NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 10, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury reaches 500 career wins, Australian hockey pioneer Nathan Walker reaches a milestone, the sale of the Penguins is approved, the Canucks name Jim Rutherford as team president, the latest on the Coyotes’ arena saga & much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury became the third goaltender in NHL history to reach the 500-win plateau as the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the Montreal Canadiens 2-0. Fleury made 30 saves for the shutout to join Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy in the 500-win club and sits 51 wins behind Roy for second place on the list. Jonathan Toews and Henrik Borgstrom scored for the Blackhawks. Dylan Strome was a healthy scratch for the Hawks.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Nathan Walker tallied his first career NHL hat trick as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The first Australian player to reach the NHL, Walker was playing his first game of this season after being recalled by the Blues on Wednesday. Blues fourth-string goalie Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves for the win. Robby Fabbri scored both goals for the Wings.

Steven Stamkos had a goal and three assists to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ondrej Palat also scored twice for the Bolts who won their fifth straight game. Tampa Bay forward Anthony Cirelli missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Lightning coach Jon Cooper became the fastest bench boss to reach 400 career NHL wins, doing so in his 659th game. Ondrej Kase scored two goals for the Leafs.

The Minnesota Wild extended their win streak to eight games by dropping the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Jordan Greenway scored twice, Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala each had a goal and an assist and Cam Talbot kicked out 33 shots for the Wild, who sit atop the overall standings with 39 points. Minnesota captain Jared Spurgeon returned to action after missing eight games with a lower-body injury.

Sebastian Aho scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Carolina Hurricanes picked up a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Noah Hanifin scored for the Flames, who’ve lost three straight. The Hurricanes are on a three-game win streak.

The Boston Bruins nipped the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on a late third-period goal by Matt Grzelcyk. Linus Ullmark picked up the win with a 41-save effort. Leon Draisaitl potted both goals for the Oilers with Connor McDavid getting assists on both goals. Edmonton defenseman Cody Ceci returned to the lineup after being in isolation for the past nine days after testing positive for COVID-19.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 25-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the Seattle Kraken. Kyle Connor scored twice for the Jets, who’ve won three of their last four contests.

Jonathan Quick made 27 stops for his 56th career shutout as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Dallas Stars 4-0. Kings forward Adrian Kempe netted his 11th goal of the season while Andreas Athanasiou scored in his first game after being in COVID protocol for the past six games.

A late goal by Eeli Tolvanen lifted the Nashville Predators over the New York Islanders 4-3. Predators forwards Ryan Johansen and Colton Sissons each had a goal and an assist. The Isles have lost 12 of their last 13 and still seek their first win in UBS Arena.

Anaheim Ducks goalie Josh Gibson made 33 saves to backstop his club over the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. Rickard Rakell tallied the winning goal in a shootout. The Ducks extended their points streak to six games.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM: The NHL board of governors yesterday voted to approve the sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins to Fenway Sports Group. The deal is said to be in the range of $900 million.

THE ATHLETIC: The board of governors also approved the Respect Hockey program introduced by league executive Kim Davis to ensure its commitment to inclusion, diversity, safety and respect for its players and employees. Sheldon Kennedy and his Respect Hockey group will also be part of the initiative.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the result of the Chicago Blackhawks sex scandal in which two players alleged they were sexually abused by a former video coach in 2010. One of them, Kyle Beach, came forward with his story following an independent investigation that reveals efforts by senior Blackhawks officials to cover up the allegations.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also present the board of governors with a presentation on the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the league. Daly didn’t rule out the possibility of enhanced protocols beyond what the league is doing now.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes yesterday announced they have paid off their outstanding tax debt of $1.4 million to the Arizona Department of Revenue. This came after the City of Glendale threatened to lock the team out of Gila River Arena if the debt wasn’t paid by Dec. 20.

