general managers, and perhaps, even the NHL’s best player.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2019

Game recaps, Oilers fire GM Peter Chiarelli, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings was overshadowed by the club firing general manager Peter Chiarelli following the game. Assistant GM Keith Gretzky takes over for Chiarelli on an interim basis until a full-time replacement can be found. 

The Edmonton Oilers fired general manager Peter Chiarelli (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This had an air of inevitability about it. The Oilers have foundered since their promising 103-point performance two years ago. While Chiarelli drafted superstar Connor McDavid in 2015, that was a no-brainer because the Oilers won the draft lottery and McDavid was the best player available.

A string of bad decisions – signing Milan Lucic to an expensive long-term contract, trading two draft picks (one of whom became Mathew Barzal) to the New York Islanders for Griffin Reinhart, shipping Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils straight up for Adam Larsson, sending Jordan Eberle to the Isles for Ryan Strome, who was later dealt to the New York Rangers for Ryan Spooner – led to Chiarelli’s downfall.

Whoever takes over as Chiarelli’s full-time replacement must improve the defense, bring in a scoring winger for McDavid’s line and bolster their secondary scoring depth. That could mean shopping some promising youngsters (Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto) and their 2019 first-round pick. 

Speaking of the Oilers, Spooner and Ty Rattie cleared waivers yesterday but will remain on the roster. 

Alexander Ovechkin and Tomas Hertl engaged in dueling hat tricks, with the latter potting the winner in overtime to give the San Jose Sharks a 7-6 victory over Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski had a four-point game while Capitals winger T.J. Oshie collected three points. Washington’s losing skid is now at six games.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up their sixth win in their last eight games by edging the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Vinnie Hinostroza scored twice and added an assist. 

Shootout goals by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. Toews also scored the game-tying goal. 

Mikael Backlund’s overtime goal gave the Calgary Flames a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, extending the Flames’ points streak to nine games (8-0-1). 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said the club is engaged in a “healthy dialogue” on a contract extension for center Auston Matthews. The Leafs hope to get the extension completed as soon as possible to provide long-term salary-cap clarity. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the mutual decision between the Leafs and Mitch Marner to postpone contract discussions until the offseason, getting Matthews under contract before season’s end will give them a better idea of how much cap space they’ll have to re-sign Marner and their other notable free agents, as well as what’s available for other roster moves. I’m guessing Matthews could receive over $12 million per season. 

CBS SPORTS: The Vegas Golden Knights confirmed winger William Carrier is sidelined by an injury and not an illness as originally reported by the club. He’s already missed the team’s last seven games and there’s no timetable for his return. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Cameron Gaunce had his 2017 Stanley Cup ring stolen from his home. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping they quickly catch the thieves and Gaunce’s property is returned. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2018

Game recaps, including another hat-trick for Alex Ovechkin, plus injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his second consecutive hat trick and extended his personal points streak to 13 games in a 6-5 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Ovechkin now has a league-leading 28 goals. Jakub Vrana picked up the game-winner. Sebastian Aho had a four-point performance (including two goals) for the Hurricanes.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his second straight hat trick in a 6-5 win over the Carolina Hurricanes (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is now four games from tying Mike Gartner for the NHL’s longest single-season points streak. He’s also tied his own personal best, set in 2006-07. 

Mark Scheifele scored twice, including the winner in overtime, and Blake Wheeler collected three assists to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Jets winner Patrik Laine also scored and moved past Brian Bellows for 6th-most goals (103) in NHL history by a player before the age of 21. Jonathan Toews tallied twice for the Blackhawks.

An overtime goal by Nico Hischier capped a three-goal rally by the New Jersey Devils in a 5-4 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Devils comeback came after starter Cory Schneider was pulled after giving up three goals on seven shots. William Karlsson scored twice for the Golden Knights, who were playing without sidelined winger Max Pacioretty.

Ryan O’Reilly scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues edged the Colorado Avalanche 4-3.  Avs winger (and league scoring leader) Mikko Rantanen picked up an assist to extend his personal points streak to 13 games.

Connor McDavid scored twice and added an assist to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Speaking of the Oilers, team CEO Bob Nicholson said general manager Peter Chiarelli’s job is safe if the club reaches the playoffs this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An endorsement delivered with all the enthusiasm of a limp dishrag. 

Despite blowing a two-goal lead, the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Boston Bruins 5-3 on third-period goals by Jake Guentzel and Zach Aston-Reese. Casey DeSmith made 48 saves for the Penguins.

Chris Tierney scored twice and Mark Stone netted the game-winner as the Ottawa Senators doubled up the Detroit Red Wings 4-2. Earlier in the day, the Wings announced defenseman Mike Green will be sidelined three-to-five weeks with a lower-body injury.

The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the New York Rangers 4-3 on an overtime tally by Derek Stepan.

CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender Mike Smith is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. 

CBS SPORTS: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Dion Phaneuf is considered week-to-week with an upper-body injury. 


NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2018

Latest on the Oilers, Blue Jackets, Penguins, and Jeff Skinner in your NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Darren Dreger reports there have probably been a few more senior management meetings for the Edmonton Oilers as their current slump continues. Going into last weekend the feeling was they would stay the course but back-to-back losses have made things white hot in Edmonton. Dreger said it’s not as simple as changing the coach, pointing to their inconsistent goaltending and sketchy transition play.