SPORTSNET: Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports reports the Coyotes still owe the arena operator over $2.7 million in unpaid rent and other expenses. The team will receive a timetable for future payments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This saga just keeps rolling on, raising concerns about the Coyotes ownership’s ability to meet its financial obligations. The club’s situation will reportedly be discussed during Day 2 of the NHL board of governors meeting on Friday.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks yesterday announced Jim Rutherford has been hired as their new president of hockey operations. He will also serve as interim general manager while a full-time replacement is ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford was general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, guiding both clubs to Stanley Cup championships. He also developed a reputation as a wheeler-dealer, though those moves sometimes came at the expense of each club’s prospect depth. It’ll be interesting to see how well he works with whoever becomes the next general manager of the Canucks.

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens could have a new general manager in place by early January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The front-runners are believed to be Mathieu Darche and Daniel Briere. Darche is director of hockey operations for the Tampa Bay Lightning while Briere runs the day-to-day operations of the ECHL’s Maine Mariners.

THE PHILADEPHIA INQUIRER: The Flyers placed forward Joel Farabee (shoulder) on injured reserve.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (upper-body) has been placed on injured reserve as he sees a specialist regarding treatment for his injury.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs traded forward Kurtis Gabriel to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Chad Krys. Both are currently playing in the AHL.

The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame formally welcomed its 2020 and 2021 inductees yesterday. Former NHL player Tony Granato was part of the class of 2020. Former NHL player and former Philadelphia Flyers executive Paul Holmgren, former NHL player and current broadcaster Peter McNab and long-time hockey writer Stan Fischler were members of the class of 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to everyone on their inductions.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 14, 2021

Recaps from Saturday’s action, the Senators send Paquette and Galchenyuk to the Hurricanes for Dzingel, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brady Tkachuk scored in the dying seconds of the third period to lift the Ottawa Senators over the Winnipeg Jets 2-1. Evgenii Dadonov scored the game-tying in the second period. Mark Scheifele tallied for the Jets. The Senators snapped a four-game losing skid.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Earlier in the day, the Senators traded forwards Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for winger Ryan Dzingel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Paquette was the prize for the Hurricanes as they sought to add more grit and playoff experience to their forward lines. He’d won a Stanley Cup last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning before they shipped him to the Senators in an offseason cost-cutting move.

The Senators hope to boost their anemic scoring punch by reacquiring Dzingel, whose best seasons were in Ottawa before he was traded in 2019 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He signed later that year with the Hurricanes but struggled to regain his scoring touch. The 28-year-old winger is in the final year of his contract so the Sens won’t be on the hook for long if he doesn’t pan out.

Galchenyuk is now on his sixth team since 2017-18. His production has steadily deteriorated and was a frequent healthy scratch with the Sens this season.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they downed the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Vincent Trocheck. The Stars have dropped their last five games.

The San Jose Sharks dropped their belated home opener 3-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Chandler Stephenson tallied a goal and collected an assist for the Golden Knights. The Sharks also lost defensemen Erik Karlsson (lower body) and Radim Simek (upper body) to injuries.

Third-period goals by Mathew Barzal and Jean-Gabriel Pageau carried the New York Islanders to a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins, snapping the latter’s 10-game points streak. Pageau had two goals for the Isles, including a short-handed tally.

Tyler Johnson scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning netted four first-period goals on route to a 6-1 drubbing of the Florida Panthers. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves for the Lightning, who also announced Anthony Cirelli was listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered during Thursday’s game against the Panthers.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher tallied the tie-breaker as his club edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 to end the latter’s four-game win streak. Habs goaltender Carey Price made 21 saves. Leafs center Auston Matthews picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games.

The St. Louis Blues nipped the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 on an overtime goal by Mike Hoffman. The Coyotes played without forward Johan Larsson as he’s serving a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Blues forward Zach Sanford in their previous match.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the sixth straight game between the two clubs due to schedule changes brought on by COVID-19. They’ve each won three games with the final contest in this unexpected best-of-seven slated for Monday.

Alex DeBrincat’s overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrick Kane collected two assists including one on the game-winner. Patrik Laine and Cam Atkinson replied for the Jackets.

The Detroit Red Wings doubled up the Nashville Predators 4-2. Wings forward Luke Glendening had a goal and two assists. The Predators pulled goalie Pekka Rinne after he gave up three goals on 21 shots.

Third-period goals by Tyler Myers and Brandon Sutter gave the Vancouver Canucks a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. The win ended a six-game losing skid by the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom made 43 saves for the Flames. Before the games, Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini tweeted his “full confidence” in general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green. “Progression is not always a straight line,” tweeted Aquilini. “There is no easy fix, only patience, commitment and hard work.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will buy some time for Benning and Green but we’ll see if they still have Aquilini’s confidence by season’s end if the Canucks miss the playoffs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DENVER POST: Nathan MacKinnon has fully recovered from his lower-body injury and will be ready to suit up when the Colorado Avalanche face the Vegas Golden Knights today. It’ll be the Avs’ first game since their schedule was postponed by COVID-19 nearly two weeks ago.

NEW YORK POST: Former Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo took responsibility for the mistakes in his on-ice play during an interview with Larry Brooks on Friday. He also claimed he’s been misportrayed in the media. “I’m not a racist, I’m not an extremist and I’m not an insurrectionist”, said DeAngelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo remains sidelined by the Rangers as they attempt to trade him to another NHL club.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins have made requests to the governor and the state of Pennsylvania seeking permission to open their arena to spectators at 25 percent capacity.

TORONTO STAR: Long-time hockey writer Frank Orr passed away Saturday at age 84. Winner of numerous sportswriting honors, Orr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989. He rose to fame during the 1960s and 1970s with his NHL coverage, particularly the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also mentored countless sportswriters, many of whom still cover the NHL today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Orr’s family, friends and colleagues.










NHL Evening Headlines – December 24, 2020

NHL Evening Headlines – December 24, 2020

The Lightning re-sign Anthony Cirelli, the Canadian teams believed to have the approval to play in their home arenas, an update on Kirby Dach and a look at the league’s pursuit of additional revenue streams in the NHL evening headlines.

TSN: The Tampa Bay Lightning announced they’ve signed center Anthony Cirelli to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $4.8 million.

Tampa Bay Lighting re-sign center Anthony Cirelli (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning wasted little time getting Cirelli under contract following the news that All-Star winger Nikita Kucherov will be sidelined by hip surgery throughout the coming regular season. It’s a reasonable deal for both sides that will also set the stage for Cirelli to receive a more lucrative deal down the road. 

PuckPedia indicates the Bolts can only be over the cap ceiling by $9.5 million, which is the equivalent of Kucherov’s annual salary-cap hit. As a result of the Cirelli signing, they must clear $2.89 million to be cap compliant when the regular season begins.

They could achieve this via demoting players to their taxi squad. However, Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois indicated yesterday he was seeking opportunities to clear cap space to give himself more maneuverability for the coming season.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly believes the league has the approval to proceed with its seven Canadian franchises starting the coming season in their home arenas. Daly based this on discussions with the health authorities for the five provinces housing those seven franchises.

The league and the NHLPA are onboard with the provinces’ requests for additional testing for its players, staff and close contacts. They are also committed to having some of the NHL’s top stars appear in COVID-19 provincial PSAs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This would allow the seven Canadian clubs to travel to each other’s home cities when the regular season kicks off on Jan. 13. Those teams will form the North Division and play exclusively against each other for the duration of the regular season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach suffered a fractured wrist during Canada’s 1-0 win over Russia in an exhibition game at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton on Wednesday. The 19-year-old will miss the remainder of the tournament and is returning to Chicago for further evaluation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big blow for Canada as Dach was their team captain and one of their top forwards. It could also prove a setback for the Blackhawks as they prepare for the upcoming season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL intends to be aggressive in seeking new revenue streams. They’ve already started by allowing ads on player helmets. It’s also looking into virtual on-ice ads, expanded bench signage and more.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2020

The Lightning still needs to make a cost-cutting trade despite Nikita Kucherov heading to LTIR, talk of Coyotes center Derek Stepan possibly heading to the Senators, and the latest on the Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LIGHTNING COULD STILL NEED A COST-CUTTING TRADE

THE ATHLETIC: Ryan S. Clark reports losing cornerstone winger Nikita Kucherov for the regular season to hip surgery helps the Tampa Bay Lightning address their need to become salary-cap compliant before the start of the season.