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Insider Elliotte Friedman appeared on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 discussing the Oilers’ current woes. He feels everyone in the organization is on pins and needles right now.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz also wonders how much longer can the Oilers go on like this. He believes asset management is the biggest issue, pointing to the poor returns general manager Peter Chiarelli has received in his recent trades, specifically the deals that saw the departures of Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz, and Jordan Eberle.

Could Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan become the next NHL coach to be fired this month? (Photo via NHL Images)

“That points to an even bigger problem at the top — above even the head coach and general manager — because that has been the one constant in the organization. It also paints a disturbing picture for Oilers fans because it should be obvious that the current organizational structure is not working and that changes probably need to be made. But what faith do you have that the people in charge are going to make the right changes?”

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes it’s time for a coaching change as the Oilers seem to have tuned out Todd McLellan. He suggests they look into hiring former Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis considers Zach Kassian, Drake Caggiula, Matt Benning, and Al Montoya as plausible trade candidates. Depending on where the Oilers are in the standings near the Feb. 25, 2018 trade deadline, Cam Talbot or Mikko Koskinen could be available.

Willis also touched on struggling young winger Jesse Puljujarvi. “If we were to make a list of trade warning lights, “player who might not be happy with his handling” and “player who might be valued more by other teams than his own” would be near the top of the list and Puljujarvi is a good candidate for both descriptions.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no trade coming at this point in the season to save the Oilers. They’re top-heavy up front, they still have defensive issues and their goaltenders are struggling of late. Last week’s swap of Ryan Strome to the New York Rangers for Ryan Spooner did nothing to improve the situation. If things don’t soon improve, big changes could be coming behind the bench and in the front office. 

**UPDATE** Soon after this was published, the Oilers announced McLellan was relieved of his duties and replaced by Ken Hitchcock. You can read my take on this here


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports on the status of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin, who are both slated to become unrestricted free agents in July. There’s been little change in Bobrovsky’s status but Panarin’s agent is set to meet with him following the holiday break to discuss their contract situation.

With Panarin apparently happy and scoring and the Blue Jackets in first place in the Metropolitan Division, GM Jarmo Kekalainen could keep trying to show that Columbus is a good place to be. LeBrun thinks the Jackets will make a contract offer to Panarin before the trade deadline and see if they can convince him to stay.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s all the Jackets can do at this point. Even if Panarin and Bobrovsky won’t commit to a new deal by the trade deadline, I think Kekalainen will retain them if they’re still in the thick of the playoff chase. Of course, he could listen to trade offers but it could take a substantial pitch to pry either guy out of Columbus. 


TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is “very much open for business.” He’s already made one trade shipping Carl Hagelin last week to the LA Kings for Tanner Pearson. McKenzie believes it’s safe to say that the only untouchables are Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. “So open for business, but those big deals are hard to make. But, open for business nonetheless.”

TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden believes there’s no quick fix for the Penguins’ current problems, which includes poor play from starting goalie Matt Murray, a decline in their speed affecting their system, and a lack of energy and production from their bottom-six forwards. While Rutherford is working the phones, Madden cautions against attempting to over-fix the problems and risk putting the club into a deeper hole beyond this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because Crosby and Malkin are the only untouchables doesn’t necessarily mean stars like Phil Kessel and Kris Letang are hitting the trade block. Could Rutherford listen to offers for those two? Sure, but moving them isn’t likely to fetch a return that provides immediate help.

More likely options are players such as Daniel Sprong, Olli Maatta, Bryan Rust, and Riley Sheahan, who’ve frequently surfaced in recent trade speculation. Unless Rutherford is planning on blowing things up already, I think he’s looking more for tweaks than an overhaul. 



Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 20, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 20, 2018

The latest on the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently cited Oilers insiders such as Bob Stauffer and Craig Simpson dismissing speculation suggesting the club could make a big splash in this summer’s trade or free-agent markets. Stauffer considered such talk “greatly exaggerated” while Simpson pointed out the Oilers lack the cap space to pursue a big-ticket free-agent such as Washington’s John Carlson.

Staples noted the Oilers’ projected salary cap payroll for 2018-19 is $77 million and $74.1 million for 2019-20. That’s accounting for possible re-signings of restricted free agents such as Ryan Strome and Darnell Nurse, along with estimated bonus payments.

Will Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli make a big move this summer? (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Oilers can free up sufficient cap space via trades or buyouts, they really won’t have a lot of cap room to go “big-game hunting” as one pundit recently suggested. They could make a “hockey trade” where they move one of their salaried players for another, but that could be easier said than done.

General manager Peter Chiarelli will have to get creative. As Staples noted, however, Chiarelli has a debatable record in big trades (the Griffin Reinhart deal being a prime example) and signings (hello there, Milan Lucic).  

Some pundits suggested packaging Oscar Klefbom and his $4.167-million cap hit with their first-round pick (10th overall) in this year’s draft for someone such as Boston’s Torey Krug, but I don’t believe that deal significantly improves the Oilers. 


DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent mailbag segment, a reader asked Helene St. James if the Red Wings might move winger Andreas Athanasiou. Despite his speed and scoring ability, she considers his trade value to be low right now. His contract holdout at the start of the season, work ethic and his inconsistency affected his play and his stats. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m sure the Wings can find a market for Athanasiou if they wanted to, but the return probably wouldn’t be worthwhile. While he’s an RFA this summer with arbitration rights, he really didn’t do much to improve his bargaining position last season. I expect the Wings will retain him in hopes the 23-year-old matures into a reliable scoring winger next season.