The Bolts still have to sign restricted free agent center Anthony Cirelli and were trying to shop winger Tyler Johnson in a cost-cutting deal. Placing Kucherov and his $9.5 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve could free up sufficient space to re-sign Cirelli without having to move Johnson.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were trying to trade Tyler Johnson earlier in the offseason (NHL Images).

However, Lightning general Julien BriseBois said he will seek opportunities to free up more cap room. He indicates he still doesn’t have sufficient maneuverability and is speaking with a couple of teams. BriseBois revealed he had been working with a team after the playoffs on a deal for Johnson that would’ve involved a third club taking on part of the winger’s $5 million cap hit but it proved too expensive to be feasible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Lightning sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $6.89 million. Contract talks continue with the Cirelli camp. Placing Kucherov on LTIR will leave the Lightning with less than $3 million to lock up Cirelli. He has no leverage coming off his entry-level contract but his agent can justifiably argue that his client is worth more than that.

Perhaps BriseBois will still try to move Johnson or maybe Alex Killorn and his $4.45 million cap hit. Maybe he’ll consider another option. Whatever he’s got in mind will have to not only ensure sufficient room to sign Cirelli but also enough for other moves as required over the course of the season.

STEPAN TO THE SENATORS?

TSN 1200’s Shawn Simpson tweeted he’s hearing the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators are discussing a deal involving Coyotes center Derek Stepan. He has one season remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.5 million but his actual salary is $5 million.

The Ottawa Sun’s Ken Warren points out Stepan’s actual salary for this season consists of a $3 million signing bonus. The Coyotes lack picks in the first and third rounds of the 2021 NHL draft. The Senators have three second-round picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan also lacks no-trade protection so the Coyotes can peddle him to any NHL club without his permission. The Senators would only be on the hook for $2 million of his actual salary if this goes through. He’d provide some welcome experience and leadership to their checking lines.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

TSN: Salim Valji reports Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving recently said discussions about player movement have picked up as teams prepare for the start of the season on Jan. 13. He expects we’ll see some trade activity in the weeks leading up to the season opener.

The Flames only have around $223K in salary-cap space. Treliving expects his current roster is the one he’ll go to training camp with but indicated he continues having discussions with other teams looking for opportunities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving will probably evaluate his roster during training camp to determine any pressing needs to be addressed before Jan. 13. Given his limited cap space, he could be looking at dollar-for-dollar moves.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 13, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 13, 2020

Check out the latest on the Hurricanes, Predators, and Blues in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently observed the Carolina Hurricanes opted to stand pat with goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer rather than pursue an upgrade between the pipes. Nevertheless, he wondered if they could pursue an experienced starter at this season’s trade deadline. O’Brien proposed perhaps moving one of them in exchange for a goalie with an expiring contract like Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Boston’s Tuukka Rask, or Vega’s Marc-Andre Fleury.

Could the Carolina Hurricanes attempt to replace a goalie like James Reimer during the coming season? (NHL Images)

  THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Sara Civian was also asked about the possibility of the Hurricanes swinging an in-season trade to improve their goaltending. She wondered if Fleury could become available if it’s determined Robin Lehner is completely healthy. Civian also advocated pursuing Arizona Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most observers (including myself) believe the Hurricanes need to upgrade their goaltending to become Stanley Cup contenders. Mrazek and Reimer are unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. One or both could hit next summer’s open market.

Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell decided to stick with the Mrazek-Reimer tandem. Perhaps there simply wasn’t anything to his liking in the offseason trade and free-agent markets to address that need at a reasonable price. Waddell could keep his options open if his club needs help between the pipes before the trade deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan suggests the Nashville Predators should target Anthony Cirelli with an offer sheet. The 23-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning center is a restricted free agent and his club has to clear salary-cap space to sign him to a new contract. Cirelli has the making of a future Selke Trophy candidate with his two-way skills.

Vingan believes the Predators have the necessary ammunition to make a serious offer for Cirelli. They have nearly $13 million in salary-cap space and sufficient draft picks required as compensation for a successful signing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because the Predators have that cap space doesn’t mean they intend to use up a hefty portion with an offer sheet. GM David Poile could also be reluctant to part with his draft picks.

Don’t forget that it takes two to tango. Cirelli likely prefers staying in Tampa Bay with a Stanley Cup champion and could be unwilling to entertain an offer sheet.

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Jim Thomas was asked if there was any chance of the Blues trading Vince Dunn. While admitting one should never say never, Thomas doubts the 24-year-old defenseman will be moved, pointing out the club already lost blueliner Alex Pietrangelo plus he’s young and affordable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn’s not going anywhere. The Blues will get the restricted free agent signed to an affordable short-term deal before training camp opens next month.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 8, 2020

With the NHL and NHLPA aiming at a Jan. 13 start date for this season, here’s a look at some unresolved free-agent business in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently examined several unresolved storylines that will rise to the surface once the NHL and NHLPA reach a resolution for the 2020-21 season. Among them was the status of unsigned free agents.

Mike Hoffman remains the top player available in the 2020 NHL UFA market (NHL Images).

A number of decent players remain available in the unrestricted free-agent market because of the flattened salary cap and a limited number of teams with cap room. They include winger Mike Hoffman, defensemen Travis Hamonic and Sami Vatanen, forwards Mikael Granlund and Anthony Duclair, and blueliner Zdeno Chara.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman is reportedly willing to accept a one-year contract worth between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. He’s been linked to several clubs but the Nashville Predators could be the front-runners for his services. They have the cap space (nearly $13 million, according to Cap Friendly) and a pressing need for experienced second-line scoring depth.

Some have suggested Hamonic might return to the Calgary Flames but the Winnipeg Jets appear to be a better fit for the Manitoba native. They need more blueline depth and would have the cap space once sidelined center Bryan Little and his $5.291 million cap hit are placed on long-term injury.

Granlund and Duclair have been mentioned as options for the Columbus Blue Jackets to provide a boost to a popgun offense further weakened by losing winger Gustav Nyquist to shoulder surgery. Granlund could be a better fit there. Given Duclair’s brief unsuccessful tenure with the Jackets in 2018-19, I don’t see either side being keen for a reunion.

Chara is reportedly waiting to see what the format of this season looks like before making a decision. The long-time Bruins captain could return to Boston for one more season but there’s talk other clubs expressed interest in the 43-year-old defenseman.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are above the $81.5 million salary cap and must shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak. The New York Islanders have only $3.9 million in cap space with first-line center Mathew Barzal to sign. Boylen suggests both clubs could face losing trades in order to free up sufficient cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning definitely faces that situation, with Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn considered the likely trade candidates. The Isles, however, will benefit from placing Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) on LTIR because of his career-ending eye injury. They could still make a cost-cutting trade but don’t face the same pressure as the Lightning.

Other notable restricted free agents include Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois, St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and Edmonton Oilers blueliner Ethan Bear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets have over $9.2 million in cap space, more than enough to sign Dubois. The Blues are above the cap by $1.175 million but will get cap relief to sign Dunn by placing Vladimir Tarasenko ($7.5 million) on LTIR. The Devils have $17.1 million in cap room so re-signing Blackwood isn’t an issue. The Oilers are just above the cap but are expected to place Oscar Klefbom and his $4.167 million cap hit on LTIR, giving them the necessary wiggle room for Bear.

Given the high number of NHL teams (16) with less than $2 million in cap space, Boylen anticipates seeing “at least a few one-sided deals” as cap-strapped clubs attempt to shed salary once clarity is reached on the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: 10 of those teams – Arizona, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, St. Louis, Toronto, Washington, Vegas, Anaheim, Winnipeg, and Edmonton – will get cap relief by placing some sidelined players on LTIR. Nevertheless, some of those clubs could attempt to shed a salary or two before the projected puck drop of Jan. 13.